How far have our expectations of professional wrestling fallen?
Now, look, I think the stuff with AJ in the WWE has been surprisingly good. Sure, she is getting to a point of over-saturation, but that is by the by. Commentators seem to fall into two camps – the bits without AJ are boring so she is saving a sinking ship, or too much of a good thing makes you sick. Either way, she’s there, and for some reason the most intriguing person on the WWE is a Diva who doesn’t wrestle all that often. Bravo to all concerned for doing something different.
But do you see an issue here? We watched World WRESTLING Entertainment, formerly World WRESTLING Federation, and before that World Wide WRESTLING Federation. See that word? The big one? You know: WRESTLING.
In theory, we watch WWE (and TNA, ROH, RCW, whoever we watch) to watch, ultimately, wrestling. Two grown men (or women) in the ring beating the snot out of one another (or pretending to, however you want to look at it). That is what we are watching. Yes, in the past 30 years the back-stage antics and story-lines have become more dominant, but still, in the end, as Arn Anderson would say, it says, “Wrestling,” on the marquee. It’s what’s brought us to the game in the first place. Come on, how many people were attracted to wrestling by watching the thespian abilities of Hulk Hogan in Santa With Muscles? But, on the other hand, how many were stupid enough to watch Santa With Muscles because Hulk Hogan was in it?
So why have we, the fans, and the Creative Team of the WWE allowed an essentially non-wrestling character to overshine everything else that is happening in and out of the ring?
Before I go further, some people about here will say we need that sort of thing and the more the better. Fine, but these are the people who won’t watch PPVs because there’s too much of that wrestling crap going on, and Raw is so much better because in 3 hours of Raw we only get 20 minutes of wrestling, which is plenty of time to grab another Diet Sprite and then call for another Dominos Triple Cheese. But I am guessing that is a small percentage of audience. Therefore, I am talking to everyone else.
I really have no problem with AJ having some attention on her. But she has become virtually the sole focus of all the pundits. Even in the dying days of WCW, the people who were the centre of attention (for better or worse) were those who stepped foot in the ring on a semi-regular basis. Apart from that Diva Battle Royal and a mixed tag, what matches has AJ been in lately? What one-on-one wrestling matches has she had in the past 3 months? Quick… Well, you could tell me if you want. I can’t actually think of any, and I’d have to look it up to check and I really couldn’t be bothered, so I wouldn’t know if you’re right or not.
Now, let’s just say in TNA they had Christy Hemme fall in love with Bobby Roode. He started to treat her badly, yet she stayed with him. But then she fell for James Storm. And so she was made special guest referee in a Roode / Storm rematch. The IWC would crap all over it. So why are we so accepting of AJ being between two better wrestlers in Daniel Bryan and CM Punk? (I use Hemme because, in my opinion, I find them both equally attractive.) And don’t give me that ‘WWE has a better Creative team’ rubbish – both sets of Creative are as inept as the other. It seems to either comes down to a complete hatred and desire to put down everything TNA does, or the fact that, despite what people say, WWE fandom is the permanent overriding mindset of many. I hope that is wrong, but what other explanation would there be?
Bryan and Punk can tear the house down. I’m with Jim Ross – give them an ironman match and let them take the crowd on a ride. Sure, the modern wrestling fan is not tuned into those hour-long (or 45 minute or however) matches anymore, but if any two guys nowadays can convince the jaded viewing public otherwise, it will be Bryan and Punk. And they do not need AJ to help their feud. She seems to be there, essentially, as a means of extending it without them having to fight over something else. But she has now completely over-shadowed the fighting going on around her. More is made of her making goo-goo eyes than some of the awesome counters Bryan and Punk are pulling out in their matches.
Again, I reiterate, I do not mind the story-line with AJ. But when she is almost the entire focus of a WRESTLING show, I think it means there is something wrong at a much deeper level with the product that most people seem to be willing to admit.
And that’s the View.
Now, for this week’s bit of Australiana.
Let’s kick in with one of the greatest bands ever: AC/DC, with the live version of one of their best songs.
Man, that is one freaking large crowd.
Oh, and just because it’s my column… My first book is due for release in August. After more than 20 years of trying Relick (100pgs) will be released on August 3rd by Creative Print (UK). I won a competition, more than 100 entries, for humour writing, and, well… It’s almost here! I have been told it is offensive and gross and abusive and puerile.