Friday, November 16, 2012

If it's not PG, then what is it?

Hey Scott,
 
On wrestling sites that I frequent, whenever the subject of low ratings, low PPV buy, Linda's political campaign, etc, the vast majority of comments complain that if they would only go back to PG-14 or Attitude-level of "adult" programming, that it would fix everything. That or a John Cena heel turn.
 
Personally, growing up with wrestling far longer than the Attitude Era like yourself, I've seen a successful wrestling product that was kid-friendly. Hogan's WWF era comes to mind. Possibly WCW around the same time. I also know that for all the success WWE had in those days (and wrestling in general), it wasn't without a lot of really stupid, insulting ideas just because they could. Katie Vick and Pat Patterson's underwear shit stain when he would strip and do the stinkface. Also, I'm REALLY sorry to everyone for that reminder.
 
Anyway, my point (and most intelligent people's point) is that WWE's lack of success or especially its stale product has nothing to do with its audience rating. Argument's I've read for a higher rating never include anything that could be done in a PG product.
 
What would you say, then, are the most damning things WWE is doing these days that has nothing to do with its PG product? You've mentioned 50/50 booking. I'd add in the generic names, a lack of distinctly different matches (though, with the tag division returning, that's changing a little), ADHD-level of writing, Vince's inability to know pop culture, etc What say you?
 
Nick

All of that, yeah.  No emotional investment from the fans is a big one for me.  I have no reason to care if Randy Orton is beating Michael McDougall or David McKickflip a week after they debut out of NXT because none of these doofuses get any characters worth caring about.  Ooo, it's Fandango, who offers a subtle comment on the lameness of Dancing With The Stars, what a winner.  I've said it many times before and I'll say it again -- the last guy fans were given any kind of emotional investment opportunity in was Zack Ryder, and that was purely accidental and was shot down immediately afterwards for being the "wrong" reaction.  We are supposed to be cheering Sheamus, the smiling goof who loves to fight and doesn't care about the World title he held for six months because he'll just get another shot for no reason anyway, fella, not the guys who actually put in the time and improve themselves in or out of the ring.  

But yeah, all that other stuff too.  And as noted, PG or 14 has nothing to do with it.  HHH drugging Stephanie and marrying her in Vegas works as a PG storyline or a 14 one because he's a sleazeball jackass who ruined someone's life for his own personal gain, not because he can say "ass" or bleed on TV or whatever.  

71 comments:

  1. What's wrong with how Sheamus is handling his loss? He admitted Big Show was the better man and he wants a rematch. Should be crying or talking about how Show cheated?

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  2. Wrestling in my mind is best when it is a soft PG-13. You need the guys to be able to talk about kicking someone's ass without saying "You know what". You need some blood to punctuate a major match like HITC. Those are the only cases where being PG hurts the product.


    Too much in the other direction hurts the product too. ECW led to crap like XPW where blood was so common that it meant nothing, and guys dropping F bombs has always come off as bushleague to me.

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  3. If you want fans to get behind Sheamus fighting from underneath he has to show some fire beyond "oh ho ho that was a good fight you beat me in sir! I should be upset about my title but I am not because it was such a good fight! Next time we fight I will win!"

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  4. I think the main thing for me is just how completely scripted everything is. Nobody gets to stand out because everybody has their promo written for them by the same writers every week.

    You don't feel like "Anything can happen" anymore. There is no creativity. It seems like it's all just bland cookie cutter stuff where they have their ideas and try to fit guys into it, rather than getting an actual talent and letting them work their way to the top. Nobody gets over unless WWE approves of it. If the crowd starts liking someone and WWE doesn't want it to happen, they'll job the guy completely out to someone they want us to care about.

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  5. The Zach Ryder thing is what stands out to me. Not Ryder himself, but that the WWE just doesn't listen to their fans anymore. Wrestling is so easy - the fans are paying money and telling you every night by who they cheer, who they boo and who they ignore what they want to see.



    But the WWE turns Punk heel anyway or keeps jobbing Ziggler or puts AJ in a pantsuit because they do what they want, fans be damned.

    However - I am immediately intrigued by this David McKickflip fella.

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  6. I remember watching Randy Savage try to kill Ricky Steamboat on a Saturday morning as a 5 year old. No blood. No cursing. Totally badass.

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  7. I'm really wondering what specifically started the WWE's burial of Ryder.


    For some reason, I keep thinking back to a RAW that featured Punk, Bryan, and Ryder rather prominently that absolutely tanked in the ratings. Almost immediately after, Ryder was featured far less on the show (I don't recall any difference with how Punk and Bryan were booked).


    Then shortly after that, Ryder pretty much got buried.

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  8. Exactly. Get pissed off about losing the title you held for many months. Get upset about it.

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  9. This. All of this. Best comment from a first-timer ever.

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  10. Go back and watch the Eddy Kingston Promo from the Chikara, |Whiplash of emotion post, that's another thing missing from WWE, pure, unfiltered PASSION

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  11. Burying Zack Ryder earlier this year was just a horrible, horrible mistake. Sure, the character was limited, but that's why you let them evolve.


    Imagine if the WWF had neglected to push Austin after his emergence in the summer and fall of 96, the New Age Outlaws in late 1997 or the NOD-era Rock in mid-'98 when fan support overwhelmingly got behind those characters to take them to the next level. We'd almost certainly be looking at a very different wrestling landscape right now.


    It seems like Vince just stopped listening to fans somewhere around 1999 - 2001 where you had the arrivals of Jericho, Edge, Benoit, Eddie, and Angle who all got over instantly but just kind of spun their tires in the midcard. They all eventually hit main event status, but their moments in the sun weren't as grand as they could have been had WWE struck while the iron was hotter. I still wonder what would have happened had Jericho actually kept the title from HHH on the Raw in spring of 2000.

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  12. While there is a lot of problems with the WWE these days, I think it's unfair to pick on Sheamus as he has actually worked hard on improving himself not only in the ring, but backstage and with the media too.

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  13. Well, Bryan jobbed in 15 seconds at Mania and was never portrayed as much of a legit champion during his reign if that counts as a burial.

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  14. I, along with others here on the BoD, have been saying what the e-mailer has said all along. In fact, I'll say they NEEDED to make it a lighter product in light of the SI steroid report and the Benoit incident that really casted a dark cloud over the company with sponsors leaving left and right. In fact, its first full year at a TV-PG product, 2008, was a pretty damn good year for them.


    Whatever struggles the company is facing has nothing to do with a lack of blood, language, or HHH and Candice Michelle getting oral sex under a picnic table. It's the horrible booking that makes no one look strong and give no rhyme or reason to title shots. It's the lack of "character"; look at why people were excited for WWE '13. A lot of the Attitude Era roster are guys like Godfather, Val Venis, etc., who you'd never strap a world title on, but had a huge following because they had a character and persona. As Scott said a while back, what's the difference between Miz and Dolph Ziggler? Who are they? Why should we care about them? If we don't care about the individuals, why should we care about the product? That's what's wrong with the company, not the family-oriented aim.

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  15. The overly scripted promos are a real detriment to the programming. Unless you're a part time vet (Foley, Jericho, HBK, Rock) or Punk, they seem to keep everyone on such a short leash. I'd imagine Cena has the power to ad lib, but his promos are among the worst in the company unless he's particularly inspired.

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  16. Imagine how much Hulk/Andre would have been enhanced had Andre tried to chop off Hogan's wang with a samurai sword

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  17. When I got WWE 13 the first guy I downloaded was gangrel, I remembered his music, his rising through fire, his blood spitting, his vampire teeth, the frilly shirt, all those things made him stand out. Gangrel was a lower midcard guy at best and a jobber as soon as the brood split up yet he makes more of an impression then most of the guys making up the numbers for mitb matches. WWE send people to development give them a gimmick, bring them up to the main roster, take their gimmick away, call them "Ryan Jeffries" (TM), have them lose matches and expect people to care about them.

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  18. Most of the people that say they want the Attitude Era back would probably complain if they got it because what they think the Attitude Era was and what it actually was are 2 very different things. There's this perception that the Attitude Era was a time when they had great matches up and down the card and focused on wrestling while also having all these more adult-oriented storylines. The real Attitude Era was an era when TV matches lasted about a minute and always ended in a run-in or DQ. PPV matches were all brawling-style matches up and down the card.

    I do believe that the tone of the show matters and that an edgier show will be more successful in the US than it would have been with the same quality of product. I believe an Attitude-style product is a benefit, provided that they avoid the bad kind of edgy storylines (Val VS Kaientai, Brisco VS Patterson Evening Gown match, Kiss Vince's ass Club, body function jokes, Mae Young showing her puppies, Katie Vick, etc.). Raw was drawing its best ratings ever when the Ministry of Darkness was feuding with the Corporation and both factions were feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin, although that storyline fell apart when the 2 factions merged and Vince McMahon was revealed as the Higher Power. The ban on blood is a really bad idea because its needed in many gimmick matches. If blading is a health risk, they should just use blood bags like most people who don't know about blading probably think they do already. Shades of grey is another great idea from the Attitude Era that they should bring back. Its more realistic and makes it easier to suspend disbelief. Its not that difficult for fans to decide which wrestler they like better and cheer that wrestler and much of the audience basically does that already. Going edgy and adopting a darker tone are also good ideas.

    But, they could be successful with a PG product if they just stopped doing all the stupid things they do that undermine their own product and everybody knows what those things are. When nobody gets over because of the bad booking, the show's going to be terrible whether its PG or Attitude. If WWE went Attitude without changing anything else, they'd likely fill the show with jokes about body functions and terrible angles. Vince will probably greenlight the incest angle he's rumored to have wanted to do for years at the first opportunity. Still, nobody would get over because it would still be basically the same old crap, just with some new annoying crap added to the old crap.

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  19. Agreed... if it doesn't bother you, why would anyone else care? That's honestly the only thing that bothers me about Cena as well.

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  20. But listen, brother, the Hulkster's 22-inch python was so massive and engorged when Andre tried to use the sharpest samurai sword in existence, one so sharp that it could even cut God, that the sword broke, brother. It shattered into a million little pieces. And then the Hulkster looked Andre right in those big dead eyes, brother, and said, "Still better than sex with Linda, brother." And then we both tag teamed the entire Dallas Cowgirls lineup from 1984, 1985, AND 1986. And Bea Arthur, but that was for Andre.

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  21. The thing is they built sympathy really well in the Lesnar match for Cena and the Show match for Sheamus, only to undo it by following up terribly on TV. Well, and booking Cena to win in that case.

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  22. Agreed. I can watch any episode of Raw these days going 'None of this shit matters.'

    So I just wrote this nostalgic, rambling rant about what all I remembered from 1997 in another thread here, then pulled up the video of Bret 'snapping' about being screwed on Raw.

    That was one of those moments for me that had my jaw dropping, and made me think I couldn't miss a SECOND of RAW in those days. Anything could happen, and people actually gave a shit. Those few minutes of Bret flipping out, screaming and ranting about one loss made the title, made winning and losing, etc all sound important as hell.

    Now, if Cena or Orton loses to ______, there's a rematch in a couple of weeks. Or maybe even the next night if they're in the ring arguing and GM/COO/Janitor in Chief/whoever puts them in A MATCH AGAINST EACH OTHER TO PUNISH THEM!

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  23. that may be true, but blood was quite common at that point. It was in 88 that blading was banned by Vince. Blood adds to a blowoff match or to really sell a beatdown to get a feud to the next level.

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  24. Plus, USA's slogan was/is(?) "Characters Welcome." For all the shit RoH gets (and rightfully so) about a bunch of generic strong-style guys, WWE has a bunch of generic brawlers who float through the Universe waiting for their turn to feud with an authority figure.

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  25. OH yeah, if there's anything that makes me roll my eyes at people who dismiss Ryder it's the NAO. Those guys were saddled in tons of bad gimmicks yet they were given a chance to flourish. That never happens today.

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  26. I don't know why this conversation keeps coming back to the rating, it feels like we've covered this ground a zillion times on here, are people still arguing this on other sites?

    I think that there is a point some people are trying to make though when they harp on the rating, which misses the point. If you look at the actual 'flavor' of the product, it's certainly just about as soft as it ever was. It's actually very reminiscent of 1990, 1993-1995 WWF -- although with even less blood. By late 1991 they were doing some pretty intense stuff with Randy Savage and Jake Roberts and then the Elizabeth angle with Flair was pretty controversial for it's time.



    Obviously none of this has much to do with the actual ratings as they have different demographics to pitch a different flavor of product to -- but as an adult fan, I'm definitely more interested in darker, edgier content and would prefer a product that is not so soft.

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  27. It doesn't help when Sheamus has a promo in the ring with the Big Show and ends up cheap shotting him with a Brogue Kick at the end of it. And he's supposed to be the good guy? Same thing with Cena trying to get another title shot. Punk already beat him 3 times and doesn't feel that Cena deserves another shot. And he's supposed to be the bad guy? So Cena may be banging AJ. Why is that a bad thing? Why should we care? What is the payoff going to be?

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  28. Why would he get pissed? He lost the title clean. Show didn't cheat to win, he beat Sheamus, what's there to get angry about?

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  29. EVERYONE was ripping on NAO when they started tagging.


    "Yeah, Rockabilly and the New Double J, that'll put butts in seats."

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  30. That was also the great thing about 80's WWF, EVERYONE had a gimmick. As a kid, I loved watching Brutus Beefcake because he might cut someone's hair. Or Jake the Snake, because he'd dump Damien on some poor jobber. Hell, I watched Buddy Rose because I wanted him to get his ass kicked for daring to claim he was a "Slim trim" 210 lbs.

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  31. Add to all of those things OVEREXPOSURE.....when youve got 2 hours of the same crappy angles and bad gimmicks with ridiculous names.....whats worse? 3 HOURS of crappy angles, bad gimmicks, etc.....and now that RAW and SmackDown are essentially the same show, 5 hours!

    No originality. The one thing I liked about the "guest host" era: Something unique happened every week. I'd even take the show where everybody walked out. It was different.

    Nobody gets McMahon's brand of humor and/or taste.....the Lawler angle, for example, not only was poor taste, but.....who really cared?

    THEY decide who gets over as a heel. The aforementioned Zack Ryder example (GOD this guy needs to go to TNA)....not to mention the never-ending quest to get Punk over as a heel.

    They are soooooo predictable. The Miz turning heel and going to team Foley: Prime example. Ray Charles could have seen that coming. Who's gonna main event the next ppv? I'll give you a hint: Whoever pins CM Punk in a non tiitle match...which brings me to #1:

    #1: The TITLES DON'T MEAN CRAP! How many non-title matches did Ric Flair lose? What about Triple H? Exactly. Same old same old.....Champ loses 3 weeks in a row, then win on the ppv. Yes, CM Punk has been champ 300 days......hes only won 12 matches. Ho nas been pinned by Cena what? 4 times? (Same goes for TNA by the way)......How many matches did Santino win as U.S. Champ?

    It isnt just TV-PG or 14 rating (though it SURE WOULD HELP).....they bleed buckets and curse all the time in TNA....with little effect. Turning Cena would be worse - they would hotshot bad angles in order to get him over.....where have they done that before? (see 2012, Punk, CM).....sorry I went long, but I just got thru watching some old-school Mid-South, and I see how much better the product was back in the territories.....comments, Scott? (or anyone?)

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  32. Losing. People get angry when they lose.

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  33. They don't need to go back to tv-14, they need to go back to being a wrestling company.

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  34. I think what finally got them over, at least for me, was the dumpster incident.


    And that's another thing that's missing, wrestlers giving a shit. When Foley and Funk got pushed off the stage in the dumpster by the Outlaws, EVERYONE came out to see if they were alright, some to even go after the Outlaws. You had Sunny crying, Scorpio freaking out, you had Mero out there despite all the Sable nonsense. It felt legit, but not in that breaking the fourth wall kind of way.

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  35. Then again, all of USA's characters on their endless stream of generic procedurals aren't exactly cutting-edge themselves.

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  36. To add your first point, Flair actually lost (or went to time-limit draws) in his fair share of non-title matches. The difference was that when Flair did lose or draw one of those bouts, it was treated as a huge deal, and the guy who beat Flair or went the distance was immediately elevated to the main event.

    Now? Guy beats the champ and nothing even comes of it. Doesn't even lead to the winner getting a title shot, in most cases. How many times has Del Rio beaten Kofi and Santino over the last several months but never got an IC or US title match? Or when Miz was bragging about being a great IC champ so he was booked to defend against Ryback, except then Ryback beats him in a non-title match...and that's it. There's no final step of Ryback getting an IC title bout, he just moved onto a different angle and Miz feuded with Kofi.

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  37. A thousand likes for this!

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  38. And RoH never claims too be a land of charecters, it's more offensive that the WWE crew is so bland because they market themselves as an entertainment company rather then a wrestling federation

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  39. It's not just wrestling, sports team, while congratulatory, get pissed when they lose,
    A random example, The Ottawa Senetors goalie had to take a walk around the arena before he could do the hand shaking when the Rangers knocked his team out of the playoffs (Hockey reference because I know nothing about the NFL or the NBA or whatever Americans are into right now :p)

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  40. True....very true. Good point re:Flair....however, as you pointed out, it WAS a big deal. Now, the champion jobs all the time in meaningless TV matches. Also, ALL the belts meant something. The I-C (or US) champion was viewed as a threat to the world title....or at the very least a good worker (remember Randy Savage as I-C Champion?) Now, it means bonafide mid-carder at best

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  41. It makes you look like an immature little douchebag when you get pissed after losing COMPLETELY cleanly.


    I think the angle is fine, Sheamus is treating it as an exhilarating experience he wants to have again because he believes he can beat Show the next time, while Show is selling it as a total squash and denigrating Sheamus. The face is being respectful, and the heel isn't.

    And when Show provoked him, he gave him White Noise, it's not like Sheamus hasn't been doing anything. Him being constantly angry isn't interesting either, have a dynamic range of emotions.

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  42. as a black american, i know nothing about hockey.

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  43. i down-voted cuz im a hater.


    good post, welcome.

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  44. they were over when they kept taping up the boombox and smashing on teams to win.


    DONE. GIVE THEM THE STRAPS.

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  45. CHIKARA... Passion... Eddie Kingston?!


    Ill never get this promotion.

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  46. they havent been a wrestling company since Jan of 84.

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  47. I remember that vividly, from fall of 86 when Savage drove the ring bell into Steamboat's throat. Classic moment. I still remember when they had to put up the big red X over the screen when Brutus Beefcake was carved up by the Outlaw Ron Bass, whatever happened to him anyway?

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  48. Totally agree about the scripts. It's what makes everyone so damn generic. You think Hulk, Savage, Steamboat, Hart Foundation, Heenan, Hart, Slick, Piper, etc were handed scripts to follow? I doubt it, they had charisma and everyone had a distinct character, now it's the same crap from everyone.

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  49. I've said the same damn thing, the classic gimmicks of the 80s may have been over the top, but at least everyone was recognizable. Hell, my wife doesn't watch anymore, she gave up after 2004, and has no idea who any of the current guys are, but she recognized Gangrel, Godfather, Val, NAO, etc from WWE 13 right away. And even on 12 I have downloaded all the classic 80's CAWs, including Boss Man, Akeem, Quake, Warrior, Jake, etc and she knows all them. The fact is none of the current guys stand out in anyway, they're all generic and boring.

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  50. They haven't been a 'wrestling' company since they changed the name. Hell, do they even say World Wrestling Entertainment anymore? They should just change the name to JCS, the John Cena Show, since everything has to revolve around him anyways. The wrestling aspect is dead, they're more concerned with comedy, bad comedy, and pop culture references then putting on sold matches.

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  51. Maybe they have just too many bookers or writers. Imagine a movie or a book written by 10 different people. It can't work.

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  52. To be fair, I don't think anyone's picking on Sheamus himself, just the way his character is written. They took a guy who was making a name for himself as a no-nonsense ass-kicker, and then insisted that he smile all the time and make lame jokes.

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  53. Sheamus could at least be upset at himself - for months, Sheamus has basically thought of himself as the toughest guy around, but then loses the title to a guy that was somewhat of a paper-challenger. Sheamus should feel some insecurity now, since he wasn't able to do what Cena and Henry could do.

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  54. True. As goofy as the 90s gimmicks were (wrestling garbage man, wrestling country singer, wrestling dentist, etc...) at least everyone had a backstory and you had no problem telling them apart.

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  55. You gotta understand that, while a lot of Chikara is all the goofy magic stuff that you don't like, they do try to vary it up. Generally their main event stuff is a little more grounded in reality, with guys like Kingston, Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, and others who aren't really the Halloween costume gimmicks. (Not that those guys never get title shots, too). I don't blame you for not liking the goofy stuff but they do have more than one trick.

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  56. I liked the point Regal made once about the announcing being terrible: "You have to realize, the reason the announcing is the way it is these days is because they're trying not to call attention to any of the horrible shit going on in the ring." The writing and direction of the company sucks but good wrestling trumps all of that, and right now, while they have tons of technically proficient wrestlers, no one tries hard enough to get over. Characters never change, everyone does the same moves and same gimmicks their whole careers and the booking keeps everything status quo. Hell, no one even has "gimmicks" anymore. I like Ziggler but he's just a guy with a name. People need props, and themes, and nicknames, and custom theme music. All of that stuff used to work, and for some reason it's just been completely foresaken. Hell look at Cody Rhodes: he had a gimmick with the Dr. Doom thing and the mask and putting the paper bags on people's heads and it was awesome, and then it all got stripped away and now he's as generic as anyone else on the roster. It's just sad, and I don't see it ever getting better until the company goes completely into the toilet.

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  57. this is the third time 2 days ive heard the nam eddie kingston. i youtubed him. not impressed.


    cant work.


    looks like somebody on watchdog


    CHIKARA STILL BLOWS

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  58. The USA shows are pretty boss though. Burn Notice, Suits, White Collar, and Royal Pains have pretty diverse characters.


    Raw? Not so much...

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  59. I've seen him before and I wasn't impressed either.

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  60. Yeah I agree, he's gotten very good. I won't hold the shitty scripts he has to read against him.

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  61. I've felt, especially for the last few years, that no only has Vince lost touch with fans, he hates them. They get in the way of HIS show. The constant swerves of the smarks, last second booking changes, no script for the show until 30 minutes into it (rumored) and 3 hour shows. That's a WCW business model. I think Vince operates on his experience and not his "gut". His "gut" produced the Attitude Era and all the unique stars from it. His experience produces guys with a Mad LIb names with no agenda, character or reason for us to care. Honestly, cowboys, clowns, dentists, hockey players, porn stars, pimps and vampires AT LEAST give me a reason to pay attention. If Mason Ryan was a mafia goon or a evil doctor he'd have at least a chance to be noticed. Face it, Vince is aging and never had any knowledge of pop culture or what John Q. Public actually likes. He's more concerned with a board of directors he has to answer to. WWE died when this company went public. He cares about the stock and the NASDAQ. He stopped caring about what fans wanted a long time ago.

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  62. I agree, some insecurity would help make the angle work a lot better. But being an angry douche would be a terrible way to sell yourself as a babyface.

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  63. Chuck Taylor is great, but he's just let down by the fans. They refuse to boo him and it kills the promotion for me.

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  64. You'd think their smark fans would be able to realize they have a role to play and, even if they enjoy the guy, boo him anyway because he's the heel. If you enjoy a heel's performance, you boo him, and then applaud the match after it's over. Or at least you should.

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  65. Hell, when he was Dashing CR, he had the old-school style vignettes that gave the audience more time with his character. For about 8 months or so, they did everything right with him and *gasp* HE GOT OVER! (see: the giant pop he got from MSG at SvS last year)

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  66. Dude, have you been watching the matches recently? They've been tearing the house down.

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  67. Agreed a hundred percent. Obnoxious smarks who refuse to boo heels do not make the show more enjoyable, in fact, the make the entire thing a whole lot worse.

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  68. Actually, most major Hollywood productions include a LOT of creative changes that stem from not just the writers, but the producers, the directors, even sometimes the actors.

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  69. Paul Heyman explains wrestling in a nutshell:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4NdtAosDH4&t=9m2s

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