The High Spot: We Didn't Start the Fire
December 19, 2003 by Joseph Bachman
The quote is the title above. For close to a year now I have been dealing with comments that I am too harsh, and I should get over what I say about "marks" and the current WWE Product. Also there is the point made by alot that "the internet and guys like me have ruined wrestling" I take offense to that, in fact, I'm about to prove you wrong...
Before we start, before anything I say, before any nostrils flare, let me ask you a simple question: Do you have a passion? If so, are you content only knowing a little bit about it? I mean you would want to know as much as possible within your passion correct? Let me make the point first which I will bring up later that us internet "smarks" simply have a passion for this business that carries over to anger, or criticism for wrestling. This country is based on the idea that if there is something we don't like, we can try to change it...Let's hope, that there is hope. Before all of this though, let's get into the timeline of why Internet Smarks are not to blame nor the internet itself, but the blame lies on Vince McMahon.
Wrestlemania 3: Hogan vs. Andre. To us as kids and to some adults an historic match that will be remembered and re-lived over and over throughout wrestling. We didn't know the specifics of the match. We didn't need to. We never knew that Hogan's win wasn't a sure lock until Andre said it himself seconds before Hogan magically slammed Andre. Why should we know? We're just kids right? We were just wrestling fans right? Of course. The fact of the matter is though, wrestling was very simple "back in the day" You had a heel, a face, there were few main eventers, few egos, and the WWF was more of a family. Years passed, new stars rose, few though, Hogan, Savage, Warrior, Hart, and then Steve Austin and that takes you about 10-15 years there. The competition all of a sudden grew heavy. Hogan's place in the WWF was no longer there, his place would be taken by Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, while Hogan and Savage went to another company and changed the wrestling business.
The blame doesn't lie so much with Hogan and Savage, but the mere competiton, and this was good. Some fans wanted an alternative and fans down south had their respected wCw. Now it was in the homes of millions as Nitro went on the air. The battle began back and fourth and for some time, wCw was ahead...All while, laying dormant was oh so quiet ECW...
The ECW factor
EXTREME! A Word never really though of in wrestling. While wCw and WWF were competing with lavish stage sets and big names and the classic form of wrestling. ECW popped it's head up and all of a sudden, the innovation began. The overload of violence, the sex, the language, and also, the WRESTLING. ECW was a conservatives nightmare and the bastard child of wrestling. It was also the swift kick in the ass wrestling needed. ECW showed that storylines could push the envelope, it showed that fans LIKE babred wire matches, catfights, and lots of blood...In a sense, it was "adult wrestling"...For Vince this was not a problem until he realzied that his fan base of little kids were slowly decreasing.
Wrestling is not for little kids, for kids wrestling could be a phase, something they "used to watch", it's the teenagers and adults with the undying kid within them that watches wrestling. The theatrical feel mixed with imagInation, the magic of wrestling...the passion. THESE were the fans, and these fans were catching on to ECW...
By now the internet was trying to keep up with ECW/wCw/WWF action online. the early "smarks" may have known some internet news, maybe as much as we do now, but who cared? The product was great, whether you were in the middle of the wCw/WWF WAR or just loving ECW you were happy. Even when ECW's inspiration spilled over to create "WWF Attitude" and all of a sudden valets, catfights, and violence were apart of wCw and WWF shows now. Of course the ECW fans knew what was going on, we saw T-shirts at ECW shows with "F*ck WWF" or "F*ck Vince" "ECW: Where the REAL big boys play" and so on...We knew what was going on and we didn't like it...Problem was the big two swooped up the talent...Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, and others were in ECW before singing to wCw or WWF, the "big two" caught on and were working hard to make sure ECW stayed down. The elaborate stage sets got bigger, and while ECW stayed a low-budget show, even the WWF couldn't keep them away when they "invaded" Raw one night. AN obvious plot by Vince to show the "marks" the better of the two brands and it stayed that way...Vince started making moves as well. Tazz was swooped up, The Dudley Boyz, Al Snow, Shane Douglas, one by one the "big two" would make the first move. if only they would of left ECW alone.
The Bret Hart screwjob
Take sides or not, this was one of the biggets moments in wrestling history. The fateful night when Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, even Earl Hebner collectively "screwed" over Bret Hart was the first implicatons that wrestling is more than it seems to be. The Hitman spelled it out "WCW" in the air and it made you wonder "what is this"? Word got out that it was a "screwjob" and people wanted answers...They wouldn't get it from the newspaper, the internet had the answers...Was this a bad thing? of course not. Remember passion? Any fan that CARED about wrestling wanted to know what exactly happened and to this day details are still misconstruded, but the point is, that moment left us wondering, us: the "internet smarks" wondering "What more goes into this?" Like any passion we wanted to know more, so we learned...Time passed, and our knowledge grew...We now knew what "wrestling terms" were, we could point out and see storylines and botched spots, we knew about what went on backstage and "Beyond the Mat" the movie showed us even more. We were hungry. Why shouldn't we be? This is our passion, we want to know as much as possible. Are we bad people for that?
Even further with the Hogan/Jarrett/Russo shoot where Hogan wouldn't job to Jarrett, with the Steiner/Goldberg/nash controversy, with the power that came with each wCw and WWF came the EGOS, and as we saw it play out we started to get angry. Wrestling wasn't "family oriented" BACKSTAGE anymore, it was a selfish, rotting pit of Egomaniacal waste. Vince and Ted wanted ratings and would do anything to get it. Even from Eric Bischoff giving results from WWF shows on a wCw show. The backstabbing, the twists, the need for money and fame on both sides and it caught up to wCW...wCW was falling apart, and it was falling fast.
ECW, stayed a family. Every show had heart and blood sweat and tears, the wrestlers backstage and the ECW fans were one collective family: The names weren't important. By now though the WWF and the wCw got all the names...ECW had Justin Credible and RVD....wCw had Goldberg and Sting...WWF had Austin and the Rock. The ECW chemistry and working environment if applied to wCw would of kept them alive, and if applied to the WWE today could have made Vince Mcmhaon's head explode. This seperation created "SMARKS". Why would we want to watch an overbuilt wrestler who can't talk and can only do two moves when we can see someone with pure talent, jump off the top ropes through a table and make the place go nuts? Even until it's death, ECW was always innovating, and we as SMARKS knew this: But then, the worst happened...
The Death of ECW
Why? Why we asked? How could this have happened? ECW didn't fall apart family wise but money wise, and it sucked. It sucked alot. We knew the talent would go places, we knew Tajiri, RVD, Rhyno, Justin Credible, Guido Maritato, Jerry Lynn and others would make it...It wouldn't be the same though. ECW worked. There wasn't any egos, Paul Heyman was a father figure to the roster and the death of ECW culminated into a lot of fans driving themselves into confusion...What now? The WWF? It's okay, it has it's moments and at the time of ECW's departure was good television. It still wasn't the same though. Now we as smarks had lost our perfect product, and the criticism began of the other two...
Then Vince had to be the King...
The death of wCw came shortly after ECW...This could of been it, I mean Ted Turner obviously did not care about wrestling, and when bids were up Eric Bischoff himself could have bought it, he could of saved it and molded it into a successful brand....Vince had to be god though. What would Vince do with wCw? He already raided ECW of it's ideas and talent why wCW? give them a chance! NO! Vince out-bidded and BAM! wCw was his...but htis wasn't an opportunity to Vince...Vince didn't see this as a way to make the wrestling world better...Vince just wanted to "WIN" and he did. What came with it? Has any big name wCw wrestler held ANY world title besides the recent Goldberg? He molded the talent into what HE wanted. Booker T, the Hurricane, Kidman, all different. Vince McMahon didn't care, he just wanted to WIN. He wanted ratings while he was doing it as he set up the WCW/ECW invasion. Even though led by Steve Austin? What a slap in the face to wCw. Through the failed and pathetic attempt at the new nWo led by another WWE superstar it was apparent that Vince did not care about anything but ratings and his own. Throughout all of this fans read online what was going on backstage with the wCw/WWE debaucle and when the invasion faded and time passed, it just worsened....
So let me ask you, how did WE ruin wrestling? Are you telling me you would be as entertained NOW as you were 3 years ago? KNOWING the wrestlers triple H kept down and his power, knowing the defamation of Piper, and Hogan, Vince McMahon constantly on our TV screens even as far as booking himself in a match with his own daughter...2 wrestlers could of used that spot to shine. McMahon shunning and quelling ANY reason or other thoughts or ideas other than his own? EX: Paul Heyman losing his writing team job due to him actually stepping up to Vince McMahon. RVD, Rosey and Hurricane etc...CAN'T BEAT KANE! BUT SHANE MCMAHON CAN! To any one that HAS PASSION towards wrestling how could you NOT care about all the stuff that is going on? Do you sit there and simply say "what can I do?" you say that it's OUR fault? WE DIDN'T MAKE THE EGOS. We actually speak out! What a concept! Speaking out! You don't like something than try to change it or speak out! What's that? YOU LIKE the current WWE product? You must not have watched in the past 7 years to see what wrestling once was...because wrestling is not family anymore. Wrestling is a money making machine and that is it. Go out and do your job!
Wrestling has lost so much...We don't see a family anymore, we see egos, we see mid-carders kept at mid-card for years when the main eventers fail to perform at even sub-par decency. We see announcers and GM's and CEO's who should be behind the scenes, become the main event in spots where a wrestler with a chance to break in and this selfishness is displayed we in and week out. Wrestling has even lost announcers...Joey Styles, Gorilla Monsoon, Alfred Hayes, all gone. Jim Ross has trouble calling one match, and you'd be lucky if you'll hear one move called by him. Would you want to watch a football game if the announcers couldn't call the game? Especially if you have passion for the game. The loss of announcers and the lack of moves called is a slap in the face and an insult to wrestling. WHo cares about athleticism when you can "believe the hype"? Flash, pyros, and egos...Who needs wrestling? Storylines that go absolutely nowhere, and end without reason, matches that stun audiences with wrestlers who will never get a chance to main event a PPV moreless Raw ever again...The leader, who will not be reasoned with, because he is the self=proclaimed wrestling GOD. This is what wrestling has become.
So if you call it "bitching" then so be it. I question your ability to care about the business, if you cared you would be with me, but if you turn away and tell me to shut up, I have to ask "where's your passion?"
Remember passion? I do. But I could just be bitching...
by Joseph Bachman ..
James Walsh wrote:
Now I am not going to go off on you or your beliefs because I do not know you, however I think by placing your dribble on the internet that makes it fair for me to respond. And while you are thinking up intelligent 'smark' sarcasm to throw my way, just know that I have been around wrestling over 37 years. I have seen it all, so do not use the passion line on me. Use something new please.
Who do you think you are to down grade people just because they enjoy one product over another?
You can sit there and complain all you want but it boils down to simple jealousy. You are upset because Vince 'won' by putting the other federations out of business? That is idiotic to say the least. For many different reasons, the biggest one being the fact that wrestling has turned into a business, every damn promotion. From back in the 40s to the present, it has always been about entertainment and money. You can argue this point all you want, but it is a fact. If wrestling was not a business tell me what happened to ECW? Why did it go under? Oh wait I remember, no money. Now you can tell me about the kids who think wrestling in a backyard is why I am wrong. Simple fact is those same kids would do anything to be making money at the sport. Not one Superstar will ever tell you, 'I do not want money. I just love wrestling so much that I do it for free.' Now you can say that is because of all the egos backstage these days, you will be wrong but you can assume this. I am sure if you did research, 'show passion', the main reason many wrestlers give up the business is because of two things, injuries or cash. Plain and simple, futile to argue this point my friend. Name one wrestler that would not jump at the chance to be part of the WWE? Hell if afford enough money Sting and Jarrett would jump at the chance. Look at Goldberg, who swore he would never go work with Vince. Now this is the part were you say Goldberg is a horrific wrestler those does not count because of whatever reason you decide to use this week. Or you can talk about how Goldberg is the one who caused Bret Hart to have a stroke. Granted injuries happen in the ring all the time and the stroke happened damn near five years later, but somehow Goldberg was responsible, right? Wrong. Simple fact is by you always thinking you know what is going on, by you down grading people who enjoy the WWE product and by you speaking as if you were in fact a wrestler you end up doing nothing more then making yourself look like a fool. Again I do not know you personally so I cannot say this is true, for all I know you are a nice guy with insane views on wrestling that is not the case however. Do me a favor and talk about how the WWE never pushes mid-card talent and look over John Cena or The Rock. Now do not say the Rock got his break because of his father, that is bullcrap, Vince did not send him to charm school. Nor did he send Cena to rap 101 classes. Your argument has no grounds. While I do believe that wrestling ability in general has gone down hill, Benoit and Angle are the best in WWE which is not saying much, I do not understand what makes you think that you can down grade the product to people who enjoy it. If you do not like it just order some PPV or go down to the local High School gym and watch some Indy federations work the ring rust off and 'pay their dues'. Change the channel and ignore it. I know you are thinking perhaps I could ignore this article, but like you I just got fed up with everyone online these days thinking they know everything. If you do not like someone do not like them for something else other then how they act backstage. If they wanted you to know what is going on they would tell you. This 'smark fan' idea is ridiculous to no end. NO ONE is a Smark Fan, unless they are a former wrestler or dealt with wrestling on a one on one basis their whole life. A Smark Fan is nothing more then a rumor monger who THINKS they understand how everything works. You can go on and on about how the WWE is so horrific, but for some reason people still watch, and love, the product. It is cool to not follow the trend I guess, who knows I am a fan who grew up with wrestling and not read about it on the internet to become a smark fan.
I will end my rambling with one more thing. You speak about mid-carders never getting a break, if that was true then we would still be watching Macho Man and Hogan. WCW kept their talent down and under, not the WWE. You can think this all you want, but then again that would not make sense because of Brock... Angle... The Rock... John Cena... I could go on but I will not.
Passion is enjoying all of Sports Entertainment and keeping the mysticism alive about what is going on. Not trying to dismantle every little thing that happens, remember what happened when you learn Santa was not real and Magic was fake, I can guarantee that once you learned the truth both Christmas and Magic Shows were never the same. Please go ahead and disagree with me because I am making a point.
Passion is not what you have, a over active imagination perhaps? Who knows, you may know however you are after all a Smark Fan.
P.S. Just for the record, I am not a fan of the WWE or anything that Vince Jr. has ever had full control over, however he does know how to run a business and develop new talent.
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