Marked For Failure
May 9, 2005 by Ben Myatt
About three nights ago (Tuesday 5th may.), I sat in a Liverpool pub called the Pilgrim, watching on the big screen as Liverpool progressed through Chelsea to the final of the UEFA Champions League. I can vividly remember every emotion. Leaping to my feet, grabbing my friends around me, and cheering insanely as Steven Gerrard and company made their circuit of the pitch in triumph, in between rousing choruses of "You'll never walk alone."
When I got home, a thought occurred to me. When was the last time I reacted this way to a wrestling match" I react this way to football a lot, but wrestling is a different matter.
Of course, that night I was too drunk to write this column, and it was not until the Friday that I remembered it.
It's a scary fact that I can remember precisely the last time I cheered for a wrestling match. Not just the quiet little nod I give when results I like happened, but full blown, hands in the air cheering. It was about a month and a half ago, whilst watching the UK wrestling channel, and I saw a repeat of a Ring of Honor show where the Briscoe's won the tag titles. It was fortunate that I was home alone, as I leapt to my feet, hands in the air, yelling "Yes!" loudly.
You can tell precisely how often I check back-results on the Ring of Honor site, can't you"
Given that in between that show and this column, WrestleMania 21 occurred, doesn't it say something" I loved WrestleMania. It even surprised me a couple of times. I had a huge grin plastered onto my face after the Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels match. And yet, I still wasn't cheering.
Of course, being an educated net-smark, I'm supposed to call this "Marking out." I'll do that from now on.
I find it slightly scary that I'm Marking so little over wrestling product these days. Is it a symptom of being a net fan" No. I've been a Smark for far longer than this, and I've still marked over wrestling - Eddie Guerrero's win at No Way Out '04 being a good example - and I've been able to post fine about it afterwards.
Is it the quality of the matches" Again no. I've seen many good matches over the past year or so. I've marked out for very few.
The conclusion I've come to is a saddening one. I believe it's because wrestling has lost its sense of build up.
Take a look at WrestleMania. Last year, the highlights of the card were the two brand-title matches. Kurt Angle vs Eddie Guerrero was a fantastic match, but it was made more so by the storyline rivalry between the two. Right up until the PPV, the pair were at each others throats. It made the match personal. But it also made it a competition over who was the best. That's what we were all interested in. it made for an excellent match, because it captured our interests. Same goes for the Triple Threat. First of all we had the personal rivalry between Triple H and Michaels, but we also had Benoit, with his need to prove himself to be the best.
Fast forward to this years event. Our two main events were JBL vs John Cena and HHH vs Batista.
In both cases, the WWE got it half right.
First of all, JBL-Cena. In this match, the buildup was spot-on. We had JBL and Cena at each others throats, and we had the added interest of the "No Fight" stipulation that kept them from attacking each other. It didn't matter that we knew who was going to win, because the psychology and storyline going into 'Mania was so good. Unfortunately, the match itself was a huge letdown. Since they weren't given enough time, and JBL dominated for most of it - completely going against his character of the past year - it left the majority of fans feeling deflated.
And then there was HHH-Batista. WWE came so close to getting this one right. Really. We were all behind Big Dave going into the event. The breakdown of Evolution over the months leading into 'Mania was handled well. Unfortunately, the storyline ran out of steam before it hit the big stage. Whilst the match itself was decent, by that time, a fair few fans had stopped caring. If the two main events had been the other way around, and given more time, Cena-JBL would have been a far stronger finish to the event.
But what both of these show is that the storylines of wrestling have been sorely misplaced over the past year, especially in WWE. Predictability has seeped in to the writing department, and we've gotten so used to certain cookie-cutter plotlines that at times its actually frustratingly bad to watch. Action in wrestling is all well and good, but even Ring Of Honor's action-oriented product understands the need of a decent storyline to build the matches up.
I don't know about anyone else, but I am longing to see a match that has been built up in such a way, and has just the right kind of action to make me mark out. Right now, I'm looking forward to the I Quit match between JBL and Cena. If the feud doesn't lose steam between now and Judgement day, it should be the kind of match that has me on the edge of my seat.
But given that we're smarks, and that half the time we tend to kill our own fun, here's a little homework. Go to your collection of DVDs or Videos. Put it in the machine, and switch off your analytical mind. Just watch. Imagine you're sitting there in the crowd. Watch Eddie land that frog splash on Brock Lesnar. Watch Triple H tap out cleanly to the cross-face. Watch Alex Shane land that second One Night Stand on Doug Williams. And feel the emotion.
Maybe the fault doesn't just lie with the companies. Maybe we should spend a little more time enjoying, and a little less time criticising.
I await your feedback with bated breath.
by Ben Myatt --- [View Ben Myatt's Column Index]..
"Cowboy" Jazz wrote:
At wrestlemania 21 I remember cheering violently (with others in the room) when Angle defeated a prone and beaten Shawn Michaels. I remember standing in shock when Christy personally proved me wrong. I remember screaming my head off when Edge won that ladder match, everyone in the room screamed and jumped and hugged each other when Batista beat Triple H, and I remember crying when John Cena won the title. On Raw (May 2nd) I was jumping and screaming when Triple H was finally knocked out of the title run. I feel that the WWE does an amazing job (very very very very much as of late) of building up and developing matches, storylines and characters. If people would just stop complaining about what they know they can't fix, and if they would just give the business some time, they would see that wrestling is movin' on up. and Sports entertainment is slowly but surely becoming wrestling again. Every time I watch wrestling there is something that happens in that night anywhere from one to fifty things in one night that rush my adrenaline, wrestling doesn't need people to complain, it isn't helping, so everyone just needs to sit back and enjoy, because that is what it is for..
Chip Redmond wrote:
Ben, I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with you. I, too, believe that one of the major things that is lacking in WWE these days is the build-up to the big matches. I recently got my hands on some of the old Wrestlemania's and Survivor Series', and I have been watching them as I can. I can still remember the fueds leading up to the big matches- Hulk and Andre, shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, Don Muraco and Ricky Steamboat. I remember them all, and I believe it was because there were only 4 PPV's a year. Four! So they had months to develop storylines, months for fueds to get some steam. Now, the WWE tries to force storylines down our throats, and a lot of them are simply not believable. Even more of them are not memorable. I can't remember why John Cena and Brock Lesnar wanted to fight each other. Or Lesnar and Goldberg. They just do not pique interest any more, and most of the fueds are forgotten as soon as the 'grudge match' is over. And you'r eprobably right, we probably do criticise too much. But, in my opinion, if the storylines would hold my attention a bit longer, I wouldn't have so much free time on my hands to criticise. All in all, Ben, a great column, with ideas intelligently put forth and well written. Thank you for an enjoyable read.
Brian Riddle wrote:
I would defenitly agree that 'Maybe we should spend a little more time enjoying, and a little less time criticising. ' But i also can agree with you as well. Theri are very few times that i can extremly excited any more. And even then, its not cause its shocking, it just that what i would have wanted would have happened. In fact theri is only one man in the wwe that can get me out of my set. And that none other then, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. I consider him the best ever. And as of late, hes the only person that can rly put a good match.
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