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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Dissecting The Business
April 13, 2005 by Don L. Tolle


For those who remember me from other websites, I'm glad to have you back as readers and suggest you skip the rest of this paragraph. Now, let me introduce myself for those who have no clue who I am. Don Tolle "a man of many passions". Passions for music "I have worked for a national act as a lead guitarist quite some time ago" passion for my family "married to my beautiful wife Beth with four children and one more on the way" passion for Pro-Wrestling the greatest sport in the world". I have been a life long fan of the sport and broke into writing about it online through my close friend Brian Pillman. Brian would make a habit of frequenting local night clubs where I was working here in the Cincinnati area. He and I became good friends in the early 90's and no matter what I might end up doing in this business I will always start a new "gig" with thanks to him! I work by days as a computer and network consultant and have owned my own company since 1996. Now that you know who I am read on to see exactly what it is that I do.

WrestleMania 21

Good all-around show from my view. I thought that Eddie and Ray Jr. did a decent job of opening the night with a fast paced match, which for my money is always the best way to start a PPV. The big ones did not come through as much as I might have liked for them to but all around a good show nonetheless. I am from the old school belief that WrestleMania should be the biggest show of the year and is the cross-roads of the physical year for the WWE. All things end and begin at WrestleMania and it should be interesting to see where the WWE heads in the post WrestleMania world.

Now, let us get to the meat and potatoes of this column.

I have spent quite a bit of time reading around the net the past several weeks in an attempt to get a feel as to where the wrestling fans are as well as the business itself. It seems that a lot of people are of the opinion that the WWE product is going stale and that something is very wrong with the company. Well, I do agree in that the product is stale but the question is why"

Is it a lack of competition" Maybe the fault lies in the reality that the WWE is the biggest game in town. Not taking anything away from TNA here as I love what they do but, the world wrestling entertainment "that will never sound as good as the world wrestling federation" is in fact the bull of the woods at this point. When WCW fell they had drawn the conclusion that the "WWF!" had lost and no longer considered them competition. It was at this point that the company (WCW) started growing repetitive and allowed the boys from New York to score the knock out punch.

While I do agree that competition creates growth in the sport as a whole, I would suggest that it is not the underlying reason that the WWE is in need of a creative adjustment. Look at the history of the sport in it's peak years. You have the 1980's, a time when Hulk did rule and Ric Flair was indeed a sixty minute man. I often hear or read the term sports entertainment when someone is referencing the sport of professional wrestling. In the 80's Flair and the NWA were on the sport side while the WWF and Hogan were more on the entertainment side of the spectrum. At that time you were lucky if you saw a world title match four times a year. The IC and US titles were showcased on television more frequently than the heavyweight championship yet, you still would not see a title bout every week as you do today. The talent at that point was shown on weekly syndicated broadcasts squashing their opponent severely with an occasional star vs. star bout. For the most part when two superstars would square off there would either be an angle in place or one starting up. Today you expect to see no "jobbers" working RAW and the storylines are told by the commentators while two top draws are working in the ring. Bill Watts UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) set the standard for episodic wrestling television in the 80's much like you see each and every week today. The UWF had enough talent to keep telling a story while keeping the faces fresh on our TV sets. The formula for success in the 80's was a lot of things combined but perhaps the most important of all was to not over-do it.

In the late 90's when WCW and the WW(F!) were facing off you saw the vision of Watts UWF come to a national level. With the goal being to keep viewers tuning in each week for prime time broadcasts the suits calling the shots at that point felt it necessary to focus on the storylines more so than the in-ring action. Vince Russo was well known and credited for the success of the WWF in the late 90's as he wrote the weekly RAW broadcasts. "Shock television" he once called it when asked to explain his approach to wrestling. With the line between faces and heels growing ever thinner, the late 90's would draw a crowd of faithful viewers each week to see the next step in their characters storyline. The business was changed completely during this time. Take Jim Ross for example, he was the original "shoot" play by play commentator calling each match as if it were a football game. Discussing each grapplers strategy all the while giving us statistics on the histories of the titans as they faced off in a "catch as catch can" bout. Now, JR sits on RAW each week and tries to tell the story of why two wrestlers are feuding as opposed to calling their match.

So, what is a wrestling fan to do"

First off, take a deep breath and maybe skip next week's shows. If you have an open mind and treat each match as if it were something new then you will find yourself enjoying the show much more. With WrestleMania having just passed, we should see some fresh storylines that should help to breathe some life back into the WWE. Remember, if RAW and SmackDown were pre-empted for a few weeks you would be online writing to both Spike TV and UPN threatening to assassinate someone if the WWE programming was not returned to the air. Pay attention, don't dislike someone because they are facing someone you have seen wrestle a thousand times. Remember, the term "over" is used for a wrestler quite often however, the definition is not to receive a reaction but rather to create one.

by Don L. Tolle..


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