There is no denying that Dana White and his UFC is red hot right now, and I have much respect and admiration for the sport. Many say the reason why MMA is taking so much of the casual fan base away from professional wrestling is that it is real. My answer to this is simply that Dana White has taken what all of us fans used to flock to professional wrestling for: drama.
The show's format is one man facing another man to see who the better combatant is, while hyping up the match with video segments of the opponents training and taunting how they are going to put the hurting on their opponent. All of this drama is then wrapped up in a grand package of glitz, bright lights and over-the-top entertainment.
While browsing through my local Borders book store the other evening, it dawned on me that I had still yet to read the autobiographies of my two childhood idols Shawn Michaels and Bret "The Hitman" Hart (Yes, it is kind of ironic that my two all-time favorites loathed each other for years, but I am sure that I'm not the only one that had this predicament).
As I was searching through the sports section for Wrestling and MMA, I quickly found Bret Hart's book, with the massive volume spanning 500 plus pages and the bright pink cover. While I was searching for Heartbreak and Triumph, I came across the newest release from Vince Russo, Robe Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo.
I was interested to see what this man had to say; he is, after all, a writer first and not a wrestler, so it had potential of being a good read. With my extremely overpriced cup of coffee, I sat down to give a quick look to see if this was worth my 16 hard earned dollars.
I am no book critic so I will spare you the full review (I didn't buy it). A comment did jump out at me though—his admittance of the occasional chants of “Fire Russo” echoing in the Impact crowd. His response is these people pay money to stand in line to see his shows that he has scripted and buy the merchandise of the wrestlers that he writes angles for, so he must be doing something right.
This is my issue: Impact is leveling out with 1.15 or 1.16 ratings week to week, which probably is enough to keep Spike TV content. Yet, even the almighty WWE is averaging in the 3’s. Someone has to look at the big picture and see what can be done to improve this.
I have never been in the industry, do not pretend to have all the answers, nor do I claim to know the inner workings of booking a show. I am just saying that this is what I, as a fan, miss. With the wrestling industry as a whole in a steady decline, I feel that I am not alone.
Make the title’s mean something again. Vince Russo has even admitted that he feels that the belts are just a prop and that people tune in for the crafted stories. This is not the case; I am selfish and I want both! WrestleMania 12 main event between The Hitman and The Heartbreak Kid was epic due to both the story and the prestige of the title.
You all know the story, the champion who fought long and hard to earn his place atop the mountain against the scrappy challenger who overcame all the odds and challenges to stand toe to toe for the World’s Title. Epic.
Wrestling fans used to be fooled a little easier back in the day, but we now have the Internet and the IWC, so don’t play stupid with us. No more cheesy, over-the-top story lines. Yes, I know that wrestling is scripted, but I want it to feel real and in the moment. Think of it as comparative to the story of The Godfather vs Friday the 13th Part 7. I know they are both acted and scripted, but need I explain which is the better product?
I love the occasional factions that really do a good work and complement each other well (Four Horsemen, DX, N.W.O before everyone and their Uncle joined.) But it feels like every main event match is cheapened with all these interferences from outside stables.
I love the drama of face to face, man to man, one on one. Who is the better combatant? You can still have a heel lose cleanly and have heat if he rebounds from his loss and cleans house months after that.
Less talk. Need I say more on this particular subject?
I know that I could go on and on about this such as the misuse through politics, and old timers just not being able to let go. But I feel that if we achieved some of these basics that I outlined, the overall product would vastly improve for both major companies, WWE and TNA.
By the way, Bret Hart’s book was amazing, and I was up till 2:30 in the morning three nights in a row reading that masterpiece. I can’t tell you the last time my Xbox 360 got that long of a rest.