Baiamonte's Casa #6
March 23, 2009
By: Joe Baiamonte of WrestleView.com
Ciao! How the hell are you all? Yours truly had a great week, only for it to be soured by United conceding more ground in the Premier League Title race to Liverpool. Still, as Mick Jagger once sung, ?you can?t always get what you want?. So onwards and upwards, and more importantly, onto this week's Casa.
This week in the Casa, I?m going to take you all on a journey away from the bright lights and pyrotechnics of the modern day WWE product. The HD sets and computer graphics can be left behind as well. We?re heading back to the glory days of studio wrestling.
Now, when I say studio wrestling, not for one minute do I regard ?The Impact Zone? as studio wrestling. That?d be tantamount to blasphemy. Studio wrestling to me is lodged firmly in the 70's and 80's, with Gordon Solie and Lance Russell as hosts for the evening. The guests involved would usually be of the ilk of Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen, Bill Dundee and Jerry Lawler, Austin Idol, Harley Race and so on.
As much as I appreciate a great spectacle, there's something about combining the mediums of pro wrestling and chat shows that appeals to me just as much. I can quite happily sit back and watch WrestleMania from bell to bell, or enjoy a marathon of interviews and matches taking place within the confines of a TV Studio which houses maybe a couple of hundred people tops.
The intimacy of producing a wrestling show on set must have been a terrific buzz for anyone lucky enough to be in attendance. Imagine catching a show where you?re so close to Ric Flair you can almost smell the perfume of the three women he banged the night before. ECW may have housed their shows at close quarters, as does every independent fed across the globe, but sitting in a stagnant gym or disused bingo hall for four hours can?t compare with being on the back row of a studio show and still being merely 20 feet or less away from some of the greatest wrestlers in history in their prime. No one may have been able to understand what the hell Dusty Rhodes was talking about, or what the hell he was wearing most of the time, but when the Dream was talking in riddles only a few yards away from you, who cares?
What adds to this ?wow? factor of being essentially a chat show size audience watching a wrestling show is that even though you could in essence reach out and touch yourself a Flair or a Steamboat or a Lawler, these guys were in fact untouchable. They were wrestling's rock stars. Studio wrestling was like watching The Stones or David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix perform in a bar not much bigger than your living room. They might be almost at one with the people in their proximity, but they are in fact light years away from them. Sure, you might follow Keith Richard's every move, but when you go home at night, you?re still not going to be riffing away to ?Jumpin Jack Flash? the same way Keith did. Similarly, Memphis fans had the luxury of seeing Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee play out one of the greatest wrestling angles of all time (links to follow folks, don?t worry), yet both men could have easily been playing out that angle in front of thousands in a sold out arena, given their stature. No one could replicate that angle except Lawler and Dundee themselves, and even then they?d have a hell of a struggle trying to do as good a job.
This is what I love about studio wrestling. Superstars would go out and break their back for 200 people just as they would for 20,000 people. They?d drop a classic promo right before walking 30 yards to the ring and delivering the goods there. Everything happened around you. And it wasn?t a couple of poor bastards stapling each others arse cheeks together or massaging the other one's jewels with barbed wire. It was pro wrestling at it's finest.
There was a certain charm and character of the studio surroundings. Something which TNA should study religiously, rather than continuing to work out of a set that looks like a Trekkie had a go at designing a wrestling arena whilst listening to techno and smoking Opium. It's horrendous. The announcer's booth/interview area was my favourite area. The likes of Solie and Schiavone introduced their guests as if they were hosting Wrestling's version of ?The Tonight? show. It had that 80's showbiz vibe to it. Despite the fact that right in front of the interview area was a sweat and blood stained ring which was about as 'showbiz? as Don West (although the ring probably smelt better than West, he has that ?I smell of meat and cheap aftershave? aura about him. Like an out of shape used car salesman). Guys would swagger onto the set in their best clothes, as if they were off out for a night on the town (which in fact they were after the show), promote themselves as if they were actors shilling a new movie and then later in the show they?d give a performance. Johnny Carson would have been proud.
Don?t get me wrong, I?m a huge fan of the HD age and everything that comes with it. Maybe it's because I?m easily impressed by bright lights and fireworks far too easily I don?t know, but the rawness and the character and the all around charm of studio wrestling is just as impressive to me. For those of you who still need convincing, follow this link. It's the first part of the Lawler/Dundee angle from Memphis, as promised; click here
Drink it in, it always goes down smooth.
And so here ends another week in the Casa. I hope you enjoyed your stay here, and I hope you?ll be back again next week for my ?WRESTLEMANIA SPECIAL!!!!!!!!?. Which is in fact quite the novel concept. I will be putting together what I think is the strongest WrestleMania card of all time using matches from the previous 24 ?Manias. However, I will be doing so under the following rules;
1) Pick the best opening match in ?Mania history.
2) Pick the best main event in ?Mania history.
3) Pick the best Undertaker match in ?Mania history.
4) Pick the best ladder match in ?Mania history.
5) Pick the best women's match in ?Mania history
6) Pick the best IC Title match in ?Mania history
7) Pick the best celebrity match in ?Mania history
8) Pick some light entertainment/segment from ?Mania history
9) Pick the best musical act(s) in ?Mania history
10) Pick the best ?Special Attraction? type match in ?Mania history (think Rock/Hogan, HBK/Flair, HBK/Angle, Bret/Austin)
11) No wrestler can be used twice in the show.
So if you fancy getting involved with that and creating your own perfect WrestleMania card, direct all your electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended viewing is well, all of the WrestleMania's. Have fun!
Until next time Casa-ites (is it catching on yet?) arriverderci!