Baiamonte's Casa #60
April 6, 2010
By: Joe Baiamonte
Firstly, before I start, let me apologise for the delay. Even with modern technology being what it is, it appears there's no 'app' for curing a burnt out laptop, hence this hastily rewritten edition of the Casa on a disturbingly old general library computer.
Which in a round about way brings me to an impromptu case matter for this week's visit to Baiamonte Towers. The modern media tells us that iPad's and Blackberry's are the way forward. They shovel endless gadgetry down our oesophagus's so we become unable to function without investing in the incessant stream of computer software and download applications that the likes of Apple thrust upon us. Yet all these astonishing advances in technology lead to is even more astonishing problems. The fan on your relatively new laptop will retire itself, leading to a meltdown, whilst iPhone's are busy allowing you to do so much that the slightest malfunction ceases their operation, as many of my disgruntled friends will testify to.
My point is, amongst these weird and wonderful inventions, we tend to lose sight of the simple pleasures in life, and how these simple pleasures are often the most logical and effective. It's a problem that is plaguing modern day professional wrestling. Rookies no longer feel adequate by just knowing the basics of pacing, selling and structuring a five minute curtain jerker. They believe the more moves they know, the better. The more high octane set pieces they choreograph, the more the crowd is in awe of their death defying abilities. It's so very wrong on so many different levels.
Over the past three years or so, I have tried my hardest to get into TNA's X Division. After all, with the dissolution of the WWE's Cruiserweight Division, there wasn't much mainstream junior heavyweight action to be seen in North American wrestling. From what I'd seen up this point in early 2007, I'd been impressed. The athleticism of the performers was at times awe inspiring and the moves they came up with often defied human logic.
However, I soon tired of the same routine over and over. I could barely distinguish one competitor from the other and each match seemed to run into the other, like an endless stream of flips, dips and dives. The constant countering became tiresome, the lack of selling was laughable and the oh so intricately put together multi man high spots were choreographed to the nth degree in such a way that Zac Efron and pals became jealous.
I thought "this isn't wrestling, it's the Cirque Du Soleil or High School Musical". Such choreography and routine has no place in a wrestling ring and never will. The unnatural way in which the matches to this day are still structured in the X Division is almost beyond repair. Young guys are squaring off against other young guys and simply enforcing bad habits. None of them have any personality or distinguishing features. Hell, they barely have gimmicks. Surely that's basic wrestling 101?
And it's not just TNA that is at fault with this lack of characterisation. Can someone please tell me what Drew Mcintyre's gimmick is? Or Kofi Kingston's? How about Dolph Ziggler or Evan Bourne? They may have the moves, the charisma and the potential (well maybe not so much Mcintyre), but there's so little differentiation between them as characters that it's hard to invest in them.
I mean, what's so wrong about a guy being a toffee nosed aristocrat? Or a garbage man even? At least it makes a young superstar stand out from the pack. Gimmicks are as much a part of wrestling history as anything else and as it happens, it's gimmicked superstars that have gone onto become the most successful. If you don't believe me, just ask 'The Deadman' or 'The Heartbreak Kid' or the 'Real American'.
So now we live in a time where personality takes a back seat to the amount of moves a superstar has in their arsenal. Big whoop you can perform a 450 splash and a corkscrew plancha. Is there any chance you can perform an effective collar and elbow tie up? How about a decent looking Irish whip or a mean looking right hand? No? Didn't think so. Yet, during his heyday, Steve Austin didn't do much more than kick, punch and throw people around before dropping a few stunners. Not exactly rocket science and he became the biggest superstar in recent wrestling history. Did Ric Flair do much more than chop, bump and figure four? Yet he's rightly regarded as the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots. It's all about keeping it simple, stupid.
It makes me laugh when people tag John Cena with the 'You Can't Wrestle' label because he has his 'Five Moves of Doom', yet they fail to realise that Bret Hart had his own five move set and no one batted an eyelid back in the 90's. God forbid John Cena actually have a routine that he works into the various structures of the different matches he works. God forbid he even have structure at all! Because that wouldn't be in keeping with modern wrestling would it now? You know, a tried and tested formula that has worked for pretty much every major star in wrestling history. Less is more folks.
You see, the modern wrestling world is almost trying to advance too quickly for it's own good. New stars are desperately needed as the old guard enter the twilights of their careers, so young guys are pushed into positions they're not yet ready for and therefore they regress. This isn't a dig aimed at Sheamus or Jack Swagger either who are actually two of the more impressive young superstars plying their trade today who actually seem comfortable in their own skin and with what they are doing. But take a John Morrison or an AJ Styles for example and you understand where I'm coming from. They think they're look or affiliation with a legendary name will send them crashing through the glass ceiling into future Hall of Fame contention. It won't.
So call me old fashioned if you will, but the success stories of yesteryear don't lie. Wrestling is essentially a simple sport made to look exceedingly advanced by overzealous young pups who fail to differentiate between being a wrestler and a trapeze artist.
The sooner I see more under carders dressed as pirates, clowns, ninjas, dentists, hillbillies and wizards rather than being a generic stuntman, the better.
Until next time,
*** Also remember, your feedback, no matter how obscure, is always welcome in my inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org