By: David Stephens
Ousta! Welcome back to the only WrestleView column covering topics both nowhere yet everywhere at once. If you are new to the column you are probably going to hate me for the first couple weeks, but then you are going to hit a point where you say ?oh wait a minute, I think he gets it?. Don?t worry, that's exactly how it is designed to be. This column is all about gut reactions and traveling thoughts. As the great Andy Kaufman once said: ?I just want real reactions. I want people to laugh from the gut, be sad from the gut, or get angry from the gut?.
It's nice to be back. After a three week hiatus, my column is officially back here at its home on WrestleView. In its absence I was writing both the RAW & NXT Recaps which more than took their toll on free time for wrestling writing during the week. Coupled with midterms and launching of a new radio show for the WrestleView VIP Network (more on that later in the column) I just did not have the time to get this baby out. But, here we are, ready to dive into all matters wrestling. So let's do it!Drama vs. The Mat
My focal point for today's column actually comes from an excerpt of a wrestling biography I have been reading. Vince Russo's first book, which I highly recommend, is one of my favorites I have ever read on the subject. Some will shy away from it because of its religious content, but that's actually what makes the book so unique and endearing to me personally. Just to briefly give you an idea for how it is written, Russo wrote the draft of the book, but then two years later went back to publish it and added it commentary on the events he had originally described. In this way the reader sees the spiritual transformation between ?old? Vince and ?new? Vince. It is a very powerful book. If you want to pick up a copy it is titled, ?Forgiven: One Man's Journey from Self-Glorification to Sanctification?.
This column is NOT a review of the book. I just want to take a look at an excerpt that really resounded with some of my thoughts on the pro-wrestling business. Russo writes,?Vince [McMahon] and I used to joke that our goal was to eventually have no ring at all. It just got to the point that it wasn?t really about the wrestling anymore. Casual fans were tuning in by the droves just to get their weekly fix of this male-oriented soap opera. The masses didn?t want to see 20-minutes wrestling matches, they wanted to see all the stuff that went on in between. The bottom line was, and still is: hardcore wrestling fans are always going to watch the show as long as the word ?wrestling? is somewhere in the title. That's what wrestling fans do ? they watch wrestling. The key was to draw in that television viewer that wasn?t a wrestling fan. And because we had a little somethin? 'somethin? for everybody, that's what we were able to do.?
I agree with Vince Russo.
The highest rated segment in wrestling broadcast history, the monstrous 8.4 of ?This is Your Life? featuring The Rock & Mick Foley, was NOT a wrestling match. How can that be? Because it drew in viewers that were not the typical wrestling fan. It was amazingly entertaining, a skit that holds up to the best Saturday Night Live has ever offered. Not even McMahon saw its potential when it was airing as he yelled at Russo for letting the segment run 15 minutes. Yet, when the numbers were released, they did not lie.
I know that this is a tricky stance to take because my readers ARE hardcore wrestling fans. You are the guys that just like me, need to get online and read the latest news, opinions, and gossip. It's the nature of the Internet Wrestling Community, and that's fine. The thing to keep in mind though, is that we are a small percentage of the viewership. The product transcends you and I as it reaches out to a national audience.
I know some of you are questioning ?why? wrestling should pander to a non-wrestling crowd. The answer is simple. Money. The WWE is a multi-million dollar corporation that is accountable to its stockholders. At the end of the day, more viewers = more money from advertising. In the business world, THAT is the bottom line.
If you want to see nothing but match after match, there are great Indy promotions that do just that. Ring of Honor has some fantastic stuff, but they could never compete on the level of the WWE, or even TNA, with their target product because it is too much of a niche. This is why celebrities are routinely brought in to wrestling companies. Mainstream exposure is a must, if there is to be any chance for growth.
Look, when I?m not recapping a show as I now do for Monday Night RAW, the elements of the product that I watch the least are the actual wrestling matches. I?m honestly more interested in the build up and backstage skits. I watch professional wrestling to get lost in the grand spectacle. When there are two guys in the ring that I want to see, I?ll sit down and watch it. The foundation for a great PPV, is one that has such strong storylines going into it that I sit and watch every single match, not just because it is on, but because I genuinely WANT to see the match.
So what about the argument that goes along the lines of, ?David, you?re insane and I?m never reading your column again. The WRESTLING is the most important of the program. That's the product people are actually tuning in to watch!??
Really? You really think the ?wrestling? is what draws in the majority of the audience?
Let's strip away all of the non-mat elements of wrestling. No storylines, no gimmicks, no characters, no music, nothing. Just match after match of two guys, using their real names, in plain tights. Take that concept to a network executive and convince them that 2+ hours a week of that will draw in an audience. Then, prove me wrong. If you can get an 8.4 rating with that product, I?ll never write a wrestling column again.
Let's give credit, where credit is due. Vince McMahon managed to elevate a circus act to unfathomable heights. But, let us also never forget exactly what this business is at its core ? a circus act. Ratings
RAW 3/15 ? 3.7
iMpact 3/15 ? 0.8
NXT 3/9 ? 1.0
Superstars 3/11 ? 0.81Quick ResultsRAW March 15th
-Unified Tag Team Champion Big Show def. John Cena
-Evan Bourne vs. Sheamus ended in a No Contest
-Divas Champion Maryse def. Kelly Kelly
-Shawn Michaels def. World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho by Count-out
-Triple H vs. Randy Orton ended in a No Contest
-WWE Champion Batista def. Kofi KingstonTNA iMPACT March 15th
-6-Man Tag Team Match: Nasty Boys & Jimmy Hart def. Team 3D & Brother Runt
-?Olympic Hero? Kurt Angle & ?The Pope? D'Angelo Dinero def. Mr. Anderson & Desmond Wolfe w/Chelsea
-Open Challenge Match: Angelina Love def. Daffney w/Beautiful People
-5-Minute, $25,000 Challenge: ?Big Sexy? Kevin Nash vs. Scott Hall (Hall took the money and ran)
-Handicap Match Special Referee: Jeff Jarrett: Beer Money Inc. def. ?Super Mex? Hernandez
-Main Event Special Enforcer: Abyss: Jeff Hardy def. ?The Phenomenal? AJ Styles w/Ric FlairNXT March 17th
-CM Punk & Darren Young def. Matt Hardy & Justin Gabriel
-The Great Khali def. Daniel Bryan
-Heath Slater def. Michael Tarver
-Wade Barrett def. Skip SheffieldSuperstars March 11th
-Dolph Ziggler def. Shelton Benjamin
-Goldust def. Mike Knox
-Zack Ryder def. Santino Marella
-Christian & MVP def. Carlito & Chavo GuerreroSmackdown March 12th
-R-Truth def. Unified Tag Team and United States Champion The Miz
-Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre def. local athlete in a Winner Take All Match
-Unified Tag Team Champion Big Show def. John Morrison
-Cryme Tyme vs. The Hart Dynasty ends in a No Contest
-Tiffany def. Women's Champion Michelle McCool by disqualification
-Kane def. Luke Gallows by disqualification
- David Stephens
So ?that's a wrap??. Love it? Hate it? Disagree with everything I said? Just want to chat wrestling? I?m always up for reading your thoughts so send them ?em on over.
Look for the newest edition to the WrestleView Radio Network: ?The Teacher's Lounge? featuring Anthony Valvo (From the Desk of Mr. V) and myself in the very near future!
Click the Icon to JoinThe last time I freaked out, I just kept looking down
I st-st-stuttered when you asked me what I'm thinking bout
Like I couldn't breathe you asked what's wrong with me
My best friend Leslie said, ?Oh she's just being Miley?
The next time we hang out, I will redeem myself
My heart, it can't rest till then oh, woah woah
I can't wait to see you again
Why did I just close out my column with Miley Cyrus lyrics? Because I can