March 13, 2011
WWE, Mania missing a coherent battle plan
By JOE E. LEGEND - For SLAM! Wrestling
"And the book of Legend was... yadda yadda yadda."
Hey everyone, been a few weeks now and time for another bit o' babble from yours truly.
I have been asked by the up-tops to throw in a WrestleMania column this time around and I'll get back to the troubled road of my little career in the next column.
Can't blame them, it's the biggest show of the year and the one event that should draw interest from casual viewers to reintroduce them to the modern product that they perhaps haven't been in to for a while.
So why doesn't it feel so?
Luckily, I have a few ideas that might get some answers to that question. And I even have a column to throw them out to you from!
Serendipity, eh? (Notice the "eh." I might live in Germany now but still got some Canadian rumbling around in my noggin!)
Firstly, I just think the overall product is kinda "meh".
I know all of the writers are doing their best, all of the agents are trying to get stuff to work, all of the production staff are trying to broadcast a flashy, powerful product and I know the talent all simply want to steal the show every night as it's just a good feeling to do well at your job... especially when it's your dream job and it's the biggest company in the industry.
So what's missing?
In my estimation, a coherent battle plan.
You have big announcements like "WE WON'T HIRE ANYONE OVER 30" because they believe that's the only thing people want to see.
But to limit where you find talent (whether geographically or on the calendar) ultimately limits the talent you find. (On a side note, kind of interesting that Stephanie McMahon-Levesque -- whom I really do like -- is the head of the whole deal and she's kind of reaching cougar-dom at the same time they are pushing young, fit guys exclusively! Hmmmmm.)
Now most of these guys will not be putting in much ring time, but it seems pretty obvious that these people are far more interesting than the current crop of talent being pushed at the moment. So these vets will have TV time (taken away from the younger talent they are "pushing") and be the selling point of the company, and you can't blame them since it's TV and it must be kept interesting.
So bring in young talent, then limit their time to connect with an audience in order to give face time to older talent who you can't/won't be using for the most part? Seems a difficult challenge. Doesn't sound like a well thought out battle plan to me.
Also seems like throwing a lot of crap against the wall to see what sticks.
Or in other words... DESPERATE! They need to push SOMEONE, but who?
Which brings me to the idea of the "push."
The last few years has had the whole idea of guys "paying their dues" on TV. Guys like MVP (a reinvention of the "Mr Perfect" gimmick, for the most part) were given gimmicks that should make them unstoppable until they go head to head with the current hero of the company, who saves the day.
Instead, they have to go through a series of beat downs and humiliations to the more established talent in order to "prove their worth."
But what I've found is that it's limited their worth.
Example, Dolph Ziggler.
He spent so long as the "but I'm Dolph Ziggler" guy in backstage vignettes, essentially being treated as a professional nobody and losing most matches. He's a solid athlete and a great bumper. In good shape and aside from looking a little bit too much like Billy Gunn, is a fairly unique looking guy on the roster, so he won't be lost in the crowd.
But they took so much shine off of him that they needed to hook him up with Vickie Guerrero to put some pepper on him. He shouldn't need that.
And while it gets a decent reaction from the crowd who already bought tickets, he's been booked in such a way that few people BUY tickets JUST to see him.
It's not due to the talent in the ring, but rather to how that talent was presented.
It's hard on Edge too, as I've seen him lose a lot in the past while and he's the champ! It should be a colossal event to pin the champ and I've seen David Otunga and Justin Gabriel pin him.
So it's become no big deal to pin the champ and it only takes a short time with a manager to get a title shot even though you were put on a losing streak and made a punch line since your debut.
He comes into the match looking like he doesn't deserve to be there based on his record. So it's no surprise the audience doesn't show up as they are pretty confident that Ziggler won't win. Thus, they don't support Edge or the WWE in the process.
A villain who doesn't stand a chance of winning is not interesting and it doesn't help the babyface's record by beating a nobody. It makes the victory inevitable and most times the inevitable is uninteresting.
Kind of makes the whole thing uninteresting for me. Which is a shame as I really want WWE to do well as how they do, the whole industry follows and it is my bread and butter.
I could continue on my thoughts on the whole FCW thing being worse than better for the business or how "agents" are all wrong for what we do and bring to the table, but these are personal opinions I can allude to later.
After all, this is supposed to be about WrestleMania. But I've rambled on enough. We'll save my look at the big money matches for next week!
All the best and God Bless.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe E. Legend's column will run whenever he delivers on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit every day to see if he's come through!
For more on Legend's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame. The best place to figure out where he is in the world at the moment is his website www.legendwrestling.com. Email Joe at email@example.com.