The debut of MTV's Wrestling Society X snuck up on me. Even though I knew about it far in advance and the SLAM! Wrestling staff had been talking about it, last Tuesday came and went without a second thought.
It was SLAM! Wrestling Raw reporter Dale Plummer who reminded me the next day that I missed it. He caught the last five minutes and suggested that it was worth checking out. Fortunately WSX already has an internet presence as part of MTV's home on the web, and I was able to find a late Wednesday night replay, perfect for someone who's routinely up feeding a baby during the wee hours.
The WSX site also had short bios of all of the talent. That was helpful because except for a handful of familiar faces -- Sean "6-Pac" Waltman, Justin Credible, Vampiro, Teddy Hart, New Jack, Chris Hamrick and Puma, who wasn't on the first broadcast -- this was a group of wrestlers that were unknown to me.
After taking in the first show, I know a few more of them. WSX was nothing if not a half-hour assault on the senses. It was loud, fast and it wanted your attention. You couldn't watch it and come away without a first impression.
Mine was mostly positive. Here's a breakdown of the high and low points of Wrestling Society X:
High energy: With its loud music and enthusiastic announcers, the show makes you feel like you're about to see something exciting. The small arena or set where the action takes place -- they call it The Bunker -- allows a small number of fans to sound pretty loud.
Over-the-top action: This was literal in the first episode, with a ten-man battle royal deciding the first two contestants for the WSX title. But it applies even more in the general sense, with lots of high risk moves, tables, thumbtacks, "live" electrical wires... all the things that the WWE, and even the "new" ECW, have toned down. And yes, New Jack jumped off some sort of balcony.
Coming attractions: At the end of the show, a short segment showed clips teasing some of the action we'll be seeing later this season. While nothing beats a live show, if you have to tape them, why not give the viewers a reason to come back for more? It makes sense to me.
Lots of replays: If you've ever watched any MTV programming, you know that anything you miss will be aired ad nauseum throughout the week, so there's no worries when you don't catch something the first time. That should work in favor of WSX as it builds an audience.
It's short: Thirty minutes isn't much time for a wrestling show. The debut broadcast had only two matches, and the battle royal still had to go through a commercial break to fit. It appears there will be a band playing at the beginning of each episode, which seems like a waste of time they don't have. I know it's MTV, but the channel has been airing shows with no ties to music for years.
More psychology please: Man can't live on high spots alone, and every wrestling fan knows a good match tells a story. Here's another area where the 30-minute show might be a detriment, as it doesn't allow much time to explain why two men want to beat each other's brains in.
Small wrestlers: I'm as big a fan of cruiserweight, X Division (though I know that's not based on weight) style action as anyone, but WSX doesn't have anyone who's Big Show's size, or even Triple H's size by the looks of things. One wonders if you can run a whole promotion without any big men. I know what Vince McMahon would say.
The ring announcer: I know his job is to get the fans fired up for what they're about to see, but this guy is ridiculous. You'll have to watch the show yourself to see what I'm talking about, because I can't do it justice with words.
Keep in mind that we're only one week into the life of WSX, and it's possible that some of these areas will get better -- or worse -- as the season progresses. The show is obviously light years away from entering into the discussion with WWE or even TNA, but it already looks to have one thing it needs to succeed: it has heart, for lack of a better word.
WSX appears to be about entertaining the viewer by any means necessary, and that's something that is definitely missing in today's wrestling industry. When Vince cuts his promos on Raw that say he gives the fans what he wants and they have to like it, he's only half joking. For better or worse, the WWE is about formula these days.
Ideally, a show like WSX won't have a formula. It will bring something new to the table each time out, attempt something different to get fans to care. Yes, it's unpolished, a little rough around the edges, but as Dale pointed out to me when he told me to watch it, so did the original ECW back in the day.
What televised wrestling has been missing since ECW first folded is that unbridled energy, that passion, that heart. If WSX can conjure up some of that, then it's welcome to hang around as long as it wants.
Wrestling Society X: An unusual inauguration
Wrestling Society X: The Photo Gallery
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and his column, Walkin' That Aisle with Nick Tylwalk, appears most Mondays. Comments, compliments and complaints can be sent to email@example.com.