February 26, 2007
Don't try this at home
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling Columnist
It didn't take long for Wrestling Society X to disappear from television, even if it was only for one week. As many outlets have reported, MTV got nervous about showing a spot where Vampiro appeared to take a fireball to the face, and last week's episode got axed as a result.
MTV and fire have a history that spans more than a few years. Back in the day when Beavis and Butthead roamed the Earth, the cable channel decided to ban fire references after the cartoon was blamed for a five-year-old setting his two-year-old sister ablaze. It's doubtful WSX has made many inroads to the preschool demographic, but the standards and practices folks still felt compelled to take action.
The company line is that it wasn't fire per se that was the issue, but any act the channel felt was "repeatable." If the inherent hypocrisy isn't obvious, consider the following questions. Jumping off a balcony through a table isn't repeatable? An impressionable viewer couldn't dump a bunch of tacks on the ground?
Okay, the exploding electrical boxes from the debut show probably can't be easily duplicated at home. But WSX is what it is: an over-the-top version of pro wrestling with a lot of violent spots you wouldn't see on WWE or TNA. If MTV has a problem with that type of thing, it might not have been such a good idea to add the program to its lineup in the first place.
Even if the fireball did cross some kind of line set by the channel, the fact remains that the WSX episodes are filmed ahead of time. One would hope that next time an issue like this arises, someone at MTV will screen the show far enough in advance that they won't have to yank it for a week if they see something they don't like. (Apparently an edited version will air this week.)
In the meantime, I'm continuing to ban The Real World at my house, because there are a lot of repeatable behaviors on that show I don't want my daughter practicing when she grows up.
Main event mania
It's not a secret any more, but the identity of all of the participants in the Vince McMahon-Donald Trump proxy hair match may be officially announced on tonight's episode of Raw. I wouldn't be surprised if that bout moves up in the voting once the reality of the special enforcer sinks in.
As interesting as this speculation is, I'm even more curious about what match the fans think the main event should be. I tend to be a traditionalist, so I think a title match should be in the top spot. The problem is that there are two title matches, and they can't both be the main event, no matter how the WWE tries to spin them.
On top of that, this predicament has taken some of the luster off of the Royal Rumble winner. Giving the man who emerges from the 30-man scrum a main event spot at WrestleMania was one of the best ideas the WWE ever came up with, elevating an already entertaining gimmick to a must-see event.
Under the current rules, the Rumble winner gets to pick which title he wants to chase. I'll admit that this does add an element of drama, as there's always a chance the challenger can switch shows. When it's done right -- like a couple years ago with Chris Benoit -- this can be very compelling. But does that extra dose of suspense even matter when the match isn't even guaranteed to close the show? It's certainly debatable.
In case you're wondering, I have a hard time even entertaining arguments that the McMahon-Trump match deserves to be the main event. Yes, the build-up has been better than expected, and it's the best chance the WWE has of attracting some mainstream media attention for its biggest show if the year. It just sends the wrong message if the fate of Vince's hair (or the Donald's 'do, for that matter) is made to appear more important than the titles.
Instead of trying to turn it into something it's not, I'd much rather see the hair match left as a mid-card attraction with an actual storyline and some real intrigue. That's a niche that far too few pay-per-views neglect in favor of putting all their eggs in one basket.
A final thought
Like many fans, I was saddened to hear about the apparent suicide of Mike Awesome earlier this month. He was a talented in-ring performer who had the dual misfortunes of getting bashed for his messy departure from ECW and being saddled with some truly cringe-inducing gimmicks while he was in WCW.
As my own personal tribute, I'm going to rent or buy the first One Night Stand pay-per-view this week to see his match with Masato Tanaka. I've never seen it, and since everyone who has insists that it's awesome, I can't think of a more fitting way to remember the man.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.