SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Wanted: New WWF main eventers
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
It's the McMahon way. If you aren't seven-feet tall and built like a
semi-truck, you will likely never get a main event push in the World
Wrestling Federation. Kurt Angle. Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels. They are the
exception not the rule. Because of this approach to the wrestling business
the WWF is forever their own worst enemy. Locked in the belief that only
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker and sometimes
Kane (if they're really desperate) are qualified to hold main event and
feature storyline positions in the company, the promotion continues to put
new spins on the same old tired feuds while those people with more than
enough potential waste away in under-card ranks.
How many times do we have to suffer through another Austin-Rock, Triple H-Rock or Undertaker-Austin
program? Why aren't Tazz, Chris Jericho, William Regal,
Chris Benoit or Edge in the title mix? Is it any wonder why WWF television
ratings, house show attendance numbers and merchandise sales estimates are
all indicating that interest is waning in the WWF's product?
Last Thursday night it appeared that light was at the end of that long
tunnel. In an "upset" win, Jeff Hardy (Matt Hardy notching the assist)
swiped the Intercontinental Title right from under Triple H's nose. Which
is no small feat if you have ever seen Hunter's shot in profile. The WWF
even hyped the win on their Web site before the show even aired to try and
spike Smackdown!'s ratings. It was an exciting and fresh development that
had fans talking. It seemed as though the WWF was about to break the
monotony and expand that banal stable of main event talent...or so we thought.
Along comes Raw Is War kicking hope in the groin.
The rematch turned out to be a gargantuan squash with Triple H massacring
Hardy like he was popcorn vendor who had absentmindedly blundered into the
ring. Mounting almost no offence whatsoever, Hardy's scripted role was
utterly humiliating. He went from hero to zero, champion to jobber in three
days flat. His punches were portrayed as having little if no effect and the
brief flurry of maneuvers Hardy dished out occurred simply because Triple H
was "dazed" after taking the Intercontinental Title belt to the head. To
rub salt into the Hardy's wounds, Undertaker and Kane had to rescue the
helpless Hardys from the clutches of the Anti-Mega Powers, Austin and
The underlying message sent to fans was that Jeff had to cheat to win the
belt, cheat to get the upper hand and couldn't possibly hold his own
against Triple H. Based on his performance Monday night it is hard to
believe that was the same Jeff Hardy who did a Swanton Bomb off a 20-plus
foot ladder, put Spike Dudley and Rhyno through a table and then got back
up to finish the TLC 2 match at WrestleMania 17. It just doesn't jive that
a clothesline, a knee to the gut or even a powerslam by Triple H would
devastate Hardy so badly that he would roll around the ring as if he had
been riddled by machine-gun fire.
In one fleeting angle, the hardcore reputation The Hardy Boys had achieved
for themselves by participating in death-defying gimmick matches was
sabotaged. Based on the post-Raw reaction, the WWF (who prides itself on
keeping its finger on the pulse of their fans) fumbled the ball like most of the XFL running backs.
A Triple H win symbolizing
a return of the status quo was not what the fans wanted to see. They wanted
to cheer on an unlikely champion. They wanted someone to pull a Kurt Angle
and break through that glass ceiling separating the top tier talent from
the mid-carders. They wanted someone to shake up that hierarchy and
revitalize the Federation. It didn't happen and disappointment has set in.
In general, I am no supporter of the Hardy Boys. Wrestlers who play
exclusively to the female portion of the crowd have never impressed me
much. I find that kind of behavior narcissistic and downright silly.
However, I can't take away from the hard work and personal sacrifices the
Hardys have made in the WWF. They have both risked a lot for the company,
thrilled fans with their daredevil feats and are more than deserving of
better roles than playing human-punching bags to the main event talent. The
WWF's top tier pool is in desperate need of revamping.
Propelling Kurt Angle into that fraternity and giving him a WWF World Title
run exposed the old guard match-ups for what they truly are: really, really
dull. Granted, the WWF may be the only game in town for the time being.
They have the luxury of coasting along if they choose to. That could be a
fatal mistake though when independent competition comes along...as it
assuredly will in the not too distant future. The WWF should be working
towards increasing the audience they do have -- not lazily falling back on
antiquated match-ups and angles that were successful in the past. In the
current climate it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the WWF-owned
WCW could grow to be more popular than the WWF itself. Wouldn't that be a
kick in the shorts?
As one superstar who will always be in the hearts of SLAM! Wrestling was
fond of saying...Enough is enough! It's time for a change.
That's right, folks. Live in the past and you get left behind.
Mar. 22:Biting the hand that feeds you
Well said. I am surprised that, considering the questionable character of so
much of their TV these days, entertainment business executives would actually get snobby over wrestling. It makes money,
and always has. Currently, it's less profane and censorable than "upscale" works of art
like "The Sopranos" and "Sex in the City." What's their problem?
Anyway, I'll miss your Nitro TV reports as well as WCW. It's a shame that they finally seem to be getting on the right track only when it's already the end of the road.
Brooks Davis, Victoria, BC
EXCELLENT ARTICLE!!! I found myself thinking the
exact same thing when I heard Jamie Kellner speak.
That's also the problem with Bob Costas and Phil
Mushnick. Even though they have good points against
the WWF, they come across as being above us
"unintelligent rubes." If Costas would've used facts,
research and good questions, it's possible he could
have shown what a hypocrite Vince McMahon can be. The
public has shown, they think the XFL sucks. As
somebody who doesn't like football, I can't really
comment -- but the lowest ratings in network history
Apparently, animation fans know Kellner quite well, as
he is consider the Hogan of animation. Destroying
geat cartoons like Animaniacs, Freakazoid, and Batman:
The Animated Series. (All shows I tremdously enjoyed.
BTW, I'm 19.)
It's funny how Kellner (the man who brought "Pokemon"
to North America) can call wrestling fans "low-brow."
Once again, an excellent column. I thought the very