EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, August 17, 2001
A stunning example of consistency
I don't know how many columns I've written about consistency, in one form or another. Well, it couldn't be more than two or three, but enough, I think, to send the message that this sort of thing is important to me. And on Monday night, the writers -- or whoever was responsible for the content of that promo -- actually demonstrated a sense of consistency.
One of the many ways that wrestling is worse today than it was a decade ago is that in the one-show-per-week, five-pay-per-views-per-year world of the WWF, there was plenty of time to plan storylines far in advance and stick to that plan. Nowadays, it seems as though the WWF's attention span is shorter than that of the typical couch potato, and their storylines in many ways have suffered. Events of only weeks or months previous are long forgotten, even contradicted. Allies and enemies are ignored. Accomplishments are forgotten. Logic is dead.
Not so much this week. In Austin's promo, he verbally assaulted four members of the Alliance: Tommy Dreamer, Hugh Morrus, Raven, and of course Tazz. Each target of the Texas Rattlesnake's venom in some different way deserved it, and the reasons offered were completely valid. Not only were they valid, but they were consistent and logical. It was almost as if Austin's promo was a way of acknowledging these errors and showing that the WWF can detect and correct them.
In the case of Dreamer, Austin questioned that he'd yet to wrestle a match and wondered what the heck he was doing in the Alliance. I -- and by the sound of it, many of SLAM!'s readers -- have been wondering that myself. The Alliance seems to gain next to nothing from his presence, and his membership in that club makes no more sense than would that of Sonny Onoo. At least here, that was acknowledged and played on.
Hugh Morrus' ring name has always been dumb, even by wrestling's standards. Despite the fact that puns as names are silly to begin with, his is next to meaningless. Humourous? In a wrestling federation? No one cares. It's not as bad as Hugh G. Rection, but it's in the same ballpark.
Raven and Morrus were chewed out for losing wrestling matches, as well they should be. Villains are generally not kind to their minions, especially the fumbling, unsuccessful kind.
The best part of all came when Steve Austin attacked Tazz because Tazz, a commentator on WWF Smackdown!, sat at his chair, commentating, while The Rock put Shane McMahon through the announce table. I barely gave it a second thought at the time that Tazz should have helped, but that's because I'm used to having to really suspend disbelief in those matters while watching the WWF.
WWF feuds used to start over accidentally bumping into someone. Though sometimes lame, they could be very subtle. Anything could be the source or cause of a feud. Nowadays, you've got to run over a guy with a truck or kidnap and sleep with his spouse in order to even get his attention, let alone a title shot.
I just figured the stars were aligned properly and that this was some freak, isolated instance, but then it happened again! During Stephanie's promo, Chris Jericho interrupted to point something out. Some things, actually. Two things. He was seemingly the only performer in the WWF's fictional world who noticed a change in Stephanie's "proportions". I don't believe that subject matter makes for good wrestling angles, but at least it was acknowledged.
I can't say who's responsible for those two promos, but someone or some folks must have been, and they're to be commended. All they have to do is keep it up, and then remind themselves how to attach these complex promos to an actual wrestling angle. Have Tazz turn on Austin, have Stephanie refuse to appear on camera for a few shows, or something along those lines.
Just keep that consistency consistent and they'll be all set.
Here's the mailbag.
Patrick Krause, from email@example.com, writes:
"Eric, On Lance Storm's comment board, Lance revealed that the people in the ape suits were two actors from the POTA movie. Probably not name actors, just extras/stunt people."
Wow, Lance Storm's giving away big trade secrets! Oh well, I guess that answers that question. Strange, I thought Fox Studios had sold all of their ape costumes on Ebay and Yahoo Auction (seriously).
"I personally like Ken Shamrock and am glad to see him return. I think that he was misused and would play great as a nonaligned marauder ala Bruiser Brody. As for his moves, I do not see what you mean. His matches with Austin and Shawn Michaels were great. As well, he had a fantastic series with Owen Hart. Imagine what a great foe he would make for Chris Benoit or Kurt Angle. Give him a chance."
It's not just about individual moves being realistic, though, it's about weaving them together with psychology. Ken Shamrock was simply never good at that. Some of the wrestlers with the best, most realistic-looking moves are still considered to be lacking in the psychology department. Their matches are called 'spot-fests' and they generally can't sustain crowd heat for too long. I'm not saying Shamrock is terrible in this regard, but watching him try to 'act' -- even during a match, as he 'snaps', just reminds me that the match is completely fake and makes it difficult for me to get into it.
That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!
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