Here at My Take Radio, we are all about individual opinions, hence the name. Fellow staff writer Bryan wrote an article similar to this one in late 2009 and this is just going to be my two cents on the issue of wrestling. His article was great and I hope you enjoy mine as well because the state of wrestling has just been bothering me lately.
If you are one of the fans that gets to tune in every Thursday night, or even one of the downloaders, you know that the second segment in the show handles wrestling. We even had an “impromptu guest” call in late during last week’s show to share his passion for wrestling with us. The wrestling segment rarely goes over five minutes and is usually more like two. That is not so cool on a show that has a one hundred and fifty minute time slot. Host Rich has himself debated dropping the segment from the show and it only still exists because listeners like myself voted against it.
Regardless of whether it is WWE or TNA, the big problem with wrestling is charisma, or the severe lack of it these days. It seems like everyone wants to be that big star, that Hulk Hogan of today but many of these performers just don’t get it – the formula that made wrestling great was having tiers and people “knowing their roles” so to speak. I am going to take a look back to a time circa 1988-1991, when wrestling was so fun that even my mom would sit down and watch it with me. There was this whole system that was just working for both (then) WWF and the now defunct WCW/NWA. You had great announcers like Jim Ross and “Gorilla Monsoon. Hell, you even had an ongoing rivalry between Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan that culminated with Heenan literally getting tossed out on his ass on air. The announcers even made the boring jobber matches worth watching.
And here we have another component that you barely see – the jobbers. Poor schleps that honestly had decent wrestling talent but no one gave a crap about. Probably the most famous was the Brooklyn Brawler – dude literally got his ass whooped on a weekly basis, probably more. I can recall the WCW debut of Big Van Vader – he fought Z-Man. Z-MAN??? Dude, your name starts at the end, we know you’re losing against a guy that has a giant helmet with smoke coming out. Z-Man was not exactly a jobber, but he was one of the lower level stars and in that match he got picked up by his frikkin’ ears and tossed across the ring. Needless to say, he lost.
To beat up the jobbers, we had the great faces and heels of wrestling that were always top performers but were never gonna hold that world title, save one or two. Jake “The Snake” Roberts, coming to the ring with Damian and later Lucifer, his pythons. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who came to the ring either with barber’s scissors or hedge clippers, depending upon the opponent. Mr. Perfect (R.I.P.), who had a “perfect” wrestling record, despite having been beaten numerous times. These, along with others, were the guys that hardcore fans called their favorites because not everyone loved Hulk Hogan or The Ultimate Warrior or any of the top names. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and the aforementioned Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat had fantastic matches, sometimes even against the jobbers. It was this lower tier Saturday morning programming that really made you look forward to Monday night and occasionally the “Saturday Night’s Main Event.” Now we have such oversaturation and every match has to be high profile so it makes things feel so stale and stagnant.
Wrestling is called “Sports Entertainment” for a reason. Acting is a big part of the show and just like Hollywood actors, you have those who “got it” and those who don’t. Hulk Hogan was never my favorite wrestler; even as a kid I felt he stole the shine from better performers but facts are facts: that man had more charisma than your average three wrestlers and your average ten of today. Look at a few facts about his career and compare it to anyone of today. Is there anyone wrestling today that WWE or TNA is gonna shell out the hardcore cash to a company like Marvel Comics to attach the name “Hulk” to? I think not. Is there anyone that these companies would pay top dollar for the rights to play a Jimi Hendrix track for as their entrance theme? Hell no. Voodoo Child was the theme song for Hogan’s heel “Hollywood” persona and it fit perfectly. He’s standin’ next to a mountain (in this case the fans) and he could chop it down with the edge of his hand. People hung off of his words, love him or hate him, when he would grab the mic from the Mean Gene Okerlunds, the Vince McMahons, from anyone, you listened to what he had to say.
Other powerful characters wrestling saw in its day were the Ultimate Warrior. He was so jacked up that no matter what, he was gonna finish his ring entrance. Opponents would beat the crap out of him while he’s entering the ring and he would still get up and shake those ropes and do the gorilla press pose. Mick Foley – the man is certifiable but who else has lost teeth and an ear for wrestling and kept going? The Rock – probably the only wrestler to date that had more thunder than Hulk Hogan. The simple fact – no other wrestler has had a show named after them. Without the Rock, Smackdown would have been called something else.
Now you can say “oh there are people like John Cena and blah blah blah these days,” and honestly, I am not trying to take away from the new superstars. It is not their fault. These guys grew up watching the same people I have just been praising. The problems are numerous. There are too many wrestlers with zero charisma, yes, but there are also no managers like there used to be – mouthpieces for the verbally boring wrestlers. Announcers are not as funny as they used to be and now in the case of WWE, they turn to TV and movie personalities to fill those slots. The writing for the shows by comparison is crap. The biggest moment of downfall was when Vince McMahon bought WCW, thus obliterating the competition. Even though we now have TNA, which is basically full of personalities fired from or disgusted with WWE, wrestling is now about as exciting as next year’s edition of John Madden Football for the game console of your choice.