Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Have you ever sat in a bar, and watched a group of 16 year olds come in and try to score a round? It’s hilarious.
In they come, eyes as wide as the gulf between Raw and Impact, into a realm that they aspire to be part of, but know they don’t really have it. They scuttle to a free table – they never come straight to the bar – and discuss who the unlucky one who will try their hand at getting a round in this time will be.
To the bar comes the unlucky one, grasping a ten pound note tightly, as if otherwise it would snatched from him by ravenous wolves, mistakenly thinking he can get four pints for under a tenner these days. He waits impatiently, shuffling from foot to foot whilst waiting for the barman to get to him.
Then the moment comes – the barman, without initially thinking, enquires as to what the patron would like. Our 16-year-old hero panics and attempts to drop his voice several octaves. “Four p-pints please mate.” He is desperately trying to fit in, trying to appear as if he has been doing this all his life. “Pints of what, son?” asks the increasingly suspicious barman. “Err, whatever.” says the young pretender. “Narrow it down,” says the barman, “Bitter, lager, cider?”
“Whatever is the cheapest.” And now he’s done for. The barman asks for ID, none can be provided, and the four slink out the door.
As is always the case, they eventually find somewhere that will overlook their age-related shortcomings, and score their four pints of cheap, hostile cider. However, at this point they try too hard, necking the cider at an alarming rate, ordering a couple of shots and downing them. Half an hour into their visit, they are drunk, making fools of themselves. Throwing up, falling over and slurring are the resulting effects, and the onlookers and fellow customers in that bar start to look at them as young morons. The staff there won’t serve them again.
But it’s back to school on Monday, and recount their tale to their astounded mates. They tell everyone else in the first year common room of the Sixth Form just how “wasted” they got, and what big men they are for gulping cheap, strong, nasty cider and puking on the parquet floor of the “Ferret and Mongoose” or whatever stupid name this particular establishment has. They become school heroes, at least to a select group of upstarts who have no idea of the real world.
I’m not having a go at them. This is pretty typical behaviour, and something that many young men (not being sexist, but this is prototypical male behaviour) go through. I’ve had moments like it, albeit not as extreme as the example. The point is you are a young adolescent who is desperate to be seen as one of the big boys, a proper adult, but the only people you impress as those with the same mindset, that think that getting blasted is the only way to entertain yourself of a Friday, a display of manliness.
In actuality, most ‘real’ men do a job of work, earn their money, and occasionally spend some of it drinking with their mates or their spouse. They might shift a lot of alcohol, but they do it slowly, sensibly and with an air of dignity. If they have a couple too many and get out of hand their friendship network will either frown on their behaviour and tell them to cut it out, or if they are simply a little tipsy and saying silly things, their pals will gently roll them into a taxi and text them in the morning to see if they are ok.
You know who that little group of adolescents who don’t know how to behave are? That’s TNA. They have the frame of adults. They have grown to over six foot, they can grow a beard in three days, they’ve even got hairs sprouting in places it wasn’t a year earlier. Physically, they are a man. But mentally, they have some way to go.
I cannot stand the way that TNA makes sure that the word “bitch” is on every show. Typical culprits are Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne and Abyss, though Matt Morgan let one slip through this week on Impact. It’s not the use of the word, it’s the intonation. They say “bitch” like they are pushing the word forcibly out of their mouth. It’s almost two syllables: “Bi-itch”.
If it was just one individual, I’d criticise them, but it comes from more that one source. That suggests to me that it’s being fed to them, that someone somewhere thinks they can attract a certain demographic by being more adult.
On one level, that’s really smart. WWE make no secret of the fact that they are PG. Many wrestling fans don’t like the antics of cheesy John Cena and little Hornswoggle. It’s so over-the-top and kid-friendly. There is an audience out there fed up of this, and seek an alternative. They want a grown up’s alternative.
But saying “Bitch” won’t cut it. And neither, forthat matter, will bleeding and wacky violence. These crutches are things that TNA think the grown up fans want. I’m not denying there is an audience for them, and I’m not saying they should never be used. But TNA use them all the time, ad nauseam. They have no impact anymore.
There is a passage in one of Mick Foley’s book where he says something along the lines of “Undertaker gets a bigger reaction jumping over the ropes once a year than Taka Michinoku does doing a Twisting springboard plancha every night” and he is right.
Like I said, there is an audience for constant violence, bad language and so forth. But they are the fawning mates in the above analogy, to TNA’s four kids who got drunk and made a fool of themselves. You keep on doing that, keep on abusing the alcohol and acting the fool, those obsequious mates will eventually tire of your antics, and you’ll be quite the state. I don’t want to sound dark – but there is a chance you will cease to exist.
To prove this is not too extreme a comparison, one of the inspirations for this blog is that I saw recently that TNA did a bigger number in the 12-17 demographic than is typical, and than they get in any other demo. TNA and Spike TV want the 18-34 group to be watching their show. That is their intention. But it strikes me that there are 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds all over America (maybe the world) getting all excited because Ken Anderson says ‘Asshole’ quite a lot, or they can try to look big by chanting ‘make him bleed’, or get their first erection watching Angelina Love straddle the middle rope.
Look, I won’t lie to you. I was in my mid-teens when Miss Kitty’s top came off at Armageddon. I watched my Royal Rumble 2000 video loads because it had a bikini contest with Terri Runnells wearing a barely there swimsuit. If I saw those things now I’m not saying it wouldn’t amuse me for ten seconds, but I don’t find Velvet Sky’s stately backside a reason to watch TNA, comely as it is. There is a real world out there. I was a virgin when I saw Stacy Carter reveal herself, and it was the most exciting thing in my life. Now, while I appreciate the aesthetic qualities of maybe Divas or Knockouts, I’m more likely to watch their show because they are a good wrestler or an entertaining personality.
I’m not saying there is no-one over the age of 16 watching TNA, but what I am saying is that there is an audience out there that has abandoned wrestling altogether for the grown-up world of MMA, or simply other pursuits which gratify them personally. And I find they tend to be (not exclusively, but plenty often) the more rounded individuals with a settled life and a higher IQ. And it isn’t that wrestling is beneath them, but the presentation of wrestling at the moment is.
The pair of companies are actually quite mixed up. WWE might be the company that targets kids – won’t swear, no blood etc – but they, by far, present the more intelligent, nuances, well thought out booking. Nexus/Cena has it’s flaws here and there, but it mostly makes sense. Taker/HBK was a masterpiece for two Mania build ups. The Miz is an engaging character who everyone can unite in booing.
TNA aspires to be an alternative to WWE, but all they are is simply a mixed up collection of ideals, none of which work in the real world. They are the prototypical teenager – they think they no better than their elders, try too hard to prove they should be treated as an equal, but in doing so make a fool of themselves.
The madcap X-division matches are like the one-off night out with some old mates that you have maybe once a year. Fun, a little wild, and perhaps a little drunken. Great fun, no doubt. But do it every week and you risk your health.
The language used is like when a teacher is off sick, and they get replaced by a supply teacher who lets you get away with murder. Anything goes with them. You get a big laugh out of your mates, but your captive audience will laugh at anything like that. “Huh-huh, Chris said ‘Bitch’. He’s really cool.”
TNA is one long underage party. Have you ever watched American Pie 1 and 2 (I haven’t seen 3)? By the end of it, the guys have tired of the manic partying, and are ready to settle down. They realise that trying to relive the wild party doesn’t satisfy them, whereas Mena Suvari does (you know what I mean). TNA is Stifler. He might be still be having a good time, and looks pretty cool to a bunch of people, but you sort of wouldn’t want to be him, would you? That lifestyle can only last so long.
Settling down isn’t saying ‘bitch’ or carving yourself open every week. It’s having a sensible relationship between the viewer and the product. Intelligent, well thought out storylines with exciting, longer matches with sensible conclusions.
It’s time for TNA to stop deluding itself about trying to be cool, about trying to look real, raising the bar or any other banal platitudes Hulk Hogan is so prone to spewing.
It’s time for TNA to grow up.
Posted by Rob McNichol at 16:08
Thursday, 25 November 2010
So it's getting near that time. Are you excited? Are you nervous? Are you thinking about purchasing Wrestlemania IX? If the answers to any of the previous three questions is 'yes', then you are a Gonzalez-size berk, but I applaud your honesty.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
- Wow. That's a hot crowd. Great heat for Barrett. Serious, old school, genuine heat.
- Proper heel reasoning too. He has a point - Cena cost him the match.
- More genuine heat......this time for Cole. The trouble is there is no money in Cole.
- General point..........but good lord Barrett is good. His mannerisms, his timing, his character. Just spot on. He is actually way more British than any of the British stereotypes wrestling has had over the years - and it works.
- Great decision to have Punk on comms. He is great.
- Is KotR a three hour show?
- Get Crunk got binned. Good. Cole says he likes "What's Up?". He said he hated it before, didn't he?
- Cole and Punk actually have similar voices.
- Pleased Sheamus got a good win to get back on track.
- I'm happy with the Santino and Laycool skits. That exactly the way to light-hearted, fun stuff to break up the two hours. Background stuff that puts a smile on your face, but doesn't take away from the serious business of matches and championships.
- By the way, the Orlando crowd is really hot, but it's important to note that not only did Barrett get huge heat at the start, but there was a frisson of noise to recognise Sheamus' high cross, Natalya got a pop for appearing on screen, and so did Santino. There are gradually more and more people who are over.
- Is Ezekiel Jackson the new Rob Terry?
- Topofthesecondhour Cena time
- Erm.........why is Cena smiling?
- Good list by Cena...........no Rock, though.
- "Lets go Cena" "Cena Sucks". I really, really liked that. You know what, there were guys in the audience saying "Cena sucks" with a huge smile on their face. That's the whole of point of wrestling. Smile.
- I understand that they'll be worried about ratings, but they could do with Cena being gone for a while to let it sink in, not bring him back in two weeks
- Great, great promo from Cena. Perfectly pitched, in my eyes. There will be some that didn't like it, because it was worked, and they'll think it waters down real retirement speeches like HBKs, but I thought it was spot on.
- Barrett's "You can't see me" was priceless as Cena left.
- Cena didn't pound Barrett's face to mush, though, did he?
- Did Punk call Maryse "Maurice", like Steve Miller in the The Joker?
- Punk is actually getting annoying already, because he is another heel presence.
- I'm disappointed that two of the three KotR matches I've seen so far have been ultra-short. Perhaps Cena really did go long on his promo.
- Decent outing for Nattie. It made sense to give her a bit of a showpiece win. If they have enough Divas, they ought to do that for another couple of weeks.
- Did Tyson Kidd just do the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza?
- Add Morrison to the list of really nice pops.
- I'm assuming there will be four Smackdown guys in KotR but they haven't done a great job of explaining that.
- This show is full of little nuances that I love this week. I love Barrett talking to the ref about the match. He is obviously saying if Orton can't wrestle it's a forfeit, and Chioda was saying no to that.
- This is proper, old school, clever, subtle sensible booking. THIS is how you book a wrestling show, people.
- Cena run-in. Brilliant.
- MIZ! Awesome! Sorry, I've just realised this has ceased to become a thoughtful set of points about the show, and simply me reacting to stuff, but that's a good thing. I like it when shows make become a fan again. I absolutely loved that show. Best Raw in ages. Possibly the best of the year. Do you think they decided that they thought they'd get a big rating coming off Survivor Series and tried to hook them? Great strategy. It remains to be seen if it holds people, but it's great thinking.
Posted by Rob McNichol at 12:06
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
- Good decision to begin the show with Nexus
- Interesting that Wade addressed Husky & Hennig - will that just be forgotten about, like the Legacy issue with the other DiBiase son? Or will they appear again, and be worked in somehow.
- I'm really into this opening. I like that Barrett addressed the 'plan' of his cohorts. I like Cena coming out to no music. This is nicely done.
- Take notes, everyone. Cena got a crowd to react when he took an armband off. Think about that. Think about that when you are suggesting he turn heel, or when you think everything has to be over-the-top and 100 miles an hour.
- I'm typing this as things go on, so they might twist it by the end, but I might have left this tag match for the main event. Give the audience a couple of hours to ponder what Cena might do.
- I didn't care for the conclusion to the opening segment/match. If Cena can lose matches and beat Tarver up, then what difference does it make if he is in Nexus or not? And why didn't Nexus come and help Tarver?
- Ooh, the GM has chimed in. Will he help sort this out.....?
- Hmmm. How in the hell can a GM tell Cena what to do? It's very flimsy, and the over-explanation exposes the holes in the angle rather than cover them up. I'm happy that they have addressed it, I guess, but it still looks weak.
- The Nattie v Alicia segment was an embarrassment. Not having a go at the two girls. Not their fault. But no entrance music, three moves and then no focus post-match? What was the point?
- Oh good, they made Bryan look like a complete idiot again. Because they couldn't have had some other babyface do that, could they?
- I'm guessing Sheamus gets angry and takes people out for a few weeks, then Triple H comes back to stop him.
- Hey, another JR line. That's a couple in the last few weeks.
- 20 man Battle Royal? Cool. Fans love Battle Royals. We don't see them that often. So build to it. Announce it this week and then have it happen the week after.
- I like the sense in Edge to SD, then the face off with Miz. I take it these two will lead their teams. Clever booking in that.
- Actually there is a lot of clever booking on Raw. It's just the presentation and afterthoughts that are hugely dragging down the whole enterprise.
- I like the seeds being planted of Otunga (and perhaps the other Nexus members) one day rising up and creating Mutiny.
- Oh. My. God. I get what they are trying to do with LayCool, but that's "I'm-going-turn-my-television-off-and-watch-American-Football" sort of heat. So, so annoying.
- You know what, I'm happy with Goldust and the Million Dollar belt. It's a little undercard thing and fills some time with a feud. Plus, I think Dustin Runnells deserves it.
- Hey, Flair and Hogan in the Make-a-Wish video. More TNA references, however indirect. Hmm. Rock, Austin and Batista also on the video.
- Suddenly David Otunga seems like a interesting character.
- Why would you bury Bourne from the Battle Royal so quickly?
- Why is Miz in a number one contenders match? He has the briefcase?
- Hang on, I've been thinking. If Edge has been traded to Smackdown, does that mean someone is going to Raw? Who do you reckon? Maybe Punk?
- I guess I'm ok with the result of the Battle Royal. I don't care for the idea that if Barrett hadn't won Cena would get fired. If he had helped in an ultimately losing affair, surely that would have been ok?
- By the way, Sheamus, who wrestled in allegedly the most punishing match in WWE, wrestled twice tonight and sold not injuries.
- An ok Raw. I had some small issues with it, as I talked about, but it wasn't terrible. I am broadly fine with the Cena/Nexus programme. Not my kind of thing, but as I've said before I'm not their target demo for this kind of thing.
Posted by Rob McNichol at 13:22
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
There are two great loves of my life. Football (the UK version) and wrestling. I don't ever see that changing. However, the levels of the love do fluctuate somewhat. And I don't think they have ever ebbed and flowed as much as they have in 2010.
Saturday, 25 September 2010
It's the eighth ever episode of Monday Night Raw, and its with......hmm, a little message to inform us all that the show has been pre-recorded. Ok. Straight after that, it's Hogan time. In a studio along with Brutus and Jimmy, on full hype mode for a match against Money Inc. Hogan calls his partner "Brutus the Barber Bionic" at one point.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
- Jericho still in the opening video, then.
Posted by Rob McNichol at 12:35
Friday, 17 September 2010
We kick off the seventh ever installment of Monday Night Raw with the music of the World Wrestling Federation champion, Bret "The Hitman" Hart who is out for his title defence against.......one of the Headshrinkers. Hmm, big time. This is only the second time, I think, that we have seen Bret in the flesh on Raw. They talk about him a bit, but it's interesting that the focus on the champion, or at least the top babyface, is much less in this era than now. If Cena missed a week, Sheamus only got seen once a month, there'd be uproar.