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Marcus Blair




There's no way I could count the times I've played Final Fantasy games. They are, in my opinion, the greatest series of RPGs ever made, but in recent years, something has been different. Something has been a little dissatisfying about them. Something has made me lose the delight of defeating the final boss and tossing my controller in the air. I finally figured it out last night. I was walking through the videogames section of Blockbuster when I noticed a complete strategy guide for the new Zelda games for Gameboy. I almost bought it, but then it hit me, at last:

I no longer enjoy RPGs because the strategy guides are too detailed and I have become too reliant on them.

Well, I didn't buy the book, and I decided right then to not buy a strategy guide for Final Fantasy 10 when it is released. After all, game companies issue those $25 guides just to suck more money out of us, don't they? They fill their games with intricate secrets that no one can figure out so they can sell more guides, don't they?

The product has become stale. No longer can we feel good after finding Odin on a throne in the back of the Castle of Baron. No longer can we cast "wall" on Asura and laugh as she heals the party. We don't figure things out for ourselves anymore, and we are paying the price. It causes us to want more and more, and THEY keep giving it to us, don't they?

I think the same thing is happening with wrestling. I see so much improvement in the product, but I feel like I'm the only one who sees it.

Perhaps we've gotten so accustomed to having "the strategy guide" (dirtsheets and Internet smark sites) that the product is no fun for us anymore. Perhaps we have lost our ability to think for ourselves and enjoy the darned product if we want to.

When I logged on Tuesday morning, I couldn't believe people were dissing Raw so hard. Wudis007 and I watched the program together and agreed that it was one of the most solid Raws in months, even better than "THE GREATEST RAW EVER (TM)."

Some points:

1. I have to give props to the Undertaker for selling the moves. His match with Angle showed so much ring psychology that I was amazed. I looked at Wudis007 and asked, "Is this the same guy? Have they brought back the Underfaker?" Granted, it didn't have as much ring psychology as many other matches, but for Old Booger Red, it was a good start. Really, I hate the Undertaker because of his no-selling, but Monday night he proved to me that he still has what it takes to be a good wrestler, despite the absence of the Urn.

2. Did everyone notice how much "old skool" was packed into Raw? The psychology was good, the brawling was good (see the APA match - these guys are the most believable butt-kickers in the Fed), and the WWF seems to be adding little details that many of us long-timers demand. How long has it been since you saw a guy (Jericho) REMOVE THE TURNBUCKLE COVER? Talk about awesome! In the same match, Jericho and Rock rolled back into the ring from time to time to stop the 10-count. Good stuff! More please! My only request is that they bring back the tag rope...but as the guy from Conan says...THAT....IS ANOTHER......STORY.

3. PLOTLINES! PLOTLINES APPROACHING! WARNING! The WWF did a good, good thing when they staged the backstage skit with Stephanie and Angle. Everyone's been screaming for the continuation of forgotten angles and there you have it: an apparent continuation of the Angle/Steph/HHH love triangle. I'm disappointed that we won't get a Jericho/HHH feud anytime soon, but we'll save that for Wrestlemania and let Jericho/Rock continue. Details! Details! I love details in my wrestling!

4. I was also enraged when Jericho dropped the belt. It just looks good on him. To see Jericho taking his rightful place, leading the mid-carders against the Alliance with that belt over his shoulder was so cool, I almost contracted RVD's alleged bladder-control problems. I'll freely admit to being a Jericho mark, and I wanted him to keep the strap just as much as everyone else, but people, the feud needed to continue. We're going to get Jericho/Rock for a while, and it will probably get better and better. We often criticize the WWF for ending feuds too soon, but remember what we've been watching since Invasion? The extremely bitter, heated Austin vs. Angle feud. And REMEMBER - they even spent a while setting that one up with the backstage cowboy-hat skits. This is a good sign. Relax. Enjoy the show.

5. This goes along with my Undertaker comments, but I was griping a month or so ago about how lazy some of the wrestlers looked (see X-Pac, Dudleyz). I really think the WWF has given an ultimatum to the roster: "Step it up, or get out, slap-nuts!"

Does everyone like the new "Desire" promo? I hate Creed, but I think the video itself is crazy good (except for the Matt/Lita kiss, which violates all we know about the Hardy Boyz' secret lives...). It recaps all of the good bumps, including the Angle cage moonsault and the Shane Titan-tron elbow drop, and shows some of the year's best moments, before and after the Invasion.

Now, I agree with everyone else: there are too many titles, too many run-ins, too many high spots and in general, too much glitz and not enough guts. But I'm going to keep watching to see if the wrestlers will continue to raise the level of intensity and heart. If we can get back to the effort level of the Attitude era, we'll be doing great. Boring matches are caused by nonsensical booking, run-ins and all that jazz, but you know what? I think boring matches are mostly caused by boring, lazy wrestlers. I can watch Iron Mike Sharp vs. Sandy Beach and enjoy it if there is EFFORT and PSYCHOLOGY in the match.

Maybe this truly will come to be known as "The Desire Era" and we can move on from "Attitude" to something fresh. I'm ready for what's next. I'm ready for the push.

Marcus Blair
Shockmaster psuedo-expert

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