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Chicago, IL

Around this time of a major storyline, I suppose it's natural for smart fans and professionals in the wrestling industry to get excited about it enough that we hear ideas and opinions from all points in the spectrum. However, their own biases and leanings also carry said personalities away from established norms of professionalism and into the very murky realm of subjective judgments. Take Bob Ryder for example. In his 7/3/01 column, he makes his case that Vince McMahon is not really a genius and that the WWF is blowing its chance to make the WCW Invasion angle really good. Fine, no problems there. But, he also goes on to call Brad Siegel an "idiot" and a "buffoon" for the way he handled the sale of WCW. Oy vey! Personal attacks? Why? All because Bob's beloved WCW was sold to the devil-spawn himself? Nuts! Can you spell "s-l-a-n-d-e-r"? I can see someone making a case for a "stupid move" or an "act of buffoonery", but to call another person names? Over the Internet via a keyboard? Boy, that took some guts! What is Brad Siegel to Bob Ryder anyway - his indentured apprentice that he feels he has the privilege to throw slanderous names at the man? What the heck for?

What possible reason could there be for anyone, and the Bu2 means ANYONE, to attack Mr. Siegel or any other wrestling industry personnel on a personal basis? Was WCW the family-inherited property of any one of us that we should feel so damn insulted and aggrieved at the nature of its sale to the WWFE? It was Siegel's decision to make and he made it. Big deal! Is Bob holding a grudge because he lost his paycheck now that Eric Bischoff is no longer his boss? What's his point anyway? That Vince got a bargain? That Siegel may have made a mistake? Oh boy, that's really going to blow a hole in our lives! The presumption that Vince is driving a stake through the hearts of WCW wrestlers just because he's holding a grudge doesn't hold water because not only is WCW his asset, he's also coming off the ruinous XFL debut season. Why risk more financial loss in the wake of the demise of his football league?

Ryder further argues that the audience is "absolutely and totally confused" about whom to cheer for and that the WCW guys are being "set up to be booed". Let's also get another thing straight while we're here: it's a really condescending thing to expect to dictate reactions to a live audience. Nobody can arrogate that right to himself or herself. Politicians have always deemed it necessary to tell voters/audiences what to think of the other guy and more irritatingly, how to think. They've always underestimated the audience's ability to think for themselves. That's why they get surprised every now and then, e.g. Jesse Ventura's election victory. Maybe the WWF crowd is booing WCW stars or showing lack of interest in their performances because they're loyal to the WWF! Maybe it's because they see obvious signs of ring rust. Maybe their loyalty dictates that they'll stick with (gasp!) Austin and Vince! Maybe the old axiom of "blood runs thicker than water" is more relevant to the fans than writers have given them credit for. Remember, a lot of these fans stuck with The Ringmaster and the WWF while they were getting trounced in the ratings. Did that ever occur to anyone? Obvious perhaps? Yeah, they're not being fair and impartial to Booker T and Buff Bagwell - tough! Those guys are professionals and big boys; they'll deal with it. Why don't we as well!

Marketers like Vince learn from audience reactions. It was obvious people were cheering for Steve Austin in his feud with Bret Hart as well as for DX through all their escapades. It was just as obvious to WCW marketers the audience were cheering for the NWO over WCW. Both companies learnt from those reactions and adapted their storylines accordingly. Neither company tried to shove Austin or Nash/Hall down the fans' throats as heels. The heretofore heels were turned into anti-heroes, not necessarily faces. Maybe the WWF will learn from the current reactions to Booker T vs. Bagwell too, maybe they won't. Why don't we just wait and see what happens. Is that too hard to do? So, to end this segment of my latest rant, here're my two cents: chill, folks! Chill! Let IT happen, don't force IT to do a darn thing!

Let's move on to the obvious transition, at least in my mind. Here's what I'd love to see happening - fan bases could play a huge role in how this storyline develops. Since WWF fans are obviously booing WCW stars, no matter what ilk they belong to, perhaps true WCW fans will start booing WWF stars when the circus comes to town in places like Atlanta, Panama City, etc. It won't matter if they're seeing The Rock or Undertaker. Won't that be awesome? Canadian fans booed The Patriot when the WWF visited Edmonton at the height of the DX vs. Hart Foundation battle. This invasion angle can be modified to not just involve stars on a first-hand basis, but also the fans in a spontaneous and dynamic role. Who are more loyal - WCW fans or WWF fans? To top it all off, a PPV event at a huge stadium, e.g. Rose Bowl or Georgia Dome, where both sets of fans show up in droves and you have alternating chants of "W-C-W" and "W-W-F". Markout moments galore!!! Do you see it happening too? Would you like to? Until next time, buh bye. I've said my peace!


P.S. Let's see if Angela and Oscar feel like promoting me to High Blue Belt rank this evening! *crossing my fingers* I HAVE been practicing my forward rolls and grappling all weekend!

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