FROM THE DARK SIDE
So, Dr. Faustus, How Would You Book the WWF?
Note: Today's column is an exercise in both creative writing and creative booking. You have been disclaimed.
There I was, in my office, working on some PR stuff for my new comic Doctor Alquimia (plug # 1) and watching the first weekend of the NFL. And there's a knock at my office door, which is strange, since no one else in home but me. I turn around and see, standing in the doorway, a big burly guy in a Lucha mask and a suit. I of course think it's one of the guys from the magazine clowning around, since we were due to edit some stuff tonight. As it turns out, I was wrong.
"Which of you guys make a mask of El Caido (The Fallen One)?"
"I am not one of your compatriots. I am the real El Caido. My friend, I come to you with a special offer. You think you know so much about the wrestling world. What if I gave you the chance to change whatever you wanted in the WWF?"
"At what, the cost of my immortal soul? Sorry, you'll find plenty of girls that live in Delaware that would tell you that's a purchase that's already been made."
"Oh I know. But indulge me."
"Okay, here are the top five things off the top of my head that I'd change, immediately, if not sooner."
1.. Fix the TV.
1.. Excess is already dead in its third week. I actually went to bed rather than watch it. This is a late night timeslot that only devoted fans will watch. So, let them have it, instead of programming for the masses. The WWF owns its video library, the WCW/NWA/UWF video library and possibly soon the ECW video library. USE IT! Excess now becomes the test for the rumored wrestling channel. Two hours of history. Not only will it satisfy the hardcore fans who get to see classic Flair, DiBiase and Savage, but it will help build the knowledge foundation for the younger fans who might stay fans rather than seeing wrestling as a fad and tune out if they don't see the Rock or Steve Austin. Your hosts: Jim Ross (the show's not live, so he should have time during the week to tape it) and Michael Hayes. If Ross is too busy, fly Cornette up once a weekend from Louisville and have him do it.
2.. No one cares about Heat. Give the show to the cruiserweights. It gives them something to do and puts on good TV. With football starting, Heat's ratings are going to go down anyway.
3.. You have 88 minutes of content to book for a two-hour TV show. No more than 29 of it (33%) can be devoted to skits and "comedy." This doesn't count promos.
2.. No More Wire Hangers. Garbage wrestling has run its course. It's stale and it mainly serves to get people injured. Chairs are an accepted part of wrestling. They are international objects and should stay that way. Say bye-bye to regularly seeing (the key words) to see ladders, tables, garbage cans, bricks, sticks and fire extinguishers. Moderation is the key. You want to do a ladder match? One per year. Cage matches? One per year.
3.. Renew Your Passports. American wrestling is stale. Japanese wrestling is stale. Time for some talent swapping. If Keiji Mutoh can hold the Triple Crown, then the WWF can send some mid-card guys to Japan for some seasoning and get some new guys back. Oh yeah, the same goes for Mexico. America is becoming a more and more diverse country every year - your company could stand to be the same. And no burying the Luchadors. The way the Hispanic population in the US is growing, that's a market you don't want to alienate.
4.. Write Some Big Checks. Time to sign Flair. As much as I don't want to do it, sign Bill Goldberg. I know you're going to job them out, but it will pay off in the short term. However, no money in the world is worth putting up with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. This may be pie in the sky booking, but you still have to deal with locker room politics.
5.. One Company, One Belt. Well, not literally. Remember when the WWF title meant something? When Austin would do anything for title shot? When the crowd popped like crazy for Jericho beating HHH? Now there are so many belts that none mean anything. If you're not going to make WCW a separate company, banish the belts. Well, have unification matches for what it's worth at this point. You should have the big belt, the mid-card belt, the tag belts and the junior heavyweight belt. No TV belt. No Women's belt. Certainly no hardcore belt.
"That's what I'd do. Do you take my soul now?"
"No, like you said, that's already spoken for. The last thing I want is to start a civil war in Hell. But you know, I can call Stamford and see what he thinks."
"Really? You can do that?"
"Now, who's being naive? How do you think they won the wrestling war? It was my idea to send Russo to Atlanta. Ha ha ha."
And with that, there was a puff of smoke and the smell of brimstone filled the room. I guess I'll just sit by the computer and wait and see if there's an office for me at Titan Tower.
Shameless Plug # 2: Come see Wrestleline's most old school columnist, the mysterious Dr. Alquimia and wrestling manager Platinum Nat this weekend at the 2001 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD. For more information, goto www.spxpo.com.