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...AND MARKING OUT

Quick Shout-Out: I know relatively nothing about puro. A few weeks ago, I was exposing my ignorance on AIM when along came a guy by the name of Marking Smart. He has TONS of wrestling on tape and agreed to send me a puro tape for free, because he's a good guy, just like Shaddax said. In additon, he has also agreed to send me a tape of SummerSlam which I completely missed because I was in Las Vegas on business. I now have seen my first puro matches and will be able to see SummerSlam. Marking Smart is my New Best Friend (sorry, Pac)!! Go here to view his tape index and trade with him, won't ya?

Even Superman has Kryptonite

Anyone who reads knows what a comic book mark I am. Admittedly, not as much as I used to be, but still, I love the X-Men. As a kid, I also loved tons of other heroes as well: Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Flash - hell, I loved ALL of the SuperFriends. And what was not to love? They had a mega-successful cartoon and matching underwear, for crying out loud. You could watch your favorite heroes every Saturday morning and pretend to have those powers all while still in your jammies. It just didn't get much cooler than that.

Like most heroes, the SuperFriends had a rogue's gallery of villains that theu fought on a weekly basis: The Legion of Doom. The Legion of Doom was also cool because it featured each individual hero's most powerful enemy all joined together in an unthinkable cadre of corruption. Each week the Legion would go out in different combinations, their latest devious plot I hand and give the SuperFriends a run for their money. Each episode, our beloved heroes would have to work harder and harder to hold off a threat that seemed more and more unstoppable by the week. Make no mistake, the heroes always won in the end (on TV more so than comics where you don't always have to have a happy ending), but the villains didn't lose much face in defeat because they were somehow portrayed as both more powerful, and yet more inept than the heroes.

The villains usually had the upper hand for most of the storylines. Only when it appeared that all was lost did the heroes finally figure out a way to defeat them. In fact, the coolest heroes got their asses handed to them on a regular basis. Think about it: Superman can fly, is extremely strong and fast, and is invulnerable. Lex Luthor, his arch-nemesis, is an ordinary human. But Luthor constantly brings Superman to his knees with a little green rock called kryptonite. Like wise, Batman (who has arguably the best rogue gallery ever) has the Joker who was brilliantly insane. Then, he also has Bane, a villain who can match Batman in every conceivable aspect (intelligence, hand-to-hand combat), but is way stronger. Bane eventually proved his superiority when he broke Batman's spine. And that was cool. The X-Men have Magneto and a horde of virtually unstoppable Sentinels. And they used to kick the X-Men asses all the time. Hell, Magneto would single-handedly defeat an entire team of X-Men. And that was cool.

You see a hero is only a good as his villain, only as strong as his Achilles' Heel. We measure heroes by the obstacles they must overcome, and the exhausting effort and bravery they display in overcoming them. If victory comes to easy for a hero, he becomes boring. And we tend to tune him or her out and look for new heroes elsewhere.

And that, my friends, is the problem with the Undertaker.

The Undertaker is hands-down the best gimmick wrestler ever. He has managed to thrive in a business where trends rise and fall like stock prices and re-invention is the key to having longevity. He has wrestled with Hogan, Warrior, Hart, Michaels, Foley, Austin, HHH, Rock, and Angle and has consistently maintained main event status - an amazing feat by any standards. And that is part of the problem. Taker has been on top for so long, that he and the writers don't seem able or willing to portray him in a way that makes him interesting to watch. He's the WWF's Superman, only without Lex Luthor and his chunks of kryptonite. He is a super-charged alien among a roster full of ordinary men. Undertaker plows through every wrestler on the roster no matter how relatively big or small in size, using the catchphrases "Decade of Destruction" and "I'll make you famous." But, Taker's got it all wrong. If the feud is booked properly, the villain makes the hero famous.

You see, the villain represents that threat against order and the innocent. The villain is supposed to get the better of the hero at every turn. Taunting him. Beating on him. Playing little psychological games. The danger must always be imminent. This builds dramatic tension as the hero becomes more and more desperate to defeat the vile, evil threat as that same threat looms ever larger at each encounter. Villains usually accomplish this by preying on a hero's weakness: an injured body part, family members, innocent people. The problem with the Undertaker is that he has NO WEAKNESS. There doesn't really seem to be anything anyone can do to get the best of this man. Surely, no ONE person is strong enough as the only time we see Taker taking a beating is at the hands of two or more wrestlers like Kronik (both of whom he'll whip before all this is said and done, by the way). No punch hurts his face, no kick damages his abs of steel, and evidently only chairs made of adamantium can draw blood from his skull and render him unconscious. And that just gets boring.

It's the same formula every time. Wrestler taunts Undertaker, usually by kicking his bike over. Undertaker spends the next three weeks and PPV whipping said wrestler's ass all over America's larger arenas. YAWN. Heroes to be vulnerable. It only helps viewers to suspend belief if the threat is credible all the time. But there is no credible threat to the Undertaker. And I've got a nasty feeling that he likes it that way. The bookers seemed to be on the right track with DDP and the beginning of the stalker angle, but then Page became just another whipping boy for Mark Calloway. I'm sure that the WWF brass would say that the angle didn't draw. To which I propose it didn't draw because Taker didn't sell for Page and, therefore, Page wasn't seen as a threat in anyone's eyes, certainly not mine. Who wants to see him whip everyone's ass all the time anyway? Austin was suffering from a similar problem until he ran into the unstoppable force known as HHH and eventually turned heel. Part of what makes the new Austin so refreshing is watching him finally get his, even if it is happening while he is playing a villain.

So, Mark, if you're reading, here are a few hints to follow before you get so boring that your quarter hours drop and you have to change your entrance music again to garner a larger pop:

        When someone punches you, snap your neck back. Check out that early episode of Tough Enough when HHH dropped by for pointers.

        When someone kicks you, bend over and wince in pain. Most viewers tend to howl in pain when kicked in the stomach by a 12-inch boot. They expect the same from you.

        When someone hits you with a chair, fall down and stay down. Or better yet, fall down and come up bleeding. Chair shots must be sold.

        And finally, put over someone NOT named Austin, HHH, Kane or Rock. You should've put Page over. Albert? Nope. Try Test, then for crying out loud. It's okay for a hero to lose every now and then. It keeps them interesting. It would make you refreshing. Vulnerability makes for interesting match-ups and feuds.

Trust me: Invincible heroes are BORING.

Until next time: Be a fan. Drink beers. Mark out. Care less.

I'm out.

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