...AND MARKING OUT
...At The Old Ball Game
Been a while since we had any, huh? Feedback came from the following two people regarding my open-ended questions at the end of my last column:
Christopher T. Guerette wrote:
I am a mark for cruisers.
Early on in HHH's run with the WWF Title he had a televised defense against TAKA. I thought this would be a squash. It wasn't. TAKA dominated much of the match. It really looked like he was going to steal the title. In the end, HHH won (of course). The point is, I really thought TAKA might win. You see, HHH was COCKY. I don't mean to play into the WWF hands, but the song (as annoying as it is) is appropriate. Jericho is playing this the same way HHH did (and we all know how THAT turned out). Jericho is cocky, and that it is a weakness. When you devalue your opponents (or rather, overvalue yourself), you open yourself up to their offense the same way that HHH did.
HHH didn't do this for long. Eventually, he revealed himself as "The Game." He made us believe the hype. Jericho is just not ready to make us believe the hype.
Maybe that answers one or two of your questions
I see the Fed tried to have lightning strike twice with Jericho's match with Maven. In my humble opinion, they came pretty damn close. Maven looked like he might win for a second or two there. I'm feeling like I'm believing the hype.
And to Edge42 of EZBoard fame, who started a feedback thread simply titled: "I agree with DrOp."
It also looks like the Fed is gonna put Jericho over Austin again this month (as they already put him over Rock last month). Not that I suggested that anywhere or anything, but, you know=8A
For those of you at home keeping score, that's Drop 1, Shocker 0-at least by my count. ;-). Anyhow, Shocker and I are toying with the idea of doing some kind of semi-regular debate column around PPVs, single matches, hot topics or entire shows. The logistics have been difficult to work out as I have been working and traveling my ass of while he has been loafing at home and doing college school work. I'll keep you posted.
So it all comes down to this...
It's the bottom of the 9th Inning, 2 outs, no runners on and Vince McMahon is at the plate. TV viewers are on the mound with ratings - er, I mean the game-on the line. The count is 3 balls, 2 strikes. TV viewers had been slow to return to their original form. Ratings were down and Viewers had throw two consecutive balls. Eye level, even, Ugly pitches to be sure. Here's a quick recap of McMahon's at bat:
Team WWF had just successfully rallied from a two run deficit to tie the game at 3-3 with what had to be one of the greatest mark-out moments of all time: The WWF/WCW Simulcast that announced that Shane had purchased WCW right from under Vince's nose. Great stuff here. Vince then proceeded to put WCW wrestlers - namely Buff Bagwell -- on WWF Television to the disgust and emotional void of WWF fans everywhere, especially in the arenas. They are promptly booed off of TV and the WWF is forced to work it's sound-machine magic to make a SmackDown! Kidman match seem cared-about. If you go back and watch, you can actually hear a little kid in the first few rows chanting for Goldberg. Man, that sound was cranked waaaaay up. Curveball. Dropped from the eyes to the ankles. Yikes.
A frustrated McMahon stepped back into the batter's box by adding a Reformed ECW to the WWF-WCW mix in the GeorgiaDome. Paul Heyman cut some killer promos, Friday night fans marked-out like crazy, and Stephanie as named as ECW owner, killing all of Heyman's TV time and killer mic work in one fell swoop. Initially exciting. Ultimately lackluster. Swing, contact, will it stay fair?!?!
Next McMahon changed his footing in the batter's box and had Steph and Shane merge WCW and ECW into the Alliance (damn, I *still* think that was the lamest name EVER). There were problems, you see. ECW and Paul Heyman's bankruptcy quagmire meant that the WWF could not officially use the ECW brand and trademark, blah, blah, blah. All you need to know is this lead to the end of the ECW name and cool ass theme on WWF television and the infusion of that lovely Drowning Pool song, "Bodies." Yah. Oh yeah, that whole InVasion angle sucked ass, too. Vince too a bullet-proof angle and shot it full of holes. Fastball: in and tight on the hands.
A desperate Vince McMahon took a page right out of WCW's textbook at popping the ratings and brought in Ric Flair to spice up a very dead angle and a very drained crowd. Flair now owned 50% of the WWF and they were partners (as opposed to co-commissioners). The tension and chemistry between the two is fairly good, but Vince's ego doesn't really allow for him to allow anyone to really make him look like a fool except Austin. So Flair took a backseat up until the weeks leading up to their Rumble match where Flair went over to the delight of fans everywhere.
McMahon anxiously looked to the dugout for signals. They were relayed. He wasn't out of it just yet. He had the return on Triple H to use to figure out this deft and adept pitcher named TV viewers. HHH had gone down with a gruesome injury in a **** star Tag match with Austin, Jericho, and Benoit in May of 2001. A heel at the time of his injury, speculation ran rampant as to just what side of the fence The Game would be on upon his return to active wrestling. An excellent video package and a U2 song put an end to the idea of a heel HHH (at least for now) as sympathy grew for the returning main eventer.
And what a return it was. HHH returned on Raw to a standing ovation and an even longer ring entrance. He said a few words, beat up Kurt Angle and all seemed right with the world. The Fed gave away his first in-ring action on SmackDown! instead of hyping his in-ring return for Raw, presumably since SD! Allows for the editing of ring rust. Spoilers, however, mean that everyone (at least everyone on the Net) knew the outcome of the match before it ever aired. In any event, the quick advantage that HHH's return gave McMahon over TV viewers was short lived. Ratings went to the area they were prior to his return. Here's the pitch: McMahon swings and...
Foul Tip. Off the batter's foot, even. Ouch.
So it all comes down to this: 3 Balls, 2 Strikes. Bottom of the 9th. Bases empty. Vince McMahon at the plate. TV Viewers on the mound. Viewers begins his motion. Wait, Vince raises his hand for time and steps out of the box. He re-adjusts his gloves. He grabs his crotch. He takes three practice swings. He slowly steps back into the box. He glares at TV Viewers. The pitcher glares back. Here comes the wind-up. NO. Vince steps back out of the box. The Pitcher mouths "Sh*t" and has a frustrated look on his face. Vince blows off the pitcher and slowly makes his way back to the batter's box. He places his right foot in. Now his left. The pitcher gets the signal from the catcher. The bat roves anxiously above McMahon's shoulders. The crowd is on the edge of their seats. Vince stares directly in TV Viewers' face and mouths three letters: n W o
And here comes the pitch...
Man, talk about a slow burn. I don't know about you, but the suspense is killing me. Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time. Be a fan. Have a few. Mark out a lot. Have no shame.