MISUSED AND ABUSED
A while back, Time Magazine listed who they felt were the most important artists and entertainers in America. In a surprising move, they even had their pick for best wrestling personality: Stephanie McMahon. To which I say, WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Come on, someone who's not in the slightest bit attractive, can't interview and can't work a match is the best wrestling has to offer? With mainstream coverage like that, it's no wonder why the ratings are slipping. When Stephanie McMahon is considered high art, you know the cultural fabric of North America is being torn apart at the seams.
The WWF has the monopoly right now, so they can do whatever they want, and hardcore wrestling fans will follow them wherever they go. Until a rival company comes along, there's nothing that can be done about that. But seriously, how many of the WWF's top performers can be held up against the rest of American culture?
Kurt Angle, is without a doubt, the WWF's best performer right now. But his blatant pro-American character really agitates me. Something I'm confused about is the general consensus on the 'net that says Angle has really stepped up and become a main-event player. Hello! He was already a main event player! He easily was the best thing going in wrestling for the last two years. He had the best character, put on the best matches, and you people are only pulling your heads out of Triple H's and Benoit's asses to notice this now? What's wrong with you?
Stone Cold has a good character, but there's nothing really new about him except that he's being cheered now. He was much more original before everyone started being an anti-hero.
The Rock is entertainment for the masses. Sometimes he'll have an especially good interview or match, but usually he's just completely formulaic.
Booker T is just a criminal misuse of talent. He's one of the best stars to develop in the past few years, and the WWF is taking unusual glee in slowly dissecting him. He rips off the Rock more and more every week, they consistently showcase him as a total buffoon, and he looks weaker and weaker in every match. The WWF is just using Booker as a showcase to humiliate WCW. Instead of building up a star that has the potential to be huge in the business and help them out a great deal, they're degrading him in order to shovel more dirt into WCW's grave. Vince obviously thinks it's better that he's the only power in an industry that's losing power, instead of the prospect of having to acknowledge that he wasn't the only one that contributed to building that industry.
The Undertaker should retire soon, while Kane and Chris Jericho are just as good, or better than the people put above them, but aren't given the opportunity to showcase it.
That's the current problem with the state of the industry, McMahon has total control of everyone's perceptions. He can put a lump of crap like Albert over Kane, and no one can protest by switching to another channel or by jumping ship to another company. If the industry is to survive McMahon needs to realize his competition is now the rest of the world's media, and act accordingly, by making sure all the crap is gone and that he has a good roster that is being promoted by their ability.
Take for example, Jerry Lynn. Probably the best in-ring performer around, yet being jobbed out regularly on the fourth string shows. When he wrote on his chest with Corino's blood, that should have made him an immortal. It was on the caliber of Foley being tossed off the Cell, or Austin not giving up to the Sharpshooter. But because of ECW's financial state, the image of "Die!" written on Lynn in big red letters will be flushed down the memory hole forever, only to be remembered by people on the Internet. It's just not fair dammit. People may say he can't interview, but that just isn't true. He doesn't have any catchphrases, but he has killer delivery. Back in ECW, he came off as someone who was usually a totally calm, reasonable person, but became ultraviolent when you screwed with him. The best characters are always the most plausible. For example, the Nature Boy Ric Flair as an arrogant asshole who could beat anyone, but cheated because it was more fun was good. Ric Flair as a senile mental patient who elbowdropped phantom opponents was bad.
Or what about Dawn Marie? She's charismatic, plays a better bitch than anyone you could name, can interview, is hot, but WWF picks up Stacy and Torrie without reservation. For that matter, what about Daffney, who brings more energy to a match than most of the men? Our Francine the superslut who makes you hate everyone she's associated with? It's probably because they have more of a unique look. Think about all the big-breasted blondes who've come and gone: Sunny, Sable, Tori, Debra, B.B, The Kat, Terri, Major Gunns, ect. Whenever they need to manufacture a new female star, they find a blonde, give her some implants, and shove her out there until her popularity expires, where they toss her and get someone knew. If Dawn, Daffney and Francine showed up in a company with a decent financial structure, they'd get insanely over and be irreplaceable. Hell, why do you think Miss Elizabeth's career lasted as long as it did?
If wrestling took a more artistic turn, it could finally shed the image it has as white-trash pandering entertainment and male soap operas. I definitely wouldn't mind, that the next time someone makes fun of me for liking wrestling I'm able to show them a federation dominated by Lynn, Kane, Booker T, Lance Storm, Jericho, Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam, good, original, unique characters that can all actually wrestle. Maybe, if WCW becomes a separate entity with it's own show, that could be it's angle. They have the complex feuds, longer matches and more experimental ways of storytelling, while the WWF has the big names and the sports entertainment. Hey, there's nothing to lose by trying.