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Interesting question, isn't it?

Monday nights as I watch Raw, I discuss it via AIM with a friend who works nights. As I griped about the train wreck that was the May 13th episode (side note - the Hogan/Taker feud has become so cartoony that when Taker was dragging Hogan, I was waiting for Hogan to pass the clearly marked pile of "Free Birdseed!" that had lured him), he asked me that question.

So I thought about it. Why do I watch when it frustrates me, (Why does Vince persist in pushing people clearly going nowhere?) annoys me, (The N.W.O. fiasco just keeps getting better, doesn't it? Umm, ok, Booker T is a member now. Way to ignore history) even disgusts me (the Stephanie/Triple H feud)? I've stopped watching before back in the Warrior days. So why haven't I reached that point yet? What keeps me hooked? Habit? Hot guys? Boredom?

I'll admit, I stopped watching for about five years. I missed a lot. I missed a lot of good stuff like Bret Hart's title reign and the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Part of what drove me away was how simplistic it was getting. Everything seemed so black and white. Gimmicks and characters were painted with the broadest strokes. Hogan - Good, Undertaker - Bad, Jimmy Hart - Annoying. At the same time, I realized the matches weren't all that great either. Maybe if I had watched some indy stuff, or luchadore, or Puro, I would have stayed into the sport. Who knows. :shrug:

It wasn't until one night at a friend's house when I saw a tape of the Shawn Michaels/Scott Hall ladder match that I wanted to watch again. Then when Steve Austin turned into Stone Cold ... technically he was a face. However, he was a beer swilling, foul mouthed bastard. Suddenly the lines weren't so clearly cut. That interested me. While I admit the Attitude/Russo era had its share of suck, it did change the sport. I got back into WWF, then ECW, and finally WCW. I was hooked all over again.

One thing that seems to keep people hooked is The Moment. You know, the moment that makes you react almost viscerally. Not just a mark out or a pop, but something that really takes your breath away. For example, for my friend Craig one moment was the Foley/Triple H feud that ended with Hell in the Cell. For me, it was that ladder match. It was Austin beating Michaels at Mania for his first title. It was seeing Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam run down the ramp during the WCW/WWF Raw. It was even Jeff Hardy winning the IC title. (Yes, I am a Hardyz mark. Yes, I know it was a fluke. Yes, I know Matt did a runin. And yes, oh yes, I know he got squashed the following Raw). It is the moment that you have to see just how this turns out.

Lately though, those moments have been few and far between. It's been a while since I was excited about a PPV. I am excited about the Jericho/Triple H HITC match even though the storyline leading up to it sucked. I am tired of seeing the "trick the face into coming into the ring where he will be attacked by midcarders with no story of their own." I was excited about the ECW "invasion" until I realized that Stephanie was involved. So what happened? What's wrong? And more importantly, how can it be fixed?

First, use the talent that you have properly. A good example is Brock Lesnar. So far they seem to be building him up as an unstoppable force. Like Goldberg who they are copying, he has started by squashing midcard talent, such as the Hardyz and Stasiak. He is silent and lets Heyman speak for him. It's a slow build. Some may argue he's being booked in squash matches against little guys. That's the way to do it. Build him up slowly, have him work his way through the midcard, and then introduce him into the upper card.

Second, the writing is part of the show, so use it wisely. That includes not only the words and storylines, but how they are put into play. Let's look closer at the Hogan/Taker vignettes. Hi, I'm Terry Bollea and I can't start a motorcycle without stalling it. I will have on a thick leather jacket and helmet inside the arena as I give an interview. (I took one look at him and said "It's dragging time.") I will be dragged up and down a hallway then land in a pile of obviously empty boxes. Why not just have him sitting on the bike then have Taker run in and knock him off? It's still a sneak attack and makes Taker look like a heel. I know, Hogan likes the Big Moments.

Which leads me to the third and final point. No wrestler should have final say over storylines. In my opinion, it leads to no good. While so far the WWE seems to not be as infected with that disease as badly as WCW was, it is still a possibility with people like Triple H, Austin and X.Pac sitting in during booking meetings. With Hogan and Nash around, it's even more of a possibility. Wrestlers are human. Therefore they want to make themselves look good. While the performers can help shape their characters (Steve Austin, well a former wife of his, coming up with the name Stone Cold), there should be a head writer who has the final say. Not a wrestler and sure as hell not Stephanie. A non performer who isn't concerned about his merchandise sales.

Until next time, to quote Vince on the Bob Costas show when asked about the Kiss My Ass Club, "it was fun".

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