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Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie, Can't You See? Your TV Style has Hypnotized Me...

Happy New Year, everybody. One of my resolutions for 2002 is to be more consistent with this year column. Step one is cranking out two per month. Step two is getting back into the once-a-week flow again. Wish me luck. Hey-good to see Michelangelo back too! GB&U was one of my favorite reads before I started this gig. WHOO~!

A funny thing happened on the way to 2002. I had a lot of free time and spent it in an open rant challenge over at the GooseNest and watching (re-watching) my Puro tapes of the '94 Super J Cup and the Japanese Super Heavyweights on my SummerSlam tape (both courtesy of MarkingSmart). As I was watching these tapes, and understanding zero of what the announcers were saying a few things came to mind:

1. You never know how much psychology means until you don't have understandable announcing to help get the matches over and
2. I need a little wrestling re-education.

You heard me correctly. I need to be re-educated as it pertains to wrestling.

I hit me like a ton of bricks. At first, I was wary of watching these tapes. At first, it felt weird seeing people who were not named Rock, Angle or Austin. Then, I settled into the stylistic differences and really enjoyed myself. Totally. The psychology was some of the soundest I've seen outside of most matches by Austin, Angle or Benoit. Everything that happened inside the ring made sense. And that's when it hit me.

That's when I realized that I have been brainwashed by Vince McMahon and the WWF.

The WWF has been the predominant and now -the ONLY-readily accessible style of wrestling available to me for so long that I had fallen into the trap of only liking the style that the WWF offers. WCW fizzled long before it was taken out to the back of the house and mercifully shot to death and the extreme style popularized by ECW was long gone from any kind of true national spotlight. MarkingSmart was gracious enough to expose me to Puro for free and we don't get CMLL on Gallavision in Maryland (thank goodness, thecubsfan recaps it). All that has been left for me to absorb is the WWF style. By "WWF Style" I am a specifically talking about their main event/PPV style of match that features five minutes of opening action, eight to ten minutes of ringside or around-the-arena brawling, followed by and ending sequence of about ten minutes in the ring.

Just as the Rock-and-Roll Express has defined the American Tag Team match formula with 80s their feuds with both the Midnight Express and the Horsemen (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), the WWF's successful PPV main event style has come to be the only widely acceptable premier booking style of today. Anything less is often seen as lackluster, and definitely won't get high star ratings.

But, is that because it is actually lackluster or because we've been trained to only respond to certain styles of matches and the things that are commonplace therein?

I say it is because we've been trained-or hypnotized, if you will. We've been forcefed this style for so long that we can't help but accept and digest it. The WWF wants us to only pop for certain things. Why? I'm not sure. It certainly doesn't make much sense to me. With almost all of the best North American workers under contract, the WWF has a great opportunity to showcase many different wrestling styles: WWF, Extreme/hardcore, Lucha Libra, Puro, etc. But they don't. To do so, they would have to re-educate us in a major way and they're probably too afraid to steer from the current course which has brought Vince and family tons of money and ratings. They are obviously afraid of change-so they go back to the familiar (and sometimes predictably boring) instead of exploring the unknown or even the different that has been a proven success.

Take the cruiserweight division for example. The cruisers carried WCW in it's heyday of whipping the WWF in the Monday Night Wars. Sure, they had all these big stars at the top of the card, but none of them could wrestle better than Eddie or Dean or Rey Mysterio. *I know there was Bret there for a while--but you know what I mean.* The WWF now has a chance to attempt to duplicate this phenomena AND have top level, **** to ***** main event brawls (Rock, Austin, Taker), mat wrestling matches (Angle, Benoit, Storm) AND some highflying (Jericho, RVD, Jeff Hardy) if only they'd take the time to re-teach us in what we should be willing to sit through without booing or channel surfing. But they don't. And that's a shame because by displaying all these different styles on the same show, they would have a unique opportunity to entertain the largest segment of the audience at the same time. Everybody goes home happy and ratings increase (at least, theoretically).

I for one, think the WWF needs to take the risk of re-educating the fans. They've got nothing to lose. Fans should be trained to pop as much for a six-move-chain-reversal from Angle and Benoit as they do for a Stunner or Rock Bottom as they do for a Van-Daminator or Swanton Bomb off the top rope. I think there is a place in all levels of the card for all the different styles, but the WWF shys away from it due to crowd response or lack thereof. Or is there a lack of crowd response because of our brainwashing?

This is getting as circular as the Chicke/Egg argument.

Whatever their problem, I'm glad I've finally started to see through the fog that they've got me under. I've been exposed to some different wrestling styles again and now I'm ready for a little wrestling re-education. What about you?

Until next time: Be a fan. Drink a few. Mark out a lot. Have no shame.

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I'm out.

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