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Brian Heavey




Everyone (or almost everyone) on this humble 'Net community of ours agrees on one thing: The WWE is languishing. A lack of developing stars, a lack of quality writing, and a lack of fan interest are leading to a lack of viewers. A lot of potential solutions have been offered by a lot of people. Most of them involve a slow build with established mid- and upper- carders, like Rhyno, Benoit, Eddy, Mike Awesome and others. I say to thee: I want my Crash TV.

Before then five of you reading this click back on your browsers and disregard this as another lame attempt at trolling, hear me out.

In my opinion, the WWF has thrown the sizzle out the window in favor of the steak, to steal a JR-ism. And it just ain't working. This is wrestling, dammit. And while I don't discount every attempt at writing a complex storyline, pro-wrestling isn't theater. The stories can't exceed the actors. Pro-wrestling as an art-form is far more suited to a flashier method of story-telling than it is to a very sublte, highly-layered, labyrinthine plot.

That being said, I'll admit when Russo was peddling his style of booking, we fans were treated to a buffet of suck: Pepper on a pole, Mae Young birthing a rubber hand, the Bulldog (RIP) and his tray of dog poop just to name a few. But what worked, I think, was his style. We had some bad storylines, but dammit, at least we HAD them. I'm not saying we should return, word for word, to the era of Crash TV; but I do think there's a lesson to be learned from it. After all, the WWF was at the height of its popularity in the Russo era. I think there are two reasons for this:

1.) Galvanizing angles.

Wrestling right now has no galvanizing angle, nothing that pulls the whole roster together. Whatever you thought of the Union angle of a few years back, at least it gave people something to do. We could take a lesson from this, and even satisfy the tradtionalists in the wrestling fan base. Just make the belt your big angle, bringing all manner of superstars into the mix and giving these people *reasons* to fight and interact. A big, all-encompassing angle, if done well, is not only highly entertaining, but makes things easier on the writers. All they have to do is set the conditions of their particular universe, i.e. the WWE. The actions of their characters are then fairly easy to determine. The "conditions" could be a chase for the belt, a fight against the ownership, or a struggle against the nWo. Just give these wrestlers, especially the mid-carders, a reason for even *being* in the federation.

2.) A faster pace

A slow-build can be good, but sometimes it's good to throw a wrestler at the audience, provided that wrestler can carry the burden of very little buildup with stellar performance. Lesnar is the perfect example of this right now. Everyone's clamoring that he's not ready, that he's being shoved down our throats. I think that this is what makes wrestling exciting, though. When they throw a new star into the mix like that with no prior build-up, it makes me wonder where this storyline will end. Too much build-up often makes the payoff a foregone conclusion, and more often than not, that's dull.

It's pretty hard to write storylines that are going to draw your entire audience in and keep them guessing at the same time. My answer to this is a faster paced, more Crash TV style of writing, with the caveat that we keep things sensible. As long as the wrestlers have logical reasons for what they do, I don't care that storylines aren't built up over a period of months. In fact, I think that's downright boring. The secret is to keep the audience guessing, keep them interested, and don't insult their intelligence. If I know a storyline is advancing at a snail's pace, and I know where they're going with it, then I know I can afford to watch the shows once a month and just read recaps the rest. Moving storylines along at a faster pace will (or should) help give every show that "must-see" feeling.

In moving away from senseless swerves, the WWE seems to have thrown surprises out the window entirely. It's ok to throw a little randomness into the mix at times; a few swerves, a few surprises. After all, we're watching a bunch of grown men in spandex suits mock-fight each other. I don't watch wrestling to become enlightened; I'll pick up a good book if I want something thought-provoking. I only ask that in exchange for my entertainment dollar that the WWE give me some exciting, compelling television, and I think that might be easier than most people, even the writers, think. Crash TV is a format that has worked before, and with some adjustment and more sensible writing, I think it can work again.

Brian Heavey

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