MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL FLASHBACK: When Things Get Weird After WrestleMania Season, plus Five Ideas To Get People Talking
Apr 30, 2013 - 12:59:44 PM
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Monday's WWE Raw episode featured several segments that captured the often-times bizarre nature of post-WrestleMania Season. It's not the first time this has been documented, and neither will be it the last time as long as Vince McMahon is in charge of WWE.
Five years ago this week, PWTorch senior columnist Bruce Mitchell reviewed a bizarre end-of-April Raw episode, then offered Five Suggestions for WWE to address a post-Mania ratings swoon that would really "get people talking."
Today, we present both columns on the free PWTorch website for the first time. To get more of Bruce's original columns in the weekly PWTorch Newsletter, click here to find out how to subscribe to the Torch and receive a VIP membership - PWTorch.com/GoVIP.
By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch columnist
VIP - MITCHELL'S MEMO: One Weird Raw
Apr 30, 2008
Well, that was one weird Raw.
Sure, things had been dull, and flat, and lifeless, and, well, dull since WrestleMania, but there was no need for all this strangeness Monday night.
First, there's Shawn Michaels, who has made a cottage industry since beating Ric Flair at WrestleMania of keeping his eyes down under his hat and looking misunderstood - the goal of every great wrestler since Frank Gotch. And catch what he's being unfairly accused of - faking out Batista so he could Superkick him and win the match.
You know, like there's something wrong with the smaller, quicker guy using his wiles to set up the big oaf for the fall.
Can you imagine? A Minnesota Viking safety gets beaten for the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.
"So, what happened on that last play, the one that cost your team the championship?"
"I was ready for the ball, with T.O. stride for stride, when he...he...he..."
"Gather your emotions, son. What did he do?"
"He faked with his head like he was going left, but then he just... kept on running."
"No! That's so insincere!"
Chris "The Hitman" Jericho was great selling this nonsense like he finally had Michaels dead to rights, though.
Then there was that weird ending, with an angry King General Manager William Regal stopping the main event match because he's mad at the fans because they didn't "respect" him. This at least tried to serve several purposes.
First, I'm going to assume the WWE Board of Directors fires their General Manager so Regal can just be King, Jonathan Coachman can get back on TV in the G.M. role, and the whole Raw brand won't look ludicrous after stopping a WWE Title match between two of the three biggest stars in the company - the new champion and the champion 24 hours earlier.
Can't you see baseball commissioner Bud Selig stopping the seventh game of the World Series in the seventh inning because all the sports writers thinks he's a puppet of the owners?
Another reason for stopping the match before the finish was to give the fans a taste of the great action between these two top stars (in case they missed the several dozen other times Randy Orton and Triple H have faced off in one way or another on free TV the last few months) and then they'll pay to see the whole thing.
This old trick was tried most famously in the salad days of Dusty Rhodes and Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-'80s when Magnum T.A. and Nikita Koloff would come out for the big main event with two minutes left in the show - a taped show, mind you. Magnum and Nikita would lock up and color-man David Crockett (You think Mike Adamle was bad? David Crockett was around pro wrestling his whole life, his family ran the business, he even wrestled for a while, he announced for years - and he wasn't much better at wrestling announcing than Adamle is now) would famously yell, "Oh no, Tony! We gotta go!"
...week after friggin' week. As you might imagine, if you watched the ending of Raw this week, that gag runs out of gas fast.
All WWE really had to do was send Raw G.M. Regal out in the first segment after Orton invoked his re-match clause to say that, despite what the two principals might want, that match is just too valuable to the company not to save it for the big Judgment Day pay-per-view and that under penalty of losing either the title shot or the title itself, the two could not touch each other in the meantime. The weeks up until the match could be spent with the two manipulating everyone else to do the harm, or, say, actually building up the match as something of consequence.
As for getting to a cage match stipulation for the Judgment Day WWE Title match with the babyface defending, no one interfering in matches between the two, and the heel never running away, well, WWE Creative is on their own with that one.
On the other hand, Trevor Murdoch is at least as mediocre a country singer as the thankfully retired Garth Brooks.
VIP - MITCHELL'S MEMO: Five more things WWE and Vince McMahon can do to get fans talking
May 6, 2008
Apparently a frustrated and far-gone, Vince McMahon took a look at the post-WrestleMania TV ratings (or hit his head) and knew he had to do something NOW! The WWE Chairman decided the answer was to do things that get fans talking, so he booked his on-air King/Raw General Manager to turn off the main event. The next night he made the verbally dyslexic new anchor and the long-suffering Tazz do what two-thirds of the Raw audience does every week – not watch another dull-ass ECW main event.
Then the next week he sent the same anchor out to do what he was originally hired to do: replace the best announcer in his company and the sport's history – for all of one meaningless match. Then he sent out his surrogate King to annoy the viewers that night by turning out the lights twice more on semi-main event matches, burning out the bulbs on that innovative gimmick in record time.
McMahon is clearly willing to do new things (except feature someone beside the same three guys in main events) to get attention. The problem is, WWE Creative seems to have run out of ideas on how to do this already. One thing McMahon is right about, though: It's much more shocking if the talent is thrown a curveball on the fly and has to adjust on the air to what their Caesar commands them to do.
With that in mind, I'd like to throw out five suggestions that have yet to have been used on sports entertainment shows that are guaranteed to get fans buzzing and asking each other WTF was that all about – the key to sparking the next boom in WWE interest. Here's what they should try:
1. The No Trunks Match: Clearly Carlito is your guy for this one. Wait until three minutes in on yet another one of those third quarter hour Carlito/Santino tag matches with Cody 'n' Hardcore, then cue the referee on his headset to order Colon to take his trunks off immediately. Imagine the shock and consternation if he were wearing a thong instead of a jockstrap! What would that high and mighty Jim Ross do with that one?
2. The Headlock Man: Call up Ted DiBiase Jr. from Florida. This gimmick won't take much and it could be a springboard to better things for DiBiase Jr., just like the Highlanders will be for Rory and the other one.
It's simple, really. First match on Raw (and these gimmicks are all for Raw, that's the show that matters), DiBiase Jr. locks up with his opponent, slides into a headlock, takes him down, rolls him on his back, and pins him - match after match after match. WWE can even put a scoreboard on this streak. Every week viewers would tune in to see whether WWE would have the nerve to pull this stunt again. How far up the talent ladder could DiBiase Jr. go with his unbeatable headlock? When would someone just punch him, instead of offering his melon up for the same old headlock?
3. The No Match: Vince McMahon should take his turn and take his own headset off. Fair is fair. Leave Lillian Garcia in the ring with nothing to introduce. Send no wrestlers to the ring. Let's see Ross and Jerry Lawler do what WWE Creative has to do month by month, week by week - fill a quarter hour with content.
Can't you see viewers across the continent, calling each other, asking what's going on, waiting for that Superstar to run in who's never going to come? Sometimes the suspense is all in the anticipation.
4. The WWE Kid's Korner: Have Todd Grisham bring together some younger fans onto the ramp in front of the ring. Give each kid a copy of the new WWE Kid's magazine. Show the magazine page on the TV and big screen in the arena. While a bouncing ball touches the words, have Grisham lead a choral reading with the children of the stories in this new WWE venture, one that makes more sense than any other for the company, other than their international tours.
WWE can then feature highlights of this segment over and over in promotional videos on their shows that celebrate themselves for encouraging children to read.
5. The Headset: Let's go live with the voices in Mike Adamle's head. What happens when he forgets to read the key line in the match that WWE Creative laid out for him? What is suggested to him when he calls his broadcast partner "The Taz" for the umpteenth time? What's it like to talk and be told what to say at the exact same instant? C'mon, let's hear all that yelling…
(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Monday night in the hour before Raw with Travis Bryant. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years. His column archives dating back to 1990 are available in the Bruce Mitchell Library at the PWTorch VIP website.)
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