SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
If there’s a line I’ve run into the ground on PWTorch audio (okay, there are several), it’s that I can’t imagine the late, great Bruiser Brody allowing himself to be talked to the way WWE Superstars are talked to on WWE television on a regular basis.
Brody was the ass-kicking, hard-to-knock-down, impossible-to-beat, chain-swinging Intelligent Monster who, when disrespected by a promoter, made sure to give that disrespect back in kind. He was also a money-drawing star, whether working for The St. Louis Wrestling Club or some Georgia outlaw outfit. If one major league promotion in the world didn’t live up to their promises, or he didn’t think they had, there was always another that would meet his price. Heel or babyface, Brody got heat in all kinds of ways, but fans were never asked to have pity on him. If some other monster temporarily got the better of him, fans were instead directed to consider the bigger carnage
Bruiser Brody was a winner.
The only thing that’s consistent in the pro wrestling world, though, is change. The Season of Winners ended sometime during the Cena Administration, when enough fans decided to go off script that the best a winner could expect is that bass line of disapproval at every appearance. One of the many problems with Roman Reigns is he is booked like a winner in this time of losers.
Another key was the takeover of the business, at least in North America, by WWE, headed by a family that was in no mood to take any more crap off independent wrestlers, and every Wall Street reason to keep their talent costs to a minimum.
Stephanie McMahon is the Chief Brand Officer for WWE, and that job goes well beyond positioning her company as solid corporate citizens through their charity work with the Susan G. Koman Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Be-A-Star, and Hire Heroes. Brands are about sending a consistent message to their markets, and WWE’s overriding message is about charity, and not just though branded charities either. WWE also reaches out to the less fortunate, you know, losers, in their own performing ranks.
Take WWE’s vaunted Cruiserweight Classic Tournament and the Raw Division that sprang from it. Fans are asked to feel sympathy for the tournament winner and Cruiserweight Champion, T.J. Perkins, who tapped out clean losing in his last televised Raw match, because he was such a loser he was homeless – that is he was homeless before he got okay with WWE – the only place he could work. The challenger he beat in his first title defense, the loser who then made him a loser on Raw, Brian Kendricks, is promoted as a loser who ruined his own career, only to find one last chance in the CWC to get back into WWE.
Of course, he lost.
Stephanie McMahon extended WWE’s hand of charity to Kendrick anyway and gave him a job on Raw anyway. Cedric Alexander, another CWC loser, was given a job and, even better, a pat on the head by Triple H.
Triple H is as charitable as the Brand Manager, giving the Universal Title to Kevin Owens. Fight Owens Fight may have the title, but he is in no way a winner, thanks to The Game. (He too lost on Raw Monday.) His challenger, Seth Rollins, is such a loser he lost the contest to be given the title he knew he couldn’t win on his own. He’s actually lost fan support since he left the McMahon side… excuse me, the McMahons left his side, and he’s attempted to become a winner.
The whole point of the Miz-Dolph Ziggler match Sunday night is that Ziggler is a loser that is so sick of being a loser that he has vowed to quit when he loses in his Intercontinental challenge, because he’s such a loser he’d rather quit than continue to make those Make-A-Wish kids smile.
Ziegler is such a loser that he couldn’t even get a match for the Intercontinental title unless he put up his whole career in the process. He either wins the IC Title Sunday night, and continues a ho-hum Even-Steven career, or he loses and quits. Fans are going to be oddly disappointed if he wins, in the same way that kooky-loos are disappointed when they slow down by a car wreck and realize that no one actually died this time.
It isn’t just WWE where losers rule. (I know, TNA. We covered that last week. Someone inexplicably gave them the opportunity to continue to lose another couple of months.) Ring of Honor’s Ladder Wars (is there anything in pro wrestling that creates more losers in the long run than a great ladder match?) promotion was centered around a tremendously well-delivered promo from the veteran Christopher Daniels.
Daniels poignantly noted that the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship he held with his best friend Frankie Kazarian was the most important thing in his left, because for over twenty years he had been a terrible husband and father, you know, a loser. Like T.J. Perkins, the only thing he could do with any success.
Daniels, of course, took a tremendous beating in the Ladder Wars and lost the thing most important to him. Fans sympathized with a loser who put wrestling before family, and Daniels was the most over loser in wrestling last week.
(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. Ric Flair said about Bruce Mitchell on the “The Ric Flair Show” on Sept. 12, 2016: “One of the real legitimately knowledgable people who understands our business, respects our business, and his opinion is always respected. The one and only Bruce Mitchell.” He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Friday night at 7 ET with Travis Bryant at www.PWTorchLivecast.com. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years and is part of over a dozen VIP exclusive audio shows that run usually daily or weekly that online members have access to with their VIP password. His columns over the years have usually been published exclusively in the VIP PWTorch Newsletter paper copy and online PDF editions. If you have a question you’d like Bruce Mitchell to answer on his VIP Audio Show, send that question to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration on a future episode.) ###
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S MITCHELL COLUMN: MITCHELL: Total Stop Action – Why market forces driving TNA out of business years ago would have been better for the industry