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How Classic Wrestling can Help in 2020

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  • #16
    It amazes me how little I see of Hogan on 1987 SuperStars, Prime Time, and Wrestling Challenge. He usually promos with Mean Gene for a local show ("Tonight in the Boston Garden, Hulkamania is gonna run wild over Killer Khan!!!"), and is only mentioned by the announcers. It's so refreshing to not have the champion and the championship shoved down our throats. I personally would like that to return, but I know it's not a very feasible request. I just find it makes the title more important if we see the rest of the roster more and talking about wanting a shot at the title or Hogan, rather than seeing Hogan weekly. It's what I really wanted with Brock Lesnar as champion, but WWE would just book like the title didn't exist for 3-4 months at a time.

    As for the news anchor recap, I just find part of WWE feeling stale is the tropes they've fallen into. Michael Cole is a great broadcaster, but too much of him becomes a problem too easily. Whether it's Vince over producing him, or Fox forcing certain phrases...etc. His commentary is just bland more often than it's good. And that goes for all broadcasters. WWE has their issues, but Josh Matthews in Impact has his own crutch phrasing, as does JR, Schiavone and Excalibur in AEW. Breaking up the monotony would help, and Renee Young is also a great broadcaster but didn't work great in the booth. There are thankfully lots of options, other than having her say "welcome my guest...." and then sticking a mic in their face over and over and over.


    • #17
      This is the company that also has legitimate news anchor Scott Stanford under contract doing nothing of note. Literally a guy who hosts and does VO for news packages every day.
      My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


      • #18
        These days I find myself enjoying the shorter wrestling shows available. Part of the reason is because I don't have dozens of dedicated hours to watch all the televised wrestling happening every week. But I think it's mostly because it forces these companies to rotate who they use. It builds anticipation about their next bout, which is what you describe with how seldom-used Hogan was on TV.

        I really dig the NWA shows on YouTube because of this. It's an hour-long show and you don't have to see the same people week in and week out. It makes me want to stay tuned to the next week to see some of my favs, and gives a chance to others that I might not have paid much attention to. NXT used to be like that when it was an hour-long show on the Network.

        It would be awesome if the champ wasn't on every show, but it shouldn't be limited to just the champ. I think the whole roster would benefit from getting rotated in and out of these shows. I don't need to see a drawn-out Seth Rollins promo every week. I don't need to see Charlotte Flair on every single televised WWE show. This kind of stuff is a bit tiring after a few weeks.


        • #19
          Originally posted by Degenerate View Post
          These days I find myself enjoying the shorter wrestling shows available. Part of the reason is because I don't have dozens of dedicated hours to watch all the televised wrestling happening every week.
          I feel this so hard. I've watched the last two weeks of NXT in full as well as Takeover, but I have no idea how that happened. Especially now that it's really nice out and I don't want to be in front of my TV. But somehow I'm watching less TV since coronavirus started.

          I don't remember the last time I've watched a full Raw. Typically, I have been following WWE's main roster and AEW via the clips that they put on YouTube, and then I'll find the show online to watch the full featured matches or segments over a lunch hour or something.

          I still find myself putting on a lot of 80s-90s AJPW or classic WWE content while I'm making dinner or something.

          My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


          • #20
            NXT is the shortest WWE weekly, and Takeovers are the shortest WWE specials, so it makes sense.

            Personally, while I love all WWE PPVs, long or short, I find I struggle through weak points of the WWE PPVs. With Takeover, I only struggle with Adam Cole/Gargano matches and it's because of the style. The show flows so well so regularly, with only those glaring spotfest finisher spam indy/AEW style match exceptions.


            • #21
              Backlash is Sunday and with only 7 matches I can see it also running about 2.5 hours. Maybe longer, because rumors are swirling that Orton/Edge is long.


              • #22
                Originally posted by Team Farrell View Post
                I still find myself putting on a lot of 80s-90s AJPW or classic WWE content while I'm making dinner or something.
                I've been doing this myself a lot too, catching up to a lot of old Japanese matches that I've never seen. Just 30 minutes here and there throughout the week is enough to satisfy any wrestling cravings I have these days.

                This also reminds me of one of the original points Pen mentioned at the start of this thread about limiting the appearance of champs. Most Japanese wrestling companies really spread out title defenses, like once every 2-3 months. The title holder still shows up at most events doing tag matches like 95% of the time (probably the thing I most dislike about Japanese wrestling). But when they're in a singles match, it feels super-important. I miss having that feeling in other wrestling shows.

                I still watch almost almost every WWE and AEW show show, but I just cherry-pick whatever looks interesting and skip the rest. Unfortunately, I skip more than I watch these days. Recently I've been able to "watch" both Raw and Smackdown in less than 45 minutes total. It's enough to keep up without subjecting myself to most of the dull, uninteresting stuff.


                • #23
                  While I still watch all of Raw and SD, I bet I only "catch" about 45 minutes of each. I work on writing and recording music at home, and rarely do those shows make me want to sit and just watch TV. So I usually have my music laptop on, while Raw is on the other monitor. I pay attention to promos and listen to what's going, but most ofthe time I'm listening in one ear, but my eyes are on the other monitor with the other ear listening to the music. Or, I watch in bed on a tablet after my wife is asleep, and I'm trying to fall asleep next.

                  I still enjoy Raw and SD most nights, but I truly credit how I concentrate on other things instead of focusing merely on TV, because if I had nothing to distract me during a generic Apollo Crews match, I'd likely have quit watching modern wrestling by now.


                  • #24
                    After my classic WWF chronological order viewing got me to WrestleMania 4, I am taking a break to now go through all the Coliseum Videos put out between 1985-1988. I just finished the Hart Foundation one that covered their run as champions with referee Danny Davis by their side, and it was terrible. Most of the matches were of them losing (which I guess makes sense since they were cheap heel champs and lost clean to non-title bouts and 6 man tags), they didn't really get any personality shown, and most of the wrestling was bland, outside of the matches VS Bulldogs, and a singles match between Bret and Ricky Steamboat.

                    But the worst was this dumb segment where Mean Gene visited Hart Foundation headquarters, and the office is filled with 80s bimbos who Okerlund is rude to, and then finds Jimmy Hart, Neidhart, Bret, and Danny Davis playing with action figures like toys. He tried to interview them, but it's mostly Jimmy doing the talking, and while he's a good personality, it runs dry fast. But it kept going.

                    As to how this relates to the thread topic, one of the other videos I watched was for Macho Man. And what I noticed is that his video had segments filmed from his home, and he introduced many of the clips with Mean Gene, bookending a lot of it. In these segments, we got to see his heel character on display as he was rude with Elizabeth

                    -(by the way, here's another heel gimmick that was classic but couldn't work in PC 2020 as the first time a heel male wrestler was this rude to a female associate, it would be social justiced into changing as it was sexist)-

                    These segments were filmed for the video, but clips were shown during the weekly show. I guess it was similar to the JR interviews Mankind segments from 1997 (without the attack to end it). But it really gave an opportunity for the audience to see the heel characteristics from Savage at the time.


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by PEN15v2 View Post
                      As to how this relates to the thread topic, one of the other videos I watched was for Macho Man. And what I noticed is that his video had segments filmed from his home, and he introduced many of the clips with Mean Gene, bookending a lot of it. In these segments, we got to see his heel character on display as he was rude with Elizabeth

                      -(by the way, here's another heel gimmick that was classic but couldn't work in PC 2020 as the first time a heel male wrestler was this rude to a female associate, it would be social justiced into changing as it was sexist)-
                      MJF actually just pulled that last night. As he was doing his promo, a girl that I assume is some sort of handler came up to him and whispered something in his ear, and he pulled the whole "smile sweetheart" thing on her to a chorus of boos. I think you just need to lean into the heat with that without going so overboard.

                      I do wonder how far you could push it though. I love their interactions.
                      My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


                      • #26
                        As I continue my path through WWF 1989, I'm noticing little things that really show how much the business has evolved. While the purpose of this thread was what was old could be new again, what I've been noticing likely can't come, nor is there a reason to.

                        First, the PPVs rarely gave away the ongoing feuds. Because house shows were still huge business at the time, there was no way WWF wanted to give away a clean finish to an angle on TV or PPV. I'm in the build to SummerSlam 89 right now, and while we had some obvious feuds in Hogan/Barber vs Savage/Zeus, and Warrior vs Rude, you see so many of the midcard matches avoiding having confrontations between the rivalries we've seen highlighted on Superstars every week, and announced by Sean Mooney for local house show cards.

                        As an example, Dusty Rhodes just debuted, and his first act was to steal Big BossMan's nightstick, handcuffs, and hat. Yet, he's facing Hony Tonk Man at the PPV. They've had no tension whatsoever.
                        Meanwhile, Honky was feuding with Hillbilly Jim in the spring, and then started feuding with Superfly Snuka upon his return to the WWF, including the guitar shot trope that was perfect at the time.
                        Snuka's SummerSlam match is going to be vs DiBiase, who spent the post-WrestleMania V time feuding with Jake Roberts (who's injured at this time), and then having a house show run vs Dusty Rhodes and Hercules.
                        Hercules is taking on Greg Valentine at SummerSlam, and Valentine retired Ronnie Garvin earlier that year, and the Rugged one was a referee since that time, but was still crossing paths with The Hammer, including punching him while being a ref in his match on a recent Saturday Night's Main Event vs Snuka.
                        And while Warrior is feuding with Rude, Andre has been brought in as a ringside presence of Rude's matches, which is setting up the Warrior vs Andre house show circuit that is starting at that time (including an AMAZING Brother Love segment on Superstars that really highlighted what Warrior could do on the mic better than anyone). Yet Andre is teaming with the Twin Towers vs Demolition and Duggan.

                        Somewhat related and more to the point of the thread, most feuds didn't have any real story beats on TV. After WrestleMania V, feuds basically started out of nowhere. Mr Perfect had his next Superstars match after pinning the Blue Blazer, and the announce team just cut to Bret Hart, who promoed about being better than Perfect. And then Bret would have a singles squash match, and we'd get Perfect talking picture in picture. They never had any confrontation on TV at all. Their house show rivalry was set up purely by these inset promos, or full promos when Mooney covered the upcoming Louisville Gardens house show. There were plenty of examples of this, but this one stood out because Bret was still involved with the Hart Foundation. It seemed like when tag teams had "run their course", instead of breaking them up, they'd just stay associated while entering in singles. In fact, when Vince and Ventura would run down the SummerSlam card and mentioned the Hart Foundation vs BrainBusters match, Ventura predicted Arn and Tully to win because he'd point out the Foundation were mostly in singles for the past few months.

                        So, I wish WWE would handle tag teams this way more often today. New Day for example are pretty dreary in the tag division, but it would be great if Kofi supported Woods to find singles success, maybe leading to a US title feud for Xavier (though maybe not against Riddle).

                        I would also bring back the inset promos. While I understand the WWE needs for the announcers to cover what they do, the fans could use a change of pace once in a while. I know that's what having guest commentary from the wrestler accomplishes, but I can't for the life of me understand why they don't pre-tape more segments. Cole or Tom could cut to a qick interview with Kayla Braxton or Charly, and have this interview pretaped.

                        Cole: And while we see Apollo Crews taking control of Kalisto, let's cut to an interview with Kayla Braxton had with Big E from a local medical facility.

                        And Kayla can ask a very simple question (which is all interviewers do these days - I miss the days of Mean Gene): Big E, what do you have to say after Apollo's attack on your last week?

                        These interviews as excuses for promos are dumb backstage for full segments, but cut the promo short and do it mid match and it would flow great. I would also leave the mics on for the announcers in the booth. No commentary, but sell the moves going on in the ring with the generic video game comments like "whoa" and "that gotta hurt".

                        I know it seems cheap to be written out this way, but all wrestling struggles with breaking formula. I can't comment on AEW, but Impact and MLW seem to be able to break it up enough that it's less noticeable. But WWE with their 5 hours of main roster TV per week definitely fall into obvious and detrimental patterns. There needs to be variations to the flow of the show. Impact and MLW cut to pretaped segments often, like WrestleHouse or Salina De La Renta with Aztec Underground stuff. For a company that loves to highlight what the E in WWE means, they are very limited in formulas.


                        • #27
                          I think that some of the reason for a lack of interaction on TV was the nature of their business at the time. As you pointed out, it was geared more than anything toward getting people to buy tickets to the house shows, with pay per view being bonus money that could pretty much be guaranteed with one well-built match on top.

                          But this was also still the era where they'd tape like a month or more of Superstars at a time at these marathon tapings. So while there might be room for, say, Bret to interfere in Perfect's match if they wanted to go that direction, there wasn't a lot of room for a Bret-Perfect in-ring promo confrontation on a taping where they're already doing 17 matches.

                          There was also a difference in presentation, right? You didn't have the cameras in the locker room area. The only time you saw behind that curtain was when Mean Gene did an interview either on a set, or in someone's locker room. I guess the odd time you'd get something like the Liz-Hogan medical room thing, but that was rare. So you wouldn't get Prefect jumping Bret in the back, or the two of them passing one another and having words.

                          I actually like that format somewhat because it forces you to be creative in your storytelling when you can't just cut to two guys fighting in the back and call it build.

                          The house show business took a hit when they reversed the booking. TV used to book toward getting people to pay money for the house shows. Even as far as the late 90s, you'd often get some form of resolution to what happened on that week's Raw on the house show loop. If the heel left the babyface laying to go off the air, you'd likely get that babyface winning in the main event of the house show loop that week.

                          Then they switched it up to testing and letting guys work out PPV matches on the road. So some of the storytelling on the house show loop might be a month ahead (if Orton vs Kofi is booked for next month's PPV, they'll work this month's house shows despite them not feuding on TV) or just be random matches booked in hopes of popping a house.

                          The last house show I went to had Ryback vs Jericho in the main event when the two had no heat on TV.

                          There's something to be said for booking those fun matches from time to time that you won't get to see on TV or PPV, but in general if they were running a house show loop today, I would hope that the main events would be Lashley vs Miz based on this week's Raw, or maybe Hurt Business vs Miz & Morrison with Miz weaseling his way out of having to defend his title. But the actual main event they'd probably be booking would be Lashley vs Drew.
                          My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show


                          • #28
                            I find it fascinating to see how much has changed, but it's mostly subtle, or not even noticeable until you really dissect it.


                            • #29
                              The is so much that has changed.

                              Monday Night Raw, changed everything. Yes, the first year it was not what it became, but you had pretty big matchups on Mondays. It was not watching Superstars on Saturday mornings. MNR was not star vs jobber. It actually has star vs star, and true jobbers went goodbye.

                              RAW changed everything.


                              • #30
                                I would say Nitro changed everything more than Raw. Raw had star vs star, but also lots of jobber matches. It was Nitro that removed the jobber matches to the degree we are now used to.