Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrestling Format: Best if Used Before 1998

Photo from WWE
By Chad Smart

Loyal readers of my123cents know for the most part I’ve stopped watching all weekly television programs. Though I do intend to get caught up on NWA: Hollywood soon. Until my recent trip back to Illinois, I hadn’t watched Raw, Impact or Smackdown for about four weeks. While I was back home, I sat down with friends and watched the last two week’s Raw broadcasts. The first week, I watched the entire show even though I kept getting sleepier and sleepier with each passing segment. This past week’s "All-Star" Raw, I watched the first of the three hours before giving up and leaving to go make sure I have everything gathered for my trip back to California on Tuesday.

After not watching All-Star Raw, I really started analyzing the show to see why I can no longer sit through and episode. The reasoning is much more involved than simply, I don’t like John Cena. The biggest reason is the formula or template for the show is beyond stale. The writers are using the same show format that was big during the Attitude era that has been dead for ten years. It’s time for a major overhaul. Just like how the Crash TV format changed the way wrestling landscape in 1997, it’s time for a new direction for televised wrestling.

I’m typing this on Thursday, June 16, 2011. I’m going to predict next Monday’s Raw with begin one of two ways. Either John Cena will start the show talking about his match with R-Truth and how Cena overcame a challenge to remain WWE champion. After a few minutes of Cena rambling on, Truth will come out and demand a rematch. Or, R-Truth will start the show talking about how his lost at the pay per view was further proof of a C-O-N-spiracy. Cena will then enter the ring toss out some juvenile insults and Truth will demand a rematch.

From WWE
The extended promos to start the show have run their course. Why can’t the shows start with a match occasionally? I understand the idea is to grab the viewer’s attention at the start of the show, but what is more likely to capture the attention of somebody flipping through the channels, two guys talking or an energetic fast paced match? It’s time to flip the script.

One of the other issues with wrestling shows is how the same guys are featured week after week. I blame this factor on the overabundance of pay per views. Since pay per views have to be promoted on a weekly basis, guys who are feuding need to be on the shows to hype up their matches. Because feuds last for two or three pay per views at a time, it’s not uncommon for shows to have the "been there seen that" feel for weeks at a time. Meanwhile new talent, or guys who aren’t in pay per view programs are either regulated to Superstars/Explosion or not on a weekly program at all. So instead of building new stars, stars are ridden until they become overexposed and played out and then there is no one ready to step up and take their spot.

From WWE
My biggest annoyance with the current televised programs is the booking on the fly style of filling out the show. I know wrestling is more sports-ENTERTAINMENT rather than SPORTS-entertainment, but can we at least pretend there’s someone putting the shows together before they go on air? A couple weeks ago on Raw, Jack Swagger challenged Booker T. to a match. What would have happened if Booker had said, no? Why was there a segment of the show that wasn’t booked 45 minutes into the show? Then you have the GM or the Network booking main events during the opening promos. Shows should be booked a week in advanced. I understand the appeal of unpredictability, but does UFC or boxing ever have a show where matches aren’t set before the show starts?

These are just a few of the elements in wrestling I feel are stale and need to be revamped. I’m sure there are others. Let us know what you think. Does televised wrestling need to be revamped or do you think the shows are fine the way they currently air?

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