Forgive me if you have heard some of these complaints before, but I need to get some of them off my chest after attending the WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs … and Stairs pay-per-view in Cleveland.
What really sparked this rant is a conversation I overheard behind me at the PPV itself, which was held at the Quicken Loans Arena.
One more knowledgeable fan was telling the guys in front of him — during the main event — details of Bray Wyatt’s family. But it wasn’t that Wyatt comes from an impressive pedigree, it’s that his father was I.R.S. He said they should search him on the WWE Network (which will make WWE beancounters happy at least).
Say that the best work of Mike Rotunda was as Irwin R. Schyster is like saying that the greatest Maple Leafs hockey teams ever were in the early 1990s, or, in wrestling terms, that Ultimo Dragon’s best matches were during his WWE stint.
The tag team of Barry Windham and Rotunda were a major part of why World Wrestling Federation took off in the first place, the tag team champions as the WWF universe expanded. They were the babyfaces chasing the evil heels, The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, who were managed by the unforgettable Classy Freddie Blassie.
By the time Rotunda had become I.R.S., he was a shell of his former self. Yes, he was entertaining and the character was pretty good, especially paired with Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase; again, using a sports analogy, he’d grown from an up-and-comer out of Syracuse University into a wily veteran who knew how to do less but still get the same results.
There was no mention of Wyatt’s brother, Bo Dallas, nor of his uncles, Barry Windham and Kendall Windham, nor his grandfather, Blackjack Mulligan, one of the greatest of them all.
In every other sport, history is a key part of selling the package. Did you know that the Detroit Lions are 0-23 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay since 1992? I just read it and it means something, making a likely future playoff match between the teams more intriguing. Look at the coverage that Canadiens great Jean Beliveau got when he died, and rightfully so.
Trucking out the legends here and there to serve for DVD packages and for its self-serving Hall of Fame is hardly enough, WWE.
There are a thousand opportunities to do this.
A couple off the top of my head (as I pour out my heart here):
– Jack Swagger turns American patriot again, so why don’t we see him learning from Danny Hodge, who, like him, is a champion wrestler from the small town of Perry, Oklahoma. Don’t think that’ll add to Swagger’s swagger? Hodge is the ONLY amateur wrestler ever on the cover of Sports Illustrated. If you don’t know about him, you are probably a Hollywood writer hired to script sports entertainment.
– Dean Ambrose is unstable. Have you caught that yet? Where are the video packages of some of the wild men from the past, like Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman? You start talking about them on TV, then people will want to seek out their old matches on DVD and on WWE Network. Have Ambrose go visit Piper for a fun segment, but do not truck Piper out for another on-air appearance.
– The New Day seem like more of an attempt to create a new catchphrase/T-shirt than a team. Why couldn’t we see them studying Fabulous Freebirds footage? Then seeking out Michael Hayes for some advice?
– I enjoyed the antics of Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble as the modern-day “stooges” for “The Authority” and Seth Rollins, but where’s the context? The two kids I was at the show with, both eight, had no idea who they were or why they mattered.
Anyway, yeah, I know I sound like an old man ranting, but deal with it. (And don’t get me started on some other guys I overheard saying that they wanted to see The Rock again in a WWE ring because that would be “real wrestling” — and this was during the main event!)
In a similar vein, I wore my Wahoo McDaniel t-shirt to the show and not one person said anything to me about it. This is in a football-mad town where McDaniel likely would have played a little, if not a lot.
The one guy who was really, really into wrestling and marked out for the Wahoo shirt — “I’m an old AWA guy!” — was the porter at the hotel in downtown Cleveland.
Tying it all back in, Blackjack Mulligan would have loved my Wahoo shirt — and probably Mike Rotunda too.