First off, my thanks to all of you gentle readers for indulging my recent week’s hiatus to attend to some family business. Incredible as it may seem, I do have a life outside the hallowed halls of dear old 411wrestling. Huh? “411Mania?” Man, you go away for a week, and it’s Rip Van Winkle time. Anyhoo, how ‘bout all my gentle readers taking a few moments to peruse our newly remodeled site? Look around, click on some of new features, (which both Widro & Ashish have assured me will be many,) ride the rides, buy some cotton candy, try to knock Unca Ed into the dunkin’ tank, 3 shots for a dime. It’s all for a worthy cause, namely 411Mania’s continued success. As has been reported elsewhere, one of my colleagues here at 411 is of a considerably more literary bent than yours truly. I refer, of course to the ol’ RantMaster himself, Scott Keith, and to his latest literary epic, “Tonight…In This Very Ring: A Fan’s History of Professional Wrestling.” Scott’s been reviewing and commenting on professional wrestling for more years than I care to remember, and his place as a pillar of the Internet Wrestling Community has long since been assured, first at TheSmarks.com, and then here at 411Wrestling.com. “Tonight…In This Very Ring,” has been a book long-anticipated by fans of professional wrestling in general, and Vince McMahon’s WWF/WWE in particular. The true diehard wrestling fan demographic has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, as the fans have become smarter and more knowledgeable about their beloved sport. At the same time, those who are purveyors of that entertainment are being urged, some would say “forced,” to re-invent the product they are selling to those fans to make sure those fans don’t go anywhere. George Santayana once observed that “Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.” For the fan, wrestling promoter, or the Internet writer who wants to make history rather than repeat it, Scott has supplied the handbook. Starting off with a brief synopsis of “The Early Years” beginning in 1963, Scott then takes us on a rollicking journey into the 21st Century, chronicling the metamorphosis of “professional wrestling” into “sports entertainment” as invented and promoted by World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon, Jr. He also takes the reader on several all-too-short diversions into the origins, existence, and demise of McMahon’s major rival, Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling promotion. We get a tantalizing peek at the sort-of game plan WCW’s chief promoter, Eric Bischoff was promulgating before wending our way back to McMahonLand. (Note to the NetCop: a “Volume 2” dealing totally with the sad, silly ruckus at WCW would be much appreciated by your readers. See to it, won’t you?) Reading Scott’s coverage of the rise, fall, and rise again of World Wrestling Entertainment is like watching a surgeon wield a scalpel, rather than a butcher wield his meat axe. Those involved deserving vilification for their indulgence in excess have their folly displayed, with every pimple, wen, wattle, twisted libido, jowl, bloated ego, and age spot getting full and merciless exposure. Want an example? How about this one? “Marcus “Buff” Bagwell is a useless lump of sh*t who has a million-dollar body thanks to genetics, but hasn’t quite grasped the English language well enough to speak anything but “Dumbass Georgia Hick” as a first language. He was brought into WCW early in his career (in 1992) and essentially peaked as a wrestler in his first match, and it was all downhill from there, workrate-wise.” Sixty-seven words that paint as vivid and damning a picture of a wrestler’s career as you could want. Impressive, no? As good a read as the first one hundred sixty eight pages are, it is the book’s “Afterword” that really shines. Scott Keith lists his version of the “Seven Deadly Sins” plaguing The Only Game in Town. He leads off with “Lack of competition,” follows up with “Weak story lines,” among others. In classic NetCop style, he ends with an appropriately scathing Rant on WWE’s: “Lack of long-term direction. Who’s going to be world champion three months from now? Who knows? One week we get RAW filled with clean finishes and no McMahons, the next it’s Vince-Vince-Vince and everyone running in for the DQ all night. Things are done at the last minute, so fans have no long-term incentive for tuning in – they know that they can skip two or three weeks and come back later, all the story lines will have changed anyway. Or, even worse, they’ll still be at exactly the same place they were three weeks ago, like with the never-ending Austin-Angle feud of mid-2001 or the ridiculous InVasion angle. Lot of stuff going on, but nothing really happening, you know?” Having just put 2002 into the record books, this was one NetCop Rant that, sadly, was right on the money. “Tonight…In This Very Ring” is a necessary addition to any wrestling fan’s library. Whether you are a student of, as the NetCop puts it, “Our So-Called Sport,” or just want to know why Kane, big as he is, has never gotten the push he’s deserved, or why the spectacularly talented and athletic Rob Van Dam seems continually mired in the mid-card, or what Tammy “Sunny” Sytch had for supper one night courtesy of Scott Hall, you’ll find the answers here. Heck, the appendices alone have loads of statistical information on PPV revenues, TV ratings, (Ooo! Scary! Especially since 2001.) plus a listing of every WWWF-WWF/E World Title and Tag Title holder. Fodder indeed for anyone looking to win some easy money doing bar bets. So here’s my request of you, my gentle readers. Toddle on over to amazondotcom, and fork over the $13.27 & postage for Scott Keith’s latest. It’s a helluva good read!
I expected a column and ended up with an infomercial shilling a book. This reads like a parody of a book review. How much did you get paid to write this?
I’m reminded of those movie ads with the outlandish quotes. Then when you look closer to see who would possibly write such a kiss-ass quote, you see some paper like JAM! Movies, Hollywood.com, or LA Weekly. Something like, “Best Action Movie of the Year”: LA Weekly. The person who wrote it is too ashamed to have their name attached to the tiny print.
“He leads off with “Lack of competition,” follows up with “Weak story lines”
I’ve been wondering about what problems plague the WWE. It’s a good thing someone could point them out to me. The book’s target market must be the gullible moron segment.
“loads of statistical information on PPV revenues, TV ratings, (Ooo! Scary! Especially since 2001.) plus a listing of every WWWF-WWF/E World Title and Tag Title holder.”
I have the same statistics and I’ll e-mail them to anyone for free. Or you could just buy the PWI Almanac for $5 and still come out ahead.
The stats can be found anywhere over the 'net, for that matter, although if Brian is offering, people could just ask him.
EC, I usually really enjoy your coloumns....but most of them tend to display a lot of effort and imaginitive writing. This one doesn't really fit the bill, probably because it's less of a coloumn and more of a schill job. I wouldn't mind people heading over to 411mania either, but I don't know if posting a guest column in this manner was the best idea. Putting the info in your sig like Exacilbur and myself (CHEAP PLUGS) will send out the same message I'm sure.
Reviewer of games, token redneck, and one of the few remaining Expos fans.
Very good column. BTW: I thought your column from last year’s top 80 (Mr. Perfect) was one of the best columns of the year. And I mean the best out of all the columns in all the websites everywhere. I had the same thoughts myself.