THE OBTUSE ANGLE Mixed Bag 'Mania; or, "Let's Hit BROCK LESNAR with a Tree" March 12, 2004
by Jeb Tennyson Lund OnlineOnslaught.com
I had a bunch of ideas that might have proved sufficient for a thoughtful pre-WrestleMania essay. I was excited about taking one nugget of quasi-wisdom and expounding on it for a few pages. Brock Lesnar and the pre-WrestleMania hype machine have blown that to pieces. Now you're stuck holding the mixed-bag, and I'm running down the street yelling at the neighborhood children and calling them "commies."
WrestleMania Terror Is there a better or worse time of the year than the week preceding WrestleMania? I said this last year, but it's still applicable: come Sunday, the span of a few hours may cap off your viewership year perfectly or send you happily on your way to a new year. Or that span of time may just kick you in the gut, walk around behind you and pour a beer on your newly style-waxed hair. Then you'll be one damp and humiliated metrosexual, slumped and defeatedly weeping into a Riedel flute filled with Condrieu. You think I'm kidding, but WrestleMania can actually do that, even if you have no idea what I'm talking about.
WrestleMania is the worst good time of a wrestling fan's year. We can't look at an offense, a defense, special teams and a coach in order to make head or tail of it. We have to think about moves and old matches, a promo here or there, a love interest, some run-in with a tractor and a rake. Think of the enormous variables we must compute just to root for someone: probable wins and losses compounded by backstage nonsense, upcoming matches, venues, wrestlers' attitudes and merchandise sales. A hardcore gambler will put odds on anything. But there's a reason why they steer clear of professional wrestling. It's not the "fake" thing: it's the treacherous flood of attendant bullshit that makes even this fixed fight an uncertainty. People will bet on presidential primaries, but even the worst sort of odds junkie knows bad juju when he sees it, and wrestling is nothing if not that.
Consider the hell that you yourself are probably currently enduring. If wrestling columns were an interactive exercise, you could name your favorite grappler, and I could name at least three reasonable conditions precluding their victory, their push up the card or their general popular celebration. Imagine the nightmare columnist Matt Hocking is trapped in. He's a good guy, prone to intractable fandom and equally stubborn dislike of some wrestlers. But he's pretty sanguine about the realities of wrestling. He knows his beloved Kane is in for the sort of vengeful, total and ruthless destruction that's rarely been seen this side of Carthage. In this case, the anticipation will be kinder than the event. Poor bastard.
Think of the Jerichoholics who witnessed last year's loss to Shawn Michaels (he came back to put over younger stars, you know). Jericho went from possible semi-main-event adulation to jerking curtains with a guy who couldn't get an Austin nickname ("Creepy Little Bastard") to stick to him. Those fans must dread the idea that Christian will beat Jericho so badly that he'll be able to drag Jericho's body down to a lower-midcard cellar and lock him there forever. That's assuming Trish doesn't turn on Jericho and do Christian's work for him. That's also assuming that there are Jericho fans out there still so wretchedly naive that they don't expect his awful match outcomes to do anything other than make them vomit into their own mouths.
What else? Dudley Boys fans? I hate to say this, but I think you're boned. You may wish to join the RVD and Booker T fans in the recovery room. Triple H fans?get a room, you two. And Benoit fans are probably thinking of robbing a pharmacy for comfort "food" to say nothing of Guerrero fans, who are likely curled into a fetal ball, doing some sad wrestling-fan variation of "Linus Van Pelt" or perhaps of someone trying to detox in their own nailed-shut apartment. My heart goes out to you all, but I'll be so numbed with drink that hopefully whatever negative things happen won't register at the time. One can hope.
This is WrestleMania, the Incipient Panic Attack Grandaddy of them all.
It costs a lot of money, and it's fun, right? Right?
Retire This Comment, Now "WWE should cut down on PPVs to focus on stories to make those PPVs more special." "Fewer WWE PPVs will mean bigger buyrates for the remaining PPVs." "WWE should cut back on PPVs and create a new brand, then work up to the same level of PPVs they have now."
Can we get rid of these arguments now? Please. For a couple of reasons.
For the LAST FUCKING TIME, WWE is not the only company that makes money from a pay-per-view. For the pipe dream of a return to eight pay-per-views per year to come true, WWE would have to renegotiate with various cable distributors, DirecTV, DishNetwork, etc., to say nothing of the scores of international distributors with whom they have contracts. WWE has arranged those contracts based on a projected schedule of revenue for a specific number of shows. Were they to gamble on greater buyrates for fewer shows, they would need to alter each contract.
Now it's very unlikely that each contract ends at the same time. So what happens if WWE negotiates a new contract with all U.S. pay-per-view distributors to provide only eight shows per year, when all international distributors are still promised the current monthly schedule? What if those distributors don't want to take the gamble? They know what they currently earn annually, so why would they want to jeopardize those earnings in order to placate Vince McMahon's notion of how to rejuvenate wrestling? After all, this is a guy who thought the XFL was a moneymaker. Do they really want to lose a sure thing because this man tells them there might be a better opportunity in another format? Aren't they going to tell him that they want their sure monthly money and nothing else?
These whining "change teh ppvs, lol!" proposals also assume that Vince McMahon is disaffected with his current regular buyrate slops. Supposedly Vince doesn't like the core revenue he has, silly man. Sure, he's the genius who made the XFL, but he's not quite so daft as to reduce his monthly revenue on the scant chance that a more irregular schedule will bring an annual increase in aggregate pay-per-view buys.
After all, this man sees the numbers. And the numbers show that there are significant spikes for the classic "Big" pay-per-views, but there is also a respectable and consistent number for the rest. He's already fleecing you and countless others. Why on earth would he elect to stop doing that especially if it meant eliminating existing contracts, restructuring others (at a potentially less profitable rate) and ultimately garnering an audience only marginally bigger than the one he already knows he has?
Retire This Comment, Now The current roster changes mean that it would be very easy for Vince to bring back the WCW brand. Vince has the money, so why doesn't he give Paul Heyman the money to rename OVW and base it in Philly and make a new ECW? Then they can get a TV deal and make a competitive fed and make the brand split mean something.
If you've said either of the above, you are clearly a hopelessly impractical idealistic twit and probably too illiterate even to be reading this column. And if you are reading it anyway, please, for the love of Jesus, SHUT UP. Remember everything I said about pay-per-view contracts? Replace the word "pay-per-view" with "TV" and repeat all the problems outlined above. Then SHUT UP.
Some Pay-Per-View Ramblings; or, "ppv ramblings, omg lol~!" Unless you're Mötorhead, nothing says "white" like being the special guest band at WrestleMania.
Speaking of which, Mötorhead writing a song to make Evolution seem "badass" is like Marvin Gaye coming back from the dead to write a song to make Michael Cole seem like the godchild of "soul."
You're officially cheap when you see a crappy ten-minute WrestleMania match and start saying things like, "This show is 10 bucks per hour, and watching this just cost me... hang on, lemme figure this out."
By the way, I am that cheap.
So is the WWE. Hey, they frequently advertise a three-hour show and wind up charging you for a two-hour thirty-minute show. Increasingly, the WWE errs on the side of keeping the show short, rarely if ever nearing the end of the hour. Why the fuck do we put up with this?
Being the Guest Celebrity at WrestleMania is such a bullet in a career that you can go on IMDB.com, notice that appearance, and the celebrity's following "career credits" look like the resumé version of someone getting kicked down a mountain.
On that note, I still think Cyndi Lauper could grab Randy Orton, knee him in the balls, kick his ribs to shards and paint his beat-up ass like a clown. Cyndi Lauper is still that bad, and Randy Orton's that fucking soft.
The fact that it's WrestleMania automatically triples J.R.'s use of proper names.
When they pan around the arena at WrestleMania and show some guy in the upper deck who doesn't have binoculars if you see that guy and don't feel bad for him, you should be stricken with explosive gas during a job interview, you malicious jerk.
This WrestleMania is five hours long. If I don't see four full-fledged brawls in the aisles or at least a few shots of people passed out in their seats, well, I'm going to feel robbed.
WrestleMania could suck completely and unabashedly. But if Lillian Garcia came to the ring with a mic and started to say, "Making his way to the ring from Canada, Alberta Edmonton, Chris JeriBenoit" and Howard Finkel came up from behind the ring apron, cracked her in the head with a KING HELL chairshot, planted his foot on her prone frame and introduced the next match... if that happened, this would be the greatest pay-per-view ever. I wouldn't even care what happened next.
If J.R.'s even audible at the end of this pay-per-view, I'm going to lose a bet.
Holden Brockfield; or, "Goodbye to 'So What?' " Apparently Brock Lesnar has given final notice to WWE management. Following WrestleMania, he's gone, off to NFL training camps, greener pastures, less of a guaranteed paycheck, some mid-twenties voyage of discovery. Given that he's my age and has already made more money than I will in two or three decades, my sympathies are understandably muted. He has to "find" what he wants to do with his life, and he can charter his own airplane. Justly, to my way of thinking, I now entertain visions of Brock Lesnar orally irrigating the nether-canals of some of the less-hygienic people I've seen patronizing bars with names like "The Old Grog" and "The Hob Nob."
Message-board denizens and the multitude of internet paranoiacs see conspiracies in this news. Perhaps it's a work. "The WWE plotters want to generate more enthusiasm for what has promised to be a mechanically dull and circumstantially predetermined match." Maybe that's true. But I will operate on the assumption that Occam's Razor prevails here: the simplest explanation for Brock leaving for the NFL is that Brock is really leaving for the NFL. If I'm ultimately wrong, then it was a good ruse, and one we should respect. If I'm not, fine. Let's look at what this means.
Brock was an unnatural golem-creature brought forth from the primordial wrestling mud, diabolically sculpted into a dominant and (barely) pleasing form, and then coaxed and bent into so many implausible situations like some Harryhausen stop-motion-fakery monster. His two-year career in the WWE vested him with slightly more credibility as a "real" person than Jar Jar Binks. Even then, that's generous. Comparatively, Jar Jar had personality.
I outlined my dislike of Brock one year ago in a previous column, and I don't think my earlier statements are any less valid. Brock was force-fed to us, and we somehow developed the ability to numb our own gorges and put up with it. We were told he was the "Next Big Thing." He couldn't speak for himself and even now does so with difficulty. The only legitimate aspect to his moniker was "big." He's surely that, and also fast. He's a nimble big man. Fast in the ring, however, is a function of booking. Kane has been saddled for these years past with the Big Man gimmick, and anyone who's made any concerned study of his abilities knows that his ponderous movements are learned. The same goes for Rikishi. Both are incredibly fit large men who have been, by order or circumstance, slowed. Maybe Pat Patterson gives them Vicodin before they hit the ring, just to make sure their full potential is put on display as languidly as possible. Thus being huge, fast and gifted was a gimmick that sort of like Excalibur was not pulled from the script until Brock arrived.
But I'm going overboard in making fun of Brock, right? From what I've been told, he's an amazing talent and was an NCAA Wrestling champion. I imagine I'm the fool who prefers withholding judgment until I actually see anything that validates public opinion. That's my loss, I suppose. I should have spent the last two years noticing the fact that all he did was throw and toss people around (and maybe once in ten months bust out an amateur grapple) and still celebrate him for his potential. Fuck that. Brock Lesnar was Goldberg with promises added. He had power matches with basic tosses, suplexes, a "strong" finisher and some submissions. What ennobled him, in contradistinction to Goldberg, is that you could say this: "Brock had a boring power match, but you know that he's a gifted amateur wrestling champion." (So was Scott Steiner.) Whatever. If you stop to think about it, we could have made Goldberg as wonderful as Brock through a delicate mental and verbal technique: telling lies.
Try it with me. "Sure, Goldberg had a boring match, but you know that he's a gifted amateur wrestling champion. Also, his sweat tastes like a '53 Taittinger and he can bench press the moon."
See? Goldberg's matches are already that much better, because we're apologizing for how dull they are by not commenting on the man's talent in the ring and instead naming all those good things that might come true. Now he's great because of all the things we're pretty sure we might see... at some point... if this happens... and the mailman calls me Glenda... and Goldberg grabs a squirrel and chews it to death... and whatever.
We can write a new wrestling column: "Goldberg is a youngish talent whose gifts have yet to be properly utilized. Like Lesnar, all he does is throw people around and occasionally toss in a leg lock. But you need to imagine all he could be. Like Brock, just wait... it's coming. It's coming.... Wait.... Seriously, Goldberg is amazing! Wait...." Interminably praising someone for potential that is repeatedly unrealized is just like what I suggested regarding Goldberg earlier: lying. Except when you do so, you lie to yourself. Maybe you're the only one who's hurt by it. You are still not approaching the truth which, in Brock's case, is that he's just some big dude who tosses people... but does it with credentials.
If you don't buy me arguing myself into that conclusion about Goldberg without any demonstrable proof, why did so many swallow the same platitudinous and Pollyana-esque crap about Lesnar? Goldberg hasn't made me right, but the F-5'ing tossing and clubbing Lesnar-mutant hasn't vindicated his defenders much either. Unless you count one scrabbling quasi-amateur wrestling match and one funky submission move every now and again.
But there's no reason to be too critical of either man. Honestly, no one should really be expected to plan a sequence of reversals or learn a submission move. That could never happen. When Triple H did that with Benoit in 2000, and with Austin and Jericho in 2001, we were all imagining things. Of course, since Triple H did a good job, it never happened.
I'm sorry. I got carried away trying to draw a comparison between Goldberg and Lesnar in terms of ring work. I've forgotten the other character aspects. Did you know that Lesnar was an amazing mic talentjust like Goldberg? Look at this breakdown of habitual unique word choices:
1. Goldberg: loves "ass." For instance: You bet your ass it's on! Your ass is my ass! Ass will, in the ring, ass itself. THEN our asses will know what's assed.
2. Brock doesn't know what a pronoun is. But years of coaching and positive reinforcement, featuring rewards of biscuits and rawhide chews, have taught him to recognize his own name. Proudly. For instance: BROCK LESNAR is the WWE Champion, not like people who are not the WWE Champion, BROCK LESNAR. When I, BROCK LESNAR, get in the ring with you, Eddie Guerrero, and your nephew, who is the nephew of Eddie Guerrero, the BROCK LESNAR facing Eddie Guerrero will make BROCK LESNAR'S opponent's nephew [note: Eddie Guerrero's nephew] attack BROCK LESNAR to help Eddie Guerrero against BROCK LESNAR. BROCK LESNAR. BROCK LESNAR: BROCK LESNAR; BROCK LESNAR... BROCKLESNAR? BROCK LESNAR!
I guess I underestimated BROCK LESNAR. His ass isn't brocking Goldberg when the grassbock match between Assberg and Brock-puma IS NEXT. BROCK LESNAR'S ass has really grown on the mic. And the fans of BROCK LESNAR'S ass would tell me that I shouldn't sell his BROCK LESNAR ass short, because his talent is a DYNAMITE ASS. BRASS LOCKNAR.
Meltdown I've had a busy week, so at this point I can't begin to rationally explain why my disgust with Lesnar and my equal disgust with critics' unremitting celebration of him makes me want to stab my left hand with a stainless steel ballpoint pen.
Here's a happy bulleted list of all the wonderful things I've learned, noticed, thought about and will take away from the BROCK LESNAR era of the WWE. Your ass knows it's on.
BROCK LESNAR possesses the ability to make children drop their ice-cream cones often on your new slacks.
This news item is barely 24-hours old, and I've already read three people comment, "The best thing about Brock going to the NFL is that now there's a good chance that Ray Lewis will murder him." I find this funny for wry observational reasons and also all the wrong reasons.
This is what happens when you give a young man everything he could want from his job, within two years of him starting it. Anyone operating on a shorted-out Central Nervous System and little else would realize that putting a rookie through absolutely no character challenges and then making him the focus of half the company is a bad idea. But this is WWE we're talking about. When I try to envision their development meetings, all I see is a picture of a flea-bitten donkey sleeping under a tree while a fly buzzes over it in circles.
If BROCK LESNAR goes to a party where the hosts own an aquarium, when no one's looking, he dips his hand in the bowl, grabs the fish and eats them.
I don't know about you, but I'm going to achingly miss someone who stood no reasonable chance of ever losing a match. Thinking about it is like feeling a hole in my stomach. Emptiness. I'd have gone through months of withdrawal before the WWE debuted the rookie with a surgically embedded bazooka for a left arm. He might have gone over Lesnar. Well, maybe after Lesnar took a Banzai drop. Let's be realistic.
BROCK LESNAR dumps his grass clippings in your yard.
The one thing I'll truly miss most about BROCK LESNAR promos was the moment when he'd lose his place and stare expressionlessly into space while waiting for his lines to scroll across the metallic surface of his inner android eye and also display the height, weight and major weaknesses of the humanoid in front of him.
I doubt that Brock has sold nearly the number of shirts Undertaker has during the last two years. Moreover, Smackdown's ratings are essentially no better than Raw's, where the championship picture has been dominated by a ramshackle, monotonous and frequently absent Triple H, someone with whom we were very familiar for three years prior to Brock's debut. As such, it's questionable to assume that Brock brought more revenue to the table than anyone else in his position would have. And, since his tenure in the main event has not produced buyrates or ratings in any way different from his counterpart on the other show, one could reasonably argue that many others would have comparably succeeded/failed in Brock's place. In short, why lament his loss? If you will miss him, it essentially means you already liked the guy, since the objective rubrics do not indicate that he would be any more or less missed or vital than anyone else. Basically, you like him and thus are no different from the thousands of people who would lament Billy Gunn's retirement. Arguments based on affection are no more valid that me shrieking about how watching BROCK LESNAR makes me want to stab something. But, just for perspective, losing The Load will cripple the Smackdown roster. Really. You can brock your ass on that.
Remember that time Undertaker didn't job to him? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! That was awesome.
Whenever you lose a button on a shirt, BROCK LESNAR finds it, puts it in a giant drawer filled with other lonesome mismatched buttons, writes your name in a tiny pocket ledger, then laughs and laughs and laughs.
At least, in the aftermath of BROCK LESNAR's departure, we can take joy in thinking of all those wrestlers he put over. Zach Gowan, the other guy, Fred, Mr. McNulty and his Book Wagon, Adelaide.... So many memories. I remember when he jobbed to Eddie. Sure, Goldberg speared Brock for that to happen, and Brock cut promos about how Goldberg stole his championship and that Eddie never had a chance. But, damn he was a one-man-Eddie-Guerrero-puttin'-over squad, wasn't he? And remember when he jobbed clean to Angle? Me neither. But what about all those other guys?like Asa, Ox and Burnsey! No, wait, I'm thinking of the "Flying Hellfish" again. Don't mind me.
You remember when Brock was funny? No, I mean intentionally. Nevermind, let's drop it.
This sudden departure really makes you love the fact that Angle wrestled at last year's WrestleMania with a broken neck to put over Lesnar. Obviously it made sense at the time and still does. However, the graciousness and trust implicit in the gesture seem a little soured now.
On the other hand, you can now make a case for the botched Shooting Star Press knocking the remaining bit of sense out of BROCK LESNAR.
I just stared my dog in the face and yelled "BROCK LESNAR," and he leaned his head down toward the patio floor and hacked. You're really on the bad side of life when you can't get a wag out of a basset hound and instead spike the gag reflex.
On that last note, I wish BROCK LESNAR no ill in his future endeavors in the NFL. Although I find his abrupt departure from the WWE both indecorous and negative in terms of stories and other wrestlers' potential glory (no "rub" for them), there's no sense in not wanting him to be happy in his new sport. If anything, since I enjoyed him so little, wishing him the best benefits my own selfishness. For those of you who will miss him, be patient. I'm fairly certain you'll see him again: either very soon (because this is "a work"!), or in a year or two, because the odds are stacked against him.
If you disagreed with any of my points, I totally understand. Most were nonsense. Plus it's hard to agree with a guy who chewed off his lower lip while writing this and desperately searching for synonyms for the word "eviscerate."
"And remember when he jobbed clean to Angle? Me neither."
I do! It was Summerslam 2003. He tapped out to the ankle-lock. This provided months and months of fan ridicule with the "you tapped out" chant.
I'll miss Brock. I loved the fact that you knew someone was going to get tossed around in his matches. His matches with the Big Show were always good fun. It's rare to find a wrestler who can work as well with a hulking monster like Show and then can have an incredible match with someone more technically gifted like Eddie.
Price of No Way Out: $34.95 Price of snacks: $20.00 Seeing Eddie Guerrero win the WWE title: Priceless
Hey, you know what would be cool is that if they could combine Brock's speaking style with Randy Orton's so that you could have "guy who is in love with the sound of his own name" mixed with "guy who repeats everything".
Jeb, please tell me you're going to that bar to watch 'Mania. The recap will be gold, regardless of the material you're given to work with.
In the context of baseball, the use of drugs hurts only the player. In the context of baseball, the use of alcohol hurts only the player. In the context of baseball, womanizing hurts whom? Maybe the wife of the player? In the context of baseball, felonies are crimes against society, not against baseball. In the context of baseball, gambling is the only crime against baseball.
Gambling, in the context of baseball, is a capital offense and Rose has richly earned-- hell, he agreed to-- his death sentence. Let him hang.
Bob Kohm, co-owner of Rotojunkies.com (rotojunkies.com) , and a large market kind of guy.
Originally posted by VanillaSky"And remember when he jobbed clean to Angle? Me neither."
I do! It was Summerslam 2003. He tapped out to the ankle-lock.
Oh, crap! I FUCKED UP! I FUCKED UP! I FUCKED UP! The sad thing is that I saw that pay-per-view, and it was during a time when I usually missed every other pay-per-view. Seeing it was special, since I didn't always catch the shows. Yet the only thing I remembered about it was the Elimination Chamber.
I suppose I could try to be cool and say that Brock's jobs were so few and so boring that you can't remember them... that forgetting this is the natural result of being so bored. But that would be untrue. I just fucked up.
Blanket: No. No.... Noooooooooooooooooooooo!
Whitebacon: I couldn't do it. For a couple of reasons. 1. You have to get to that bar early to get even a cruddy seat before one of the "big" pay-per-views. Between the 20-minute drive each way, getting there early, the 5-hour length of the show and "making sure I'm okay" time before going home, I'd basically wind up spending over 7 hours there. That's too much. 2. In that amount of time, I will run up a tab comparable to the price of getting the show at home. If that's the case, why not stay home, be safer, save maybe a little money, have the creature comforts and also get to keep a tape of the show? 3. I called a bunch of people and decided to throw a Super Bowl-style party. Hopefully a couple of the "slower" ones show up so I can write a column about them lamenting that there aren't moves like "The Worm" in every match.
Did you invite the guy with the imitation championship belt and miniscule bladder?
Originally posted by Jeb Tennyson Lund• One of these days, when Triple H is in the middle of one of his long grunting promos, Jericho should just lean forward, stick his finger on the end of Triple H's schnozz and say, "poooooooke!" No one will know what to do.
I'm afraid to get to know that guy; several things seem "off" about him, and that's not even counting the belt. Besides, if he showed up and had a couple of beers, I'd have two problems: 1. He'd know where I live. 2. My water bill would go through the roof, due to his bathroom usage.
I wound up not taking notes, so there will be no WrestleMania column like the Rumble and NWO columns. I tried writing a few things down during 'Mania, but it kept putting everyone off. My friends were startled and questioning: "What are you writing? Was it something I said? Don't write down what I just said." Then the whole room would sit awkwardly silent for the next two or three minutes. Even when the conversation resumed, it would be forced and artificial for the minute or so needed before people forgot that I might write something down.
Eventually I gave up and just concentrated on being: (a) a good host, and (b) happily buzzed. In all, a good night with good people and lots of barbecued MEAT and booze. But not column-worthy.
Victory Road recap will be coming on Sunday, and then we’ll hit the December, January, and February Jukeboxes! Strong opening highlight package details the history of the Royal Rumble, followed by the West Side Story ad they’ve been playing for weeks.