THE OBTUSE ANGLE I Want Some Money Back February 27, 2003
by Jeb Tennyson Lund OnlineOnslaught.com/CitizenScholar.net
I hear conflicting reports about Montreal. Travelers in the Lonely Planet guide rave about its diverse night life. Yet its baseball club, which has done creditably, needs to leave. It's a brilliant multicultural city, yet even the French sometimes don't want to claim responsibility for the Quebecois. It's got some of the best and rowdiest wrestling fans in North America. Yet it gets only one storyline every time the WWE comes to town.
After watching No Way Out, I realized that the event made me ask the question that most women must ask after having sex for the very first time: all that pressure, build-up, shilling, cajoling, declaring and grunting for this? For this expenditure of time and effort, this was all that happened? Why do I feel pained?
(Of course, this thought generally does not occur to men. For us, the first time we have sex is analogous to a pay-per-view that features Benoit and Jericho jointly winning the Undisputed title — and Brock Lesnar Shooting-Star Pressing Triple H so hard that Triple H loses his mind, quits wrestling, and posts hardcore sex pictures of Stephanie McMahon for free on the web; — oh, and all of this happens in under ninety seconds.)
But I — and everyone watching — should feel pained. There were the great fireworks that we expect from a pay-per-view; there were some special matches and moving moments. There were stunning double-entendres and twists of phrase and fate. And the end...? Well the end was quick and cheap.
The capstone to this pay-per-view was so uninspired that I wonder if WWE thinkers ever hope to use this formula again. Surely every permutation of the Montreal screwjob has already been done. Well, perhaps that's unfair. Maybe next time Vince can come out and tell the babyface du jour that his family has been kidnapped and will not be released unless an in-ring loss happens. Or maybe the Montreal fans will throw water on Vince, and he'll melt. (Although I wouldn't bet on this one; I'm sure Triple H has accidentally done his Dasani-vapor gig on him dozens of times.) Or perhaps Vince will be able to develop a phaser sometime soon.
Nonetheless, Montreal has gone from one of the best places to see a wrestling match, to among the worst. Where else in North America are you guaranteed the same immortal ending? It's not as if you can walk to the arena in San Jose, California, and turn to the next guy and have this conversation:
You: I know Chris Jericho is going to have his pants pulled down in the main event tonight! Next Guy: Dude! They always pull guys' pants down in San Jose! You: Bare man-ass, man! Next Guy: Cheeks! San Jo-se! San Jo-se! Whooo!
I know what you're thinking: why would Chris Jericho be in a main event? Look, it's a hypothetical. Just bear with it.
No matter what, Montreal fans ought to consider writing to the WWE to get their money back. They paid for a wrestling show they had never seen before and — all arguments about wrestling's repetitiveness aside — the last five minutes of their main event was something they've seen at least three times. The very hallmark of World Wrestling Entertainment is unpredictability. If anything can happen in a wrestling ring everywhere else in North America, why is Montreal cursed with essentially one main event?
And while we're on the subject of money....
I may not have been ordering wrestling pay-per-views for donkey's years, but I've bought far more than I should have for far too long now. In that time, I have noticed that most pay-per-views, at least until this last year, have tended to end within two minutes of the end of the third hour. These events are billed as running from 8:00-11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and they often used to do just that.
No Way Out, however, went off the air at 10:38 p.m. — twenty-two minutes ahead of the scheduled time. For a scripted event, this is inexcusable. It's downright ridiculous, especially when you consider that most scripted live events on television end either precisely on the dot or run over time so much that viewers want to die instead of watching any more (read: The Academy Awards).
I paid for 180 minutes of sports-entertainment, and I got 158. In more definitive numbers: • Anyone who spent $34.99 for the pay-per-view is owed $4.27 for the missing 22 minutes. • Anyone who spent $39.99 for the pay-per-view is owed $4.89 for the missing 22 minutes. • Given that the DVDs are priced at $19.99 and generally run 180 minutes, the DVD for this should priced at $17.55 to compensate for the lack of entertainment contained therein. And no amount of "the costs of the DVD are such that the pricing must remain rigid" crap will make me change my mind about this: I've never seen a 4-hour WrestleMania DVD that has been priced under $21.00.
Call and complain to your local cable provider. They will be more than happy to comp you the extra bit of money if you are: (a) armed with the numbers provided, thus offering a rational breakdown of cost; and (b) willing to fly into an uncontrollable rage when contradicted, thus inducing them to just discount you, to get you out of their hair... and out of the mindset where you are likely to ask their names and look up their home addresses.
And why wasn't that 22-minute span filled with a match with the Guerreros, or Rey Mysterio or Booker T?
Lawler, Spot-Blowers, and That Flying Tree Trunk! The above diatribes aside, there were a few features of the No Way Out pay-per-view that were great. I will skip praise of the Lesnar/Benoit v. Team Angle match, simply because I suspect everyone else will tell you about how great (if short) it was. Instead, I'd like to talk about Jerry Lawler.
Lawler has become an internet whipping boy in recent years, and that distinction is not unjustified. Many have come to his defense, saying that his high-pitched infantile commentary is part of his character as a heel and a dirty man. Perhaps it was the lack of "bisexual lesbians" on the show, but I think most of those Lawler defenders are dead wrong.
He has become infantile and silly, and nothing illustrated that better than his commentary with the Coach at No Way Out. While Coach was probably being fed lines (through headphones) from J.R., Lawler adeptly and appropriately kept the focus on heel's motivations and strengths, championing them and cheering them. Amidst this, he set up the less-than-verbally-agile Coach with softball joke lines, ones that sucked Coach in, thus feeding Lawler a perfect straight line he could mock. Comedically, it was a powerful display: being comic to incite a semi-staid comment, then turning that semi-staid comment on its ear with another, better mocking joke. Lawler was practically half of his own straight man.
Readers and writers who say that Lawler usually brays like an ass are absolutely correct, because his performance at the pay-per-view was a stark and wonderful contrast to most Raw shows. Not every commentator can be as awkward as the Coach, but surely Lawler showed us that he still has the gift to be funny with anyone. Let's hope he carries his experience at No Way Out over to Raw — instead of slipping back into the familiar laxity that allows J.R. to shoulder the burden of heightening a match, while Lawler indulges his lesser appetites.
Also, my dismay at seeing the first ever Undisputed Champion, Chris Jericho, in a curtain-jerker match was quickly dispelled when that match became one of the best of the night (ranking, in my mind, just below Lesnar/Benoit v. Team Angle). Although one or two sloppy spots sneaked in — a commendable number, given the length of the match and Jeff Hardy's problems of late — the work in this match was solid and fast-paced. Jeff and Jericho hit high-spots throughout it, playing off their mutual familiarity.
Jeff's rail-run, although a bit wobbly, looked great because of Jericho's anticipation of it. Both men worked to give us a false finish or two, many near falls, and a tone of quality that endured throughout the show. A nod goes to Jeff for being far crisper than he has recently. A nod goes to Jericho for helping to make Jeff look dangerous. And a big nod goes to both men (although probably more to Jericho than Jeff) for working Jeff's high-spots in, in such a way that they progressed naturally from move to move — adding to the pace of the match, rather than seeming to exempt themselves from it.
Finally, I was really happy to see Undertaker v. Big Show turn out to be interesting, if not electrifying. The running concept, that Taker could not hit any signature moves on Show, combined with Show's sheer power to lend Taker an air of rare desperation. Taker's huge dive over the top-rope was something I haven't seen in a year or two, and it was as much of a "holy shit" moment as one could expect. Additionally, his need to get a win with a kind of scissors-leglock around Show's neck — while keeping his own shoulders off the mat — added to the dimensions of the conflict, nicely maintained the psychology, and gave us an ending that was surely unexpected.
The tired screwjob and shortness of the pay-per-view notwithstanding, it was a genuinely fun show to watch. Austin-Bischoff was amusing, if not legendary. But that moment, along with Kidman v. Hardy, Jericho v. Hardy, Show v. Taker and Lesnar/Benoit v. Team Angle made it worth the viewing.
Warning and Notes... This column is part of "The Obtuse Experiment," where I basically try to write five straight columns in five straight days. Basically, it's a test to see if I can write something people will like, or find insightful or amusing — or if I just go insane.
But, in deference to Rick Scaia, I'm running these on a delay. This column was originally run on Monday. Tomorrow, I will run Tuesday's column, etc. Please don't be alarmed at the sudden glut of "Obtuse Angle" titles on the Wienerboard. I assure you that I will burn out and go away soon.
I liked this column. It had a good PPV review, even if delayed. I also liked the Steiner and Brock Lesnar columns on OO.
For timing, personally I’d rather have the 2.5 hours. It’s the same reason I didn’t see Gangs of New York. Despite rave reviews, I don’t like sitting in a theater for 3 hours. I’m not even thinking about seeing Gods and Generals. (Same reason I don’t like your columns that exceed 5,000 words – cheap shot.)
For Brock, he was built as a monster heel and yet the fans decided to cheer the guy at Summerslam and afterwards. This caused his premature face turn. Instead of being force fed, I see it as the people’s will being done.
BTW: I missed your “jukebox” column bashed by Kyle.
Everything I put here is put on a delay, since I want Rick Scaia to be able to get the hits and traffic on his site the first time. But, I realize that there are some people who just hate OO; and, even though I'm not sure why they do, I like being able to reach that audience, too. A lot of those people have written some pretty cool responses, so who am I to judge. Anyway, the delay is in deference to Rick, and I know that a PPV recap on Wednesday was less than cutting-edge. But it was part one of five, and thankfully is the only really "dated" column.
The column where Kyle mocked my parody of "The Lounge" intros is right here. It's "The Cinder Block Tied to RVD's Charisma."
I've never written a 5,000 word column, and God help me if I ever do! ;)
Everything I put here is put on a delay, since I want Rick Scaia to be able to get the hits and traffic on his site the first time. But, I realize that there are some people who just hate OO; and, even though I'm not sure why they do, I like being able to reach that audience, too. A lot of those people have written some pretty cool responses, so who am I to judge. Anyway, the delay is in deference to Rick, and I know that a PPV recap on Wednesday was less than cutting-edge.
Heh. I'm quite the opposite, aren't I, what posting my columns here first? I blame the system. I always send my column to Rick first before I format it and post it here, but he doesn't post Tuesday morning at 1ish, so Weinerboarders get it first. Honestly, the reasoning is mostly twofold the Word Document is already open, so it's easier just to do the HTML stuff on Monday than to come back and do it again (so I'm lazy) and also, it's better if the stuff from RAW is fresh in your mind, because I do extract everything segment by segment from RAW (except the one time I missed the Dudleyz match and had to go back and re-write that part).
I don't really think Rick cares, and it's not like I'M drawing all sorts of hits anyway. No harm no foul, right?
Satire 2/24 (I promise to learn the new coding by next week) Buffy 7.16 gets a 7.65372 Andrew is funny, but I'm not sure that we needed "The Andrew Episode".