Ah yes it is episode 50 and I think this project will stop here. I was originally planning on doing a full year of reviews. But fucked up in tivoing episode 51 and 52. If someone sends me the missing episodes I'll write something on them. Otherwise I think I'm done. I mean well the decision to bring back Russo and bring in Angle really feel like the kind of dumb desperate moves that one makes on their last legs. So part of me figures I should keep going since those hirings kind of suggest that the promotion may only have two more months of life and really should document their last grasps of life. Bringing in Russo at this point really feels like the functional equivalent of when your local indy decides to bring in Todd Gordon (indy kiss of death). And really have put in to much time not to watch the end...but
So here ya go Episode #50:
Most of the wrestling on this show was mediocre but passable. Kazarian/Bentley vs. AJ/Daniels was fine. Actually liked the opening even arm drag exchange between Kazarian and Daniels. They went to the face in peril section and for some reason chose to have Daniels work the in peril role and alot of the heel double team stuff wasn't pretty. And Slick Johnson can't work tag matches. Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley wasn't as awful as your normal Chris Sabin match. Shelley led him through some mat work, got a watchable striking section out of Sabin and was able to get in some basic face v heel characterization. Match was ultra short, with dumb finish and dumb booking but...matches were all mediocre but passable.
I actually like the video packages building to Rhino vs. Christian. Rhino says "you ended friendship three weeks ago" and they show footage of heel Christian attacking and bloodying Rhino. Of course they don't show that the face threw the first punch...but video package put together better than the angle. Rhino: "once you turn on a friend that's the last thing you do". Also liked all of the footage of Christian and Rhino hanging out in their youth on the road and whatnot. The booking never really did anything to establish that these guys were once friends so the turn didn't mean anything. The friendship footage is airing way too late in the storyline but yeah nice video package filled with stuff they should have aired earlier and with stuff edited out that they never should have done.
-HOLY SHIT IT'S RON FULLER~!!! Smart booking to have Ron Fuller talking to Bobby Roode while sitting in a car. Two of them talking standing up would have made Roode look like a midget. Still you don't tease Ron Fuller and then not use him for something.
-LOVED the main event town meeting setting up the lumberjack strap match. Cornette as per usual is really good in role of guy explaining booking. Zbysco was just amazingly great in his buffoon role and Jarrett played his role of guy who hates the audience and is afraid of Samoa Joe really well. Whole angle is super old school and straight out of Dutch Mantell Puerto Rico(I think Dutch's Puerto Rican booking is really overrated by Meltzer as I'm not convinced that it's better or more succesfull than Chris Youngblood, Barnabas, Invader or Luke Williams Puerto Rico booking...still this was straight out of PR playbook). Cornette, Zbysco and Jarrett know how to play their traditional roles pretty perfectly. Surprisingly I was disappointed with Samoa Joe in this. In general Joe is really excellent on the mic working kind of this Nick Bockwinkle-ish smug character. Where his smirking smugness is part of his menace. Here he was booked to be Road Warrior Hawk. Monster face who tells the audience that he's going to beat the heel for the fans " Oh what a rush!" Samoa Joe came off more as Spencer for Hire Hawk than Road Warrior Hawk. Unfortunately, Spencer For Hire Hawk is really out of place in this angle. But right when Joe seemed like he was lost Zbysco came in and heeled it up and it all fell back into place. The thing with formula is that formula works. Really the whole use of Zbysco comedy and the build the whole way Cornette has been used, the Eric Young comedy...all felt very much like Dutch Mantell in Puerto Rico booking. Dutch does two things comedy booking and slow build stuff. One of the things that TNA has occasionally done right has been slow build. The build to 3LK breakup, the build to Steiner vs. Joe. None of these things really delivered but I'll take good old school build to shit over no build to shit anyday. As the build is entertaining and engaging. I assume bringing in Russo will push the Mantell comedy and you'll loose any sense of slow build as Russo is more concerned with finishes and immediate match stips that will never be followed through with. Who knows?
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
-I guess part of the reason I was feeling generous with the undercard matches is that anything would look good next to the big showcase match. Abyss vs. Raven's "Hangman's Match" was just painful to watch. This was sub Flair vs, Piper from the last years of WCW. Raven losses balance and falls down trying to throw the first punch. Raven fucking collapses whenever he tries anything, punches, lariats whatever. Raven was working like the worlds shittiest Flair where the only thing he could do to get on offense was low blows. And he couldn't even execute the low blows well. Everything looked telegraphed. The two of them looked like they were wrestling in amber. This almost approached Sid vs. Nightstalker, Warrior vs. Disciple Ed Leslie million billion stars as I was laughing all the way through it. It never got to that so bad it's transcendent point. Although it approached it. Raven did take a nice bump for leg sweep on the barrier. And a couple things that were neat ideas. Really to be transcendently bad you can't have the one or two mediocre to good spots this had. Its possible if not for that leg sweep bump, I might have put this on top for how close it was to transcendence. I mean Ron Fuller is right there. He could have a better brawl in his sleep. Robert Parker vs. Madusa was more heated than this. I mean I guess you can't use Robert Fuller if you insist on billing Abyss as 6 ft 8...unless you start billing Fuller as 7 ft 2 or something. After watching Abyss and Raven stumble through a wrestling match...Spike Dudley comes out and attacks both of them. Spike's offense looks like Benoit after watching Ron Reiss vs Loch Ness. this makes the booking even sillier as Spike looks more athletic than his opponents, has better looking offense and yet is booked as ineffective little guy amongst monsters. I guess that's how you would book a Benoit, Ron Reiss, Loch Ness three way feud.. But c'mon the TNA versions of Loch Ness and Reiss are no more than four inches taller than their Benoit.
-So I went to see Jackass II the first weekend it came out. It's very different from the first movie. The Jackass guys do more gross out humor in the second. The first one had gross out humor. But who hasn't engaged in self destructive behavior for amusement in our youth? Who hasn't shot a bottle rocket out of their ass? Who hasn't had their friends push and crash them in a shopping cart? Who hasn't snorted wassabe or eaten urine flavored Italian ice? It was about a bunch of self destructive guys doing things that young groups of self destructive guys do to entertain each other. The first Jackass movie was really marked by the other pranks, the pranks done on the general public to get a reaction. Ingenious stuff like boxing in a store to see what the merchants will do, shitting in a hardware store to see how people react, and putting a toy car up their rectum to see how a doctor will react. While the prank is about the reaction shots, the pranks are still built on self destructive behavior: forcing yourself to shit in public, putting a car up your ass, and getting KO'd. The humor linking all the sections of the movie isn't about hurting others it's about the entertainment value of self harm/self destructive activity. The combination of stunts we've done with stuff we would never even think of was the key to Jackass' charm.
In the second Jackass movie all the gross out humor is ratcheted up a couple of notches. It was made four years later and is marked by how old everyone is. And so the ratcheting up of the gross makes sense. Anyone over 25 knows that if you go to a party where people propose playing truth or dare, you need to leave immediately. Because if you're still entertaining yourself that way when you get older, it's going to involve some scat. And well the key to JackAss II is that the humor is about aging. The best pranks built on tricking the man in the street are all done by cast members pretending to be old men or women (well there is a brilliant bit in Bangladesh but still)...these are pranks which are funny because of the age that the cast is pretending to be. The rest of the stuff is funny because of the actual age of the cast members. The first Jackass was great because it made me nostalgic for my youth; the second is poignant because it's a reflection on aging. These guys are too old to be still engaging in self destructive behavior for humor. And each one of them on some level seems aware of this.
This isn't young guys who feel like nothing can hurt them. These are guys very very aware of their own mortality. They are still willing to put their own bodies at risk to achieve a laugh. They know that self harm is their bread and butter but they are very aware of the physical consequences of everything they do. The cast is constantly negotiating the value of a joke vs. the personal consequences. Dave Englund nearly has a breakdown before agreeing to get shot. Bam Margera tries to negotiate his way out of getting hit in the balls by counter proposing that he'll instead take a dildo to his ass. Chris Pontius suggests drinking horse sperm so that he can get out of doing anything potentially "worse" later on. The recognition of mortality is the key to Jackass II. Young guys engaging in self destructive behavior for their own amusement is expected. Old guys doing it are poignant and it makes for much more biting humor.
Ideally if you were going to have wrestlers represent Jackass II, you'd have Rip Rogers, Chavo Sr. and Gypsy Joe. Well ideally you'd have Puppet and Iceberg attached to each other by a bungee cord but that's neither here nor there. Rip Rogers, Gypsy Joe, and Chavo are guys who know that wrestling is about destroying ones body for entertainment purposes and they know that they're old men in a young man's game. You run Chavo Sr. vs. Alex Shelley. Gypsy Joe talks a reluctant Rip Rogers into getting into a shopping cart and taking a gigantic bump to distract Shelley. That would make sense. You could do the same thing with Dutt, Lethal and Sabin. You wouldn't get to deal with aging but you could do the same guys engaging in high risk behavior to get results. Chris Sabin wrestles Alex Shelley. Jay Lethal talks a reluctant Sonjay Dutt into getting into a shopping cart.
But that's not what TNA did.
So let me get this straight. Sonjay Dutt and Jay Lethal apparently decided to kidnap Johnny Devine put him in a shopping cart and then crash the shopping cart into the ring post in order to distract Alex Shelley? This is supposed to have something to do with Jackass movies? How is hurting your opponent an example of high risk self destructive behavior? What the fuck are Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin and Jay Lethal doing? It's like someone watched them doing their robot dances during the cypher and decided they should repackage them as "a bunch of rich kid ravers living off their parents' money, they have all the talent in the world but they can't be serious. They're more concerned with getting high and having a good time than wrestling matches! "
The cultural milieu that Jackass represents isn't the cultural milieu Special K represented. Repackaging the X-division guys as Special K completely misses the point of the Jackass franchise. And only serves as a reminder that neither Chris Sabin nor Sonjay Dutt belong so much as lacing up Elax the Exploited Child's boots.
Whatever you want to say about WCW, they at least understood the Robocop concept.
Originally posted by tomkAnyone over 25 knows that if you go to a party where people propose playing truth or dare, you need to leave immediately. Because if you're still entertaining yourself that way when you get older, it's going to involve some scat.
This is sadly true... yes, I have found this out first hand... please, don't ask.
I really hate to see you stop these, they're more entertaining then the actual show sometimes.
Or how about this for a multi-part discussion question: If the RAW main eventers and the TNA crew swapped shows, would you switch your viewing patterns from one promotion to the other? How do you think the wrestling public in general would react?