Tag Archives: Undertaker

The Curse of the Attitude Era

"Hello, Ladies!" | WWE Alumni Val Venis; Photo © 2014 WWE.com. All Rights Reserved.
“Hello, Ladies!” | WWE Alumni Val Venis and X-Pac; Photo © 2014 WWE.com. All Rights Reserved.

A very salient and time appropriate point was recently made by L.E.W.D.’s resident truth telling aficionado Corbin Macklin:

You can make an argument that my generation grew up spoiled by seeing The Rock, Stone Cold, HHH, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho etc every week…

One would be hard-pressed to argue with the fact that thousands, if not millions, of today’s most vocal pro wrestling fans today were indeed spoiled by the capers and athleticism of the aforementioned stars from more than seventeen years ago.  These men, along with a bevy of women as well, left an indelible mark on this business we call pro wrestling during the highly acclaimed “Attitude Era,” that legendary and almost mythical time period where it was cool and acceptable to watch and indulge in all things pro wrestling.  This era was defined by brash attitudes and vulgar language, rampant soft core pornography, controversial storylines, and in-ring actual that seemingly always ended with someone profusely bleeding.  The risqué, “too raunchy for prime time” rated-R product of the late nineties provided countless hours of entertainment for viewers; from the middle-finger flipping, boss beating, beer swilling shenanigans of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to the crotch chopping, anti-establishment antics of Degeneration X, the spirit and ethic of the Attitude Era spat in the face of polite society and took no prisoners as it steamrolled over all things pleasing, polished, and polite.

These things alone did not make the Attitude Era what it was; in hindsight along with Brother Corbin’s point, we can see that the Attitude Era was made possible and popular by a unique cast of characters, scores of wrestlers, writers, bookers, producers and owners from three different organizations (WWF/E, WCW and ECW) who were in the right place and right time as the stars aligned to create a legacy that has yet to be duplicated in any form or fashion.  The Attitude Era was truly defined by the brilliance, work ethic, and passion of the men and women who gave their all plus some every time they stepped inside the ring or represented their respective promotion.  The Attitude Era, with it’s politics and the unregulated obsession with blood, boobs, butts and four-letter words, was successful because there existed a communal desire among all vested parties to be the best in the pro wrestling world and within one’s own promotion.  This is to say that any given wrestler during that period of time not only wanted to be the best in their promotion, but was intentionally committed to doing whatever was necessary to make sure their promotion was the best in the world.

The raunchiness, crassness and politically incorrectness was only a tool of the Attitude Era, which ultimately served as a tool used by the WWE during the Monday Night War period against WCW.  Behind those tools, however, was the rich and deep talent pool filled with solid athletes and creative minds.  Speaking specifically of the WWE, not only were the main event stars mentioned earlier (Stone Cold, The Rock, Mankind, Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, etc.) battling one another for ring supremacy, but lower tiered talent such as Val Venis, Mark Henry and D’Lo Brown, Savio Vega, Luna Vachon, Goldust, Droz, The Big Bossman , Crush, Taka Michinoku, Chyna, Sable and Mark Mero, Ken Shamrock and The Godfather also held their own in the ring, providing just as much entertainment and excitement as those superstars heavily featured in the promotion.  Everybody fired on all four cylinders and did so for their own good, each other, and to keep the competition from stomping them into oblivion.

The Attitude Era effectively died when that desire no longer existed, ushering in subsequent periods where all vested parties became increasingly interested in their own personal goals and desires.  With a communal desire to succeed no longer permeating through the actions of wrestlers or the intentions of the bookers, writers, producers and owners, pro wrestling slowly morphed into the static, spiritless state it is today, where individuals from the bottom to the top appear more concerned with their own varying ambitions and aspirations than anything else.  Today’s product is defined by incessant complaining of individual stars being held back, “buried,” mistreated or disrespected by the system, coupled with the constant criticism against the system’s alleged refusal to kowtow to the desires of “the fans.”  Communal desire has been replaced with persistent protesting, and that  along with a lack of true competition makes a divided roster and hierarchical structure even more uninspired, insipid and lackluster.

WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler | Photo: Prowrestlingpowerhouse.com
WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler | Photo: Prowrestlingpowerhouse.com

There are some fans whose persistent protesting contains the wish to return to the days of the Attitude Era, explicitly seeking to satiate a craving for a more “adult” themed product from days past.  There exists the notion than the current product has been watered down too much by the politically correct, family-friendly PG politics of the day, rendering the WWE’s content a shell of the ratings juggernaut it once was.  What’s not understood by those clinging to this notion is that the Attitude Era was an anomaly, an aberration of what once was the standard in the world of pro wrestling that coincided perfectly with the culture and circumstances of the time.  A product today saturated with swearing, scantily clad women, and socially unacceptable storylines would not and could not float with today’s generation of pro wrestling consumers.

What fans want, however, is the same level of passion and dedication that was expressed by the populace and the promotion several years ago.  The magic of the Attitude Era cannot be recreated; the type of change that’s needed cannot be found in the endless cycle of recreating what worked seventeen years ago using today’s generation of wrestlers and wrestling minds for a minority within fans that can’t reconcile with the past long enough to truly appreciate the superstars wrestling today.

There within lies the curse of the Attitude Era; the hype and the euphoria found in reminiscing on those violent, angst-filled nights casts quite the looming shadow over today’s pro wrestling landscape.  We want so badly to hear dirty words and to see blood in every match masked as “real wrestling,” all while pretending as if the rosters, creative teams and executives today could carry those principles as a promotion or unit and not as loosely associated entities seeking singular fame and glory.  The Attitude Era had writers with their ears tuned keenly on the pulse of society at the time; it had executives who were hell bent on staying in business and thoroughly crushing their competition in skirmishes that determined whether or not revenue and publicity would flow easily into their own promotion.  The Attitude Era had endless lists of wrestlers who all wanted their own promotion to succeed and, at the time, did their best to lift up their fellow wrestlers as they attempted to climb the ladder of success.  The Attitude Era had fans who were just as passionate about the business as the men and women working in it, and no matter what, would support a promotion and its wrestlers no matter what…especially through their financial support.

Today’s fair weather fans can’t even be bothered to support the WWE Network and feel less inclined to spend their money on anything related to the product no matter whether it’s good or bad.  Only a handful of wrestlers stand out among fans as those who are worthy of a main event push, and those wrestlers change as often as a newborn infant needs a new diaper.  Some of those stars phone in their in ring performances or tend to “play it safe” as a means to avoid rocking the boat or causing too much trouble for themselves.  The writers work with dated material and executives are preoccupied with accounting irregularities and pet projects to truly be focused squarely on the state of the product.  A ridiculously violent and vulgar product under or against these circumstances would barely make a dent in the problem that exists today.

It is without question that the Attitude Era changed the business dramatically and had a profound effect on how we view pro wrestling today.  But to insist that a promotion returns to that era without considering what truly made it spectacular would be a categorical waste of time and energy.  Promotions filled with individuals, from the bottom up, who are willing to work together for the good of the promotion and the passion to succeed as a promotion is what’s needed.  A solid roster of talent giving one hundred percent or more at all times is what’s needed.  Fans who’ll pay for the pay per views and merchandise and who won’t fall off the radar when an episode of RAW doesn’t feature Titus O’Neil in the main event is what’s needed.

Those things are way harder to come by, but there aren’t enough tables, razorblades, swear words and bare boobies in the world to recreate the magic of what happened almost two decades ago.

A brief word on “The Streak” ending…

Like the majority of the wrestling world, I was stunned, bitter and angry about the end of the Undertaker’s Streak. I should clarify, I wasn’t bothered by the Streak ending – it was created to be ended. That’s my entire problem with the ending – the Streak was literally MEANT to be broken, and when it came to be ended, it felt so clumsy, rushed, mishandled.

I spent the whole day thinking through the possible reasoning WWE could have had for ending the Streak. Was it called on the fly, in the ring by Undertaker? Was it known ahead of time? If so, why do you not put it on last knowing the impact it would have on the crowd? If it was going to end – why not play safer than sorry and let Triple H or Punk end it last year?

Fast forward to RAW tonight – when Brock’s music hit it all suddenly made sense to me. There weren’t boo’s, there weren’t cheers, there wasn’t celebration – there was just nothing. THIS is why Brock Lesnar was CHOSEN to end the Streak.

The Streak was built to be broken in order to put over whoever breaks it. To establish them as a powerhouse. The problem is, unless the audience WANTS that person to win, they will forever be doomed to insignificance. They won’t be hated, they won’t be a heel, they will simply be insignificant. They will be deemed as unworthy of having broken the Streak and what more legitimizing act can one do than end the longest running, most heralded Streak in any sport, entertainment otherwise? You will always be the second most significant part of THAT match, much less any other match in your future.

The argument was brought up that a “part timer” ended the Streak, and this just isn’t acceptable. You’re right. It sucks. But doesn’t it ultimately make the most sense? It was clear that the Streak needed to be ended. Whether it was the concussion, neck injury, or just plain old age on his wheels – Taker was a noticeably lesser performer last night than in recent years. It was time for the Streak to end.

WWE was in a lose/lose situation and had to turn it into a win/win…because that’s how you make money and save face in pro wrestling. WWE had no one in line, with Punk out of the picture, that could get the babyface rub of ending the Streak gracefully and earning Taker’s respect. At this point – you need to cut your losses. If you can rule someone basically insignificant (albeit with Paul Heyman, that’s never entirely the case) and end the Streak, send the offending party off for 6 or 8 months before they come back and the wound has healed – why not do it? Enter Brock Lesnar.

GRANTED, in my fantasy booking world – I don’t see why you don’t let Heyman get involved in the finish. If you’re clearly not worried about the sanctity of the Streak and it’s legacy, why do you not at least establish a MEGA HEEL, by building the story around Heyman’s unquenchable thirst for revenge and have him cheat to go over ‘Taker at ‘Mania. Lesnar is safe, the Streak is ended, and you have a long term MEGA HEEL manager. Makes more sense to me.

All being said – I see why WWE did what they did. I don’t like it. I think there were other options if the decision had been made earlier… but if the Streak HAD to be ended this year, you arguably couldn’t have had the curse of ending it fall it any better of a persons lap than Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman at his side. That’s what ending the Streak means, with the rare exception of maybe 3 Superstars…. It’s a curse. A burden you will never be able to shake. A weight you will never come out from under.

EDIT: For what it’s worth, if WWE has any marketing brainpower left… there would be “Brock Lesnar – The One” t-shirts being made hand over fist… at least you gave the man a legit tagline.

The Streak is Over! (And It KINDA Works…)

Let’s get this out of the way first: this guy is GOLD…

ImageGive this man a contract. I don’t care what he does: just give him a WWE contract and get the rights to THAT face. Because it sums up virtually every feeling that went through the completely hushed crowd of 75,000 plus fans. For ten seconds I was even somewhat with them, but more so because I was shocked at how silent it was. The three count went down, and it was so quiet that I wasn’t even sure that the match was over. My first words were:

Followed by:

Safe to say that few people saw the Undertaker’s infamous Streak coming to an end last night, but what’s done is done.  There will be eternal (hyperbole) debates between people over how it happened and who ended it, and many people have already “sworn off” the WWE because they feel like they lost their childhood or something, but the Streak is over, and frankly… it kind of works.

My opinion isn’t going to be the popular opinion, and I’m okay with that.  This won’t even be a very long post, because despite how okay I am with the result I still have plenty of gripes.  At the end of the day though:

The Streak itself, barring any outside story or logic, was finite.  I came to terms with this a few years back, seeing how wobbly Calloway was following a match with Triple H.  Was it kayfabe?  Probably, but the mythos we were given was always that the Undertaker was infallible.  He was defeatable, but not by anyone short of another god, and when they came to HIS turf, he was the closest thing we humans could see to true, dark divinity.  All the same, he’s human.  I say all this now because one of the early complaints was that “UnderTAKer cant looose!!  Hes the Undertakaer and this is Wrestemaina!”  Yes, it is, and after twenty plus Mania’s he has lost, somewhat poetically to the man he originally wanted to end the Streak years back.

So from a nostalgic point of view, I dig it.  I like how it played out, honest.  Brock Lesnar is one of the few people in history that I can realistically have seen defeat the Streak and actually take up that very spot left unoccupied by the new vortex.  That isn’t story so much as conclusion, however.  While not undefeated at Mania himself, Brock Lesnar is a monster of a human being (or a human being of a monster, I forget which) and he represents another version of the frightening mystique that the Undertaker brought to his role as the protector of the Holy Grail, so to speak.  The Undertaker’s undefeated reign mattered because he’s a boogeyman.  He comes across as nearly impossible to topple, and COMPLETELY impossible – but more likely for years now – to unhinge at home.  The WWE has never been shy of creating real monster characters, but even they stepped to the Phenom and fell at his feet.  Think about it: Giant Gonzalez, King Kong Bundy, Diesel, Kane, Triple H, Big Show, A-Train, Mark Henry, Batista, they all have a big, intimidating presence that was ultimately left humbled by a man whose very character embodies death.

There are few reasons Lesnar’s win makes sense though, the biggest of which being his status in the company.  He’s a part-timer, no matter how his contract plays out.  Plenty of people are saying he should be around full-time now, as some kind of solace to those who are literally threatening self-harm after how things played out (it’s still real to us, yes, but it’s TOO real to y’all… dammit) but that would imply that the Undertaker was going out there every PPV or taking on somebody more than once a year, if that.  It’s easy to forget that the Undertaker was in several Wrestlemanias, not ALL of them.  He’s an old(er) man, he can’t keep this up, and retiring would have come a long time ago if the Streak was meant to be maintained.

Undertaker might very well be signed full-time to the company, but his appearances are far from that.  Enter Lesnar, who is part-time, maintains a very impressive physique, and to date, even in his losses, he’s managed to SEVERELY beat his opponents senseless.  Let’s not forget the applause worthy ass whupping he put on John Cena during Extreme Rules following Wrestlemania 28.  And how he destroyed Triple H.  And how the World’s Strongest Man proved to be one of the world’s most bull-headed when he went to challenge Brock Lesnar THRICE and got murdered each time Solomon Grundy style.  It’s very easy to put Lesnar into the role of the resident undefeatable monster like the dog from The Sandlot.  Even when he loses he scares (read: beats) you crapless, and that realization puts him in a position where a Three 6 Mafia theme song, or an impromptu theme by Pharoahe Monch and Buckshot, works more wonders for him than anyone else.

And at this point, where the goal in the WWE might be to put the younger talent to carry the banner, having one monster be the man who took the Streak and flipped it into a Curse that needs to be broken (thank Ashley Morris for that one), the new big dog (or Cerberus if you want to be fancy) could be the once-a-year Lesnar.

Of course, we also have to remember that a few years back Undertaker expressed how he wanted Lesnar to end the Streak then.  It would have been good then, and there’s an argument that can be made that he would have been that had it taken place then, Lesnar WOULD be the Undertaker right now.  Not in terms of persona but in terms of prestige.

But at the end of the day, there’s the concept of story.  Nic Johnson, L.E.W.D. brother, pro wrestling aficionado and bon vivant, expressed distaste at the way the story played out.  I throw my hands up here, he has a point, the story going into last night’s storied match lacked… story.  What could have been a compelling quest for vengeance from Paul Heyman played out as a rushed fight between a man with no reason to wrestle and Brock Lesnar.  The way I saw it, the set-up could have been perfect IF the match was about Heyman’s pain in the form of a six foot monster who votes Republican.  It could have been perfect if the match was about Heyman again lamenting his “fallen son” CM Punk (sidenote: if you were wondering on his whereabouts last night, he was actually at a Blackhawks game) and how the WWE universe chased him away, and how the Undertaker embodied the pinnacle of that universe.

But no.  No, it was about… I don’t know.  Much like last year with CM Punk’s duel with Taker, the set-up was a question of chance – and fortunate (story wise) – circumstance, but they played it well last year.  Had CM Punk defeated the Undertaker last year, in a match that I’m led to believe he didn’t even want, the story would have been this: the Undertaker could not avenge the memory of Paul Bearer or honor his memory in combat.  The set-up was perfect for an Undertaker victory WITH the promise of an awesome showing by Punk; it was set to show us that it could have gone “either way” but in fact it was set in stone.

Besides that, Punk wouldn’t have been a viable person to inherit the Streak.  What many fail to accept is that whoever ends the Streak inherits the Streak, and they make it their own.  Lesnar now has the Streak, and it’s more valuable than any title.  Heyman will be on fire tonight, Lesnar will be smug, and frankly it makes more sense than a lot of people want to admit.  So please, stop being butthurt over it, and if you MUST be butthurt, at LEAST be as amusing at homeboy in the opening picture.

If anything, this is my greatest gripe with the match (aside from having little emotional content):

The crowd DIED after it, and it was a shame that the Divas match had to follow it.  They didn’t even get an intro, at a PAY PER VIEW I might add, and it was all so the crowd could recover:

And that’s to say nothing about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.  The crowd was slow to get into it.  Thank God they did though, because despite the sorrow 99% of people felt at the end of the Dead Man’s Streak, there was nothing but triumph with the moment of seeing Chris Benoit Daniel Bryan standing victorious after winning the title after a hard fought battle.  If you want to really be suspicious, tell me why it isn’t the top story on WWE.com.  Or rather, why it isn’t even a STORY up there.

Jeff Jarrett vs. The TNA Hall of Fame

TNA_HOF_LogoThis Sunday TNA will present the 11th annual Slammiversary pay per view extravaganza.  While the card is stacked from top to bottom with matches sure to thrill and entertain millions of fans, the biggest news heading into the event revolves around the second inductee to the illustrious TNA Hall of Fame.  How important is this second inductee to TNA and its loyal fan base?

Important enough for TNA President Dixie Carter to make a rare and special appearance during the May 30 episode of IMPACT Wrestling to announce that the inductee’s name will be revealed three days later; talk about a cliffhanger!

If things couldn’t get any more suspenseful, leave it to the fans to add one more intriguing piece to this enigmatic puzzle.  Most fans place their bets on Jeff Jarrett as the 2013 inductee to the TNA Hall of Fame, making this the second year in a row that there has been an outcry for Jarrett to receive this honor.  Realizing that Hall of Fame is only two years old a peculiar situation is created for those intent on figuring out the identity of the next inductee and those speculating that it will be Jeff Jarrett.

jeff-jarrett-picture-14From one perspective inducting Jeff Jarrett into the Hall of Fame is a long overdue honor for one of the most deserving people in the company.  After all, why would the company decide against inducting the man responsible for the company’s existence?  If it had not been for Jeff Jarrett, there arguably might never have been a TNA promotion.

That logic, however, is questionable … questionable in the same way it’s difficult to understand why all the major highways to Hell are paved with good intentions instead of brimstone.

In order to understand why that logic is questionable, one must look to the past to understand the purpose of the recognition and its first inductee Steve “Sting” Borden.

According to Wikipedia the TNA Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed upon professional wrestlers that have contributed to TNA’s history.   That fact alone gives the nod for a Jeff Jarrett induction.  Jarrett’s major contribution to TNA’s history is being one of the founders of the company.  In fact if not for a conversation between Jeff, his father Jerry Jarrett and family friend Bob Ryder, the concept of TNA may never have come to fruition.  A significant number of fans credit Jeff Jarrett for being the true energy behind the TNA machine in its humble Nashville, Tennessee beginnings and the first few years of the company’s existence.

That reality, that fact cannot and should not be refuted.  We can only imagine the amount of hard work, blood, sweat, gumption and tears Jeff Jarrett put on the line just to give birth to his company.  Even the infamous Vince Russo commented in his book Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo about Jeff’s passion for his company, painting him as a suffering servant of sortsa man struggling after putting everything on the line for this company to start and succeed in the shadow of the colossal WWE machine which, by 2002, was the only major pro wrestling company in the United States.

In a sense Jeff Jarrett is almost a revered saint in TNA folklore, a legendary figure in the young annals of the company’s history.  That opinion of Jarrett isn’t up for debate, and his efforts are worthy of high recognition and celebration.

However that reality, those facts and opinions are only half of the story.  Two months after TNA’s first show in June 2002, the company’s major financial backer pulled out after coming under fire and scrutiny from the federal government.   At that time Jeff Jarrett approached Dixie Carter-Salinas, a marketing and publicity executive working with the company, and worked with her to secure financial backing from her father Robert “Bob” Carter, CEO of the Panda Energy International.   Through Panda Energy, Carter purchased controlling ownership of the company with Jeff still holding on to the remaining TNA rights.  In 2003 Dixie Carter-Salinas was named TNA’s president.

Technically speaking the company that Jeff Jarrett created is not necessarily the same company that Jeff Jarrett built; and although there exists some room to nuance and nitpick over the finer details, it cannot be ignored that two months into its creation TNA was technically no longer Jeff Jarrett’s company.  Giving Jarrett the inaugural award for merely creating the company seems somewhat unnecessary and extravagant from a business standpoint.

On the other hand Jarrett was also responsible for signing a lot of the homegrown TNA stars, particularly the ones present from the very first episode up until today.  At the same time it still seems unnecessary to award Jarrett a Hall of Fame spot for signing talent, as opposed to honoring the actual talent.

Perhaps Jarrett’s contributions as a performer should be considered reason enough to induct him into the Hall of Fame.  With Jarrett having been in the company since its first day (and even prior to that day), his reigns as NWA-TNA World Heavyweight Champion helped elevate several younger wrestlers to prominence and notoriety within the company and around the world.

Take the 2012 inductee Sting for example, who began working with the company on a limited basis in 2003 and has worked with TNA since then on a regular basis.  To this day Sting continues to contributes to the growth of the company in many ways, most of which are not limited to performing on air and in the ring.  This logic of relevance only applies to Jeff Jarrett if one considers the significance of Sting’s induction in an impenetrable bubble.

sting and dixieSting’s induction as the first member of the TNA Hall of Fame consisted of three parts: sincerity, politics and storyline advancement.

Once again there should be no question to the sincerity behind honoring Sting as an inductee to the Hall of Fame.  The sincerity of the induction alone is not enough to mask the politics behind the induction.

On January 31, 2011 a mysterious vignette aired on the night’s episode of WWE Monday Night RAW.  This simple vignette featured a figure wearing black boots and a black trench coat walking in the rain towards a small shack.  As the rain poured down on the muddy dirt road, the images faded and the date “2-21-11″ was etched on the screen.  Speculation ran rampant about the meaning behind the video, most fans easily guessing that a new or returning superstar was set to appear on WWE television that particular night.

The ambiguity of the video only furthered fans’ suspicions and speculations as to the identity of the figure in the video.  At the time there were only two prominent wrestlers known for wearing black boots and trench coats: The Undertaker and Sting.  Eventually the mysterious figure was revealed to indeed be The Undertaker, but rumors continued to circulate that Sting was intended to be revealed as the mystery person in the video; there still exists conjecture as to whether or not this opinion is fact.

The fact that Sting’s contract in TNA ended in 2010 added extra fuel to the fiery notion that the NWA icon was headed to WWE.  Matters were not helped when, after Sting returned to TNA television after the Undertaker’s reveal, the company mocked fans and WWE with the notorious “3-3-11″ promo:

With WrestleMania XXVII underway and speculation concerning Sting in WWE dying down, a tidbit of information dropped and was quietly dismissed as wrestling fans continued on their way.  Sting admitted in an interview that he was indeed very close, more so than ever before, to signing a deal with WWE in January 2011.  He even went as far as to admit that his dream opponent was The Undertaker.  Whatever the case may be, TNA had to do something (or somethings) in order to get Sting to sign another TNA contract.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that an inaugural induction into TNA’s Hall of Fame in 2012 was an honor and reward given to Sting for his loyalty to TNA and its mission in the business, especially after he himself admitted being “this close” to signing a deal with their competition.

Note: Sting is featured in the the “Alumni” section under the Superstars tab on WWE.com.  Sting is also heavily featured in the several WCW themed DVDs released by WWE.  This means that even if Sting hasn’t signed a contract to work in a WWE ring, he has signed some sort of contract with them as they have to pay him for using his likeness on their website and on the DVDs .

Sting’s induction was also used to introduce the company’s fans to the Aces & Eights faction, a group that would ultimately be the driving force in a major storyline that dominates their product a year later.

By comparison Jeff Jarrett’s induction could not solely be a matter of recognizing his involvement in the company as a performer.  For the induction to be either political or for the advancement of a storyline, Jarrett would need an excellent reason to still be involved with the company.  There is the debatable assumption that he isn’t involved with the company at all, as he has not appeared in a TNA ring since 2011.  The difficulty in his disappearance from TNA television is just as ambiguous as the “2-21-11″ video.

Around the same time Jarrett was written off of TNA television he also did a tremendous amount of work in India revolving around his Ring Ka King! promotion and television show.  Along with that he spent an incredible amount of time in Mexico performing with the AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración) promotion, creating a relationship between the company and TNA.

Rumors and speculation, however, are like junk food to wrestling fans, fans who believed that the real reason behind Jarrett’s departure from the company had something to do with his marriage to Karen Smedley Angle, the ex-wife of TNA wrestler Kurt Angle.

In 2008 Karen Angle divorced Kurt Angle, and one year later it was revealed that Jeff and Karen had begun a romantic relationship together.  Such a thing was not and is not weird for consenting adults (Jeff’s wife succumbed to cancer in 2007), but the odds and ends of their business was aired for everyone to witness and hear.  In that same year in 2009 Jeff took a brief leave of absence from the company, with dirt sheets reporting it was at the hands of an upset Dixie Carter.

The rumor mill spread the notion that Jeff and Kurt, who were in a storyline feud during the time, had real “heat” between one another; Jeff’s time away from the company was believed necessary to allow cooler heads to prevail (ironically enough Kurt Angle was more of a commodity to the company at the time than the company’s founder).  2009 was also the same year that Dixie Carter and Panda Energy International purchased the remaining ownership rights of TNA from Jeff Jarrett.

Honoring Jarrett as a Hall of Fame inductee would then be a political appeasement honor if there is any truth to the theory that he was unceremoniously ushered out of the company.  That sort of consolation would immediately appear to be patronizing, a way of acknowledging his contributions to the history of the company as something second to those of Sting.  At the moment there is no real need to honor Jeff Jarrett to advance any of the storylines going on in the TNA, which isn’t to say that some could not be created specifically for the moment; after all that’s exactly what happened with the Aces & Eights storyline.

All that being said Jeff Jarrett, once again the fan favorite inductee for the TNA Hall of Fame, is still the dark horse in this race to Sunday’s Slammiversary XI pay per view.  There is no doubt that Jeff should be honored for his creation of and contributions to the company, but perhaps an award (or a memorial cup?) named after him would be a better way to recognize his significance to the company.

Do not be surprised if Jarrett makes the cut, but do realize that there are several other wrestlers from TNA’s history that could just as well receive the nod.  “Macho Man” Randy Savage, AJ Styles, Christian Cage (that’d be interesting), Jerry Lynn, Rob Van Dam and even Hulk Hogan could all receive the induction with sound reasoning.

Let’s hope TNA does the right thing by honoring Jeff Jarrett’s legacy properly; but until then, he can always receive the honor of standing next to Sting as a TNA Hall of Famer.

The Spade of Spades: Real Talk for Pro Wrestling

I have a problem with wrestling fans.

Man, do I have a problem with some wrestling fans.

Following my usual routine of following the action on Twitter while simultaneously following the action on Monday Night Raw (‘cause I’m just good like that), I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming abundance of “smart marks” dumping their collective poop chutes all over the product, per usual.

Not that #Raw20 last night was extraordinary. On the whole, the 20 year anniversary of Monday Night Raw was fairly average. There were some good wrestling matches, some silly booking fails and the show did its job of building towards the Royal Rumble.

The part that gets me is that everyone was complaining about the fact that the show wasn’t loaded with Attitude Era stars.

Let me get something straight, people: You same pious flapjacks whine and gripe incessantly about how WWE needs to not load their show with older part time stars because it “takes time away from the younger talents who need it.” Then, when WWE has something lined up like an anniversary show/reunion/celebration event, everyone simultaneously cries foul that those same older part time stars that YOU DIDN’T WANT TO SEE aren’t there to fill time on the show.

I actually saw people on Facebook blaming the PG era for this.

Let’s call a spade a spade people (and get to enjoying that phrase, we’re gonna revisit it frequently in this piece) and just admit that:

A. Most of the people reading this (Not all but a fair few) have no concept of what the PG Era actually is and it has become a scapegoat for your dissatisfaction with the product. The PG Era is responsible for wrestling’s decline about as much as the Happy Meals you buy your son three times a day are responsible for him being the size of a dump truck.

B. On ANY OTHER NIGHT, if these guys were making cameo appearances, most people would be on Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media outlet they feel would make them look the most important and they’d be screaming from the rooftops about how WWE doesn’t need to be giving the spotlight to older stars.

I find this funny for a variety of reasons.

One reason the IWC will never be taken seriously by most professional wrestling companies is because the vast majority of them behave foolishly, doing things like whining on Twitter about how bad the show was because THEY could have booked it better. Much like our aforementioned obesity analogy, personal responsibility needs to be taken into account.

Don’t sit on your hands like a bunch of idiots and blame the WWE for things they have no control over. Do some research. ‘Taker didn’t show up because he’s likely to make an unannounced return at the Royal Rumble (Be real people: When does ‘Taker just show up on a show anymore? It’s too early for him to pick a ‘Mania opponent so the Rumble is the logical place to be.)

Austin and Shawn Michaels had prior booking engagements at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas last night. Did we expect Triple H to just randomly show up on Raw?

Someone said on Facebook that he should have reformed Evolution to fight the Shield. Honestly, does anyone think before they speak?

Batista is gone. Orton is already fighting the Shield. Flair isn’t about to put on the panties for another match. Use some common sense folks.

Did anyone stop and think that maybe the reason that WWE didn’t advertise the hell out of this show was because they weren’t planning on doing anything extraordinary with it? If none of those special appearances were able to happen then of course they’re not going to promise a huge show. THEY DIDN’T. Everyone who watched with their expectations on Mars expecting Randy Savage (God rest his soul) to come back to life to re-enact his IC Title match with Steamboat was just delusional.

The show was average and did what it needed to do: It built towards Royal Rumble.

Let’s call a spade a spade people. Everyone throwing up memes about how horrible it was, comparing it to WCW’s dying days, get over yourselves. You’re not funny, you’re not witty, you’re not clever and you’re not right.

Once again, blame the WWE for things they have control over. Blame them for stupid booking moves like jobbing Ziggler to Cena for the 3rd straight time, since he clearly  needs about 15 wins to make up for one loss.

Blame them for things like that. Things they control. Don’t blame them for global warming, the violence in the Middle East, smart cars and the extinction of Twinkies. Have some self respect for goodness sakes.

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While we’re on the subject of calling a spade a spade, let’s talk about TNA for a moment. If you’re a butthurt TNA fan then don’t even bother reading this because I’m going to offer critique and you will not like it because you don’t like anything that doesn’t involve worshipping this company.

The following is straight from one of the many wrestling dirtsheet sites, who copy/pasted it directly from PWInsider.com.

According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at TNA Genesis last night was said to be high. Overall, everybody felt the show was solid from top to bottom, with a great main event. Most of the roster feels the company is moving in the right direction at this point.” 

Let’s call a spade a spade (Told ya we would revisit this phrase) and dissect this logically.

OH NO, HE’S USING LOGIC! LOCK UP THE WIFE AND KIDS, EARL! I FEAR A TWISTER IS HEADIN‘ FOR KANSAS!

For starters, whoever decided to start using the word “solid” to describe wrestling shows should be drug out back and shot in the trachea. That is the SINGLE most overused word in the world of wrestling analysis. The only word that even comes close is “buried” but we’re not going to use that word here.

For this analysis, we’re going to do something different. I’m going to school some TNA fans on how to build a logical argument. I am going to do something TNA fans can’t do and I’m going to critique this product without mentioning any other company. That IS possible, you know.

Because much like with those weirdos in Connecticut, personal responsibility is our lesson here. Personal responsibility and perspective. We’re not going to blame TNA for things they can’t control. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of their woes stem from things they CAN control.

Back to our point.

Screw the word “solid.” That’s a lazy way of saying that the show didn’t fall to pieces. If you build a car that’s extraordinary, you can imagine it’d go fast, be durable, hold up well in an accident, get good gas milage, come with restraints and mouth gags for kids on road trips (Totally kidding about that last one.)

If you build a car that’s solid, all one can expect from it is: “It goes. Vrrooooom.”

Now that we’ve pointed out the sin of using the word “solid”, let’s delve deeper into this, shall we?

Reading this very vague report, we can sum up that according to “the roster backstage at Genesis”, talents are feeling good about the direction of the product/progress of the company.

Calling a spade a spade again (you will never want to play cards again after reading this), the questions need to be asked.

Just who in the heck was polled?

I could say something along the lines of:

“According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at JCW was high. Overall, everyone felt the show was solid from top to bottom with a good main event. The roster feels the show is moving in the right direction and hope to transfer to a large front yard with a few more successful shows.”

And that’s just what I came up with off the top of my head.

If morale is really that high, cite examples. Who did you poll? And here’s the interesting part that no one is going to notice because apparently, I’m the only one who dives this deep into this crap.

Are we to assume that you only polled the guys backstage at Genesis? Because that’s a fairly skewed opinion. Of course they’re gonna be happy about the direction of the show. THEY’RE ON THE SHOW!

Did anyone go down to OVW, where talents have been collecting dust like cars in a garage for years and ask them how they feel about the direction of the company? Did anyone ask them how they feel about TNA bringing in random outsiders for Gut Check instead of using their own flipping developmental territory?

Did anyone outside of the usual 17 stars on TV each week get to speak? How about anyone who didn’t get a spot on the show because TNA is bringing in guys for one-off returns and no contracts?

Did anyone ask Bully Ray if he thinks this absurd angle is a good move for the company? We’ll never know because our grandiose report just says “The roster,” and/or “everyone backstage.”

If I went and I polled Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Bobby Roode about TNA, then obviously they’re going to say they’re happy with the direction. They’re getting what they want from it.

TNA doesn’t get off scot-free for being TNA. They make some of the most idiotic decisions I have ever seen but they’re the only ones who get praised for it week in and week out.

Take this PPV change for example. Everyone is jumping TNA’s bones ready to start sucking. Well, maybe not everyone. But it seems like most people just read the headline “TNA to make MAJOR changes to PPV schedule in 2013” and immediately assumed it was good. Does anyone read anymore?

A good example was given on Twitter not that long ago.

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After pointing out the fallacy of their tweet, they quickly amended it by reminding everyone that the six sided ring was coming back for ONE NIGHT ONLY.

But no one clicked on the link. People were responding to the headline itself, praising the company for bringing back the beloved six-sided ring.

Fans do the same with the PPV lineup. It’s already going to be talked about on the podcast so I’m not going to go completely off on it here. But facts are fact.

Fact: TNA is only dropping from 12 PPVs a year to 11.

Fact: TNA is only moving seven of these events to Friday night as opposed to Sunday night.

Fact: TNA isn’t really saving any money here. They’re just spending less.

Wake up folks. Stop putting pool floaties on TNA and telling them it’s okay to never learn how to swim. Stop wiping their tears away and telling them that there are no winners and losers. That’s half the problem with society nowadays. Stop babying them.

Throw ‘em in the pool and let them swim you knuckle headed fruit booties.

And remember: Let’s call a spade a spade. (Insert Aces & Eights joke here.)

~Mr. Quinn Gammon