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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Wrestling 5&1 7.27.14 Lana vs Trish Stratus
Posted by Tony Acero on 07.27.2014

Last week, we had a very receptive and positive column with actual words! This week, we're looking for the same results! A PPV happened, a RAW happened, Comic-Con is currently happening while I write this, and we're spearheading our way to Summerslam. Monday Night RAW saw a powerful statement from Heyman and Brock, as well as a performance from Flo Rida. So, basically, really good and really bad, as per usual.

Where Did The Feeling Go?

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It's an odd feeling that, at least in terms of wrestling, brings goosebumps and memories that remind us why we spend hours upon hours on a product that tends to upset us from time to time. Whether it's the return of a wrestler who you cheered as a kid, or a small moment during a show that harkens yesteryear for only a second, a rush of something inside causes a tingle and pulls at the heart in a way that doesn't happen frequently. The most recent moment where this may have happened for some of you was the presence of Sting on a WWE produced show…in 2014. This momentous occasion brought about an idea that I've seen happen far too many times in recent years. In short, there have been many times where Nostalgia should have kicked in for me, and for others, and it just didn't. Once I accepted this as fact, I had to then deduce just why, and I think I settled on a few reasons. Before I get to that in a later section, however, I want to give some examples that hopefully allow you guys to either agree or nod your head in slight disagreement – but respect – with my opinon.

In an effort to prove my point instead of simply display it, I want to point to some recent returns to the WWE that just didn't give me that unfamiliar feeling of familiarity. Let's start with Ric Flair. It had been some time since we saw Ric Flair in the ring before he came out to shake the hands of the members of The Shield. Possibly not enough to miss the guy, but certainly enough to be happy to see him in good health, right? Wrong. Not to say I wanted to see him hurt or ill, but seeing him didn't really do anything for me. And we all saw it, it didn't do anything for the product, either. Even his most recent presence was yet another "yeah, it was Flair but…why?" moment whose only purpose was to proposedly hand him Big Goldy?

Then there was the nice surprise of Bret Hart in the middle of the ring in Montreal. This should have been huge to my little Nostalgia meter. It should have tipped the scales of awesomeness and made for a moment that would transcend expectations of Bret Hart and WWE…but it didn't. It was a nice little hello tainted by Sandow doing his best to make a statement – only to get a nice right hand. Was the segment bad? No. But the moment should have felt different, shouldn't it? I mean…it's Bret Hart, guys. In Montreal. In 2014. Smiling. What….the…fuck?

Or what about Hogan? His return to the WWE was lauded as a return home, a mega moment of "feels" that was seemingly only done to shill a Network. Truly, the only moment he was a part of that did anything remotely "tingly" would be the opening to Wrestlemania 30, and even that was more to the players involved than to Hogan himself.

And now we get to Sting.

I'm not one to want Sting to get in the ring again. I don't care if he never does. But again, this was (could have been) one of those moments that would have literally blew the top off of the product – even if only for a week. The commercial with Sting was thrown out there as if it were any other shill for a WWE product. Was it cool? Oh yeah. Did it feel awesome? Hell yeah. Did it whimper out like a sex romp cut off by parental interruption? You fuckin bet. The crowd was excited and deflated in a matter of seconds, and when we got back to the show? It was "per usual." This should have been HUGE! I don't care if all Sting has signed thus far was a video game deal, he could have done some small segment in the ring. The presence of him. That would have been enough. It would have been Best for Business. It would have flipped Nostalgia on its head. Instead, it was a request to pre-order a video game…

Your Turn: When was the last time a return of an older wrestler made you feel "nostalgic?"

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Craig Curnew: "This is what happens when RVD sends you out on a snack run."

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I spoke earlier about losing the nostalgic factor in wrestling, and gave a few examples as to when it probably should have happened but didn't. Now I want to see if we can't figure out why. I pointed to actual people like Hogan, Flair, and Sting to prove that nostalgia – at least for me – is dead, and how they were each, essentially, missed opportunities for not only a spike in ratings, but a spike in interest from us fans who see the product as waning. I've settled on a few reasons.

Let's face it, of the names that I listed, none have really been so far gone that we've even had a chance to miss them. Ric Flair pops up far too often, and each time, there are jokes of his inebriation. Hulk Hogan had a stint in TNA that wasn't that long ago. And although Bret wasn't heard of a lot before he and Vince buried the hatchet, since then he has been on WWE TV a number of times and each time less important than the previous. Another name that pops up a lot more than perhaps usual is Piper – whenever he is in the good graces of the WWE, of course. Not to say that when these guys show up that it's not cool to see, but the luster is all but gone. It's like a nude snapchat from an ex; nice to see, but we've been there and she's just not as cute as she used to be...

Lack of Advertising
I'm all for a nice little surprise during RAW, but when overexposure is coupled with lack of advertising, we get a showing similar to the most recent viewing of Bret Hart where I felt was completely lacking. That unfamiliar feeling of awe and understanding that what we were seeing in the middle of the ring is something that we simply thought we wouldn't only a few short years ago. Advertising of him showing up consisted of the night of, and when he did show up, the moment that should have been far more important than it appeared, was used to further advance whatever the hell Damien Sandow is doing. Which leads me to my third reason.

The Way they are Used
It's almost formulaic how these guys show up and what they do. We know that when Piper shows up, he's going to have a talk with the two members in the Main Event, and one will almost always be Cena. He'll get riled up and spew words that MAY or MAY NOT be understandable. Recently, we've seen Flair simply "lend his guess" as to who will win a match. Hogan has become nothing but a walking commercial. Bret Hart isn't as common as these guys but every time he is out there, I can't help but feel he's doing it for a paycheck. It's kind of sad, I mean look who we are talking about! Hogan, Piper, Flair, Hart…these are big names? So where has the feeling gone? I don't think that this in any way endorses a return to the ring for any of them. We've seen where that could go for each of them, and I don't think the results are what we wanted.

The Fans
This final reason is troubling because I'm not 100% sold on it. I simply feel that it's a possibility that this could very well be the case. After all, we are the IWC and simply cannot be pleased. So, with all of the above already talked about, are we left with one final reason that holds the most leverage? Is the main reason behind our inability to feel "nostalgic" about anything is because of us? We, the people who have an entire Network at our fingertips. We, who know now that Ric Flair is almost always broke and drunk, who know that Hogan is an egomaniac that has burned more people than built, who know that the last match Bret Hart was in shouldn't have been the last match he was in, we who know that Piper can't even read notes properly? Are we ruining wrestling for ourselves because of the knowledge that we now possess due to the internet?

Your Turn: Why do we feel this way? Or is this just a Tony thing?

Renee is officially in the Hall of Bang! The last person to enter was Lana, and she won her rightful spot in the HOB! This week, we're going to see if she can't take a spot in the top row! And instead of starting from the bottom, we're going straight for the jugular!!!

And now…..

Voting ends Wednesday night and you can vote once every hour!

Yeah, But Did They Boo the Faces and Cheer the Heels?
by Michael Ornelas

More and more often, I see people bashing the notion of smarks booing the faces and cheering the heels. I don't understand why it's such a bad thing. I get that giving an appropriate reaction on live TV is preferred, but as long as the crowds aren't chanting nonsensical things during matches, completely ignoring what's happening, I'm not bothered. Boo or cheer whoever you want.

We're in an era where performers are cheered/booed based on their performances, not their character alignment. No one thinks wrestling is real anymore, so despite the performers themselves needing to work to uphold kayfabe, the audience has no such responsibility. If I was on set of the filming of The Dark Knight, I wouldn't boo Heath Ledger in between takes -- he was a great performer in that role. The paradigm of live entertainment consumption has changed. There are plenty of idiot smarks, but cheering someone for a good performance doesn't distinguish between them and what one might deem proper fans of the sport.

Take John Cena for example. He is only booed because he's portraying a stale character that has evolved very little in the past 7 or 8 years, and it often feels phoned in or one-note. A heel turn could ward off that perception until such a time that his heel character gets stale/one-note (if that were to happen), but then he may illicit a huge positive crowd response by turning face at that time, and it would feel like character progression because of everything he went through during his heel run.

Meanwhile Bray Wyatt and Cesaro get massive cheers because they're respected characters/performers by the crowd. "Performer" doesn't necessarily mean "character" in this case though, because Cesaro doesn't have much of a character. He is, however, a very well-respected performer because he offers variety in the ring.
Proof that not all faces will be booed comes in the form of the returning Chris Jericho. He gets a good crowd reaction because he changes himself just enough every time he returns to feel fresh. That and he leaves before he overstays his welcome. Even Rob Van Dam, who's bringing very little (if anything at all) new to the table, yet his sabbaticals make him a welcome addition to the roster when he returns.
I'd also like to address Roman Reigns, who is fresh for now, but if he isn't careful/doesn't evolve, I worry about his longevity on the fans' good side.

What it boils down to is that what fans in attendance look for in a performer has changed, and the way they react has changed now that we treat wrestling as a show, and not just rasslin'. So complaining about fan reactions is something you can get ready to do for a long time, because I don't see the modern fan's viewpoint on quality changing anytime soon.

Your Turn: Do you cheer because you want to or because you have to?



About the author:

Tony Acero is currently a student at Cal State University of Long Beach. He is double-majoring as a Creative Writing and Literature major. His first book, Through The Looking Glass, was published in April, 2012. School's Out is a short story that found the author arrested due to the severity of its content. Both can be found on amazon.com.

Tony joined 411Mania in April 2010, and currently contributes in both music and wrestling. Tony is an avid drinker of Mountain Dew and Jack Daniels. He is a writer who hardly takes himself seriously, yet has an innate ability to create moments that are both human yet fearful in his writings.

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Greg DeMarco is a graduate of Virginia Tech (Bachelor's in Business Management) and Arizona State (Master's in Higher & Post-Secondary Education). He works in online higher education. Greg started in improv comedy in 2001, making his stand-up debut in 2004.

Greg first appeared as a ring announcer for Rising Phoenix Wrestling in Phoenix Arizona in 2006 and served many promotions in both on-stage and back-stage roles for over six years, most notably Ring of Honor in 2010. He began writing for 411Mania in October 2010, founded The Greg DeMarco Show in May 2011 and opened WrestlingSmash.com (and Wrestling Smash Radio) in January 2013.

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Until next week...


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