Last night on “Raw”, a baby bull literally had his tail ripped out of him, then went to the back and had a trainer apply an ice pack to the wounded area as he screamed in agony.
And you know what ? I didn’t have a problem with that.
Being involved in the writing of a weekly wrestling television show for the good part of 15 years, one of the things I vowed not to do when I started “Pyro and Ballyhoo” was to criticize the writing teams at both the WWE and TNA for various, and obvious reasons. For one, it has to do with something that Michael Cole proudly boasted during last night’s “Raw” telecast. Michael duly noted that “Raw” was the longest running episodic television show IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION! And, Michael was dead on—WWE should INDEED brag about that.
That being said, my mind immediately goes to one place–the often unheralded WRITERS of all those shows–written for all those years. Sitting here, thinking, and as badly as I want to explain to you just how difficult it is to write a 2 hour show every week–let alone 3 hours—I just can’t justify with words. You’ll never truly understand unless you were a part of it and experienced it. To come up with fresh ideas, week, after week, after week–regardless of what stresses you may be dealing with in your personal and professional life at the time–can, at times, be TORTURE!!! And then, as a writer—there are just some times where you DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING. You just want to step away, take some time for yourself, let your mind relax, and maybe even drink a nice cream soda. But—you can’t. There is next week’s show, and then the one after that. That is the reason why every five years I would just hit a brick wall–and move onto something else. People who write wrestling are not MACHINES. They are writers—they are creative. You can’t turn out Shakespeare just because that’s your job—it doesn’t work that way.
However, if you do get past all that and you have your next show–then here’s the next hill you climb: that show will be inspected, dissected, torn about and critiqued by individuals above you who, many times, ARE NOT writers themselves. So, since they’re not writers, and they have to leave their fingerprints on what YOU wrote–many times that means changing the show, which in turn waters it down, which in turn makes it a COMPLETELY different show–a lesser show–which you will eventually get blamed for because you were the one who had the SPAULDINGS to start the process in the first place because nobody else had the tools to do so!!!
Then—you go to your third level—which brings on a whole new set of WONDERFUL CIRCUMSTANCES as the TALENT now gets involved. OK–who’s hurt, and can’t do what? Who has a better idea? Who doesn’t like that, because he can’t see the forest from the trees? Who decides what—in their mind—doesn’t make sense?
All those dirt sheets (some–not all–they know who they are) that criticize the writing of ANY wrestling show should just try this process for ONE WEEK. I guarantee that if you did–you would have a whole new respect for those you’re lambasting for a living on a daily basis.
So I won’t criticize—no matter HOW BAD I think something may be. I will “ask questions” as to why, and maybe suggest “what I would have done”, but I will by NO MEANS take a piping, hot dump of their work—like so many uneducated critics can’t wait to do. Yes, I am a writer, and yes, I do write for my own website and I DO NEED to be honest, however, if I do have something to say–99.9% of the time it will be done in a light and entertaining way.
And—I just want to add one more thing on this topic. Unless you are there, and you know what is going on, and why things are happening the way they are—it’s DAMN difficult and wrong to criticize WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE FACTS! Here’s an example—about a few weeks ago MVP made an unsuspecting “turn” on “IMPACT”–a SWERVE if you will (even though I explained in an earlier rant that it wasn’t a “turn” at all, but MVP just staying true to his character under those circumstances). While I was on Twitter, hordes of fans attacked this decision by the TNA writers—-because it was “too soon”. For starters—whether it was “too soon”, or not—is just a matter of opinion and all subjective. Secondly—you have to ask yourself–was there a REASON why they did this? So–I went to my “sources” at TNA and I presented the question. Now first—with me—you have to understand that my sources are 100% legit—because many of them are my friends. The info isn’t coming from “so and so who HEARD”, or “so and so who THINKS”, or “so and so who’s SPECULATING”. Trust me–that’s where a good majority of the “information” comes from pertaining to the IWC world. It was just a few weeks ago that some Profoundly Wrong Information was reported about yours truly–saying that I was still under contract with TNA, even though my contract with them became null and void in February 2012. So—getting back to my “source”–it was explained to me that the MVP turn was needed because Kurt Angle was slotted to have the next program with Eric Young, and Kurt blew out his knee. So being handed that situation, the writers looked at their list of available heels, and felt it wasn’t sufficient for what they needed—so—the decision was made to turn MVP. Not maybe what they wanted to do, but perhaps what they had to do with the cards they were dealt. Now do you understand? Unless you had known that information—how could you ever have formed an educated opinion?
But–in going all the way back to where I started—I had ZERO problem with the baby bull story from “Raw” last night—and here’s why: the show is rated TV-PG. The WWE has made it clear for years now that the “Attitude” is out, and the “Families” are in. Just a business decision. The same as when Turner made the decision to get out of the wrestling business. Was it that the WWE was now a public company? Was it that they wanted to attract more sponsors? Was it because family friendly content was easier to produce? Was it all of the above? Who knows? But, whatever the case—that’s the decision that was made from the top, and going forward that’s the road the company was traveling. So–when it comes to baby bulls, Easter Bunnies, dance-offs—-I have a problem with NONE OF IT—if family and kids are your target audience.
But HERE is where the problem with the WWE and its current ratings lie.
Moments after the baby bull was decapitated from behind, John Cena was in the middle of the ring telling Bray Wyatt, “Payback is a B***H!”. Whoa—now wait a minute. If I brought little Johnny, and he came to see the baby bull—what do I do now? Do I cover his ears? Do I up and leave? Do I never come back to see another WWE event live? Do I stop watching the show all together? What do I do with this BLATANT MIXED MESSAGE THAT WAS JUST THROWN MY WAY?!!!
“You can’t be half pregnant”.
Vince McMahon said that to me many, many years ago, and it has become my #1 rule when scripting wrestling. What Vince meant was that when you make the decision to do something—YOU GO ALL THE WAY WITH IT! So, the WWE made the decision to go family friendly—they told us all–however, the problem is that they’re not going all the way with it—-they are BEING HALF PREGNANT. Is this because in reality they, themselves as a company, haven’t bought 100% into it, and are just trying to “appease” the board, or, are there other reasons simply steaming from greediness?
Could the reason they haven’t committed one way, or the other, be this simple—from a philosophic point of view—the WWE is trying to capture EVERYONE!? Whereas networks these days are going for the demo P (people) 18-49, the WWE is going for P 5-65. In other words—in typical Vince fashion—they want it ALL!!! And, in theory, there is nothing wrong with that—it’s how Vince made all that money. Go for it all—and leave nothing behind. But that’s only in “theory”.
Back in 2002, I almost went back to the WWE because I took it personally that, within the matter of a little over a two-year span, their ratings had split in half from the time that I had left–they had fallen below a 3.0. Today–a DOZEN years later—the ratings are still where they were then. When it comes to eyeballs on TVs every Monday night—half of the people are watching now, compared to when the “Attitude Era” was in full stride. Yeah—they’ll fling every excuse at you. Primarily—the television landscape has changed with the internet, iphones, ipads, whatever–OK, good argument. HOWEVER–if that were the case, then why hasn’t the NFL lost half its audience in the last 12 years? They’re on TV, right? Other ways to watch their product are out there—just like in the WWE’s case.
No–that’s a BS excuse. We saw within a five-minute span on “Raw” last night why the ratings are HALF of what they used to be. In attempting to obtain ALL—the WWE has literally alienated, or “turned off” half their audience in the process. Don’t believe me—see what the IWS community has to say about last night’s “Raw” today. Yeah—they loved the Shield brawling with Evolution at the end—but, the baby bull—not so much. And what about the “families”? Oh, yeah, that bull thing was “cute”, but John Cena swearing—not so much. Now, if you keep doing this week in, and week out, the things you “don’t like” will eventually start to build, or add up—until all of a sudden—it’s OK if we miss “Raw” this week. Well, this week turns into next week, and the next week—until they’re not watching anymore.
By trying to be “all things to all people”–which they can’t be—nobody can–the WWE has shot themselves in the boot. For every kid they are gaining, they are losing an adult, and for every adult they are gaining—they are losing a kid. It a switch-off, an exchange, a vicious cycle.
Sometimes, we talk, but, we don’t quite hear ourselves. In our minds we know what we have to do—but we just don’t do it.
In an effort to “have it all”, we lose a lot along the way.
Pick a road–any road—but, stay on it.
Remember–”You can’t be half-pregnant.”