Part One: Aphaeresis.
(Robert Fisk:Congratulations, America. You have made bin Laden a happy man.') 'We are turning ourselves into the kind of deceitful, ruthless people whom bin Laden imagines us to be.' The Independent, UK January 2002.
(*What I'm listening to right now: 'Deer Dance.' System of A Down.)
'The First Amendment has a special regard for those who swim against the current, for those who would shake us to our foundations, for those who reject prevailing authority.' (Steven H. Shiffren, Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America, Princeton, 1999, pg.10)
'...Dissenters and the dialogue that follows will always be necessary...indeed, the dissent model would hope that dialogue would ultimately be spurred by the presence of dissent. In this respect the dialogue model and the dissent model run together.' (Steven H. Shiffren, Dissent, Injustice,and the Meanings of America, Princeton, 1999, pg.17)
'...pale in the flare light...the scared light cracks and disappears...and leads the scorched ones here...and everywhere no one cares...the fire is spreading...NO ONE WANTS TO SPEAK ABOUT IT...' (Chris Cornell formerly of Soundgarden from the song '4th of July' (Superunknown, 1994)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....the Nora-World.Org tag-board is such a fun place to make a critical post. In lieu of an operational forum, I chose to make some comments regarding primarily the fate of the Women's Division and the inconsistent quality of the booking of the Raw undercard sans Shawn Michaels and Edge. And we all know what happens next.
Now, instead of making value judgments or using this forum to launch personal attacks, I'm going to focus on what I originally posted on the tag-board. This is part one of a two-part series, and I'm going to focus on the undercard sans the Women's Division, just to give this aspect of the discussion the emphasis that it deserves.
Candice Michelle: She's a Playboy model. She's hot. She's leggy. Which is good for her, because she hasn't shown much else. And so, until the WWE officially beomes a subsidiary of Perfect 10 magazine, all the RDS Losers are going to be graded against Christy Hemme, who has buckets of personality and plenty of trashy sexuality to go around. And whattaya know, Candice has been graded and found...wanting. Next.
Chris Benoit: Inconsistent booking has crippled the Crippler, and perhaps only a well-timed heel turn can save him. For Benoit, a guy who there is not much more to than his in-ring skill, wins and losses matter much more than say to a guy like Jericho or The Rock. What Benoit does in the ring is the bottom line, and when his wins slip, the pops start to slip, too. Worse yet, when you try to put Benoit in the role of transitional champion to put over guys like Batista, it really doesn't go over as well as it could because Benoit has been made to look very human since SummerSlam. Basically, Bat is just beating another guy. Benoit needs to be billed as a dominant former WHC if the WWE expects to get max value out of Benoits' jobs. But he-much like Lance Storm before him-seems to be well on the way to being pushed down to the middle of the card. Whether or not it is upper or lower middle will be interesting to see. But inconsistent booking has dogged this guy for nearly half a year. Well, that and now jobbing consistently to Batista and Muhammad Hussan.
Chris Jericho: This is the main reason that I 'hate' HHH. This guys place on the card is shameful, it's appalling, it's outlandish...it is sad and despicable at the same time. So what if Jericho is now content to put on a good performance and leave it at that? To hell with that. This guy would dominate my programming and hold the WHC forever if I were calling the shots. But I'm not. And what do I get? The next best thing to The Rock in all things charisma and mic-oriented, and a talent almost without superior (Benoit) on Raw in the ring is holding the fort in the midcard so Randy Orton can fail in the main event. Please. No wonder I watch so sporadically now. In short: Chris Jericho should be the guy that Raw builds around, for right now and in the future. No one on this goddamn brand is better than him all-around. Period. Inconsistent booking? No. The booking is consistent...it just consistently makes him look 2nd rate...as though he doesn't belong at the top. All parties responsible can go STRAIGHT to HELL for that.
Chris Masters: I'm. Not. Impressed. This is ridiculous. HE CAN'T DO ANYTHING. Why is he on T.V.? I mean it...WHY? Get these green, no workrate-havin' amateurs OFF my T.V. Please. Am I supposed to be impressed because he's big and muscular? News flash, WWE: ALL THE MEN IN YOUR FEDERATION ARE BIG AND MUSCULAR. Black Jesus..! 'Masterpiece' my ass. Put this clown in a tag team with some other green rookie and do something to breathe life into those ranks.
Christian: A prime example of inconsistent booking and perhaps of simply being deliberately held down. This guy is soooooooooo ready to be groomed for the main event. Not to simply be put there, but groomed for it. Experiment a little. See if the marks will accept this. Kinda like they've done with Batista and to some extent, Edge. Because he has oodles and oodles of charisma, he's good in the ring, and has played every role and character he has been given well. So move him away from the comedic heel a little bit, and make him more serious. It honestly looked like the WWE may have been going that route when he came back from his back injury and put a hurting on Chris Jericho. But since then, not only has he gone back to comedy, he's gone down the card as well, and now he's BACK in the tag team scene (what Raw tag team scene?) with Tyson Tomko. Bah. This is ridiculous. He's already won every midcard title there is to win, repeatedly. He's already done the tag team thing. Repeatedly. It is time to start trying to find a way to move him up-not down-the card. But every time I see this guy now, he's wearing a cape and cowl or he's having to drop matches to Shawn Michaels. Christian is perhaps Raws' best heel (is HHH really that much better than this guy? Ask yourself that), and works comedy angles as his 'reward.' And as for Michaels, this is twice now that the WWE has had the chance to have Christian go over Michaels. The first time, there was no excuse for it. Michaels was in a program with Edge, but even a cheap win with Edge costing Michaels the match would've done more for Christian than a clean loss to the Heartbreak Kid did him...and a Michaels/Christian feud may have been gold. But the 2nd go round featured SLOPPY WORK FROM MICHAELS and a disinterested, lackadaisical effort on the part of the 'Showstopper' in a match that bounced Chris from the Rumble. Great. It did nothing to advance the Edge/Michaels feud (until postmatch) and Michaels' work made Christian seem second-rate. Twice now, the ball has been dropped. This is ridiculous...and what's more, it's inconsistent booking. Worse still, it's shitty booking. They are wasting time here. And even him feuding with Orton will not save him. Last year at about this time, it looked like the WWE was gonna push him to the moon. This year? Can you say the words 'bury' and 'Christian?' Vince McMahon can.
Christy Hemme: I don't care what anybody says: I love this girl. I love Christy Hemme. So what if she's hyper? Take a page from the Gail Kim School of Stonefaced Non-Emotion here: I'd rather what Christy does every night, looking as though she wants to be there, than someone just looking for the exit. All that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand she is hot...in a white-trashy kind of way. Doesn't work with most women. It works on her. Oh boy, does it work on her..! Hopefully, the Powers-That-Be on Raw decide to follow SDs lead and involve the women like Christy in actual storylines as vs. just doing pillowfights and limbo contests (Christy has the easiest job in the goddamnded world!!!). Christy = good, trashy fun. And what's wrong with that? But she has no clear-cut role. Know whose fault that is? The writers. Know what that adds up to in my book? Inconsistent booking. She won the RDS...yet Amy and Joy both have clearly delineated roles and characters, while Christy just bounces around. Grrrrrrr!!! So what if she's losing 'trivia contests' on Stern. So what if she is seemingly willing to do anything? So what if she's doing Playboy? She's going to WM21 to fight for the Women's Title!!! Which should suck, because supposedly Lita was helping her train (?) and Christy saw fit to proclaim Lita the best wrestler in the WWE. Her words, not mine. She's not the worlds' greatest speaker. She can't work a match (yet), and she is not-while hot in her own right-the hottest female in WWE history (which would be Trish Stratus). But she does know how to entertain. And you can't put a price tag on that.
Edge: The WWE is getting this one right. He has gone over when appropriate and dropped matches when appropriate, and it is creating an interest that I personally have not felt for this guy since the Edge & Christian days (I still say Christian is his in-ring and charisma superior). He is perfect where he is. His program with Michaels should make Edge famous, and his current persona, the bitter, paranoid, accusatory, whiny Edge features some of Edge's best mic work and he's playing heel...which he is prime-time at. Edge a draw? It may just happen. Or it may not. It's tough to say. This will probably be Batistas' first post-WM feud, and if Edge can avoid being buried by Shawn Michaels (or rather, if the bookers can avoid burying him), he just may be a World champ sometime in the next half year or so.
Eric Bischoff: He's no victim of booking inconsistencies...in fact, he has prospered recently, switching to a stern, no B.S. kind of G.M. Strong on the mic, rarely flubs his lines, and people love to hate the guy-and more than a few do hate him legitimately. I'm not one of those people, though.
Eugene:Makes the topic of this column feasible. And this is before him getting injured at New Years' Revolution. Started off in the main-event (mistake, mistake, MISTAKE!!!) with a decent gimmick (as far as attracting casual fans, but I personally did not like it), but a gimmick that is very vignette-oriented...and those vignettes had dried up recently, even before the injury. Was then moved to the midcard (smart, smart, SMART!!!) where he could be better utilized. Then moved into a 2nd mini-program with HHH that saw him get squashed. Repeatedly (dumb, dumb, DUMB!!!). Prior to the injury, was working a tag team program with William Regal against...nobody in particular (wh-wh-wha-wha-WHAT???). Shuffled in-between various mini-programs with The Coach, La Resistance and Maven, all of which could have been gold, but none of them were developed (Huh?). The last, Maven, could have been huge for Maven, but it ended as soon as it began. Not coincidentally, Eugenes' pops have faded, too. And it's a shame. Nick Dinsmore-the man playing Eugene-is prime-time talent who has been waiting forever for his big shot, even in '98-99 in WCW, with the Lex Lugers' of the world burying him on the mic. Too bad this had to be that shot. This sucks, and is a perfect example of inconsistent (read:inane) booking.
Garrison Cade: Makes the topic of this column feasible part 2. Not so terribly long ago, this guy was being booked over The Dudleys and was feuding with Evolution-even going over Flair and Orton while teaming with Mark Jindrak. And now? Is the guy even still in the company? Is he hurt? In OVW? What's going on?
Gene Snitsky: Surprise...NO PROBLEMS HERE. The 'It's Not My Fault Kid' is fine, right now...he's entertaining, he's a bargain-basement big man, so I don't expect much in that regard, but this guys' character is so goddamnded funny that I can't help but watch. His cheesy promos('It's not my fault/I LOVE having FUN'), his lisp (remember 'Thaboo Thoosday?'),the faces he makes, his ugly mug and his yellow teeth...oh, it all comes together in a nasty, unpalatable package that simply says 'UGLY.' Physically, from the neck down, he looks almost exactly like Mike Awesome. From the neck up, he resembles afterbirth. But there are warning signs. Like this: What does he do, exactly, without Kane? Seriously? While Kane was out filming his movie, Snitsky did not branch out into anything other than his program with Lita and Kane, leading one to believe that the writers ain't got nothin' for him other than Kane. How about this one...he got forced into the main-event on a PPV (Survivor Series) and then rushed back down the card. Which is a good move, but then the WWE forced him down our throats to begin with!!! Too bad. So, in the future, I look for him to personify inconsistent booking.And that, BTW, will not be his fault. For now, though, he's fine. A little high up on the card, but he's just working with one guy basically in a storyline that-if not for injuries (Matt and Lita)-may have produced something halfway watchable and involved more than 2 people. The negative? The pump-handle slam may be-along with the bearhug-the most boring big man finisher ever.
Ivory: Signed an announcers contract. Cool...we won't have to see her put over anybody from the RDS. Hopefully. But its unfortunate, because she was arguably the most well-rounded women wrestlers in the company. But prior to that, she was a victim of shameful booking, because she spent the last couple years as an active wrestler doing nothing of note. And that, my friends, personifies SHITTY booking, the shittiest booking possible, in fact. I want more Ivory, damnit!!! I DEMAND more Ivory, who is hotter than any 40+ year old woman has a right to be!!! I'd sell the Pope's soul for a weekend-alone-with Ivory.