Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some pro wrestling promoters and bookers need to watch "STAR WARS"

By Art Shimko

-- So I just finished watching Return Of The Jedi on HBO and almost 24 years after seeing it in the movie theater I still felt the emotional highs and lows, even with some seasoning here and there via special effects and such the main point of good vs. evil and watching it unfold was not in anyway compromised nor was the character development. The main and secondary characters in the films each had a unique personality which wasn't so complicated you couldn't figure out what their deal was. You could feel out who had good intentions and who didn't and which side they were on, in other words George Lucas didn't re-invent the wheel when he wrote these stories. He did create an elaborate world yet kept the story simple with the universal themes of good vs evil, friendship and romance.

Lucas also gave the audience a cliffhanger with Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo was frozen and taken off to the Emperor and Luke found out Vader was his father leaving that movie on a depressing note which made me and lot of people anticipate the conclusion in Jedi... would we see Han Solo again? How does Luke deal with the fact that his enemy is also his father? Would the Galactic Empire reign supreme?

All these questions were eventually answered.

I still got choked up during the scene when the Emperor (Palpatine) is shooting lightning at Luke after he refuses to kill Vader and join the dark side and after Luke's begging for Vader's help he eventually comes to his senses and saves Luke by throwing the Emperor down a reactor shaft in the Death Star. That moment really struck a nerve in me, to see the most evil motherfucker in the movie make a "babyface turn" (becoming a good guy) and save his son. The part later that got me also was Luke taking Vader's helmet off so he could see Luke before he died. And of course in the end the Rebels prevailed.

So... what does that rambling intro above have to do with pro wrestling? Well maybe a bit more than you think.

I was listening to Figure 4 Weekly's Bryan & Vinny show yesterday and they were breaking down the basic story of tag match of when two guys are beating on one guy it's seen as cheating but when the other partner tags in and starts beating on those two guys at once the crowd cheers seeing the one guy beat the shit out of two men. Basic story, simple, no gimmicks needed. Same thing with Star Wars, which I believe folks like... Vince Russo... Dutch Mantell... Jeff Jarrett (see a pattern TNA?)... John Zandig and anyone in charge of booking CZW this week... Stephanie McMahon and some members of the WWE creative team... and any other pro wrestling promoter and booker incorporating illogical angles into matches... ALL need to watch the Star Wars trilogy and understand the simple story of good vs evil and how you get that point in a story.

Fans are getting sick of endless mic promos and segments that have no payoff as well as gimmicks like an X-shaped scaffold and reverse battle royals or even just every match on a pay-per-view or TV taping having some type of gimmick as if the promoters and bookers lack any confidence in their product or maybe they want to try and "bring in new fans" which always cracks me because non-wrestling fans already despise it and if they watched 30 seconds of an Impact, WWECW or WWE TV on a night where logic holes are aplenty and people who can't even read from a cue card have a live mic on TV doing storylines about shooting someone's father or putting someone's girlfriend in an ankle lock to set up a match, their disdain for pro wrestling would grow even further.

Guys like Russo and the TNA bookers need to understand that simple storytelling, building up to a finish, basic psychology and less to no gimmicks in matches and on their show are all the fans basically want, enhancing the product can come later. Why are you trying to do something "new" and "innovative" when you can't even get the basic shit correct the first time?

CZW could also refer to this statement, although they're one of many indy promotions that rely on irrelevant spot-fest matches and ultra-hardcore-violence way too often, and hey I can enjoy a spot-fest or a garbage match if it sets a unique pace on a show with no other gimmicks but I would rather seeing good pacing to a crazy-ass spot/move or use of a "weapon", but CZW has had other recent problems with their product including nonsensical booking, fan backlash and bringing in people WHO CAN'T FUCKING WORK.

One thing I ask CZW, TNA, WWE, etc. Please make me care about these characters, give me a reason this guy is after his opponent instead sticking two random guys in a ring who'll smash each other's skulls with chairshots. And it can be simple, not like this guy went to city hall or the library to find out his opponent's criminal past and expose his dastardly act. Because at some point I'll lose track of the story and not because I lack an attention span but because the story gets so convoluted and I end up stop giving a shit.

I know some people are thinking, "Art, these guys don't necessarily need to watch Star Wars to understand basic storytelling." I would have to disagree, yes there are other sources to refer to in learning what makes a good story. I picked Star Wars because after all these years I can still watch these movies and they never get old; the characters, the sub-plots, the struggle for survival, peace and the destruction of the Empire, it all remains fresh because these are basic concepts presented in an entertaining manner and doesn't get sidetracked by "outside interference".

The story of good vs evil is as universal as music and romance, it's a story everyone in the world understands and embraces and why? Because we all want to see the good guys win, when the bad guy's superior in a match, or in any situation, mercilessly beating the shit out of the underdog it feeds our desire more and more to see the good guy make his comeback and get his revenge.

Star Wars may not be an example most would think of in referencing to for how to book a wrestling match, all I'm saying is the back story is so basic, even with all these characters in the first trilogy alone, if done correctly the story of a match can be told without any problem. Sure there's always going to an idea or two thrown in to enhance the product and I understand that. My problem with "over-booking" and throwing every idea out there will just crowd things up and confuse fans.

And when I mentioned earlier how promoters attempt to bring in non-wrestling fans into their shows, I think promoters need to understand and satisfy their real fans first, the ones who come every month to live shows, buy a DVD and puts the product over online and to friends.

Once that's taken care then promoters and bookers can think of ideas to help cross-promote their product with something mainstream to get into the conscious of the rest of the folks who don't follow or haven't followed wrestling in years. Because frankly, I'm tired of seeing a god damn baseball player in a fucking wrestling match.
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