Thursday, March 1, 2018

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 226

Why does Mania not have the luster it once had for some fans?
Photo Credit:
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

I have two reasons, one is more personal, one might explain objectively why Mania could be feeling less special by the year. I'm going to go with the "objective" one first. If you remember back to the WrestleMania events when you were a kid, the common theme was that they, with some exception, featured matches with people who were there all year long on the marquee role in some kind of culminating story. WrestleMania V, for example, was the resolution to the Mega Powers EXPLODING. VI featured Hulk Hogan passing the torch to Ultimate Warrior (this before Warrior fumbled it and nearly set fire to the entire WWE at the time). WrestleMania XII had two rivals going head-to-head in an epic by design, and so on and so forth. Now it feels like Mania is less about the people on the roster and more like Vince McMahon trying to puff out his chest for the almighty "casual" fan who liked it when The Rock and Steve Austin were around or some shit. That's how you get from the tailor-made main event of Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman to McMahon straining to do what he should've done three years ago. The dynamic has changed. Mania's no longer about a year end culmination of things, but it's basically wrestling's Catalina Wine Mixer, and god help anyone if they bust McMahon's nut.

The second, just as likely reason, is you're growing older and your tastes are changing. Your perspectives are maturing and growing. Maybe Mania has always been this oddball thing that no one really could classify and what you look for in your wrestling, your entertainment, is changing. While I think the "objective" argument has more than enough merit, it could be that even if WWE perfectly set up its year so that Mania maximized drama and story for the important members of the roster, you might still look at it as not as special as it used to be.

And that's okay.

No one is expected to like the same things in the exact same way for their entire lives. People can be lifelong fans of something and never like it or consume it in the exact same way when they've finished with that thing, through death or disinterest, they did when they first started. Maybe your wrestling fandom gives you little spikes each week instead of one giant endorphin rush on a set date on the calendar. Maybe your WrestleMania happens on 205 Live when Drew Gulak does a PowerPoint presentation on why if you do a quebrada during your match, you're going to Hell. Maybe you've moved on from WWE altogether and now feel the anticipation when WrestleKingdom or the Battle of Los Angeles, or, for whatever reason, TripleMania comes up on the slate. I can't really pinpoint exactly why you yourself feel that Mania isn't as special as it once was. However, it's undeniable that Mania now is far different than what Mania was even ten years ago. That part may or may not be okay, but that's fodder for a whole other blog post.

Fuck, Bagel, because hey, it already has the hole in it.


Marry, ciabatta, because I prefer to have my sandwiches with structural integrity, and a nice crusty piece of Italian bread does that.

Kill, sliced off a loaf. I hate to kill any kind of bread, because carbs are good, but hey, them's be the rules.

Any comeback from an offseason would have to entail some kind of easing back into the schedule, which really is what a sports preseason is all about, right? So yeah, if WWE implemented an offseason, imagine its preseason/spring training (or in this case, like, winter training since ideally, the offseason would be from Survivor Series until the Rumble) being just a bunch of jobber matches to get the stars back into a ring rhythm.

At first, I didn't think the two correlated that well, but then again, one hour a week means you limit the content that you have to film, and thus, the content that any single person on the roster has to be involved in. It's an artificial restraint, but with WWE it helps, although probably not as much as the mentality behind booking NXT. I mean, nothing is stopping Paul Levesque and company from spamming Johnny Gargano and Ember Moon every week, much like if RAW were one hour, Vince McMahon wouldn't hesitate from blasting you with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins and whatever other tertiary babyface they'd be pushing that cycle every week. But again, having the economy of time is a big plus, because the temptation to have, say, Gargano come out and say "Tommaso Ciampa is a wing dong sing song dingalingaming mong" in addition to the other stuff he's doing regularly isn't there because the time just isn't in the budget.

Normally, if I don't have a suitable answer for a question, I'd just tell the person on Twitter to ask another, but I will take the L here and say that I have not listened to any complete Ramones album, just a smattering of songs. Why did I field the question, you might ask? I have no idea. Maybe I just wanted to self-flagellate. Maybe it's a reminder to look for Ramones albums on Spotify now that I've been asked. Or maybe it's just an excuse to post this .gif:

"Smithers, have the Rolling Stones killed."

Protected user @adamsgroove asks:
Is there anyone on the WWE roster that should go back down to NXT? Just feels like a lot of call-up people still look kinda lost / rusty...
Honestly, I don't think rust is the issue. I think being lost in the shuffle/WWE's lack of roster management is, but if they go back to NXT, where will they fit? NXT is bursting at the seams with talent that needs to be focused as well. WWE either needs to reorganize RAW and Smackdown so that each show has a viable midcard that has time to grow and get over, or it needs to release some dudes (and I mean just dudes, because the women roster is thin and needs to fill out before it can feel bloated).

It's hard to say because it's very hard to say if the Reigns experiment is working right now or not. Yeah, dork-ass motherfuckers like to boo him, but he's still getting crowd reactions and pushing merchandise. It's hard to say if he's a draw though, because how do you measure who's a draw or not in this day and age without having to pull out HOUSE SHOW NUMBERZZZZZZ (which to me feel like more of a bonus in this day and age of weekly cable shows and the Network rather than a driving point like they were back in the day). But it's also valid that McMahon might have a quicker trigger with Reigns as THE GUY and instead go with more of a varied roster of top dudes. Of course, if he had LEGITIMATE competition, who's to say most of his top guys right now wouldn't be on the other roster? It's hard to say either way because for so long, WWE has been the only game in town and all perceptions are still sort of trained on 20 years ago, which is still pretty warped to think about now.

For right now, my favorite is a roll of the die among Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Nikki Cross, all for different reasons. WWE has done a good job culling the indie scene to get itself top female talent after a long time of trying to develop from other sources, and while the company has had some success stories (Nikki Bella being one of them), it shows how much it's benefited from being able to poach from a fully-formed scene. But none of them have as high a ceiling as Bianca Belair does. Once she cultivates a personality that works for her, she could be the combination of WRESTLER and CULT OF PERSONALITY that the company has been looking for, or at least the one it thought it had with Bayley before McMahon got his greasy paws all over her in terms of character development. That still bums me out, by the way.