Thursday, November 7, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 280

The only reason to get excited for Olive Garden
Photo Credit: Foodie And Wine
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 280 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:

My dad would say it's the Cowboys' cheerleaders, but I'm not my dad, so I'll go with the Olive Garden and the Zuppa Toscana. We as a family go to Olive Garden because the kids like it or because it's Never-Ending Pasta time. I only enjoy it a little bit, but the reason why I would despise the Olive Garden is that I live in Delaware County, PA, one of the two locations where the Italians of South Philly White-flighted to (South Jersey is the other). I can't drive a block without a non-chain Italian restaurant. I take every visit to the Olive Garden as a personal defeat and a policy failure. However, the Zuppa is legitimately good, so there's that.

Other promotions don't have that problem because they're not booked by noted pigheaded billionaire Vince McMahon. When World Championship Wrestling sold to him, he took it as a sign that everything he did was 100 percent correct and that he was a wrestling genius instead of a ruthless capitalist who became the only game in town in the late '80s before WCW formed in earnest through predatory touring and talent leeching from the old territory system. Never mind the fact that he had to call Steve Austin by his prior, well-known name and not take the term "Stone Cold" literally. Never mind the fact that "third generation superstar" Rocky Maivia was a flop, so he let The Rock say whatever the fuck he wanted and get over as a throbbing penis with charisma. Never mind the fact that for all the good ideas he and lackey Vince Russo had, there were 50 other ideas that flopped. Never mind the fact that the reason why those flopped ideas didn't matter was because Austin, Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H, the Undertaker, and to an extent himself the character were all insanely over.

That's how you got a series of round-peg, square-hole pushes that started with the ol' son-in-law Triple H and continued up to and including Seth Rollins today. McMahon convinced himself that he's right and it must be the fans who are wrong, because when you have that kind of money, the ability for people in your inner circle to tell you "no" diminishes exponentially. Right now, All Elite Wrestling is pushing the people that the fans want to see. It's just that those fans want to see everyone they push, because they are going to a show they know they're going to enjoy. AEW doesn't have any analogue. I can't speak for New Japan as much, but given the roaring reactions that I've heard even on video for people like Katsuyori Shibata, Kazuchika Okada, and Tetsuya Naito, it feels like they don't have the problems WWE has.

Cena getting over at the tail end of his career in WWE where he got to be a part-time guy and someone who wasn't beholden to McMahon's creative limitations is not surprising at all. Roman Reigns isn't The Only One anymore, and it feels like crowds warmed up to him. It feels like everyone, even grumpy old "AM I GOING OVER??!?!" Triple H might have been more successful if it didn't seem like they were being put in bad angles, had bad promos scripted for them, and were booked to win against everyone the fans were cheering for organically (even if they still got big wins against critical darlings, like Cena vs. Rusev, for example). That's what happens when you have an auteur who thinks they're bigger than the thing they're promoting.

WWE has been like that ever since the WCW purchase. McMahon was always on screen, but it wasn't until after then when you got McMahon Family Overexposure, while their willingness to eat shit and put the proletariat over has eroded and eroded and eroded over the years. It's not by mistake. As you see with the Saudi Arabia bullshit, McMahon doesn't care about anyone on the lower outskirts of his tax bracket. That's how you get CM Punk getting organically huge and dampening his crossover reaction to the point where even by Survivor Series, he didn't feel as astronomical as he did at SummerSlam '11. It's why Cena didn't become a big movie star until after he stopped having to take shitty WWE Films roles, or why Reigns had to wait until he was out on cancer leave to get anything resembling a big break in a movie. No one gives a shit about WWE wrestlers like they did Austin and Rock anymore, and that is the biggest reason why McMahon has ultimately won his internal culture war.

Sorry to go off like this (partially because it's a subject near to me and partially because I only got two questions this week), but every problem in WWE can be cycled back to McMahon failing to realize who makes his company great whenever it is great. AEW realizes that, at least now, because all the EVPs are wrestlers. New Japan realizes that because they view wrestling fundamentally differently than WWE. McMahon never wanted to be in the business in the first place.