Showing posts with label satisfaction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label satisfaction. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is Ryback's Endgame?

Was there any end in sight at all from the start?
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Any time a story starts, it's a fair question to ask what the endgame of it is going to be. A story isn't a story unless it ends. In wrestling, that's problematic because there's no offseason, so there's no convenient end point. Then again, there's nothing that says every story has to end at the same time. I know that not a whole lot of wrestling companies have done a great job of staggering the concurrent stories they have so that they can provide enough resolution to make their audience feel satisfied. In theory, it can be done.

So, with that in mind, Ryback started into a feud with CM Punk in October, and it's still going on. We know that the seed was planted for a Rock/Punk feud for the Rumble, so any story between Ryback and Punk would have to be settled by TLC at the very latest. We've already been baited and switched twice on him winning the title. The best option would have been leaving well enough alone after The Shield cost him the strap at Survivor Series and letting him feud with them or the person pulling their strings (BRAD MADDOX???) or whatever.

But they booked him into a third title match. Wouldn't he have to win now? It's not a matter of him needing to win to retain credibility, but they've set the story so that this is a chase that has to end with Ryback getting his prey, feasting so to speak. On an esoteric level, feeding doesn't necessarily mean he has to win the title. Then again, the way I see it isn't always the way the rest of the fans are going to see it.

So, there seems to be only two options here. One is satisfying and one is WCW-level cockteasing bullshit. You put so much juice behind Ryback chasing Punk, that if he doesn't finally catch him, you risk losing the crowd on him. It's bad storytelling.

It's not even a case of "the faces always need to win" either. However, if they weren't ready to take the belt off Punk yet, then why put him in such a situation where he would face an unstoppable juggernaut who needs to royally destroy him as an endgame if The Rock was the one who was to take the belt off him? It's terrible form. So basically, we're put in a situation where at TLC, Punk is going to walk out with the title and Ryback is going to be left with his dick in his hand once more.

When you condition the fans to believe that no one matters but John Cena, no one is going to matter but John Cena. Fans care about good guys who get to have satisfying conclusions. Cena gets to win convincingly. No one else really does. So when Ryback "loses momentum" over the next couple of months, then whose fault is it really?

The point of a wrestling show is to tell a story. When you tell a story, it has to have an end in sight. WWE often engages in this endeavor, and that's why it's in the state it's in. It has nothing to do with charisma, ability, or "guys disrespecting the business." WWE tells open-ended stories and leaves fans feeling disgruntled over long periods of time with no resolution. There's no coincidence that most dramas on TV that aren't boring, cop-show procedurals have a tipping point. That's why most British dramas only run a set number of seasons and conclude broadcast on their own terms. After a certain point, exposition becomes masturbation.

So, it's more than fair to ask... what is Ryback's endgame? Does he even have one? There should have been concrete answers to these questions before he was even greenlighted to go against CM Punk. The fact that they may not have been speaks volumes as to why WWE is in the state it's in more than anything else.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The Reason for the Series

LOST's series finale, as expected, was a polarizing show that divided fans into a few major sects. It's not surprising, as the show itself has conjured rifts amongst the fanbase in its six years of air-time. In the end, I was in the camp of people who were more than satisfied with what the two-and-a-half hour episode presented to me. I found closure that I was afraid I wasn't going to get. I got emotion, power, beauty, meaning and a message, even if they didn't provide answers to questions that they posed during the run of the show. I can understand why people might have been angry at that lack of answers. I will never begrudge someone the way they feel, unless that feeling is based in ignorance (LOOKING AT YOU, LOST BASHERS WHO'VE NEVER WATCHED SO MUCH AS A MINUTE OF THE SHOW). However, I feel like the lack of answers is par for the course for the show, and while some may see it as a cop out, I thought it was fitting to give the fans something to chew on, something to wonder about, a way to enjoy the show even now that it's off the air.

After the jump...I think part of the reason why LOST has been such an intelligent show isn't because of the introduction of electromagnetic theories or the positing of time travel or the multiple complex interactions or anything that was explicitly written in the canon. To me, the show was intelligent because it inspired intelligent conversation and debate. No other show that I can think of has made its fanbase come up with the massive amounts of theories and discussion about said theories. The show's mythology has always been this burgeoning behemoth that was greater than anything Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof or any of the writers could have dreamed of. The only thing that separates LOST's mythos from the pages and pages of non-canonical Expanded Universe material in the Star Wars fandom is that the only published LOST extra stuff is on theory websites and blogs.

That's why I feel like the lack of answers given was not only appropriate but needed. There was no reason for the creators and writers of the show to give every bit of minutia, and I bet that it wouldn't have been satisfactory for some vocal contingient of those clamoring for answers anyway. Be that as it may, I thought it as a propos that we didn't get the writers dogma. We got an opportunity to continue debating, discussing, arguing and wondering about what the Island's truths really are. Some see it as a curse, I see it as a gift. Some of the best stories leave you wanting more. Some leave you wanting too much, which is the vibe I got from Sopranos fans after their series finale ended with the family eating onion rings.

With LOST, I feel like we got enough closure, a magnificent ending that felt befitting of the show. I loved the message, that life wasn't necessarily about reaching an end but about the people you spend the journey with. It's not anything new, but the way it was presented was where the power came from. The reunions of Sawyer and Juliet, Shannon and Sayid, Charlie and Claire. The real John Locke appearing again and reassuring everyone that everything was going to end up alright. Jack's final meeting with his father. Everything was executed so well, and the point was reinforced over and over again with elegance and force. The resolution was succinct and effective. We got an answer to what the "flash-sideways" universe was, and it made sense, their mission in that universe made sense. We didn't need to see what the escapees from the Island did in the rest of their lives. We only needed to know that they moved on with their lives. We didn't need a dissertation on how Hurley and Ben ran the Island after everyone left. We only needed to know that they were successful through their exchange before Hurley entered the church for the final time. We didn't need to know how Desmond made it back to Penny and little Charlie. We only needed to trust that he did, because Hurley changed the rules and reigned over the Island with a much better attitude and policy than Jacob ever could.

Besides, the show was never about them anyway. It was about Jack Shephard. Like Jimmy Kimmel postulated last night, the show was about the life and times of Jack, and it was mainly about his journey, one that began and ended with him saving lives and fixing people. There was no happier ending than seeing Jack finally gets to be the one whose problems get fixed himself, dying a the hero of all heroes in the reality and finally finding out that yes, his father really loved him, and so did everyone he spent those last years of his life with, in the purgatory of the flash-sideways universe, from those who always believed in him like Hurley and especially Kate, to those with whom he never saw eye-to-eye, like Locke.

And yes, I would have loved to have gotten a few more answers, or at least closure to some important characters, namely, Michael and Walt (who were shockingly and horrifically absent from the final church scene), but nothing is ever perfect, which was another underlying theme in the show. Just because something or someone is imperfect doesn't mean it or they are now undeserving of being loved.

With the finale in the books, I can say that I'm glad I invested the last four years of my life viewing the show (I watched the first two seasons on DVD after getting on board in Season 3). It was a very rewarding and enriching experience, a great fable with intelligence and science-fiction sensibilities that now I will not be able to find anywhere on TV now that Flash Forward is going off the air. Oh well, at least I'll still have Chuck, Venture Bros. and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Godspeed and farewell, LOST. You are a show that now belongs to the ages.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wrestling Six Packs: Satisfying Resolutions in a Business of Disappointment

Oooh yeah, can you dig it, brother?Apologies for not getting this up last night. I had to go to a viewing and then you know, LOST was on (and to a much lesser extent, V's season finale). Pretty hectic night for me, plus, there was no real confirmation on those TNA cuts that were rumored to be starting yesterday. I'm wondering if some of these wrestling "news" sites just took a throwaway comment in the F4W site and embellished, but then again, who knows.

Anyway, speaking of LOST, the series finale is coming up Sunday, and while you can expect a This Week in Off-Topic next week completely reviewing the episode and the impact the series has had on me as a viewer, well, this week, in preparation, it'll be another six pack with a tie-in, if only tangential. All anyone wants for the finale is for there to be a satisfying resolution. Wrestling is a sport that has been littered with unsatisfying resolutions throughout its history. From the Higher Power being Vince McMahon to the nWo angle ending with a whimper rather than a bang, from big things like the InVasion angle being a giant masturbatory exercise for Vince to the little-in-comparison things like Chris Jericho's big title win on RAW being reversed and then having him be buried in the main event, you kinda get the picture. Here are six resolutions that bucked the trend and gave wrestling fans something satisfying.

1. Macho and Liz, reunited!

The seeds for this reunion were planted at that infamous Saturday Night's Main Event before WrestleMania V where the MegaPowers ASPLODE'D~! Macho Man had turned into a full-on heel Macho King, ditched his lovely, girl-next-door sweetheart Elizabeth for the shrill and evil Sensational Sherri Martel. The MACHO MADNESS had gone to the head of Savage enough that he put his career on the line against the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. With Liz in the crowd, anxiously watching, Warrior stared into his hands for a good five minutes, ate like five or six flying elbow drops, no sold them all and "ended" the Macho King's career. A not-too-happy Sherri berated Savage for losing and costing her a meal ticket. Liz had had enough, bolted out of the crowd and made the LA Sports Coliseum nearly explode from the pop the crowd had unleashed, the kind of pop you could only get in the old days after years of Macho's betrayal and heel turn getting under the skins of fans who just wanted to cheer him and see him happily strut to the ring with Liz by his side. I remember being moved so much by the aftermath of that match that I shed a tear. One of my best wrestling memories ever.

2. Guerrero and Benoit's WrestleMania moment

This moment has no doubt been tainted in the years that followed. He Who Shall Not Be Named took his legacy down in a blaze of murderous rage, and there are many fans who still refuse to forgive him. Hell, I'm partially in that boat myself. However, there's no denying that the moment he had with his friend at the end of WrestleMania XX, the two career yeomen, finally achieving the pinnacles in their respective careers. It was the ultimate satisfaction for the legions of fans who followed their careers from day one.

3. The Desperado gets one last run into the sunset

Say what you want about Terry Funk's run to the ECW Championship, but it was what the doctor ordered for fans who wanted a bit of sentimentality and nostalgia to go with their blood, guts and Taz-induced mayhem. Fighting against the odds and looking to dethrone Raven from the death grip he held on the ECW title, Funk bested Sandman and Stevie Richards in a grueling three-way dance before overcoming the odds and popping the ECW Arena with a feel-good title win to close the company's first foray into PPV.

4. Bret Hart's ultimate journey back to the WWF Championship

The Hitman didn't get a monster push into the World Championship like the Ultimate Warrior did a few years prior and like Sheamus would get decades later. He defeated Ric Flair at a house show in Saskatoon with very little fanfare months after doing a high-profile job to the British Bulldog at SummerSlam in London. He'd have a few notable title defenses before losing the strap to Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX. From there, he spent the year trying to get back to the WWF Championship, fighting obstacles from Jerry Lawler, his own brother Owen and 28 other men in the Royal Rumble before he and Lex Luger made final eliminations on each other. With the waters muddied, it was declared both men would enter WrestleMania X as number one contenders against Yokozuna in a mini-tournament (in the days before the three-way dance). Hart would have to face off against his brother in the opener so that he'd have two matches to match his opponent in the main event. Yokozuna defeated Luger, and then Hart, after losing to his brother and having his entire journey back to the gold come into jeopardy. However, when he made Yoko submit to the sharpshooter... beat Yoko the way blog-fan Pete R. describes:
Bret did not beat Yokozuna with the sharpshooter. He went off the top rope, Yoko caught him and belly - to - belly suplexed him, and dragged him to the corner for the Banzai. Yoko then lost his balance and fell backwards, Bret moved out of the way, hooked his leg, and got the three.
People say it was a down time in the business, but judging from the reaction at Madison Square Garden, you wouldn't have known it.

5. D'Lo Brown and Glacier pay the UnStable back in spades

Ah yes, a little Chikara thrown in for good measure. Vin Gerard, STIGMA and Colin Delaney, known collectively as the UnStable, had been making life miserable for D'Lo Brown and Glacier every time they stepped into the fed to make a guest appearance. Not only did they defeat them in the ring, but they kept harassing them and insulting them out of it. Finally, things came to a head at Aniversario Yang, when D'Lo and Glacier took on Delaney and Gerard. At the end, it would be the visitors who got the last laugh, as D'Lo locked Delaney into the Chikara Special and Glacier took out Gerard with a Cryonic Kick. The stable that everyone loved to hate got their comeuppance and got it good.

6. Mickie James shoves Michelle McCool's face into cake

Yeah, we all now know that Mickie James was fired and subjected to the Piggie James angle because she was a nightmare backstage and because she tried to hit on a married man in John Cena and basically holding up transportation during the European tour with her real-life diva attitudes. Still, that doesn't make said angle any less disgusting a promtional tactic, if only because it sent the wrong message to girls everywhere. I.E. anorexia's good, gals! That's what made the blowoff to the feud between Team Lay-Cool and Mickie at the Royal Rumble this year so satisfying. Mickie basically squashed McCool and shoved her and Layla's faces into a heap of cake.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!