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SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, December 1, 2000

Armageddon main event senseless

Eric Benner
By ERIC BENNER
Special to SLAM! Sports


A weekly
SLAM! Wrestling
Editorial Column

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So far, a grand total of two matches have been announced for the WWF's not-exactly-signature December pay-per-view, Armageddon. In one, Chris Benoit will job to, er, challenge Billy Gunn for his Intercontinental title, and in the other, all hell will most likely ensue. You see, Commissioner Mick Foley has decided that pretty much everyone (everyone meaning Rikishi, Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H) have their own valid reasons for vying for Kurt Angle's heavyweight title. They'll all be able to challenge for it, at the same time, at Armageddon.

On paper, this sort of makes sense. Armageddon is not the biggest of pay-per-views and no matter what they throw in there, it won't draw even close to the kind of numbers the Royal Rumble would earn on a bad day. So there's no sense wasting a big, marquee match-up here. Instead, they're repeating the match that won Triple H the title last autumn, a big, chaotic six-man match. It's not just a match, though, it's a Hell in the Cell match, which can only add to the intrigue.

Well, not exactly. Booked well, this could be awesome. Booked anything less than well, and this match will be awful. What's more, the WWF's putting all its eggs in one basket here. If this match doesn't perform, there won't be much aside from the requisite Hardy Boyz stunt-fest to save the show. It worked last year, but that doesn't mean it will now.

Of course, these theoretical postulations are all good and fine, but what really count are the practical applications. If you use some logic, if you think just a little bit, I think you'll realize that this match, even by wrestling's standards of suspension of disbelief, makes absolutely no sense.

For the record, before I continue, I'm just poking fun at a concept here -- for fun. This in no way translates to some kind of dislike for wrestling on my part, as some folks always extrapolate. Note the sarcasm and attempts at irony right now, before they begin, and I think you'll be all set.

The whole idea behind a title, in just about any sport, is that the best man (or woman, or team) should emerge as champion. More than that, the match (or game, or race) for the title should be the determinant as to who should be champion. That meaning, if the deserving candidate doesn't come out champ, then it's not much of a competition. I'm not talking about how wrestling can be unfair, that's a given. What I mean is that even in the absolute best of circumstances, the guy who walks out of a six-man fight for the title will more than likely be the result of a random series of interactions. The man who wins these matches is typically the guy who was in the ring with someone very tired while the other four men are brawling outside. There's a certain amount of strategy involved, but based on how those four guys are usually pretty much oblivious to what's going on in the ring during the finish, I don't think strategy is on anyone's mind.

With that as a premise, let's take a brief look into the world of sports, a world which even if the WWF does not form a part, it is certainly reflected by. The WWF and its wrestlers usually emulate aspects of sport, and this is no different.

Boxing

Picture it. Everyone's always complaining in this corruption-ridden sport that they should be the number one contender. It seems like the various commissions almost never pick the right guy, at least according to anyone but the guy they actually pick. So let's increase their odds of success and have them choose five number one contenders.

I'm not exactly sure how such a match would go. I do know that two of the six guys would be without corners, and would probably rest between rounds outside the ring or something. Once inside and fighting, though, all actual strategy of boxing would go right out the window. It doesn't matter how you approach your opponent -- head down, gloves up, whatever -- if you might just get blindsided from behind. This kind of match would be chaos, and novelty aside would offer minimal entertainment value. More than that, the winner would almost invariably be the result of a fluke.

Hockey

Well, you can't really add more nets, so you'd probably have six teams -- each playing for the Stanley Cup, three trying to score on one net and three on the other. No one would ever, ever score, though, because the guy who last touches the puck would score the goal for his team, so even the teams trying to score on the same net would be working against each other.

Baseball

If you think about it, if you really think about it, baseball hardly makes any sense to begin with. It's steeped with traditional, and that's a good thing, because no one would ever just intuitively develop a rule set like this in this day and age. Adding more teams would result in total anarchy here. There could be no rules.

Football

And you think the injuries are bad now. Concussions will be the least of a quarterback's worries with five defensive lines running after him.

I think the point is made. I sometimes have a hard time following wrestling matches that don't make any intuitive sense. I have no problem with hardcore matches, tables matches, tag team matches, or ladder matches. Each simply tests a slightly different skill than just normal wrestling. But a six-man singles match tests nothing but being in the right place at the right time. It's a match with the screw-job already built-in so no one has to bother thinking of one before the show.

Add the Hell in the Cell factor, and it's even worse -- they'll be in an enclosed area. Less space to run around and brawl. Hopefully, the wrestlers will make use of the top of the cage (not for propelling each other off of, though) and at least provide something other than a pier six brawl.

We accept them because they happen, but these kinds of matches make no intuitive sense. It's one thing to put six guys in there who hate each other and say "okay, rip each other apart." It's quite another to say "this is the best way to allow each of you top contenders a shot at the title, and the best man will win." Yeah, right. Still, it should be a fun show. I just have a harder time getting all excited for nonsense, I guess. A gauntlet match would have made more sense, but would have been even less realistic. I don't think that anyone's inclined to believe that Kurt Angle could go through even one or two of his Armageddon opponents, let alone all of them.

Oh yeah, the mailbag.

Greek, from 103417.632@compuserve.com, writes:
"I like your "ways of winning" column. Actually, you should take it on the road to indie shows. You could be a goofball character that explains a couple of these methods to the audience per show.

BUT you can entertain the audience by having them blow up in your face whenever you try them.

For example, someone can choke you out WHILE they're trying to take your tightly drawn mask off. Or someone can kick your ass EVEN THOUGH you've hired 15 of your friends to interfere. Or a "real" officer arrests you, your cameraman, AND your fake officer, when you're trying to steal money."

An intriguing proposal. Folks could use my chair against me, or maybe memorize all the counters to the finishing moves I pepper my matches with. The only problem -- I'm not a trained wrestler. Well, I wrestled some amateur in high school, but that hardly counts. Actually, this gimmick would be especially funny over in Japan. I'd love to see the reaction to it there. Sort of like the way Edge and Christian sometimes explain in a very unkayfabe way exactly what they're doing. Thanks for the advice.

Kapil Sharma, from kapilsharma2@hotmail.com, writes:
"Hi I was wondering if you had any information on whether WCW was going to come back to Vancouver again? Or maybe even the next New Blood Rising again? Thanks for your time and keep up da good work for SLAM! Wrestling!"

Kapil, based on what I learned when I covered the topic this past summer, I don't believe WCW will be back for awhile -- at least not necessarily. It's a big hassle for the wrestling companies to head into Canada, and aside from maybe the Toronto/Ontario area, which sees its fair share of wrestling traffic, I don't think it's really worthwhile for them to come.

This is especially true for WCW, which I gather is losing money over the house show area of its business, and would probably prefer to keep things as local as possible.


That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing in, and have a great week!


Send email to ebenner@hotmail.com.


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