EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, November 13, 1998
The plague of lying and inconsistency
I've been real busy lately, so the wrestling portion of my routine has been reduced to writing this column, watching my tape with Raw and Nitro (on Saturday morning of all times!) and anticipating suddenly out-of-sync pay-per-views. So imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, thinking about the Survivor Series, only to find that I couldn't think of a single Survivor Series match. You know, those four-on-four elimination matches? The only matches that I could recall for this weekend were the title tournament matches and the three-way dance for the tag titles. What the hell?
It didn't take long for me to realize what was going on. Actually, I think it happened in the shower. Remember, a few months ago, when I wrote a column about continuity, the importance of it and the lack of any in WCW? Well, if you don't feel like going back and reading the archive, let me sum it up for you: I'm a stickler for continuity. I think it's the key to wrestling, to the WWF's recent successes, and to the WCW's recent failures.
But uh oh, the infraction doesn't seem to stem from the WCW executive committee this time, but from WWF bookers. No Survivor Series matches at the Survivor Series? That's absurd. About a year ago, I had the chance to attend the Survivor Series right here in Montreal, and though I've been to many WWF events in the past, this one was special. Not necessarily because it was so good, not necessarily because it was Bret Hart's final WWF appearance, but because it was the Survivor Series. I had seen them before on pay-per-view and home video, so being there in person was all the more special.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for progress. I think wrestling today is a definite and measurable improvement over the wrestling of two, five, ten, or fifty years ago. Though I do worry that wrestling may one day hit a plateau, or a barrier that it has trouble passing, I suspect that its popularity will only grow, at least until the new millenium.
But that doesn't excuse the shirking of tradition and of continuity.
If the Survivor Series wasn't a popular event, fine, scrap it, but don't try to sell my the Survivor Series with thirteen singles matches and a tag match.
Now, I have no problem with the occasional exception. Variety is the spice of life, after all. But this stuff happens so often. Think about it. How often have commentators and bookers tried to fool you into believing something that they didn't need to make you believe at all.
When does the winner of World War Three get his title shot. Anybody? Well, if you were listening to Tony Schiavonne, you'd think the answer was Starrcade, that it has always been Starrcade, and that you'd be an idiot for thinking otherwise. No, the truth is, for a good five or six years, now, the title shot has taken place at WCW's third pay-per-view of the year, Superbrawl. I personally think it makes a lot more sense to have the title shot take place at Starrcade, but why act as if it has always been so? Is it because they think we'll lose faith in them if they change something or because it just seems easier to pull the wool over our eyes?
Goldberg is 159-0? Wait a minute, I remember a match against Hector Guerrero...
Chris Benoit has never won a title? But what about those two house shows, against Booker T...
Alright, I admit it, WCW is probably more guilty of blatantly lying to its audience than the WWF, but the WWF is certainly guilty of negligence where the truth is concerned. No one has explained to me why this tournament, or at least the bulk of it, didn't take place on the Raws leading up to the Survivor Series, and why they had to erase any memory of the tradition that is the Survivor Series. Would it be so bad to explain it? To give the whole business at least an air of continuity, even if it's a fictional one?
Imagine if this January, the Royal Rumble consisted of a series of match, but wait, no Royal Rumble. What if the King of the Ring pay-per-view had a thirty-man battle royale but no tournament for the crown? None of this would make any sense but all of it would be consistent with the line of crap the WWF is feeding you and I right now.
I guess there are silver linings to this particular rain cloud. If I'm complaining about the lack of a match that, in the past, has always sucked anyway, just for the sake of spite, then there must be a lot of things going right with wrestling.
Stuff the WWF is doing right: keeping the belt away from Austin, at least for awhile. He's better without it. It's hard to be the underdog, walking around with the most important title in wrestling. Meanwhile, the WWF will be able to develop their new talent into main event talent, maybe with a surprise win this weekend?
Stuff WCW is doing right: well, er, um...I can't think of anything right this second. They ruined their best matches by forming the LWO, they had the chance to give Goldberg his first credible loss against the Hitman (for the first time in WCW, he's living up to that name, injuring people with that chair left and right), but it would appear that we may see Hart go against Page at Starrcade. That would be a waste. I suppose Nash would make a good contender, but I don't think the fans would know who to cheer for - no offense to them, er, us.
That's all for this week. I'd like to ask all of you to send me any examples of inconsistencies or down-right lies that you can think of. I know there are lots more out there, they just escape me. I'll post some of the more entertaining ones next week. Until then, thanks for tuning in, have a great week, see you in seven.
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