“I don’t think that McMahon thinks very much about the fact that J.R and I have been successful. I don’t think that McMahon thinks the wrestling announcers really have that much to contribute the show.” – Jerry Lawler
Professional wrestling may present a “fantasy world of combatants,” but a major part of its success is how the industry personalizes its shows and creates a product that the public can relate to. There exists an “anything can happen” mentality but that usually only occurs during a match. In order to improve the entertainment value of any promotion, attention must be made to every detail, from the entrance ramp, to railings, and especially to announcing.
If each match is announced by the same person, a sense of routine monotony takes over. On Monday Nitro, WCW employed Michael Buffer and his trademarked “Let’s get ready to rumble” phrase to usher in the main events. Occasionally, WWE will invite a celebrity or wrestler as the special guest ring announcer. Mr. Kennedy announced himself and Alberto Del Rio’s gimmick was vastly enhanced by his own spanish ring announcer.
In order to take advantage of the the seldom tweaked aspect of ring announcing, we journey back to 1996 to the Rosie O’Donnel Show. What was innovative and catchy about this show was how it opened with a member of the audience introducing Rosie. While their mic skills weren’t as impressive as a professional, they added a humble personal touch to the show. It’s time to embrace this same strategy in the world of professional wrestling, especially during TV tapings. Before the wrestling action begins, involve the audience by asking for participants to audition for the role of announcer. Invite a mix crowd, from energetic youth, to sassy ladies, to quirky grandparents. Let the audience select one of them, and then for one of the matches, allow this “fan favorite fan” to take over the ring announcing. It’s probably best to use their services for the opening match to help set a friendly and crowd interactive tone for the rest of the show. Make sure that only your professional announcers handle title matches and main events, this is because you want those to have a professional and heightened mood much like when Michael Buffer announced the main events of Nitro.
Sure this has been before, and in some cases on a regular basis, but it definitely needs to be brought back and executed consistently. While only one person enjoys the spotlight while announcing, it empowers all the fans at home, that they too have the chance to be involved. Whenever there is an opportunity, professional wrestling needs to personalize the experience and involve its greatest asset: the fans.
“Damn referees, I’ll miss them less than anybody.” – Abe Lemons
“A women’s greatest asset is her beauty.” – Alex Comfort
Despite it’s PG rating, WWE relies heavily on eye candy to draw in the 18-49 male demographic. Consequently, they’ve put their T&A specialists wherever there was a spot as: managers, valets, “girlfriends,” interviewers, ring announcers, wrestlers, and even in WCW as dancing cheerleaders. How come those girls haven’t adorned the zebra stripes more often? Aksana, who is clearly years away from becoming ring ready should permanently officiate. She’s done it before and she should do it again. Suddenly a tag match between “whoever” versus “I don’t care” has my attention, especially when she has to get down on the mat for the count.
Is it sexist to feature female referees? Not at all. If anything, it’s forward feminism. The role has been dominated by males, and this way women get to be involved. I’m not saying they should wear long slacks and a polo, but I’m also not abdicating they strip down to a thong either. No matter how you strip it, eye candy equals money. Let the true women wrestlers duke it out in the ring, but there’s no reason to make the hot ones leave. Just delegate them to officiating and everyone wins. In addition, if these pretty ladies want to train to become wrestlers their experience in the ring as officials will only help them.
The bottom line is if I was in charge of any promotion, large or small, I would immediately axe all male referees and install adorable ones in their stead. While some are critical of bringing back a Nitro Girls type dance team, or the sign holders from the early days of Monday Night Raw, adding female referees is cost effective because you don’t have to hire additional workers, since the position has to be filled. Plus, if you’ve got some wrestlers insistent on traveling with their wives or girlfriends, why not plug them in as referees. There’s no need for vocal talent, you just need to move around, avoid contact, smooth communication and dictate orders. It’s not a job you can master overnight, but it’s certainly easier then becoming a wrestler and will 100% guaranteed entertain that all too horny demographic.
Ladies, it’s time we see you in stripes on a full-time basis.
When your body turns off the lights what does your subconscious cinema play? Do your childhood fears manifest themselves into a nightmarish broccoli stalking you down the street in your underwear? Or do you get the nerve to ask out that beauty behind the bar? For me, it’s different. My real life dreams manage to work themselves out in this unrealistic but believable context. A solid 25% of all dreams involve professional wrestling; the majority featuring me being hired to work for WWE Creative. This occurs usually by a chance meeting with Vince McMahon. When these dreams started a few years ago I was hailed as a genius, though lately I’m treated more like a peon. The realization that someone as imaginative as me will never get the chance to create freely under a one-man show operation (WWE) has seeped its way in. It took a heart felt talk with one of the sport’s top stars to break it to me that as long as Vince McMahon holds all the cards, it’s just not worth my time.
Though, somewhere in my veins there must be an optimistic sap. The dreams just won’t go away. For instance, last week one had me watching TNA’s Impact Wrestling attempt to boost ratings with the questionable opening bout of Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper. Then today for the first time I made an appearance as not a writer, but as a…wrestler. I was on tour with WWE, but what must have been a “minor league” operation for none of the talents were from real-life and were unrecognizable to me. Plus, we were performing in an arena with barely enough seats for a girl scout meeting. But what’s stranger is that I was walking around in tights. You may not know, but I’m a 6 foot 1 man in the body of a 160 pound boy. If I have muscles, I’ve never seen them. Maybe they’re on loan at the Smithsonian, or my parents pawned them before I was born. Though I’m proud of my dream director for not casting me in some far fetched gimmick. You can’t exactly see me “Goldberging” my opponents, in fact I wouldn’t even fit the bill for Gillberg. I was named “Steve Slimmer,” and I paraded around as a body builder yet I obviously had never lifted a weight in my life let alone any past lives. The intentional contrast of my persona was certainly fuel for a comedic heel role to the tune of a heel Zack Ryder or Mike Bucci’s Simon Dean gimmick.
I’m not sure what my future dreams hold, but whatever they are, I’m going to take notes. And you never know… maybe one day they’ll be playing in your reality.
The ‘Championship Spree’ is wrestling’s ‘The Odyssey,’ where one departs his homeland and only after he defeats fantastical monsters may he return. In the case of wrestling, the departed will journey to several wrestling promotions where he will ‘conquer’ by defeating their champion and winning their respective title.
- A wrestler vows to capture championships from ‘every’ other wrestling federation.
- Legitimize a promotion’s heavyweight championship.
- Promote relations with independent/interntional wrestling federations.
- An exiled heel/face who vows to return once they win every other championship.
- A face who was unfairly jipped out of the heavyweight championship and chooses to capture other federation titles as a means of redemption.
- A disgruntled heel unable to capture the title.
- Four to twelve months.
The ‘Championship Spree’ angle would take a considerable amount of time to plan as it calls for working with several independent or international groups. If the promotion refuses to work with others, they could ‘fabricate’ the other promotions and titles. Though such an angle would allow the promotion to scout new talent, and develop new partnerships. Realistically, in regards to US based promotions, only WWE, TNA, and Ring of Honor are in a position to execute this angle.
The deal gives smaller federations national exposure for allowing their champion to job (lose the belt). Every other week, the wrestler in question will capture another title. This can be done by airing video footage of the bout at the independent federation’s event, or inviting the champion to defend the title on the promotion’s TV show. This depends on creative taste and the working agreement of each promotion. For example, is it important to show the independent promotion in its true form as a high-school gym operation with 30 fans in attendance? Or is it better to put a professional spotlight on them and invite the group to a larger stage?
Audiences will look forward to seeing new faces, while the promotion doesn’t have to shell out new salaries to bring them in. Eventually, the wrestler will be covered in titles, and the ongoing saga will slowly build to an eventual ‘return’ and a heavyweight title defense.
This is a ‘loose’ angle that can be taken in any direction to fit the needs of the promotion. For instance, A Lex Express element could be thrown in, whereby the wrestler travels across the country in a chartered bus with announced appearances. While this would work in any federation, TNA would benefit more from such a move, as they need to gain more exposure.
Ideally, the angle should commence at a PPV when the multi-crown champion must forfeit his titles for a chance to win the title. The match will mean more if the contender has to give up everything he has accomplished. This also pushes the title, because it says that every other championship in the country combined is only worth a title shot. While the independent groups may not appreciate it, they desperately need the free advertising. Whether or not the wrestler has to win the title is up to the needs of the promotion.
It’s important to follow the story of each champhionship. If possible, the PPV card should feature title bouts to crown new champions for each recently vacated title. While these wrestlers may not possess drawing power (ability to attract audiences), the main event and the uniqueness of the event should bring in a profitable buy. While not highly praised, Starcade 1995 where WCW wrestlers competed against New Japan stars in a best of seven series highlights the potential for such a PPV.
The ‘Championship Spree’ is a breath of fresh air giving audiences a look outside of the norm while one wrestler is given a monumental push.