By Jim Forzese
This was a show that reminded me why I became a fan of wrestling in the first place. I thought about it while watching and came to the conclusion that if the “new school” wrestling was what was around when I was a kid; I highly doubt I would still be watching today. The legends are what hooked me into wrestling and why I love the business all these years later. I fully understand why wrestling has a hard time keeping fans over the long haul nowadays. The difference was glaring Monday night. All the legends had character; the wrestlers were different from each other and stood out. Now it is all a bunch of same looking, like minded talents that are completely interchangeable. Give me the old school any day because those wrestlers believe their character and lived it and continue to live it with pride. They believed in what they were doing and made us believe that everything was real in the land of make believe. A talent and ability that cannot be done anywhere nearly as consistently with the new school group of talents.
One twitter user who praised Jim Ross’ return was Chris Jericho, who quipped, “The difference between Jim Ross and Michael Cole is the difference between Paul Newman and Paulie Shore…” I could not have said that any better myself. Again, if Cole was the announcer in my youth as opposed to Vince, Gorilla, JR, then again I do not know that I would have stayed such a huge fan all these years later. Cole is awful plain and simple and should be removed from the announce booth immediately. Cole truly ruins the overall presentation and when compared head to head with JR on Raw, that issue was glaring. Also Piper’s Pit was another cannot miss segment from Roddy Piper. I hung on every word and went on a roller coaster of emotions when Piper spoke. Then when Cena and Barrett spoke I went back to not caring nearly as much. Piper had me waiting with baited breath to hear what else Roddy would say, but when Cena spoke my attention span shrunk almost immediately. Again glaring differences between old and new school and how much better speaking ad lib and from the heart makes a promo.
Yes maybe I am being bias but really I could see the difference and wonder why Vince does not realize that certain old school approaches are exactly what is needed in modern day WWE. Not everything was perfect in the old school but the talent really seemed to care more about protecting the business and making the fans believe what we were watching. Yes the curtain has been pulled back and the secret is out, but that does not mean that the wrestler’s should not still go about trying to make us all suspend our disbelief. Raw was a fun show that had me very nostalgic for years gone by. Raw reminded me why I took to this business in the first place and why I love to write columns about the business for all these years. It brought out my inner child and it was a treat seeing my favorites getting the respect that they all truly deserve.
I would never say to go old school completely but certain elements could be implemented into the new school philosophy and that would make for a much better TV program. Why can Mean Gene give an interview where as both wrestlers respect Gene, and if a wrestler gives Gene attitude, Gene gives it back? Why does someone like Josh Matthews or others cower in fear? Nit picking? Maybe, but still it strikes me as odd that Gene is in your face at any age yet young guys, some even former wrestlers will fear being struck for doing what the interviewer is getting paid to do? Yes I know it is to make wrestler’s seem dangerous but really is that how it should be accomplished? Subtle change can be made right there that would look better for TV. Gene showed everyone in WWE how an interview segment is to be done. Why is it that no one has followed the way in which Gene has so successfully done it? Like I said Gene and JR to me anyway, really embarrassed anyone that tries to do the same job that both of these Hall of Famers have done so successfully for so many years.
Now I said I would book the Nexus, Cena, GM angle so here are my thoughts on that subject. I liked the way Raw ended in that Cena showed that no favoritism was going to be had come Survivor Series. Cena will live with the consequences of calling the match down the middle and live up to the respect that Piper spoke of. Come the ending of the match at the PPV, after a whole match worth of close calls and Barrett and Cena verbally feuding, Cena goes to strike Barrett but Barrett moves causing Cena to knock out Orton. Barrett grabs Orton and pins him. Cena looks on with shock and remorse. Nexus hits the ring to celebrate and make sure that Cena does not attack Barrett. Cena goes to Orton and helps Orton up only to put Orton in the Attitude Adjuster and slam Orton down hard.
Orton then goes nose to nose with Barrett and after a few intense seconds of staring, both Cena and Barrett smile and hug. Cena raises Barrett’s hand and is quickly given a Nexus shirt to adorn as Cena and Barrett climb the ropes with Nexus celebrating in the ring as the PPV goes of the air with Michael Cole cheering and Lawler wondering what the hell just happened. That is how I would book the ending at Survivor Series and move Nexus forward. Cena can then talk about not caring about the respect of fans that have disrespected him. Cena can talk about legends that he looked up to as a kid but have never shown him the same respect. The next step would then be to create a hero to rise up against this new power. That is where Miz comes in as Miz would be the perfect challenger to Barrett. I would start a feud that begins immediately and culminates at WrestleMania. Make Barrett with Cena as his enforcer, an unbeatable champion and Nexus a major force in the business. Eventually when Cena goes back to being a face, WWE can turn him without being the goodie, goodie superhero and more Austin-like and that can maybe help male fans cheer Cena going forward.
The GM will then reveal himself to be Michael Cole. Cole will have been hired by Vince only because Cole found Mr. McMahon misappropriating funds, or some other illegal funding for Linda’s campaign and Cole forced Vince to make him the GM. Cole did not want it revealed until the full Nexus takeover was in place. Vince cannot fire Cole because of what Cole knows and Cole, as has been seen for weeks now, has become corrupt with power which will only be getting worse. Eventually a power struggle will ensue that will relieve Cole as GM but that is further down the line, possibly a year or two away. I know Vince worries about merchandise sales if WWE turns Cena heel but that is the most ridiculous way to book wrestling, worrying about t-shirt sales. If the angle is hot then fans will buy the merchandise because it will be the trendy choice. These are just some ideas I have had for this angle since it was asked of me from a reader to give my take on booking this angle, I usually do not fantasy booking in my columns. Not saying I hit a homerun but just what I would have suggested in a creative meeting.
I hope some newer fans got a true taste of old school and will try and understand what the landscape was like back then and how it has evolved over time. Better in some regards and much worse in others but time will do that. It never was a perfect business and it certainly will never be one going forward but try to enjoy what we have for a along as we have it because it is still the best entertainment going for my dollar. Old school Raw, thank you. You have just read another chapter of the Forzese Files and as always feedback is greatly appreciated.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.