The 5 Star Truth: Reality Check

Mike Steele

For weeks now I have had this one idea stuck in my head for a column. I’ve had an urge to write about how crazy things seem to be in WWE lately. Mitchell Gadd, Jason McGinn, and Douglas Nunnally all seemed to have beat me to the punch in different ways. First I felt that I should just move on with another idea but then I realized that I could still write something totally different and enhanced by inspiration from their columns. So before I start this column I’d like to thank Mitchell, Jason, and Doug for their inspiring and insightful columns.

Click Here to Read Mitchell’s Column

Click Here to Read Jason’s Column

Click Here to Read Doug’s Column

In the last few years, especially since the arrival of TNA, I have heard notions of mediocrity with the WWE product. While I have certainly been on this side at various points, I have never fully turned against the WWE product. In these last few years, despite obvious periods of mediocrity and repetitiveness, we have seen many momentous highlights such as Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock at Wrestlemania 18, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit both being Champions at Wrestlemania 20, the return of “The Deadman”, and so on. As of late, I see no justification for WWE being called mediocre whatsoever. You see, WWE has begun a whole new chapter in wrestling history, one that is unfolding right before our very eyes.

In recent months the WWE has been putting us through a reality check, and what we discovered is that we know nothing at all, at least not any more. For years we’ve been able to get highly accurate news from very reliable sources on the internet. But, things have begun to change. Not ONE internet source was able to leak the information that the Matt Hardy/ Edge/ Lita love triangle situation was all a work. That says A LOT about what WWE was able to pull off. They were able to prevent anyone from leaking information, including those close to Matt, Lita, and Edge. They used Matt’s website where he went on several convincing rants that fueled emotions throughout the internet wrestling community. Crowds began to chant for Matt to return and it SEEMED that WWE was considering bringing him back as a result, but the reality was that it was part of a storyline all along. WWE even set Matt Hardy up for a Ring of Honor show and they are still trying to keep up the act. The commentators won’t mention him on television and it always appears that he breaks into the arena. The madness continues and many fans are still scratching their heads, including the most knowledgeable ones. As fascinating as all of this is, it’s only part of the story.

Ever since the ECW: One Night Stand PPV took place there has been controversy between JBL and The Blue Meanie. Meanie revealed that an earlier “shoot” interview was really just a work and he wasn’t serious about bashing JBL. This was all posted on the WWE website itself and we seemed to be getting a rare behind the scenes look. Shortly after, the BWO debuted on SmackDown and the fans were once again baffled. Just how much of this is a work? Just like fans still wonder if the Matt Hardy situation was a real issue made into a storyline, they still wonder if any of what the Meanie ever said was true. Was the initial interview actually a shoot interview that was later used to fuel a WWE storyline? How many “shoot” interviews on the internet and elsewhere have been works? Is it possible that many backstage feuds are just created for hype and heat, even between different promotions?

Also on the WWE website were several interviews with recently released WWE superstars. Some expressed anger while others expressed understanding. Were they really released or will this all play into a gigantic storyline down the road? Spike Dudley had a lot of harsh things to say about the WWE after he was fired. He said that WWE was very oppressing to him and he had little freedom. But as Doug Nunnally mentioned to me, Spanky quit when he felt that he wasn’t being used right, so why wouldn’t Spike do the same? It seems a little odd that Spike would be so complacent when he is usually a positive person. Even more strange is the fact that the Dudley Boyz couldn’t reach an agreement with WWE to renew their contracts. WWE has always been pretty good to the Dudley Boyz, giving them many tag team title reigns. They certainly aren’t going to pick up a better paycheck anywhere else. So why would they both decide to leave and wrestle elsewhere? Are they really still under WWE contract and is WWE simply waiting to throw them back into a huge storyline?

Again, comes into play. They had a huge newsbreak on the website about Brock Lesnar meeting with Vince McMahon. This was never mentioned on WWE television and seems to be pretty real. There are no gimmicks or seemingly kayfabe interviews, so are they still really JUST talking or are they building up for a definite return? This could turn out to be another history making event if they can fool us again in some shape or form. As seen on the latest episode of Hogan Knows Best, we saw how simple Vince’s telephone conversation was with Hogan. We have always thought there were constant contract disputes and negotiations going on between the two and that it was just a matter of one, or both of them, being greedy and controlling. But what we found out was that they hadn’t even been talking and it was a shock for Hogan to hear from Vince. It seemed that there was no butting of the heads like internet reports had been claiming for ages, and that Hogan was laid back about the business and not so coniving. Then again, in a recent interview Hogan stated some harsh things about Steve Austin, saying that he wasn’t a lasting champion. Hulk also mentioned that they had wanted to get in the ring but they just didn’t click. Is this really how Hogan feels or is a feud being set up, like the JBL vs. Meanie incident? When Wrestlemania 21 was approaching there were rumors about Hogan and Austin trying to reach some sort of deal to have a match at the event. But as we saw on Hogan Knows Best, Hogan wasn’t even thinking of wrestling until way after he talked with Vince about being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Why would Hogan even be shocked about being asked to join the Hall of Fame though? For starters, it’s a no brainer that he would be inducted eventually. Secondly, I’m sure that he and Vince have talked about it numerous times, especially since Vince is trying to get Bret Hart inducted, someone who came in after Hulkamania started. In addition to this, it turns out that Hogan and his wife decided on what he was going to do at Wrestlemania, not the writing team or even Vince McMahon. They both decided that he would only do a run in. That speaks volumes about how wrong we are about the decision making process in WWE sometimes. So much truth and untruth gets wrapped together and fact is hard to separate from fiction. “Reality TV” can sometimes lead to further distortion and confusion.

When you think about all that has occurred lately with Matt Hardy, Brock Lesnar, the roster cuts, the BWO, and several other things, you have to admit that WWE is on top of its game. We are witnessing a revolution in the wrestling business. History is being made. WWE has finally been able to fool the internet fans. With this newly gained power, how much else will they be throwing at us? It is entirely possible that in the near future no one will be able to predict what will happen next in the WWE because of false leaks and clever strategy. WWE is completely addressing internet rumors now. They just put up an article to address rumors saying that Chris Jericho has not signed his contract yet. With this WWE beating the internet to the punch now, it seems that things are about to change. I truly feel that the WWE is on a comeback, one that will rival the attitude era if it continues to build. We have literally been bombarded with a lot of great moments in recent memory. We’ve had great moments such as Carlito, Y2J, and Roddy Piper being in the same ring, Marty Jannetty returning with two great matches, Hulk Hogan with HBK and John Cena together, and so on. We’ve had great matches very recently such as Kane vs. Edge in a Cage and in an Ambulance Match, Kurt Angle vs. Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio multiple times, and many more. Several great characters have come into the WWE such as Muhammad Hassan, Carlito, the Mexicools, and more. More over, the fans BEGGED for ECW to return and the WWE held the One Night Stand PPV which was highly praised and very successful. When you think about it, it really has been a crazy year. John Cena and Batista both became insanely loved champions and then TRADED brands. If you hadn’t first heard the rumors about the trade on the internet you would have shit your pants when John Cena showed up on RAW. Chris Jericho is finally back in the main event picture, Triple H is off of television, the Road Warriors have been reincarnated and won tag team gold, and Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam is on the horizon. There really haven’t been very many boring moments on WWE programming lately. WWE is even getting better at building up stars lately such as Chris Masters, MNM, Hassan, Orlando Jordan, Eugene, and other guys who have recently made it to WWE. What is there to really complain about?

It seems that in recent years it has simply become a trend to complain about the WWE product. Meanwhile, TNA has WEAK storylines that go nowhere and all their investments in “bigger names” did nothing to help them, all while their younger talent have grown resentful and remain without proper pushes. It was by absolute chance that Raven was able to win the Heavyweight title, all because Jarrett had a tantrum and pulled out of the match. While I give TNA credit for having a lot of talented wrestlers and finally giving Raven what was due to him, they still aren’t even close to WWE in the pace of their matches or their storylines. It seems that fans who wish death to WWE and prosperity to TNA have some sort of attachment to the novelty of it’s small setting and overly used high flying moves. It’s almost as if they hang on to hope that TNA will ONE DAY be able to properly deliver as they grow bigger. Usually I hear things along the lines of, “Well, they do what they can with what they have” and “They’re rebellious with their care free cruiserweight style”. Well, potential is great but it doesn’t cut the cheese and at the end of the day WWE still out does TNA. As for the care free style, yes, it seems that they don’t care that all they do is flip around without telling a proper story in the ring. I’m not saying that TNA is bad altogether. They have had many great matches and PPV’s. They just aren’t currently comparable to WWE in their overall performance. But, this is all off track. My main point is that with WWE’s recent half kayfabe/half shoot style and their explosion of dramatic storylines, surprises, and interesting cast of characters, WWE is far from mediocre. Now there is a reality vs. work controversy in WWE and we still don’t know just how much of the past that we thought was real was actually fake. So it turns out, that if not in the past, at least for now on…we know nothing at all. And that’s the reality check.

There will be a sequel to this column which actually takes a look from a different perspective. After all, whenever something new is introduced there is always a danger. Is “shooting” on TV and mixing pretend with reality such a good idea after all? Find out as early as next week!

-Mike Steele

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