Students of the Game

Nick Paglino

Pro wrestling used to be run by students of the game. At the very least, they were there as buffers. Voices of reason. Jim Ross is a student of the game. So is Jim Cornette. Paul Heyman. Mike Tenay.

It’s not that way anymore.

Many students of the game trade silence for a paycheck. Some labor in obscurity. Some are out of wrestling altogether.

In their place: Idiots, cowards and self-serving scumbags.

Count Dixie Carter, Brian Gewirtz and Vince Russo among the idiots. Triple H is a coward. He knows better. But he’ll never drop that brass ring. Hulk Hogan is a self-serving scumbag.

Vince McMahon? He’s just crazy.

The fans bear mute witness. There’s no legitimate competition, not significant enough to truly expose flaws, or to force a price to be paid for mistakes/arrogance. WWE has flat, unimpressive TV ratings, low house-show attendance and shrinking PPV buy rates, but still wallows in being “better than everybody else.” Wrestling has been so bad so long, most people don’t remember what it was like when it was good.

Impact is an abortion, one performed over and over again with a rusty coat hanger. Tell me what’s gained by retaining Hogan and Eric Bischoff? Hogan can’t work. Can’t even WALK. He’s devolved into self-caricature, and his presence sucks the life out of everyone else on the TV screen. And when was the last time Bischoff succeeded at something?

When was the last time WWE succeeded at something besides maintaining its brand? VKM wants his announcers to tell stories. But where are the stories? Most WWE main events are coffee pot matches based on star power. Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania – er, JUST BECAUSE! Oh, and they’re going to WAGE WAR ON TWITTER! They’re going to team before that, too. Why? Uh, JUST BECAUSE! The Undertaker goes for 20-0 at ‘Mania! Who’s the opponent? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? 20-0!

No character development, either. Just labeling. Randy Orton? He’s the Viper. Miz? He’s awesome. Zack Ryder? Woo, woo, woo! Sin Cara? There’s two of him, and neither one’s over. Why would I care about 95% of WWE’s roster? I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THEM.

Only one story in WWE makes sense, boring and tepid as it may be: The one that leads back to the family. CM Punk became interesting, so he got sucked into that vortex. The family should be OFF TELEVISION FOREVER. Stone Cold Steve Austin should have stunned VKM back into oblivion YEARS AGO. Besides Vince-Austin, the family never drew dime one. They were just pretend wrestling. But it’s always about the family.

The students of the game know better. But they sit in silence, in Stamford and in Nashville. I don’t blame them. Nothing they could say or do would lead to real change. They would just get fired, or humiliated on TV. Cash those checks. Golden handcuffs can be quite comfortable.

The #1 student of the game is Jim Ross. He gets constantly humiliated on WWE TV not because he flaunts his knowledge, but because the family KNOWS HE HAS IT. The last thing the family wants around is SOMEONE WHO KNOWS MORE THAN THEY DO. But that’s OK. Ross’ resolve and dignity through all the nonsense has actually burnished his reputation.

Imagine if the students of the game had meaningful input. Imagine Tenay booking TNA instead of announcing that dreck. Imagine Cornette booking WWE instead of eking out a living in the bushes. Imagine Ross in complete control of a promotion. Imagine Paul E. back in the game.

Imagine if wrestling was run by people who knew what they were doing.

You may say that I’m a dreamer…but I fear I’m the only one.

Most marks – the ones remaining, anyway – tolerate this drivel. Embrace it, even. You’re part of the problem.

But a turnaround may be imminent. John Laurinaitis and his massive charisma have come to WWE TV. Dynamic Dudes reunion, anyone? Mrs. Baba?

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at Contact Mark by emailing FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MARKMADDENX.

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