Remember last week when I said the jury was still out on the whole guest hosts on Raw thing? Well if most of the reviews of last night’s show are anything to go by, the jury has had enough instant coffee and stale bagels, has returned to the courtroom and has sentenced the segment to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Some of the reviews I’ve read have been beyond angry, with talk of group boycotts and sighs so heavy they were audible from space. First of all… BREATHE. Breathe, hold it, then release and allow your shoulders to slip down from your chin. Secondly, let’s try to put things in perspective. WWE is implementing an idea that most people don’t seem to like, right? It’s happened before. Many times. It will pass. I lost faith in wrestling a few years ago too. But I came back. And I never quite resisted the niggling urge to check on who was winning the matches every week. I’m as passionate as the next person about wrestling. The number of hours I dedicate to this blog just for the hell of it should bear testament to that. But getting so wound up it makes you lose your lunch is not the answer.
It has been acknowledged almost everywhere that last night’s show was bad. Really bad. In fact, while watching it on Sky+ tonight I felt compelled to tweet this……
Ted DiBiase Snr’s hosting was good. How can bringing a legend back to work with his son and integrate himself in to a storyline ever be bad? Seth Green was kind of cool but the plugging of his Robot Chicken show took the shine off some of it for me. At least he seemed to enjoy it. He actually looked like a cute little boy living out his dreams. And that wasn’t a height joke, just a general observation. ZZ Top was gastly. They appeared to have no interest in the business and were CLEARLY there to promote their 3 millionth tour. Shaq, I will admit, was great. He had personality, delivered comedic lines like a pro, integrated in to the storylines but didn’t overshadow the wrestling. He just became part of it.
Last night’s show came off worst because it was a two hour advertisement for a movie. Aside from the fact that Dr. Ken and Jeremy Piven were annoying and irritated me enough that I had no choice but to skip the odd end of segment, their shameless plugging of Piven’s new movie release (no, I’m not saying the name) was vile. When I want to watch an infomercial or ‘paid programming’, I will. When I sit down to enjoy a wrestling show, that’s what it should be.
I’m no dummy. I know how big business works. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours etc. A little kickback never hurt anybody. In truth, it kind of makes the world go round. The problem last night was that Vince McMahon was scratching Piven’s back, but he wasn’t returning the favour. And this is why the guest host bit has gone off the rails. They’ve lost sight of the content of the show, which was struggling even before this, and have fallen under the spell of dollar signs and hopeful links with the Page Six set. Watching low-grade celebrities act out boyhood fantasies about flying off the top rope at a wrestling superstar in return for a couple of hours of half-arsed tv hosting is not attractive to regular viewers. Wouldn’t we all like to be in the position to buy ourselves in to Raw or Smackdown for a night? Do any of us have that kind of clout? Nope. It makes us feel bad.
Look at how much time was spent last night showing clips from ESPN and various other mainstream media outlets on Shaquille O’Neal’s involvement in last week’s Raw. It’s as if they’re trying to impress and recruit non wrestling fans, while ignoring the dedicated followers they’ve already got. It’s like when banks bombard prospective customers with magnificent mortgage rates while offering nothing to its existing customers.
It’s like one of those romantic comedies where the girl spends every minute trying to snare the hot, sexy new guy in the office, while the loyal, male, best friend waits in the wings for her to cry on his shoulder when it all goes wrong. You know how those movies end, right? The girl ultimately realises that the new guy is a shallow flash in the pan and the old friend is the guy she will always be able to depend on. Once Vince loses his hard-on for Hollywood and appoints a new, permanent GM, all will be well again.
On the plus side, at least Sergeant Slaughter will be guest hosting next week. So light some candles, put on that pan-pipes album you got from your Granny for Christmas and just relax. In a day or so I’ll do one of my usual Raw recaps, cutting out as much of the guff as possible. Believe it or not, there were some sneaky little moments worth going back over. Don’t believe me? Well, you’ll have to keep checking back to see what they were then.