Not even a year removed from the debut of AEW Dynamite — the weekly 2 hour wrestling program from All Elite Wrestling — I consider myself a full-blown convert. Each week, WWE’s stranglehold on the pro-wrestling (ahem… “Sports Entertainment”) industry slips further and further down. In fact, just this past week, their ratings continued to plummet. And while all TV ratings right now are not-great? The WWE has less of an excuse. They are still producing weekly entertainment. It’s just that in comparison to Tony Khan’s black-white-and-gold brand… WWE is looking a lot less shiny. So much so I’m not even watching DVR’ed episodes with any zeal. At best, I listen to results (and complaints) from YouTube reviewers a few days after episodes air. While the WWE is literally too big to fail for now? As AEW Champion (and former WWE staple) Jon Moxley might say… it’s time for a paradigm shift. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #068: The Nails In WWE’s Coffin Are Elite”
Just in time for professional wrestling to implode, Pop Culture Squad is proud to present the pilot to Another Smart Marc — a pro wrestling podcast as part of our Pop Culture Squadcast Network!
Join PCS columnist SmartMarc Alan Fishman and his guest, singer/songwriter Jeremy Lieb as they breakdown the coming and (mostly) goings in the world of rasslin’.
The lads discuss the current empty arena shows — the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re taking Friar Ferguson levels of ugly. And if you get that reference? Well my friend, you’re just another smart mark.
With the increasing pressure of the CDC, state governance, and… well… common sense, live entertainment may be on the verge of hiatus. I speak specifically of professional wrestling — with both the WWE and AEW continuing to produce shows weekly. This perhaps coming to no greater head than Wrestlemania itself. Let’s just unpack that, shall we?
Vince McMahon’s first ‘Mania was the gamble that paid off to dividends still reverberating today. The WWF of 1985 presented the carnival-tinged cavalcade of muscle-bound pugilists in a venue and scope that prognosticated future success to the tune of billions of dollars earned. Fast-forward to the COVID-19 stricken wastleland that is America at present. Wrestlemania 36 just ended it’s 2-night audience-less presentation. In spite of death-defying stunts, first-and-likely-last-time-ever matchtypes like the Boneyard Match between the Undertaker and AJ Styles, or the Firefly Funhouse match between John Cena and The Fiend… after 7 hours of grunts and prat falls to the echos of an empty warehouse, I’m astounded this was considered a good idea. At all. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #062: No Audience? No Wrestling!”
It’s been a while since I’ve written to you, my adoring public. But rest assured, I’ve been knee deep in content saturation; trying to find a specific hook to yammer on about on my little home on the interwebs. Well, since it’s been long enough since my last wrestling run-down, I felt it was time to return to the squared circle and once again wax poetic on the virtues of Cody Rhodes and company. Let’s do the thing:
The win/loss record makes inconsequential matches actually matter
When AEW gets into their mid-card, their simple system of tracking wins and losses (and soft resetting at year end) means every match has a purpose. By telling us presently-not-on-the-top-five Jungle Boy is facing off with 5th ranked Superbad Kip Sabian, even without a lengthy backstory, the match suddenly matters. A win over Sabian might mean Jungle Boy gets on the ranking board. But if Kip nips Jungle Boy in the bud, he’ll hold more wins than #4 on the chart, and suddenly his stock is skyrocketing. This makes every match have ramifications. It forces us, the viewers, to think of the predetermined contests as holding a narrative built around the sport between the ropes. This suspension of belief is what pro-wrestling used to be rooted in. Continue reading ““So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man” #059: How AEW has the WWE in a Rest Hold”
Let me jump ahead here to be clear: I wasn’t in a place financially to allow the indulgence of AEW’s “Double or Nothing” pay-per-view. And whatever leaked dirt-sheet reports from the smarks bellowing on how amazing it was preceded this article or my decision to no longer contribute to the WWE Network subscriber base. Cool? Cool.
There’s a large part of me that wants to write directly to the smark community right now. To drop all traditional pretense to mansplain in the nicest way possible, the brief history and factual evidence that led my decision and what built this article in the first place. I want to set it aside so I can fill my column inches with pure vitriol and spite.
But I’m older, wiser, and the bitterness isn’t such that I need to level a rant that sadistic anymore. Because while I freely admit I hate-canceled my WWE Network subscription… it was done with a whimper and a sigh. Let me tell you all a tale. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #038: I quit the WWE (Mostly)”
With WrestleMania season slowly descending upon us (and go ahead and pencil in a column about that the week of the event, smart marks…), the roll out for the WWE’s Hall of Fame began this week with the news that Degeneration X would be the first of the class of 2019. Entering the hall for the stable will be Triple H, Shawn Michaels (his second Hall of Fame ring), “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, “The Road Dogg” Jessie James… and Chyna. The news was mostly accepted with some fanfare. DX was the WWE’s answer to WCW’s NWO stable — and was instrumental in eventually helping McMahon’s company to topple the competition at the end of the Monday Night Wars.
In short: the smart marks have their panties in a bunch over the accolade specifically because Chyna herself hasn’t been inducted alone, as the singles star she was for the company. Many feel that this is a backhanded compliment to the late Joanie Laurer (Chyna’s real name) to let her in to the hall without truly recognizing her contributions to the WWE at large. Further to that point, Paul Levesque (WWE VP of Talent Relations and semi-retired professional wrestler Triple H) when asked year after year why Chyna has fallen to the wayside with a Hall of Fame induction, often cited Laurer’s complicated personal issues as muddying the waters to grant her with the tribute.
And with the fanfare of the announcement of induction-by-way-of-stable comes the controversy. And who would I be if I didn’t have an opinion to share on the matter? Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #028: The Ninth Wonder of the World”
The siren’s song of Pro Wrasslin’ hath grabbed me again, and I’m unable to think about much else pop culture wise these days. The groundswell amongst smart marks such as myself is reaching a fever pitch over the announcements concerning AEW — All Elite Wrestling. Financially backed by the Shah family, helmed in-part by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, with a growing talent roster highlighted by “Mr. Highlight Reel” himself, Chris Jericho. In short? AEW, more than any other promotion in the states, has the potential to be viable competition to the McMahon empire.
It’s not been this exciting as a fan since the Monday Night Wars… maybe, kinda, almost, hopefully. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #023: MOSTLY IN On AEW”
Oh, you didn’t know? Hello all my fellow smart marks. This here is the first in my new weekly series wherein I cover my Smarky Six of the week; six hard takes on this week in the WWE. Please denote, while I am a fan of all professional wrestling… honestly I only make time for Raw, Smackdown, and the PPV’s. I would love to do deep dives into 205 Live, NXT, New Japan, and all the indie stuff out there… But I’ll want your demand that I do it before I start investing my time, and limited energies. I mean, come on. I only have so much snark to smark about. Can you dig it, sucka?
As we make our way towards “Extreme Rules” here in the not-too-distant future, this week we saw several steps forward for a few decent storylines, as well as the all-too-usual steps backwards in other sagas. Let’s unpack this week in wrestling with my six snarky sentiments shouldered straight to the mat.
- Kevin Owens is being wasted, what a surprise!
On one hand, I shouldn’t complain; Kevin Owens was featured in multiple segments on Raw this week, and he (as always) nailed the comedy of the situation. On the other hand? I don’t particularly enjoy “the Prize Fighter” being reduced to a Port-O-Potty blue goo crash test dummy. It hardly even makes sense, from a story perspective. It’s clear as the shine on Bobby Lashley’s head that this is all a time waster while Brock Lesnar heards cattle in the mountains. The “Monster In The Bank” is literally just bullying someone because it makes him laugh. And because he’s over like rover (deservedly so!), the fans are eating this up. This all just leads me to the larger point: The Universal Title needs to be on RAW again. I have been nothing short of a Paul Heyman level apologist for Lesnar up through Mania. But at this point, sitting home for months on end does nothing for what should be a top prize of the company. And given that we saw both Braun and Samoa Joe eat clean losses to Lesnar? Any chance of Strowman stripping the Beast will barely come across as a monstrous victory. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, WWE. Oh, wasn’t this supposed to be about Kevin Owens? Meh. I’m sure he can listen to Shania Twain while I wrap this up. Next!