While I’m knee-deep in studying for finals with Star Wars on loop (May the 4th be with you!), there’s a whole ‘nother kind of rebel alliance stirring in the galaxy.
Pro wrestling fans everywhere are a buzz today after the most recent WWE SmackDown tapings (May 3, 2011), set to air this Friday. Christian, who had just recently won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules 2011, lost his title in a well-received match with recent SmackDown draft pick, Randy Orton. I’ve read reports that SmackDown was an all around good show, and I look forward to watching it this Friday, but hold up.
Smarks, maybe even some marks, and myself included have taken to the internet forums and Twitter, mashing away at our keyboards with utter vengeance. Christian wasn’t the only one robbed. We were robbed.
Let’s get something out of the way first: Randy Orton is a very good professional wrestler and I am a fan. By far, he is one of the top superstars today and this World Heavyweight Championship reign will further add to his already impressive resume. I, and mostly everyone, do not hate Randy Orton. He has been caught in the middle of this and we cannot pin the blame on him. For now, at least. It has only been about twelve hours since the news came and there isn’t enough perspective, discussion, or even dirt sheet reports backstage to surface. So far, we only know what we know, and we know that Christian lost his World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton two days (five in WWE storyline/broadcast measurements) after his victory.
Now, back to the issue: We were straight up robbed. The fans who have put so much faith and investment in Christian (again, myself included) who is arguably one of the most underrated superstars today, were robbed. See, professional wrestling allows the audience to become emotionally invested in a character, much like any other television or movie. That’s why many fans can be hooked, regardless of the fact that it’s fake; it’s just damn good television. We take time to get to know them, see what they can do, and if we like them, we like them. Christian, real name Jason Reno, has been in in the fans’ hearts for over a decade. He has always been “almost, but not quite” in the hierarchy of the WWE roster. He has the looks, the charisma, and the ability to get over despite his less than stellar frame. He overcame his shortcomings with his wit, personality, and ring skills that he has managed to develop a strong fanbase within the WWE Universe. At Extreme Rules this past Sunday, those who put much investment in him for the past decade thought they saw something truly special happen that night. The audience, who has been with him through thick and thin, thought they saw something truly special that night.
This past Tuesday at the WWE SmackDown tapings, that moment was taken way too soon.
Again, not enough perspective has been accounted for. We don’t know what is going to happen at the next SmackDown (after it airs this Friday). We do not know what the long-term plans are, if any. We do not know what the WWE has planned. But some fans are already fed up.
As angry as I am, I’m trying to stay optimistic. Maybe there are some long term plans that we are not aware of. Could Randy Orton be the new heel of WWE SmackDown, the one to take away the hopes and dreams of the fans? If so, why Orton? Why not establish someone new who has to become a threat again, like Wade Barrett? Why Christian? Why does he have to give up his title so soon? Who booked that? What is everyone’s role? Is the WWE even thinking? Too many questions, not enough answers. If Orton is the new heel, then that means Christian has to be the top babyface to carry the brand, meaning he will get his second reign in the near future. But why so soon? Again, more questions, less answers. I’m going in circles just trying to analyze everything.
Jeff Katz, producer of several popular Hollywood films (I’ll let his resume speak for itself), has begun a social media experiment/grassroots movement within the professional wrestling community. He’s often talked on his Twitter page(s) about starting his own pro wrestling promotion. More often than not he dismisses it for “crazy talk.” But last night, upon learning about the title change, he’s changed his tune. Hard.
“You know what….”
“I’m going to do this.”
Each individual tweet pounded like a heartbeat, the heartbeat of a revolution.
In what he is describing as a “wrestling revolution,” Mr. Katz aims to take the “cracked” business and fix it up for the 21st century. He plans on flipping the business model upside down and trying something new. What that something new is, I don’t know for sure, he’s only told a select few people. But it’s change like this that excites me.
I’ve been watching professional wrestling/sports entertainment since I was 11. To me, it was the perfect storm of what I wanted out of television. My sister berated me over not watching sports as I insisted of refusing to grow up and stop watching Power Rangers. One summer night in 2003, I’m flipping through the television out of sheer boredom and something on SpikeTV catches my eye: the beginning of WWE Monday Night RAW.
I had vaguely known about pro wrestling and never found myself attracted to it. But that night, I sat down and watched. And everything I ever wanted came out of those two hours. Athelticism. Action. Drama. Characters. Colorful spandex. Adult themes and language. Hot chicks. It appealed to the adolescent in me and I have resonated with it for over nine years.
I love professional wrestling. I love the form of theater it presents. But I also love the performers, and unfortunately the business is one of the most unforgiving, ruthless forms of entertainment today.
Jeff Katz aims to change the wrestling business. I don’t know how, but I’m putting my faith in him. He’s friends with several wrestlers/superstars as far as I know, and I sincerely hope the changes he makes are not only in the marketing of his promotion, but in the treatment of his talent as well. But that’s all up to him, and not me, and a whole ‘nother issue entirely.
In short, today is a special day. On May 4th, 2011, someone who has truly been in Hollywood is stepping up to the professional wrestling game. This is something Vince McMahon can only dream about. Jeff knows how Hollywood works, and if he can truly unify Hollywood and professional wrestling, then the aspiring filmmaker in me is all ears. I look forward to what happens in the future.
Mr. Katz, I want to be in the entertainment business. And I love professional wrestling. In this future endeavor (hehe) of yours, you have my full support. Most of this blog is slightly incoherent, I understand, my global environment notes are running through my head and I take my exam in two days. But just know that I am with you 100% and I cannot wait to see what you, what we as vocal fans, can do.