Welcome to this week’s edition of The Thompson Perspective here on www.rronews.com.
Before I jump head-first into my subject matter for this edition, I just want to make a brief comment on last Sunday’s festivities at the “Nightmare” Ken Wayne School of Professional Wrestling. I posted a press release on the event earlier this week and then Brian Tramel posted his thoughts on the event. I don’t know if words could adequately describe the feeling of the moment. I’m not even sure that a DVD of the event could properly display the emotions surrounding the night.
It was one of those “special” moments in wrestling. I’ve had a handful of them in my nearly eight years in the wrestling business, or what’s left of it anyway. Promoting Lethal Attitude Wrestling’s Black River Brawl in 2003 with my then-partners, working on several high profile WWE/MCW cards as a member of the Memphis Championship Wrestling crew and managing the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Bobby Eaton) against the Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) in front of 2,500 fans in Waynesboro, Virginia in 2004, all come to mind but last Sunday joins the list of “special” moments in my career. I could go on and on about it, but I won’t. Congrats to Eric and Kid for graduating!
This week, I want to focus on two events in the national wrestling scene. First, late last week it was announced that WWE SmackDown! will no longer be broadcast on the CW Network at the conclusion of this television season, which I believe will wrap up in late August or early September.
That is really unfortunate, but not unexpected. I guess the writing was on the wall a couple of years ago, when the network moved the show from Thursdays to Fridays.
Do I think SmackDown! will find another network? Certainly.
I think wrestling is still viewed as viable by television officials. Maybe its not as strong as it was during the mid-1980’s and then again in the 1990’s with the then-WWF, WCW and ECW all appearing on national TV stations, but I think someone will want SmackDown!
There is some talk of the MyNetwork TV station picking it up, which I think would be a nice fit. It would be a step down from CW, however, MyNetwork may be willing to get behind the show since it would likely be the highest rated program on the network.
Of course, USA and SciFi are other options discussed. I think of those two, USA would be the most likely. Despite being tied to NBC Universal, through the shows on its cable companies, I just don’t see NBC picking up a weekly series. Saturday Night’s Main Event is probably the best we can hope for on that network.
Lately, I believe that SmackDown! has been the most solid show of the WWE’s three brands. Most of the outrageous storylines and in-ring talk fests are reserved for Monday Night Raw. I’ve enjoyed watching MVP move up the ladder and think there is a money feud between he and Matt Hardy when Hardy returns from injury. Edge is by far the best heel in the business today and Vicki Guerrero has improved. I’m not a huge fan of their “love” storyline, but it has logic in the sense that Edge will do anything to maintain his status as World Heavyweight Champion.
Good luck to WWE in their search for a new home of SmackDown! I’m sure we’ll have good news to report at some time in the future.
Last week also brought news of the demise of the working agreement between WWE and Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). Every time there is a split, it brings me back to 2001 when I was working for then-WWE developmental territory Memphis Championship Wrestling.
We had just completed a four straight show tour that featured several stars such as Rikishi, Jerry Lynn, Raven, Stevie Richards, Ivory and the APA. I basically discovered the news on the internet before it was revealed the following weekend to the boys.
I could feel something wasn’t going right during the tour. WWE officials who were there didn’t seem happy and MCW officials acted a little odd about things. Then the big news came.
Several guys were released from their deals and others were sent to either OVW or the new, at the time, developmental territory Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA).
It was a tough moment.
I can sympathize with the guys recently released and those in the OVW area trying to work toward a deal.
While I understand WWE wanting to move their talents to the Florida Championship Wrestling promotion, I think they should develop their territory system more fully.
During the territory days, a worker would enter a territory, stay for a year or two and then move on to another territory. Usually, each territory had different rules and different things to learn. What may work in Memphis might not work in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a matter of fact, I’m positive it didn’t. Oklahoma fans liked the more hard-hitting, amateur style of wrestling perfected by such greats as Danny Hodge. In Memphis, even today, you saw a little comedy mixed in. I don’t think the old “he’s got an illegal chain,” spot would go over as well in Oklahoma.
Even more recently as the mid 1990’s you could see Knoxville, Tennessee fans enjoying the style of Smoky Mountain Wrestling while that would not get over to the hardcore fans of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
If the WWE had territories spread out across the country, they could develop a nice curriculum. In Territory No. 1, you learn this. In Territory No. 2, you learn this and finally in the last territory you learn the “WWE TV” style that you need. Then you would have a well-rounded athlete.
However, there seems to be a push to rush everybody up. This is the result of injuries and a current lack of top name stars. It’s hard to blame WWE for bringing up a Bobby Lashley too soon, but sometimes it backfires as we have seen with Lashley recently asking for and receiving his release.
These are two interesting stories that we will follow throughout the year. What will happen with SmackDown!? How will OVW proceed? Will FCW succeed or fail as a developmental? Will Brian Tramel win the WWE Title?
Those are all important questions to answer this calendar year.
That’s all for this week. Be sure to tune in, or I mean log onto the site, this time next week for another edition of The Thompson Perspective where I discuss someone who I think has been underutilized and underappreciated. Also, don’t forget to order your copy of the RRO Yearbook 2007. It’s a nice collector’s piece.
Take care all.
(Brian Thompson may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)