Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Mercy Side: King Booker

Hey everyone, it’s been over a month since I’ve last wrote a full article about wrestling. There are a few reasons for that, like focusing a lot on the football (soccer) recently, wanting to do some music reviews and  paying homage to Guitar Hero. But the most honest reason is that I had a bit of writers block when it came to wrestling. That is partly my fault, but it’s also because wrestling had a big high a few months back, and it’s kinda gone back to old ways recently. Or has it?

Now this article isn’t about King Booker, or Booker T although I really am enjoying his commentary, he’s got a really unauthentic style that contrasts everyone else and I mean that positively. He’s started to develop his own phrases (“DBry is in my Fav Five dawg”, “wut da hayel?!” and “oh my goodness!”) This article is about the booking team. See what I did there with the name of the article huh? Haha. Okay. Not so funny. Moving on…

Basically I want to start a round of applause for the booking team in this article. Why? Because I think they’ve done a decent job recently, that’s why! I read a lot of wrestling articles, mainly The John Report, but some other sources too, and I can’t really say I’ve seen anyone praising the booking team. Yes, they’re not perfect and they do things that sometimes still make us scratch our heads, but for the most part they seem to be more on alert recently and they’re paying a lot of attention to story continuation. You still don’t think they deserve praise? If not, let me see if I can convince you.

Now, when I say I’m praising the booking team it’s not because they’re pushing my favourite wrestlers. That’s one thing that pisses me off about the Internet Wrestling Community. They have their favourites, and if they’re booked badly, it’s the booking team’s fault. “It’s bad booking!” This isn’t what this article is about. I’m not going to get into the politics about who deserves a push, or who is pushed up our asses and doesn’t deserve it. My favourite wrestler might be someone you don’t like, and vice versa. While the IWC tend to agree on certain wrestlers being better than others (like CM Punk and Christian being great, and The Great Khali being awful), it doesn’t matter. What this article is about is to raise the fact that the WWE think certain wrestlers deserve a push, and others may not. And it’s obvious from the booking recently, who these people are. That’s GOOD booking. Don’t get confused between good and bad booking. If you want to see bad booking look at TNA, who for most Impact shows can’t get through one episode without fucking it up.
The best example in terms of a certain period of time where the booking was perfect was actually last week’s Raw (dated 26/9/11, or 9/26/11 for you weird North Americans who believe the month should be displayed before the day), where the first 20 minutes was booked fantastically well. Don’t you remember? Didn’t you notice? Well let me jog your memory.

The show stated with Triple H explaining his decision to fire The Miz and R-Truth last week. Pause for a second. The hook ending of last week was those two being fired. People wanted to know why they got fired, and had to wait a week to find out. They then find out at the start of the episode. Good booking.

Continuing on, he continues before Dolph Ziggler and Vicky Guerrero interrupt, and raise their grievances over Hugh Jackman ‘breaking Ziggler’s jaw’ last week. We then got further interruptions from Cody Rhodes, who complained about his attack from Randy Orton on last week’s Smackdown, then we got Christian complaining about Sheamus attacking him in the middle of his match, ‘costing him the’ title.

Triple H sorts each person out individually, by telling Dolph Ziggler he’ll defend his title against Zack Ryder, who beat him last week. Pause. Good booking here too, Zack Ryder did indeed beat the champion last week, and deserves his rematch. As Christian did his ‘one more match’ chant again, Triple H gave him ‘one more match’ against Sheamus at Hell in a Cell instead. As for Cody Rhodes, he told him he can have the night off, before Rhodes backchatted. In the end for his multiple interruptions it ended up with Triple H putting Cody Rhodes in a 10 man over the top rope Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Title.
The aftermath of this 10 man Battle Royal was Cody Rhodes retaining the title. But it was more than that. This 10 man Battle Royal continued many feuds and many storylines. Evil Sin Cara took out the original Sin Cara in the match and replaced him, furthering their feud. Good booking. Sheamus was in the match and Christian interfered to help him get eliminated, furthering their feud. Good booking. And Cody retaining for me was a good move, as he’s continuing to establish himself as a very good Intercontinental champion.

This was around 20 minutes long in total. Not a long time, but it was seamless, it answered questions that were left hanging from last week and it raised some more questions that would be answered at Hell in a Cell, like will Sheamus get his revenge against Christian, and pretty much the same thing with the Sin Caras.

It was almost perfect, the only bad thing I can say really was the ‘on the spot’ booking of Cody Rhodes at both Raw and Hell in a Cell. He had just come out a match with Ted DiBiase only a week ago and Ted DiBiase could have had more of a chance to continue that feud by maybe being left as the last man standing, only to lose to Rhodes last minute. They then could have had a match at HIAC. That would be better booking than DiBiase basically being ignored in the Battle Royal, and the ‘spontaneous’ decision to make John Morrison be the #1 contender on the actual PPV and lose was used instead. That wasn’t the best booking decision, but nearly everything else was perfect.

Now that was a long winded example of what booking a wrestling should be like, in my opinion. It’s not about your favourite guys getting (or not getting) the right push that makes the booking bad. That’s just personal taste. What makes booking bad or good is creating storylines and continuing them until they lose steam. It’s about creating interest and then maintaining it. And for the most part, the WWE booking has been just that.

I’m not going to go in too much depth now but they pretty much continued that streak at Hell in a Cell, and then on Raw last night. At Hell in a Cell, for the most part, the booking was top notch. Starting the show with The Miz and R-Truth as fans at ringside with tickets, and then getting kicked out was good. They then tried to get backstage and got kicked out. In the end of the PPV they came through the crowd and slid under the ring while the cell lowered and beat the crap into all the main eventers and referees. The cage was down, and all the ‘employed’ wrestlers tried and failed to break into the cage to get them out. Eventually the cage was broken by bolt cutters and then they got arrested. Not only visually was it a great scene, but it continued the storyline further about what those two are going to do next. What are the WWE going to do? It was fantastic booking.
Now going into the main event I just talked about, I didn’t expect Alberto Del Rio to come out victorious. But in an interview before the match, Del Rio told everyone that we’ll see a different side of him tonight. And good booking was that he delivered. Tactically using Ricardo Rodriguez to take the keys from the referee and for them both to assist in getting Cena out of the cage, locked, was indeed that ‘different side’ we were told to look out for. But more emphatically, was his display in the match. He was fucking aggressive. One of the main criticisms of Del Rio was that he was talented in the ring and on the mic, but if you’re to be a world champion you need a certain level of aggression. He lacked that. But on Sunday, he really was vicious. They booked him very strong in the match, equal to Cena and Punk. And that was a first. He always looked to be one step behind the other two competitors, on both a verbal and physical battle. But he stuck it to them, and beat Punk clean with the use of an iron pipe. It was great booking.

I could go on about the other matches but this article is getting a bit long now, but they’ve continued the ‘chaotic’ ending of the PPV onto Raw last night. In fact the cliffhanger for Raw was excellent, and I can’t remember any visual like that being done ever in the WWE. For weeks and months Triple H has slowly been losing the trust of the locker room, with multiple heels complaining of unjustice and faces being beaten up by the heels. Mark Henry’s excellent dominance and brutal beatings on certain wrestlers has also contributed to this. So Triple H was put on the spot for the fact that he wasn’t controlling these chaotic scenes; the ending of the PPV, Mark Henry, and just the general dissatisfaction of the job the COO has been doing. So they all vote ‘no confidence’ about Triple H’s job, and then one by one everyone leaves. Not just the wrestlers, EVERYONE. The cameramen went, the commentators went, and the rest of the staff went. Everyone. The only people left in theory were the fans, the main cameraman and Triple H in the ring. It was excellent. And it’s great booking. It’s great booking because this story has unfolded other a matter of months and it came to a brilliant climax last night. It also leaves people wondering what on earth can happen next week on Raw, when there could potentially be no staff to help Triple H run the show. People are going to tune into this broadcast next week. It’s just incredible booking.

I don’t want to kiss the booking team’s ass too much. The booking has been bad in parts. But it’s better than it has been long term in the past, and it’s more consistently positive. What’s the bad booking then? Well for me, the bad booking of late really was in Beth Phoenix looking dominant against Kelly Kelly for weeks and weeks, only to lose every time they were wrestling for the title. That was bad booking, but it may be rectified now that Beth Phoenix won on Sunday. That being said, for Natalya to interfere in the match still made Phoenix look a little weaker than she should have been. The other big piece of bad booking is Daniel Bryan’s continued losing streak, despite pretty much being a certainty to wrestle in the main event at Wrestlemania. That for me is bad booking.

So next time you criticise the booking team and are unhappy with a certain push or a lack of push from a certain wrestler, think about the bigger picture. Think about the fact that basically, the booking team is given a blueprint to work to, to get a certain wrestler over. It may not be your favourite, but it doesn’t matter. And this wrestler has to be streamlined through a storyline that will keep audiences intrigued about its climax and finale. In many cases recently, the booking team have done just that. Thanks for your time.

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