Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wrestling Jeopardy

The answer: A beginning, a middle and an end.

The question: What should all successful wrestling angles have?

The biggest angle to hit the WWE in years is the group that's known as "Nexus." For those of you who aren't aware, the members of Nexus are all of the season one NXT rookies (minus the since released Daniel Bryan). In tactics not seen since the heyday of the nWo (more on them later), Nexus has run roughshod over most of the RAW roster over the past month. Even Vince McMahon wasn't spared as he endured a beatdown of epic proportions at the hands of Nexus. John Cena has been their personal whipping boy taking a beating seemingly every week on RAW.

I applaud WWE for giving the newbies such a prominent role in the company so early on in their respective careers. The exposure the Nexus 7 are getting can only benefit them in the long run. However, as past angles have shown, invasion angles have to be booked very carefully. You don't want the outsiders to seem invincible, yet you don't want the wrestlers being targeted to turn the tide within a matter of weeks.

Let's go all the way back to when the nWo took over Nitro back during the Monday Night Wars of the 1990s. In the beginning, it was one of the most controversial and compelling angles ever attempted by a wrestling company - taking two ex-WWF wrestlers (Hall and Nash) and pairing them with arguably the most popular wrestler of all time (Hulk Hogan) to form a heel group the likes of which hadn't been seen since the Four Horseman. When the nWo started to add members and gain even more strength, the angle just got hotter. And that's when things started to fall apart.

The nWo seemingly never lost. The WCW roster almost never got the upper hand. Week after week it was an nWo beatdown of a popular wrestler followed by the inevitable spray painting of "nWo" on their backs. For me, anyway, it got real old, real fast, especially when seemingly every other wrestler started to join the nWo. Heck, I think that I might have been a member of the nWo at one time. Okay, maybe not, but it sure seemed that way when mid-card jobbers like Scott Norton joined the group. And don't get me started on how the Sting-in-the-rafters angle was botched. I blame it all on the massive egos of Hogan and Eric Bischoff, but that's another post for another time.

The worst part of the nWo angle is that it really never had a real ending, even though it went on for years longer than it should have. Eventually, the nWo just kind of went away. Oh sure, it kinda sorta came back every now and then, but it had become a cliche by then. The angle should have had a definitive ending - WCW triumphs and vanquishes the nWo. Period. That's how it needed to end.

When the WWF had it's Invasion angle that's how it was ended - the WWF being victorious over the WCW/ECW Alliance. Yes, I do realize that as a whole, the angle was royally botched (also another column for another time), but at least it had a definitive beginning, middle and end.

Getting back to Nexus, I think we can all agree that some of the following things might start to happen in the coming months: 1) there will be some sort of dissension in the ranks; 2) a surprise member of the RAW roster will join Nexus; 3) the group's leader will be revealed; 4) there will be a big PPV match between Nexus and a team of RAW wrestlers, face and heel. Whichever of these happens, WWE has to keep its eyes on the ending of the Nexus angle. And most importantly, they can't let it drag out beyond this year. If we're still talking about Nexus this time next year, then the angle will have entered nWo territory, and that's not a good thing.

No matter what, though, the RAW roster has to start to chip away at Nexus. I think Cena has already done that by taking out Darren Young (temporarily or otherwise). The invincible group thing can only go on for so long before it starts to get old.

My favorite indy promotion, CHIKARA, is having its own invasion angle this year. The BDK is running roughshod over the promotion with the rest of the roster (heel and face) seemingly unable to do anything about it. Since winning the promotions tag team championships, Ares and Claudio Castagnoli haven't even lost a fall during their title defenses (title matches in CHIKARA are 2/3 falls). Eventually, a team is going to have to rise through the ranks to at least take a fall from Ares and Claudio, if not win the tag titles outright (my money is on The Colony). This angle had been building for at least two years, so I do hope that it will be brought to a successful conclusion that makes even the worst fanboys applaud.

Y'see, it's really all about a battle of good vs. evil - in the beginning, evil gets the upperhand and looks invincible until good finds its inner strength and eventually triumphs. This is the basic formula of most wrestling angles, but getting from point A to point B is the tricky part.

Even the all-but unwatchable TNA is about to run its own invasion angle, this time with a bunch of washed up ex-ECW wrestlers, most of whom are well past their primes (with the notable exception being RVD). The beginning of the angle won't air on TV until tomorrow night, so I won't spoil anything. I will say that if TNA President Dixie Carter is expecting Paul Heyman to come in and be the lynch pin of the angle, she shouldn't hold her breath. Heyman won't go to TNA unless he gets total control of the promotion (and a suitcase full of cash). However, even without seeing how the angle is played out, I expect it to be a total disaster. After all, it is TNA, y'know, the same promotion that built up a seemingly big angle between Sting and Christopher Daniels only to blow it off after on PPV match. Now there's an example of angle that didn't have a middle. What happens in the middle will determine how many people stick around to the ending. That's what doomed the nWo - the middle just fell apart somewhere between the "Crow" Sting angle and the nWo black and white and the nWo Wolfpack coming back together. By then, most people had had enough of the nWo. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen to Nexus, because I am legitimately interested to see where this angle goes.


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