First off I would like to apologize for my lack of columns lately. There are so many things I am working on right now that some things just get lost in the shuffle. But in the end it will all be worthwhile...trust me.
I want to touch on something that was once again brought to my dubious attention last night while I was at the NWA Mt. Holly show.
While watching the matches I noticed the same thing there as I have seen time and time again lately throughout most promotions today. A very great lack of intensity.
In my opinion, wrestling is built on two things. A solid storyline to keep the fans interest and credible workers to portray the storyline in such a manner that is heightens the fans senses and makes them crave more. It is a shame that most promotions have one or the other but rarely have both.
Let's take a look at the recent swing this year in perceptions of WCW and the WWF. Last year (before the Bret Screwed Bret angle) WCW was supreme master of the wrestling world. They had an incredible angle going (although it was starting to turn stale in the minds of many) in the NWO. At this junction in time they built off the NWO as much as they could. Angle after angle somehow seemed to tie in one way or the other. WCW also had the talent to pull this off. But one thing was really starting to become apparent as time went on. Although WCW seemed to have the edge they started lacking intensity in their matches and sometimes even in their interviews. This in my opinion was the start of the demise of the WCW domination.
Now enter Vince McMahon. McMahon is a veteran at analyzing what is going on in the business of professional wrestling. While re-building the WWF he had to have noticed that WCW was sorely lacking in the intensity of their product. So what did Vince do? Take a look a Steve Austin and that alone will answer that question for you. Austin is a man who in no way lacks intensity. Now before the Goldberg marks start planning my death lets look at the two men mentioned above.
Bill Goldberg is of course intense with his intro and in his matches. Well to a point anyway. Goldberg has a very limited wrestling arsenal which is due to him still being in his rookie year as far as the business in concerned. I am confident that as time moves on Goldberg himself will see that he needs more than just a few moves to keep on top of the game and he will adjust accordingly. But until then, Goldberg is not the total package that I am sure he one day hopes to become.
Steve Austin on the other hand has paid his dues for 9 years now. He knows what it's like to be overlooked and under booked. Austin has taken that knowledge and turned it into a veritable goldmine from a promoters perspective. Austin can not only give you a great match but his mic work is second to none. Austin can insight a crowd into a frenzy if need be and he has on more than one occasion. Why? Intensity personified. You never see Austin just going through the motions. You can feel Austin when he takes the mic in his hand. You can feel the shots he delivers to an opponent or the shots he takes.
Vince McMahon did not just stop with Austin though. Vince got his whole locker room to bring it up a couple of notches. Rocky Miavia is another. When "The Rock" first came in I had (as did many) a lot of questions. I believe that he has answered all the questions. His matches and workrate in the ring are solid and he too knows how to incite the crowd. How? By being intense.
Intensity is more than just screaming into a mic or beating yourself in the head while you walk to the ring. Intensity is a state of mind. Intensity is a state of being. One thing is you cannot be intense if you are unsure of yourself. Intensity is believing in what you are doing completely without fail. Ask any wrestler, football player or anyone else who ever played sports and they will tell you that intensity covers more than just one area. It covers the whole spectrum and if one part is lacking in the whole picture than the whole in of itself is compromised.
I am not saying that WCW does not have intense workers. Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, DDP and Rey Misterio Jr.. are just some of the WCW workers who are very intense. A true picture of intensity personified was Arn Anderson. But WCW has a penchant for relying on the big money makers in their locker room to pull them through. Time and time again though, they have found out that they were wrong.
Wrestling in my eyes is a sport and also entertainment. A perfect case in point is this scenario, your at a Comedy Club and on the bill are two comedians. One comes out and just walks through his routine. No inflection in his voice. No hand gestures. Just goes through the motions basically waiting for his time to end. The next comedian comes out and from the very beginning takes over. You can not only see but feel his enthusiasm as each word flows from his lips. The punch lines are tight and he is totally into what he is doing. Which one will you remember and for what?
While I am not comparing pro wrestling to stand up comedy in any way shape or form, when you are in the entertainment business (as both the big two have said that they are) then the delivery of what you are trying to put across has to be the most important thing.
It is easy to become complacent or comfortable in your position if you have a long term contract paying big money or if you have been with a company for a long amount of time. It is also easy to start believing the "hype" that surrounds you. But when you fall into these pits you tend to lose your edge, thus the intensity that catapulted you to these heights in the first place.
It is the job of Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon and every promoter around to not only remind themselves but also their workers that now is not the time to just rely on cute angles and past reputations to get by on. That would prove to be in the end disastrous for all parties involved. While wrestling is enjoying it's greatest popularity of all time, it was not all that long ago that wrestling was at an all time low as far as viewership is concerned and I would hate to see it return there anytime soon.
Fritz Capp is the editor for Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets - for comments or opposing viewpoints please e-mail to Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets