In Kashmere’s Corner by Johnny Kashmere
Cracking the Mega-Star Code:
I’m sure I’m not the only one that has noticed that since ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock we haven’t had any more mega-stars birthed by WWE. I’m curious why this is the case. Indulge me a bit here and think back to the atmosphere in the WWE around the time just before Austin began catching on. Think back, do you remember it? Nitro was the hot new thing and WCW was destroying WWE in the ratings each week. Even though Nitro was the hotter show with more viewers, I still waited in anticipation each week to see what Raw was going to come up with to try to get their audience back. This created an intense situation where literally anything could happen and we were guaranteed that at least SOMETHING major or novel would happen each week during the two-hour broadcast. This made for “can’t miss TV” and was a lot of fun to watch and talk about.
The Monday Night War was truly just that….a war. Just like in the history of any country in the world, when war happens the economy is jumpstarted. WWE was literally shocked out of their complacency as if they were being defibrillated back to into consciousness. Each and every week WWE was trying their absolute hardest to make something, anything stick. They turned their volume up to an 11 and put on the most controversial, entertaining, and memorable shows possible. With the WWE machine consistently running harder than it ever had run before, it was only a matter of time until it struck gold. In this case, the “gold” was Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Now, I’m not saying that Austin and The Rock were inevitabilities. I’m saying that when you pour enough gasoline on a fire, that it’s a safe bet that something is eventually going to explode….and explode they did. Just in the nick of time to save the day, here come two mega-stars that would attract the attention of the NWO fans and bring them back to RAW to stay.
When people ask me “When is the next mega-star going to emerge?” I always say the same thing. The next mega-star will emerge when WWE starts running itself like it did during the war. Reliance on production value was never an option for WWE back in the 90s as TV was nowhere near what it has become today. Today we are in a “Golden Age of Television” where breath-taking ring entrances, cutting edge attire, eye-popping pyrotechnics, glamorous special effects, mesmerizing LED displays, and state-of-the-art equipment are seemingly more important than finding the next break-through mega-star to lead the company into the 2020s. The nostalgia bucket is pretty much empty at this point so I’m guessing that the Performance Center and NXT will be where the next mega-star is born. The WWE knows how important home-grown talent is and so far they have done an amazing job at taking guys off the street and making them superstars. The true test, however, is taking superstars and making them mega-stars….a formula that WWE (or anyone else really) has yet to crack. My belief is simple, run the WWE machine on overdrive again for as long as possible and just keep throwing fresh new scenarios and angles at the crowd until one or more really sticks. Let’s be honest here, all WWE needs is one true mega star to emerge and things can be not only back to the level of The Monday Night Wars, but even beyond that level since that era’s production value was nowhere near what is available today.
WWE Mattel Action Figures Update:
If you are an avid collector of WWE action figures like I am, you will enjoy my latest facebook video where I feature all of the latest and greatest Elite and Basic Mattel figures as well as the old Hasbro figures. I went to Columbus Farmers Market this past Sunday morning to visit my friend Will’s pro wrestling figure stand and check out all of his inventory. It’s a light hearted, enjoyable video where I introduce all of the figures, I hope you’ll find it entertaining and informative. You can view the video using this link:
In other wrestling figure news, WWE Mattel Elite Series 45 has finally shipped to RingsideCollectibles.com. The six figure series consists of “The Narcissist” Lex Luger, Seth Rollins (In his white SummerSlam 2015 attire), Roman Reigns, Lord Steven Regal, and The Dudley Boyz. These are some really sharp-looking figures and are certainly must haves for any serious collector. In my opinion, Luger’s robe alone makes his figure worth the money.
A Squash Match is not just pairs of identical pumpkins:
If you grew up watching wrestling like I did, then you are familiar with the old Saturday morning Superstars TV show the WWE used to produce. Superstars, along with All American Wrestling, Wrestling Spotlight, Prime Time Wrestling and LiveWire all featured squash matches as around 80% of their weekly content. The same can be said of WCW Main Event and Saturday Night. What was the purpose of these “Squash Matches”, why were they so important, and why did they stop?
A squash match is simply a match where a known member of the roster faces off with someone who is unknown and usually doesn’t even get a televised ring entrance. The phrase “Already in the ring” was usually used by the ring announcer before introducing the opponent in one of these matches. Probably some of the most well-known squash matches came at the hands of Bill Goldberg on WCW Nitro back in the 90s. Week after week Goldberg would destroy some local wannabe wrestler and add another tick mark on the wall that caused his undefeated streak to skyrocket. Even though no one in their right mind thought any of these guys had a chance of actually beating Goldberg, the fans still went nuts every time. Squash matches help wrestlers build up some momentum so when they finally do face a reputable opponent, it makes the match that much more anticipated and important. I have to ask the question of without squash matches would there have even been a Bill Goldberg? For that matter, would there have been an X-PAC?
Recently, RAW has brought the squash matches back to our TV screens each week. Braun Strowman and Nia Jax have both been benefitting from weekly squash matches. They are both being built up as monsters that dominate their opponents week after week and need to be taken very seriously by other roster members. I thoroughly enjoy watching these matches on Raw and find them so refreshing. I was really surprised to see that Bo Dallas was also given a squash match last week on RAW. This shattered my belief that squash matches were only being brought back for Braun and Nia as a tool to get them over. Now I’m beginning to think that the RAW brand has brought them back as a permanent fixture, and this really makes me happy.
The fact that only RAW, and not SmackDown Live, has brought squash matches back to television really shows the viewers that the two brands really do have two separate creative teams. The brand split is not a work after all, its legitimate. That makes me feel all warm inside that the two brands are actually going to compete for the viewer’s attention. I see it as a win/win scenario for the fans.
Before I go on to my next topic, I want to say that enhancement talent from yesteryear are ultimately responsible for getting the superstars over. Guys like Iron Mike Sharpe, Tony DeVito, Barry O, Johnny K-9, Steve Lombardi, Barry Horowitz, and Sam Houston did the superstars favors by letting them beat them so fast so they could gain momentum and credibility with the fans. The squash match talent are truly the unsung heroes of professional wrestling and they deserve to be recognized as the selfless, professionals that they really are. I actually feel that Tony DeVito is THE most underappreciatd and underrated pro wrestler in the history of the sport. That man is a class act and is willing to help out anyone who truly has a passion for pro wrestling. In my pro wrestling career, my matches for Ring of Honor against him and his partner HC Loc were some of my favorite matches I’ve ever been a part of. I learned a ton from seeing how a veteran like DeVito carried himself backstage, how he operated in the ring, and his mindset while calling the matches. From all of us here I’d like to say THANK YOU to the enhancement talent of yesteryear for all that you’ve given to the wrestling business, you are appreciated and loved by everyone who is smart enough to realize just how profound your contribution to this sport was.
Tag Team Revolution Addendum:
I need to add something to last week’s article about the topic of a Tag Team Revolution being a real possibility. I failed to include one of the tag teams currently in the forefront of SmackDown Live, The USOs. Somehow their paragraph was cut off of the final copy I sent in for publishing so I’m including it here:
The USOs (Jimmy and Jey): Another team on the main roster that is bona fide wrestling royalty. Samoan Dynasty members, The USOs are identical twin brothers who have good size and speed and are believable to inflict pain on any roster member. If you’ve seen Total Divas on the E! Network, you know just how funny and down to Earth the USOs really are. I wish WWE could find a way to make their real-life personas bleed through into their on-air characters. The WWE has done a lot in the past to give them the rub from their superstar family members such as their father, Rikishi and their cousin, The Rock. I’m not sure it is enough though; I think the brothers need more TV time in order to really endear their personalities to the world. Notice I have only talked about their personas, that’s because their wrestling ability is top-notch and they are an extremely cohesive unit. Other than being a bit smaller in stature, these guys are the third incarnation of the Wild Samoan tag team. Like The Headshrinkers before them, I see a long future for this team.
Thanks again for reading and if you wish to send me feedback or if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future column, you can do so via the following:
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