Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
On the Monday after Wrestlemania, the WWE announced that they had reached a total of 667,287 members within a month and a half of the starting date. Investors reacted negatively to the news, which led to a drop in the price of stock, leading to some fans questioning the success of the product. As fans, we sometimes get trapped trying to get too “smart” about the business. How we should measure success is based on the in-ring action combined with the product itself (television, merchandise, customer service, etc.). Judging based off of these criteria, the last week of programming definitely qualifies as a triumph.
Despite initial qualms about the stream quality, especially for on-demand programming, there was nary a hitch during the live offerings this past weekend. I personally watched on three different sources: a laptop at a friend’s house for the Hall of Fame, and my ancient laptop and iPhone during WrestleMania. There was one brief moment of buffering during the Hall of Fame ceremony. Very few complaints filtered in from the internet wrestling community and if anyone was going to blow up, it would be there. Even better was the sheer quality of coverage available. The week leading up to WrestleMania had reporting on events via the “WrestleMania Today” shows, and there was a brilliant documentary chronicling Daniel Bryan’s ascension to the championship within 24 hours of the end of WrestleMania. Furthermore, the network quickly adjusted their programming to celebrate the life of the Ultimate Warrior shortly after his untimely passing. WrestleMania week provided an experiment for officials to see how they can program down the line. If their “WrestleMania Today” show succeeded, we may get the rumored “Sportscenter” type program quicker than expected. After all, now that the big event is over, the WWE will need to find the means to maintain those 667,000 subscribers.
- The First Principle of Destrucity: News of the Ultimate Warrior’s death was relayed here Tuesday morning, with very little information available on the circumstances surrounding the event. The preliminary autopsy results released thus far rule out foul play and indicate a “medical-related” cause, which does not tell us much. Reports have indicated that Warrior was out of sorts throughout the weekend, and knew about chronic health issues that could be very risky for him, before finally clutching his chest and collapsing on Tuesday. One can read between the lines and presume that Warrior knew about his heart issues (his father and grandfathers had also died in their fifties, and besides, Warrior had not always been kind to his body), knew that he might not have much time left, and wanted to mend fences for several reasons: to bring personal closure to his own issues; to bring public & professional closure to all of the issues related to the Self-Destruction DVD; to establish new royalties to provide income for his family. Certainly Linda McMahon’s explanation for Warrior bringing a handkerchief on stage with him for his Hall of Fame speech seemed odd at the time, and a Hall of Famer giving a promo on his own on the RAW following WrestleMania was unprecedented until this week. Much of this is speculation, of course, but still does not strain credulity.
- The Last Principle of Destrucity: One thing that was not addressed in the PTBN tribute to the Warrior, and in many other similar articles, was his virulent homophobia. Tom Keiser does a fantastic job addressing it in his obituary. The Warrior found many ways to alienate many people over the years; in his final months he found ways to mend ties with many of them, from the larger act of coming back into the WWE fold to the simple act of posing for a friendly photo with Hulk Hogan, whom he’d made some unkind comments on in the past, and who had participated in the Self-Destruction DVD that hurt him so. In his final televised appearances he spoke emotionally about his connection to his fans and his gratitude for all the support the audience had given him over the years; he did not live long enough to learn to retract the hurtful and wrong-headed things he said about some of us in that audience. When a person dies, we are not always left with pleasant memories to the exclusion of all else; people’s real lives are messy and sometimes contradictory, and that must de dealt with in death as in life.
- Cue the Benny Hill Theme: TNA plans to run a TV taping at the Manhattan Center in New York City in the near future, a rare venture north of the Mason-Dixon line for the company. Hopefully this will go better for them than the time they tried to run a house show in the great state of Connecticut, when they initially booked one venue, were forced to change to another venue, found out they had no permit for the new venue, pulled out entirely, and then claimed WWE had sabotaged them in a hilarious attempt to save face after the whole fiasco.
- Perfect Announciation: Previously on The High Spot we announced the announcement of Jeff Jarrett’s impending announcement. That announcement is here, and it is Global Force Wrestling, which Jeff Jarrett told SB Nation will listen to the wrestling fans, which presumably means he’ll push Daniel Bryan at the earliest available opportunity. He also announced that more announcements will establish when the promotion will start and just who will be doing the wrestling, so look for future announcements of these announcements right here. Related question to this GWF announcement: are all the good acronyms taken? Were they already taken when Jarrett started TNA?
- Close the Border Gate:Last weekend, Dragon Gate USA offered two events as part of the WWN Experience during WrestleMania festivities. Fans were disappointed by the last minute announcement that no actual Japanese Dragon Gate wrestlers would appear on the card due to visa problems (American-based Ricochet, the current champion, was involved). This is the second consecutive occurrence of limited Japanese wrestlers at Dragon Gate events, and a far cry from the seven or more athletes flown over in the early days of the promotion. Booker Gabe Sapolsky rushed to rebook the events, adding Masato Tanaka for an extra day and luring Low-Ki out of retirement. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian of TNA also appeared for the live crowd only. Sadly, this is the latest of apologies that Sapolsky has had to give fans of his promotion, including iPPV issues, year-long delays for DVD releases and, of course, the infamous Milwaukee show where the ring failed to show up for hours after the original start time. For the first few years of the promotion, I was a rabid fan of the product, but, the number of choices available now for wrestling, combined with the aforementioned concerns, as well as others not documented here, has turned me away. Hopefully, the outside of the ring issues can turn around, leading to a resurgence within the next year.
- BUY! BUY! BUY!: Amidst all of the WrestleMania hoopla, Chikara announced that it would be streaming its long-awaited Season 14 premiere on their partner, Smart Mark Video. The High Spot has previously gushed about how Chikara helped revitalize this writer’s love for professional wrestling in the last two years. By preordering the show here by May 1st, not only do you get a $4 discount, but the company will throw in a free e-book primer detailing the history of the promotion. If you’ve become worn out from the same mainstream wrestling affairs, this writer highly recommends giving this a shot.