Wednesday, April 30, 2014

At Ringside: Wrestlemania IX


Well, I knew what I was getting into. Wrestlemania IX probably has the worst reputation in the history of wrestling's most prestigious event, and it certainly represents the WWF at its most confused. 1993 was not a good year for either of the Big Two wrestling promotions, and the WWF's problem was trying to transition to new stars and storylines while still cashing in on what remained of the star power of the Eighties, specifically their slowly-departing star Hulk Hogan. While just about any wrestling PPV is a grab bag of matches reflecting current storylines and star positions, Wrestlemania IX is especially messy, full of cheap finishes and unsatisfying matches. A gaudy purple-and-yellow spectacle broadcast from outside Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, this one just never builds any momentum.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Frasierquest 5.17: The Perfect Guy

Billy Campbell as Dr. Clint Webber

Frasier: Oh, I am not jealous.  Yes, the man is handsome, but I'm sure there are a number of areas in which I am his superior.  You know, let's not forget that good looks can be a mixed blessing.  People just roll out the red carpet for you but that robs you of any incentive to develop other qualities. After a while you're left an aging narcissist bent at the water's edge, realizing those lines in the pond aren't ripples, they're wrinkles.

Martin: Amazing.

Frasier: Thank you, dad, I rather like that one myself.

Martin: That guy could be a movie star!

It's been a while, I know. Sorry about that.

"The Perfect Guy" is one of those episodes with not a lot to write about, even in comparison to "Beware of Greeks" (which at least offered a change of scenery.) It's not bad, but it feels underdeveloped, one of those scripts a show has to go with because there isn't time to do something better. We do get a fun performance from Bill Campbell, though, and another look at Frasier's own insecurities- not to mention a brutal exposé of the gourmet dog food racket.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

At Ringside: WWF Royal Rumble, 1993

Bret Hart and Razor Ramon in the ring.

While the WWE Network- the wrestling company's online streaming service- is mostly being sold on access to the company's live PPVs at a fraction of what buying them all would normally cost, for many wrestling fans the real value is in the service's extensive backlog of old wrestling shows and pay-per-views. For me it's an opportunity to explore a history I've mostly read about, and there are a lot of potential access points. I chose to start with 1993, because that's when the company's now-flagship show Monday Night Raw began airing, and that's a decent bridge between PPVs.

In any case the Royal Rumble is always a good starting point. Timed to get people's attention around the end of football season, the WWF/E's January pay-per-view is constructed as a way to set up characters and stories for Wrestlemania in the spring, and the title match itself is key to that. A battle royal with wrestlers entering in regular intervals and eliminated by going over the top rope, the Royal Rumble gives quick introductions to a good portion of the roster and lets us see who's a big deal and who is… not so much. It's almost always good because the concept itself is so inherently strong, and even though 1993 saw the WWF a little unsure of where it was going, the '93 Royal Rumble has more than enough to recommend it.