I watched the debut episode and some of the online content. Producer, Kevin Kleinrock of Big Vision Entertainment, who I've known for a number of years, told me that he thought they would be criticized by "old school fans," yet he was excited by what they were doing and called it "innovative" and way over the top, by MTV's request.
To put WSX in perspective you have to bear in mind that this is NOT a wrestling promotion. WSX is a TV show that hopes to become a wrestling promotion. It's a lot like the late 1960's TV show The Monkees, about a fictitious band, except they actually made records and ended up taking creative control of their music and becoming a real band.
The concept of pre-fab pro wrestling is not new. Paul Alperstein's ill-fated American Wrestling Federation actually taped its shows in front of an audience of paid extras who held signs made by the company and cheered and booed on cue. That failure had more to do with trying to establish the company through paid TV syndication, than whether it was good or not.
WSX is at the very least interesting. The talent is mostly young high flyers and the violent style is laced with a variety of stunts and explosions - kind of like Atsushi Onita and Tony Hawk had a love child and invited some cool bands. After I watched it, I was like, "Yeah this looks like an MTV parody of pro wrestling."
What hurts WSX most is the 30 minute format. There is no way you can draw interest in the matches, feuds and characters in a 30 minute TV format, which translates to about 18 or 19 minutes of action. WSX answers this with WSXtra, a supplemental Internet broadcast that gives you extra matches and features. WSXtra is actually the most innovative thing about WSX - it's attempt to draw fans to the net from conventional TV to flesh out their programming and make that an essential part of the WSX experience. The question is will their fans have the attention span to actually want to do that? There doesn't seem to be enough time to hook people in far enough to want to get in deeper by watching online. The WSXtra shows use an embedded player on the website, which is small in size and not conducive to viewing something like professional wrestling - especially the fast-paced, high flying variety.
Since MTV is a music network, here are some musical analogies about the WSX product. As in MTV itself, not every song is uptempo. Most of the best selling songs in music history are ballads, because they are ones that connect the most with the emotions of the audience. When you go to a concert, the best shows take the audience on a journey with different tempos and pacing. The same holds true with wrestling. Variety on a card makes it more interesting to watch than having every match be the same kind of thing.
Ultimately, WSX will be judged by TV standards and not wrestling standards and that is as it should be. If the ratings hold up, WSX has a chance to survive on the world's biggest TV network. I really don't see it becoming a touring proposition, because you could never recreate that atmosphere live. The fact that MTV has the desire to be involved with pro wrestling on any level is good for the business. It's an endorsement of the industry. It remains to be seen if the network will give the show enough time to find itself.
Bob Luce was one of the great old time wrestling promoters. Based in Chicago in the 60's and 70's, he was associated with Verne Gagne, and I believe, Dick The Bruiser in Indianapolis as well. I first became acquainted with Luce watching a 4 volume VHS set that he put out in the mid-80's called the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Classics. Luce was a colorful individual, known for being a great local promoter - great with the local press and a larger than life TV host.
Luce was a relic from another era that we sadly won't see again. Guys like Bob Luce were simply irreplaceable. He passed away last week just one day before his 79th birthday after a long illness. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
We are a little more than a week away from another huge NECW/WWW Double Impact Weekend. NECW's next live event, which is GENESIS 6 at the National Guard Armory in Quincy, MA, takes place Saturday night, February 24 at 7 PM. GENESIS was traditionally the biggest event of the year for PWF and we have continued that tradition post-merger. The GENESIS events were always viewed fondly by local fans as something special, and this year's version will be no exception. All titles will be defended, some big feuds will be coming to a head and it's one you don't want to miss.
GENESIS has already generated the biggest advance sale of any show we've done, so if you are looking for tickets, especially VIP tickets, I would act sooner rather than later.
Sunday afternoon, February 25, it's the return of World Women's Wrestling to Good Time Emporium in Somerville, MA with a 3:00 PM bell time. It's topped by a very unique "Pick Your Poison" Triple Main Event, where WWW Champion, Tanya Lee, Jana and Portia Perez choose their opponents at random from the trio of Nikki Roxx, Ariel and Lexxus. All the participants have bad blood with each other and it should be a real throwdown in Somerville.
Check out www.NECWwrestling.com and www.WorldWomensWrestling.com for tickets and information.