Friday, November 21, 2008

Exposed! Secrets of Pro Wrestling Revealed

One of the things I love about TV executives that once they see success, there's no end to how far they'll go in milking a cash cow to death. Don't believe me? Just look at all of the franchises Hollywood has done to death such as Star Trek, Law and Order, and CSI. As if that's not bad enough, you have the cheeseballs who see a successful program and try to find their own success with a hastily produced clone. If you liked American Idol, you're gonna love America's Got Talent, Nashville Star, and America's Most Talented Kid.

Back during the height of the Monday Night War (1995-2001), TV execs scrambled to tap the success of wrestling any way they could. Obviously, no one really started their own promotion to compete against WCW and the WWF (although it would have been interesting to see a major network buy a company like ECW and try to promote it). Instead, you had wrestlers guest starring on TV shows. A&E biographies on wrestlers, news shows examining the new popularity of wrestling, and finally- Exposed! Secrets of Pro Wrestling Revealed (Secrets).

During the late 1990's, there was a rash of TV specials that "exposed" the inner workings of magic tricks. Apparently, some network saw the show's popularity, saw that wrestling was popular, and decided that exposing the world of professional wrestling would be an instant hit. Little did they know that Secrets would quickly become the butt of jokes amongst wrestling fans.

By 1998, there were very few people over seven years old who doubted the worked nature of pro wrestling. Secrets acted like they were exposing the Kennedy assassination instead of telling people things they'd heard before. To be fair, the show did do a pretty good job of showing how certain moves were performed without causing injury. However, several of the aspects of the wrestling business that show purported to "expose" were complete nonsense. For example, the show suggested that most of the signs in the audience were given to fans by promoters. "You didn't really think those fans brought all those signs from home did you?" the announcer would ask rhetorically with a douchebag like laugh at the end. While it's true that promoters sometimes hand out signs, Secrets would have the general public believe that every fan is given their own sign to wave like an idiot. Anyone who's gone to a live event knows that wrestling fans definitely don't need any help making signs.

Without a doubt, the funniest part of the show was when it was revealed that promoters used plants for wrestlers to attack. This led to the revelation of the heretofore unknown phenomenon known as the "stunt granny". That's right, promoters planted little old ladies at ringside every night for heel wrestlers to attack. Knock over Blanche from The Golden Girls and you have instant heat! Add in a bit about heels tearing up a kid's autograph book and you can see why this particular show became so reviled amongst fans. It quickly earned a spot as Wrestlecrap, sealing its place in the annals of history.

What's really ironic is that in real life, the grannies were the ones who usually attacked the wrestler. Back in the day when many fans had their doubts as to whether wrestling was worked, wrestlers had to watch their backs every night for fear some crazed fan would attack them. Having read many wrestlers' autobiographies and seen many shoots, it seems like the little old ladies were the ones attacking the wrestlers, not vice versa. Whether it was canes, hat pins, umbrellas, or something worse, these old-timers made life miserable for heels.

The funniest thing about this show is that it's constantly popping up on cable channels (or so I've been told). Worse yet, I hear there's a new special coming out in 2009. If so, I can't wait to see how they've updated the stunt granny. That should make for some fun viewing.

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