Monday, November 30, 2009

Themed PPV's from the Past and Present

Right now the WWE is attempting to make its PPV's more distinct with themed shows such as Hell in a Cell, TLC, and Breaking Point (submission matches). While fans' reactions have been mixed the WWE deserves credit for trying to invigorate the product and making each PPV seem special. Some fans may be surprised to learn that specialty PPV's date back to the beginning of PPV itself. Indeed, the idea of having special themed shows(and by this I mean shows based around a specific type of match) dates back even further as we shall see.

The WWE is by no means the first company to focus on branded events. Back in the 1960's and 70's, promoter Roy Shire featured an annual battle royal that was held at the Cow Palace Arena. Shire's Battle Royal was treated both as a special event and an extremely dangerous one (the battle royal was known for featuring injury angles including stretcher jobs). Promoter Shire featured some of his top stars in the match-up and often brought in talent from outside of his San Francisco based National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) territory, adding to the show's allure. WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson was a frequent participant (as well as two-time winner of the Battle Royal) and he would draw upon his experience there when he helped design the WWE's Royal Rumble.

In 1986, promoter Jim Crockett Jr. built a supercard around tag team wrestling known as the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament (better known as "The Crockett Cup"). The inaugural Crockett Cup was a major event in the NWA with most of the remaining NWA territories sending their top tag teams to compete against Crockett's teams. The first Crockett Cup saw 24 teams compete for a (kayfabe) $1,000,000.00 prize as well as a memorial trophy. The event was held over two days and was considered one of the year's top events. While it did not draw as much money as expected, it was successful enough that two more Crockett Cups were held.

Even during the earliest days of PPV, promoters considered specially themed shows in order to lure in customers. One of the first was the Wrestling Classic, the World Wrestling Federation's second PPV (some people have argued that this was actually the first official PPV as Wrestlemania was only available in closed circuit arenas while The Wrestling Classic was available in select homes). The Wrestling Classic revolved around a sixteen man tournament (as well as a WWF title match between champion Hulk Hogan and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper). The WWF would follow up on the idea of themed shows with its debut of the Survivor Series. For the first few years, the Survivor Series was made up entirely of tag team elimination matches.

In 1989, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) ran an Iron Man tournament at its annual Starrcade show. The show featured both a tag team tournament as well as a singles tournament with competitors battling in round robin matches to determine the "Iron Man" (and "Iron Men"). For more on the rules of the "Iron Man" tournament, click here.

During the 1990's, WCW toyed further with themed PPV's, one of which became known as Battlebowl:the Lethal Lottery. In 1991, WCW held the first ever Battlebowl at its Starrcade The BattleBowl (which has no connection to Rob Van Dam despite what you may think) featured "randomly" (kayfabe) selected teams battling one another with the winning teams advancing to a two ring battle royal held at the end of the night. WCW would follow up with another Battlebowl at Starrcade 92 as well as a Battlebowl PPV in 1993. Unfortunately for Battlebowl fans, the concept wasn't strong enough to establish an annual tradition.

WCW wasn't alone in using special events to build a PPV around. In 1985 WWF launched the King of the Ring PPV tournaments in 1985 at the Sullivan Stadium in the Foxborough, Massachusetts (later moving it to the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island) . The event proved popular enough not only to run until 1991 but to be relaunched as a PPV event. The WWE continued the King of the Ring as a PPV until 2002.

Recent history has shown that specially themed PPV's can succeed. One of TNA's biggest successes has been its annual Lockdown PPV which features cage matches from start to finish. While the thought of nothing but cage matches seems like overkill, TNA has done a good job of keeping the show fresh and Lockdown continues to be one of the company's most popular PPV's.

Wrestling promoters don't have to reserve themed events for PPV's. With the WWE running more and more three hour RAW's, it might not be a bad idea to run a themed show on one of these 180 minute blowouts. While I don't think it's in the WWE's (or TNA's) best interests to make every PPV or show a specially themed event, they might want to consider two of the following ideas:

Pro-Am: While I don't watch a lot of Japanese wrestling, I love some of the tournaments that the various promotions used to run. One of the best ideas I've heard of was a tournament that featured veterans teaming with rookie wrestlers. The possibilities here of course are endless. Not only do you get a chance to form new teams but you get to do angles with possible feuds between team members as well as younger guys getting a chance to get the rub from an established star. Like anything else, a promotion can make a kayfabe prize such as a big check or do something where the winner gets a tag title shot at the next PPV ( On a sidenote, I absolutely hate the idea of teams battling in a tournament where they face the champions that very night. I've never understood the concept of a team (or individual) wrestling several matches in one evening then having to utilize a title shot the same night against a fresh team).

Wrestling Olympics: I like the idea of the WWE's Bragging Rights PPV where RAW SmackDown! compete to see who is the best. The problem with Bragging Rights was that the company threw the show together at the last minute and they did little to make winning it seem all that special (other than the trophy). Imagine an all-star night in which WWE stars compete in various match-ups as well as old school angles like arm-wrestling matches, pose-downs, tests of strength, or whatever else you want to throw in. The team with the most wins would naturally go on to become that year's winner and claim a kayfabe prize they can brag about over the next year.

The key with any of these themed events is in how they are executed. Take the recent Hell in a Cell PPV. The problem with the PPV wasn't that there were three Hell in a Cell matches. The problem was that that 1) there wasn't a lot of build-up for the cage matches and 2) only one of the cage matches (DX vs. Legacy) actually used the cage with any regularity. On the other hand, I LOVED the Breaking Point The submission matches turned out to be excellent and for the most part, they tied in with the programs. For example, DX vs. Legacy was a battle of who was the toughest team. Likewise Orton vs. Cena played into the "Diehard" attitude of John Cena winning out over a weak-willed heel. Don't run a themed event unless you have a concrete plan for the matches involved.

As time unfolds it will be interesting to see whether the WWE adopts more themed PPV's or if it drops the concept in favor of more traditional shows. If history is any indication, you can be sure that themed events will be around in some quantity in the time to come.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Story of Survivor Series

It's not very often that a Great Moment in Wrestling can also be an Epic Fail but that's what happened when the two biggest wrestling companies decided to go head to head on Thanksgiving night. The result was the beginning of the end for one promotion and the debut of one of the longest running PPV's in WWE history. Join me as I look back at the debut of the Survivor Series.

Thanksgiving has always been an important day in professional wrestling. In 1987, it would become important for another reason-the location of an all-out battle between rival promotions the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). In the end, one promoter would be very thankful while another was thankful to still be in business.

For years, Thanksgiving was one of the most important days (if not the most important) for Jim Crockett Promotions. Even before the promotion launched its Starcade show (The grand-daddy of them all), Thanksgiving held a special place for the promotion and its fans. Thanksgiving was the day in which many feuds were settled and new programs developed as the fans relaxed from a big Thanksgiving dinner and watched some top-rate wrestling action. Starcade only magnified this, giving fans from all around the Mid-Atlantic area a chance to see the big show that before then, was often sold out. This of course, made Thanksgiving the biggest night of the year for JCP. It was the promotion's Superbowl or in wrestling terms, its Wrestlemania.

And speaking of Wrestlemania, 1987 was an amazing year for the WWF. Wrestlemania III was a monster success for the WWF (thanks to its epic Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event) as well as for the PPV companies which beamed the show into homes around the world. Seeing the success of Wrestlemania III, Vince McMahon decided to embark on a second PPV that year. After all, if one PPV was successful, imagine how good things would be with two. Some people were skeptical. After all, could the market sustain TWO pay-per-views in one year (McMahon had run two PPV's in 1985 but failed to do so in 1986)? As laughable as it may seem now, there was serious concern about flooding the market with two PPV's over the course of twelve months. Even more serious was the notion of running a show directly against their competitor JCP. Could the market sustain TWO pay-per-views on the same night (Thanksgiving)?

The wrestling world was all abuzz about the prospect of the WWF competing directly against JCP. For several years, the WWF and JCP had bumped heads as both companies grew from regional to national promotions. By 1987 the WWF had the upper hand but JCP remained a respectable second place to the WWF and they were by no means finished. While the WWF had Hulkamania powering its ship, JCP relied on traditional wrestling that appealed to many of the old school fans turned off by the sometimes cartoonish antics of the WWF. Stars like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, and the Road Warriors made JCP a thriving promotion of its own. Now, wrestling fans would be able to truly voice their opinion on who was the better company. It's even been said that JCP welcomed the chance to compete against the WWF as they felt their superior wrestling product would triumph over the glitz and glamour of the WWF.

If Vince McMahon had his way though, there would be no head to head battle. Using the leverage of the super-successful Wrestlemania III, McMahon made it known to cable companies that they now had another big WWF product to make loads of money off of. The only catch was that they had to carry this new show exclusively, especially if they wanted to get Wrestlemania IV. In a gesture reflecting his abundant goodwill, McMahon made it clear to the cable providers that there was no need to carry that second-rate Starcade any more since the big boys i.e. the WWF were running a Thanksgiving show. If that didn't get the cable companies thinking his way, he told them that they had to carry this new show exclusively, especially if they wanted to get Wrestlemania IV.

For those wondering about the legalities of what the WWF pulled, this was something that definitely could have been challenged in court. The problem was that by the time the case got to court, it would have been too little too late. JCP might have been able to get some sort of injunctive relief against the WWF and/or cable companies involved but they risked alienating the cable companies in the future. In the end, the majority of the cable companies went with the WWF, shutting JCP out of the picture. The result was that, Starcade had very few clearances while the WWF's new show Survivor Series had many. To no one's surprise, Survivor Series crushed Starcade, if for no other reason, because it was most fans' only choice if they wanted wrestling for their post-turkey dinner relaxation (Conventional wisdom has it that the WWF show was actually a better show wrestling-wise than Starcade but you be the judge).

Survivor Series' success continued the WWF's good fortunes, proving that the company could run more than one PPV a year. It also sealed JCP's doom as the company banked on Starcade to make a lot of money (which was certainly reasonable on their part as the show had always done so before). Without the revenue traditionally generated by Starcade, JCP ran into cash flow companies and its owners were forced to sell the company to Ted Turner just a year later.
Debut of the Elimination Chamber.

As we all know, the Survivor Series has gone on to become one of the WWE's "Big Four" PPV's. The WWF stopped airing on Thanksgiving years ago and for a while it looked as if the Survivor Series elimination matches were history. Fortunately the WWE has seen fit to bring back the elimination matches, reestablishing the Survivor Series as more than just another PPV. Over the last twenty plus years, fans have delighted to many memorable moments at Survivor Series such as the inaugural show's ten team tag elimination match (1987), the debut of the Undertaker (1990), the Undertaker's tainted win over Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship the following year (1991), the infamous Montreal Screwjob(1997), the night "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was run down by a mystery driver (1999), the climax to the Invasion angle, and the debut of the Elimination Chamber (2002). On a personal note, 1995's Survivor Series was memorable as it was the first PPV I ever attended (and actually a pretty good show in its own right).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remembering Captain Lou Albano

Captain Lou! Captain Lou! Whether he was helping one of his charges cheat their way to victory, winning the U.S. Tag Team Championship, making beautiful music with NRBQ (and music videos with Cyndi Lauper), or starring in Brian DePalma's Wise Guys, Lou Albano knew how to keep himself busy and in the spotlight. He was bigger than life, literally and metaphorically, making an impact wherever he stepped.

Born Louis Vincent Albano, the man who would become famous in and outside of the squared circle did it all. He was a champion wrestler, a manager of champions, and a pop culture icon, appearing in music videos, TV shows, and film. Mr. Albano contributed so many things to wrestling that it's difficult to sum up all of his accomplishments. Arguably his biggest was his buildup to War to Settle the Score, the famous matchup which led to Wrestlemania and the WWF's rise to prominence but then again, with a resume as long as the Captain's, it's not easy to be certain.

Like many managers, Mr. Albano began his career in the ring as a wrestler. In his case, he rose to prominence as one half of the heel tag team called the Sicilians (alongside partner Tony Altimore). The Sicilians would become well known during the 1950's and 1960's, working throughout various territories including the WWWF and capturing the U.S. Tag Team Championship from Spiros Arion and Arnold Skaaland in 1967.

For most fans however, Captain Lou was best remembered for his work as a manager in the WWWF . As Paul Heyman mentioned in his blog this week, one of the Three Wise Men of the East, the legendary triumvirate of terror that ran wild over the babyfaces in the WWWF (the other two of course, being the Grand Wizard and "Classy" Freddie Blassie). Captain Lou would become known as "The Guiding Light" (one of the many names he bestowed upon himself), leading a record fifteen tag teams to championship gold in the WWWF. When Captain Lou managed a tag team, it was always a question of when,not if, his team would win the coveted WWWF Tag Team Championship. The teams he guided were a veritable who's who in the WWWF including the Wild Samoans, a team he led to a record three WWWF tag team championships.

Mr. Albano was so well known for his tag team accolades that people often forgot the singles championships he helped manage. The biggest of course was Ivan Koloff, who toppled Bruno Sammartino in 1971 to win the WWWF championship. The Intercontinental championship did not elude his grasp either with Mr. Albano helping both The Magnificent Muraco and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine win that prestigious belt.

Fans always have their choice of who the greatest manager of all time was. One thing everyone can agree on is that they broke the mold when they made Captain Lou. Captain Lou Albano was much more than a manager, he was a force of nature. It's hard to think of someone more despicable than Captain Lou. When the big, ugly man worked his way to the ring, you couldn't help but hate him. Captain Lou presented a look that was all his own. Whether it was the long rubber bands that dangled from his face, the wild hair and equally untamed beard, or his trademark shirt with generous belly protruding from underneath, Lou Albano looked the part of a slimy, no-good bad guy who would run over his grandmother if she stood in his way. One look at Albano and you knew what a character he was. You never forgot him. Even people who'd only seen him once would remember him as "the fat guy with rubber bands hanging down his face" or "that ugly obnoxious wrestling manager who never shut up."

Lou Albano was no cartoon character bad guy (although he would go on to become a cartoon character in Hulk Hogan's Rock and Wrestling and play a real-life version of a cartoon character in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!). He was the real deal. He reminded you of the loud, brash guy at the seedy side of town, hustling numbers or beating people up for failing to pay their debts. Lou Albano was the brains behind the brawn, the guy who guided monsters like the Wild Samoans and the Moondogs to the WWWF Tag Team Championship. He was also the guy who always looked out for number one-he defrauded Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka out of all his earnings then choreographed a brutal beatdown on Snuka when his nefarious activities were brought to life. Captain Lou Albano was one bad customer.

He was also a rarity among managers-someone who you actually thought might do a number on a babyface. Granted, Albano cultivated his image as a slob and you knew your favorite wrestler would come out on top in a fair fight against Albano. The problem was that you also knew Albano never fought a fair fight in his life. Albano presented a true sense of danger to babyfaces, luring them into a false sense of security then striking when they were at their weakest.

Like Shakespeare's loveable rogue John Falstaff, Albano also had an undeniable charm. As bad a guy as you knew he was, you couldn't help but laugh at some of his promos. The guy never stopped talking. Whether he boasted of being "often imitated but never duplicated" or any of the thousands of catchphrases he dropped, the not-so-good Captain was never at a loss for words. His sometimes comical antics served a secondary purpose-they lured the babyfaces and their fans into underestimating Albano until he sprang one of his diabolical plans on them. It was pure wrestling gold.

Although I was only able to catch Albano during the tail end of his heel years in the WWF, he made a lasting impression. One of the bits that illustrated Albano's craziness occurred during match between Albano charge "The Magnificent Muraco" and perennial loser Rudy Diamond. During the match, Albano paraded around the ring with a meatball bomber and cup of Coca Cola. It didn't take long for everyone to realize Diamond posed no threat to Muraco. Muraco was destroying the jobber but Albano was determined to add insult to injury. During the match, Albano walked up to the ring and gave Muraco a bite of his sub. If that wasn't bad enough, Albano then gave Muraco some of his Coca Cola to drink. The humiliation of losing to Muraco was compounded by Muraco getting a quick snack in and the sheer disgust at seeing someone sharing part of Lou Albano's lunch.

Hollywood has always been drawn to the charismatic personalities found in professional wrestling. That's why it's no surprise that Captain Lou was "discovered" by Hollywood. In the Captain's case, he would soon be found in the music videos of up and coming singer Cyndi Lauper, playing Ms. Lauper's father in her video Girls Just Want to Have Fun. The song was a smash success, aided by the video (and Albano's presence), and propelled Lauper to pop stardom.

In true form, Albano seemed to ride Lauper's coattails to the top. This would lead to one of the biggest angles of the 1980's and lead the way for the WWF's rise to the top as well. For weeks, Albano basked in the fame he'd earned by appearing in Lauper's video, boasting to fellow heel "Rowdy" Roddy Piper that he would produce Lauper for Piper's talk segment "Piper's Pit". After many weeks of speculation, Lauper appeared and that's when the fireworks started. Lauper and Albano clashed after Albano claimed to be the reason for Lauper's success, then added to his problems by making chauvinistic comments towards Lauper. In the end, the two decided to settle their differences by managing a wrestler against one another. The result was "The Brawl to Settle It All", a woman's title match between Albano's proxy, the Fabulous Moolah (then WWF Woman's Champion) and Lauper's proxy, Wendi Richter. The match main evented Madison Square Garden and scored record ratings for MTV when it was aired. When the dust had settled, Lauper's wrestler was victorious and Captain Lou had egg on his face.

Albano's defeat saw a slow but noticeable change in the manager's heart. Like the Grinch, his heart began to grow and he soon found himself helping Lauper in charity fund-raisers to fight Multiple Sclerosis. The two received an award for their efforts in Madison Square Garden and like most wrestling awards ceremonies, this one was ruined. This time, by Roddy Piper who cracked an award over Albano's head and laid out Lauper and her entourage. This angle would lead to "The War to Settle the Score", the famous buildup to the first ever Wrestlemania.

From there, Captain Lou began working on the side of the angels, guiding babyface teams like the U.S. Express (Barry Windham & Mike Rotunda) and the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid) to the WWF Tag Team Championship. The now good captain also found himself in demand in Hollywood, guest starring on hit TV shows of the time such as Miami Vice and 227 as well as starring in Brian De Palma's film Wiseguys. Although Hollywood was now taking up most of his time, Captain Lou returned to wrestling from time to time. In 1994, Captain Lou added another tag team championship to his trophy case when he guided the Headshrinkers to a WWF Tag Team Title win.

As always, the hits kept coming for Captain Lou. In 1989, he starred as iconic video game character Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and in 1996, he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. Two years later he would co-author the book The Complete Idiots Guide to Professional-Wrestling. 2008 would see the release of the Captain's autobiography Often Imitated, Never Duplicated.

Conflict, Kofis, and Kings-Why Kofi Kingston's New Accent Exemplifies Everything Wrong with WWE Storytelling

WWE fans have been shaking their heads, wondering wha' happened to Kofi Kingston. The popular high-flyer with the Jamaican accent is no longer Jamaican. One week he's "boom booming" and talking with a signature Jamaican accent, the next he's hailing from Ghana, West Africa, speaking with no accent at all. As if the fans were too thick to notice the change, Triple H (God bless him for always willing to help out) made a point of asking what happened to Kofi's accent. Naturally, that was the extent of an explanation.

The funny thing is that the WWE fans aren't shaking their heads because they're confused, they're shaking their heads because this is just the latest WWE change in booking that comes without explanation (In an effort to be fair, I did go on the WWE's web page and checked out Kofi's Superstar Profile. On it, it's noted that With a love for the Caribbean and the Caribbean lifestyle, Kingston brings a hybrid personality of his homeland and the island to the ring week in and week out. The problem of course is that the WWE didn't bother to mention this on TV in any way. Then again, why should they start now when they routinely change characters and storylines with little or no explanation. Case in point, the Bella Twins split to take sides with the Colons against the Miz and Morrison. Next thing you know, it's like it never happened (The old TV series Dallas once wrote off an entire season as a dream, earning eternal notoriety for its sloppy storytelling). Consider the babyface turn of MVP. One week he's a heel, fresh off a feud withMatt Hardy, the next he's a babyface (The same thing happened to Carlito but by now, Carlito doesn't care nor do his fans).

Truth be told, the WWE isn't the first promotion to change someone without any notice. Let me take you back to 1981 when Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) brought in wrestler Jimmy Valiant. Valiant, who had worked for various promotions (including the WWWF as part of the legendary tag team the Valiant Brothers) had just finished a memorable run in Jerry Jarrett's Memphis promotion as babyface "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant. "Handsome" Jimmy was wildly popular in Memphis but inexplicably, none of the bookers in JCP knew about this. Instead, they brought in Mr. Valiant as "King" James Valiant, a cocky heel managed by "Lord" Alfred Hayes (who at this point in his career was working as a manager).

King James Valiant grew a beard and became "The Boogie Woogie Man."
"King" James worked in the area for a few weeks before Jarrett asked JCP if they could use him for a tag match in Memphis. JCP agreed and sent Valiant to Memphis where he teamed up with Jerry "The King" Lawler for one night. Valiant was a superstar in Memphis and his appearance led to a healthy box office that night. In true wrestling fashion, Jarrett asked to use Valiant again, telling the bookers in JCP about how successful Valiant's appearance had been. At this point, JCP realized they were sitting on a potential goldmine. It was time for "King" James to go into permanent exile.

What happened next was some fancy footwork by the gang in JCP. Booker Ole Anderson told Valiant to grow his beard out (he'd been working in JCP as a clean cut heel) while he kept him off the air. Valiant suggested he be called "The Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant and told Anderson about how he'd often come out to entrance music ( a novelty at the time). Anderson agreed and several weeks later, Valiant began coming out to the Manhattan Transfer's remake of The Boy from New York City [1] .While only a few weeks had passed since King James Valiant wrestled as a heel for JCP, no mention was made of him nor was it acknowledged that he was "The Boogie Woogie Man", now wrestling as a babyface [2] .

As we can see, other promoters have taken shortcuts when it comes to repackaging characters with no explanation which begs the question-what's wrong with the WWE doing it? The problem is that the WWE does so on a regular basis, usually without any rhyme or reason. Faces turn heel with no explanation, teams split up only to reform (Heaven knows I could write a treatise on how many times the WWE has foolishly split up the Hardys only to reform them without any explanation), and characters have dropped or added gimmicks with no rhyme or reason. When you make a change to a wrestler without explaining why, you're not only insulting your audience's intelligence but you're wasting a chance to get some heat from it.

Wrestling is all about getting the fans excited enough to continue tuning in to weekly TV and motivated enough to buy a ticket to a live event or order a pay-per-view. The way that promoters do this is by creating heat for characters and storylines. We all know the formula to get heat- somebody wrongs another wrestler, someone wants to prove they're the best, etc. etc.. There are time tested ways that promoters built up excitement by using conflict.

Good stories typically involve a lot of conflict. That's why it's rare that you find the characters of Supernatural sitting around playing Monopoly or 24's Jack Bauer spending an episode catching up on his grocery shopping. I remember a screenwriter telling me that every scene should have some sort of conflict That's not to say that every conflict has to be spectacular-just like a wrestling match shouldn't be highspot after highspot, a story shouldn't be one spectacular action scene after another (even Michael Bay knows that a movie can't be all explosions). The trick is pace your conflict and create a tempo that slowly but surely builds to an explosive climax (this is also useful in the bedroom-or so I've been told).

Things like a wrestler turning heel or face should never happen off camera. They're too good at creating conflict, and more importantly for wrestling promoters, drawing heat. Turning someone heel off camera is like deleting the scene in Return of the Jedi where Darth Vader turns on the Emperor in order to save his son's life and turning it into a throwaway piece of dialogue. Instead of showing Vader watching the Emperor blast Luke with Force Lightning only to finally pick up his former master and hurl him to his death, you'd have Han Solo asking Luke how everything worked out on the Death Star and Luke casually commenting, "You'll never believe this but my old man saw the light and kicked the Emperor's ass." Not exactly the stuff of movie legends.
What if George Lucas decided to delete this epic scene and instead explain it via dialogue? So Luke, we blew up the shield generator, anything happen on the Death Star? Yeah, you'll never believe this but Vader saw the light and killed the Emperor. Now, what's with these Ewoks?

Granted, Kofi Kingston's change in hometown from Jamaica to Africa doesn't have to be treated as an epic event. However any promoter worth his salt will find a way to turn it into something. Remember, not all conflict has to be world shattering. In Kofi's case, it could be mentioned in an interview that he grew up in Jamaica but he wanted to acknowledge his country of origin as he felt he didn't want to lie to the fans. While this would be something minor, it would fit in with the idea that he's a babyface and he doesn't want to mislead his fans. Or, it could be something deeper. Another babyface might question Kofi's lack of honesty in acknowledging his roots. "Kofi lied about being Jamaican-who was he trying to fool?".

Over the last few years, the WWE has shifted its approach to booking from using traditional bookers to utilizing writers to script promos, angles, and feuds. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because as we saw, good storytelling and wrestling go hand in hand. Unfortunately the WWE's writers either need to brush up on their storytelling or they need to explain the basics of storytelling to their boss because it's clear they could be doing a much better job.

[1] While Jimmy Valiant was not the first wrestler to come out to entrance music (Gorgeous George is often credited as the first to do so on a regular basis), he was one of the first to do so on a regular basis. Valiant even recorded his own song which he used as entrance music during his run in Memphis).

[2] This would be the beginning of a wildly successful run for Valiant in JCP with "The Boogie Woogie Man" becoming one of the promotion's most popular wrestlers for the next five years.