[Hello! If you can't stand me, watch Wrestling Has Never Been Better Than 2018: Work Or Shoot? on YouTube right now. I get smacked in the head!]
Ahead of Crown Jewel the other week, many fans questioned their loyalty to WWE. Some even threatened to cancel their subscription to the WWE Network.
It was a tough choice. On one hand, supporting a company so naked in its rank capitalism felt particularly grim in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. It hardly helps that the main roster is so often terrible, as tasteless as that may read in comparison. We are literally encouraging WWE to bore us into submission with match results that are either meaningless or tainted or both, because it costs a mere tenner. The relationship between customer and consumer is mutually apathetic.
On the other hand, NXT is still really good, the cornball symbiote affecting Johnny Gargano notwithstanding.
Ultimately, though the post-WrestleMania season yielded Bobby’s Sisters, the complete annihilation of Asuka, Kevin Owens and Rusev, SummerSlam is never too far away.
The product grew stale once more, as WWE flew between Australia and Saudi Arabia, and in the face of good taste, but those who did cancel the Network missed out this week on a schadenfreude Godsend from the video archives released under the Hidden Gems banner…
5. The AWA Team Challenge Series
An unreleased 1989 pilot filmed in the death throes of the American Wrestling Association, we are introduced to the AWA Team Challenge Series by a chorus of squawky cheerleaders (“Yay yay yay for the AWA!”), almost as shrill as Stephanie McMahon, cynically interspersed with footage of rock stars because rock music was hot at the time. And that’s what the Challenge Series pilot was, ultimately: a series of focus group concepts thrown at a dying corpse.
It is amazingly terrible.
We then cut to the unnerving smile of a retired Verne Gagne, with a puppy on his lap, an image that instantly undermines the premise This smorgasbord of hot chicks, rock concerts and pro wrestling action is presented to us by Mr. Rogers.
A young, dorky Ralph Strangis and a what-the-f*ck-have-I-been-reduced-to Greg Gagne present the show from a “satellite base”, and introduce us to a “Tommy Jammer” as he makes his way to the ring flanked by green-screened fans in a wonderfully primitive showcase of the technology. He kisses and waves to the audience as if they’re actually there. It’s only marginally more embarrassing than Tommy Dreamer pretending the Philadelphia fans were giving him a standing ovation at Night of Champions 2009.
If you thought Triple H looked daft wielding his sledgehammer, cop a f*cking load of Beau and Blake Beverly as the Destruction Crew as they snarl, gurn and growl at absolutely nothing with their backs turned away from the camera.
Then, the AWA bring out the big guns: the Beverly Hills Knockouts, who were, per Sean Waltman on Twitter, a gaggle of pole dancers he and Jerry Lynn trained to performed worked boxing matches—the idea being that, hey, if you hate the wrestling, the AWA, former home of the greatest technical wrestling in the nation, is now something you can jerk off to!