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THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE
Commie Editing Bastards
October 31, 2003

by Erin Anderson
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

This Tuesday, I attended the Smackdown! tapings at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. This was my fifth live WWE event, after two RAWs, one pay-per-view, and one other Smackdown! As I have at previous shows, I enjoyed myself immensely and was looking forward to watching the finished product last night.

And so I watched. This time, however, I enjoyed very little of it.

As of yesterday, I had only two major gripes about the live show:

1. No Undertaker.
2. No Matt Hardy.

But while I watched Smackdown! on UPN, the list grew longer with frightening speed. A night that I had remembered as being filled with some damn good wrestling was hacked down to approximately twelve minutes of in-ring action. Twelve minutes of wrestling on a two-hour show. Just to add some perspective to this, last year's Halloween episode of Smackdown! opened with a fifteen-minute Edge v. Chris Benoit match, and later featured a Kurt Angle v. Eddie Guerrero match of the same length. For those of you who read the spoilers and heard that it was a fun show and wondered what the hell happened between Tuesday and last night, I will explain how Smackdown!, due to mind-boggling editing, managed to suck.

Mysterio-Ultimo Dragon was chopped down to a third of its original length, an act that, in a fair and just world, would merit imprisonment for the Smackdown! production department. Two entire matches (and one that was quite good) didn't even air on the show: Haas and Benjamin v. the FBI, as well as Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty v. the Bashams. For what? So we could all watch Torrie Wilson push Tazz into a tub full of chocolate syrup? I understand the need for a little T&A now and then, but at least Torrie and Dawn Marie had a match last year at the same time, and the guys still got to see both divas covered in chocolate syrup.

The editing of Smackdown! continues to baffle me when I think about the pacing of the show: Vince's verbal tirade against Paul Heyman opened the show for those of us who saw it live, just before the opening theme song and credits. That backstage skit served to remind any fan who didn't remember of what happened last week when Vince effectively recapped the circumstances that forced him into the Buried Alive match with Taker.

On television, things were quite different. Not only did the aforementioned backstage bit air after the opening match, but it aired after a four-minute video package that quite thoroughly highlighted last week's main event. Fans were yet again reminded of exactly how and why the Buried Alive match was taking place in a taped interview with the Undertaker, one that the crowd in Atlanta did not see.

Each of those segments, standing alone, were fine. Showing all three on the same show is overkill. We get it, WWE: Taker won a match that gave him authority to make a Buried Alive match with Vince. Move on.

Cutting two of the matches from television entirely are what hurt the pacing of the show most dramatically: without them, viewers had to sit through over an hour of wrestling-free, promo-filled, chocolate-covered Smackdown! with no in-ring action to break up the monotony of it all. After the cruiserweight bout, we were forced to watch a backstage skit with Brock and the Big Show, Paul Heyman's long in-ring promo with Brock, a Hardcore Holly promo, a costume contest, an Ernest Miller video, a backstage skit with Brock and Cena, Chavo chewing out Eddie backstage, a long Eddie promo, Heyman booking Eddie in a match for next week, Angle announcing (backstage) the rest of his tag team partners, and an Undertaker video. All in that order.

That's eleven different promos and skits, all in a row, with no matches in between. That has to be some kind of record for WWE, and definitely not one to be proud of. What's even worse is that WWE made a conscious effort for the show to be paced that way: the live audience never got bored, because we actually got to see some wrestling matches in between all that talking.

Does this editing-room butchering of Smackdown! happen after every show? I should hope not, as I've never seen such discrepancies between the spoilers and the final television product before. A scary trend is emerging on this show __ one that is abandoning the roster's superiority in the ring for the introduction of untested "big men," swapping athletic competition for soap opera, making extensive use of backstage skits and long promos, and editing matches down to nothing to make room for it all. For the past month, RAW has been head and shoulders above Smackdown! in terms of quality, and I see very little that will change that fact in the near future.

Most of the segments and matches on Smackdown! were, in and of themselves, fine. In several instances, they were well-executed and entertaining. But the cumulative effect of the show's pacing made it more unbearable as the night wore on, and any momentum built from a hot opening tag match and a good-but-short-due-to-editing cruiserweight match was effectively killed by the end. I find it hard to believe that the same people who constructed this show are responsible for the "Lonely Road of Faith" video, which aired before the show began taping live.

Most of us are familiar with the phrase, "You can't polish a turd." Had Smackdown! been as boring live as it appeared on television, then perhaps I wouldn't be criticizing it so much: no amount of editing could have fixed the yawner that aired last night. But what WWE has done is much worse. A show that had been quite fun and exciting live was "polished," all right. Polished into a steaming pile of crap.

Am I being hard on the show? Absolutely, but I feel that my complaints are justified. Just to leave everyone on a lighter note, I'd like give praise where it is due:

  • Angle and Benoit received the largest pops of the night at the show, and deservedly so after their opening tag match. Take note, WWE: putting these two together, either as tag partners or opponents, never gets old.

  • Undertaker's interview describing why he chose a Buried Alive match with Vince was perfectly done. Unfortunately, it got lost in the monotony of the promo-laden show.

  • Eddie Guerrero's backstage segment with Chavo and subsequent promo were both wonderful, and a testament to Eddie's abilities on the mic. I missed this segment live due to a beer run and bathroom break, so sitting through the butchered version of Smackdown! was worth it only for this. Eddie managed to garner more fan sympathy and support with one promo than Stephanie McMahon did after a month of over-exposure on the show leading up to her match at No Mercy. This is how soap opera in wrestling should be executed, and I'm waiting for Eddie's Emmy nomination.

This will be my last column for a few weeks; I'll be out of town and should return on Nov. 17. Say a prayer that Smackdown! improves in the meantime.
  

E-MAIL ERIN
BROWSE THE BROAD'S ARCHIVES

Erin Anderson is an Atlanta native and a student at Georgia State University. Since writing about wrestling didn't go over too well with her English professors, she vents here at Online Onslaught.


  
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