A Minute-by-Minute Breakdown Of The Content We Normally Fast Forward 
By Andrew Terrance Kaberline


The time was the early 2000s. ECW and WCW were no more. I was a pre-teen and burgeoning wrestling fan who just wanted to see as much content as I could lay my eyes on. It’s a small miracle that I continued to be as big a fan as I was because I had just missed what many consider the height of pro wrestling in the mainstream, nicknamed The Attitude Era – and I didn’t watch Pay-Per-Views because I didn’t have any money of my own and my parents weren’t jumping at the opportunity to nurture my love for guys in tights hitting each other in the face.

I lived for the summer, where my bedtime was late enough that I could watch ALL of Raw and Smackdown every week. I put high importance into those three months of the WWE schedule, so SummerSlam was my WrestleMania. But I wasn’t buying SummerSlam, so I would torture myself by sitting in front of the tv on Sundays at 7pm, and change the dial to MTV (just a phrase…our TVs didn’t have dials. I’m not that old), where Sunday Night Heat would provide me with a glimpse of the set and arena where the Pay-Per-View took place, and if I was lucky, a pre-show match. Maybe I’d get a glimpse of Rob Van Dam, but more likely I’d get D’Lo Brown vs. Raven. There was the one time that HHH defended the World Title against Maven on Heat. It felt like a big deal to me. I was grateful for these also-ran shows. I dare say I even enjoyed them.

Fast forward to the current day. Now, I have income and I spend some of it monthly on the WWE Network. I’ll miss Pay-Per-Views live because I know I can watch them all later. There’s so much content with NXT and 205 Live in the mix, that there are weeks where I don’t watch any wrestling in an attempt to combat wrestling fatigue. Younger me would kill (no, literally, I think he would) to have the access to wrestling that I don’t take advantage of now.

This is what I thought of last weekend, where I found myself home alone (a rarity nowadays) a full hour before the beginning of four straight days of wrestling bedlam in Brooklyn, starting with NXT TakeOver, and realized that for the first time since those pre-teen days of ol’, that I’d be dedicating my full attention to a Pay-Per-View Pre-Show.

I decided in that moment to document my thoughts and see if I could recapture some of the magic these shows provided me in my youth. Here were my thoughts…

 

***

The NXT TakeOver Brooklyn IV Pre-Show | Barclays Center, Brooklyn New York
Our Panel is Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Pat McAfee

6:00– They open with a great shot coming out of the Atlantic Avenue subway stop to the beautiful face of the Barclays Center…too bad it rained buckets (out of nowhere) for 5 minutes before this, displacing any fans in sight that would’ve provided some energy to this gray and empty shot.

While the WWE does have good luck with the shows at Barclays, they have a history with cool opening ideas being let-downs; When we were in attendance for TakeOver Brooklyn I, the idea was for HHH to open the show in a darkened ring and talk up the show, all the while trying to trick the home audience into thinking it was a pre-taped segment, but then throwing on the lights and revealing that the whole thing was live in an arena outside of Full Sail. The intended effect was to go from 0 to 100 and pump the home viewers with the energy of those in attendance. Only problem was that no matter how hard Trips pleaded with those in attendance to shut up for fifteen seconds, people wanted to be the show rather than watch it, and when you look at the playback it’s more than obvious where HHH is standing the whole time.

At least this time it was just rain and not annoying fans who got in the way.

6:02 – Who’s that gigantic red head next to Sam Roberts? Is he always here? This is what I get for not tuning into the pre-shows. Whoever he is, he is loud, large, and loose-lipped.

6:03 – Apparently his name is Pat McAfee, and he just provided the first unintentionally funny moment of the evening.

“This is the home of Notorious Biggie Smalls, (longest pause in the history of broadcasting)… and Jay-Z!”

Nice save Pat. It’s gonna be a long hour.

6:05 – Video package time. This is the kind of stuff that I love.

It’s hard to do a whole hour of match analysis like a normal sporting pre-show, because we all know that this is kayfabed. BUT analyzing something as ridiculous as this NXT parking lot security footage in kayfabe is what wrestling is all about. Also, it’s impressive that this came together so quickly.

Some catchup for those not in the know:
In Reality: Aleister Black got injured and had to be taken out of the main event of the Pay-Per-View
In Kayfabe: Aleister Black was attacked in the parking lot, and now the story is that everyone is a suspect

What follows is like the Zapruder film of wrestling, complete with (in the NXT Pre-show version) comically large arrows pointing out who all the clearly-lit people are

This is also a nice way to remind less diligent fans who some of lesser-used talent are, like Kona Reeves. I really needed that arrow to identify him.

The only person who’s in the video who doesn’t get an arrow is NXT Head Trainer Matt Bloom…that’d be the swerve of the century. Bloom becoming jealous of his top protégé, leading him to ambush him in the parking lot, resulting in a return match. But who would Bloom return as, A-Train or Tensai?

6:10 – Pat McAfee “I love a good mystery.”

Me too, Pat, Me too.

6:11 – Mike Rome in a crew of fans saying “we’ve got the Undisputed Era here, we’ve got Tomasso Ciampa here…”

No, those are fans wearing shirts of those wrestlers…Do you need help identifying them, because I know a video with some arrows that would help…

6:14 -Sam Roberts reviews the rules of a Last Man Standing Match, that you fight until you can’t answer a ten count

Legit question: will the fans have enough respect for this feud to not chant “10” every time the referee starts a count?

Of course, you reading this already know the answer, but I’m curious if the need to be heard will outweigh a laser-focus on a feud that absolutely demands it in Gargano vs. Ciampa 3.

6:15 – Pat McAfee “It’s wild that the network is free for a month for all new subscribers, wild!”

Clearly you haven’t been watching the other Pay-Per-Views Pat…but to be fair, the last time I watched a complete pre-show, I had braces and was likely wearing a Barenaked Ladies concert t-shirt…

6:16 – We throw to a backstage pre-tape where the members of the Undisputed Era compete to see who can do the most actorly business to draw focus away from their interview.

The Contenders:

Kyle O’Reilly – perfectly mimes tuning the knobs at the end of his title belt as if it were a guitar. You can almost hear the E string as he fake strums

Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish – Drape one belt uncomfortably over both of their laps, holding them in like children in the backseat of a van who have one of those kids-lock seatbelts that restrict all movement.

Adam Cole – Stares directly at the camera, probably pondering what he will eat at catering before the show

The Winner: Us

6:17 – While running down the NXT Tag Team match, Pat proclaims that Mustache Mountain is his “favorite tag team name.”

Are we sure about that Pat? Let me proceed with some evidence to the contrary

Exhibit A:
Pat: I hope the winners are the Mustache Mountains-

Sam: It’s just the one mountain-

Pat: Let’s not get into the geography here!

Exhibit B:
Pat: I’m picking the Mustached Bearded Fellows!

The team makes the save and throws to a video package so that Pat can take a quick peek at the program and try to remember the name to his favorite tag team

6:24 – It took 24 minutes, but now there are enough people inside the arena for us to get our first audible “Mamma Mia” chant of the night.

Confession – I honestly considered going to see Mamma Mia 2 in theatres this week, just as the off chance that Mauro Ranallo might be there too.

6:25 – We’re back to the panel, now talking about the Velveteen Dream and ECIII match.

The build up to this feud, of course, featured ECIII throwing Velveteen Dream in a pool. Your thoughts on this Pat?

Pat: I have a hole in my eardrum Sam, so if I got thrown in a pool it’d be a headache for a week

I have so many questions, the biggest being “Do I love Pat McAffee now?”

6:29 – I think we’re about to get my answer

Pat: Adam Cole called me a dork, he made fun of my jorts, so I’m rooting for Mr.Richochet
Charly: Wow, someone’s butt hurt

Come on team, what is happening here? Charly, you’re supposed to be the professional broadcaster here (Sam Roberts, aside), what implored you to say that? Pat, what made things between Richochet and you so formal?

Is Charly the first sports announcer to say “butthurt” on air? Maybe. I don’t watch a lot of X Games coverage, but if you told me an X Games telecast for BMX Street Best Trick featured an announcer saying “butthurt,” I’d believe you.

Will Charly be the last sports announcer to say “butthurt” on air? You better believe no one else on WWE’s commentary team will utter those words. The X Games though, who knows?

Honestly, that took me by surprise, people will surely talk about this later, right? Or, is this just how it always is on the pre-show? They can just say whatever they want?

(Editor’s Note, they didn’t talk about this later. I guess being at the beginning of a bazillion straight hours of wrestling programming tends to wash out)

6:40 – Pat takes a solid ten seconds starting, stopping, and restarting his attempt to correctly pronounce the name of the challenger to the NXT Women’s Title (her name is Kairi Sane)

He gives up, and pivots to tell us “Hey, she’s a sailor.”

6:44 – We throw to the back where Tomasso Ciampa arrives to the building…in the back of an empty semi-truck? This can’t be the most efficient or comfortable way for the NXT Champion to travel, can it?

6:45 – The video package voice-over announcer really sticks it to Pat

“AS ALWAYS, WWE Network is free for new subscribers”

6:46 – With 15 minutes left, they go back to the arrow segment that started the show.

I feel like I’m being punished  for the next fifteen minutes, but really, this is about the time that I’d be turning on the TV before a Pay-Per-View normally and I’ve gotta say, butthurt comments aside, this video package was one of the more creative things that WWE has produced this year, and I’m happy that the odds of more people seeing it just went up dramatically

6:48 – NXT General Manager William Regal on the set now to talk about the parking lot attack, and rules out the Undisputed Era as suspects?

Regal is a wonderful detective, using those deduction reasoning skills, seeing things in that video that no arrows pointed to.

I hope that the next few weeks of NXT is Regal Sherlocking the entire roster one-by-one. The smile on Regal’s face thinking about hitting the assaulter with brass knucks…

Regal, at his wits end, stating “this literally changes the course of WWE over the next ten or fifteen years…”

Damn, Regal with the promo skills. God, I hope this leads to him having a match with someone.

6:53– Pat: Those Mustache Mountain Boys are awesome!

Actually, that name would work too

6:55 – We pan to the crowd with 5 minutes until the show, and it isn’t close to filled up yet, particularly hard camera side…maybe the word didn’t get out about the new start time…

6:57 – While the team runs down the card one more time, I decide to casually wiki Pat McAfee. Here are my findings of note;

  1. Pat’s listed first as a pro wrestling analyst and comedian, in that order, before mentioning his career as a punter in the NFL.
  2. He is Jacked for a punter. This guy is awesome! Wait, he went to West Virginia University… now I’m conflicted.
  3. Wikipedia only has this to say about his career as a stand-up “McAfee is also a stand-up comedian, and has performed in events all around Indiana.”
    He’s taking over one state at a time!
  4. Pat has one Guinness world record to his name – He kicked a 40-yard field goal while blindfolded. In case you readers have been looking for an easy world record to break, I feel like with a little time and practice, you can do this too.
  5. Pat does have an arrest for public intoxication, but even has his brand of sillyness. He was found “intoxicated, shirtless, and wet” by a woman who saw him next to her car at 6 in the morning. Allegedly, he had swum in a canal next to a popular nightclub.
  6. The biggest moment of notoriety from Pat’s NFL career was an unfortunate incident where he tweeted a photo that contained teammate Andrew Luck in the background, completely nude. I feel like this should be re-run as an angle in NXT.

6:58 – With two minutes to spare, Pat got Mustache Mountain’s name right!

6:59 – Gargano/Ciampa video package to end the night. It’s a lot of the same video package format as their last match, but with updated interviews and a vastly improved acting performance from Johnny.

This is going to make one amazing DVD someday, one that could win a sports Emmy…no, screw that, let’s put this thing in a limited run of theatres and try to get it an Oscar! Let the campaign start now!

7:00 – The Pre-show has come to an end. I guess now I have to watch NXT. Sure, the show will be great, with every match being solid. Sure, I’m going to see Richochet get his head kicked on that moonsault, and we’re going to get a great drama-filled main event – BUT, I can’t help but feel like going back to watching all the wrestling is going to be missing something. It’s going to leave a hole in me.

A hole that is roughly six feet tall, weighs 230 pounds, and can’t get the name of his favorite tag team right.  ■

 


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