PRODUCTION HAS NOTHING FOR YOU
On this weeks edition of Lions, Tigers, Bears and Dirt – Vince and Jeff touched upon the question that is “What does it take to make a star?”
(In case you haven’t watched it – be sure to do it!)
Coincidentally, my latest column does in fact expand upon this brief discussion between the two.
Originally I was slated to write an article regarding the recent debut of Samoa Joe – But that’s what the entire wrestling world is currently talking about, I’m sure if you type “Samoa Joe” or “NXT” into Google you wouldn’t have to travel very far until you came across an article regarding this topic! – Not only that, but these articles are written by people whom are far more educated and qualified in this are to discuss these topics than I, people such as Jim Ross.
Before we start, I wish to introduce myself! I’m Jake Oldham – Jake Jesus being my pen name, not because I’m Christian, but because you’ll remember it. I am a student of media production & film in the UK, and its my goal to get wrestling fans to look at “The Product” -- as you would call it, in the way that I am taught in college to look at all forms of media, and with the platform that Vince Russo has given me – I am very much looking forward to what the future has in store!
Today, we discuss video packages.
Growing up as a child of the 90s – I was spoiled for entertainment, Nintendo, Saved by the Bell, South Park -- all these amazing things – but wrestling was where my heart lied, and some of my fondest memories are the video packages that were put out! I remember the WWF Desire with ‘My Sacrifice’ by Creed playing over the top of it! I remember the “Winner Takes All” match at Survivor Series 2001 in which the video hypes the match up and then suddenly Puddle of Mudds ‘Control’ blasts through my TV set and we, as an audience are hit with some fast paced cuts that tells the story, whilst also hyping the match and leaving us begging the question “Who will win!?” – obviously the WWF, but c’mon I was Eleven!
There are no words to describe the anticipation of The Rock vs Steve Austin at Wrestlemania X7 because of how much the Limp Bizkit ‘My Way’ video package built it up! The pacing of the song and the video complimented one another so well and It didn’t matter if you were smart to the business or wasn’t a fan of either of the two wrestlers involved – this video package demanded your attention and it told you “This match is a huge deal!” – What the video package did for this match was not only tell an amazing story, but it made you feel like neither of these two guys could lose! – and that is what makes a great video package!
There have only been a handful of matches within the past decade or so that I think people actually have cared about, and one of these select few is The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 – but it’s the video for their rematch at Wrestlemania 26 which sends shivers up my spine!
The song used is a cover of a Kate Bush original called ‘Running up that Hill’ by the alternative rock band Placebo. To really understand the story being told in this match, we are shown a video package – but what lies within this video package? other than pacing and the rhythm!? – What does this video really do to help compliment the match?
The song tells the story of two completely different entities that do not understand one another, simply because they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but if they could swap roles, they’d realise that although they are completely different – they’re also exactly the same. Man is Women. Women is Man – Good is Evil, Evil is Good. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- I suppose you could say.
“If I only could, make a deal with God, get him to swap our places, I’d be running up that road, I’d be running up that hill, I’d be running up that building”
By now, they are pleading, “If our roles were reversed, things would be very different! I just need a chance!” But, the only way for these roles to swap places is by making a “deal with God” which is a hell of a lot more powerful than just simply asking for something. – But, like most deals, there’s a price and eventually you do have to pay up!
Our video package starts with Shawn Michaels accepting the ‘Match of the Year’ award at the Slammy Award Ceremony – This in itself is symbolic – He’s just won ‘Match of the Year’, by this point you could give Shawn Michaels the WWE championship and it still wouldn’t scratch that itch – the itch that is him losing to The Undertaker.
There is genuine gratitude toward the fans from the Shawn Michaels character, he understands that the ‘Match of the year’ is something to be proud of, but it’s not enough. There’s something very tragic about this speech in the sense that although it was some ten years prior, it seems Shawn Michaels has finally found his smile, Its just not how he thought he’d find it – Yes Shawn has found his smile, But the smile he wears is fake.
We as an audience have nothing but empathy for this character. The lyrics “So much hate for the ones you love” plays – this represents how Shawn feels every time Triple H looks at him, that all he see’s is a loser, all he hears is “You couldn’t do it”, and its eating Shawn alive! The sympathy in Triple H’s eyes, the patronising tone in his peer’s voice’s about not being able to beat The Undertaker is itching Shawn underneath his skin. Shawn stops! He hesitates, we cut to the flashbacks of their match at Wrestlemania 25 – those memories that have been keeping Shawn awake at night are visually being shown to us – Shawn Michaels cannot shake that loss, and it overshadows everything he’s done.
Shawn snaps! This Slammy award is second best – and he will not settle for anything less than being the best! Shawn throws out the challenge “You and Me – Wrestlemania – one more time!” – he has issued the challenge, which The Undertaker declines. The Undertaker see’s that demon inside Shawn Michael’s eyes. Declining this rematch is The Undertakers way of being cruel to be kind – Shawn on the other hand cannot bare being told that he can’t do something. He’s spent an entire career proving to the world that he can do anything he wants – he got told he was too small to be World Champion – he did it! He got told he’d never wrestle again – and he came back! No one is going to tell Shawn Michaels that he can’t do something.
Desperate times, call for desperate measures! As the pacing of the music slows down, the only option Shawn has left is to enter the Royal Rumble and choose The Undertaker as his opponent at Wrestlemania if he wins, unfortunately for Shawn, that’s not how this fairy tale is about to play out. After being eliminated from the Royal Rumble match, Shawn snaps! By now his focus isn’t on beating The Undertaker, it’s simply just getting the match with him at Wrestlemania in the first place! His obsession with beating The Undertaker has, like Michael Cole said “Taken Shawn to a place he has never been before”.
By now, there is only one thing for Shawn to do and although The Undertaker gracefully declined his rematch request. Shawn made things personal by costing The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber – now The Undertaker has no problem with taking ‘old yella’ out back to put him down the hard way!
Shawn should not of mistook The Undertakers kindness for weakness, if he wants The Undertaker, than he should know that he isn’t making a deal with “God” – but rather the Devil himself – and if he wants The Undertaker, then The Undertaker wants something in return – the heart and soul of ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ -- Shawn’s career.
This -- marks and smarks – is what the power of a video package can do for a match. It helps tell a story. I chose this example, not just because of an amazing story that was told between these two characters, but because it is one of the only good video packages from recent years – another to check out is John Cena vs CM Punk at Summerslam 2010.
I hope I gave you a little insight into how the production side of this business really offers and compliments the “sports” side of this business, but more importantly, I hope I got you wanting to watch this match, I hope the next thing you do is switch on the WWE Network or dust off your old DVDs and watch this match! The Creativity doesn’t just start and stop at the writing Guys & Dolls – we’ll be exploring all the areas of wrestling production -- such as, Entrance music, vignettes, ident’s, set designs, costume designs, Jim Johnston – all of this and more!
So stick with me
Follow Jake on Twitter @IAmJakeJesus