I’ve discovered something interesting in Cambodia. There is a channel dedicated to professional wrestling. At first, I thought it was a sponsored WWE channel, but after a few disjointed cuts between episodes, I realized it’s a guy with a recorded-from-TV DVD collection that would make my brother jealous. I know this because occasionally the channel changes to a DVD manufacturer screen saver with a ‘stop’ icon in the corner, followed by ‘play’ and more WWE action. Some of the episodes are of questionable quality up-to-and-including DVD artifacting. It’s hilarious.
24 hours a day, this channel broadcasts random episodes of RAW and Smackdown in one hour increments…it’s frustrating to watch the first half of a RAW only to have it rudely interrupted by some other random first-or-second half of RAW or Smackdown. I’ve seen matches as far back as 2002 and as recent as a few weeks ago. I just listened to Stephanie McMahon (not Helmsley) berate Stone Cold for stunning her whole family on RAW after seeing Jeff Hardy defend his championship against CM Punk on Smackdown.
Given such a snapshot of weekly wrestling history, I’ve realized several things.
1. I may never stop enjoying professional wrestling.
2. WWE has produced some really terrible shows over the years.
3. The current WWE product is rather amazing.
I don’t know who all out there still watches on a regular or semi-regular basis, but I haven’t watched for years. I was extremely surprised to see that Jeff Hardy held the World Heavyweight Championship, and he seems to defend it regularly and competes well. There is a host of new names on both rosters and everyone has put together some really fantastic matches, some of even PPV quality. There seems to be a greater focus on in-ring psychology and clean finishes and I haven’t seen any scuzzy ratings-grab type storylines or gimmicks. It has just been quality sports entertainment.
Last night this channel pulled a dirty trick: it aired the first half of the Eddie Guererro tribute RAW episode. Brought back many memories. Also, it was REALLY WEIRD to see Chris Benoit wrestling. For those who don’t know, this is a guy that later killed his wife, kids, and himself at his home. I don’t quite know how to feel about it. On one hand, this guy is a murderer and a coward for offing himself afterwards. But it was in the future and from all accounts he was a decent guy before this roid rage thing happened; is it wrong for me to appreciate his wrestling ability before this incident occurred?