Planet Kayfabe: “Trashgate” and Jim Johnston music thoughts
Planet Kayfabe: April ’21 News Notes
By: “KC” Paul Matthews
I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves. Today I’m going to give my thoughts on some recent news notes in wrestling. It’s nice doing these types of columns where instead of a block text on one topic, I give my take on a few things going on. Some topics require that big wall of text, but often enough it’s better just to touch on some of these happenings in wrestling, so let’s just get started.
Mickie James’ “Garbagegate”
In my opinion, this is the most overblown non-story story in years in professional wrestling. This is just typical social media outrage culture driven as the day is long. Was I the only person who didn’t see this as that big of a deal? I’ve ordered stuff from eBay before that was shipped and wrapped in trash bags (which, in case you don’t know, before they are used for actual trash are actually quite clean and durable) inside a box also filled with old papers and magazines just to protect it.
However, an emotional Mickie James, instead of calling her former employer to express disgust or her offense taken decided to take to Twitter instead. There’s only one reason people take situations like this to Twitter first and it’s to start shit. It’s to get your fans riled up in a frenzy. Get everyone talking. Then to blow up Vince and Stephanie McMahon’s and Triple H’s @ feeds. That’s it. Then get all the dirt sheets talking. All the YouTube wanna-be Meltzers (or anti-Meltzers, which are ironically enough, worse and harder to listen to) and every fan who has nothing to do with their time up rage over a trash bag posting their hot take on this pressing issue.
That’s it. There’s no other reason for taking this to social media instead of making a personal call to Paul Levesque or some other high-ranking executive in WWE.
Whatever, though. It’s 2021 so WWE listened and someone had to fall on the sword. That person’s name is Mark Corrano who was senior director whatever something or other of talent relations. Basically, the same exact position John Laurinaitis was re-hired to do. I’m sure upon being let go he was sent away with a nice pension package and I doubt he’ll end up on the street, but it’s pretty silly to me that someone got fired over this. Would it have made that much of a difference if let’s say in the box Mickie’s belongings were inside large grocery bags? Or Target bags? Not really. People just saw the image of her stuff in a dark green trash bag and immediately thought the implication was that this is what WWE thinks of her because, again, that’s what we do on Twitter. If we are not immediately offended, then we must look for things to be offended by no matter how far we dig. Well, this is digging pretty deep, but I’ve seen worse. Remember when Undertaker called this a soft locker room?
Jim Johnston critical of current wrestling themes:
This week I listened to an interview with Jim Johnston, former WWE music composer with Chris Van Vliet, who does very good interviews on YouTube, that both ask real questions, but avoiding doing it in a negative, angry shoot style sort of way. Jim Johnson was asked, so he gave his honest answer on today’s wrestling themes in both WWE and AEW and described them as “mediocre”. It was a quick remark, but out of the entire hour and a half long video, that’s the line that’s making the rounds the most.
My thoughts? I agree 100% and if you’re a long-time reader of mine you know exactly how I feel about the current state of wrestling music. My opinion hasn’t changed. When WWE moved more towards the CFO$, who no longer works for WWE and are no longer together as a group, there was a clear departure in styles. Jim Johnston wrote themes with the individual in mind. He took into account their size, appearance, personality, and gimmick. All those things. Then he wrote their entrance music.
CFO$ had a different approach. Their songs mainly, with very few exceptions, were basically what I’d describe as glorified ringtone music. They got one or two riffs on a loop and there’s your song. They also had a fast-food style of writing where they’d just write and record music, throw it up on some database and the company would pluck a song from the song tree and give it to someone. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat again… Think of pretty much any CFO$ song. Even though you’re used to hearing that song with one wrestler, chances are you can take that song and give it to 90% of the roster. That’s how generic and stock these songs are.
Now, lets take Jim Johnston. Can you imagine Steve Austin with The Rock’s theme? Can you imagine The Undertaker with Bret Hart’s theme? Can you imagine anyone else with Undertaker’s theme? Can you imagine Kurt Angle with Vince McMahon’s theme? Can you imagine Mankind with Val Venis’ theme? Can you imagine The Big Show with Jeff Jarrett’s theme? How about the New Age Outlaws with The Brood’s theme? They all sound pretty silly, right? That’s because those songs were written for them and most of them we can still sing in our minds today. Now take the CFO$ era in WWE, I can barely tell one song from the other and after Finn Balor and Nakamura there’s no actual melody that I can hum to myself right now and I hear these damn songs every week. Seriously. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens could all swap songs tomorrow and it would probably take me a while before I noticed.
Johnston would later say he feels the music plays a big role in a wrestler’s career and getting them over. I agree 100% because I said the same exact thing myself in a column years ago that I wrote about WWE music. It’s not the most important thing, but it is important. Steve Austin’s theme was a huge part of his presentation. As was The Undertaker’s. Also, Triple H and The Rock had great theme’s where they’d pose in the ring for a long time and just let their songs play while anticipation built up. Even guys like Gangrel. I doubt he goes more than 2 interviews without his entrance theme coming up in conversation. Billy Gunn is in AEW working matches, but you know every fan there just wishes he could come out to his “Ass Man” theme.
There is no coincidence that when you look at the best entrance themes in wrestling today by current wrestlers they are mostly songs that were written by outsiders. The wrestlers themselves know these tunes are garbage and if Jim Johnston was re-hired by WWE I know every last person on that roster would be thrilled.
There’s my take on a couple of news stories this week. Want my thoughts on AEW’s ratings decline after a short showing unopposed by WWE NXT? Dude, the President’s speech and coverage of it dominated the ratings. I know I’ve crapped on AEW a bit this year, but if anyone uses this nearly 900,000 viewership number against them then they either completely don’t understand how ratings work or are just playing up a gimmick to piss off the smark crowd or AEW fans.
Like any other time the topic of ratings comes up, you don’t just look at one number one week and go “LOOK! THAT’S BAD!” or “LOOK! THAT’S GREAT!” You have to look at a pattern. If AEW continues to decline unopposed by NXT and on a night where the leader of the so-called Freeworld is not making a speech, then we got a story to unpack here. As of right now? I’d calm down. This story of a massive one-week rating decline for AEW can go in Mickie James’ trash bag where it belongs.
Thanks again for reading, everyone. Enjoy your weekend. Take care and God bless. For NoDQ, I’m Paul Matthews. See you here next time.