Captivation with Production: Analyzing the Most Recent Vignettes in Wrestling History
WWE has a history of introducing new superstars with some “special” videos, called vignettes, which usually generate a lot of hype, and are debated on for weeks, or even months. Vignettes have been a special factor in the WWE, which Vince McMahon can always count on, when he needs to drop a surprise to the WWE Universe. He has managed to keep the dirt sheets spiraling with rumors and backstage reports because of these vignettes.
Let us take a trip down memory lane, and look back at the debuts of countless superstars by vignettes, and their impact on their respective wrestling company that time. Ready for this intense ride? Well, let’s begin.
Note: I’ll be reviewing the five most recent vignettes we’ve seen, from the past year, and the ongoing one.
Sting 3-3-11 Vignettes; Return To Impact Wrestling
Copying WWE’s 2-21-11 idea, TNA decided to have Sting return on 3-3-11, and made some cryptic vignettes, just like WWE did, to promote his return. Unlike WWE’s vignette, this was very predictable, and was a no-brainer to many. The answer was obvious, and it was Sting. This vignette was unsuccessful, but it’s impact wasn’t.
Impact on the business: Sting immediately made his debut, and defeated Jeff Hardy to win the coveted TNA World Heavyweight championship, and he continued to have a long reign, until he was defeated by Mr Anderson. He regained his title back, and then lost to Kurt Angle, who lost to James Storm. Storm had the title for two weeks, before losing to Sting’s arch-nemesis, Bobby Roode. Sting became the General Manager of Impact Wrestling, and after making some questionable decisions, quit the job, and made Hulk Hogan the GM, because he said that he wanted to wrestle too.
Overall grade and synopsis of the vignette: This vignette can be described in one word: fail. This was the most obvious segment in recent history, and adding to the fact that WWE had repeated the same three weeks ago was ridiculous. I will give this overall return a D.
Kharma’s much awaited return; Divas destroyer
A massive talent in her own right, Kharma was waiting under the wings until WWE had the perfect idea for her debut. They easily thought of the gimmick where Kharma would be known as the woman who would destroy the “barbie dolls” or the “divas” of the WWE. She made her thundering debut at Extreme Rules 2011, and took out a crying Michelle McCool, who had just “lost her job”.
Impact on the business: Not much. In fact, it was very minimal. After destroying the divas on a regular basis, reports came in saying that Kharma was pregnant, and she would have to miss a year of her career. These reports were true, as on Raw, Kharma made her way to the ring, and broke down, before announcing that she was pregnant. She missed a lot in her career, and then made a short cameo at the Royal Rumble. She hasn’t appeared since.
Overall grade and synopsis of the debut: To give credit where credit is due, WWE put great emphasis on this gimmick, and made stellar videos, which made Kharma seem like a real threat. Even though Kharma has been in the WWE for a shot period of time, she has the ability to truly legitimize the divas division in the WWE. For this vignette and the debut, I will give a B-.
Japanese Wrestler Returning; Lord Tensai
With all the praise for WrestleMania, WWE started hyping the return of a returning superstar, who had “mastered his craft in Japan”. Vignettes streamed over a month with the wrestler posing with the Japanese tattoos on his face, and also his bulky body and muscular arms. The internet pundits had predicted the return of A-Train/Prince Albert, but they weren’t sure. In the end, they were proved right, as A-Train made his way to the ring under a new name, “Lord Tensai”, and decimated Alex Riley, and impressed one and many.
Impact on the business: As of now, the debut of Lord Tensai has been successful, and I have been a big fan of him since his A-Train days. Now, in his early forties, Tensai has made an impact by originally defeating the lower mid carders in the WWE, but has since moved on to big names like John Cena and CM Punk. A business worker of John Laurinaitis, Tensai does all of John’s dirty work in the ring. Tensai has been dominating since his return, and has definitely left a huge impact on the business today.
Overall grade and synopsis of the vignette and the return/debut: This vignette was very well done, with the complications of the fresh ink on the face. Also, the debut was done magnificently, with a manager named Sakamoto, and the green mist added to his aura. Lord Tensai has been one of the leading superstars of this year, and will definitely get a title run in the future. I still wonder why Tensai shaved his back, though. On the final grade, this gets a A- from me. I really liked this, and it was brilliantly scripted.
2-21-11; Undertaker and Triple H Return
One of the best vignettes ever produced by World Wrestling Entertainment, Undertaker and Triple H collectively made their debut as the crowd erupted. On the Raw after Elimination Chamber, the countdown ran down, and Undertaker made his entrance to a huge response. The crowd stood up, and the gong hit, and Undertaker walked out. Halfway through his entrance, Motorhead played, and there was a massive reaction as Triple H had also returned. They both stared down, and pointed to the WrestleMania sign. Their match at WM was fixed.
Impact in the business: To say that the impact was big would be an understatement, as Undertaker and HHH went on to have an amazing match at WrestleMania 27, which overall was below average. They stole the show, and after leaving for some time, came back to have another match at WrestleMania 28, which is said to beat the quality of the Undertaker vs Michaels match at WrestleMania 25. These two have provided us great matches, that too back-to-back, thus their return was brilliant.
Overall grade and synopsis of the double return: This gets an A- from me, again. The production for the weekly vignettes was great, and they made an impact, which was needed at WrestleMania. This has to be one of the best returns in recent history, and Undertaker and HHH sold it like they could. This reminded some why they are fans of this business. Overall, this was awesome.
The World is Ending; Chris Jericho Returns
Let me say this: every Chris Jericho return has been amazingly scripted. From his debut in the WWE by beginning with “Raw is Jericho”, and then having X+1=Y vignettes, Jericho has always had interesting returns, and this was no different. After weeks of vignettes hyping the end of the world on 1-2-12, Chris Jericho returned, and did not say a word. The next week, he came out, and played with the crowd. He kept doing that, or in a lay man’s term, trolling the WWE Universe every single week, before he said that the world will end at the Royal Rumble, and we all know it. His return was different from the rest, and it was entertaining.
Impact in the business: Chris Jericho became a threat to CM Punk the day he returned. He knew that actions spoke louder than words, and he capitalized on just that, by trolling the WWE repeatedly. Royal Rumble arrived, and everyone expected him to win the match, but he didn’t. He, then, promised to win at Elimination Chamber, but he failed again. After winning a ten man battle royal match to become the number one contender, Jericho humiliated the WWE Champion, CM Punk’s family, as he said that Punk will drink. He claimed that he will win at WrestleMania, which he failed to do. He claimed a victory at Extreme Rules, but he failed, again. He hopes to win the world heavyweight championship as he faces three men at Over The Limit. His impact has been huge, and he has contributed to the ratings in a massive way.
Overall grade and synopsis of the return: I’d definitely give this return an A+, since this return made me fall off my couch, and made me watch it over and over again, which was enthralling.
Even though he failed to win the gold, he was still successful, and got a lot of hype for his return, and his stay here. Summing up the return in one word, it would be: captivating.
Vignettes can change the fans’ outlook on a superstar. Let’s take the case of Ryback; I’ll admit, he is doing pretty well with his demolisher gimmick, but wouldn’t a vignette helped him? Let’s take a look at Damien Sandow now. Sandow got some vignettes, where he would instruct the Universe about himself, and about the dipping entertainment value of the WWE. That added to his character, and Sandow has already been on the top of some people’s top five wrestlers. Simply put, vignettes can make or break someone’s career.
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