Top-Down Smackdown: Assessing Legends House


I’m not sure exactly when the WWE Network’s reality series ends, but given that on this last episode Roddy Piper alluded to the fact that they only had one day left, I figure it’s either over or about to be. So I think now we can really take a look at whether it succeeded – I was certainly skeptical – and how they should move forward, if it all.

Let’s break down what we (or at least I) learned.

1. Three Years Ago, WWE Was Terrible at Reality TV.

It’s funny – Total Divas is such a polished show, and yet Legends House was a mess in technical execution. They clearly had almost no plan for what these guys were going to do, beyond some half-assed day trips and the obligatory cameos by Gary Busey and The Iron Sheik. It’s astonishing that a company whose entire product is faux-reality can be so bad at the real thing, but from the half-assed attempt to try and frame the only black guy as the villain to an extended Pat Patterson confessional that leaves out the entire reason he would give such a confessional in the first place (he’s gay, something everybody knows but TV programming has never flat-out admitted), WWE consistently botched the only organic moments of drama.

2. Force Them Together More.

The show was at its best when everyone had to work as a team, or in competing teams, on group projects like making a TV commercial. It was at its worst when it lingered on a painfully uninteresting fake game show with everyone in teams of two, or focused on the joke-writing process for a roast. The whole point of most reality TV is the conflict between different types of people, especially the kind no professional writer would come up with. If you won’t make it a competition/elimination show, make it like those seasons of The Real World where everyone had to run a business.

3. Keep It Veterans.

Dwayne Johnson may talk about “the Rock persona” nowadays in interviews, but these guys from the ’70s and ’80s never broke character, and that peek behind the curtain is the major appeal of the show – eventually, they’ll show us their real selves even if by accident. Thus is Roddy Piper revealed as a decent guy with serious PTSD issues, Hacksaw Jim Duggan turns out to be a belligerent jerk, Jimmy Hart is exactly as annoying as you think he’d be, and best of all, Mean Gene Okerlund is a sarcastic drunk who nonetheless maintains his perfect announcer voice even when exclaiming “Holy Balls!” as he often does.

I don’t need to see newer Legends like Edge and Lita on the show (though their tension as controversial exes might be fun), because I already feel like I know who Adam Copeland and Amy Dumas are. But if you got, say, Demolition without their facepaint and spikes? I’ve never “met” them.

4. For God’s Sake, Don’t Make It Hulk Hogan-Centric Next Season. But if You Must…

…get Ric Flair too.

Enough already with Hogan and reality TV. You’d think he’d learn after screwing up his family from the first time around. Yet he is rumored to be the star of the next season. As such, he needs a counterbalance – someone with an equal ego who will constantly challenge his alpha dog status. Preferably someone who’s both retired and desperate for money, willing to act like an insane fool for a paycheck. And nobody fits that bill like the Nature Boy.

Who else should be on the show? Let’s consider.

Likeliest Candidates: The same crop of Legends you see on every flashback Raw – Flair, Ted DiBiase, Mike Rotundo, Ricky Steamboat, Ron Simmons, Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels said he wouldn’t do it, but money talks.

Of that batch, besides Flair, I’d most like to see Hart (to see if his good-guy persona ever cracks) and Simmons (just so we don’t get into a pattern of demonizing the black man). Rotundo may be busy as an agent, but on the other hand, with two sons now on the main roster, they might want to take him off booking for a bit.

Longshots: Mick Foley (hasn’t resigned a deal because he felt the terms were unfair), The Iron Sheik (his social media persona is carefully managed by the Magen brothers, who presumably wouldn’t have access to him on the show), Jim Ross (we need a retired announcer, but he seems like too much of a no-nonsense type), Steve Austin (has done reality as host of Redneck Island, but arguably too big a star for this). All would be good.

Unfortunate Likelihoods: The Nasty Boys and Brutus Beefcake.

Why not: Get a couple of Divas or little people? Dink the Clown probably isn’t doing much. The late Moolah and Mae Young would have been good contenders, but there’s nobody like them any more – maybe Ivory? Wendi Richter? Given what idiots the current cast acted around bikini babe Ashley, it’d just be fun to throw some estrogen into the mix.

Now let’s talk Raw in comments.