George “The Animal” Steele used to tell stories about working with Randy “Macho Man” Savage and chuckled at Savage’s tendency to want to go over every part of the match before it happened. George usually blew him off by saying something like “Randy, we’ll go out there, get *THIS* close to starting a riot, and then we’ll end the match.”

Getting the audience to lean forward and care about a wrestling match (especially when it’s “fake” wrestling), is one of those arts that goes woefully underappreciated in the business itself. You have to make the audience care about the wrestlers, make the audience care about the story they’re telling, and, if you do it right, you’ll get *THIS* close to starting a riot.

Al Snow explains the concept of “heat” in this next little clip. Heat, in pro wrestling, is the audience caring about a particular outcome and how the heels and the babyfaces work together to make the audience care. (Warning: Al Snow uses salty language that might not be perfectly safe for work.)

Al Snow Explains "Heat"

With what Al Snow said in mind, I remember the movie “The Rundown“.

If you haven’t seen The Rundown, you pretty much need to get out there and watch it *RIGHT NOW*. It’s a great little action movie romp with a charismatic main character in The Rock and Christopher Walken plays the bad guy. It’s got Rosario Dawson as a selling point and Seann William Scott as a reason to *NOT* see it, I suppose, but it perfectly runs with the best wrestling formula that gets The Rock “heat”, as described in the first half of the clip. We establish in the first scene that The Rock is a really, really tough customer… and then put him in a situation where we have him meet Christopher Walken and Christopher Walken’s goons and then we have The Rock and the goons meet each other and then watch them *NOT* get in a fight.

Then a handful of things happen again and again and we see them continue to *NOT* get in the fight.

Then, in the first half of the final action sequence, we see them agree “okay… *NOW* we’ll fight…” but The Rock says “I’m going to fight with one hand tied behind my back.”

And then, in the second half of the final action sequence, we see The Rock say “Okay. We’ll all just fight for real now.”

And the final action sequence resolves itself.

We have a handful of small scenes after that. Some dénouement. Lets you catch your breath after that really big exhalation at the fight scene.

I’m comparing to any number of action movies I’ve seen in recent years and there are a couple of other ways to do it. One of the ways that works well is the “video game” structure of having your hero fight the little bad guys, then fight a Minor Named Bad Guy, then fight some more little bad guys, then fight a Mid-Tier Named Bad Guy, then fight some *MORE* little bad guys, and culminate in the fight against The Big Bad Guy. Another way is to just screw everything up and give no real thought to pacing at all and just have a couple hours of amazing stunts and big special effects and get people into the theater on the first weekend and forget about the movie by the time they walk back to the car.

But, seems to me, the *BEST* way to get people to talk about your movie is to take the simple formula described by Al Snow in his discussion of Heat above. Show the audience what they want… then withhold it from them for 85 minutes only to give it to them good and hard in the last 20.

And send them home happy.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

Staff Writer
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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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10 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. I’m reading Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores. Fascinating stuff about an animal that is near and dear to my heart.

    Also watching Season 2 of The Last Kingdom on Netflix. If you like viking stuff and don’t let the historical inaccuracies bother you, it’s a great show.


  2. I watched season 3 of 12 Monkeys, which was aired over just three days. It showcased incredible writing and acting.


  3. There’s a b&w disc of Nosferatu with music behind it that I keep trying to watch, but get interrupted every time.

    It’s similar to the concept of “Heat,” only irritatingly different.


  4. I was hosting my sons 5th birthday party (24 kids). At the end, all the kids were exhausted, as were most of the adults, which means we all slept wonderfully hard last night.


  5. I did like The Rundown, too, because it seemed like it was happy about having a main character who was smart but not “clever”–like, yeah he’s good at this, but he doesn’t need to rub it in your face being all quippy and cute and written-by-Joss-Whedon.

    I can understand why it didn’t take off, though. Walken is being Walken, and Sean William Scott is being whatever he is, and while both are amusing they stop the movie dead when they’re on screen.

    I think that, really, the movie was an experiment more than anything else; it was about whether Johnson could carry a movie, and the answer was “yeah, pretty much, if it’s the right kind of role in the right kind of movie”. Think of it as a full-scale dress rehearsal for the rest of his career.


      • Yes, that’s it exactly. Like…okay I get that when you have Christopher Walken in your movie it’s for a reason and that reason is to do things like the Tooth Fairy speech. But it also goes on, and the reaction of your average dude who’s there to watch The Rock do the People’s Elbow in a movie is much the same as the thugs in that scene.


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