Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 9.25.02

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In Memoriam:  Mike Webster, the greatest center not named Hilgenberg to ever play football.

THIS IS THE “ERIC’S FUCKED-UP LIFE SECTION”, SO START SCROLLING DOWN

As all of you know, I’ve been very candid about my mental illness in my column.  Being bipolar isn’t very fun, and it does explain a lot about the nature of this column in the first place.  Well, I decided to let some other people in on the full extent of what’s going on inside my brain, namely my employers.  And I did it in a very unusual fashion.  On Monday, I wrote a very long memorandum, with footnotes and links to websites, requesting to be placed in protected status under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA does cover mental illness, especially chronic illnesses with no cure like mine).  Naturally, before doing this, I made sure that I fulfilled all of my obligations under ADA, thus putting all the onus on my employer on whether or not to accept this.

They decided to go batshit about this situation.  This company has never had an ADA claim from an employee, so they had absolutely no idea how to react.  After a day of complete panic by them, I was asked to see the VP of Operations yesterday morning (after making sure that I completed this week’s data analysis for him; I can be such a suck-up sometimes).  The company reacted partially as I expected them to:  when in doubt, call the lawyers.  However, they had also made a decision to put me on paid leave until such time as the lawyers came up with a decision on whether or not to give me protected status.  So, therefore, I’m sitting at home here at 6:30 AM on Wednesday, after getting twelve hours of much-needed sleep, knocking out this column, and getting paid for it.

The reason I’m sitting at home is simple:  when the words “mental illness” are mentioned, people get scared.  This is the type of reaction that ADA is supposed to prevent.  I’m not going to argue about the fact that I’ll get a few days of unexpected paid vacation from this, but I’m still pissed off that this type of overreaction takes place.  Hell, during the conversation with VPOps, I even had to use the old cliche “I’m not a danger to myself and others”.  When I told HR about what kinds of medication I’m taking, no reaction.  When I told my supervisors about my shrink’s diagnosis, no reaction.  But put it down on paper and attempt to assert some legal rights for yourself, and the flood gates open.

The best news out of all of this is that the Damn Vaninator is under a recall for possible corroded brake lines, and I was finally able to make an appointment with the local Ford dealer to get that repaired (along with seeing what’s causing the Check Engine light to be on all the time and getting the hatch door sensor repaired).  So good news all around.

You know, it occurs to me that the one thing the mentally ill really need right now is the equivalent of a Stonewall, with policemen beating the crap out of us in a public gathering.  Perhaps we can organize a Psychopalooza, with only music from mentally ill people being played, like Beethoven and Kurt Cobain.  This may be the last frontier of discrimination, and it’s time to break the barriers down.

Now on to other crap…

THE PIMP SECTION

Murphy, our indy guru, can’t get a column done this week, so he’d like me to plug a Midwest Championship Wrestling card that’s taking place in Grayslake, IL this Saturday (card starts at 7:30, doors open at 6:45).  It’ll be at the College of Lake County Phys Ed Center (been to the College of Lake County; nice campus) and will feature, among others, Chris Chetti and Reckless Youth.  All in all, a good bargain at $15.  If I was still living up in Kenosha, I’d probably attend, since it’s only about a twenty minute drive from there.  Remember, folks, support your local indies.

Daniels proves he’s God by branching out and writing his first music-related column, this one on “the unreleased Nirvana song”.

Naturally, with my pathetic luck, I can’t get on the site right now to get any other pimps out, so just read everything, dammit.  It’s worth it.  After all, the most popular independent wrestling site (according to Alexa) only gives you the best of the best.

SMACKDOWN SOMEWHAT SPOILED

First Chavo does a strip-tease.  Now Chavo attempts to do a Stinkface to Rikishi.  I think that Chavo should just come out and admit he’s an exhibitionist and start posting nude photos of himself at wwe.com.  That might attract some more of the female audience.  At the very least, it’ll attract the gay men who have a Hispanic kink.

Isn’t Raw supposed to be the Land Of Misogyny?  So why is there a bikini contest between Nidia and Torrie?  At least there’s two impartial judges in Billy and Chuck.

Speaking of Billy and Chuck (you know, it’s no longer fun to call them the Gay Boys now that it’s been turned into an angle), it’s a little disconcerting to book them as the New R&Rs, with Billy playing Ricky Morton.  Remembering back to those oh-so-memorable New Age Outlaws matches, wasn’t it always Road Dogg who did the Ricky Morton routine?

Main event:  Angle/Benoit/Rey-Rey!?  Can smarks who read spoilers actually be able to live with a three-day erection?

Funaki’s interviewer role is getting better and better each week, according to the people who watch this show.  Thursday, he really takes one for the team.

Edge/Eddy rematch from Unforgiven…well, at least they choose the good matches to redo, and this one’s supposed to be very, very, very, very good.

AND IN OTHER WRESTLING NEWS…

I still can’t get on the site to see what WidShish has covered, so I’ll just do a grab of anything interesting out there.

Okay, so WMXIX is now officially set for Safeco Field for March 30th, 2003.  WWE’s press conference yesterday on the subject was very heavy on the Sports Entertainment aspect, very light on the actual information, just as we would expect.  There were some choice comments made by Kurt Angle, Trip, and even TBS.  Here’s the entire press release, courtesy of the Torch, just for you completists:

For the first time in the 19-year history of one of the premier entertainment events in the world, Seattle will play home to World Wrestling Entertainment(TM)’s WrestleMania XIX.

The event will take place at SAFECO Field on Sunday March 30, 2003. Ending weeks of speculation, the official announcement was made today at a news conference at Seattle’s Experience Music Project.

“All eyes will be on Seattle as the host of WrestleMania XIX. Seattle is a world class city and we’re excited to bring one of the greatest events in entertainment to the Pacific Northwest,” said Linda McMahon, CEO of WWE. “WrestleMania is our highest profile event and we’re looking forward to entertaining more than 50,000 fans from around the world live at SAFECO Field.”

Tickets for WrestleMania XIX will go on sale on Saturday, January 11, 2003 at www.wwe.com or www.ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster locations including select Fred Meyer, Tower Records, and Wherehouse Music locations, or by phone at 206-628-0888 (Seattle) or 253-627-TIXS (Tacoma). For more information on special travel packages, which include tickets to the event, accommodations, and special hospitality opportunities, send an email to wrestlemania.packages@wwecorp.com or inquire by fax at 203-406-3622.

“SAFECO Field is already known as a great place to watch baseball and now, with a marquee event like WrestleMania, it’s quickly gaining a reputation as a great place for a wide variety of sports and entertainment events,” said Tony Pereira, Director of SAFECO Field Operations.

About WrestleMania

The first WrestleMania was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 31, 1985. At the time, it was the most-watched closed circuit event in history and established WrestleMania as the premier World Wrestling Entertainment(TM) event. On March 29, 1987, 93,173 fans attended WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome – a world indoor attendance record that still stands today for any sports or entertainment event. In 2001, WrestleMania X-Seven in Houston’s Reliant Astrodome broke the attendance record in that building with 67,925 fans. Last year, 68,237 fans packed Toronto’s SkyDome for WrestleMania X-8, breaking SkyDome’s attendance record previously held by WrestleMania VI in 1990.

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE – News) is an integrated media and entertainment company headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and London. Additional information on the company can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. Information on television ratings and community activities can be found at parents.wwe.com.


Despite Road Dogg’s weekend auto mishap, he’ll be wrestling tonight against Jeff Jarrett on NWA:  TNA’s weekly PPV festival.  The show must go on, I guess, especially if you’re working on pay-for-play.

More info on Buh Buh Ray, courtesy of wwe.com.  Apparently, his arm injury is actually caused by a pinched nerve in his neck.  He’ll be having an MRI today to confirm that diagnosis.

1bullshit was able to get the Raw ratings up, and they are up.  They went from a 3.4 last week to a very steady 3.6 (on hours of 3.6 and 3.6, hence steady) against a marquee matchup on MNF.  So kudos to them.

A LONG-DELAYED MAILBAG

Now that I have a little time, I can actually do a bit of a Mailbag recap of the past few weeks.

First of all, reaction to my September 11th column ran about 25 to 1 positive (all the negatives seemed to use the word “Un-American” in them, for some reason).  Lots of “thanks for telling it the way it is” comments.  Here’s some of the best, starting off with my pal BFM, who deserves every kudo he gets:

My thought is, if it takes 3000+ people dying and an act of terrorism to make you patriotic, there’s something VERY wrong, and it ain’t with the country.  I know I live in a great country, and I’m also not one for emotional displays.  I don’t decorate the house at Halloween and Christmas, I’m not gonna do anything special on 9-11 either.

Naturally, we have to have a quote from Big Daddy Kurt Dieckmann (who’s currently enjoying a well-deserved vacation):

Nothing I hate worse than people who bitch about the system and do everything they can to avoid being a part of it. With the perks of being a citizen comes the duty of being a citizen.

I work at a radio station cluster that features a bunch of conservative “my way or the highway you traitorous ^*%^&” talk hosts. I handed your column to one of them for his perusing. After reading it, he had no response which means you were right on target. – Jim O.

I don’t actually agree with you very often, but what you wrote on September 11th was totally down to Earth and blunt to the point. And you’re damn right. – Brian Matheson, encapsulating a number of other comments in this vein.

I just, as someone who is supposed to disagree with you totally, want to thank you for at least getting out there the true meaning of patriotism. I have never served in the military, but I do vote every year (hell, I vote in the Primaries, which shows I must have something wrong with me mentally), I have only been asked to serve once for jury duty, and actually enjoyed the experience of being on a jury, and feel very strongly in my heart that, with all its warts, and there have been plenty of them, this country is still the best damn place to live. Am I the greatest patriot ever? Absolutely not. But I feel that I can look at myself in the mirror every day and know in some small way, that while I enjoy everything this country gives me, I’m not a completely ungrateful bastard who gives nothing back to it. And just putting a flag on my car (which I have done BTW) just to point out to everyone how great a patriot I am doesn’t mean shit if you don’t back it up somehow. I, of course, have not done what you have done however, and certainly, you have more of a right to call yourself a “patriot” than I ever will. I respect you for that and thank you for your service to help protect me and my right to freedom…I do want to say that as “thinking” conservative to someone who strikes me as a “thinking” liberal, that I enjoy your opinions and that it’s good to always have a dissenting opinion to that of your own to hear, just so you don’t think your opinion is what the world revolves around. I thank you for being one of many who give that voice. – Dino, and God bless you for saying that.

…I enjoyed what you had to say about 9/11 so much that I couldn’t keep it to myself, so I’ve posted it to every major email address I have in my account for all my friends and acquaintances to enjoy as well.  Hope you don’t mind me spreading the word, bro’, but I think you know the word is worth spreading. – Steev Bishop, chiming in from beautiful Southampton, England

Bravo on your 9/11 piece. Bravo. I am the 1st to admit that I wasn’t the All-Around American pre 9/11, and giving blood or waving a flag won’t bring those people back, or turn us all into the patriots that this country needs right now, but the behavior of some of our nation is not fit for the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Bravo on pointing out what really is wrong with our country, that it’s not just some 9/11 backlash continuing for one year and beyond, and that we need real solutions and real closure, to these real problems. – Chris Jackson

…having read your column for two years now, I wouldn’t expect false sympathy or lockstep salutes, so I appreciate the candor, as always.  Frankly, anybody who says you aren’t the most entertaining columnist on the web (wrestling or no), is just an illiterate fool who’s only looking for someone who will support their ill-advised opinions rather than challenge them…kudos to you on an always-entertaining article (basically the only wrestling writing I regularly read, and damn glad it’s not ALL wrestling at that), and for never being anything less than the grade-A asshole you proudly claim to be. – Kurt Berger, and I empathize with you taking an unpopular public position on the September 11th FUD.

I don’t think I have ever read something so completely in tune with my own personal thoughts. I have chosen to live in an almost complete media blackout for several days now because I will literally start SHOOTING people if I am forced to endure ONE MINUTE of this ghoulish, “9/11” frenzy in which radio promos for their “all-day” coverage are so slickly produced as to make me think someone is attempting to sell me a Lexus.  The hypocrisy and “bumper-sticker” patriotism of asshole yuppie cell-phone jockeys slapping an American flag on their 20,000 pound SUVs got old roughly 11 3/4 months ago, but thanks for putting my continued disgust at the phenomenon into prose. – ITAGP

I am sick and tired of the media trying to make us all Stepford citizens.  Caling us anti-american if we don’t go along with  Dubya on his personal agenda.  Of course, we all know that somebody else is pulling the strings.  Funny how Dubya was out for the public to see right after the attack but Dick was being holed up in some bunker.  Today is the same thing.  Dubya is cris-crossing the country but Dick is nowhere to be found. – Fernando Feliciano

I’m a Corporal in the USMC serving in Japan and I have felt nothing but spite towards the American public.  Their false patriotism rings hollow in my ears as a think of the hundreds of thousands of service members who dedicated their lives to protecting the Constitution of the United States, only to get a token holiday for their troubles.  Every year Veteran’s Day
comes and goes with only a modicum of recognition from the public, yet 9/11 gets gets tributes from every TV station in existence.  Everywhere I went today I was reminded of 9/11, but where was the outpouring of support for our service members currently deployed to Afghanistan?  I’ve sworn to lay down my life for this country if needed, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world but the United States, but there’s some days I’m ashamed to be an American.  This was one of those days.
– Tye Hackman, and let me just reiterate that I have nothing but respect for any member of the USMC, past or present.  You guys get the horrible “honor” of being first ones in, last ones out.  I’ll just say that it’s my right as an Army vet to make fun of Marines as part of the interservice bonhomie tradition.

And as a veteran, I’m pissed about the short shrift given to Veterans’ Day.  God knows I don’t have off that day, and being the grandson of a WWI vet and the son of a WWII and Korea vet, I think it’s a dishonor for all the people involved in defending this country to give such little attention to Veterans’ Day.

Longtime writer Brett Wortham wanted to know whether or not I’d read Starship Troopers and whether that influenced my thoughts on citizenship (Jonathan Gent also brought up Heinlein too).  Well, I’ve read a good portion of Heinlein, and he’s consistent in that area throughout his work.  However, Heinlein took his ideas from Joseph Campbell, and I do agree with a great deal of the Campbellian concept of citizenship.

Gotta give props to Antwon Jackson, a longtime writer who lives in Noo Yawk, and who related to me the mercenary activities that went on shortly after September 11th that sickened him.  Too long of a mail to recap or extract quotes, but fantastic.

Of course, my favorite obscurantist Sylvain Parent wrote in to tell me I wasn’t harsh enough.  Now, as per my “Trip is the closest thing we might have to Flair these days” comments, it’s more of a comparison to the perpetual push which has put him near the summit of Mount Perpetually Over against Flair’s hard-fought battles to get attention under difficult conditions (hostile bookers being the most prevalent; see Rhodes, Dusty).  Both of them seem secure in their niches.  Both are willing to give their all.  Flair’s dozens of times more talented than Trip, both in-ring and in regards to promos.  It’s more of a generalization.  We don’t have anyone who can compare directly to Flair right now (although Kurt Angle’s well on his way).  However, on a scale of 1 to 10 in comparison to Flair, Trip’s about a 6, where no one else is above a 4.5.  Consider it damning with faint praise.

In conjunction with the September 11th stuff, George Metcalf asked me two questions.  First of all, NAMBLA is the North American Man-Boy Love Association.  I think the name says enough.  The two tallest buildings in America now are the Sears Tower and the BP Tower (formerly the Amoco building before BP bought Amoco out).  Hope that answers that.

JP Young brought up to me the well-told history of John Fogerty’s battles against Saul Zaentz, the head of Fantasy Records, who still holds the rights to Fogerty’s CCR material.  Thanks, JP, but I already knew about all of that (and had to inform someone else through e-mail about the famous 1988 plagiarism suit, where Fogerty was sued by Zaentz for, essentially, plagiarizing himself viz. “The Old Man Down The Road” and “Run Through The Jungle”).  Actually, the slander suit happened because on the first printings of Centerfield, “Vanz Kant Danz” was called “Zanz Kant Danz”.

Staying with music, Raymond Miller wonders how ticket brokers get the best seats for concerts and are able to gouge customers.  A number of ways, actually.  They actually pay kids to stand in line at the box office for a couple days in order to ensure that all-important “first in line” factor.  Some of them have deals with the venue promoters, who will hold back on the best seats and sell them to the brokers at a profit to them and a later profit to the brokers.  Some brokers have connections at record companies and can buy off some of the promo seats given to the record companies for every concert.  In other words, they’ve got the stroke, while we get the ass-f*ck.

BC from Ireland reminds me that Mount Juliet, the course the Amex was played on, is actually in Kilkenny, and not Limerick.  Is Kilkenny in County Limerick, though?  I don’t have a map of Ireland handy.  He also went to the event to see Tigger, and came away convinced that the kid’s God.  Hey, who are we to disagree?

Jane Elkins, an actual woman (I hope), gives us the female perspective on Jeff Hardy:

Why do women like Jeff Hardy?  Well, I think the teenage girls like him because he’s good-looking and famous while being young enough for them to dream they actually have a shot at becoming Mrs. Jeff Hardy.  Women in their mid 30’s and older like him because their maternal instinct kicks in when they see the poor little boy getting picked on by the big bully.  Women in between, and really of all ages, like him because he exudes confidence.  I mean even though management, peers, internet writers, and many others make fun of his attire, body paint, hair color, ability, etc. he is confident enough to disregard their opinion.  There’s something sexy about a guy with that kind of confidence whether he’s gay, stratight, or bi.

Jane, there’s one problem with your whole response:  my remarks were a joke.  I don’t know what Jeff Hardy’s sexual persuasion is, but I just can’t pass up a gay joke any time I see him.  He just triggers that reaction in me.  I’ve seen less extroversion in your average Gay Pride Day parade or Mardi Gras.

Lots of ideas for a derogatory nickname for Randy Orton (man, the knives are out already for the kid; I feel sorry for him).  BFM, knowing that Bob Orton was called “Ace”, wants to go for “Deuce”.  RSP would like to head back to Cowboy Bob territory too, and call him “Personal Assistant” (just so Ross can use the line “third generation wrestler and second generation personal assistant).

I’m gonna close with an interesting idea from Anubistb, on why Raw should be cancelled:

I know this sounds silly from the outset, Raw is the signature WWF product.   The fact is though that the classic “Raw” formula is not translating well into the 00’s.   Attempts have been made to revamp Raw, but I belive it could be argued that Raw carries too much baggage to be fixed.  People know that Raw is the show with the bad angles, the screwjobs, the older wrestlers that will not sell angles, the bad writing.  Granted, Smackdown has problems (with the initals SM), but since Steph lets Heyman write, it is an identity separate from the rest of WWF programming.  Perhaps it is time to actually forge a new identity, to outright remake Raw from the ground up.   Find a new writer who can do for the Monday night product what Heyman has done for Smackdown, mix the younger wrestlers with the older.   Scrap the idea of the “enteratinment angles”, and let part of the new show be a true hardcore show where the ECW talents can shine.

I’m sorta split on this.  I’d prefer a gradual transition to something different at this point.  We’ve seen the chaos that can result from a zero-base approach (The Day The World Changed).  A Raw refocus has worked once before, though, at the beginning of the Attitude era.  But is there a breakout star there on the level of Austin, or a way to provide Sports Entertainment as great as Degeneration X 1.0?  You can only work with the material you’re given.

That’s it for me this week.  Enjoy Grutman, Ashishman, Hyatteman, and Fleaman until I return.