Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

As you know by now, the infamous WWE hatchet has struck yet again, as several wrestlers have been released in the past few weeks. Nick Mitchell, late of the Spirit Squad, journeyman Scotty Too Hotty, who was injured at the time of his release (real classy, Vince), Sabu, talented veteran 2 Cold Scorpio, and “the man with untapped potential” Rob Conway have all been sent packing by the pro wrestling juggernaut that is WWE. As sad as it is that these dedicated employees were let go not due to any failing on their part but simply as victims of Spring cleaning, there are two other releases I really have a problem with. Shelley Martinez, who played the vampire-worshipping, tarot card-reading valet of Kevin Thorn named Ariel, and Vito Lograsso, the former happy-go-lucky, thong-flashing transvestite on SmackDown!, were both shown the door.

TODAY’S ISSUE: It’s not about who you fire, but why.

Shelley Martinez was specifically brought in to work the “science fiction” side of the new ECW on SciFi. She was ordered to portray Ariel, a green-haired, fanged, vampire wannabe who frequents bite clubs and yearns for the “dark kiss”. She accompanied fellow would-be vampire Kevin Thorn to the ring and added to the mood whenever he was around. Which part of her job description did she fail to perform well? None. She did the job she was hired for, until Vince McMahon decided he didn’t like the gimmick which his people gave her. His way of rectifying the issue was to fire her.

Apparently Vince thinks only blondes are hot, so he didn’t like Ariel’s unique look and goth get-up. But Ariel wasn’t really about sex appeal as much as adding to Thorn’s character, which she accomplished via her bat-like hanging from the ring ropes, her vampiric mannerisms, her fangs, and her trance-like intensity when touching or looking at Thorn. She did a great job enhancing his gimmick, and look where that got her.

Letting Martinez go simply for being exactly what she was told to be, and for doing it well, reminds me of what happened to Muhammed Hassan. As I wrote about him a while back, Mark Copani should have been repacked rather than fired. The problem with him was that Vince soured on the gimmick WWE assigned Copani, not his work ethic, professionalism, willingness to learn, physique, conditioning, or attitude. WWE could have simply tweaked his character or given him a new gimmick outright, rather than firing him for playing the exact role they’d assigned to him in the first place. I can’t see the logic in WWE’s way of thinking, although seeking logic in that place might be my first mistake.

Big Vito, who’d earned his stripes in the original ECW, WCW, early TNA, and then WWE, portrayed a typical Italian tough guy until he was given a ridiculous, humiliating gimmick as a man who preferred to wrestle in a dress and show off his thong to his opponents as a form of Goldust-like psychological warfare. As dumb as it was, Vito performed it with great zeal and fervor. Like a true professional, he made the best of the absolute worst, and found a way to not only live with it, but he embraced it and made it his own. In fact, I believe he was slowly starting to get over with the fans. So of course, he was let go. If I were Vito, I’d be looking for Vince McMahon in a dark alley to show him exactly how much I appreciate his management style and decision making techniques.

I can only imagine how I’d feel if my boss in the Air Force ordered me to wear purple clown shoes with my camouflage uniform for a month straight. For the sake of argument, imagine that even while I know it’s not only stupid but also incorrect, I follow his order anyway and do so with a smile, never once complaining or showing any lack of professionalism. I quietly endure the snickers of my co-workers and press on, hating myself more and more each day for selling out. I can only hope my loyalty will be rewarded when the month ends.

Then imagine that at the end of the month my boss decides the clown shoes were a bad idea, and for wearing them, he’s kicking me out of the Air Force. Do you know what I would do? I’d head for the nearest armory, “borrow” a weapon and some ammunition, and have a little “discussion” with him about his decision. Do you see how unfair this all is?

When Vince retooled Paul Burchill as a pirate, it was a cool and effective gimmick because he didn’t actually believe he was one, like he certainly would have if the year were somewhere between 1988 and 1995. Burchill was simply honoring his heritage, paying homage to the pirates in his ancestry. With a dramatic entrance to the arena, cool music, a great look, buxom wenches, and a push timed to coincide with the massive success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Burchill really seemed to have a clear path to the upper-midcard and success in WWE. His in-ring skills were better than average, and I popped every time I saw his “Walk the Plank” finisher, a C4 or moonsault uranage. But self-proclaimed genius Vince McMahon didn’t realize how big those movies were (which explains a lot about how far away from the pulse of pop culture his finger is) so now Burchill’s back in the minor leagues. That’s his reward for doing his job well. It’s sad, but at least he wasn’t fired.

It’s absolutely absurd to think of qualified, hard-working men and women doing the job they’ve been ordered to do, to the best of their abilities, and then being fired or demoted for the one thing McMahon could easily change or eliminate: the costume and persona WWE assigned to them. If Creative isn’t satisfied with the job they’ve done in coming up with a gimmick for a new addition to the roster, they should correct their own mistake and design a better one. However, for as often as the fault lies with the creative department and not the performer in question, perhaps the people who need to be fired are not the wrestlers, but the out-of-touch, out-of-date, non-wrestling fans in the board rooms coming up with these gimmicks in the first place.

In the meantime, Randy Orton will continue to be pushed, regardless of how many times he screws up, makes the company look bad, or brutally “hazes” a coworker. Unfortunately for the hard-working professionals who toe the line and act like mature adults, there is no justice in wrestling; at least not in Vince McMahon’s realm of Sportz Entertainment.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms made of the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” – Herman Melville.

Before you go, check out our Rasslin Roundtable for WWE’s One Night Stand. Compare our picks to Steve Murray’s live coverage, then look below for our staff scores.

IP Staff Roundtable Results for One Night Stand

Iain Burnside
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 6-2
Total: 69-47

Vinny Truncellito
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 6-2
Total: 106-66

Kace Evers
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 6-2
Total: 39-35

Danny Cox
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 6-2
Total: 55-52

Charlie Marsh
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 5-3
Total: 14-19

Ben Morse
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 5-3
Total: 13-8

Matthew Michaels
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 5-3
Total: 55-49

Pulse Glazer
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 4-4
Total: 49-47

Allen Noah
WWE One Night Stand (3 Jun 07): 4-4
Total: 16-19