This Week in ‘E – Race Relations

Michael Hayes puts his foot in his mouth while WWE looks for more on-screen diversity.

Opening Witty Banter
It’s going to be a short column this week. Real life has been real busy and kicking my ass lately.

The Big Story
According to PWInsider, WWE has suspended Michael Hayes, SmackDown!’s head writer, for derogatory comments towards Mark Henry at a party during WrestleMania weekend. WWE tried to keep the suspension quiet by telling people Hayes was away on vacation, but word spread within the company over the weekend that he was serving a suspension.

According to Jason Powell, Hayes and MVP were drinking at a party and had been using the N-word jokingly whilst talking about the white suit Hayes wore to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Hayes then went over to Mark Henry, who knew nothing about the conversation, and said, “I’m more of a nigger than you are.” Henry didn’t like the comments or Hayes’ decision to use a playful head butt to diffuse the situation.

After the news broke in the media, WWE issued a statement that said, “Due to inappropriate behavior, Michael Hayes was suspended for 60 days with no pay. In order to return to work, Michael Hayes will be required to undergo further evaluation.”

Powell also reported another racial complaint about Hayes regarding Dave Kapoor, the RAW writer who played Khali’s translator Ranjin Singh last year. Apparently other writers and agents, as well as members of the McMahon family, were said to have been witness to Hayes using a derogatory term and mock accent to insult Kapoor.

Hayes’ behavior isn’t really surprising to me. I mean this is a guy who spent most of his profitable in-ring years working all along the south with a giant Confederate flag emblazoned across his robe. It’s good news to hear that WWE is cracking down on bad behavior backstage. Whether they really are or not, it seems as if WWE is trying to clean up their image, in a lot of different facets. Vince McMahon’s vision has always seemed to include removing professional wrestling from its old dingy, smoky, good ol’ boy bar atmosphere and into a cleaner, more corporate environment. This is just another step in that ever evolving never-ending process.

Everything Else Fit For Print
From The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there has been an internal directive with WWE to have more African Americans on WWE TV. The marketing department has noted a downturn in African American viewing since 2006. Over this past year the company has lost Boogeyman to injury, plus saw the releases of Monty Brown, Booker T, Sharmell, Krystal Marshall and Bobby Lashley. It is thought that this is why Cryme Tyme was brought back, and why Kofi Kingston was brought up the main roster even though there weren’t concrete plans for him.

Hey if it gets more people watching WWE TV, then more power to them. It sounds like Ron “The Truth” Killings could be brought up at any moment to help bolter this initiative.

WWE has released Chris Gray, Tommy Taylor and Ryan Bishop from their developmental deals this week. Apparently Bishop is a former NFL player with the New York Giants, whilst Gray and Taylor are British cruiserweights.

Never heard of any of them. I wonder if they were any good before they signed with WWE?

Early information from inside WWE are about predicting 1.1 million buys for WrestleMania, with 700,000-800,000 of those being North American PPV buys.

That sounds like a crazy amount of buys, but not quite the 1.4 million that they had originally planned for. But still over 1 million buys for a wrestling pay per view is awesome. It shows the weight that the WrestleMania brand name carries.

Elevera Anoai Fatu passed away on April 25 after a seven-year fight against cancer, according to She was the sister of Afa and Sika and the mother of Umaga, Rikishi and the Tonga Kid.

That’s sad news. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Anoa’i and Fatu families.

WrestleMania 24 is going to be the first sports title released on Blu-Ray, as reported by World Screen. Joel Satin, Vice-President of WWE Home Entertainment, said, “It’s natural that WrestleMania 24, the biggest sports entertainment event of the year, is not only the first WWE title but the first sports title to be released on Blu-ray. Blu-ray disc will further demonstrate our commitment to bring WWE’s high-definition content to fans around the world through our network of home video distributors and licensing partners.”

Another feather in WWE’s cap.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Mr. Kennedy returns to RAW this week after taking the month off to film the direct-to-DVD “Behind Enemy Lines III.” Plus there will be a host of Backlash fallout, which I’m sure will include a big in-ring celebration for Triple H. But I’m most looking forward to William Regal’s coronation as king. I really, really hope it is as awesome and campy as Haku, Harley Race and Randy Savage’s were in the ‘80s, complete with a big throne being carried to the ring and all the heels there to celebrate in Regal’s victory.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Provencio and Hepple cover the blue brand.

Blatt covers the purple? brand.

Marshall covers the red brand.

How They Rated
A.M. RAW (4.20.08) – .5

RAW (4.21.08) – 3.0

ECW (4.22.08) – 1.2

SmackDown! (4.25.08) –

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Kirschner breaks down CHIKARA’s Campeonatos de Parejas.

Aaron compares the current Ring of Honor roster to stars of yesteryear.

Wiswell gives his take on Ring of Honor’s “big” 4/20 announcement.

In Case You Didn’t Spend the $40
Quick ‘n’ dirty results from Backlash:
Matt Hardy beat MVP to win the United States Championship (11:30).
Kane beat Chavo Guerrero to retain the ECW Championship (8:50).
The Big Show beat The Great Khali (8:10).
Shawn Michaels beat Batista (15:00).
Beth Phoenix, Melina, Jillian Hall, Victoria, Natalya Neidhart & Layla beat Mickie James, Ashley, Maria, Michelle McCool, Cherry & Kelly Kelly (6:30).
Undertaker beat Edge by submission to retain the World Championship (18:30).
Triple H won the WWE Championship in a fatal fourway:
John Cena pinned JBL (10:34).
Randy Orton pinned Cena (10:54).
Triple H pinned Orton (28:20).

IP Staff Roundtable Results for WWE Backlash
Another pay per view is in the books, and another roundtable champion has been crowned. Here’s the staff’s roundtable picks, and here is Steve Murray’s live coverage of Backlash.

Roundtable Champion: Three Way Tie: Cox, Marshall and Beasley

Danny Cox
WWE Backlash (4.27.08): 5-2
Total: 147-119

Paul Marshall
WWE Backlash (4.27.08): 5-2
Total: 58-36

Paul Beasley
WWE Backlash (4.27.08): 5-2
Total: 39-22

Matthew Michaels
WWE Backlash (4.27.08): 4-3
Total: 116-105

Raffi Shamir
WWE Backlash (4.27.08): 4-3
Total: 30-24

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