By Mike Mooneyham
April 23, 2006
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of Triple H, John Cena and Edge, or any combination thereof, together in a wrestling ring.
Unfortunately we’ll see all three of them again in the headline match at next weekend’s Backlash pay-per-view.
Can anyone say overkill?
Fans have had more than their fill of the three for the past month on Raw, with Vince McMahon booking a variety of handicap bouts involving the trio. Yet another Triple Threat match looks to be a difficult sell as the main event for Backlash. While Raw ratings have remained relatively high in recent weeks, those numbers don’t necessarily carry over to pay-per-view buy rates when fans are shelling out 35 bucks a pop.
The 60-year-old McMahon, the self-proclaimed lord of professional wrestling, apparently is hoping that the in-ring debut of “God” at Backlash will create enough buzz to garner some extra PPV buys. I guess it says something that the moment previously thought to be reserved for, say, the Second Coming is actually being brought to you by McMahon and the folks at World Wrestling Entertainment.But unless the payoff for this over-the-top angle is miraculously big – and I certainly don’t expect it to be – fans could be in for a major letdown.
Without any major competition since the demise of WCW in 2001, McMahon appears to be booking nowadays for his own enjoyment. Whether it be tapping into the sensibilities of Christians who object to the way religion is being treated, or casting supposed Muslim characters in a stereotypically negative light, McMahon seems to relish showing the audience that he’s in complete control.
It’s not just religion. There were the tasteless Eddie Guerrero angles following the popular Latino star’s death. And who can forget McMahon’s portrayal of “Dr. Heinie” as he pulled props out of a prosthetic Jim Ross haunch at the same time the real-life JR was undergoing colon surgery.
While some may argue that the current angle is blasphemous, from a wrestling perspective it’s just plain boring and sophomoric and comes across as a desperate attempt to attract viewers. The storyline also seems to have fallen flat as evidenced by recent “boring” chants from the audience.
It’s neither sports nor entertainment. And, not that it seems to matter anymore, but the angle kills any suspension of disbelief, which for years was a key ingredient to pro wrestling.
The mainstream reaction, for the most part, has been weak, and certainly not the response WWE brass anticipated or hoped for.
Keith Olbermann took McMahon to task last week in a “Worst Person in the World” segment on his MSNBC show.
Said Olbermann: “Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment, the man who actually somehow worsened the reputation of pro wrestling, has done it again, claiming that a week from Sunday his organization will televise a tag-team match featuring McMahon and his son, Shane, versus wrestler Shawn Michaels and God. Yes, all-mighty.”
In an attempt to amp things up just a little bit more, McMahon last week teased a possible appearance by God on this week’s Raw, saying he was “sacrificing his only begotten son,” Shane, in a handicap match against Shawn Michaels and The Man Upstairs. The next day, however, McMahon changed course, claiming he had an epiphany while flying over the Atlantic and revised the match to a one-on-one with Shane facing Michaels.
Probably the most intriguing element of next Sunday night’s pay-per-view is what Michaels, a born-again Christian, ends up doing. No matter how one might break it down, Michaels has to compromise his beliefs in an angle like this one. And last week’s crotch-chop gesture certainly couldn’t have played well in his religious community.
The big question is: Will God show up at Backlash (which just happens to be on a Sunday)? Of course everyone knows he doesn’t work that day.
– “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner took a verbal jab at former pro mat star and promoter Cowboy Bill Watts during a TNA conference call last week.
Commenting on remarks Watts made in his recent book, “The Cowboy and The Cross,” Steiner called Watts a bully, adding that the late Wahoo McDaniel told him that Watts was “a punk.” Steiner also claimed that he called out Watts during a stint in WCW.
In his book, Watts called Steiner a great athlete, but said he was so arrogant and aggressive that he created a bad atmosphere.
“Scott was a living example of what happens to a guy on steroids … Scott Steiner was so blown on that stuff that he had what I call ‘roid rages.’ Once you added them on to his ego, he became impossible. I also thought he was a bully. He’d hurt job guys for no real reason, getting mad when they couldn’t execute something like he wanted them to.”
Steiner, who boasts the biggest arms in wrestling, worked as a rookie in the business for Watts’ UWF promotion in the mid-’80s as well as for WCW in the early ’90s when Watts ran the Atlanta-based company.
While Watts dismissed Steiner’s remarks as not worth dignifying with a response, he stood by comments he made in his book.
“He never ‘challenged me to a fight’ – or ‘called me out back’ – and if he did, at that point in my life, I would have been crazy to fight him,” Watts said. “I am now 66 years old so I wouldn’t fight him now either. What does that prove in this? But he damn sure did not back me down. Just more of his bravado and if you consider all the job guys in the ring he hurt, which in my opinion was way too many – for no reason – then who is the bully?” Watts also doubted Wahoo ever made the disparaging remarks Steiner mentioned.
“Funny, Wahoo and I maintained a relationship until he died,” said Watts. “And the terminology Scott attributes to him is so ‘not Wahoo.'”
Watts says he holds the highest respect for Scott’s brother, Rick, but “none as far as ethics or as a person for Scott.” Watts added that Scott rode on his brother’s coattails.
“Yes, athletically he is a hoss … but of course, I would wager much of that size and strength is chemically enhanced or somehow injected stuff. But I don’t think he has any special legacy of greatness to leave our business or this life.”
Watts says stories of wrestlers challenging him seem to have taken on a life of their own since he wrote his book.
“It would seem that more wrestlers turning author have a Bill Watts story where they ‘confronted me’ – and ‘backed me down’ – so that I guess most of my 25 years in the business must have been ‘defending myself’ or ‘running and hiding from them.’ Self-aggrandizing ego is alive and well in that fantasy land. Remember, it’s a work.”
– Palmer Cannon flew home and gave the company notice following the first day of the WWE tour of Europe last week. Cannon, who was signed to a WWE developmental deal in March 2005 and debuted last August as a representative of “The Network,” reportedly was given the rookie hazing treatment by John Bradshaw Layfield and other Smackdown veterans, and had a near-confrontation with JBL.
Sources say WWE is trying to change Cannon’s mind and has not yet given him a release.
Cannon, who was originally trained in New England by Killer Kowalski, has been training and wrestling in WWE’s Deep South developmental territory.
– A Milwaukee mother wants a group of independent pro wrestlers charged with battery after they allegedly held her 17-year-old son and took turns chopping his chest hard enough to leave hand prints.
The incident, which occurred at a wrestling fantasy camp in Waukesha, Wis., left the youngster so battered and bruised that his mother had to rush him to an emergency room.
“You could still see the handprints on his chest the next day,” Deborah Reuteler-Smith told the Milwaukee Journal.
Reuteler-Smith said her son, Versailles Smith, was a huge wrestling fan and had asked her if he could attend the camp.
Near the end of the five-hour session, some of the dozen wrestlers present took off the boy’s shirt and held his hands behind his back while they took turns beating him on his chest as part of an “initiation,” she said. Smith told his mother he was screaming for them to stop. After it was over, they told him not to tell his parents what happened, he told his mother.
Promoter Frankie DeFalco told The Journal that Smith never appeared to be distressed during the five-hour session. “In the first few sessions we let them know how tough it is,” DeFalco said. “We let them know that it’s not fake and not soft.”
DeFalco claimed Smith took his shirt off by himself and wanted to prove he could take it, and that he was chopped five or six times.
Not surprisingly Reuteler-Smith said her son is no longer interested in wrestling.
– Matt Cappotelli, who has been battling brain cancer, tied the knot with Lindsay Seeders on March 14 at Makena Cove Beach in Maui, Hawaii.