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Thursday, 28 June 2007

So what happens now?

It’s been a nightmare few days for the WWE and all wrestling fans, not to mention the friends and family of the late, and it seems not-so-great, Chris Benoit.

I am still coming to terms with the shock, still cannot fathom the depths of pure evil that seems to have been perpetuated, and without naming names for obvious reasons, there are several names in the wrestling industry that I CAN believe are capable commit such an act. However, before Monday, Chris Benoit was not one of them.

But we must move on. I am not saying this should be forgotten. This should never, ever be forgotten. Whether it serves as a warning to ordinary people against steroid use, or simply a wake up call to a reasonably lax industry, is yet to be seen. But I would stop short of laying all of the blame at their door.

Yes, it seems that more stringent procedures ought to be in order. I think that it is fair to say the much vaunted wellness policy has bigger loopholes than Andre the Giant’s shoelaces. However, while it cannot possibly be condoned, plenty of wrestlers have been ‘on the gas’ in the past – not many, if any, have gone on a suicidal, homicidal killing spree. (thinking about it, maybe Sabu might have to rethink his gimmicked introduction)

Do the WWE have a duty to look after their wrestlers? Of course they do. A prevailing suggestion at the moment seems to be that because Chris Benoit was smaller than most pro wrestlers, that he spent most of his life on anabolic Steroids to boost his size. Those of us that have watched him for many, many years, know that although Benoit has spoiled his legacy as a person, his talent and record of quality matches can never be extinguished.

But you can understand why wrestlers, on a tight schedule of being on the road for approximately 300 days a year, with no off season, may be forced into taking other, more drastic measures to help their look that simply working out in the gym. To make it as a top guy, you pretty much have to look like a star.

The only reason Dusty Rhodes made it was because he was a great interview and developed a following because of his being ‘just a common man’. The Dream, frankly, was an ugly, podgy guy, and still is. But he could work, he could talk, he had a great gimmick, and a brain for the business.

Most of those things can apply to Mick Foley. Although there was a right place, right time, aspect with Mick, as there is an argument to say that he would not have been picked up by WWF when he was if they weren’t on the bones of their arse, because he didn’t look like a star.

An example of someone who never really made it is Steve Corino. Here’s a quote from an interview with Raven in January 2000, when he was back with ECW:

“Steve Corino is a great example, he had long hair and was a real good talker but had no build, no tan, no nothing and didn't look a star. He's a hell of a talker, but didn't look like a star. So I made him go to the gym, put on 15 pounds, and made him get a tan, you know this is a cosmetic business, and made him bleach his long hair white, and grow out his face hair which is actually hadn't ever grown in 'cuz it was sparse...

"But it came in black. So he's got this white hair now with a black beard type thing and he's tanned and he's got a much better build, and you see him in a bar now and you're like, "I bet that guy's a somebody," and he looks like a star.”

(This comes from http://www.angelfire.com/wrestling/RavenECW1/interview1.html)

The relative success of people such as Test and Chris Masters in recent years, who with all due respect have precious little in-ring or vocal talent, compared to someone like Corino, seems to back up those claims.

None of this is meant to vindicate either the WWE or Benoit, but is intended with a view to a slight redressing of balance, for some of the ill-informed comment I have read from some mainstream outlets.

1 comment:

Artimus said...

Here's one thing I'm wondering - What happens to the "Who killed McMahon" storyline now that Vince has broken kayfabe twice (To honour Benoit and then to apologise for honouring Benoit). Any thoughts?