Hurricane Victims Livid over WWE's Portrayal of Hurricanes
With residents still cleaning up the effects of Hurricane Dennis a few weeks ago, and many still not fully recovered from 2004's Charlie, Francis and Ivan, many in the Gulf Coast and Florida - who are in the possible path of Hurricane Emily - are not amused by the fictional World Wrestling Entertainment creation, The Hurricane.
"It's one thing to simulate s*** that takes place in a distant land," said Tampa resident Mike Graham. "But, that motherf***er Vince McMahon is mocking the many victims of last year's disasters right here on American soil! I haven't been this upset since I found out I had to wrestle that sushi-eating, non-wrestling, flying monkey at Starrcade '91!"
How Graham qualified to earn a spot in a tag match that night (against Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame member Jushin Thunder Liger) has yet to be determined, but he states that McMahon's national expansion - which forced his family to sell the long-running Championship Wrestling from Florida wrestling in 1987 - has got nothing to do with his anger.
"F*** him. It's not about that - although the only way that bastard will ever get his grubby mitts on my footage will be to pry it from my cold, dead hands. It's about the amazing insensitivity that he shows for the people in this region who have been brutalized by Mother Nature. At the very least turn the goof so he's a heel for Christ's sake. Why would anyone actually want to encourage a Hurricane?"
Graham then went on a 40-minute tirade of what's wrong with today's wrestling, and pointing to bad-guy characters like "Earthquake," "Typhoon," and "Chyna," as examples of what happens in the wrestling business when nature goes horribly wrong.
This marks the third time this month that the World Wrestling Entertainment has run afoul of interest groups. Earlier in the month, they accomplished the rare "cultural trifecta," that saw the
company's two formerly-popular television shows embarrass the majority of their Latino
fan base - twice - by having three Mexican "Superstars" (® - World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.)
mimicking stereotypes about immigrants - complete with janitor's uniforms, Corona bottles, and "Juan Deere" landscaping equipment. They also changed another Mexican-American wrestler's image into a walking Amos-n-Andy skit on SpikeTV's Raw, the same week that UPN's
SmackDown aired a mock beheading and "sacrifice."
"We're very proud of our product," said WWE executive producer Kevin Dunn.
Dunn stated, "The Hurricane character has never been intended as any sort of slight to anyone that's ever lived through that type of tragedy. And as far as the MexiCools go, we try and be sensitive with everything we portray, but you have to admit, seeing three guys piled onto a over-sized lawn tractor with inflatable cerveza bottles is comedic gold."
"Look, we just happen to reflect the politics of the world sometimes — especially with these Mexican characters." Dunn added that he feels the characters should be taken as a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the men and women who come to America, "and take the jobs that the rest of us don't want anyway. Besides, everyone knows that the real Mexican immigrants in this country can't afford Corona, so they drink Modelo instead."
A WWE spokesman added that it was "unfortunate" that the green-haired superhero, played by Shane Helms, is in the news right now as the company was hoping his slumping career would, "continue to fade away, so we could cut him too."
But, no matter what the company says about the matter, it's doubtful that the residents ravaged by hurricanes will be able to see the entertainment value of what WWE is doing.
"It sucks. Royally," growled Graham, who added, "the least they could have done was bring back Mike Rotundo for the part."
Inoki Spirit Slaps Hashimoto into Heaven
This past Saturday at his funeral, former Triple Crown, IWGP, and NWA World heavyweight champion Shin'ya Hashimoto was slapped into heaven with a mega-dose of "fighting spirit" by Japanese cultural icon Antonio Inoki.
There had been real concern that Inoki, who has served in the role of delusional deity for Japan for years, would be unable to make the funeral and burial ceremonies. Thankfully, Inoki's schedule was able to be cleared as soon as he remembered that there would be photographers there.
After leading the crowd in a chorus of "Ichi, Ni, San, Da!" Inoki, then made a gigantic windmill motion with his right hand, and slapped Hashimoto with so much "fighting spirit" that the casket's door slammed shut. Yomiuri Sports reported that Inoki then delivered a
fiery speech saying that he wanted to send the former superstar off in an "energetic manner," and was very proud that Hashimoto "worked strong style to the end," by no-selling his spirit slap. He then added that he was honored that Hashimoto would pass away when he did, allowing him a reason to come back to "save" New Japan Pro Wrestling, which Inoki says has "grown soft and weak," despite his son-in-law Simon running it, and he owning a part of it.
The Japanese press is also extremely grateful, says Sankei Sports reporter Habanori Yuzuka. "Japan wrestler, very weak right now. It's very honorable that Hashimoto-san give himself, so that we could bask in the glow of Inoki." Yuzuka proceeded to gush politely, claiming that his paper had the most in-depth coverage of Inoki's appearance - including enlarged frame-by-frame photos of the slap, as it happened, and
analysis by wrestling expert Dave Meltzer, who gave the slap "**** 3/4 stars."
When asked how a man's funeral could become a public relations opportunity for the former WWWF Club-18 champ, Yuzuka replied, "Inoki is what you Americans call a 'media slut,' and he make good copy for our papers."
Hashimoto's 32-year old sister Masanari and his oldest son were the chief mourners at the service, which was attended by over 30,000 people, but even she admits that Inoki's icon status is what really drew the house.
"You have to give him his due," said a tearful Masanari, who was then violently spirit slapped out of nowhere by Inoki, who shouted that "tears would not suit" the late Hashimoto, and then immediately announced that former WCW TV title contender Yuji Nagata would return some of Hashimoto's "puroresu spirit love" to Earth by fighting two MMA bouts in one night against Pride's Sergei Kharitonov and K-1's Don Frye.
Work-shoot rival, Naoya Ogawa promised that he would help out in any way possible with Hashimoto's children, although he still plans on going through with a previously-scheduled appearance on the Maury Povich Show later in the week, to announce that he is "146.8% sure that he is not the father of those babies."
July 12, 2005 -- UPN's "SmackDown" aired what appeared to be terror-themed hi-jinx last Thursday — the same day as terrorist bombings in London killed more than 50 people.
The sketch was edited out of a U.K. edition of "SmackDown," which aired that same night, but was gleefully left in for North American consumption.
The sketch included images of Arabs in ski masks carrying a fallen Arab wrestler over their heads after he had "sacrificed" himself, evoking imagery similar to a suicide bomber's funeral, or the after-party of an XPW event.
"We're very proud of our product," says World Wrestling Entertainment executive producer Kevin Dunn.
"We try and be sensitive with everything we portray, but there's got to be protagonists and antagonists on our TV shows. That’s why the beaners drive out on Juan Deere’s, and all the broads have huge breast implants."
"We just happen to reflect the politics of the world sometimes — especially with these Arab-American characters. But, really we’re a microcosm of all of society’s groups. From Eugene to the Diva Search to Kerwin White, we have our finger on the heartbeat of the American viewer.”
A WWE spokesman added that it was "unfortunate" that the sketch aired the same day as the attacks, due to the real death and carnage “getting over much bigger.”
"If we had any idea that something like [the London attacks] might happen, obviously you wouldn't try to do that segment on that day," he said. “You really want to wait on it a little bit, because when you let people’s emotions die down a little, and then zing them hard with the ugly past when they least expect it, it really seems to bring out the rawest of emotions. It’s a pro wrestling tradition.”
But the show was taped July 5 — two days before the telecast.
After the bombings took place last Thursday, WWE execs gave broadcasters carrying the show a heads-up about the sketch, with Dunn commenting, “Much like WrestleMania, the WBF, and XFL, our
foresight in this angle proves were on the cutting edge.”
It was edited out in Europe, but aired on UPN here with a discretionary crawl along the bottom of the screen that said: "In light of today's tragic events in London, parental discretion is advised in viewing tonight's episode." The crawls were then followed others that advertised upcoming WWE events, and debuted new "Batista - The Animal" baby-tee.
WWE's Dunn says, "We are firmly in the entertainment business," and that the plot, as edgy as it might have been, should be taken “tongue-in-cheek.”
“It’s like during HLA, where we succeeded in breaking the girl who represented a lesbian’s ribs. Or, when we simulated necrophilia, or a race war, or exploited the Gulf War, or someone’s alcohol and drug addictions, or rape, or gay rape, or the manslaughter of an
unborn baby, or featuring progressive characters like Saba Simba and Slick," an excitable Dunn exclaimed. "It’s all just a wink and a nod to the world around us."
Internet Wrestling Fan Upset at Media’s Coverage of Hassan
Wrestling fan Ryan Gunning is outraged at the media’s outrage over the controversial Muhammad Hassan angle that took place two weeks ago on
“I can’t believe the mainstream media continues to miss the core problem of this angle,” complained Gunning in the GumGod.com ‘WWE
SmackDown (No Spoilers!)’ forum. “They’ve latched onto the beheading/martyr thing, without mentioning once how little Hassan deserves to be on television. I mean, I read in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Daivari’s not even a real Arab. He’s Farsi, but at least he can bump and talk. Hassan’s at least a real one. But, he should have never been called up from OVW so quick. I have no idea what Johnny Ace was thinking.”
While Gunning says he understands that traditional news outlets are more interested in the eerie parallels between WWE’s storyline and the real-life events of terror, he believes the fact that Hassan, who is not actually Arab, “sucks” is the real reason for concern.
“I’ve been watching wrestling for years,” said the 17-year old. “I go back to the old-school like the Heavenly Bodies and the Beverly Brothers, and when I heard that investor’s conference call, I knew that WWE is risking future negotiations with Viacom by having guys on
SmackDown who can't work.”
Gunning adds that he hopes the media will catch on to what WWE’s real problems are, instead of focusing on “that other stuff.”
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.