What really grinds my gears? Episode 7 - Exploiting Life and Death.
by, 12-16-2012 at 07:05 AM (3144 Views)
"You know what really grinds my gears? Exploiting death. Death is already a bummer, but do we really need to exploit it to further a wrestling angle? I mean... Come on ... Seriously? Do we have to watch as someone fakes a heart attack? What about those people who lost loved ones to heart attacks? How would they feel? I can tell you that it would bring up some painful memories.
People don't watch wrestling to be reminded of how loved ones can die instantly. They also don't watch wrestling to be reminded that alcoholism is a serious issue, or that amnesia is something to laugh about. These are serious issues, and people are not entertained by angles like that. I find it grossly offensive, could you imagine if any TV show decided to do that?? Oh wait... they do! Family Guy (Giggidy), South Park (You killed Kenny) and other adult cartoon shows rip on these kinds of issues all the time. What's the difference though? It's not real! These shows are purely for adults, and if they don't like it, they can change the channel and watch Scrubs.
In wrestling, you have people from all walks of life watching, don't you think they would be a bit smarter, and find other ways to 'entertain'? They do this for cheap shock value. It is forgotten almost immediately by the casual fan, while long time fans, remember these shocking displays for years. That is what grinds my gears ... It's not funny, it's not big, and it's not clever!"
Episode 7 - Exploiting Life and Death.
The idea for this blog is credited to EWN reader, John Rausin.
I bet you're already thinking, this is about the Jerry Lawler/Paul Heyman heart attack angle isn't it? Technically you're right, but it's actually such a small part of it. Wrestling has been like this for decades, promoters who believe that exploiting a real life situation will draw in the crowd. Let's delve into some of the worst wrestling angles of all time.
Eddie Gilbert Broken Neck Angle
Way back in 1983, Eddie Gilbert suffered an actual neck injury in a car accident, so the WWF decided it would be a good idea for The Masked Superstar to give him some neckbreakers and blame him for the injuries.
WCCW and the Von Erichs
There are so many little details that helped in the demise of WCCW (Not to be confused with WCW), and one of those details was the Von Erich family. They exploited the deaths of Mike Von Erich and Gino Hernandez, and even had Fritz Von Erich have a fake heart attack a year after his own brother died of one. The crowds of WCCW dwindled week by week, as they felt uneasy after all the tragedy that surrounded the promotion.
Exploiting the stabbing of Bruiser Brody
FMW was a promotion that was hardcore before hardcore became cool. Bruiser Brody, one of the greatest hardcore wrestlers of all time, was stabbed by Jose González in 1988. FMW decided to do an angle where Onita went to Puerto Rico and reprised the scene of Brody's death with Gonzalez. Gonzalez "stabbed" Onita in the chest, Onita did a blade job on his chest for magazine pictures. Onita wanted a match where the fans could get rid of there hatred and also make himself a hero by putting away the man that killed Brody. Everyone found the angle sick and if Onita went ahead with the match, it probably would have killed the company. Onita's rep would have been destroyed for making money out of Brody's death. The angle was dropped and never talked about.
Brody.jpgRIP Bruiser Brody 1946-1988Exploiting the Persian Gulf War
In 1991, the WWF decided to change Sergeant Slaughter from a patriotic American, to an Iraqi sympathizer. Slaughter received death threats during this time, and had to be escorted while wearing a bullet proof vest. The gimmick gave the WWF a lot of attention, showing that this gimmick was a success, but it was at the expense of 20-35,000 people who lost their lives, with over 75,000 wounded. When you have loved ones going to war to fight for your country, to liberate the country of Kuwait, the last thing you want to see is an American supporting the opposing side.
Cactus Jack's amnesia
This was bizarre. Someone must have been smoking something really strong to come up with this. This was so bad that it's funny, Cactus Jack had been feuding with Big Van Vader (in his prime) and was powerbombed onto a concrete floor, knocking him out. What should have happened, was Cactus Jack coming back to seek revenge on Vader, instead WCW decided to kill his momentum by having him do video segments where he had lost his mind. After weeks of cringing TV, Cactus Jack returned to attack Vader, and revealed his amnesia was just an elaborate plot to get inside Vader's head.
You should watch some of those videos on Youtube, they are hilariously bad.
Interviewing Melanie Pillman less than 24 hours after Brian's death
This is a tough call to make. Melanie agreed to the interview, but at the same time, it felt like the WWF was under damage control. They didn't want to receive any of the blame for his death, so they had her come on and agree to past heart related problems in Brian's family. If his wife could dismiss the possibility of any wrong doing, then no could blame them at all.The WWF's grueling schedule could have contributed to it, just like other wrestlers who have died in similar ways over the years.
Exploiting Scott Hall's alcoholism
We all know of someone who has trouble with alcohol, so for WCW to have Scott Hall act drunk during broadcasts was just one of many shameless moves done by the promotion. Scott Hall has struggled throughout his life with these issues, so if anything, it would make us sympathize with him, while also hating WCW more for being complete idiots.
Over the Edge PPV continuing after Owen's death
Self explanatory, you would think that the WWF would have stopped this PPV, it is common sense. How could you expect the wrestlers to go out there and entertain, while knowing one of their fellow workers (and very good friend) had just passed away. The WWF didn't want to have to refund tickets and used the cliche phrase 'The show must go on'.
Stephanie comparing her father's indictment to 9/11
This was more of a mistake then a shameless act. Stephanie compared the family's hatred of Vince's steroid indictment to the hatred by Americans over 9/11. 9/11 has been used to death (See how wrong it is?) by many different TV shows in much shameless ways.
Triple H/Kane/Katie Vick
You can tell the Attitude Era had died by this stage in WWE history. They were trying to be edgy, but it ended up being one of the worst angles in the history of wrestling. When you have a feud revolving around murder and necrophilia, you get bad results.
Exploiting Eddie Guerrero's death/Randy Orton saying Eddie is in Hell.
We all loved Eddie. I cried during that Raw. I felt the emotion pouring out, it was so unbelievable that he had passed. We all know what happened afterwards, Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble and became World Champion. I still have my Eddie Guerrero RIP T-Shirt, and it hurts me to see how they furthered storylines, and decided Championships because of Eddie's death. I am sure Eddie would have loved to see Rey get his World title, but I am sure he would have wanted to see him win it because he earned that spot, not because of his death. It was the sympathy factor, and everyone knew as soon as Rey won the Rumble from the number 2 spot that he would win the title.
It didn't just end there. I am not sure who's idea it was for Randy to say that Eddie was in Hell, but it was damn wrong. It's cheap heat at the expense of Eddie Guerrero's passing, and that is not cool. At the end of the day, we all loved Eddie, but they reminded us of him for so many months afterwards, even turning Chavo heel against Rey and using his uncle's name for the reasoning. He said it should have been him who got the chances after Eddie's passing, not Mysterio.
Paul Heyman's fake heart attack after Lawler's real one.
As you can see, the WWE has a history of exploiting death, Jerry was no different. They showed us pictures of him being wheeled away, they created merchandise for his return, and they even had CM Punk and Heyman interrupt his return speech. Even though Jerry agreed to this angle, it doesn't make it right. It may have helped Jerry and the WWE universe to move on, but at the same time, it reminded us of heart attacks. Heart attacks are not funny, and they didn't make me hate Punk or Heyman whatsoever. I am actually a big fan of both, lots of wrestling fans appreciate their talent, it seems like it was a cheap trick to get the majority of the audience to hate them both, but it didn't work. Gaining heat in the business is a difficult thing to do nowadays if you're talented, fans are much more informed and appreciate true wrestling ability and charisma, so doing this angle was totally pointless.
Heyman mentioned the Attitude era in a promo after that incident. At the time I laughed, because it's what many fans had actually been saying on the Internet. However this had nothing to do with the Attitude era, the Attitude era had good writing, feuds, wrestlers, and remained edgy while also having brilliant competition in WCW. This angle was not edgy, it was not cool, and it was not 'Attitude', it was shameful, tasteless, and pointless.
There have been many different angles that have involved serious issues like these. What about the recent Claire Lynch/AJ Styles storyline? I personally left Dixie Carter many messages about how I really despised the angle. I didn't hate it because of Claire's incredibly bad acting, I hated it because it reminded me of my own life.
Long story cut very short, I have a baby daughter, I had to get a DNA test done, and after finding out she was mine, and having a major fallout with my ex, I had to wait over a year for the courts to sort out my contact.
I can happily say that she now comes to my house every other weekend to sleep over, and she is here right now. To see that kind of angle on a TNA show, with a crazy girl demanding AJ Styles to man up and be a father, it reminded me of all the pain I had to go through during that year.
It's easy to say, 'It's just a storyline, don't take it seriously', but until you actually live those events, you can't tell people not to take it seriously. Heart attacks, injuries, war, disease, family issues, they all hit home a bit too much for them to be enjoyable in any form. Will wrestling promoters ever learn? I doubt it, they are human after all.