AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
What in God's name were they thinking?
WWE had done a great job building up new lead heel Randy Orton over weeks and months, even while he was injured, finally building up 2 weeks ago to an angle where, just as Vince McMahon was going to fire him for disrespecting Stephanie McMahon, Orton attacked Vince McMahon by slapping him in the face, then punted McMahon in the head with a scary stiff looking kick. The angle was great, even if we did have to watch Stephanie McMahon's melodramatic screeching to EMTs and everyone from the National Guard to Homeland Security to come help her father.
Next, Randy Orton wins the Royal Rumble to win the guaranteed Wrestlemania main event. OK, this sets up the confrontation between Stephanie and Orton for RAW. That confrontation would, in turn, set up any one of a number of storyline possibilities: Either Orton and Stephanie are in cahoots to take the company away from Vince (and she sent him after Vince), or Orton and Shane are in cahoots to take the company away from Vince and Stephanie (and Shane had Orton attack Vince), or it's Orton against ALL the McMahons. All intriguing possibilities.
Then came RAW last Monday night.
Randy Orton comes out with "his therapist" and a battery of "lawyers" (played by whatever remaining staff there are in the WWE offices) to say that he has been diagnosed with IED "Intermittent Explosive Disorder" and in essence... can't be held responsible for his actions (yes, readers...its a real condition; as stated by the American Psychiatric Association it's "a behavioral disorder characterized by extreme expressions of anger, often to the point of uncontrollable rage, disproportionate to the situation at hand"...pretty identical to what most of us felt fans felt after this past Monday's debacle). Further Randy and his "lawyers" state that as such that they will sue if Stephanie McMahon attempts to fire him with the implication that its a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Here comes problem number one: Guess what Intermittent Explosive Disorder has been linked to? Steroid use. Not exactly the subject I'd be going out of my way to remind the public about if I were WWE. Even better, WWE.com is continuing to sell this "condition" as legitimate, and is providing a sort of description of Orton's "condition" on the website. No mention, of course, of the connection to steroid use.
Bigtime oops...but we're just getting started.
Here comes problem number two: WWE has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to Jerry McDevitt telling the world that its wrestlers are "independent contractors"...not employees (despite the fact that a cursory reading of any website citing IRS regulations that determine contractor vs. employee make abundantly clear that WWE wrestlers are employees). Why does this matter? Independent contractors can't sue under Americans with Disability Act regulations.
Oops number two.
Since I doubt that WWE has decided to admit on live TV that Scott Levy and those suing the company to force a determination that WWE talent are, in fact, employees, and are planning to settle their lawsuit...a bigtime oops.
Back to RAW. Orton now says he'll sue WWE for breach of contract, since a Wrestlemania 25 match was "guaranteed" as the stipulation for winning the Royal Rumble, and if he's fired WWE is in breach of contract. OK, at least a little believable by wrestling standards.
Then Orton goes so far as to say that he'll get a court injunction preventing Wrestlemania 25 from taking place if he has to to get what he wants. Kayfabe goes out the window as the RAW locker room, heels, faces, even Chris Jericho, all come out to scowl at Jericho and Legacy. They might hate each other in storyline, but no one wants to miss a big payday. That is, unless they're "employed by JBL" who is supposedly paying HBK enough to skip Wrestlemania (wonder if HBK gets medical benefits as an employee?).
Orton screams at Stephanie...daring her, begging her to fire him. OK...still time for her to break up laughing, and drop the bomb that they were in cahoots all along. Did they do that?
Here comes problem number three. Stephanie McMahon says she's not going to fire Orton, but instead says "we have bigger plans for you". Out comes Shane McMahon.
Um....last time we saw Shane McMahon he and Stephanie were at war, ending with him getting slapped across the face by her. So why he'd come out to help her? I dunno, but then, WWE has its Executive Vice President totally spay and neuter Randy Orton and Legacy, beating the living crap out of Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Jr., and Randy Orton.
Think about it (and plenty of pissed-off fans did all last week): a non-wrestler takes out the trio being positioned as the top heel faction in WWE all by himself through some of the worst worked punches thrown since James Caan's Sonny Corelone missed Carlo Rizzi by a foot with a punch in a street scene during The Godfather, not to mentioned getting blown 45 seconds into his "beating" of Orton, Rhodes, and DiBiase.
I can't understand why the show wasn't closed by showing Shane McMahon at the top of the ramp...with back and forth shots of Orton and Shane McMahon staring at each other...fading to black, setting up the "What's Shane going to do to punish Orton" cliffhanger for next week. Given a week, WWE then could have thought of something better than what they ended with last night. Hell, the dumbest mark on planet Earth could have thought of something better than cutting the cajones off of its new lead heel faction.
It's a shame the crowd at RAW wasn't "smart" enough to start serenading WWE with a "Fire Russo" chant. This chant has become the new chant of choice at TNA tapings and TNA PPVs for particularly inane angles, Russo swerves that go nowhere, or PPV no-shows.
The chant has even spread to Ring of Honor with the January 17th Ring of Honor Edison, NJ show, which featured a scheduled Austin Aries-Nigel McGuinness 60 minute Ring of Honor World Title main event that was changed to a Tyler Black-Nigel McGuinness match, then cut to a time limit draw timed by many fans at 45 minutes. Along with the fact that a increasingly vocal group of fans have been showing their displeasure at the firing of Gabe Sapolsky and the booking changes made by Adam Pearce, that end-of-show clustermess had fans leaving last week's Edison, NJ extremely unhappy, as witnessed by the promotion's message board. They're not any more happy about THIS weekend's shows, either, and are showing their displeasure through lower crowd counts at recent shows (including at their Chicago Ridge, IL hotbed last Saturday).
Well...this angle last Monday on RAW may be more stupid than nearly anything TNA's done in the last year. Some have even argued it ranks up there with the WCW Shockmaster escapade in sheer stupidity. At least Shockmaster was just a klutz while wearing an unwieldy gimmick and walked through a wall by accident, while what happened with last Monday night's disaster was done on purpose.
Even worse, Dave Meltzer has speculated what that purpose is...and it's even more stupid that just a set of bad storywriting. He suggests in this past weekend's Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the reason for Orton's storyline Intermittent Explosive Disorder and "threatened 'lawsuit'" is due to Vince McMahon being upset at the lawsuit threats by Chris Benoit's family, who are charging that WWE has prior knowledge of years of Benoit's concussions, that they were negligent in not taking action, given potential diminished capacity due to these concussions; thus resulting in the murder-suicide that occurred. Meltzer has mentioned on more than one previous occasion that McMahon likes to act out his psychological issues in storyline form (imagine what that would mean for that Vince McMahon-Stephanie McMahon October 19, 2003 No Mercy match...ewwwww.)
Why the hell can't Vince McMahon just get professional counseling like everyone else?
This storyline had better result...and quickly... in a swerve where Shane's somehow in cahoots with Legacy, explaining why Orton, Rhodes and DiBiase sold so ridiculously for him. Otherwise, Stephanie and the entire WWE booking committee may well have created a new disorder for the American Psychiatric Association called IED... "Inexplicable Episode Disorder", a syndrome where otherwise intelligent television storywriters come up with an episode so inexplicable that not even Bill Watts and Paul Heyman at their creative heights could write their way out of it.
Let's end this column on a somewhat more constructive note, with an appeal by Dawn Marie Hello,
On February 1st 2009, Wrestlers Rescue will begin a campaign to raise approximately $20,000 for our mutual friend Steve Williams. Williams underwent throat cancer surgery in 2004, and was declared cancer-free in 2005. During the surgery to remove the cancer and to reconstruct his throat the doctors inserted a unit called a Stoma. This unit requires him to place his thumb over the hole in the stoma when he wishes to communicate.
As science has progressed, it now leaves Steve eligible to obtain a hands free device. As you can only imagine this would provide a more convenient and healthier way of life for him. What we are asking from you is help with this campaign. We are asking for a donation of memorabilia to be auctioned off to raise the monies needed for this procedure. His insurance only covers the doctor visits prior to the surgery and only the actual surgery. It does not cover the mechanism or the after care. All monies raised will be sent directly from our foundation to the doctor doing the procedure.
We would like to thank you in advance for your time and contributions. They are greatly appreciated. Your kindness will go a long way in helping Steve live a better quality of life.
Those who would like more information can contact Dawn Marie and Wrestlers Rescue, via snail mail at 1162 Saint Georges Avenue, Suite 313, Avenel, NJ 07001, by telephone at (732) 548-5875, by e-mail at WrestlersRescue@aol.com
or online at WrestlersRescue.org
Until next time...
If you have comments/questions/event announcements/results, if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, or if you'd like to add advertising on PWBTS.com (the flagship website of this column), e-mail me at the address above. Advertising consists of banner ads, available for $400 for one year. These ads would appear on each newspage appearing on the newsboard. Cube ads are also available for $200 for one year, which would be placed on the main newsboard page.