Greetings all. You?ll have to forgive me but I shall be darting between issues this week. To begin, I?d like to praise TNA Wrestling for the stellar job they are presently doing with England’s own Desmond Wolf. The strange situation regarding WWE and the so-called pre-screening failure might ultimately turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Whilst Brian Danielson will doubtless toil without reward in WWE, Nigel ?Desmond Wolf? McGuiness is leaving Kurt Angle on his Olympic posterior in the Impact Zone. Even a cursory glance of McGuiness? work in Ring Of Honor indicates merit. A hard-hitting and highly skilled professional, Wolf and Angle will get on like a house on fire. Angle routinely enjoys having the shit beaten out of him in a wrestling ring. Nigel McGuiness and his trusty lariat will happily oblige in perpetuity. Their match at Turning Point ought to be an exhibition in technique and a little ?wham, bam, thank you maam!?
A non-wrestling fan friend of mine opined that Wolf ?didn?t sound right? on promo. I understood what he was trying to say. Its still unusual to hear a regional English accent on an American wrestling show. With the British Invasion and now Wolf, TNA is doing much to erase the foreign stigma. I can assure you Mr. Wolf will receive a hearty ovation upon his return to British shores. Any man who brands a barrel of wrestling fans ?wankers? not once but twice deserves eternal respect. I was almost crying with laughter when I heard it the first time. Fabulous stuff.
One man never to be accused of being a shrinking violet is ?Nature Boy? Ric Flair. The onset of his dotage and the reality of retirement have done nothing to dim Flair’s love of the limelight. It has been known for sometime that Flair would face Hulk Hogan in the main event(s) of Hogan’s Australian vanity exercise. Flair (who now has slightly less dignity than hair) cut a hyperbolic, typically Flair promo to publicise proceedings. Amusingly, the tone of the speech seemed almost to imply the match was a unique event. Any WCW fans circa 1994 know this to be preposterous. The Flair/Hogan concept was flogged to extinction by WCW for six months from july 1994 to the end of the year. As tiresome as it was then, the cumulative effects of 15 long, injury-laden years will be there for all to see in Australia. As a novelty notion it holds some appeal. This is not enough however to stop me from wishing these two slaves of publicity would truly call it a day. Alas, that’s highly unlikely?
Nothing in Ric Flair’s life is simple. The cost of being Ric Flair remains high. This is a man who has spent his entire adult life partying on planes and in limousines. He has toured the world, drank the finest champagnes and worn the most resplendent suits. Naturally, he has bedded scores of willing ladies. Unfortunately for Flair, he married three of those same ladies and sired offspring with two of them. As a consequence, when the divorces came, Flair found himself asset stripped for income support. Flair’s debts and love of excess are as famous as his hour long matches. Some men, it seems, simply cannot help themselves. The news that Flair is about to enter his fourth marriage is one of those truly rare moments. It leaves one both devoid of any shock yet entirely dumbfounded. I hope for both their sakes this isn?t about money as Flair doesn?t have any. The great soap opera that is Ric Flair’s life knows no bounds. Don?t believe me? Ok, explain just what the hell Flair was doing in Wal-Mart with a cut lip. This writer doubt’s Flair can?
The final issue I?d like to address today is the altogether intriguing story of a potential Israeli boycott of WWE. The issue stems from WWE apparently reneging on a promise made to the Israeli fans via their reps. They encouraged the fans to lobby and petition the networks in order to safeguard future WWE programming. In return for popular support the reps apparently pledged a WWE tour of Israel. The fans kept their end of the agreement and WWE hasn?t as yet arrived. The WWE has been draconian and even deceitful in the past regarding international rights (just ask the Australians). Nevertheless WWE is generally studious in its analysis of international markets. WWE, for its part, has claimed to be following ?Travel Warning? recommendations laid down by the Department Of State. This stance is not enhanced by the regular trips to Afghanistan and Iraq by most of the roster since 2003.
In fairness to WWE, those aforementioned shows were essentially USO events held in a military installation and not for general public consumption. I can recall the furore that sprang forth when the European regulatory body for football/soccer (UEFA) recommended Israeli team Hapoel Tel-Aviv play matches outside of Tel Aviv. They were not impressed and appealed the decision. The decision was not overturned. This writer can understand the passionate reaction to this issue. If WWE promised to tour Israel and ultimately fails to do so an apology is quite rightly in order. However, Israel is not, in the classical sense anyway, a safe country. Its political instability is well known and a degree of reticence and consideration is prudent. Whilst many artists do choose to visit the country, they do so at their own risk. The WWE is caught between a rock and a hard place; should the unthinkable occur and honouring fandom irrespective of borders. This is a situation where both sides of the story merit exploration and understanding.
Daniel R. Browne.