Greetings. It goes without saying, a decision to fire a performer in whom significant resources have been expended is a decision seldom taken. Such logic notwithstanding, that’s precisely the course of action taken by WWE in the last couple of days, unceremoniously axing Ken ?Mr. Kennedy? Anderson a mere five days after his hyped-up return to action on Monday Night Raw. It should be noted that Kennedy, wrestling in his first televised contest in many months, appeared to suffer an injury to his wrist. The initial reports were that the injury constituted nothing serious, and Kennedy’s stop/start career in WWE would be free to resume.
Undoubtedly Ken Kennedy’s WWE tenure has been besieged, primarily by injuries but also lashings of bad luck and more than a few instances of gross stupidity. Alongside the likes of Finlay, John Cena and the contemptible Chavo Guerrero, Kennedy was guilty of numerous misinformed, inappropriate and otherwise offensive public outbursts (pertaining to steroid usage and the WWE Wellness Policy) in the midst of the Benoit Tragedy.
Mr. Kennedy’s assertions about the accuracy of the WWE testing policy and his own denials of steroid usage, consistently delivered with an aggressive and indignant tenor, were key examples of the WWE policy of rampaging paranoia and denial and in the wake of the Signature Pharmacy scandal, rendered entirely moot. This petrified and idiotic closing of the ranks was one of the key reasons Congress finally summoned the key players in wrestling to the halls of power to at least enquire as to why the implemented drug testing policies were at best grossly ineffectual, and why wrestling has the highest mortality rate of any sporting endeavour known to man.
In Vince McMahon’s eyes, loyalty to the company is of much greater importance than any truth found in everyday life. Kenny Boy may have slaughtered his own credibility and displayed all the integrity of Bob Dole in the process, but he did prove himself a loyalist to McMahon dogma and to the company, which did his chances of upward progression no harm whatsoever.
I have never been convinced that Kennedy is a true Ring General. His style is your typical, mundane WWE-style built around punching and kicking, stalling and a finisher. Kennedy has been a part of memorable matches by association (Money in the Bank, feuding with the Undertaker) but never produced a match of worth on his own merit. What separated Ken from the pack was his character. His amusing spoof of the old school ring announcers, (?Kennedy!? dramatic pause? ?Kennedy!?) stellar promos (which would improve considerably with a little improv) and undeniable charisma forged a connection with the audience that resulted in Ken, initially as a heel before embracing the clamour for an attitude adjustment, achieving the most important element on the road to stardom: He got over. The fans cared about what he had to say, even if they were generally nonplussed by what he did in a wrestling ring.
The WWE is not in the habit of expending one of their precious movie vehicles on deadweight. The useless film division of WWE serves a dual purpose, perpetuating Vince McMahon’s personal delusion of relevance beyond wrestling and serving as grandstand promotion for the chosen man of the moment. That WWE saw fit to waste millions endorsing and distributing a project featuring Ken Kennedy seemingly indicated they had plans far beyond simple pay-per-view filler time feuds.
To this end, Ken Kennedy was supposed to win the World Title in a summer time feud with The Undertaker in 2007. That plan hit the buffers when Ken had to forfeit the Money in the Bank briefcase he won at Wrestlemania 23 after suffering a suspected triceps injury, and the ‘Taker subsequently sustained a similar injury that resulted (ironically) in the man who claimed the briefcase from Kennedy (Edge) beating the man who was supposed to lose it to Kennedy in quick succession. That Edge subsequently got injured himself a couple of months later rendered the whole scenario almost comical…
That was as close as Kenny got to the promised land. After the harrowing details of the Benoit murder-suicide emerged and the revelation of the Benoit’s ravaged physical condition (as a result of years of steroid abuse) came to light, the fallout was suitably nuclear. Kennedy defended the WWE Wellness Policy despite its public evisceration, compounding the issue of credibility still further by being proven a liar on the issues of steroids. Kennedy claimed he hadn’t taken steroids since 2005, yet receipts recovered in the Signature Pharmacy investigation proved Kennedy had been receiving steroids well into 2007. As those who knew the score in the industry decried Kennedy and his ilk as breathtakingly moronic, Kenny boy continuously defended WWE, even in the wake of total, searing exposure. Super slick Ken was sounding more and more like “Comical” Ali, the man who claimed Iraq would repel all American invaders as US tanks steamrollered through Baghdad, stopping only for the odd kodak moment. In the end, he and everyone else was ordered to simply shut it. That’s one of the few things the WWE has got right throughout the entire steroid scandal, mark 2.
The details emerging at this time are understandably vague and lacking in clarity. Randy Orton apparently voiced irritation with Kennedy for screwing up in the body of the ten-man tag match. Couple this with another (however slight) injury and its almost acceptable to believe Ken was trying to make a bad impression. My first instinct would be that both the personal injury and clumsiness running the ropes could be attributed to ring rust; a common occurence after a protracted spell on the sidelines. One can only surmise on the basis of the evidence that Vince McMahon concluded, quite possibly on a whim that Ken Kennedy, after the expenditure of time, effort and cash still wasn’t a star, and alongside being injured in perpetuity he was now injuring others. Perhaps, after all the injuries and bad luck Ken’s desire and motivation diminished to the point where all he was doing was masking his contempt for the merry-go-round, and either made this glaringly clear or failed to adequately disguise this truth. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
The ultimate truth here is we have no real idea why the WWE would fire a capable and popular commodity, beyond speculation. The WWE has fired performers before to prove the point to them (Eddie Guerrero in 2001 immediately springs to mind) and if Ken has simply lost his drive and began taking liberties with time-off and responsibilities, then a stint recovering and proving himself on the indie scene will see him back in WWE, possibly before the end of 2009. If, however, there’s more to this than meets the eye then the fall of Ken Kennedy is as sudden as heart attack. It’s potentially arrogant, sad, authoritarian and revelatory, or its none of these things. I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story yet. We haven’t heard the last of Mrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Kennnnedy yet. Kennedy!
Daniel R. Browne.