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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Please tell me that I did not just witness WWE blatantly exploit Eddie Guerrero's death just two weeks after he died, in an attempt to pop a rating for their first primetime network TV "special" in years. I am in a state of shock right now about what just aired. I don't even know what to say, so I'm just going to say whatever comes out.
I will first offer a summary of what happened for those of you who were fortunate enough to not see it play out, with an overview of how I felt it got more offensive as the show went on, and then I will try to put into words how sick and disgusted I feel right now.
Overview of What Happened
The advertised main event for the "WWE Smackdown Live Special" on UPN was a David vs. Goliath-style match with Rey Mysterio vs. The Big Show. Both of these men were friends with Eddie Guerrero in real life, and both of them were on TV just two weeks ago speaking out of character and shedding some tears about the loss of their real-life friend. Early in this show, Smackdown play-by-play announcer Michael Cole mentioned that Rey Mysterio was dedicating this match to his friend, Eddie Guerrero.
To me, this came off as hardly offensive at all, because it may have really been intended as a tribute to Eddie... if that's all that happened. Rey Mysterio subsequently driving Eddie Guerrero's trademark low-rider to the ring for his match, and the low-rider being out there "in memory of Eddie Guerrero" was border-line exploitative. It was also just borderline exploitative when they re-aired an Eddie Guerrero tribute video and immediately followed it up not with a fade to black and a commercial break, but with a plug to stay tuned for Rey Mysterio wrestling his match against The Big Show in memory of Eddie Guerrero.
When he was getting beat up in the match, Mysterio would go to ringside and hug the car as if he was looking up to heaven for Eddie to help him in the match. It was getting a bit creepy at this point and definitely approaching the line of flat-out exploiting Eddie's death, but it hadn't crossed that line yet. (The low-rider had been made the defining symbol of Eddie Guerrero on the tribute show, as during the tribute show WWE Champion Dave Batista took off his title belt, put it on the hood of the low-rider, and left it there as a tribute to Eddie.)
Then we have The Big Show slam Mysterio up against Eddie's car and then power-bomb him on the hood of the car. So now we have Eddie Guerrero's car, which is supposedly out there "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero," being used as a prop in a pro wrestling match. We also have Paul Wight (aka, The Big Show) appearing to be all of a sudden playing a character who wants to dishonor the memory of Eddie Guerrero (including spitting on the windshield of the low-rider), when he was just on TV two weeks ago talking as a human being about what Eddie meant to him during his life.
I suppose this could have still been salvaged in some way (though it still would have been offensive) if it was all meant to build up to a clean win for Mysterio, and perhaps Mysterio looking up to the sky after the match in tribute to Eddie Guerrero. But it wasn't. The Mysterio vs. Big Show match ended in a no-contest and was dropped altogether when a run-in was made by The Undertaker, a man whose gimmick is that he's a "dead man." Rather than shying away from the fact that a match supposedly dedicated to someone who really did just pass away had just been abruptly halted by a man with the gimmick of being a "dead man," WWE embraced it and actually had Michael Cole say in a dramatic-sounding voice, "The dead have risen!" With Eddie Guerrero's car at ringside and with the announcers having mentioned Eddie Guerrero's name literally a dozen times in the previous half-hour, they just said, "The dead have risen!" That was flat-out tasteless.
After this Randy Orton, who WWE desperately wants to get over as a top-level heel around whom they can build the Smackdown side of the company, came out and attacked Undertaker. Okay, so at this point all of that stuff about the Mysterio vs. Big Show match being "dedicated to Eddie Guerrero" ultimately didn't lead anywhere, but the worst was yet to come.
Eddie Guerrero's car, the car that was out there "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero," was used as a prop for a pro wrestling storyline yet again when Randy Orton retrieved a tire iron that he had supposedly hidden in the car, and used it to hit The Undertaker. He slammed Undertaker up against the car and left him laying on the back of the car, on top of the trunk, and hit him flush on the head with the fake tire iron several times. It appeared that the show was going to end with the image of the Undertaker left unconscious, laid out on top of Eddie Guerrero's car, which would have been tasteless enough.
Instead, with Undertaker's supposedly unconscious body still on top of Eddie Guerrero's car, Randy Orton got in the car, started the ignition, put the car in reverse, and floored the gas pedal, driving backwards about 30 feet until the car hit the Smackdown entrance set and Undertaker went crashing through it, which is something that could seriously injure or kill a person from the "storyline perspective" where everything that happens is real. Eddie Guerrero's car was used essentially as a weapon for attempted murder, which was depraved and sickening. The fact that it was Eddie Guerrero's car was not treated as incidental and "just another weapon" for Orton to use; the announcers specifically played up the fact that Orton was using Eddie Guerrero's beloved low-rider, all as part of WWE's attempt to get Randy Orton over as a money-drawing top heel act.
(For those of you unfamiliar with pro wrestling, the goal of any heel character is to make you hate that character as much as possible, and the more despicable things that character does in the storylines, the more you will theoretically hate them. Scripting a storyline in which Randy Orton would have the audacity to use Eddie Guerrero's car as a weapon was designed to help get Randy Orton over as a top-level heel.)
Then, just to top it all off, as Randy Orton stepped back and watched the scene unfold, the car had supposedly tripped up some electrical wires, and with the Undertaker still supposedly lying on the back of the car (though by now it was surely just a dummy that was made to look like the Undertaker), a bunch of sparks went flying, there were multiple explosions, and the car burst into flames. As the announcers continued to play up that it was Eddie's car, the show went off the air after about 30 seconds of giving the impression that the Undertaker was presumably dead from the collision and the subsequent fire, and the the car that was originally at ringside "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero" burned in the flames.
My Commentary and Personal Opinions on This
I'm not going to sugar-coat this. Vince McMahon has some more burning to look forward to, and it's himself burning in hell. Normally, this miserable puke of a human being is able to contain himself to wait a few years before he blatantly exploits someone's death for profit... you know, like the whole "Legion of Doom reborn in the memory of Hawk" angle that exploited the death of Michael Hegstrand (aka, Road Warrior Hawk) for profit earlier this year.
We just had a week of TV after Eddie Guerrero died in which Vince McMahon actually appeared to show some class for once in his pathetic excuse for a life, with two tribute shows that featured no storylines and were all about honoring Eddie Guerrero.
For Vince McMahon to be using Eddie Guerrero's name and memory to pop a rating for a pro wrestling storyline two weeks later, and using Eddie's trademark low-rider as a prop, and actually blowing the damn thing up in a storyline where Randy Orton supposedly "killed" Undertaker, is a new low for a man who has once again demonstrated himself to be a of a human being.
Just in the past year, Vince McMahon has blatantly exploited terrorism for profit, first in a subtle way and then in a far-from-subtle way with a simulated terrorist attack and beheading that was taped on July 4th and still aired on the evening of July 7th even though a real terrorist attack had just killed dozens of people in London less than 24 hours earlier.
He has mocked the real-life cancer scare of a long-time employee, Jim Ross, in a televised segment that was designed solely for him to get his jollies from it. According to the Wrestling Observer, while preparing that segment behind the scenes he also mocked the real-life Bell's Palsy condition that causes Jim Ross to suffer from partial paralysis of his face.
Just two days ago, Vince McMahon was on national television using the N-word, which I suppose might be explainable for those who really want to defend Vince McMahon's every action if it were just a storyline of a 60-year-old man "trying to seem cool" with the context in which he used the word. But that's not the case, especially for someone with as much of a racist track record as Vince McMahon (please see pro wrestling history from 1980 to 2005 if you don't know what I'm talking about).
As bad as all of that was, it pales in comparison to what I have just witnessed. The pro wrestling world and all of its fans, and more importantly Eddie Guerrero's many close friends and the Guerrero family, lost a great human being two weeks ago. And now his death is being used to pop a quarter-hour rating for a main event storyline on a Tuesday night special, and the last defining trademark image of Eddie Guerrero is being used as a prop, literally blown up in an explosion, and used to supposedly "murder" someone whose pro wrestling gimmick is that he's a "dead man." Truly a disgrace.
Recent history and not-so-recent history both indicate that Vince McMahon loves to draw attention to himself even if it's in a controversial fashion, and I have no doubt that he's getting off on the fact that dishonoring and exploiting Eddie Guerrero's death is going to piss off lots and lots of people. Maybe this kind of outrage is just the reaction that he wants. Even if that's true, I don't think he wanted this particular reaction (and I don't think I'm the only fan who is thinking this right now): I'm done with Vince McMahon and his blood-money company.
I'm done with saying to myself, "Yeah, WWE is run by a vulture, but I've been watching pro wrestling since I was three years old and even today I really enjoy Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle and several other wrestlers and I really want to watch them." I have purchased every single WWE PPV for many years (and there have been 16+ pay-per-view events per year in recent years), and I am now going to either just buy the "Big Four" pay-per-view events every year, or buy none at all. I hope TNA continues to put on high-quality shows, because they now represent 95% of my pro wrestling consumption in the future.
I've said it before and I've never felt it more than I feel it right now: Vince McMahon is a piece of s--t as a human being. If he's not contributing to various people's deaths, he's exploiting their deaths for profit. Vince McMahon has no use for a dead person other than to exploit their death for profit.
I don't know for sure where we go when we die, and neither does anyone else, but I'm pretty sure that Eddie Guerrero is in a better place right now than the place where Vince McMahon will be going when he dies. You'd be naive if you didn't think that the same substances that allowed Vince McMahon to magically recover from two torn quadriceps in less than three months earlier this year (how does he do it?!?) are going to lead to his death sooner or later, and I truly believe that this Earth will be a better place without that scumbag on it.
I sincerely hope that Eddie Guerrero's wife and children were not watching this show tonight. May Eddie Guerrero rest in peace, and may his legacy and memory not be tarnished by WWE's sick attempts to exploit his death for profit.
Labels: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
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