They were two separate, unrelated incidences. The coincidences are there but it’s no more than that ‹ a coincidence. Or, so it seems.
Over the past week, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, after making the ill-chosen decision to denounce an industry dominated, for the most part, over the last twenty years, by Vince McMahon, was fired. Hulk Hogan, made the decision to quit the company for the reason cited so many times, “creative differences.” Let’s look at each of the situations.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968), Strength to Love, 1963
In an interview taped mostly, if not all, while Piper was a member of WWE, for the now-infamous Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel piece on the mortality rate of young wrestlers. There is no doubt in my mind that the comments made by Piper were true to him, similar to when his comments on NWA:TNA last year also took people aback. While I don’t think Piper lied about any of his thoughts in either case, Piper is a complex mental case. He has always been both a sensationalist (something befitting coming from his generation of wrestlers) and a hypocrite and his life in wrestling and his character have become a part of him. In a reaction expected by many in response to his interview on Real Sports in which he characterized, correctly, the industry as being cruel. He also said that they did nothing to stop all of his young friends from dying. The WWE released this statement via the company website:
Since March 31, 2003, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (“WWE”) and Roderick Toombs, p/k/a “Roddy Piper”, have attempted to negotiate the terms of an arrangement for Roddy to appear on WWE programming through August of this year. The parties have been unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
On Tuesday, June 24, Piper appeared on an HBO program and revealed disturbing facts about his own personal drug use. Piper stated that he used drugs for many years while working in professional wrestling and that he does not like the person that he becomes when he actively performs as a professional wrestler.
In view of WWE’s inability to reach agreement on a contract and to assist Piper from engaging in any self destructive behavior, the WWE is ending any further discussion with Piper regarding a contract.
The WWE sincerely hopes for Piper and his family that Roddy can find happiness.
In all likelyness, Piper knew exactly what he was doing but that doesn’t mean that what he said, wasn’t inappropriate and didn’t come back to bite him in the ass ‹ because it did. In the words of Dave Meltzer, Piper is his own worst enemy.
Work or shoot? My inclination is to say, although it should be noted that this is Hogan, the master of working people, that it is a shoot.
You’ve heard the news already, Hogan has passed a kidney stone. I’m sorry, that was completely un-called for. Hogan quit the WWE for the fourth time (’82, ’93, ’02, ’03), if my count is right and certainly for a number of issues on Tuesday. Compile the Mr. America angle, despite being devoted to him, being something he didn’t find desirable. Also, for a man like him to receive the type of check that he did at WrestleMania was also probably disappointing, considering his match with Vince McMahon, a match where McMahon did the job, was the advertised main event. It is likely that Lesnar, Angle, and Booker T receiving their largest single check since joining the company joining in on the fun with a returning Triple H and Vince McMahon as well, likely receiving the largest payoff in the history of a non-celebrity supplementary non-athlete in the company. On top of that, every wrestler in the company, including the ones not on the card for WrestleMania, received a check for that show and buys were down to 555,000 buys (estim.) compared with company expectations of 850,000 buys.
Foz, who writes “SmackDown Showdown” for The Balrogs Lair, on Hogan: “Yeah, it looks to be true – Hollywood Hulk Hohum has been given his marching orders, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Whilst it was a great idea to bring Hogan back, and his Wrestlemania outing with the Rock gave us a memorable piece of theatre, Tanbed Terry has done nothing since except pollute our screens with terrible angles and even worse matches. Pushing Hogan as a main eventer and even giving him the WWE Title went beyond nostalgia, and was actually insulting to the fans and to the boys, as well as highlighting WWE’s paucity of imagination and making the company look out of date. NOT a good move. Also, Hogan showed his true colours (primarily orange) by leaving when he wasn’t made the focus of every show. Hogan has never cared about this business, at least not compared to making money and having his ego pandered to, and so, whilst I am fully aware of the contribution he has made to the industry and his ability to work a live crowd, as far as I’m concerned he can take his 24″ Pythons and his 24 Ton ego out of WWE for good. He’ll be back, though.”
In my mind, these two situations tie together and represent the conditions of this industry (WWE) and reflect how their practices come back to hurt them. For Hogan, this is the second time in slightly more than a half year period in which he has quit. There is a problem with the structure of contracts and the mindset regarding “name talents” when Hogan, Piper, and even Bill Goldberg have more flexibility to walk all over the company. Hogan hasn’t done much for business, can’t work, is a legend and has fan’s respect but does little more than that, and is 50 years of age on August 11. Vince McMahon has a downside of almost $1,000,000, worked two matches, hasn’t done much for business even with the time his character receives, is involved in conflicts of interest pertaining to the wrestling end of the business, and is slightly over 50. Chris Jericho has arguably peaked in his career but he is relegated to mid-card status, he has many more years to contribute to the business. Eddie Guerrero has years under his belt and years more to contribute as well. Call my short thoughts biased‹for the purpose of this argument they may be, but think about all four of them in more detail, if you so desire. And then ask yourself one more question? Who got paid more and who took the cut in downside guarantees.
There’s no need to answer.
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