Written By: Bob Magee
AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
It didn’t take THAT much to figure out really. It’s “sleazy corporate Paul E.” versus “true blue ECW Tommy” as the new feud that WWECW will feature.
If you really needed to know this was going to happen, WWECW TV helped you out first thing by beginning last Tuesday night’s show with Paul Heyman coming out accompanied with “police” dressed in riot gear. Heyman then proceeds ro get on the mike and remind everyone that he cost Rob Van Dam the ECW Title (actually, Rob Van Dam cost himself the title….but I digress). Heyman then claimed the fans shouldn’t blame Paul Heyman, they should blame RVD (right answer…but wrong reason, as you’ll see).
Heyman then blamed the FANS for Van Dam losing ECW Title and the reason he was suspended (funny, I don’t remember fans sticking the pot or Vicodin in Van Dam’s mouth). Heyman then essentially claimed he turned on Van Dam for Van Dam’s own good, because the fans were “making RVD defend the title every night”. Heyman then made himself out as a martyr and Messiah (whoo boy…) who was willing to lose a 10 year friendship…all for WWECW’s own good.
So here’s the “cult leader” bit that was rumored for Heyman for Sci-Fi’s TV from the get-go.
Problem is that there’s a big difference between people willingly “drinking the Kool Aid” and an all-too theatrical “cult leader” shtick at the behest of a network (I wonder where Don Callis is now that we need him to play the head of the “evil Network”…at least Callus was funny when he did his character). Heyman looks all too much an actor, especially given the fact that most people watching WWECW TV know why Van Dam really dropped the belt. I understand the need to write an angle to cover a real life situation…but when it’s a publicly known legal issue, and it’s this sort of audience, it seems unnecessary to do.
Hell, if WWE wanted to be edgy ala the real ECW, they could have done an angle on July 4 where the Van Dam/Sabu incident is openly acknowledged on TV. While everyone’s backstage trying to figure out what to do, CM Punk comes up to Vince McMahon who is conveniently backstage in Philadelphia that night and says “I’LL represent your company, Mr. McMahon. I’m straight edge and would never embarrass you like Van Dam did”. McMahon look at him and says to Heyman “I’m paying the bills here…make the match, Paul.” A new star would have been made in one night. The belt would have been taken off of Van Dam and everything would have been fine.
Back to July 11. Even if they were going to have Heyman as cult leader, couldn’t they have done without the Christian religious imagery? Joey Styles mentioned over at 1wrestling.com that using religious imagery was ever so profitable when done at Backlash with Shane McMahon and Vince Mcmahon vs. HBK and “God” in the main event. Styles repeated how Heyman had described himself in the promo on WWECW TV as “martyr, savior and messiah” in or for “ECW”; and as having “crucified his ten-year friendship with Rob Van Dam”.
You’d think that Paul Heyman might remember how well “crucifixions” in wrestling worked…particularly after he did the October 26, 1996 crucifixion angle involving Raven and Sandman, footage of which was buried for years until WWE brought it back on “The Rise and Fall of ECW” DVD. That October night, he enraged Kurt Angle, who was in attendance that night at the ECW Arena on the old ECW Arena stage, and has been reported widely to have been prepared to sign with ECW. I have to wonder how different wrestling history would have been had Angle signed with ECW back then.
Your thoughts from last week…
From Christopher Hennessy:
“Looks like you did it again. You brought the true facts to light.
As big as RVD and Sabu are, the wellness policy is much bigger than they are. And as far as TNA picking RVD and Sabu up, I say let them. If my memory serves me correctly, Sabu has already performed in TNA and didn’t get the pop he gets in WWECW.
I have been watching TNA and the storylines are not as distinctive as they are in the WWE. I don’t think TNA will do anything for the careers for RVD and Sabu. Look what it hasn’t done for the former WWE/WCW stars that are already there.”
It doesn’t seem that either of them are going anywhere. Along with the rather mysterious situation regarding Kurt Angle, which has been directly reported as a suspension by Dave Meltzer, WWE can’t afford to lose any talent from this brand’s roster right now.
From the UK’s Daniel Hammonds:
“…Enjoyed your column, but in this case I don’t agree.
I’ve been rooting for RVD to get the push he deserves since he joined the WWE and the fans refused to let Vince bury him in the whole invasion disaster. He earned his shot at the big time through great wrestling, and nothing has changed! He made a foolish mistake, but it doesn’t make him less of a wrestler or undo the years of dues he paid to the business!
Most wrestling fans are adults and we’re a new cynical breed these days. We know that drugs are common in all walks of life among all classes of people. I am convinced that most of the top stars in the WWE are using drugs, and people turn a blind eye to it.
Let’s be realistic here. Vince is no humanitarian! The only reason WWE implemented the “wellness program” was to appease the critics and placate any bad press after the death of Eddie Guererro. The ONLY reason RVD has been made an example of is because he got caught and his story got reported before they could cover it up.
It’s not like Rob was peddling drugs to kids or harming anyone other than himself and is believed to be extremely fan friendly and an all-round good guy. It’s not like Steve Austin being arrested for beating women (which makes him scum in my opinion), or Ric Flair being arrested for cases of assault, JBL acting like a Nazi or the many WWE stars who are said to behave appallingly in public. RVD is a saint by comparison!
In fact, you can look back at majority of the WWE stars and they all have skeletons in their closet and most of them a LOT more serious than a bit of weed for personal use. But WWE stars are human like the rest of us and they, too, make mistakes! They deserve a second chance and I think critics are being WAY too harsh on Rob…”
Charges were dropped against Flair for the alleged road rage incident when the accuser never showed up at the trial. Austin’s problems are well noted; as was the incident in Germany where Layfield gave the Nazi salute.
Van Dam IS friendly, But what he did under the circumstances he was in was just plain stupid.
From Canada’s Charles Lalonde:
“WWE/ECW and RVD fans don’t seem to care what RVD does, because they love him too much to be angry at him.
The fact that Sabu was willing to give up his spot on the new ECW roster and possibly go back to TNA was admirable. Vince McMahon (in my opinion) did the right thing giving RVD a 30 day suspension; because think about the threat TNA would be if they had a former WWE/ECW Champion. TNA would flip at the fact they could possibly sign RVD, because think of the true ECW wrestlers RVD could go up against Raven, The Dudleyz, and Rhino.”
You’re probably right about Van Dam’s fans..at least, most of them.
Like I said above, Sabu and RVD are going nowhere. The fact that Sabu was willing to take the hit for his friend WAS admirable. His friend’s lack of a public apology, and his actions that required an apology to begin with were not.
Disagreeing with him strongly is Billy Rouse:
“As much of a Sabu and RVD fan as I am, I disagree with what was done. I feel it was too light. both should have been fired, but Vince is too f@#$ing proud to fire two top ECW stars.
According to the ‘Wellness Policy’ both were subject to immediate termination. Brian Lawler was fired for it. Who knows how many others, including the Ultimate Warrior, were back in the day? Am I to believe just because Vince is trying to get the new ECW off the ground that he refuses to do what he started to avoid another ‘Eddie-style’ death?! What this incident has done is taken the names of ECW and Eddie Guerrero and pissed on them. I lost respect for Vince.
Here’s an open response to Vinnie Slack: Vin, get off the top of that ivory tower and go to the nearest cemetery. Find one of your old guys that’s died. Now admit that you pissed on the business. Then go back and do what your ‘policy’ says.”
Sadly, it seems that what you’re saying is largely true.
Yes, most people DO think that’s the reason for the outcomes of the Sabu and Van Dam situations…that McMahon is trying to protect a brand.
If WWE actually enforced its Wellness Policy all the way around, more than a few workers would be a lot smaller (yes, it’s true that some of them are). I also have the feeling that a lot more workers would be under (or would have been under) suspension. We’d also know why Kurt Angle is being suspended, but why we have to go to the Wrestling Observer to get that information. You’d think with a publicly held company, that would be a question that shareholders would demand the answer to, as well as NBC Universal and UPN/The CW.
Until next time…
If you have comments/questions, or if you’d like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.