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  Aug 18, 1999

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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Dishonourable conduct
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

Hero - the voice of reason against the howling mob.
Hero - the pride of purpose in the unrewarding job.
Hero - not the champion player who plays the perfect game.
Not the glamor boy who loves to sell his name.
Everybody's buying nobody's hero.

-- Rush (Nobody's Hero).

AUSTIN Steve Austin, wrestling's ultimate anti-hero. (Photo: Greg Henkenhaf - Toronto Sun.)
"The only thing scary about you two is the amount of television time you get which causes the people to pick up the remote and change the channel, looking for a hero," said Chris Jericho to The Big Show and The Undertaker on this week's Raw Is War broadcast.

Mulling over the Ayatolla of Rock and Rolla's words of wisdom, I did exactly that. I packed my tent, got my survival gear together and went in search of a hero. What I found as I scoured professional wrestling's landscape was a void as barren as the top of Bill Goldberg's head.

Heroic wrestlers are uncommon these days. The honourable and noble face (good guy) is pass in some circles. He follows the rules unless backed into a corner. He respects others. He is true to his word and loyal to his friends. In the 90's, these decent qualities are seen as weaknesses not strengths in North America's twisted popular culture. In the face's place, a foul-mouthed cheater, braggart of a disrespectful punk has arisen. The anti-hero as he is sometimes called.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the most popular grappler of the nineties, is the ultimate anti-hero. He betrays everyone - even temporary chums like Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels. He breaks the rules without being provoked or forced to do so. He seldom comes to anyone's rescue though he is the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. Innocent announcers, officials, commentators, time keepers, everyone but the guy selling popcorn at the concession stand has felt a Stunner or two. Why? No reason other than because Stone Cold felt like beating them the hell up. Yeah. Attacking an announcer like Jim Ross is a REAL brave thing to do.

Fans greeted WWF owner Vince McMahon with a familiar derogatory chant. I say, it should've been reserved for Austin as well. He more than deserves it.

The conduct displayed by Austin's persona is that of a heel (bad guy) yet the fans still cheer for him. They wouldn't have in the 80's. Go figure. The bold line that separated good from evil, the gallant from the cowardly, the chivalrous from the chauvinist, is blurred so badly nowadays that the switches from heel to face - face to heel, have lost their intended shock value. When it happens, it's not a big deal as it once was.

So, which personas are credible heroes? The Rock? No, he's an arrogant egomaniac. Val Venis? Sorry. He treats women kinda poorly. Just ask Terri Runnels. Ken Shamrock? Nope. He's an out of control psycho who takes his anger out on harmless referees. The Godfather? Get serious. He's a pimp for crying out loud. Rob Van Dam? See The Rock. Eddie Guerrero? You must be kidding. He'll turn on you in a flash. The same for Buff Bagwell, Shane Douglas, Stevie Richards, Juvie Guerrera and Axl Rotten.

AUSTIN Bill Goldberg, a man of principle.
Sting, Goldberg, Jerry Lynn, Chris Benoit, D'Lo Brown and X-Pac are reminiscent of stand-up guys like Ricky Steamboat, Tito Santana, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A. and Dewey Robertson. They're guys you can count on. Not that I am a face fan. I can usually be found on the side of the heels but even I recognize that genuine faces add a required balance. You can't have James Bond without Blofeld or The X-Men without Magneto.

In their quest to be cool and hip, today's talent have forgotten that a great villain is only as good as the hero opposing him and vice versa. The two exist as one sharing the same stage. Having to choose the lesser of two evils makes as much sense as cheering on a character who abuses women and hurts innocent people. That's not a hero worthy of adulation. That's nobody's hero.

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