Friday, September 25, 1998
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Are we all being worked?
I have come to a conclusion. Where I once was a simple wrestling fan who marked out for my favorite and hated superstars I now have become a total wrestling cynic. I find myself looking at every happening in the wrestling world with a very big magnifying glass searching for clues that would let me know that a work is underway. Sometimes I long for the old days, but can I really be wrong?
Granted, the entire Hart/McMahon "Who Screwed Who?" angle has been widely debated and I wouldn't be the first or even thousandth person to jump on the work bandwagon. I look at the way that the situation allowed Hart to leave the WWF with public opinion on his side, the way it placed McMahon on the marquee as THE heel of the WWF. I look at the way that things fit too nicely together for a real life situation to have taken place. I wish this was the only angle I questioned.
Dare I say it, but I believe we all are the victims of the greatest work ever. This angle is currently going on, and the mark in me prays that I am wrong. Let's look at it though.
Nearly a year ago a legendary wrestler and his legendary stable were quickly becoming mundane, boring, and lost in the shuffle of a deeply talented roster. The only angle the stable was involved in was in recruiting mid-carders for an open roster slot. The fans really didn't care, and more importantly the angle wasn't bringing in ratings. The work begins. Fast forward a month or so. The stable and its leader are back stabbed by its new recruit in favor of a new mainstream stable of wrestlers. The leader is beaten down, bloodied, and humiliated in front of a pay per view audience. The leader disappears for several weeks, reportedly injured. The stable seems to disintegrate and they are hardly mentioned by announcers, wrestlers, or fans. No one clamors for the return of its leader. Seemingly the leader, the stable and its legacy is over.
Fast forward a couple months. The leader of the stable has returned to work mid-card matches and put over newcomers to the company. He is still used sparingly by the company on live TV. Word suddenly leaks on the Internet that a reformation of the leader's stable will soon be underway in order to help drive lagging ratings upward. This reformation is met with a resounding ..."WHO CARES?" Controversy soon ensues as the leader no-shows two live shows in a row that he is supposedly going to be featured on. Reports circulate that the company president and heel character have bad mouthed the leader and have fired him. These reports seem to hold legitimacy as reports of lawsuits make their way to the Internet and other legitimate media sources.
During the months that ensue something surprising happens. Apathy from the fans erodes and huge support takes it place. The fans begin to mark out for the leader and his lost stable. They voice their opinions loudly week after week on live tv chanting for the leader.
Fast forward to one month ago. Speculation leaks that the leader and the company have agreed to bury the hatchet and work together again. The fanbase goes crazy. The stable is being reformed after a slow buildup on television. All is in place for a return. Surprisingly though, there is no report that the lawsuits are dropped.
Fast forward two weeks. The leader returns in one of the most anticipated interviews ever. His stable is reformed and rebuilt and carries the legitimacy with the fans that it did in its heyday. The leader "shoots" against the company and it's president. Suddenly merchandise bearing the stables name is flying off the shelves, the crowds are insane, and the ratings are through the roof.
Now, like I've said maybe I'm just a huge cynic but things fit a little too neatly together here. Would a company commit itself to allowing this angle to continue while lawsuits with the leader still were pending? The once dead stable is over like never before, the aging leader is being pushed like the days of his prime. Could it all be real?
Yes that's right folks, I'm on the record....Ric Flair and WCW is a work. It has to be right?
I just read about Jim Carrey and Jerry Lawler....now that was a work!!!!
I'm such a cynic...
Greg Dillard is from Cincinnati, Ohio. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org