SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, March 9, 2001

Letters to Mr. Benner

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

A weekly
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This week, due to a scheduling muck-up I still can't get over, there will be no column. Still, I've got some great letters in the mailbag, so I'll share them with you instead.

John Nocero, from, writes:
"I don't know if you remember me, but we last spoke by e-mail about a year ago, when I interviewed you for a wrestling-themed toy story I was writing at the time. Normally, I wouldn't take the time to write as I know you're a busy columnist, but I feel I must speak out on the Vince McMahon-Trish Stratus angle that was played out on Raw is War, and I know you and your readers will let me speak my mind in a way that they will respect what I am saying, even though they might not agree.

Simply put, the angle to me was deplorable and I was highly offended. But that's not to say I'm surprised. Both you and I know we've seen a lot worse, such as Mark Henry supposedly having sex with a transvestite, Miss Kitty stripping, PMS treating Shawn Stasiak like a piece of Meat, etc. ad nauseum. The list goes on and on. I accept the fact these are angles and have nothing to do with real life. After all, if they did, I would be able to settle all my disputes with folding chairs and sledgehammers.

But the way this was handled seemed vile, even by McMahon standards. I was sitting there, hoping Trish would slap his ass, or the glass would break and Austin would come down, anything. Hell, even Chyna coming out and telling Trish to stand up for herself would be better. But yet, nothing. No payoff. Trish now to me isn't the sympathetic face character, just a spineless lackey. Why, then, even do the angle at all?

I know part of my feelings have to do with the fact I was watching with my young son. Not because I have to know what he's watching, but I enjoy watching with him, like taking your son out to see a baseball or football game. Wrestling has been a big part of my life and I want to pass this love onto my son, as I'm sure you and some of your readers might as well. But even though I accept that women are treated like mindless tramps, as a look through history would support, I can't condone the way it was done, not now or not ever.

Please don't think I'm on some PTC rant, telling you and your readers what they can and can't watch. We're all adults, and I'm fine with the fact that if I don't like something, I can turn the channel. You have your right to choose and so do your readers, which I wholeheartedly respect. It's just in this instance, I feel like it was best for me to turn the channel and I don't know if I want to return to McMurder land.

But this doesn't leave much options. ECW is all but dead, and while I am beginning to get back into WCW and applaud their efforts for trying to improve, they have just let me down too many times to be trusted. I admit I am highly old school, but to each his own. In the end, I have been highly critical of the WWF to improve and not be so stale, and when they do, it is highly offensive to me. Go figure.

Guess I'll have to get an old tape of Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes to enjoy the "olden days", but didn't I just see that Monday..."

Of course I remember you, John.

This week's column probably would have been about the Trish Status angle that has so many people in an uproar. Due to time constraints, I'll be brief here: I didn't have a huge problem with this angle. I think it was consistent with what the WWF has had to offer in recent years. They've mostly cleaned up their image lately, but this is the filth from which they arose, after all.

Still, I didn't enjoy the angle, and I sympathize for folks like John here who don't just watch wrestling alone or with buddies, but with younger children. The way the crowd reacts at a wrestling show can sometimes be absurdly deplorable and a horrible influence on a kid. Still, I don't really believe in censorship of material like this.

I don't support Vince McMahon's idea of a fun angle, if this is it. I do, though, support his right to broadcast whatever he wants and my right to choose to watch or not to watch. Ultimately, that very same decision -- made by millions of wrestling fans on the continent -- will determine what he broadcasts and does not broadcast. Meanwhile, I guess be wary of the WWF returning to its old ways.

Michael Gent, from, writes:
"I'll try to keep it short...

I'm writing regarding the question I'm sure most WWF fans are seeking an answer to: Are "The Kat" and Jerry "The King" Lawler really gone from the WWF? Here's my answer, as far-fetched as it may seem, but I'll let you be the judge. Could it be at ALL possible that this is just a really great shoot-like angle?

I'm sure you're familiar with Mark Burnett, the producer of CBS's Survivor series. This is a guy who leaks/plants half-truths and useless tidbits of information regarding his television product to various websites.

Do you think the WWF could finally be using the internet for it's own advantage in order to broaden their stories? Could this be such an incident?

Thanks, An avid fan of your column."

Well, it's always possible. I have to say I doubt it. After all, there is evidence that losing Lawler may or may not already be hurting them, ratings-wise. Lawler has come across as genuine in his statements since the event, and will effectively kill any credibility he has if this turns into an angle. In fact, he may come out of it a true heel, not the beloved announcer he is right now. I'm not convinced this would help anyone. Still, never say never, right?

That's all for this week, unfortunately. Tune back next week when I'll be back in full force!

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