SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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

Friday, September 14, 2001

Wrestling seems very small

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

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My big plan this week, after having watched Raw on Monday, was to write a column about how Christian's heel turn has progressed, and his potential long-running feud with former partner Edge. I probably would have said something about his new music, about how it's sort of strange that his music actually talks about his break-up with Edge, or how cool and heelish it was to use opera-ish music as the genre of choice. I might have criticized a few elements, and probably would have outlined a possible path that the feud could take. Maybe I would have discussed Christian's ultimate potential as a singles player.

Somehow, that doesn't at all seem to matter now.

For those of you who are afraid that I will follow the path of so many others, don't worry, I have no plan to branch out and become a de facto political commentator. At SLAM!, I write about wrestling. I'm not even especially qualified to do so. I don't work in the wrestling business, nor have I ever. I don't have a degree in journalism, and I'm not in the process of acquiring one. I'm just a guy who thinks a lot about the stuff he enjoys, and enjoy wrestling. And this is a place where I can discuss those thoughts with the equally-qualified readers of SLAM!.

But what happened on September 11, 2001, I'm not even as qualified to discuss as I am wrestling. Sure, I've given this a lot of thought, but so has everyone else. Between the anchors and guests on the suddenly-many 24-hour news networks, there's very little that hasn't already been said. I can still talk about wrestling, though I don't have much to say.

I was disappointed in the WWF's decision to proceed with Smackdown! last night. Some folks may disagree with me, but I still think it's just too early. I don't want to get stuck in the mud of this tragedy any more than anyone else, but it's not even over. They hadn't even finished combing for survivors when the WWF was putting on its traveling carnival, and people were gathered inside an arena yelling at a wrestling match.

I don't blame the WWF for the decision. Maybe they thought there would be backlash from fans wanting to see the show if they canceled it outright. Regardless, it just didn't seem like a good idea to me. I wasn't ready for it yet, though others clearly were.

NFL football games and Major League Baseball games are cancelled through Sunday. I don't know how long it will be before we get regular network television again. Movies and television premieres featuring either bombs, planes, or terror as a theme have all been mega-postponed or cancelled altogether.

There are parallels between the decision to air Smackdown! last night and the decision to continue with the Over the Edge pay-per-view after Owen Hart tragically died. The move may be criticized as it was back then, and the justification is mostly the same. 'The show must go on' seems to be a mantra of some sort in the World Wrestling Federation.

Poll question

Q1: What should the WWF have done Thursday night?

Total Votes for this Question: 2557
62% voted for Run a live Smackdown! like they did
5% voted for Run a highlight show
10% voted for Run just a tribute show, with no wrestling
22% voted for Cancelled altogether
Given that the show was aired, most of it seemed tasteful, though I didn't watch it myself. My problem with it, based on what I have heard, is that it seemed to focus on patriotism. That would be fine with me, if patriotism were something new. But pro-U.S.A. storylines have been a major part of the WWF for decades, and they've exploited current events before in doing so. So for them to draw back and say 'no, this is real' didn't have the same impact, for me, as watching Jeff Jarrett and Mark Henry tell their favourite Owen stories while fighting back tears.

Ultimately, though I personally was not in the mood for suplexes or bodyslams on Thursday, I don't speak for everyone. And while I agree that in life, the show must indeed go on, I don't think that now is necessarily yet the time. So many families are still searching for and wondering about their loved ones that I'm not sure about the timing of this.

This has probably been said a thousand times at this point, but times like this make wrestling seem very small. They make everything seem very small. They make us question ourselves and everything around us.

One thing's for sure -- no SLAM! reader is talking about wrestling, at least not to me. No mailbag this week. Have a safe weekend.

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