AS I SEE IT 12/11: This week's good, bad, and ugly in WWE

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

This week, the good, the bad, and the ugly in WWE.

Say whatever you will about the things that WWE does (and I'm going to myself later in this column) of the good things they've done over the last several years is the WWE trip to visit United States forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MSNBC featured footage of the WWE tour on Afghanistan and of wounded troops in Germany on December 7 and 8's Rita Cosby show.

First, Jonathan Coachman, Mick Foley, and Ashley Massaro visited US troops at Landstuhl Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Footage was shown of Cosby talking with a soldier who was seriously injured in an early December 1 attack at Fallujah (where 10 troops were killed).

Vince McMahon, Mick Foley, John Cena, John Layfield, Shawn Michaels, HHH, Big Show, Ric Flair, Shelton Benjamin, Candace Michelle, Maria, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Chris Masters, Trish Stratus, Gene Snitsky, Lillian Garcia, and Carlitos Colon appeared in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base. Video was shown of the trip to Afghanistan from Charleston (from the RAW taping). After arrival in Afghanistan, host Rita Cosby spoke with troops, who sent messages to family members and viewers at home. Vince McMahon made mention about wanting to show support for the US troops.

On Thursday night's MSNBC show, Trish Stratus was interviewed after a video segment on women in Afghanistan and spoke about having some understanding as she was also one of a handful of women in a male-dominated world, mentioning how the Afghan women had to be strong to deal with the challenges, as she had within her own professional world.

Based solely on the MSNBC coverage, it appears that this year's visit, unlike last year's (although we'll have to wait for the WWE telecast to know for sure) focused less on pushing how right the war in Iraq was, and how the media was mis-characterizing it; as last year's holiday RAW in Iraq did . It focused much more on supporting the US forces and their service to country, rather than offer an opinion on the war.

The episode of WWE's visit to Afghanistan will air in the United States on RAW on December 19.

As for the bad....

I know I'm not the only person who was uncomfortable with the recent Smackdown special that seemed to use the recent death of Eddie Guerrero.

Big Show heeling by spitting on "Eddie Guerrero's low rider" (which was apparently edited out) didn't bother me for some strange reason. Given how good a heel Guerrero was, I figure Eddie might have appreciated someone making an effort to heel, especially under the circumstances.

But for Rey Misterio to have been put in a position to be "praying to his guardian angel, Eddie"...not to mention to be looking up to Heaven from the ring as Misterio was selling his beating from Big Show "for Eddie's help" that really necessary? I don't doubt that it represented some of Misterio's real feelings...but to insert it into a wrestling angle only 2 weeks after the man was a bit much.

Further, WWE's asking Chavo Guerrero to get on the ByteThis and justify the "use of Eddie's low rider" in the angle was also a bit much. What was Chavo Guerrero going to do, go on air and say that he thought it was tasteless and that the angle trivialized the real-lie emotions shown on air only a week before? Well...put it this way...the odds are good that he wouldn't have done so and still been employed.

I know that there have been angles such as the Mike Graham/Freebirds angle down in Florida where the real life suicide of Eddie Graham was used to turn the Freebirds heel. So the angle on the Smackdown special is hardly a first. But was it REALLY necessary to do this angle so soon after Guerrero's passing?

For that matter, why was it done with so little payoff...THAT might have pissed the Eddie Guerrero who busted his ass, who put himself through personal and physical hell for WCW and WWF/E, and whose father actually ran a territory. The angle that was seen by many as so tasteless also came off as pointless. At least the Eddie Graham angle years ago was done to accomplish a full blast Freebird heel turn, and helped to create a team of heels that drew money.

The only thing that this Guerrero angle will have done is piss off too many fans who are still mourning the death of one of wrestling greatest stars, and most special people.

Now... the ugly.

"SHELTON BENJAMIN'S MAMA / Co-Star / Female / African Am / 50-60 Shelton Benjamin's Mama - 50's, Black, heavy set, good personality, willing to travel. The character will be used three to six months, with pay to be determined". This woman will travel all over the country/world to perform for the Raw shows".
Advertisement placed by WWE on various casting websites.

Here we go again... just what WWE needs... one more racial stereotype for WWE.

Right now, you can see on Monday and Thursday nights: Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and Super Crazy as Mexican "gardeners" riding lawn mowers...two Asians who barely speak English including Funaki as the "number one Smackdown announcer" (in pidgin English) and Tajiri, who got to work while in the ring but had to make "funny" comments to show us his supposedly limited English (and was just released last week). Then there's Viscera as a large black "sex machine".

So, now WWE is prepared to go with "Mama Benjamin". Apparently "everyone knows" that all black mothers are "heavy set...with a good personality".

Note to Vince McMahon #1: All black mothers do NOT look like Aunt Jemima. Even worse...Shelton Benjamin's REAL mother was shown on a WWE vignette which talked about how Benjamin came out of a crime-ridden neighborhood to his later athletic success.

Note to Vince McMahon #2: Remember how well Judy Bagwell worked out? If not, just ask Eric Bischoff.

Note to Vince McMahon #3: How about a really unique idea for Shelton Benjamin? How about marketing Shelton Benjamin, an incredibly talented an athlete. Not everyone has to look like a cartoon character.

Until next time...


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