AS I SEE IT 2/13: Readers and wrestlers talk about exploiting death

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Sounds like a number of you agree with me that suicide...and using death as an angle... is NOT painless, even in the world of Vince McMahon.

Vince McMahon himself, however, hasn't learned a damned thing.

If there was much doubt about that, it seems we found out otherwise after we were told about the "fact" that The Boogeyman bit off a "cancerous growth" off of the face of Jillian Hall.

Really tasteful. Hey, Vince, ask Jim Duggan in your locker room how funny cancer is...he's a survivor. Or ask Matt Cappotelli of Ohio Valley Wrestling...he has a brain tumor. He doesn't know if he'll survive yet.

If that wasn't bad enough, last Monday night's RAW saw "Mama Benjamin" falling over at ringside with an implied heart attack (with on-air remarks about her "having no pulse") after being "scared by Big Show" during his match with "son" Shelton.

That kind of crap wasn't tasteful when Fritz von Erich did it to get fans to come to World Class shows, and was described as getting better or taking a turn for the worse depending on the advance for that week's WCCW show. It wasn't tasteful when Ric Flair was made to do it in WCW (and wasn't allowed to clue in a lot of people beforehand). managed to weasel last Wednesday on the "heart attack" when they mentioned that "Shelton's momma was rushed to the hospital Monday night, but she has been released and is on the mend".

Prior to these bits of poor taste, I received one letter from a longtime friend (and longtime wrestling fan) who will remain nameless. She lost a brother to suicide. Needless to say, she has a very different view of WWE using suicide in a wrestling storyline.

But wrestlers are making their feelings known:

Mick Foley blasted the exploitation of Guerrero's death in his blog:

"Before last Friday Night’s SmackDown, the Rey Mysterio/Eddie Guerrero stuff made me feel a little … weird. And not '“weird in a good way' either. More like weird in an uncomfortable way. Weird in an 'I’m not sure this should really be on a wrestling show' way.

I know there has been a lot of talk since Eddie’s death about what Eddie would have wanted. I really don’t know. I didn’t truly know Eddie well enough to make that call. I had known Eddie for more than 10 years, though. I considered him a friend, and deep down, like most people who knew him, I genuinely liked him a lot. I can’t say with any certainty whether Eddie would have wanted his memory to be such a large part of the current SmackDown product....

I have to believe that what Eddie would have wanted — and what we gave him last Friday on SmackDown — are two very different things. I do not believe that Eddie’s wife appreciated the 'Eddie’s in Hell' declaration. She just lost her husband. Mourning his loss is difficult enough.

I do not believe that Randy Orton needs this type of cheap heat to be effective. No one knows better than I that Randy is an incredible talent. He can wrestle, he can talk, and he exudes an extreme brand of cockiness in the ring that makes him a natural bad guy. He doesn’t need this.

I’m not against having Eddie’s memory as an enduring legacy of SmackDown. I was touched by Batista’s recent heartfelt words, and I don’t doubt for a moment that Rey Mysterio feels genuinely motivated by his late mentor’s spirit. And as I’ve told Chavo on a few different occasions, I considered the frog splash a tribute to Eddie on the night of his death to be one WWE’s truly great moments.

But the recent SmackDown episode did not honor his legacy, it exploited his death. I hope it will end, and the sooner the better. For by exploiting his death we achieve what I thought wouldn’t be possible: We cheapen his life."

Lance Storm has made his comments known in his column on his website:

"Am I the only one uncomfortable with the amount Eddie is still being used on TV? I’m all for keeping his memory alive, he was a great guy, but the stuff with Orton offends me to no end."

Former WWE wrestler Andrew "Test" Martin wrote the following incendiary statement on his website last Wednesday:

"What I have seen of the handling of Eddies death wants to make me puke. You know?

When Eddie passed away, I said to a friend of mine that instead of mourning, I betcha Vince is thinking of how he can make money out of this? Not to say I said so; but to be honest, I didn't see the burning of Eddie's lowrider.

I heard about it which was enough to make me sick then, and now I see Randy Orton saying 'Eddie is in hell', is that how desperate this company is right now. I wonder what does Eddie's wife and three beautiful children think when they hear people saying that their husband and father are in hell?

Is there no boundary to this disgrace...this CHEAP heat? I wonder how Eddie's kids feel when they go to school (and we all know how cruel children can be) and get ridiculed and made fun of because their dad is supposedly in hell? I wonder how Eddie's wife feels when the man she stood by for so long, and changed his life around is [hearing] told to MILLIONS of people that her husband is in hell? Well if Eddie was in hell, Vince would know because he's the one who would have to let him in; and I guarantee that's not where Eddie is! Classy guys..real FN' classy..."

Here are a number of the thoughts of other readers regarding the subject:

First, this nice note from Georgianne Makropoulos:

"I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say THANK YOU. Your article today on the suicide attempts was wonderful. I also told my readers I will NOT write anything more about the Tim White situations, or link to them, as they are asinine and so unfeeling.

The holidays always cause for depression for many, including myself as my Mom had passed away on Thanksgiving day and its always a sad time for us too. Showing these skits is not funny, serves no purpose, and can only cause more problems for the company. What sick and warped minds are continuing this stupidity?

Georgie "

Obviously, Georgianne is not naive about what the wrestling industry does...having been around since the days of Bruno Sammartino. She's the longtime writer/editor of the Wrestling Chatterbox fan newsletter, was a longtime writer for, and currently writes for

From Thomas Bennett:

"Mr. Magee,

I suggest you watch a movie called "Harold and Maude", Harold (played by Bert Cort) was always "committing" suicide, I suspect the WWE writing team must have watched it a few times.


The major difference was that this movie featured 79 year old Maude (played by Ruth Gordon) showing the depressed, death-obsessed 20-year-old Harold the possibilities of life....not a movie making light of suicide like the WWE skits have done.

From Jack DeFranco:

"I definitely agree. What the hell is Vince McMahon thinking with these Tim White sketches. They're pointless and very inhumane. Millions of people commit suicide a year and it is not meant to be funny. Why Vince Why? As far as using Eddie's death, remember, the entire Guerrero family, especially his wife and 3 girls are still grieving. Why is the creative team allowed to go so low? No wonder WWE is losing respect in the wrestling industry. "

From what this week's Wrestling Observer says, WWE is losing respect within its own locker room as well. Several unnamed wrestlers spoke with Meltzer regarding their disgust at the way the Randy Orton skit was handled in, and their increasing general disgust of the storyline in particular, with a particular mention was made of the reaction Chavo Guerrero himself had to the Orton comments about Eddie being in hell...and the even more offensive line about something being as impossible as Eddie coming back to life.

From Kelvin Leen Weng Hwa of Singapore:

"...Ever since Eddie's death, it seems like the issue of "paying" tribute to a great wrestler and person has been very questionable.

I read your article and can't help feeling the same as you do. Recently reading Randy [Orton]'s comment made me write a feedback email to WWE and mow down how i felt about what was said when I read the results on their site. I know the folks at left out the comments because it was way beyond the line ... so I had to see what was really said from the WWE side.

Not to say the least, I was disgusted. I didn't care if my email was going to be read or deleted, i just sent and remarked about the issue. I commented that it seemed they would even sell a dead family member just to push a storyline, anything just to make their story work.

Tasteless, pointless and certainly disrespectful ... I agree with you 100% that it's very sick to say that a reborn Christian is banished to hell. I may not believe in any religion, but it pains me to see such tasteless statements made. My other friends who are faithful believers to their respective religion felt a stab in the heart at such a comment. Hell is certainly not a place for anyone innocent or good-natured to go and here WWE was, making Randy Orton say those lines like his life and career depended on it.

I cannot imagine how Eddie's family and his wife and kids would feel. Maybe they don't watch WWE anymore, but imagine them going out in the streets and some zealous RKO fan comes by and says Eddie's in Hell watching over Rey-Rey. How do you think they would feel? I believe his mother would pass out from such a remark. Storylines are storylines, but there must be lines drawn clearly.
I've watched WWE for years, since I was a kid; and this era's storylines are the most vile to date. I agree with you for Tim White's suicide thing... [that] very soon, someone will get into serious injuries or death following the stunts. Considering the material is free to view at, anyone of any age can view it and boom...

I just hope and pray the professionals within the WWE now can start to make a stand against the misuse of such issues to spark feuds, storylines and anything else ... (Chavo, please speak up!!!)

We all watch wrestling for the wrestling. If we wanted these kinds of storylines, might I suggest watching Desperate Housewives or LOST for that matter?"

From the Observer comments, Chavo Guerrero may not have publicly spoken up, but people are now aware of his unhappiness at the Orton skit.

From Magno Santos:

"Great job on the column, I agree full-heartedly. WWE has reached new lows by utilizing the late great Eddie Guerrero's name simply to draw heat, and develop a fictional storyline.

How does WWE management think Eddie Guerrero's family and friends feel when they are watching SmackDown, and hearing somebody degrading their loved one's name solely for profitable purposes? His daughters especially. Not to mention all of this after WWE gave Eddie Guerrero such a beautiful tribute.

It's downright ignorant! The Tim White suicide skits are just as distasteful. I appreciate you giving this topic your attention, and writing a column for all to see. It definitely should not be overlooked, keep up the good work. Looking forward to future columns."

Now, here's Brent Hale who disagrees with what I had to say...

I agree that certain things that the WWE does CAN affect you, especially when you have something happen to you in real life that is echoed within the WWE.

But you also have to understand something. Vince McMahon is well aware of two words. Controversy Sells. Sometimes it backfires, yes, but it SELLS. Sure, I don't agree with the suicide stuff, I think that some young person who might be having a really hard time and love this business and do himself in, that is an extremely real possibility. And yes, the backlash from it would be very severe indeed.

But whose fault would it be? WWE? Vince McMahon? WWE Creative? Nope. The fault would like squarely and completely on the... (insert long drum roll here) ...The Parents! That's right! Why? For the simple reason that it's the PARENTS responsibility to make sure their child is living in a good, sensible environment and to try to help them get through any problems they are going through. I mean, it's absolutely ludicrous in the most severest possible way to even THINK that the WWE should be responsible for ANYTHING that the parents are responsible for. That's all there is to it.

Now, for the Eddie Guerrero thing? Well, I am sure there was and is disagreement with WWE creative on it, no doubt about it. But it's not as severe as has been reported. Again, this is some creative license AKA sensationalizing by media-oriented people who are making this thing a lot larger than it actually is. I do believe there is disagreement over the long usage of it as is probably anything that has been used for a long time as a storyline within the WWE. But on the other hand, I think it is ok to keep Eddie remembered as they have been. And, it also makes for an excellent match for revenge.

It's like this. A long, long time ago, I was watching Championship Wrestling From Florida (or as I liked to call it simply Florida Championship Wrestling) with the late but legendary Gordon Solie. Anyway, Terry Funk was the meanest heel ever, wiping the ring with midcarders and other assorted wrestlers like nothing else. He would also brand them. (As an aside: They even had an angle one time where Bob Roop [who was under the influence of Kevin Sullivan] stab Blackjack Mulligan with a collapsible stage knife complete with spurting blood right in the chest. No joke and no lie)

As he kept up his rampage and his bitterness, I was hoping someone would just shut him up or give him a severe beat down. Sure, I felt the thing was running WAAAY too long, (meaning, he had been heel and never went face) but it was too cool for me to really care THAT much. Well, when Terry Funk came to WCW, he got into feuding with Ric Flair. Well, on one of the many Clash of The Champions shows (which one is lost to the mists of time), Funk hooked up with Flair in an I Quit match. I will never, EVER forget the outcome of that match. Naitch made the legendary Funk, that mean old Texan, say I QUIT. I went nuts. It went down as the greatest match I have ever seen in wrestling. In ALL of wrestling I have seen so far. And that's MANY years.

So this whole Randy Orton disrespectful thing has extreme potential to set up a great and legendary revenge match of sorts. May not ever eclipse the Flair/Funk I Quit match, but I am sure it will come VERY close. If the WWE does it right. But I also do agree that it is going a little too long. And I also just don't believe that the disagreement with creative is all that severe. I believe it's much more lower. Kind of like maybe Mysterio and a few others not happy since it's gone on for too long and time to move on. But not as if there's going to be rebellion anytime soon.

So, to close, yes, what you have said is quite true, but in other aspects it's also not. The whole suicide thing was/is being taken a bit too far, and yes, I am sure it's probably going to be blamed for some young kid offing himself since he loves wrestling SOOO much and of course sweet little Mom n' Pop are gonna be held SOOO harmless. Yep. Not going to even QUESTION why in the hell would the parents of the kid allowed him to watch that stuff in the first place.

Nope. They're gonna rant n' rail against the WWE website for allowing it to be there for anyone to see, they're gonna whine and gripe about it and launch lawsuits and all that. NEVER are they going to admit THEY were the ones partially responsible. NEVER are they going to see it was because they let said child SEE the stuff in the first place or watch wrestling at his age be the reason. It's always going to be someone ELSE. And that's just outright ludicrous and patently ridiculous in the extreme. But that's how I see it."

Until next time...


If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at