AS I SEE IT 5/1: Still more Vince and God

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Anyone from Kentucky watching last night like the fact that WWE can apparently break the new Kentucky State Athletic Commission rules with impunity? You know, the ones about no blood, or no "garbage wrestling"? I hope Ian Rotten watched last night's PPV, taped it, and can get a pro bono lawyer to take on the State of Kentucky. I'd love to hear them get out of this one.

If nothing else, I hope it results in the restrictions being shot down, as the Pennsylvania barbed wire restrictions were in Pennsylvania after WWE did a barbed wire cage match in Pittsburgh last year.

Now, this week...even more comments on Vince McMahon wrestling with "God". Keep in mind that the e-mails were sent to me before the PPV last night.

First, from Jeffrey E. Costa, who works some indies as "Lobsterman":

"Each year, Ted DiBiase and a whole bunch of Christian wrestlers including Sting, Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, Jim Duggan, Shawn Michaels, George Steele and many more support Athletes International Ministries run by Larry Kerrychuk in Scottsdale Arizona. Larry gave a eulogy at Eddie Guerrero's funeral and is a good Christian Friend of the Guererro family.

Evidently The Big Show has also given his life to Christ and seen the error in his ways. My question is where are the "Real" men in all this. Michaels is just a stooge and has always been. He took care of the Booker years ago, and they took care of him. Done deal! Nobody ever liked him anyway so he needs the Lord. Now the retired guys are I'll bet just glad they don't have to bow down and jeopardize their integrity. This is simply McMahon's way of showing he can mess with ANYTHING.

One time a few years back old JR... that's what they called him then said.... I'll be the one to kill this business when I'm ready to. Well maybe he's ready now. I'm not afraid to be quoted. I'm never going to work there. I'm too old and too damn smart now. I wonder how Ted DiBiase (who is a nice fellow) feels sucking up his pride for money insulting his faith with this blasphemy feels now. How 'bout Big Show!!

Maybe you wanna say something. But you ain't so big are ya? You fall into Vinny's trap. He's doing it to you. He's the man until someone says he's not. Someone, anyone has to grow some cajones before the PPV and tell him to stuff his lousy angles, quit pushing himself, and get ready for a warm room downstairs."

Being human and fallible, I'll leave it to God to judge who's getting a "warm room downstairs".

Then, there's Harold R. of Winston-Salem, NC:

"I agree with one of your e-mailers for this week. Rather than actually do some work and write of what's going on in wrestling, you continue to post this boring column where religious overreactionists blast Vince McMahon and the WWE for the God angle. The segments thus far have been extremely funny and well-done, but I can understand why they may be in bad taste to some. I respect your desire for WWE to shift their focus back to wrestling but I DON'T respect the fact that your column has become the Trial of Vince McMahon for his offending of the Christians."

Trial of Vince McMahon? Actually, I've been airing the opinions of readers. It's telling that the only people who have defended this angle and the Tim White suicide storyline come across with a "you said something bad about WWE, so you're a WWE hater" rationale. Those writers seem to forget that this column went after the Parents Television Council for 2 years when THEY went after the WWF, and lied about what the WWF was doing in order to raise funds for their right-wing organization.

On the other hand, there's Julie Lipson, who thinks you can criticize Vince McMahon and be a wrestling fan:

" I am a WWE hater because I had the nerve to not go with the trained seals and criticize the product ? That is about as insane as the thought of Cena and Triple H feuding over who fathered Stephanie's baby. (EDITOR'S NOTE: this was jokingly referred to as a possible scenario in a letter last week)

This stupidity just gets worse and worse. I say that a true wrestling fan does not sit back, watch this garbage called the WWE and say nothing.

From Mark Tate:

"It's amazing how much controversy this God angle is creating. Don't you think with everyone talking about it, and how it's playing out, and even the people who are against this angle knowing what is happening, they're obviously not changing channels and switching off, so the WWE story writers are doing something right by getting a lot of attention.

It seems also that the finger is being pointed solely at Vince. Now while he may have a big say in how storylines play out you have to remember there is a team of writers behind him. Surely even as chairman of the board, he still has to answer to his directors and shareholders. If this was as sick and controversial as people are making out, wouldn't his antics have been stopped by outraged shareholders and board members, or even a worried USA network executive?

I understand the need for debate, and yes it is controversial, but a lot of the time that's what WWE does best, and it's a way for them to garner viewers.

I too would like to see WWE use their talent better, and there's not always a need for controversy, but this is just one storyline playing at the moment, can we really say every angle in WWE is controversial? No, there are lots of other good angles being played, not least the triple threat title match, with Triple H emerging as the fan favorite above a supposedly face champion. Who would have thought that a year ago?

Keep up the good work, I do enjoy your column, letting the fans make the points is always interesting."

The key ultimately will be to watch the buyrate for yesterday's PPV. If the PPV does a better than expected buyrate, then Vince McMahon can say he was right and we were wrong, at least in the sense of business.

From Timothy Williams of the UK:

"I have been reading all the comments regarding Vince and God with great interest! I have another theory however and hope you like it! Since the start of this whole HBK McMahon angle we have seen Vince slowly become more wrapped up in himself, leading us to his God of sports entertainment claims.

During this path we have seen his greatest ally, Shane, start to give odd looks here and there and perhaps start to become disillusioned!

I think this path is taking us down what could be Vince's final fling in front of the camera in the WWE. I think we will see Vince go crazy and as a result Shane will 'take control' of the company! The reason why this is such a major storyline is easily explained in this perspective as we are saying goodbye to the Vince character, and who better to do it with than HBK?

More than a few people have wondered if this is a foreshadowing of a McMahon write-off as an on-air character.

Then, three e-mails from Christians, who share their opinions on the angle:

First, a note from Robert Uzarski, a Christian that isn't offended...but is bored by this angle.

"I would like to state right from the top that I am a Christian and that I don't necessarily feel that the storyline is completely wrong. Christian movies and books have been telling fictional tales of Christians oppressed by those who don't believe for years so I don't see how Vince is wrong for doing the same thing. It angers me to hear other Christians get so upset over this when there is all the oppression of Christians in China who for some reason they don't care about.

The story isn't the thing that is really wrong here. The problem is Vince is not making it entertaining. He is doing the same thing week in and week out he needs to find an edge for the story to really hook the Christian fans because he's not going to hook non believers with a Vince and Shane vs HBK and God story. Just because we are Christians doesn't mean that we will watch boring TV. I mean the Passion of Christ was one of the bloodiest films I have ever seen. I feel disrespected as a Christian that Vince and company are not making this feud more interesting."

Then, Brad Scheurman from Canada:

"I am a born again Christian, and I can't see HBK consenting to this if its not going to work out in the end. We haven't seen how this plays out yet, but I have a guess. Vince claimed that God was absent on Raw. And of course God will not be physically in the ring at Backlash. They will probably get Shawn caught in the handcuffs at the PPV and beat him and mock him like 'Where is your God?' 'Renounce him and worship me!' 'He can't help you'.

But God really works through people. We've already seen hints that Shane may think Vince has gone too far. He could have a change of heart by witnessing Shawn's resolve and refusal to quit, and say That's enough Dad! He has already had his revenge elbowing Shawn Michaels through the table on Raw. He may even shield HBK as Vince goes for another chairshot and he may hit his son instead...proving he has really gone crazy.

Could we then see Stephanie return to plead for Shane? Vince cannot hit her, so perhaps in ultimate frustration he flips out... bloodies himself, breaks down in tears, rants that he has brought a curse of the whole family from his actions, and claims he can never be forgiven. The truth is anyone can be forgiven, but some people refuse to accept that, and that will lead to his downfall and complete insanity and we won't see him again for a while. It won't be too touchy feely, but would end up portraying some of the truth that Shawn Michaels stands for."

WWE isn't exactly the place to depict religious themes with such a diverse mainstream audience, so I'm not holding my breath waiting to see that one. Perhaps such a theme would be better on the shows of the next writer.

Finally, from Bobby Christy, who works for one of the wrestling promotions that feature wrestling shows used as a tool for Christian religious evangelism.

"My name is Bobby Williams and I am a Christian Wrestler. I wrestle for the Christian Wrestling Federation as the Zealot...As a Christian, maybe I should be offended, but I'm not. I'm more saddened for McMahon because part of me thinks he actually is a god of sorts.

Some of my friends in the CWF met Shawn Michaels last year and they spent hours talking with him about faith. He seemed to be a devout Christian. People are bashing him saying he has sold out his faith for the almighty dollar, but we haven't seen this played out yet.... I hope that a human does not come out as Shawn's tag partner Sunday. If that happens, or if Shawn jobs to McMahon, THEN and only THEN will I call Shawn a sell out and lose respect for him..."

Let me make clear that I believe that Vince McMahon has no obligation to push a Christian message, or any moral/religious message. For wrestling to work, there have to be heels who do the things that heels do. I have zero problem with sex as part of the program...provided it's used as sizzle and not the steak, figuratively speaking. That's not because of any moral views. There are plenty of people who are into entertainment that goes farther with sex...that's their business.

My criticism with the majority of women on WWE is that I don't want emaciated "divas" with giant saline filled funbags that have no more wrestling talent than a 18 month old baby passed off as women that can wrestle. An example of what WWE can the great job they've done with the Trish Stratus-Mickie James storyline. It's featured wrestling mixed with sex mixed with an interesting storyline with twists and short, a little bit of everything.

Back to religion. I think that someone who wishes to mix religion and wrestling does so at their own peril; unless they use wrestling as merely a vehicle to push their own religious message, and are not not running shows in the conventional an independent promotion that tries to be a viable commercial entity.

But I don't like religion being treated in such a manner that it's caused so many people to write to me about this well as the whole series of columns on the Tim White online storyline. Maybe those who say they're sick of reading about it in this column ought to ask why so many people are so sick of seeing it on their Monday and Friday night wrestling viewing.

Until next time...


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