Mark Madden

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Mark Madden“I think he’s a good dude. I think he has honorable intentions.” – Mickey Rourke on Vince McMahon.

Have more delusional words ever been spoken?

"The Wrestler" is, however temporarily, the general public’s reference point for the wrestling business. Vince McMahon wasn’t going to let that go unpunished. By trying to book Mickey Rourke for a WrestleMania match against Chris Jericho, McMahon seems determined to absorb the buzz created by "The Wrestler" and, ultimately, diminish the movie’s impact by making a classic film just another disposable part of his carny con.

Rourke spent many years in his profession’s wilderness, becoming a joke figure for his squandered talent. Amazingly, he revived his career overnight, recapturing his credibility and dignity with his portrayal of Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Jumping into the ring at WrestleMania has little upside for Rourke, none beyond the paycheck. A movie like "The Wrestler" has depth and drama. WWE is just fake wrestling. The two have zero in common.

Rourke called out Chris Jericho at the SAG Awards, then faced off with Jericho on "Larry King Live.” Rourke can act, but he certainly doesn’t know how to work. On “Larry King,” Rourke clumsily parried Jericho’s verbal thrusts with a combination of bemusement and confusion. It wasn’t necessarily embarrassing, but it definitely didn’t work, and may have been the catalyst for Rourke’s representatives backing away from WrestleMania in the days since. The Oscars are next month, and being associated with ‘Mania now could cost Rourke the statue.

McMahon might portray it as "The Ram" returning to the big time. But Randy Robinson is a fictional character. "The Ram" needs to get in that ring at WrestleMania. Rourke needs to run screaming in the other direction. Again, what’s the upside? How does Rourke benefit?

McMahon’s mind operates on so many levels, all of them devious and malicious. He can’t help it. He’s a wrestling promoter. When "The Wrestler" premiered and became a phenomenon, McMahon issued press releases that distanced WWE from the movie, saying it represented a minor-league level of wrestling not to be confused with his company’s superior product.

But then "The Wrestler" committed the cardinal sin of being popular. That got McMahon’s attention. WWE promoted the movie and began courting Rourke for WrestleMania. Remember that McMahon never does anything altruistic, and only does something that’s mutually beneficial as a last resort. McMahon wants to go over every time. McMahon wants the other guy to do the job every time. Money isn’t the primary motivating factor. Ego is, every time.

Want proof? When McMahon bought WCW, the best thing for business would have been to keep WCW strong, do a legit invasion angle, give fans the showdown they’d dreamed about for years and absorb the entire WCW audience in the process. McMahon chose instead to make WCW weak, do a joke of an invasion angle that involved his son and then Steve Austin taking the reins of the interlopers, and permanently chase away WCW’s audience.

It was pointedly what was worst for business, but the important thing was for McMahon to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had won, that he had beaten Billionaire Ted.

If Rourke is involved in WrestleMania, the goal will be to make "The Wrestler" seem second-rate to WWE programming or, worse yet, a part of WWE programming, albeit after the fact, a Golden Globe-winning version of "The Marine." It would be ludicrous and illogical to make that connection, but that won’t stop McMahon from trying. Megalomaniacs live in their own reality.

The thought of "The Wrestler" intersecting with WWE makes me nauseous. Both use wrestling as a foundation, but are otherwise totally unrelated. Thinking about McMahon’s motives makes me nauseous, too. In his mind, "The Wrestler" upstaged his product, and he wants to get even.

Here’s my advice to anyone involved with "The Wrestler," especially Mickey Rourke. If you want to be at WrestleMania, buy a ticket and sit out of camera range.

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