Thanksgiving, Celebrity Appearances, & the WWE Locker Room


Gobble gobble gobble! Hope everyone has enjoyed their Thanksgiving festivities. I, for one, was going to go out for a little jaunt on the Mayflower, but I accidentally boarded one of the Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria instead – ended up spending all of Thanksgiving Day sailing the ocean blue with Columbus. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. Upon my return to NY on Friday, I took part in a yearly tradition of a huge football game the morning after the holiday. I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it is to get out there once a year and pretend we are still capable athletes. I am still outrageously sore 48 hours later.

Why the heck does everyone make such a big fuss about how stuffed and sleepy they are on Thanksgiving? This is one of the most overblown myths imaginable. Why would people be any more apt to gorge themselves on Thanksgiving than any other day? Clearly it’s just an excuse to do so. I’d say I had a relatively normal, to maybe even smallish sized meal. But let’s just say you really went at it during the meal and find yourself with your pants unbuckled….why does this eating in turn allegedly make you sleepy? TRYPTOPHAN, you will say. Well, let me shatter your world right now. Tryptophan is actually an essential amino acid of your body…it can’t be synthesized, hence it is a requirement of all human’s diets. The following foods all contain MORE of this alleged sleep-inducer than turkey does: egg whites, sesame, various types of fish, cheddar and parmesan cheese, pork chops, and a ton of other randoms. Chicken, beef, salmon, and lamb chops all contain almost exactly the same amount. It’s also in wheat, milk, rice, potatoes, and bananas. Time for Americans just admit, we love to stuff our faces and then go to sleep to ignore our relatives…no need to concoct these elaborate rouses – we are only fooling ourselves.

Last week, I asked the WZ fans to chime in on celebrity appearances in the wrestling world. What I concluded was, celebrity involvement in our fine sport is almost always awful, haha. I mean, so many of these appearances are almost inexplicably bad. When analyzing this topic, what I kept coming back to was why should you pay $50 million to Floyd Mayweather and overlook your own performers? There’s no way in hell his appearances generated them more than $50 million in revenue. Theoretically, they could have paid their own performers $10 million in bonuses for working their butts off 365 days a year, and not spent the other $40 million and come out of it much better financially (not to mention have much happier employees). What kind of message are you sending your own performers when they fight 300 times in a year for $200,000 and he can fight once for $50 million? That’s a bad precedent to set.

Naturally, there have been some exceptions to that rule, and of course, there are a lot of factors that go into determining how successful each celebrity appearance was. There is an obvious novelty factor in any walk of life when something is out of the ordinary – automatically, that will peak your curiosity more so than your standard match between Carlito and Greg Valentine. In evaluating this topic, the names that most commonly came up as being successful were Lawrence Taylor, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather. Put those up against the number of celeb appearances that were completely bashed and it overwhelmingly favors the negative. Anyone remember Rob Schneider pillow fighting the Divas? That great Johnny Knoxville body slam? Jay Leno? World Champion David Arquette? Leslie Nielsen (a TV actor, not a real life detective) searching for The Undertaker’s whereabouts? Pacman Jones being the tag team champion without being allowed to engage in physicality? And on and on and on.

For me, the celebrity appearances that have been the most effective were the appearances that didn’t involve them actually wrestling or storylines. I mean, at WM1 they had Muhammed Ali and Liberace…those were huge names. And I’m totally cool with Motorhead coming and performing a live rendition of a theme song every now and then to offer a big match feel. For me, my favorite in ring celebrity usage was the Football Battle Royal at WM2. I always loved that match. I became fans of “Too Tall” Jones, Russ Francis, Bill Fralic, etc. as a result of it. That gang, along with superstar Refrigerator Perry provided some fun in ring moments and extra buzz, without it becoming an epic production.

WZ reader, Adam Pembrey, provided a great comprehensive overview of his thoughts on the matter, earning him the fan response of the week:

“Hi Eric, thanks for giving us the chance to interact like this, it’s great fun.

I think when answering this question there are two point of views to consider. The point of view of the fan and the point of view of the company. A key example of this would be Donald Trump at Wrestlemania 23. From the company’s point of view it was arguably a success as it brought them plenty of mainstream publicity which in itself would have helped PPV buys. The actual execution from a fan point of view was not so great. Why would a typical wrestling fan care about Donald Trump? In fairness the match itself was decent and it was fun enough to see the Evil Mr McMahon humbled but that was all down to the efforts of the existing WWE employee’s. The only things Trump had to do himself were tackle Vince and take the stunner, both of which he did quite poorly.

WCW was good at using celebs to generate publicity, but put on an awful show, i.e Rodman, Leno and the most obvious Arquette.

Sometimes the use of celeb’s is a failure from both points of view, i.e the Johnny Knoxville angle from Raw a few weeks ago. It sucked for the fans and the publicity around his involvement did nothing for the ratings.

There have been lots of occasions when the use of celebs has benefited the company and given the fans a good show. One example would be Mike Tyson in The WWE in 98. The angle with Austin on Raw garnered lots of publicity and his joining then betraying DX was a good angle that went over well.

For the best though I’m going to go With Mr T being utilized at the first Wrestlemania. I think this and the event itself really propelled wrestling into the mainstream. It was Wrestlemania 1 where the WWE showed the world that wrestling was glitz and glamour, and dare I say it? Entertainment.”

And now to answer the fan question of the week (and keep sending your other questions my way…there have been some really good ones) :

Amos from South Dakota asks, “When you worked for WWE creative, who were the best wrestlers to work with?”

Well, good question. I will tell you, I have far more vivid memories of the nasty exchanges I had with so many people within the company, but that’s not to say there weren’t some high quality interactions. The structure of the wrestling locker room is rather similar to that of the WWE office atmosphere. Just like us newbies at the bottom of the creative totem pole were disregarded and treated poorly, so are the wrestlers that are just starting out or paying their dues. Hence, the easiest people to talk to were those who were in a similar station within the company. At the time I was in WWE, that included The Heart Throbs, Boogeyman, Morrison, Kenny Dykstra, and a few others. Although I did not have sit-down at length chats with them, several of the main eventers were cool in passing exchanges…Batista, The Big Show, Triple H, Shane, Shelton, and Henry come to mind. Howard Finkel is the man – just a really great guy. And the divas, in particular Maria, Ashley, and Victoria were all incredibly sweet and fun and made me feel welcomed. They were probably my faves.


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