You Can’t Blame McMahon, Plus My Angle On Kurt


Iâ<80><99>ve got some bad news, would-be and wannabe denizens of the squared circle: Now is not a good time to attempt making a living in the wrestling biz. Try roller derby instead.

WWE is looking to slash $20 million from its budget, and will make those who do survive the cut eke out a relatively meager living primarily overseas, sleeping in undersized beds and eating hasenpfeffer. TNA money mark Dixie Carter seems to finally be showing some business sense, so roster downsizing is on the way there, too (though the job wonâ<80><99>t truly be done until Cute Kip is on the dole).

Tough luck, trainees. With the exception of the era when ATM Eric walked the planet, this is how the biz has always been. Perhaps itâ<80><99>s how itâ<80><99>s supposed to be. You donâ<80><99>t hear the wrestling industry asking for a government bailout.

The ideal business model was the old Lawler/Jarrett Memphis promotion. The wrestlers were guaranteed zilch. There was no negotiation. The Jerrys figured out much they wanted to make from each show, took that off the top, then the boys divided what was left. If there was nothing left, too bad. It was on them. Draw money, jabronis.

Thatâ<80><99>s one thing that gets lost among all the talk of health care, pension plans, independent contracting, etc.: Itâ<80><99>s the wrestlersâ<80><99> responsibility to draw money. Star power is most often the biggest factor thereof. If youâ<80><99>re not a star, donâ<80><99>t expect to be paid like a star. Those who worked for Lawler and Jarrett didnâ<80><99>t expect to be paid at all. Steve Austin survived by eating tuna out of the tin when he worked Memphis. Then he became a star. Iâ<80><99>m not sure what Steve eats now, but itâ<80><99>s not tuna out of the tin.

(Going off the reservation just a bit, I donâ<80><99>t understand it when wrestlers caterwaul about not having health care and pension plans. Iâ<80><99>ve worked jobs that didnâ<80><99>t provide health care. So I bought my own. Itâ<80><99>s what responsible adults do.)

You Internet nerds get upset when guys like Elijah Burke and Kenny Dykstra get cut. My favorite sports truism is: What could have happened, did. Itâ<80><99>s rare when a legitimate talent is truly underutilized like Austin was in WCW. Water finds its own level.

Wrestling companies WANT to make money. WWE didnâ<80><99>t want Burke and Dykstra to fail. WWE didnâ<80><99>t release them out of spite. But the sad fact is, those two couldnâ<80><99>t draw money if you dipped â<80>~em in Superglue and dragged â<80>~em through a bank vault.

Time to find a new job, kids. In the immortal words of Patrick Swayze, thereâ<80><99>s always barber college. (And he said it to Terry Funk! How cool was THAT?) Oh, so your lifelong dream died? Well, boo hoo! Lifelong dreams die every day, junior. In happens all the time, in every walk of life. Get over it, get over yourself, and move on.

Dykstra was bitching on the web about his hard lot in life. Bro, youâ<80><99>re a skinny marink with pointy facial features. You do whiny promos. Unless thereâ<80><99>s a wrestling promotion that exclusively uses Michael Rapaport look-alikes, your days in sports entertainment may be over. Wrestling allowed you to nail Mickie James. That should be enough.

Wrestling thins its own herd. Wrestlers come and go, but without the money men â<80>” the promoters â<80>” the biz wouldnâ<80><99>t exist. Not to canonize promoters as honorable people providing gold-plated opportunity; quite the opposite is almost always the case. But money goes to money. You want a fair shake, start your own business. Even then, youâ<80><99>re going to succeed or fail or your own merits.

I feel really bad for the guys who just wonâ<80><99>t give up the ghost, who work indie shows for $25 and sit by the phone thinking Vince McMahon is going to call someday. Thatâ<80><99>s pathetic. I respect guys like Monty Brown, a marginal talent who hedged his bet by building a lucrative personal training business. Thatâ<80><99>s smartâ<80>¦period.

I feel even worse for the old guys who know nothing else and didnâ<80><99>t save any money. The Rock â<80>~N Roll Express wrestling the Midnight Express one last time (for the 100th time) is the creepiest level of nostalgia. But what are you going to do when the rentâ<80><99>s due at the trailer park?

Donâ<80><99>t criticize a guy like McMahon for doing whatâ<80><99>s best for his company. On the very rare occasions when a wrestler was so over that he could hold McMahonâ<80><99>s feet to the fire, he usually tried. Hogan succeeded. Ultimate Warrior failed. The Rock played ball. Thereâ<80><99>s no right way or wrong way. Thereâ<80><99>s just business.


I saw an interview where Kurt Angle reckoned he wouldnâ<80><99>t be remembered as one of wrestlingâ<80><99>s all-time best because his career wouldnâ<80><99>t be long enough. That might be the case as far as the Internet scum goes, but in terms of wrestling fans in general â<80>” the majority, the marks, the ones who buy tickets, merchandise and PPVs â<80>” I disagree.

Fans like that donâ<80><99>t look at the big picture. Microcosms are more important to them, matches or promos that tickled their fancies and made them sit up and pay attention. In that sense, Angle has provided more electrifying moments than most wrestlers â<80>” even great wrestlers â<80>” who had much longer careers.

Wrestling isnâ<80><99>t baseball. There are no stats. Wins and losses donâ<80><99>t count. The championships are fake. Thereâ<80><99>s just entertainment and athleticism. By that standard, I rate Angle in my top five all-time, not far behind No. 1 Ric Flair (not to be confused with No. 1 Paul Jones). Retreating to the relative anonymity of TNA hurts and, in the back of my mind, I still donâ<80><99>t feel Angle has ever been booked to maximum efficiency.

But Angle is just that good. He deserves to be mentioned with Flair, Shawn Michaels, Terry Funk, etc. If Angle doesnâ<80><99>t realize that, he should.

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