Tag Archives: WWE

Twenty One Years Later…

HBKI have been a fan of the WWE and the product it puts out since the early nineties – back when it was called the WWF, before those animal protection guys got all uppity and decided to take them to court over the name. Guilty pleasure, perhaps, but we should all be permitted a few of those.

Admittedly, the wrestling that company produces – or sports entertainment, as chief Vince McMahon wants the world to call it – has not been the greatest in recent years, but I have long loved the personalities and the check-your-brain-at-the-door storylines. It’s simple, and if you can wrap your head around the fact that the match results are pre-determined and everyone is just playing their part, then you can certainly have a lot of fun with it.

Shawn Michaels is my favourite wrestler. I enjoyed his attitude, his style, and his skills between the ropes. He retired in 2010 after twenty-five years in the business, and that’s just how it stayed until earlier this month when he found himself back in the squared circle, performing on the very controversial Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia. I won’t go in to the politics of it all, because that’s not what this is about, but suffice to say that 53 year old Shawn Michaels’ much requested return to the ring left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, despite the fact that his performance proved that even at his age, he still has… it.

imagesA few days ago was the twenty-first anniversary of another controversial broadcast (albeit, for very different reasons) that Shawn Michaels was heavily involved with – the 1997 Survivor Series. In the final ten minutes of his title match against defending champion Bret Hart at the annual pay-per-view, the audience in attendance and those watching at home suddenly saw an entirely scripted production become real. What happened then will forever be known in wrestling circles as the Montreal Screwjob. More has been written about that over the years than the legitimacy of the Apollo moon landings so I won’t add my two cents here, but if nothing else, that incident amplifies exactly how much wrestling, and the perception of it, has changed over the last two decades.

Back then it was gritty and grubby and frayed around the edges. Today it is very sanitised. It’s polished to a high shine and borders on being overproduced, and maybe it has lost a little of its soul as a result.

Then again, both of those events noted here were really just about the money, so maybe it hasn’t changed all that much after all.

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The Hype Train Rolls In…

Watch-Mayweather-vs-McGregor-OnlineSo, did you hear? The circus is coming to town.

The bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor tonight is being billed as the biggest fight for years, but it’s really nothing of the sort. It’s nothing more than a money-making exercise by greedy advertisers and even greedier competitors, who understand that they can make hundreds of millions of dollars by depending on the general public’sĀ insatiable appetite for celebrity garbage. All we’re doing is making two wealthy guys a lot more money. Well done everybody, well done.

But the craziest thing about this whole media frenzy is that despite the confrontation being so lop-sided that it should be nothing more than a glorified sparring session for Floyd, the marketing along the way has been so insidious and disingenuous that there are actually pockets of fans who give Conor a fighting chance of victory. Are you kidding me? I don’t know whether to shake my head at the impressive depth of public gullibility on display, or applaud the advertisers for managing to spin it in such a way as to make this seem like a fair fight.

409d8444649ca9e476c09b985639272cDoes McGregor have a chance against Mayweather? Sure. Of course he does. In much the same way that I would have if you slapped a pair of gloves on me and sat me down in front of a Rocky box set to prepare. Just because McGregor busts people up in the UFC for breakfast doesn’t mean he can hang in a boxing match with one of the best fighters, well… ever. It’s no less ridiculous than Mo Farah taking on Usain Bolt over 100 metres. Sure they’re both athletes, both runners, but Bolt would have to leave his motor skills at home for Mo to break the tape first. It’s laughable.

If Mayweather shows up at ringside healthy, he wins. If Mayweather shows up awake, he wins. Hell, if Mayweather shows up with an eye patch, a broken wrist, and on crutches, he still wins. All right, he probably loses that one on points, but you get the idea. The mismatch is so great that it should qualify as assault.

011316-ufc-Conor-McGregor-pi-mp.vresize.1200.675.high_.251Whether you love him or hate him (and there’s a lot about him to dislike) it’s hard to argue against Mayweather’s credentials. He’s one of the best boxers of this or any other generation. He’s undefeated in 49 professional fights. The only realistic way that McGregor wins is if this entire farce is – to use a pro-wrestling term – ‘a work’. In other words, scripted. And understanding that both men have at least tenuous links to WWE, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is some form of theatre involved in the final decision.

I don’t have a horse in this race, so I don’t care either way, but multi-million dollar payday or not, do you think an ego the size of Mayweather would have accepted the match if he thought there was any chance for McGregor – who has never stepped inside a competitive boxing ring – to embarrass him and blemish his otherwise flawless record?

Mayweather by stoppage in Round 9.