Since the days of the WWWF and then the WWF and now the WWE, McMahon has had his hand in the “sabotage” of wrestlers who were great in other promotions, other corners of the country and the world – taking what was great talent and a gimmick and helping it to fail on so many levels.
When the king of wrestling lured stars of the AWA and NWA to Big Top in Bristol during the early stages of Hukamania and the height of professional wrestling, the list included stars like Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine and others.
While Piper and DiBiase used the move to improve their careers based on entertainment as well as wrestling ability, others like JYD were destroyed because they were asked to basically become cartoon characters who did not have to “speak” rather they were asked to act out their parts diminishing their wrestling credibility.
When Dusty Rhodes left the NWA and WCW for the glamour of Bristol and the high fashion production of the WWF, he left his hardworking gimmick as the “American Dream” in the southern part of the country and put on polka dots and was given a valet Sapphire to come to the ring with him.
Many, including myself, thought McMahon had lost his mind, but also the idea that I thought Rhodes had sold out. While the shtick did not work for Rhodes in the WWF, the high-priced, high caliber production of Goldust by Rhodes’ son Dustin Rhodes was one of the best gimmicks to ever be portrayed in the company.
In the NWA, Rhodes was portrayed as the “the son of a plumber”, Rhodes’ character was that of the working man.
In the WWF, he was anything but that.
It is written on Rhodes’ Wikipedia page that the polka dots were his idea, which I am not so sure of, and that the idea may have also been a message “some felt was intended to humiliate him due to his synonymy with the rival JCP/WCW.”
The later is more believeable.
The same could be said for George “The Animal” Steele.
Throughout his career, Steele prided himself on being able to cut eloquent and effective promos, and ranked his mic skills with the best in the business.
He was the type of guy who was made for the business, appearance and all. According to reports, “At a WWF TV taping in the early 1980s, he was cutting one of these promos when Vince McMahon cut him off, and reminded Steele that his gimmick was the “Animal”, and for an animal he was “making too much sense”.
After becoming irate, Steele did a second take of nothing but garbled and incoherent syllables (“Duhh-dahh”).
Steele did this deliberately, and out of pure frustration, thinking that McMahon would acquiesce and allow Steele to cut his normal, eloquent promos. Much to Steele’s shock, McMahon replied, “That’s exactly what I want!”, and this would remain Steele’s interview style for the rest of his WWF run. Steele started to fully cultivate his gimmick of a menacing imbecile.”
There are other gimmicks or angles that have failed in the WWF/WWE that the McMahons have had a hand in, much like today’s work with Big Show and the Rhodes Family. Mark Henry (with Mae Young) and Big Show have continued to be sideshows unto themselves for levity.
But Rhodes’ iconic rise in this business, what he has stood for, the fact fans have identified with him in promotions on a worldwide platform makes this current angle entertaining, but very harsh and unpredictable and in some part, most embarrassing.
Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71
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