So on WWE Monday Night Raw this week, we had a spirited promo by R Truth dressed in a Confederate uniform complaining about a conspiracy against him. But I was distracted from paying attention to R-Truth because next to him were Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Yeah, I realize this is all a work, but it still bothers me more than a decade later that McMahon and Austin had perhaps the biggest feud ever in WWE history, and now they like each other. They joke with each other. They even attempted to drink brews together!
[adinserter block=”2″]Austin’s heel turn in 2001 failed because people didn’t buy him aligning with McMahon, and I would argue the WWE’s high point collapsed after that point. If you ask people to enter your fantasy world, you need to know your characters and not insult the audience.
This isn’t the first time the bookers and writers have chosen to ignore long-standing feuds for the convenience of storyline. Consider these past examples, which also gave me heartburn:
• In 1991, a heel Sgt. Slaughter, coming off his reign as WWF Champion, suddenly had a new cohort: Colonel Mustafa. Unfortunately for those fans with a memory greater than a fly’s, they recognized Mustafa was the Iron Sheik, whom Slaughter had a brutal, patriotic feud with seven years earlier. It left a bad taste in my mouth to see these two – who beat the bejesus out of each other in boot camp matches to blow off their conflict – now spewing Iraqi propaganda together.
• Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka teamed together at the 1989 Survivor Series, a mere five years after Piper bashed a coconut over Snuka’s head. True, Piper tried to explain why he was teaming with Snuka, but it was implausible as hell.
• The Undertaker feuds with Kane. Then he teams with Kane. Then he feuds with Kane, and teams with him yet again. Would anyone be surprised to see them fight one more time at WrestleMania?
Given all of this, I appreciated Bret “Hitman” Hart last week acknowledging his battles with Jerry “The King” Lawler as he explained why he helped Lawler recently. At least Hart tried to insert some logic into things.
[adinserter block=”1″]I’m sure some people would offer up Paul Orndorff becoming buddies with Hulk Hogan in 1985 after they fought at many house shows in 1984 as another example of bad booking. But there was a bigger plan in that plot, as Orndorff turned on Hogan in 1986 and the feud did record-setting business. Friendships and betrayals are good in pro wrestling if they further business. But making enemies become buddies without any thought to history is just plain lazy.
Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog the Boston Garden Balcony.
Check out the WWE – The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin