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Archive for April, 2011

Edge of greatness: WWE’s R-Rated Superstar retires on top of the world

April 12th, 2011 No comments

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”

Champagne supernova: For a moment, Edge was the brightest star that outshined an entire industry.

In a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer in the days before WrestleMania, WWE World champion Edge, 37, talked his eventual retirement in Asheville, N.C., targeting a vague date of “Maybe a couple years. Five? It’s up to my body, which also depends on the kinds of matches…I want to be able to function and walk and hike these hills.”

When asked about his specialty, the Ladder Match, which put he and boyhood friend Christian on the map as WWE tag-team champions at WrestleMania 2000, he replied, “I’m relieved I don’t have to do it as much. I still get called on to do it every once in a while. I had 19 ladder matches and most guys have never had one. It’s taken a toll. Now everyone understands I only have so many more of those in me.”

Turns out that 20 might have been one too many.

The kamikaze style that got him noticed in the Attitude Era resulted in Edge having spinal fusion surgery eight years ago to recover from a broken neck. Since that time, he’s maintained the hard-work ethic that’s always been his trademark, including several more trips up and down the ladder…literally. That’s the only way he knows how to work–full throttle. It’s clear he felt he owed it to his fans, the company and himself to carry on with the same physical style that made him a superstar.

After retaining his championship against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania in a bit of a surprise, Edge was scheduled to defend the title in a Ladder Rematch at the upcoming Extreme Rules WWE PPV. Thing was, though, he’d been experiencing more pain than usual lately; more disconcerting, he sometimes felt numb in his arms. Then he got the results back from his latest MRI: He was possibly one bad bump away from a wheelchair. Suddenly, a simple life with his dogs in Asheville seemed a lot more attractive, albeit sooner than expected.


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In an abrupt move that stunned many in the industry to the point that many initially suspected it to be an angle (including me), Edge announced his retirement on Monday’s RAW, getting emotional as he discussed his dream since childhood with pal Christian to became champions in WWE. “There’s no way if you had told me when I was 11 years old that I would win more championships in the history of anyone in this company that I would have believed you.” (A fact that’s even more impressive is that Edge accomplished all that without sleeping with a single McMahon. Now, Vickie Guerrero is another matter entirely….)

I have a soft spot in my heart for guys who were fans of the business as kids who got to live the dream. I’m thankful that on a very small level, I was able to do the same. There’s a passion with boyhood fans to live up to the standards–and in my cases exceed them–of their wrestling heroes of the ’80s. From his tag-team classics with Christian vs. the Hardys (and hilarious promos to boot) to his runs as World champion when he consistently delivered the strongest matches on the card and the most entertaining buildups to PPVs, Edge had a hell of a career. In an era when entertainment is stressed more than ever, Edge more than delivered the goods in that category as well. His promos, backstage vignettes and in-ring work have made him probably the best all-around WWE performer of the last seven years, in my opinion. He was versatile in that could be the slimiest heel to the funny cool guy we all wanted to be–not many can pull that off, especially with WWE Creative switching him babyface/heel constantly. Not to worry–Edge’s facial expressions alone could tell a story.

It’s only fitting in the weeks leading up to his retirement, Edge teamed with Christian one last time on RAW. And he also celebrated with his buddy on the industry’s biggest stage in Atlanta after retaining the WWE World championship–a moment young Adam Copeland could only dream about watching from the stands at WrestleMania VI at Toronto’s SkyDome in 1990. Ironically enough, in Edge’s absence, Christian may finally get the push to the next level as a singles star in WWE as he continues the good fight with Alberto Del Rio in honor of his friend for the now vacant World title–though that’s probably not how Jason Reso wanted it.

Although Shawn Michaels may have vacated the WWF title when he tragically lost his smile (they were later reunited after a thorough search) and Batista did the same with the WWE World title because of a legit injury only to return, Edge is the first WWE performer to go out while at the top of the ladder of his profession. In fact, other than AWA champion Verne Gagne, who owned the company, I can’t think of a single major World titleholder to actually retire as champion. But, of course, this isn’t about worthless wrestling titles–this is about quality of life and having the wisdom to step back from something you love while you still can.

Farewell, Edge. You were one of the great ones. Here’s to you for walking away.

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Hulk Hogan sinks to new low: mentoring midget wrestlers on new ‘reality’ TV show

April 11th, 2011 No comments

While I publicly lamented the lack of quality midget tag teams in the mid-’90s, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that Hulk Hogan could be the answer.

Popeater.com reports:

Hulk Hogan is heading back to TV, and this time he’s training little people how to wrestle in a new TruTV show tentatively title ‘Mirco Wrestling,’ according to RadarOnline.com.

“He’s the guy who inspires, recruits, trains and mentors them,” Hogan’s attorney David Houston said. “He’s been involved in every step — only this time it’s on a smaller scale.”

Hogan is no stranger to the small screen thanks to his foray in reality TV with ‘Hogan Knows Best,’ but this time around the focus isn’t so much on him as it is on the wrestlers.

“[The show] will explore the fascinating world of wrestling on the scale of little people,” Houston said. “It will show their extraordinary physical capabilities and the true strength of people of that stature.”

Very fitting that Hogan’s attorney is quoted in the piece, as he’s the one no doubt scurrying for ways for the Huckster to the cover the costs of alimony,  payments to the family of John Graziano, and allowances for Brooke and Nick Hogan–all maintaining his World champion lifestyle.


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While a micro-wrestling federation has long been a dream of Eric Bischoff, it’s a little sad to see a onetime legend of the business like Hogan involved in this project, not to mention those car-title loan commercials…and TNA.

No word on whether Nick Hogan or Bischoff buddy Jason Hervey will be among the first contestants on the new show.

A Little Beaver shot: In his prime, 'll bet he could've taught Hogan a thing or two.


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Vince McMahon officially no longer in rasslin’ business

April 11th, 2011 3 comments

Thinking outside the squared circle: Wrestling will no longer be a black eye on Vince's corporate image.

Often during the late ’80s and into the wrestling war of the ’90s, Vince McMahon often boasted that while Ted Turner was in the rasslin’ business,  his then World Wrestling Federation was in the sports entertainment business.

No matter that McMahon at one time during the expansion years employed more than 100 wrestlers, sold hundreds of thousands of wrestling tickets to wrestling fans at wrestling events, hosted some of the biggest wrestling PPV events of the era, and transformed an idea called WrestleMania into a pop-culture phenomenon.

Reportedly, during the final 48 hours before the latest WrestleMania event, a meeting was held in which Vince declared that the company would no longer be referred to as the limiting, stigma-bearing World Wrestling Entertainment; rather, effective immediately, the company would simply be WWE, an all-encompassing entertainment brand…sort of like Disney I suppose.


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Days after its biggest wrestling event of the year, the company released a press release announcing its new business model: To better reflect the company’s global entertainment offerings, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) announced today a new business model for future growth, including formally rebranding itself, WWE.

Two key components to WWE’s brand expansion will be the active pursuit to acquire entertainment content companies and the outsourcing of WWE’s core competencies – television and film production, live event production and licensing. As part of the new business model, the company will also focus on the development of new television products including scripted, non-scripted and animated programs, as well as the launch of a new WWE network in the next 12-18 months. The first new program of the brand expansion is Tough Enough®, WWE’s non-scripted program that debuted on the USA Network on Monday.

“The new business model of the company better reflects what WWE is all about, being a global entertainment company,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, WWE. “We will always be loyal to our core business that made WWE a globally known entity, however, the future of WWE will be the addition of new entertainment content opportunities beyond the ring.”

This new rebranding initiative will be highlighted through a national consumer and business-to-business advertising campaign entitled “Bigger. Badder. Better.™” The campaign kicked off at WrestleMania® XXVII on Sunday and will be featured on cable TV, print and online.

While some would argue that Vince has been out of the wrestling business for years now, having steadily run off his own audience and longtime WCW fans since 2001, the line that concerns me the most is “the company will also focus on the development of new television products including scripted, non-scripted and animated programs.” Yes, because they have such a tremendous track record with such projects. (Anyone catch “The Marine”? Anyone?) As I mentioned last week, outside of wrestling, Vince has had little success, which the Los Angeles Times also recently pointed out:

“The moves come as WWE looks to rebound from a tough end to 2010 that saw attendance at its events and pay-per-view revenue both drop 15% in the fourth quarter. The declines were blamed on the economy, although WWE probably didn’t help matters by raising prices at a time when its core audience was feeling the pinch. This is not the first time WWE has tried to expand beyond its core. Several years ago, it partnered with NBC to launch the XFL, a springtime football league that died after just one season. A restaurant in Times Square also flopped. McMahon said he’s learned his lesson from those follies and will stick to the entertainment business.”

I have to admit, though, that despite rumors for over a year involving a “The Odd Couple”-style sitcom featuring Kozlov and Santino Marella in the works, I’m more optimistic after seeing a clip of WWE’s new animated TV series. Kids should eat this up. (I’m not sure about Bigger or Better, but the new WWE should definitely be Badder®.)