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article imageOp-Ed: Pro Wrestling loses 2 legends... and Hulk Hogan

By Dane Swan     Aug 10, 2015 in Entertainment
This past quarter of the year has been heart-breaking for pro-wrestling fans. First, the son of a plumber, Dusty Rhodes, passed away. Then our favorite bad guy, Rowdy Roddy Piper, left us. In between, WWE tried to erase legend Hulk Hogan from its books.
Dusty's loss was particularly hard for the professional wrestling community. Two of his sons are still wrestling. Cody is still a very active player under his Star Dust character, while Dustin intermittently performs as Gold Dust. More importantly, Dusty was still contracted with the WWE and was teaching classes in Florida at the WWE's developmental academy. In his role, he worked with both WWE and independent wrestlers to improve their promo skills.
Dusty never looked the part of a wrestler, but his charisma, skill, and ability to woo the audience was unparalleled. As a booker he created the “Dusty finish,” a plot twist that would lengthen his quest for the title. Whenever we thought he finally beat the bad guys, he would not get the title on a technicality. It's a plot twist that finds its way back to TV every few years. Without the Dusty finish, it's highly unlikely that wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, who play underdog roles, would ever build the momentum to win titles.
Rowdy Roddy Piper was thrown out of his Southern Ontario home when he was 15. Born in Saskatoon to a strict police family, the homeless “Rowdy” Roddy became involved in martial arts to keep out of trouble. His journey as a martial artist led him to Southern California to train with “Judo” Gene Lebell. Judo Gene also had ties to the local regional scene and Roddy, still a teenager, found himself matching wits with pro-wrestling royalty. His rivals in Southern California were the vaunted Guerrero family.
Roddy would play heel (bad guy) to the Guerrero family's face (good guy) persona. He knew how to rile up fans. Infamously, he once promised to play the Mexican national anthem as an apology to the Guerreros and instead played La Cucaracha. Piper was the first heel that intentionally gave us social commentary. You hated Piper because he wanted you to. You cheered because he was undeniably an excellent performer. He was so entertaining that even Hollywood gave him a shot long before it was common practice to do so for pro wrestlers. But his influence reaches far beyond Hollywood or pro-wrestling.
“Judo” Gene was mentoring an aspiring young judoka with an Olympic medal who aspired to become an MMA fighter. She was looking for a nickname and Piper gave her permission to use his. That's right, Rowdy Ronda Rousey carries his moniker forward for the current generation. Don't be surprised if one day she finds herself playing within the squared-circle.
Is anyone truly surprised that Hulk Hogan, an ageing White man living in Florida, is caught on tape talking like an ageing White man who lives in Florida? Eight years ago, when his wife was leaving him, and he was facing serious financial issues, Terry Bollea sunk to a new low and found himself in a sex tape. What has happened since the public was made aware of the incident has been nothing short of a PR nightmare and should be a lesson to famous people everywhere to have a PR crisis management team.
Mr. Bollea had to know what was on the tape that had been edited out, and he needed someone to warn him that if the case was heard, his comments would become public knowledge. However, as he is wont to do, Hogan decided to resolve the conflict via litigious methods. This is not the first time that Hogan has used said language to describe Black people. It is the first time that it can only be contextualized with racist intent. In fact, according to Hogan, “Everybody's a little racist.”
Transcripts leaked also have Mr. Bollea saying disparaging things about his daughter, and homosexuals. WWE acted swiftly, firing Hulk, removing him from their Hall of Fame list and erasing his name from as many places as they could. He may even face charges for lying under oath. But should we be surprised? WWE's treatment of Black wrestlers is questionable at best and outright racist at its worst. No wrestler who identifies as Black has ever won their most prestigious belt. No wrestler currently on the roster could realistically become that champion within the next year without a dramatic change in how Black wrestlers are characterized on television.
Erasing Hulk Hogan from the records does not erase the fact that the Southern based WCW, the only competition WWE has ever had, had two Black champions of consequence — Ron Simmons and Booker T. It does not erase the fact that WWE had opportunities to put their primary title on Ron, Booker T (during his King Booker run), Mark Henry (during his fake retirement), Kofi Kingston (after his Orton match), and even JYD (it would have been a stretch but he had the popularity to carry the title briefly during his WWF run) and it still hasn't happened.
Both the MLB and Football Halls of Fame feature racists, criminals and cheats. Meanwhile, WWE attempts to rewrite history — pretending that wrestlers like Chyna never existed because of their sex industry ties, and now erasing Hogan from their books. When WWF went national, Hogan was the face of the company. Wrestlemania, an event that could have bankrupted the company was sold on the backs of Mr. T and Hulk Hogan. The first WWF movie featured Hulk Hogan as the star. They even gave him his own cartoon! WWE does not exist without Mr. Bollea. WWE has racist tendencies that they need to resolve whether he is there or not. Understandably they had to terminate his contract, but erasing his name from history is too much.
There have been some interesting share purchases and sales of WWE stock recently. WWE Studios president Michael Luisi recently sold over 2,000 shares of WWE stock. Meanwhile, Talpha Beheer, who are best known for their ties with television production, have increased their shares by 2 million. Perhaps this is a sign that the WWE network, which is still running on a small deficit despite having over a million subscribers is planning to syndicate some of its exclusive programing to offset loses.
Another interesting move is MLB purchasing the rights to broadcast NHL games online. It may appear unrelated, but MLB is contracted to broadcast the WWE Network. Will their new project impact staff working on WWE network? Time will tell.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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