Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Zeb and Swagger Go To White Castle

Wow, what can I say? The last week and a half has become the gift that keeps on giving.

So let's back this up to the Monday before last. I didn't watch Raw, but I did get curious about it, when my Facebook and Twitter blew up. People from every walk of life was just plain seething at the show, and not in the usual "Is Vince Russo back?" type of seethe. No, this was far worse. A line had been crossed.

So I asked around to all five calm people who had watched Raw. What I got as a response was a picture of Dutch Mantell in the ring. Well... what's so bad about that? Legendary wrestler, in the ring with who appears to be Jack Swagger, surely things can't be so bad, right?

Oh wait... you didn't bring him back as Dirty Dutch. You brought him back as Uncle Zeb Coulter... ah.

Okay for those of you who don't remember or never saw, let me take you back in time a little bit. Back in 1994, Dutch played a character called "Uncle Zeb" which is not to be confused with the children's "Western Swing" Iowa star Uncle Zeb/Zeke, who is a posthumous YouTube star, who Dutch dresses up exactly like. Anyway, Uncle Zeb (short for Zebekiah) used to manage the Blu Brothers (WCW's Ron & Don Harris) and later on he managed a very young "Justin Hawk" John Bradshaw Layfield, years ahead of his A.P.A. Bradshaw days.

Uncle Zebekiah vs Freddie Joe Floyd by TSteck160
Zeb was more of a stereotype of southern people, even back then, so the character didn't always catch on in certain markets, and not many of his matches made it to the main event, so it caught me off guard that WWE would even consider having him reprise the role, when people are much more aware of his role as Dutch. Considering where his life has taken him, they could have just brought him in as Dutch, made a show of how they want to help him out, send a random heel into the ring, let Dutch whip him, and then pair him with a face. That would have been much more simple.

Instead, not only did they send him to the ring as Uncle Zeb Coulter, they went ahead and turned this into a racially charged, political story.
Now this is not the worst or even most racially charged promo I've ever heard, but it doesn't sound like Zeb's best. It's a little slow, and like he's unsure of himself. That's is totally opposite of the Dutch I'm used to. So I waited it out a week, see if this was a fluke.

Nope, they really are going ahead with this.
Alright, let me dissect what's wrong with this storyline.

The first problem is that the WWE are still running "Be A Star" ads against bullying and judging people based on looks. The commercials have good and bad guys joining forces to tell the kids at home not to judge.

Zeb is judging like crazy, and when he says he can't find people that look like him, he is implying race.

If you're going to have Zeb talk about people of different races or Jerry Lawler making fun of Vickie's figure, you might as well drop the anti-bullying thing all together, because now the WWE sound like hypocrites.

The second problem? I don't know if you've noticed, but a good chunk of the fans that are buying tickets and merchandise these days... are either immigrants or the relatives of immigrants. 

Whether or not they got here the normal way, they are buying WWE products. You insult the fans, they may stop buying the merch for good.

There was a point back in 2001 where Vince McMahon came out to the crowd, and told the fans exactly what he thought of them, and insisted that all along, he was telling them what to like. Once he revealed to the live crowd how he had positioned their tastes for them, attendance started to drop.  It's nearly been a decade since they last were comfortable at a Nielsen 4.4 for Raw. Any ideas why?

I get it, you want a show that can appeal to all demographics. That's great. but just because the two 85 year old racists in the crowd think this is funny, doesn't mean the other 99% of the actually paying audience will.

Another flaw is that this is a re-hashed story. They had planned to copy what JBL did with Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr. and paste it onto Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. This story bored people to tears back in 2004-2006, so a watered down copy in 2013 isn't likely to draw the crowd in today.

Another flaw too is that even when you take the racial undertones out, you still have a story, full of boring, drawn out speeches, that will turn the kids away from watching. You remember the kids, right? the pint-sized people all the action figures are aimed at? Yeah, they don't want to watch Fox News.

But there's one more flaw I never thought about, and never expected.

This past Monday night, I saw a beautiful thing on Facebook.

Every single person watching Raw set aside their political differences, dropped their beliefs, and came to the agreement that this story was offensive, and needs to be stopped. 

I saw Democrats and Republicans mending fences. I saw conservatives and liberals swapping jokes. For a few hours, I saw people band together not as Red vs. Blue guys, but as normal, human beings.

Maybe this is what we needed? Maybe this is what triggers world peace? Or at least... 'Merica peace?

Alright, peace is the wrong word here, as everyone took turns ripping the WWE a new one. While some pointed a finger at the two in the ring ~ one of which has the ability to tell Creative "I'm not doing that" everyone ultimately decided that Vince and Creative should be flogged for the debacle. Many Hollywood and news websites took turns bashing the WWE for this, and advising parents to turn to other shows for wrestling. All WWE could offer was a partial explanation, sans apology:

"WWE has a long history of creating fictional characters that serve as either protagonists or antagonists, no different than other television shows or feature films,” said Brian Flinn, WWE’s senior vp marketing and communications. "To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines.

“WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters," he adds. "This storyline in no way represents WWE’s political point of view. One should not confuse WWE’s storytelling with what WWE stands for, similar to other entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios or Viacom."

Now I feel that since Zeb and Swagger are heels, that this is just Vince's way of dealing with alot of pent up anger at the conservatives that turned their backs on him. 

Remember, his wife blew more than 90 million dollars on two, fruitless campaigns for the senate, and after years of his support and financial backing, the right-wingers took great pride and pleasure in ripping WWE apart with attack ads, false "psychological" studies and even by strong-arming companies into pulling their ad support from him and getting his shows booted off of one network after another. Even now, they still let their party members write slanderous articles on storylines that ended in 2001 on backwards. Who wouldn't want to take out their aggression with a sound-alike manager? Is it right? No way. Is it fair? Hardly. But then they weren't fair either.

Who knows. Maybe they can turn this around. Maybe they can make this work, so that Del Rio comes out the top good guy in the company? Maybe they ca-WOAH!!
Alright, never mind.

So as of this writing, Jack Swagger has been released from police custody, after being arrested for illegal possession of pot (read: NO medical license), speeding and DUI. Everybody SING!!

♫ Jack Swagger was gonna fight Del Rio ~ but then he got hiiiigh
♪ Gonna go to Mania too ~ But then he got HiiiIIiiiiiigh
♫ Now he's on TMZ ~ and I know whyyyyy (why man?)
♪ Because he got high ~ because he got high ~ because he got hiiiIiiiiigh

La da da da da da...

Now this development has gotten a mixed bag of reactions. Some people are actually defending him, while others are calling him stupid for messing up his own push. My next photo begs a question:
I don't get it.

More stupid than actually screwing with your push, is breaking the law at all when you have a family.

It's bad enough to speed, drive inebriated or smoke weed without a medical note, but Swagger has a baby at home. And he's a celebrity.

For all the whining and complaining conservatives do, trying to shove their religious based ideal of "family" down everyone's throats, they have done a fantastic job of ripping families apart. These are the same people who enacted the Foster Care system, a broken mess that has ripped families apart forever, and placed children in the hands of dangerous people since it's inception. That "background check" they do? Please. It's easier for a nutcase to nab a Foster kid than it is for them to get medicine these days. If you don't think there is a Looney Toon with a badge out there, waiting to snatch Swagger's kid over a DUI, think again. Unless he has really super GOOD people in his life right now, working to help him, his WWE career will be the LAST worry he has.

But aside from what "could" happen, let's look at what actually going on here.

Now the arrest shouldn't be too big of a cause for alarm for his push. After all, Randy Orton got high and took a dump in a Diva's purse ~ while at work for SmackDown ~ and kept getting handed title after title. Cameron, Kaitlynn and Santino have all been pulled over and detained for DUI related reasons, and none of them saw any substantial punishment. So technically, Swagger should not only be safe, this should guarantee him a win at Wrestlemania, his own title belt and the cover of the next video game.

But not everybody is convinced he'll be alright. Section 14 of the Wellness policy actually states:

"Any WWE Talent, who is arrested, convicted or who admits to a violation of law relating to use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution of drugs will be in material breach of his/her contract with WWE and subject to immediate dismissal.

In addition to the penalties that may be imposed pursuant to his/her contract with WWE, a violation of this Section 14 may also be treated as a positive test for drugs prohibited by this Policy and therefore, subject to the penalties set forth in Section 15 of this Policy."

So this begs the question then. What will WWE do with him?

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