WWE Smackdown Recap: Racist Dinosaur Hands
When they first started showing highlights from past editions of Monday Night Raw, Triple H did a segment where, without any sort of irony, he said his favorite Raw moment was when he returned from his quadricep injury in 2002. So basically, in the thousand episodes of a show that’s been on the air since 1993, Triple H’s favorite moment involved ... Triple H.
Tonight on Smackdown! Michael Cole picked his favorite Raw memory, and it involved Michael Cole. You know what the difference is between these two segments? There’s no problem with Michael Cole picking a segment involving himself as his favorite memory. Michael Cole is a television villain, and it was pretty clear from the segment that he was still playing that part. Cole was playing a character, Triple H just wants to put himself ahead of everyone else at the expense of everyone else. And for a guy who is going to run the WWE some day, and whom has a heavy influence over the actual direction of the show each week, that’s a pretty serious problem.
And you know what the tragedy is? It’s not that Triple H is a dick. Every wrestling fan with Internet access knows that. Its that he pretends he’s not a dick. His public response to any and all criticism over his editorial influence always boils down to either “Who, me?” and “Who cares what people on the Internet think?” That latter part has a lot of merit, but after a while the truth stops being something the Internet makes up, and starts looking like reality. And the reality since 2002 has been that Triple H runs the show, and anyone he doesn’t like is either pushed out, sabotaged, or demoted until they get out of his way.
People like clear cut villains with a understandable, if not likable, motivation. That’s a time tested formula throughout fiction that always guarantees success. Why do you think people love Breaking Bad so much? So if Triple H came out, and stopped trying to get people to like him, and was actively like, “Yeah, I’m the guy who keeps Mick Foley off television because he helped make me the star that I am and I resent him for it, what are you going to do about it?” People would go crazy. But he doesn’t. He wants to be the cool guy that people like because all the other stars of the Attitude Era except The Big Show, although he’s now kind of getting his moment too, have surpassed Triple H in every conceivable way. The Rock and Steve Austin make popular movies. Mick Foley is a great fricking writer, and a New York Times Best Selling Author to boot.
What’s Triple H got besides “guy who married the bosses’s daughter and made sure to make friends with the popular wrestlers when he got hired so that he’d, with their editorial influence, always be popular too?”
The NBA Finals is doing great in terms of ratings, and it’s all because Lebron James is an excellent villain. If the Celtics had gone on to play the Thunder, nobody outside of Boston, Oklahoma, and Seattle would care. But you throw in a guy who everybody, NBA fan or not, hates, and who is arguably the best player in the game right now, and you have a villain everyone wants to cheer against. That’s a successful formula Triple H should take advantage of. If he did, people might even like him, which is what he clearly wants so badly to begin with.
5 Thoughts On Tonight’s Edition of WWE Smackdown!
1. What kind of name is Dolph? “Dolph” sounds like something you do in the backseat of a busted Camaro on a second date, not the name of a professional wrestler. I just can’t take Dolph Ziggler seriously, especially because he sounds like the voice of a bad guy on a Saturday morning cartoon show from the ‘90s.
(Bonus observation: Have you seen the commercial for National Geographic’s “Taboo”? I happened to see this spot run during Smackdown! at the same time my Mom was in the room. Do you have any idea how awkward watching the commercial spot for Taboo is with your mother? The only thing that could have made it worse is if she had turned to me and said, “You know, your father and I used to be really into Puppy Play when we were younger”. Yikes.)
2. There’s been this thing going on with people who write about professional wrestling on the Internet for a living (myself, The Masked Man over at Grantland, Mr. Brandon Stroud at WithLeather, and occasionally Chris Sims of AOL’s ComicsAlliance, among many others) concerning whether or not the Funkasaurus is kind of racist. To which I’d reply, “Do you have any idea how many future Mendelsons lose their lives each week when Cameron and Naomi come to the ring? This man not only has excellent taste in women, he couldn’t possibly be a racist”. But I do feel a little uncomfortable knowing that Brodus Clay is pretty much ripping off Ernest The Cat Miller, theme music and all, and that he’s also a big fat white dude making some serious money who talks like a poor black dude from the street. But then, he does dinosaur hands, and I forget about the racist imagery I see before me.
Until tonight. During tonight’s broadcast of Smackdown!, when the Funkasaurus came out, WWE IMMEDIATELY cut to apparently the only black fans they can find in the audience, applauding and cheering for the Funkasaurus. Of course, Smackdown! is heavily doctored in terms of audio and who knows where that footage came from, but I had a serious problem with that. It was like they were acknowledging that the character was racist and going, “See? Black people like the Funkasaurus, so it’s totally cool that we keep doing this!”
I don’t know. I could be over-thinking it, but pro-wrestling isn’t really known for its racial sensitivity, so it’s something to think about it. Case in point: Camacho in WWE and Hernandez in TNA have the same exact gimmick: Threatening Gangster Mexican Guy, so really … can you blame us for keeping an eye out for this crap and calling it out?
3. Anyone remember that episode of WCW Monday Nitro, way way back, when the Macho Man decided he was going to hang outside the ring and interrupt matches because he felt like being a dick? It was kind of awesome, and that’s what the Big Show should have done tonight. “What? John Cena is coming? He knows where to find me, I’m just going to sit here in the ring and not let anything else happen.” Sounds pretty badass right? And WWE’s target audience these days don’t remember Monday Nitro, so it’d be totally fresh in their mind, but instead Big Show disappeared because someone (re: Triple H) probably thinks “cowardly bad guy” sells better than “unstoppable monster who is shutting down the whole show because he wants to fight the hero.”
Great idea geniuses. Great idea.
4. I got a kick out of the dude’s wrestling Ryback being billed as coming from Albany, New York. Have you ever been to Albany? The city has beautiful women, but it’s also the place students at the schools get routinely beaten and mugged, corrupt politicians from NYC bend upstate NY over backwards to get what they want, and blight is all around you unless you’re uptown by the UAlbany campus or immediately around the state capitol building. I guess what I’m saying is, Albany is a hellhole, and for people being billed from Albany, they should have been able to take out Ryback.
They live in a hellhole. Who knows what they’re capable of in the ring?
5. Is anyone else legitimately concerned about the health and safety of A.J.? She seems so tiny, which I love because she doesn’t look like most of the WWE Divas, but I keep thinking that at just over 5’ and 107 pounds, if someone drops her wrong she’s going to fold up like a Japanese car.
I guess as I’m getting older I’m getting more into the “don’t hurt each other guys, it’s fake, we all know it’s fake, so have fun” mode as a wrestling fan and less of the “I want you to crack that guy’s skull open and scoop out his brains” mode I was in back when I used to watch ECW. And this isn’t just A.J. we’re talking about here, it’s everyone. You drop someone wrong in prowrestling, no matter how big, and they’re going to be crippled for the rest of their life. So, I’m totally cool with the phony stuff. In fact, I almost prefer wrestling go back to the cartoony ‘80s and just be ridiculous again. Everyone knows it’s fake, so let’s have fun.
A.J. is awesome though, and as Mr. Brandon Stroud has so aptly pointed out, she’s the only thing the WWE has to a fully fleshed out female character, and if not for the really annoying constant reminders that C.M. Punk likes “crazy chicks”, it’s a breath a fresh air to actually see a female character leading a storyline for a change whose last name doesn’t end with “McMahon”. A.J. is complex, and I really, truly hope that this storyline continues and they don’t do anything to mess with her character because that complexity is even making Kane interesting, and Kane hasn’t been … oh screw it. Kane has never been interesting.
B.J. Mendelson is the resident WWE expert. He’ll be giving his opinions on Raw, Smackdown and the entire WWE Universe. Get used to it.