ON THE SOAPBOX
What the hell are you talking about? --Kurt Angle
You know, over the last few weeks on WWF television we've really seen a serious issue. This an issue which has been kept backstage and most fans aren't even aware of. The issue is respect.
The WWF fires Buff Bagwell after he has his mother call in for him after he misses house shows because his neck hurts. On the other hand, Spike Dudley doesn't miss a show, despite having a broken leg. Tough Enough has a contestant who won't even wash his gear; while Triple H gives a great speech that shows just how much respect he has for the wrestling business.
It looks like we've got 2 categories here. The first has a great deal of respect for the paycheck and the fringe benefits. The others are like Triple H, who respect and understand the business.
Let's start with Tough Enough. We've got a girl who walks out because she can't take it. Bobby Jo only wanted to be in the WWF so she could do Playboy. Did she really think that because wrestling is "fake" she won't get a bruise? Look at all the broken bones that we've seen on TV! Ask Bob Holly about his broken arm. Ask Eddy Guerrero about how he dislocated his elbow. Ask X-Pac, Steven Richards, or Steve Austin about their broken necks. Then you can tell me you won't get hurt.
And then there's Darryl. This guy doesn't even have enough respect for himself to wash his gear. If he has no respect for himself, how can you expect him to have any respect for others? Just look at the fact that he's already dissed Tazz (on the run) and Al Snow (after Snow told him how much he stunk). Good Lord! Of all the WWF stars I would not want mad at me (which is pretty much all the WWF stars) Tazz is right up at the top of the list! I really don't think that his tough guy image is an act. Somebody let me know when Tazz gets this guy in the ring. I don't want to miss that episode.
One more point about Darryl. Triple H makes an impassioned speech about his love for the business. Make no mistake, that was the real Paul Levesque talking there, not just Triple H. Here's a little bit of it, courtesy of Sugar Shane Spears, whose excellent recap I just stole it from:
You guys are on the easy track, and in this business you have to earn respect. It's not given to you, you have to earn it. And right now, you guys are a mile ahead of where you should be paying your dues. You are being given the greatest opportunity in the world, by in my opinion, the greatest business in the world.
And then right after that Darryl starts horsing around. Why? Because he was trying to break the tension. Sometimes there should be tension. I don't believe that you normally break out the whoopie cushions at a funeral. Actually, to rip off the Comic Book Guy - when Darryl gets cut it will be the Best - Episode - Ever!
So far, the one contestant who's shown probably the most respect for the business personally is Jason. He took every word Triple H said to heart. It bothered him. Finally, he decided that he couldn't make the commitment the business would demand. He realized that it would be all or nothing. He didn't want to go into this half-cocked. That respect made him walk away. He didn't quit because he didn't want to be a wrestler anymore. He left because he couldn't give the business his everything. That is respect.
Now let's talk about Mr. Bagwell. Let's be kind and say that Buff didn't exactly tear the house down against Booker on that Raw. Buff came into the WWF with the old WCW attitude. Shane Helms left him leaving stitches after Bagwell said that Shane would never be a superstar "like him." Then he slapped Helms in the face and said that he wouldn't do anything about it. You know what, Buff? There are two facts about Shane Helms you need to keep in mind. #1 - He probably doesn't want to be a superstar "like you." #2 - He's still employed.
Bagwell couldn't let go of the old mindset he shared with guys like Luger, Nash, and Hogan. Bagwell was still "the star." Despite the fact that he stunk up the ring not only on Raw, but in the main event. Despite the fact that there was a pool going on in the back over how long he'd last. Despite the fact that this was a whole new ballgame.
Bagwell had plenty of respect. But he didn't care about the business. He just cared about what the business would do for him. He respected all those zeroes on those paychecks from Ted Turner. He respected the way that he popped the arena. He respected the fact that he was a "star."
And now he's unemployed. We probably won't see Buff again. He's "too big" for the independent scene. McMahon won't hire him back. Bye, bye, Buff.
In wrestling, especially in the WWF, you have to respect the business you're in. You have to respect those people that you're working with. It's just the nature of the beast. Like Hunter said, "You have to earn respect." However, to earn respect you've also got to give it. It's a real shame that some wrestlers lose sight of the goal and that others are held back who want to succeed. And with the WWF as the only show in town now, you'd better keep your eyes open. Otherwise, you're out the door. Seeya next week.