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Billy Bob Kane




For all the people who sulk and complain about Austin's heel turn, this one's for you. It's from all of us who actually know the business. See, sometimes it doesn't seem possible to explain it. It doesn't seem very likely at all that explaining to those who don't get the business will do any good. Not when it comes to the people who are only interested in "sports entertainment"; and those people who fail to realize that "sports entertainment" doesn't really exist. It's a corporate buzzword that gets thrown around offices in Stamford somewhere that is meant to foster productivity. It doesn't mean anything. It's not real. It's not as if you can look up "sports entertainment" in the dictionary. What is real, what does actually exist, is wrestling, and for what the subject is, professional wrestling. Shame on anyone who is feels foolish to be a fan of professional wrestling; who feels the need to call it "sports entertainment", to not take it seriously, so that they don't feel silly.

In professional wrestling, certain things have to happen. You may not like it but that's too bad. There is still some semblance of sport here. There is some manner of rule here that being an athlete, being talented at one's craft has some kind of impact on whether or not you bring home the sport's top honours. Hell, why else would Bret Hart, a man with a personality like a used condom, have been so successful? Talent, that's why! It does still mean something. I don't remember a single Bret Hart promo, and nothing he's ever said has put goose bumps on my arms. Several of his matches have, though. You may not like it, and neither may I, but we have to deal with it or find something else to watch.

Austin's turn was the right thing to do. From a business standpoint, for Austin to do what he did to the Rock at Wrestlemania without having to pay for it, without him being continually booed for it, and without the blowoff of the feud happening (this time, in favour of the face) would be stupid. Turning Austin face a week ago to make us care, to make all of us care so that when he stuck that knife back in the wound and twisted it around a bit more it would really make us hate him, was smart. There won't be fifty percent fan support now. He will be totally loathed. Every move made in this Austin heel plan has been perfect and executed better than the last.

Stone Cold is on his last legs. He's broken down, and his body is not holding up. Since 1997, Austin has had more injuries than any major player in the sport. Soon after that he wore two knee braces. Next, time off in 1999 for knee problems after the Summerslam Triple Threat. Then bone spurs in late 1999. He is so severely injured he is gone from in-ring action for eleven months. Then he comes back at his best, but soon back injuries, hand injuries! Accidents yes, but accident's that would have put out Foley? No. Accident's that kill the accident prone, which is what Austin is. He's on borrowed time, and when you're at the end of your competitive rope, you turn heel, and you start making new stars. Rock's laid down for Austin enough times. He deserves to go over him as a face and clean, just this once. Angle deserves to be a face with a heel Rattlesnake. Austin has to be a heel, that's what works. It was not Angle's turn at Invasion, nor was it Jericho's. Their time will come. For now, Austin needs to do what he's doing which is putting on the best matches of his career as a heel. Sure Austin isn't where Andre, Hogan, and Bret were. They turned because the fans tired of them as faces. However, they knew when the writing was on the wall, and he ought to follow in their footsteps, because each of them, in his own way, was the best in some form, that the business had to offer at one point in time. For Austin, the writing isn't on the wall. It's all over his body.

You may not like Austin as a heel, and you may be a consumer who feels that as such, yours is the right to dictate who is a heel and who is a face. Regardless, a heel Austin is no different than a heel in a movie who turns at the last minute and shocks us. We hate those heels, but if it makes you feel something, throw food at the TV, than it's doing what it's supposed to do. It is inciting a reaction. And heck, as far as anyone can tell, that's always been what this business, whether its "sports entertainment" or professional wrestling, is all about.

I think.

Billy Bob Kane

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