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Mark Rushford




Since when does Barbecue Sauce cause hallucinations or inebriation?  What's that?  It doesn't?  Oh.  Okay.  I must just be one of the countless victims of *someone's* most recent attempt at wit.

Apparently this week's Ross Report, Good Ol' JR managed to rile a few people up with this statement: "Strange that so many of the WCW talents are getting so banged up. Could it be because of the near half-speed style they utilized in Atlanta? This ain't ballet."

Unlike some of the other writers I've seen take issue with this, I'm going to come out on JR's side on this one. (maybe *I've* been drinking Barbecue Sauce, too).

Apparently there was some confusion with this statement because Ross had just finished writing about injuries to Kane, Triple H, Benoit, Trish, Rikishi, etc.   These other writers think it was bad form to take a shot at WCW because the WWF "won" the war.  I guess they feel that because the "war" is over none of the WCW wrestlers should be held to lofty standards.  And they certainly should be made to feel picked on.   Maybe WCW was big into promoting self esteem.

Unfortunately what these people fail to see is the writing between the lines in this week's RR.  See, Kane worked with his injury.  Chris Jericho worked after a concussion.  Triple H suffered a major injury, and Chris Benoit worked for as long as he could with his injury.  Trish Stratus, for her part, hurt her ankle after a spot where she wore high heels and took a bad turn.

JR took meticulous care to name each one of these injuries specifically.  He is a smart man.  He knows what he was doing. 

Pointing these injuries out and then taking a shot at WCW was done to send a message to the right people -- the WCW wrestlers.  Kidman went down with a rather minor injury and didn't even try to work with it -- like Benoit would have.  DDP went down and hasn't even thought about working through it...

In fact, none of the WCW people ever volunteer to work through injury.  It's a matter of course for them to get a little banged up and seek time off to recuperate -- whether or not they really need it.  I mean, why not?  That was the way things were done in Atlanta. 

When I read JR's column that's what instantly stuck in my mind.  Here he had gone through a laundry list of guys lost in battle for months because they laid it all on the line for the WWF, and then made this comment about WCW guys.   We know the score.  We know it from past Ross Reports.  We know it from following events in WCW.  We know, or should know, as well as JR does, that these WCW guys may as well of been in a ballet down Hotlanta way for all the work ethic and motivation they had.

So after reading a column from one of the more whiny columnists on the Internet I put in a call to Stamford to talk about some of the WCW workers, and to see whether my suspicions were on the money.  Sure enough, I found what I was looking for.

Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson both complained of soreness and claimed minor injuries after Monday night's "match."  Several others have complained recently about being battered or bruised, and claim to be "working hurt."  Shawn Stasiak seems to be hurt.  O'Haire claims to be hurt... I mean, I could go on, but I won't.  You know about Kidman, about Page, about Jindrak -- and these are just the guys who are on the shelf after really amounting to next to nothing since being in the WWF.  How the hell *did* Page wind up hurt, anyway?  Kidman?  It's a mystery to me.  

The thing is, sure some of these other guys are sore.  Sure they're a little banged up.  What JR was saying is that in the WWF you don't bitch about it.  You don't ask to stay home when you've got a muscle pull, or a bruise, or a stiff neck.  You work through it.  And he meant to convey that complaining about "working hurt" after something that seems so minor in the face of Benoit and Triple H's injuries just makes you look like a sissy. 

Like JR said, this ain't ballet. 

Jim Ross is in a unique situation.  One one hand, as a WWF Big Wig, he needs to make sure the former Time-Turner employees shed the old WCW money-for-nothing mentality (ironically this same mentality is still employed by one of the most vocal JR detractors on this subject).  Jim Ross, as the JR character, also has his Ross Report, where he is known for treading a thin line between work and shoot.  It's also the conduit between Mr. Ross -- one of the bosses, and JR -- Columnist.  He often uses this column to bring sensitive issues to light publicly.  This is a sharp tool in battling complacence among talent.  They know if they step out of line, they will become fodder for the Internet.  Ask Big Show how that feels.  Or Mark Henry, or any of the others JR has focused his cross-hairs on. 

In this case, it's obvious that he's going to hint at there being an issue with sissy workers having a hard time wrestling with Band-Aids on --because that's what JR does.  He presses buttons in the Ross Report, and always has. But, at this stage, he's going to do so in a strategic way, without formally embarrassing everyone.   Even when he has "named names" it comes after he's made more general references to fitness.  It's only after those comments go unheeded that he does it more specifically.   In this case, he need not name the complainers in WCW.  He hopes he can send a message to them this way first -- just as he did when he wrote about "some workers" needing to work on their fitness, and their motivation to stay "fit" a few weeks prior to climbing on Big Show's back about his rotunditude.

He did what he did in this latest column precisely because he knows the war is over and the WWF won.  Because the WCW workers are now his business, he takes it upon himself to motivate them.  Know what else he's doing?  He's giving us the score.  He illustrates examples, both for the wresters in question, and for us of guys who've gone down, and what it took to put them on the shelf.   No one is out of action because they have a stinger, or because the broke a finger, or because they're bruised or tender in one place or another.

Everyone respects Benoit's efforts working while hurt.  Everyone knows Triple H. is injured, and could never have worked through it.  People *do* get injured in the WWF, and they do go on the shelf.  Ross naming the big list of WWF employees who are on the shelf before the WCW crack was done to illustrate the well-known fact that guys who are suffering ligit injuries take off to get treatment.

He names Jerry Lynn -- former ECW worker who required time off.  He named Triple H -- long time WWFer who needed time off.  Jericho and Benoit -- WWFers who were once WCW people.  He named Trish -- a WWF woman.  He's making a point here.

To Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler he's saying, look girls... if you have a legit injury you'll get time off like Trish.  You don't, so you'll work. 

To Shawn Stasiak he's saying, look stud... if you have a ligit injury like Triple H. you'll get time off like he did. 

I'm almost ashamed for these other web-writers who took what JR said as the whole story, and then tried their damndest to paint him as a hypocrite.  That is the last thing JR was doing.  The man was showing tact.  He was being classy.  He was acting surreptitiously in order to not cause undue strain on a WWF/WCW relationship that some people are making more out of than is really there. 

So, understand, my loyal readers, that Jim Ross doesn't  have to tell the whole story.  It's easy enough to suss out what he's getting at if you're not blindly anti-WWF; if you're not consumed with bias and living in the past where it was WCW Vs WWF for real.  Jim Ross has moved on, and now he's trying to light a fire under the butts of guys who've spent a lot of their careers getting paid for taking days off with a sore bum and stiff neck.

Some people don't get that.  Some people have never gotten it.

Mark W. Rushford

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