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Tom Dean




Things can move fast in The Biz sometimes, huh? These letters I got in response to my last column seem to be discussing ancient history at this point. Back then, I was talking about whether WWE should be trying to get Steve Austin to come back home. This was pre-official "Austin is off the active roster" statement... pre-burial on Confidential... pre-wifebeating... and pre-Austin farewell ceremony on RAW. But, since my policy is to publish ALL LETTERS IN FULL (read: write to me!!!), being overtaken by events is IMPOSSIBLE! So, here we go.

Hi Tom,

Just finished reading your latest column and I thought I'd chime in with a few thoughts.

First of all, I know Vince won't be firing Austin any time soon...

Yeah, that's what I thought too...

... but I can't really say if that's the right or wrong thing to do. I think that the reason so many net people are writing up his pink slip is because let's face it, the guy has walked out twice since March. You can sit there and say that he's earned the right to walk because of all the good he's done for the business but think about it, in what other job could you get away with that shit? If you work at a McDonalds and you don't like the way the boss tells you to flip the hamburgers and you walk because of it, do you really think that they're going to take you back because you've been employee of the month 6 times? I don't think so.

Well, if half the people who showed up to the restaurant were only showing up because you worked there, wouldn't the management be a little silly to fire you unless they absolutely HAD to?

Anyway, it's not really like flipping burgers. Anyone can flip burgers, but no one else can flip the Austin burger, so to speak. A star at Austin's level writes his own promos and is constantly involved in the evolution of his character. From everything I've ever heard, Vince McMahon delegates a great deal of creative responsibility to the wrestlers, especially the guys at the top level. I believe that Vince, quite properly, sees the creative process as a collaboration between the wrestlers and the writers. Austin is not reading off someone else's pre-written script, by any stretch of the imagination.

What we've got here is not a question of disobeying your boss. Rather, it's a question of what happens when the various people involved in the creative process can't agree. And again, it's arguably a case where you're as important to the business as your boss is.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Austin was RIGHT to walk out. The question, though, is whether WWE needed to deal out the Ultimate Punishment.

Sure the WWE is struggling and Austin still has a lot of drawing power but what he did was entirely unprofessional and like we've seen following the business over the years, nobody is indispensable. Remember Hulk Hogan? He left in 1993 and sure, business went down for a few years but the WWF survived and eventually rebounded thanks in no small part to a guy by the name of Steve Austin. If Austin is gone, and it wouldn't surprise me if this time he is provided this isn't some sort of stupid elaborate shoot angle, it might take a few years but there will undoubtedly be another Stone Cold.

Given the events of the last year or so, how can you be so confident of that? Splitting the ENTIRE DAMN ROSTER in two, as far as I can tell, elevated a grand total of ONE guy... Edge. And that's giving each person on the roster 100% less competition! If they couldn't manage to build new stars under those circumstances, then there's no logical reason why getting rid of one guy should change a damn thing. Am I right, or wrong? Does that not make sense?

Anyway, it's easy for a fan to sit there and say "sure, all they have to do is not make all that much money for a few years." Do you think Vince and the WWE stockholders are so cavalier about that prospect? They shouldn't be.

Moving on, I wanted to talk a little about KOTR. I agree with you that Jericho is purposeless but having him win the tournament would kind of mess up other things like Lesnar's push for one. You can't build an unstoppable monster by having him lose the big one, or even having him be thrown around by everybody and having Paul Heymen winning his matches for him like they're doing now.

Yeah, but on the other hand, you can't build an unstoppable monster if no one buys it or cares. WWE doesn't exist to maximize the potential of Brock Lesnar, after all. Okay, I didn't REALLY mean that NO ONE buys it or cares. But, Brock's not getting the kind of reaction that justifies having him squash the whole roster... therefore, they shouldn't do it. If that is the only possible way to get him over, then he sucks. I doubt that is the case. In all probability, he is talented enough to get over some other way besides "grrr, no-selling monster". They should find that way.

On second thought, maybe they don't plan to do anything with the guy anyway so Jericho isn't a bad idea. I like the sound of Booker as king. He's fresh off what seems to be a face turn as of last Monday and he was getting pops before that. I think that a win at KOTR would do nothing but good for him.

Man, I was cheering for the Book on Monday like it was the World Series. Oh well. The stip that the winner will get a world championship shot tells me that it's not gonna be Jericho. No one wants to see Jericho-HHH again, and Jericho and 'Taker are both heels. It'll be interesting to see how exactly Jericho loses his match, though. Anyway, if they're gonna give the guy a title shot, it's gotta be either RVD or Brock. Likely Brock, I think. HHH would be full heel against RVD, and I doubt they want that. I hope I'm wrong, as I'd much rather see RVD take on HHH... HHH-Brock doesn't sound like an exciting match to me.

Anyway that's about all I have to say for now.

Keep up the good work,


Thanks, Steve!

Michelangelo McCullar, on the other hand, was a little more direct with his criticism:

You are a grade-A hypocrite. If someone else had pulled what Austin has pulled, you'd trip over yourself trying to kick his ass out the door.

Says who?

Guess what? People are tired of seeing Austin's act.

Who, Net people? Normal people sure weren't, as Monday's RAW showed.

It's beyond unbelievable. People bitch about the amount of no-selling that the Undertaker does. Well, tell me the last time Austin had a match where there was even an iota of belief that he'd lose?

Great. What does any of this have to do with suspending him? He wasn't suspended because he was boring or because he no-sold.

The last two times the WWE tries to build a solid program with Austin, he has taken his ball and gone home. He singlehandedly jacked up the whole NWO angle...

Oh, COME ON NOW. How about these factors:
  • The fans' overwhelming desire for Hogan to be a face
  • The longstanding WWE reluctance to put over anything and everything that was not WWE created
  • The fact that none of them can do a DAMN THING in the ring
  • The injury to Kevin Nash
  • Hall's total unreliability

    That's just silliness what you're saying... it's silliness.

    and now he's left Eddy high and dry, after he requested to be put in an angle with Eddy. You give me the convoluted logic that would define this as professional. Do you think Vince and the writers would have given us Eddy-RVD in a KotR qualifier if it wasn't for Eddy being in a program with Austin? Of course not. Now KotR is jacked up. But Vince should kiss SCSA's ass and bring him back? Hell, no. Leave him in Texas and send the message to the X-Pacs and everyone else in the locker room: no one, and I mean NO ONE, is bigger than the product.

    Hey, I know it's crazy, but I would personally fire X-Pac to give Austin a message rather than the other way around, considering that unlike Austin, firing X-Pac does not FUCK UP THE COMPANY.

    And you know what else? If X-Pac has an idea for his character that is better FOR THE COMPANY than what the writers gave him, then he should not be suspended for that. Because, by insisting on that better idea, he is helping the company. The question, ultimately, is whether you're helping the company. You should get suspended or fired for hurting the company. You should never get suspended or fired for helping the company.

    How can we tell whether you're helping or hurting the company by insisting on your point of view? Well, it's a factor how good the idea you're advocating is. It's a factor how bad the idea you're objecting to sucks. And yes, it's a factor whether anyone would care if your ass ever showed up on TV again.

    What destroys a company quicker, by the way? Guys who go home when they don't like their program, or guys who hang around the scene and keep whining until they get what they want? Who is really doing the company more of a favor?

    Yeah. So. Urrrgh. The wifebeating thing really makes it difficult for me to discuss the delegation of roles in the WWE creative process. It's actually a pall on my own life, as laughable as that is. It's stupid, I know. Why should I be unhappy because a guy I've only seen on TV, whom I've never met and with whom I probably wouldn't even get along that great if I did, is having problems? I don't have a good answer to that. I hope my dark mood doesn't show in this article. I find myself making ridiculous mistakes like writing Steve Nash when I mean Kevin.

    Anyway. You don't need ME to tell you how bad beating your wife is. If Austin were still on the active roster and he did that, he would have to be suspended for that reason alone. As it is, WWE can't even consider taking him back until he's gotten counseling, gotten forgiveness from his wife, and is no longer a danger to embarrass the company. So there's no point in discussing an Austin return right now.

    That said... arrrgh. I will at least give WWE credit for their handling of the situation on the last RAW. If they hadn't done what they did, they would have been hearing "We Want Austin" chants for years... literally. I think Net fans really underestimate the extent to which the wagon is pulled by the stars. Normal human beings are not watching the shows so they can see whether D'Lo Brown gets a match once a month. To most people, the Steve Austins are the show, the reason why they show up or don't.

    Anyway. On RAW, they didn't bury Austin, but they also made it clear that this wasn't a work and he wouldn't be back. I'm not sure the best way to ACCOMPLISH that was to tease his appearance all night, heh... but... ultimately the message was clear.

    Here's the thing, though. They should not HAVE to lose their biggest star to elevate new people. They should have realized YEARS ago that the hierarchy was too rigid. It has been the main reason why everything they've done for the last years has been a flop. They should not have to lose the biggest star in the company to figure that out. Honestly, there's no reason why one thing should have anything to do with the other.

    So. Now there's a RAW main event slot open. What will it be filled by? Oh, I don't know. Let me just run some ideas by you. How about Vince McMahon feuding with Ric Flair? Okay, how about this? Again, keep in mind this is just purely hypothetical. How about if we fill it by Nash, Michaels, and X-Pac beating people down and doing "worked shoot" promos?

    How's that sound to you? 'Cuz, I dunno about you, but I could definitely see those things happening. Hypothetically, that is.

    Because of course, what they're REALLY gonna do now is elevate NEW talent. Sure, it hasn't actually HAPPENED for years now... despite the fact that it's cost them untold millions of dollars... but... JR keeps saying it, right? All the people who want Austin's head on a plate keep saying it, right? So it must be true, right?


    Tom Dean
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