Right now, the way I see it, WWE is edging closer to freefall mode. Eleven may not be enough to see WWE acting as if they are in panic mode, but for the product its not exactly something Vince McMahon needs and its not like the upcoming congressional hearings and the constant (negative) media attention have made WWE’s life any easier. It’s the early 90’s all over again for Vince.
This blog will take a look at the suspensions that have occurred, but only the WWE have a definitive idea who they are so remember that when reading the blog.
The wrestlers that are rumoured to be suspended (they are yet to be confirmed by the WWE) are: John Morrison, Chavo Guerrero, Mr. Kennedy, Umaga, Charlie Haas, Randy Orton, King Booker, William Regal, Santino Marella, Chris Masters, Funaki, Adam “Edge” Copeland and Gregory Helms.
First of all, how have the suspensions come about? Sports Illustrated broke a story about wrestlers (and other athletes from various sports, as well as celebrities) buying banned substances (mostly online) from Signature Pharmacy (that is now gone bust). Usual WWE behaviour probably would have meant that they wouldn’t have punished anyone and they might have even tried to deny the claims.
But the Benoit murders happened. While I won’t go into detail, the consequences of this were the media suddenly taking even more of an interest in wrestling – in a bad way. Suddenly the rules were changed and almost overnight, WWE was the bad guy, with many (especially the media) calling for its blood. Media looking at WWE as a scapegoat, stocks going down, and possible jail time -Vince McMahon was on losing ground and he needed to do something to even the level playing field.
So suspending those who have taken banned substances is one way McMahon can lessen the heat. Whenever it will do any good remains to be seen but surely eleven scapegoats is better then one?
Now that we got the haphazard history out of the way, let’s look at each suspension. For first time offenders, it’s 30 days off television, for second time offenders its 60 days.
Batista: Well’it turns out he’s actually innocent. Yes, one of the most jacked-up men in the industry is innocent. Irony holds no bound and I’m sure you’re shaking your head so much that you’ve given yourself a concussion. As for Batista, he’s celebrating this by asking Stephanie McMahon how he can go about getting legal retribution.
Randy Orton: The most controversial wrestler of ’07 so far, surely Orton would be guilty. The man who came so close to being fired after trashing a hotel in Europe and had actually been linked to using steroids before this whole story broke out. Well it looks like Orton will continue being controversial as it looks like he won’t go punished as well. Orton looks set to become world champ at Unforgiven which just makes this whole situation even more head scratching.
John Morrison: Fighting Spirit Magazine (FSM) called him “the most ripped guy on the roster” and on closer looks, it’s true! Too bad it’s come at a price and now it’s truly cost him. Just as he was getting into his stride as ECW champion, being suspended would mean he would have to dump it the title. Since CM punk is talented, over and potentially could have a good run as champ, he would most likely get the nod as the next ECW champ. So I guess some would see Morrison being found guilty a good thing really, even though I personally find him talented and charismatic.
Chavo Guerrero: A man who made the most out of the cruiserweight title, only to lose it in crappy fashion (no matter how, being beat by a leprechaun is lame). It would be a shame to see him go, seeing as how much he’s contributed to the cruiserweight division. but he has done a good job of making Rey Mysterio look good and won’t dent the star power of Smackdown too much with his absence.
Mr Kennedy: Ken Kennedy won’t look back in 2007 with many fond memories. First of all, he was supposed to be Heavyweight Champion of the world! Only he got injured and instead Edge filled that role. Now he was set to be part of a huge angle; The McMahon illegitimate child angle. But his past has caught up with him and now Kennedy looks set to miss out on another huge opportunity. It’s a shame because Kennedy has tons of charisma and is a good worker and is unlucky (and some would say stupid of him) that this has happened.
Umaga: It was a good time to be Eddie Fatu (a.k.a Jamal). It looked like he was going to have a entertaining reign as Intercontinental champ and king of the upper midcard but for now that has come to a halt, having losing his IC title to Jeff as well as being hospitalised by HHH. A gimmick that was over as well as someone that was fun to watch, I am saddened that I will miss the crazy antics of Umaga, if indeed he is guilty.
Charlie Hass: Lets face it, no one really cares about Haas and while he’s decent in the ring, I feel he’s dragging Shelton Benjamin down a bit. No one will care if he’s gone for a while.
King Booker: He wasn’t on Raw this week which is worrying, but we’ll not jump to conclusions yet. If Booker T did go, it would actually damage Raw, for Booker T is entertaining and fans do like to boo him for the way he acts. Plus he’s good feuding material and talented in the ring so losing someone likes him weakens the star power of Raw.
William Regal: William Regal’s past drug habit is infamously known to many wrestling fans but it’s still quite a surprise to find out he was buying banned substances. Regal was becoming fantastic in his commissioner role and really it was nonsensical to write him off like that (Cena pulverized Regal). Still, it’s really a filler role so it’s not that much a loss if indeed he has been suspended.
Santino Marella: Poor guy. Part of a failed experiment (underdog babyface), he was afterwards lumbered with a stereotypical Italian heel gimmick, which made him annoying and a temptation for reaching for the mute button. Sandman caning his ass (well his head) means he’s likely to be guilty but I don’t see anyone being sad about it.
Chris Masters: Who the hell cares? He’s so mediocre he’s crap; Bland, irritating, waste of space. Even Lex Luger had his moments and the Master Lock makes the Torture Rack look like the world’s most horrific massage. I actually do hope he’s guilty – that’s how much I can’t stand him. Note: Chris Master has already violated the wellness policy once, If he’s guilty, its 60 days for him. Imagine two months without Chris Masters!
Funaki: LOOK AT HIM! He’s a twig compared to most of the guys in the roster. I mean Orton and Batista are innocent, but this guy could be guilty?! No freaking way! Funaki hasn’t been on TV for a while and it’s a shame, I miss him and he could help the cruiserweight division. But Vince doesn’t care about cruiserweights (a leprechaun that’s still the cruiserweight champ after a couple of months should tell you that anyway) Funaki guilty…makes you think huh?
Edge: Being injured can be a good thing!
Gregory Helms: See above ^_^
So let’s say all those who do have a chance of being guilty, do end up being suspended (and for arguments sake, let’s include Orton). The only guys who’s absence would have any profound effect if they had to miss TV time would be Booker T, Randy Orton, Ken Kennedy and Umaga as well as (for generous sake) Chavo Guerrero and John Morrison.
Anyway, you may have noticed that four out of six of those listed were Raw guys, so if this does turn out to be the list of suspended wrestlers, then Raw will suffer the most. While the likes of ECW and Smackdown won’t be affected too deeply.
This could be a worrying trend. Who’s to say this is the end of suspensions? Apparently Stephanie McMahon said in a meeting that THRITEEN suspensions were handed out, when its being reported that it was eleven. Either she’s misquoted or two more have been added to the list. And if that’s the case, Raw could be potentially crippled. Anyone who saw Raw this week must have surely felt it was a weak show that felt rushed. Of course, it could also be major stars from Smackdown and ECW (okay ECW doesn’t really have any major stars, but that’s beside the point). This makes me ask the question “who else could it be?” Based on what I’ve read and going with assumption here, potential suspects could be Rey Mysterio (just compare him from WCW days to now), The Great Khali, Cena, HHH, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley, really the list can go and with Sports Illustrated showing that even guys like Funaki are buying steroid like products, it could be anyone.
Of course, don’t expect guys like Cena and HHH to be guilty. Cena is WWE’s current cash cow and only facing the death penalty would make Vince suspend Cena (if indeed he is taking steroids and any other muscle enhancing substance that is banned) and despite me not wanting to acknowledge it, HHH is smart enough to not get caught out like this. Put it this way, no main eventer is likely to be suspended.
So where does this leave WWE. Surely Vince could see this sign that he must change his ways. No more pushing someone because he’s jacked up and gassed, but instead giving a guy his break based on talent, charisma and the fans reaction. While this could be far off, it does seem WWE is taking steps to improve their wellness policy; any new talent hired will be immediately tested, anti-estrogen drugs will be added to the banned items list and from Nov 1st 2007, any violations will be made public.
Whenever this remains to be seen if this is just for show to make Vince look good in front of the congressional committee or if WWE altogether has seen the light and knows it needs to change remains to be seen. But for the love of god I hope it’s the latter. Vince, this whole steroid situation may be killing you, but it’s killing us fans because it’s crippling an industry we all love.
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