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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Gimmick Stereotypes in WWE History
June 7, 2003 - by Ite Lemalu


In the last 20 years, we (the fans) have witnessed some of the most offensive stereotypes created by the WWE (WWF). Most recently the WWE took a desperate turn in creating yet more stereotypes such as Los Guererros, Jamie Noble, La Resistance, FBI and Rodney Mack and the 5 Minute White Boy Challenge. I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic for a column, but after seeing how low the WWE had become, I was convinced that this subject shouldn't be ignored. Let's take a stroll down memory lane as we revisit some familiar names.


The Million Dollar Man & Virgil - Even though it was never mentioned on TV, the obvious signs were there, white master, black servant.

Saba Simba - If Tony Atlas' career wasn't ruined before returning to the WWF, then this gimmick most definitely did the trick. I clearly remember the former WWF Tag Team champions return to the WWF in 1990. I could sense from the reaction of the crowd that they didn't know what to make of it. Rowdy Roddy Piper (who was doing color commentary for Superstars of Wrestling at the time) also didn't know what to think. Piper responded by ridiculing Atlas for having a silly gimmick. His co-host Vince McMahon was probably taken by surprise at the comment and made up some story about Atlas discovering his roots after returning from a long journey in Africa.

Kaientai - The foursome of Taka Michinoku, Sho Funaki, Dick Togo and Teiho Mens were awfully mishandled. The only way the creative writers knew how to push this talented group was through racial humour. From the 'Choppy Pee Pee" angle, to Taka and Funaki miming promos, to Funakis interviewing in so called 'broken English. You'd think after 5 years with the company, the writers would have something better for Funaki.

Among other stereotype characters are; Akeem the African Dream, Salvatore Bellemo, Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, Cousin Luke, Cousin Junior, Tatanka, Outback Jack, The Quebecers, Slick, The Natural Butch Reed, El Matador, Nation of Domination

Now that we're done looking at some of yesteryears over exaggerated characters, I'd like to focus on two recent angles. The first is the build up between Booker T and Tripple H feud, and the second is a brief analysis of Eddie and Chavo Guererro.

Triple H/Booker T Angle - When Booker T won the battle royal to earn his number one contenders spot for the World Title, the assumption among most wrestling fans, was that Booker was going to be elevated to main event status by winning the World Title at WrestleMania. A week later, Tripple H confronts Booker T in the ring. Tripple H cuts a promo with rather perplexed comments. "People like 'you', don't become World Champion". Another remark made towards Booker T was that people like him (Booker) are in the WWE to make people like him (HHH) laugh. His comments can understandably be seen as racist, yet from another perspective, Tripple H may have been stating that he is upper class and therefore superior to Booker T. It wasn't until the following week that Ric Flair acknowledged Tripple H's comments as being racially intended. Flair adds his 2 cents by pointing out that Booker T isn't Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Tripple H. Flair then goes on to talk about Bookers past as a prison inmate and that HHH has offered to make him his personal assistant and chauffer. After Booker T lays out Flair, he heads backstage searching for HHH. Booker finds HHH in his private bathroom washing his hands and when he confronts him about his comments from the previous week, HHH gives him a dollar bill and tells him to get a towel. Booker responds with a huge right hand to the face of HHH. So far this angle has gathered a lot of heat and adrenalin. Not only has it made HHH an even bigger heel, but most importantly it has increased Booker Ts popularity, as the underdog. HHH's comments over the past 2 weeks has fuelled more hatred towards him by fans adding to the desire to see Booker T beat him for the World Title thereby gaining a moral victory. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, HHH and Booker T clashed in tag team and six-man tag matches. The end result saw Booker pinning HHH for the win. Something wasn't right. If Booker was pinning HHH two weeks in a row, then it was doubtful that he would walk away with the World Title at WrestleMania.

HHH BEATS BOOKER T AT WRESTLEMANIA. It was too good to be true. Another victim of a false push to the top. Why do they bother pushing wrestlers only to have them be buried by HHH? What is the use of investing airtime in these challengers? Its a real bother that they wasted all this time attempting to elevate Booker T as a deserving challenger, only to have him lose at the biggest pay per view of the year. A WrestleMania victory was a vital necessity for Booker T. At past WrestleManias, the underdog always overcame the champion to mark a promotion of a wrestler from midcarder to main eventer (Warrior/Hogan, HBK/Bret, Austin/HBK). What I found to be really disturbing, is that the 'writers' used quite a controversial subject to portray this storyline, and the outcome to this match (and angle) not only took credibility away from Booker T, but it sent out a distasteful message to the fans. This is something that I don't think the WWE can redeem themselves from.

Lets briefly go off the topic. Even if Booker T happens to win the World title four months from now, it may be a little satisfying, but I doubt very much that it will have the same impact as a WrestleMania victory - Too Little Too Late. Recently, Rey Mysterio defeated Matt Hardy to win the Cruiserweight Title. The match and especially the Cruiserweight Title would've meant more prestige had the title change occurred at WrestleMania.

Los Guererros - 'Lie, Cheat and Steal To Win' - This has to be one of the most offensive angles I have seen on WWE TV in years. Apparently this slogan is how the WWE 'writers' choose to portray Eddie and Chavo Guererro. Their video skits entitled Lie, Cheat and Steal contain a 'humorous' look at racial stereotypes. So far, the angle has been a success to the Guererros popularity but you have to wonder as to the ethnicity of the majority of the fans who find this angle 'entertaining'. You also have to take in consideration other fans who appreciate seeing Eddie and Chavo on TV basically because they're two of the most talented wrestlers not only on the SmackDown roster but in the entire WWE. I find it very unnecessary that the WWE still continue and stereotype their wrestlers, especially in todays society. The portrayal of Los Guererro is probably one of the worst stereotyped gimmicks played out in recent memory. Now that Los Guererro are 'over' with the 'new fans', it may be possible for the WWE writers to phase out this offensive stereotype and allow Eddie and Chavo run on their vast wrestling talent alone. But then again, this is the WWE we're talking about.

by Ite Lemalu


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