The Rude, The Crude and the Down Right Ugly
A Column by MILLER FLEMING
Pro Wrestling as an Entertainment Industry is growing, it always has and it always will, when someone in Pro Wrestling creates something original it is of course then imitated, explored and re-characterised, so back in 1996 when Steve Austin flipped off the fans, the wrestlers and the cameras we could of took his sign language as a sign off things to come.
Back in 1996 WWF was still your “Wholesome family entertainment” show so when Stone Cold stuck up his middle fingers to the fans and wrestlers naturally WWF wasn’t pleased. They approached him and asked if he could make another sort of hand gesture, one that wasn’t as offensive but Stone Cold declined and continued to wave his middle finger in the air for everyone to see. Stone Cold made the middle finger acceptable in mainstream wrestling, before he did it hardly anyone did (no one quite made it their trademark) now you see the middle finger almost every time you tune into WWE (or TNA), even Vince McMahon who told Stone Cold not to do it has performed it himself, and created his own “Kiss-My-Ass Club” but we’ll get to that in a little bit.
You might say Austin started the trend of vulgar language and gestures in wrestling, and you may be right (he certainly was one of the first in mainstream wrestling) but it can’t be denied that there were others before him who went against political correctness long before. In the 60s there were cheap-heel Nazi characters (Sheik Abdul Bashir is a modern day equivalent) who derived jeers by claiming to still follow Hitler’s right-wing ideology. Infact Vince McMahon’s is so offended by the Nazi idea that ex-WWE writer Dan Madigan lost all his respect in the WWE creative team after pitching “Baron Von Bava” a Cyborg Nazi created during WWII and cryogenically frozen in a secret cave in the Swiss Alps until now. In the original ECW all kinds of shady character were developing. Sandman made a living out of wrestling drunk, as irresponsible as it sounds he never actually injured anyone but in 1995 Mick Foley campaigned that Sandman wrestling drunk was an unnecessary health risk. All this was going on before Austin, and of course many people believe that Austin stole the beer gimmick from Sandman.
ECW was famed for it’s then-most violent wrestling in America, fans loved it and they drew respectable ratings on some minor and foreign TV channels (Bravo here in the UK) but in 1996 one thing happened in ECW that threw them off every TV station they were on. Raven’s girlfriend Beulah McGillicutty announced that she was pregnant, and then that it wasn’t Raven’s child, it was actually Tommy Dreamer’s (Raven’s arch rival). A little later on in this scenario Shane Douglas claimed that he knew that Beulah was now cheating on Tommy, and in the confrontation that announced it all he stated that Beulah was never pregnant at all, it was an excuse to leave Raven. Then the ECW stripper Kimona announced that she was Beulah’s girlfriend, they then kissed and sprawled over the mat on top of each other. Tommy then pulled them apart furiously but then kissed them both, the whole thing was very, very graphic. For the next few months Tommy Dreamer, Beulah McGillicutty and Kimona Wanalaya would use the angle that the three were, how do you say this, a couple? The two ladies would escort Tommy to the ring, and when Tommy was losing Kimona would distract his opponent(s) by flashing at them. Things like this were never seen in wrestling (and rarely even on TV) back then so it’s no surprise that it got them so much heat from the networks. Kimona was never used for wrestling, she was used to be sexy, as Francine stated in the Forever Hardcore DVD one of ECW’s philosophies was that “sex sells” and that’s why Kimona was there. One night in the ECW Arena when the ring broke as the crew were fixing it up, the hardcore ECW fan base (predictably) grew impatient and so Kimona was sent out to entertain them, she performed a strip tease which lasted for around ten minutes, Kimona now works a lot in strip clubs. On the first episode of WWECW when Tazz and Styles stated that Kelly Kelly‘s Exposé that this was a new thing to be added to ECW, they were very wrong indeed, ECW originated a lot of things and extremely scantily clad and suggestive women were one of them.
WWF tested this when introducing D-Generation X. Triple H and Shawn Michaels while wishing the fans a Merry Christmas then whipped off their trousers (in a Full Monty like motion) and were to be seen wearing thongs and having the words “Merry” and “X-Mas” printed on the behinds. They pulled many stunts like this, obviously when DX were first brought back in 2006 there were a lot a commodities to be seen, including a fat male stripper (Big Dick Johnson), Male Cheerleaders being covered in excrement and “cocks”. Degeneration X have always been on out there group the reformed Christian member Shawn Michaels complained about an oral sex angle in a taped promo where Triple H and Candice Michelle were talking at a barbeque, the two then starting to moan and slur speech then two women came out from under the table. DX definitely embraced the rude image as the Degenerates they are (or were, depending on your perspective).
It is I the Man For Whom if it’s a Crime for My Cock to Be Large
You Know I’m always Guilty as Charged
Another Pay Per View Here in New York City
And With my Nuts on her Face even That Girl Would Look Pretty
No, No I Apologize that was Kind of Shitty
I Didn’t Want to Offend You I’m just trying to be Witty
If I did Offend that Would Truly be a Pity
Cause I was Gonna Boggle Those Titties
And Lick That Little Clitty
That incredibly outrageous rant (in which was pointed at a female fan) is from possibly the crudest man in professional wrestling, ECW personality Joel Gertner. Joel Gertner who started out as a ring announcer (who learned how to introduce Mexican wrestlers in Spanish) began these rude rhymes as he joined the Dudley Boys, once known as Studley Dudley. Joel Gertner referred to himself as the “Quintessential Stud-Muffin” and would often make these promos when entering with the Dudley Boys and (after he split) with Joey Styles as they introduced the Pay Per Views. To accentuate the insolence of it all Joey Styles would stand there shocked and would convey a look of disbelief, and yet belief that they’d be thrown off Pay Per View.
Gertner was always a fan favourite (after his heel spell with the Dudleys of course) as he’d rant on ejaculation, homosexuals, prostitutes and everything else, he’d also bring others in, most notably Jenna Jameson. Gertner being the embodiment of a porn star in professional wrestling (many believe SeXXXy Eddy to have stole his gimmick from Gertner) was obviously one of the stars that presented a problem when ECW signed with TNN. ECW character Cyrus (the TNN representative) feuded with Gertner (mostly over the microphone but they did have a match at Anarchy Rulz 2000, which Gertner won) over the fact that he was breaking network policy. Cyrus and Gertner produced a two-minute comedy match (what else would you expect really?) but on the mic made gold, entertaining, funny promos and were the lower card to the Us Versus Them angle ECW had with the Network. Gertner was always a great attraction of ECW and the quote you read earlier on in this passage was one he performed at the last ECW Pay Per View, Guilty as Charged 2001 where he also stopped Cyrus from attacking RVD during the Rob Van Dam versus Jerry Lynn main event and held the chair for Van Dam to get the Van Terminator, the fact that he was involved in the main event of their last ever Pay Per View (something which the likes of Tommy Dreamer, Sandman and Terry Funk were not) proves just how much Gertner meant to ECW and it’s die hard fan base.
As ECW tested networks it allowed WWF to realise what they could get away with, especially with Divas. Throughout 1999 WWF created many Women’s matches to provoke chants of “We Want Puppies” and they eventually did get to see them. At Armageddon 1999 in a Four Corners Evening Gown Match (which was held in a pool and guest refereed by Moolah and Mae Young, who were at the start of many disgust, funny and sexual angles). Ivory, Jacqueline, B.B. (Barbara Bush, although yes it’s believed too really mean Big Boobs) and Miss Kitty competed to tear off the others dresses. Miss Kitty won the match and in a crowd-pleasing style stripped off herself, but she didn’t stop once she’d reached her under garments. She did then strip off her bra exposing her breasts for the briefest off moments as Sergeant Slaughter was quick to cover her up with a towel, Mae Young then stripped down to her bra before she was covered up too. This was the first time WWF presented intentional nudity.
Next month at the Royal Rumble they lined up a Swimsuit Contest (hosted by Jerry Lawler) where after all the ladies had showed off their swimming attire Mae Young then came down to prevent it from stopping and stripped off herself and this time she went all the way. WWF letting a then-77 year old woman prance around without a top on still to this day is arguably the most outrageous thing they’ve ever done. The fact that female nudity was intentionally aired on two PPVs in a row made many fans think that it would become a regular occurrence, it did not.
WWF was one of the many TV shows that in 2000 was rude and politically incorrect, like Jackass or Family Guy, it was a program the FCC warned parents about. Throughout 2000 watching Raw is War was absolutely out of this world. Characters like Rikishi made it that, Rikishi (who was recently in TNA as Junior Phatu) is a very big man and in the WWF his attire was an extremely large thong. His finisher the Stinky Face was where he’d sit his opponents down in the corner and then pull apart his butt-cheeks and rub it in their face (at SummerSlam 2000 there was a Thong Stinky Face Match between the Kat and Terri, another one of Vince’s dirty Diva matches). If you though Vince McMahon’s Kiss My Ass Club was bad you’re lucky you never seen this. Vince McMahon may be aging but he doesn’t have the behind of a very overweight man and the club entrants only have to give McMahon’s behind a quick peck on the cheek, Rikishi would pull apart his butt-cheeks and insert his unfortunate victim’s face right between the lines.
Xtreme Pro Wrestling owner Rob Black actually funded his insane organisation by is even more insane pornographic video company (Extreme Associates) which was taken to court for sick and disgusting films. Rob Black believed it was a good idea to bring in porn stars to XPW and have them perform the whole “sex sells” business idea. I personally have to say that I agree with Mick Foley’s thoughts on this matter, if I were going to watch something sexual I definitely would turn on the TV and stick on the wrestling. Rob Black was an Xtremely (pardon the pun) estranged individual (as you can imagine by the two industries he worked in) and aired some sick footage, and some whacky matches but he soon learned that the “sex sells” philosophy (in wrestling) can only get a company so far, after all who’s going to watch it just for that?
Pro Wrestling experienced a peak in rudeness (and overall wildness) during the dubbed Hardcore Era of Television, now WWF has definitely toned down it’s product but there certainly is still the cheeky-rude aspect. During the Attitude Era, Raw is War & Smackdown aired some incredibly wild and out-there footage that I’d never seen anything quite like it before, and probably will never see it again. The phrase “Anything Can Happen in the WWF” is definitely more true than “Anything Can Happen in the WWE” because it was a rebellious time and as TV got more wild WWF joined in.
It is bizarre to compare WWE’s creative team putting some crazy stuff on the air, once being “offended” by the middle finger, you really do have to ask yourself, Steve did create the Attitude Era, he did make Vince McMahon a Billionaire, did he create usage of swear words and everything else that came with it in wrestling? I guess we can never really no what would of happened if Austin did start using another finger gesture but what we do know is that WWE and other companies have went all out before and will definitely do it again, there is no question of that, they will once again redefine the meaning of The Rude, The Crude and the Down Right Ugly.