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Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Well, what a nice way to begin 2009.

WWE laid off at least 80 office, production and online staff within the last 48 hours as I’m writing this column. At least two people I know (working in the music department and music libraries) escaped the layoffs. Thanks to God for that.


Along with those 80 staffers, in-ring talent was also laid off, including D’Lo Brown, Sean “Val Venis” Morely, Bam Neely, Kevin Thorn, referees Keenan Quinn, Mike Posey, and Jimmy Korderas, Ronnie (Gavin Spears) Arniell from ECW and Florida Championship Wrestling, and Mike (Mike Kruel) Mayo.

Jimmy Korderas has been in WWE since the Hogan WWF days, as had producer Tim White, one of the layoffs in production.

Tim White was part of the infamous 2006 “lunchtime suicide” skits, where Tim White, supposedly driven to despair because of his career-ending shoulder injury (White was first a longtime referee) suffered in the Chris JerichoTriple H Hell in the Cell match at the 2002 Judgement Day PPV, attempting to end his life by shooting himself (in the foot, as it turned out later) in the now-infamous skit which made PPV.

Subsequent skits (none of which USA Network would permit on air, limiting them to WWE.com) saw him hanging himself from the ceiling, throwing a toaster into a bathtub in which he was standing (complete with WWE fireworks special effects), slitting his wrists with a straight razor, complete with inserted sound of the noise of spurting blood (and shooting fake blood ala the “Julia Child” Saturday Night Live sketch), “suffocating” himself by placing a plastic bag over his head, carbon monoxide poisoning, sticking his head in an industrial fan…oh, and hiring a hit man to kill himself.

So with all this humiliating bullshit that Tim White had to go through to keep a paycheck, along with being Andre The Giant‘s on-the-road babysitter years before THAT…in the end, he gets tossed to the curb anyway.

On top of all that, it seems a cruel irony that the John Layfield-Shawn Michaels storyline about the economic downturn hitting Michaels’s family so much that he has to become Layfield’s “employee”; is going on while 80 staffers and at least 10 wrestlers are laid off themselves. Please don’t send me an e-mail, telling me these layoffs weren’t known about well ahead of time. Layoffs were talked about when WWE did their Quarterly Reports and Conference Calls and reported on numerous business news websites prior to Christmas. The only item in question was when, how many, and who they would be.

I bet these 90 employees (yup, by any normal standard, the so-called independent contractors are employees) are finding the Layfield-Michaels storyline on RAW such a great way to forget their own troubles in 2009, aren’t they folks? The same for the 7 percent of Americans officially listed unemployed as of early January 2009, let alone the millions all over the “WWE Universe” that view the program in other countries (if they can still afford to) where the world wide recession is in full swing….let alone the millions more than are afraid of losing their jobs, or who have suffered some sort of financial reversal during the last few months.

If I were Stephanie McMahon…Shawn Michaels turns on Layfield at the Royal Rumble (if not sooner), sets up the inevitable Texan vs. Texan match at Wrestlemania 25 from Houston, TX, and gets this part of the storyline over with ASAP.

Why would anyone in their right mind in Stamford, CT think that viewers would watch a wrestling show with a prominent storyline that reminds them of their own troubles? TV wrestling is supposed to be a storyline-driven escape for one or two hours each week, not a reminder.

Until next time…

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