Looking Back on… Why is Vince so obsessed with gays? (WWE rant, 2002)

(Oooooh boy. Okay, so I need to qualify this a whole fucking lot before we get started. Sooooo back in 2002, there was an angle going on surrounding a tag team called “Billy and Chuck,” because those were the first names of the wrestlers in the team, and wrestling is creative. Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo were in the middle of doing a shitload of nothing, and so were paired off as a tag team, whereupon they bleached their hair to match, wore matching outfits with their names printed on them, and… well, behaved in a manner that was meant to be purposefully homoerotic, without being actively homosexual. The basic gist was we were supposed to hate them, since they were heels, but we were never given any real reason to except, well, that they were gay-ish. Fortunately for the WWE (and unfortunately for everyone else), wrestling fans were (are) just homophobic enough that someone pretending to be gay for angle advancement purposes would draw heel heat… and also, fuck Billy Gunn, so booing was the natural reaction from fans. They ended up paired up with manager Rico, who was also presented as somewhat homosexual, culminating in him taking on a full-blown Exotic Adrian Street gimmick; at the time, though, he was just their roided up hair dresser.

Also they looked like this:

B&C

So yeah, they were… something.

Where things go off the rails, however, is when Vince and company decided to have them get married on Smackdown. Now, I need to clarify this: these aren’t two actors playing a role, they’re two wrestlers who will likely be repackaged into something else if the gimmick doesn’t work out, and that isn’t the same thing. Vince had been trying to do this gimmick for years, but even if you LIKE the character, as people did with Rico later on in years, it’s a thing that you have to deal with very fucking maturely, which wrestling now probably isn’t ready for, let alone then. So this is going to be a shitshow, for reference.)

BEFORE THE WEDDING FIASCO:

Y’know, I’ve never been a huge fan of marriage or divorce angles in wrestling in general, (Macho Man’s marriage to Elizabeth notwithstanding, even if it didn’t last well.) but I think I can honestly say that this newest one about tops my list of all-time stupid moments in WWE or WWF history. In fact, I can just about say that this tops almost all of the stupid shit that WCW did, ever. I say almost because mid 90’s WCW was really, REALLY bad. (Also the Fingerpoke of Doom, or more accurately the fallout from that, was fucking terrible.)

So, for those who missed it, after losing a match in the opening bout of Smackdown, Billy Gunn was a little pissed off. To calm his nerves, Chuck Palumbo, his tag-team partner, under the behest of their “stylist” Rico, (Technically he was their manager, but he had no official designation beyond “stylist” so.) decided to do something he had been saving for a special moment… he proposed to Billy in front of the live Smackdown audience, to be his “lifelong partner”. Billy, shocked at first, eventually said yes, and the two left to make preparations for their blissful union. (To be fair, Road Dogg was on the outs with the company at the time and Bart Gunn was off in Japan so it’s not like Billy had a better partner available.)

I don’t even know where to start.

Okay, first off, storyline. Last I checked, aren’t Billy and Check supposed to be, y’know, HEELS? If this was supposed to be a glorious face turn for them, guess what, IT DIDN’T WORK. (That was the biggest problem here, honestly; Billy and Chuck were the bad guys, because they were supposed to be gay.) And if they are still heels, why, oh why is Stephanie McMahon so happy for them, and so willing to host their marriage on this coming Smackdown? (In theory, because it was a publicity stunt; in practice, it was because… well I’ll get to that.) She’s supposed to be a face, did SHE suddenly turn too? And what about D’von? (Devon.) He’s a heel, right? So why’s HE so pissed about this, aside from, y’know, the whole preacher angle? (Well this was ostensibly supposed to be something of a face turn, as weird as that sounds; like, being in love with someone makes you a good guy? Really, that’s it? It’s not more politically motivated? Fuck you.) And about Mark Henry… oh, yes, it’s SO good to know the guy that had sex with a transvestite, his sister, and an old lady is behind Chuckabilly on this one. Does my heart good, really. (Mark Henry had a major fucking career revival about two years ago and looked like he was going to become an amazing force of nature, and then nope, he’s back to just existing all over again.)

So, apparently, based on the backstage reaction, Billy and Chuck are now faces.

WHAT the HELL is Vince thinking? (“The publicity this gets certainly has to be better than the necrophilia angle, right?”)

Did he think we’d buy into that? According to reports live from the show, a freaking RIOT erupted afterwards, and many people were ejected and/or arrested. (It’s weird to realize that, in 2002, we were so bad in the wrestling community that people fucking rioted over two men proposing to one another, but now two wrestlers are openly gay and we’re pretty cool with it. I like that.) Did Vince think that we, as a wrestling community, would LIKE this? Come on, wrestling is geared to TWO demographics: Males, age 14-30, and rednecks. (These days, it’s kids. Sadly, it’s still not toward girls, though; NXT treats ladies like they matter, WWE basically gives them the metaphorical Cleveland Steamer whenever they’re on TV.) Neither group is what I’d call supportive of homosexuality. In addition, I don’t see the gay masses supporting this bullshit, considering how CONTRIVED this bullshit is. I mean, they’re just going to break it up somehow or another ANYWAY, who cares? (Wellllllll… half of that sentence grouping was true…)

And speaking of bullshit, apparently Vince wanted to pull out all the stops, so he invited both Wayne Farris, AKA the Honky Tonk Man, and Brian Armstrong, AKA Road Dogg, to attend the event. Response? Well, Honky basically said that he was unavailable that particular day, but would be available for a more “in-depth” role should Vince need that. (Translation: even Honky Tonk Man wouldn’t take that payday, and he loves making money. But he still had to get in the “hire me Vince,” dig, because fucking of course he did.) Vince, rightly so, said “Fuck that” and moved on. Now, this was solely for the purpose of catering to the WWF fans of yesteryear who remember the INCREDIBLY short-lived “Rockabilly” gimmick, that both sucked AND blew at the same time, yet, is strangely more tolerable than this present pile of shit. (Oh God Rockabilly. Basically Honky got carte blanche to do whatever the fuck in the late nineties and recruited Billy to be “Rockabilly Gunn,” which was a terrible Honky knockoff. It was awful and everyone, even Billy, hated it.) RD, meanwhile, who is both current in the minds of the fans, a potential draw, AND in some kind of a shape resembling ring ready was offered said “term agreement” should he be willing to participate in this event. Now, Brian, from all indications, was more than willing to participate, except for one small thing: as part of the deal, Vince was asking for an apology. Not much, just a simple “I’m sorry for fucking you” and he could go back to work. (I have no idea how true this is, but Road Dogg had been ejected from WWE due to substance abuse issues in 2001, then went to WCW to negotiate a contract the day they were bought out by WWE, so he was clearly on the outs. He ended up in TNA not too long after this.)

Now I think it’s important to remind everyone what’s on the table here. RD here has a substance abuse problem. Not like Scott Hall and booze, not like Eddy Gurerro and booze/painkillers, not like Michaels and painkillers, no, according to reports, RD is addicted to HEROIN. (He has since indicated he was addicted to painkillers, so that was a little extreme, even for the dirtsheets.) Supposedly, he’s past it now, but keep that in mind. Because of said problem, he missed a number of dates that he was supposed to work, he was in and out of rehab (provided by Vinnie himself), he was given a SHITLOAD of chances to recover, and was only terminated when the issue became too hard to handle. (By his own admission he went to talent relations and asked for voluntary rehab, which he was granted, and was termed during rehab. He was also going through what sounds like a messy divorce so that likely didn’t help.) Vince no doubt takes issue to that, as RD basically walked all over his generosity on this one, and inadvertently killed the push of one Ron Killings (K-Kwik in WWF, now The Truth in NWA) who has shown immense talent since departing. (Sigh. Ron Killings did indeed have his push killed in WWE due to them having nothing for him post Road Dogg, so he went to TNA, became an underground icon for a couple months and even won the title, until it became apparent that “cutting good promos” doesn’t mean “good talent,” as he was not great in the ring. He putzed around with, yep, Road Dogg for a while as part of different factions, then left and went back to WWE as, currently, R-Truth, where he’s played everything from goofy dancing black man to amnesiac who thinks his “government name” is Delicious, to a crazy person to talks to an imaginary child, and beyond. I have nothing to add to that.) So, in short, RD screwed up quite a bit, and Vince wanted an apology for it.

RD basically sounded so utterly disinterested that the WWE said fuck you and moved on. (Still dunno how much I believe that.)

Let it never be said Vince isn’t generous when the money’s there, but sorry RD, you’re done. Poor stupid bastard. (They hired him back years later, after his rehab finally took and he said a thousand Hail Vinces or whatever, and now he’s a road agent, I think? Something along those lines.)

Anyway, back to this “union” or whatever the WWE is calling it, since they’re too chickenshit to say “WEDDING” and move on. (That’s when you know an angle is doomed, when the writers won’t even call it what it is.) So this is a brand new direction for SD, two weeks of storylines are being directly or indirectly based around this, it’s a big event, just for us to learn who’s the butch and who’s the bitch. (Well, Billy Gunn was Mister Ass, so I’d assume he’s the top, since his entire theme song was about liking butts.) I’m sorry, does anyone really care? Is this something I’m supposed to applaud or boo? Well, the faces like it, so it could be good… on the other hand, B+C have been heels since I can remember, so maybe I should boo. On the other hand, they’re getting married, which traditionally only faces get to do, so I should cheer… on the other hand, it’s a gay wedding, so maybe I’m supposed to boo. Point being, exactly what was Vince attempting to push here? Does anyone know? Does VINCE even know? Somehow, I doubt it. (I’d like to note that, despite how weirdly all of that was phrased, my point was that it was a shitty gimmick, not that, like, gay is bad. I’ll clarify that slightly in a bit.)

This hasn’t stopped Vinnie from trying his damndest to use this as a ratings ploy, so much so that he’s placing DISCLAIMERS about it wherever he can. As an exact quote: (Oh God here we go.)

Parental Guidance on Upcoming SmackDowns!
In the next two editions of WWE SmackDown!, one of our storylines will be looking at the issue of same-sex relationships. This storyline will be done in an entertaining and humorous fashion, (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA fuck you) but may be considered by some to be provocative. We would encourage parents who watch SmackDown! with their teens and children to be mindful that this storyline will be appearing.

In other words, when Rico said “spectacle” he wasn’t kidding. (Yes, we had to run a VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED warning about same sex relationships. Jesus Christ.)

So basically Vince is gonna turn the gays into a comedy act. (Well they were one when they started, to be fair.) Good to know he’s consistent, as EVERYONE who does gay characters does them as a comedy act. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing special, it’s more or less the next chapter in the continuing saga of homosexuality in relation to wrestling.

But perhaps the worst part is that this is NOT the first time Vince decided to do something like this. Back in the day, he had a tag team running around that was full of themselves, loved themselves, acted in a manner consistent with homosexuality, and were even eventually expected to marry. For those that can remember, the team was Too Much, consisting of Brian Christopher and Scotty Taylor. For those who missed it, you’d know them most recently as Too Cool, consisting of Grand Master Sexy and Scotty 2 Hotty. Yep, same guys, same team. Only difference being the fat Samoan accompanying them. Any WHY did this angle die, you might ask? One of the team got injured shortly prior (I believe it was Taylor, which would be consistent), (Nope, Brian Christopher, actually.) thus allowing them to dodge this career-killing bullet. Now, I don’t know who B+C pissed off backstage, but apparently it was someone high up enough to make them do this… unless Billy’s willing to take a dive off a building or something, I don’t see them aborting this angle. (Billy himself said point blank years later that he considered it his job, and if asked, he’d do it again with no second thoughts, so I guess he just figured work is work.)

The worst thing of all is that this is going to be, at BEST, a comedy skit that accomplishes nothing, only slightly buries these guys and ends up being meaningless in the long run. At worst, however, Billy, Chuck, and Rico just kissed their own collective asses goodbye, Vince is SO going to get boycotted by GLADD, and an angle that’s been nearly three years in the planning will be put to rest, hopefully never to be resurrected again. (It was SO the latter.)

And the sound you hear is people flipping over to football as we speak.

AFTER THE WEDDING FIASCO:

Well, bravo, Vince, you had the balls to use the word “wedding” in reference to all of this bullshit. It’s a shame that you basically fucked it up from start to finish on ALL possible accounts, and the people that we were SUPPOSED to be cheering for, we were booing, and vice-versa. One would have to wonder if you thought this out at all. (Signs point to no.)

But you didn’t, did you?

You didn’t realize that your product might be attractive to homosexuals in general, due to the large amount of attractive members of BOTH sexes that are on your show week after week? (Yeah, I’ll never get that; why would you go out of your way to alienate an entire segment of the fanbase when they’re likely to tune in for the same reason the rest of your fanbase does: athletic competition and hot people? I mean a whole lot of people think John Cena’s sexy, and I’m pretty sure a lot of them are men. All you have to do is not shit on homosexuals and they’ll probably be okay with watching. But then I remember, the Women’s Division. Sigh.) You didn’t realize that statistically, the single demographic that has the most disposable income of ANY demographic is the white, gay male? (Yes, that’s true, or so I am told by one) (That is apparently, in point of fact, not accurate, but I was, at the time, friends with a rather openly militant gay man who would insist on things like that, and I’d take it as accurate. What the fuck did I know? Wikipedia was basically a stub at this point.) And it never occurred to you that GLADD (or is it one D? I’m never sure) (It’s GLAAD you asshole.) was gonna beat the living FUCK out of you, not to mention that Viacom might well drop your ENTIRE contract over all of this bullshit, so that you could come up with one of the lamest gimmicks ever devised, by you or anyone else, promote a brand war that no one gives a shit about, and fellate yourself on live TV without even being there?

(Oh yeah this was super bad you guys. Since I assume, I guess, that anyone reading this saw it, here’s the deal: Billy and Chuck come out to their theme song, and at one point, I SWEAR TO CHRIST, they had fucking choir singers singing “It’s Raining Men,” because WWE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. So Billy and Chuck do their own wedding vows as this segment dies a very public death, so much so that the fans begin actively booing the shit out of the whole thing. Rico then kicks off what would’ve been a meaningful video package if it wasn’t a lot of jokey homo-eroticism during a segment that is dying by the literal second. So we get to the “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece” part and the fucking Godfather comes out and basically says “I know you guys aren’t gay, come with me and the ho’s and let’s party.” HE IS THE GOOD GUY HERE for reference. Rico dismisses them to the loudest heel pop of the night, and then oh God we get to the I Do’s. It’s cleat that Rico’s coercing Billy and Chuck into this, but they go through with it, and then at the end they basically freak the fuck out and loudly proclaim it was a stunt and they’re super not gay you guys. THIS gets Billy and Chuck a fucking face pop. Rico then basically becomes a huge doucher about the whole thing, because he is the evil scheming gay guy or some shit, and THEN the Justice of the Peace goes into how special commitment is, no matter how long it goes on for, even if it’s fifty years, sixteen months or three minutes… and then boom, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE IS ERIC BISCHOFF. Three Minute Warning comes out, demolishes Billy and Chuck, then lays out Stephanie McMahon before everyone bails out as the locker room tries to ruin their shit. It was an ending that would’ve been amazing if only it hadn’t been stuck to such a fucking terrible angle that lied to so many people.)

Okay, to recap: I read the results two days in advance, and through a stroke of dumb luck, I managed to get a group together to watch the clusterfuck that promised to be the Smackdown wedding. The group consisted of Caillech, (Who we discussed earlier.) her friend A, (Never wrote for the site, sadly.) and their friend D. (Eventually became GAJedi on the site, and wrote things that were themed as being from a gay perspective, so basically I was doing Gay Eye for the Nerd Guy in text form.) Yes, I will be using their initials, on the off chance they would rather not be identified. In any case, Caillech is as you know her, A is an unbiased opinion from someone who watches occasionally, and is not a true fan per say, but does enjoy it. (Mostly for the half naked dudes.) D is willing to watch it when it’s on the TV, but more importantly for the purposes of this article, is actually gay, so his opinion is the one I was most interested in, for obvious reasons. (I made a character for him in WWE Raw 2 with his input that came out to Shawn Michaels’ intro and used “It’s Raining Men” as a theme song, and he thought this was the greatest thing ever, just so we have a point of reference for his own sense of humor.)

Needless to say, when they hit “It’s raining men” D got REALLY pissed off. (When he does it, it’s funny. When other people do it, it’s bullshit.)

And when they did the “We’re not gay” cop-out, he walked out of the house. (I’m mostly sure swearing was involved.)

So, if that doesn’t give you some sort of an idea as to how the homosexual community in GENERAL felt, then I can’t help you. (GLAAD was especially pissed, mostly because they made a public event out of it and encouraged the community to watch, even going so far as to give Stephanie McMahon a gravy boat. I guess no one on board watched wrestling and knew it was going to be a fuckbarn.) But I’m of the impression that this is a general feeling of discontent by all involved here. And I’m sure the Hot Lesbian Action bit the prior Monday didn’t help matters any (Viacom threatened to pull WWE programming outright if that happened on RAW ever again). (Oh God, well that’s never coming up again, so let’s sum it up: Eric Bischoff said, if Steph can have a gay wedding I can have two hot chicks make out on TV. They did, and then his pet tag team, Three Minute Warning, came out and beat them up. People liked the general “women making out” concept because of course they did, but most everyone hated the idea otherwise and it died a quick and painless death. T-Shirt plans were scrapped. Don’t ask.)

So, let’s sum this shitstorm up: Billy and Chuck? Supposed to be faces, still heels, now “officially” out of the “gay” moniker that had been attached to them, yet will probably be associated with them for the next two or so years… (Actually they ended up the faces, sort of, though they were quickly jobbed out to 3MW to establish them as top level players; Billy went back to his Mr. Ass gimmick, while Chuck just floated around doing nothing until he was released.) Stephanie? Fans still hate her, I certainly still hate her, and we get to be subjected to her more and more as the days go on… (Sigh. Basically she stayed GM of Smackdown until her dad beat her in a match. It was super weird and uncomfortable.) Rico? Now on RAW, still, one would assume, gay, still in desperate need of a GOOD push, and apparently heel, so not much changed there… (Poor Rico Constantino; he got an awesome gimmick in the reincarnation of Adrian Street, and he took the gimmick super serious, even meeting with Street for advise and getting his blessing… and then the WWE brain trust turned it into a fucking comedy bit, then dropped him when they couldn’t think of anything to do. He was super talented, went full blast on his gimmicks, and WWE still fucked him.) The Island Boys? Still fat Samoan guys who beat people up a lot… (3MW eventually broke up, and Rosey became a Super Hero In Training, AKA SHIT, hoho, alongside Hurricane, before eventually being let go and doing nothing. Jamal became Umaga, got a big top level run, then was released and died of what I believe were substance abuse issues.) Bischoff? Still supposed to be a heel, still a face, and he killed that bullshit gimmick pretty damn dead, thank god. (Bischoff was more “face because people hated the gimmicks Steph was using” rather than because he himself was good, but this didn’t change much until Austin came back, sadly.)

I think the whole situation could be easily solved by simply accepting we love Bischoff and hate Steph, and booking things that way. (Instead they booked Bischoff as even more of a douche to make sure he stayed 100% heel, but kept Steph a weird hated face, until, again, dad retired her.) That’s how the WCW Invasion angle worked out, so I don’t see a problem, really. Of course, god forbid Daddy’s little girl have to be the heel in this feud, even though we can’t stand her ass, but hey, us internet fans are too stupid to matter, right, Vince? (That’s a common opinion of Vince’s, unless we hijack the show and chant YES constantly.)

And in the grand scheme of things, the whole gay wedding angle is but one angle in a stream of bad angles that are offensive to damn near every demographic in existence. Native American? Witness Tatanka. (To be fair, that was all Chris Chavis, and he took to the gimmick to the point of absurdity, so it wasn’t as offensive as you’d think.) Portuguese? Aldo Montoya, anyone? (That was mostly funny later on when they turned PJ Walker into a major player in ECW and we all chanted ALDO at him.) Roman and black? Farooq Assad. (I really don’t think anyone cares if we offend the Romans at this point, but yes, most of Farooq’s run prior to the Acolytes was offensive.) Like GI Joe? Sergeant Slaughter, Iraqi sympathizer. (That was just offensive to good taste really.) Old? May Young. (To be fair she fucking owned her work and was the definition of a true worker.) Fat? Molly Holly’s ass. Virgin? Molly in general. (Yes, Molly was the rare case where the company fucked her over six ways from Sunday, turning her good points into shit. Virgin? She’s a PRUDE. Not stick thin? SHE’S FAT. No wonder she left when she did. Also Norah Greenwald herself is extremely nice in person, which just makes me very sad that she couldn’t have been respected a little bit more by WWE considering, but that’s rasslin’.) TRUST ME, people, this pile of shit is nothing new. Vince is gonna continue until he finds something that works. He’s gonna keep on with the offensive treatment of everyone on earth until he finds that ONE gimmick that draws millions, and then he’ll be happy again for a few more years. (Unless it’s cool, then he’ll fuck it up and bury it.) Anyone who’s truly offended hasn’t been paying attention. Do they have a right to be offended? Absolutely. It’s just not gonna do any damn good. Vince is gonna keep plodding along at the same consistent pace he always has, until the next great gimmick comes along to rocket the WWE back up to the top. (A decade later, we’re still waiting.)

Well, Vince, as a closing statement, from me to you, lemme let you in on a secret: it’s got nothing to do with HHH. (Well, it almost did, twice, but WWE fucked it up the first time, and injury fucked it up the second, so… not so much.)

World Wrestling Entertainment needs an enema.

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