The Return Of The Native, Plus Jesse Ventura/Steroids

Mark Madden

Mark MaddenPsssst…hey, between us, WWE does NOT have Mickey Rourke locked up for WrestleMania. They hope he’ll sign after the Oscars, but they’re not sure. Meantime, they’re keeping the angle alive by having Chris Jericho confront a bunch of grizzled stand-ins: Ric Flair and Roddy Piper so far, Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka coming soon.

Rourke won’t do ‘Mania. Oscar or no, he still has an acting career to finish resuscitating, and enough people have told him that being involved with WWE will hinder that.

I’ll be glad if he doesn’t do it. Rourke at ‘Mania wouldn’t be Randy the Ram returning to the top, it would be Mickey Rourke looking like an ass at the expense of his vocation.

That leaves the question: Who fights Jericho? Who shuts up Jericho on behalf of all the crusty, dues-paying old-timers?

My first choice would be that crazy bitch from that parking lot in Canada. Assuming she’s not available, the time is finally right for the WWE return of Bruno Sammartino.

Who could cut a more bitter promo than Bruno, not only the original WWE champion but champion of the old days when it was real (well, more real, kind of). The man who outdrew Hogan, Austin and Flair (that’s Bruno’s story, anyway, and he seems sincere to me). Who better to put this punk Jericho in his place? Bruno is 73, but looks good, almost as good as Mr. McMahon. If Bruno doesn’t feel up to wrestling, he can say Santino Marella is his long-lost son and they could tag up vs. Jericho and, say, Edge. Totally believable. More believable than an actor wrestling, that’s for sure.

The main thing is, this is Bruno’s way back in. You know he wants back in. I bet he’s been angling for something like this behind the scenes for a long time. It’s time to play ball. He main-events ‘Mania. He pins Jericho, or makes him submit to the backbreaker in a shoot, just like Buddy Rogers. He gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Bruno and Vince, the two men who made wrestling, embrace on PPV. Vince makes him a color commentator. He wrestles Tazz for the SmackDown job and makes him submit to the bear hug.

The WWE and Bruno have feuded far too long. It’s time to kiss and make up – literally, if Kelly Kelly is up for it. Hey, what’s one more tongue?

JESSE THE BODY – COME ON IN HERE!

Not often is Vince McMahon a sympathetic figure.

Only something as insidious as Major League Baseball could turn him into one – with a little help from Gov. Ventura:

“What you have here is two sets of law enforcement. One set: ‘Oh, pro wrestling, let’s go after the head of that and put him in prison for steroid use.’ And pro wrestling is not even an athletic competition. We went to court and said we’re sports entertainment. Here, you have a legitimate athletic competition with 104 guys using illegal drugs – cheating – and where’s the indictment of Bud Selig on this?”

“Baseball was dead in the water until the big home-run race between [Mark] McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa and that rejuvenated baseball, made all the profits so Bud Selig could make $17 million a year.”

Er, $18.35 million, actually.

Jesse Ventura nailed it when he pointed out the disparity between the way the government treats steroids in wrestling and steroids in baseball. In the latter case, the feds protect the institution at the expense of the participants, venturing few questions and zero indictments as to how baseball let this happen and who profited. In the former case, the government just wanted to throw people in jail.

(Psssst…hey, between us, Jesse left out some facts: Selig was never indicted because there wasn’t an MLB-approved doctor sitting in the dressing room filling “prescriptions” for A-Rod, McGwire, Bonds, etc. Selig never aroused suspicion personally by being jacked up bigger than most of the boys. Steroid use in wrestling looked (or was) institutionalized. Steroid use in baseball was obviously tolerated, but there was never a mandate to use, spoken or otherwise.)

Like I said, Vince comes off as sympathetic. Maybe he’ll let Jesse referee at WrestleMania this year.

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