In the song, “The Last DJ”, Tom Petty tells an allegoric story about a DJ who is quite controversial and cutting edge, but is getting censored by the corporate higher ups who tell him what to say and how to say it. They control everything he does. Of course, he keeps going on with his ways and eventually he doesn’t work there any more. He eventually gets his own small radio station and is able to do what he pleases. Of course, by the lyrics you can never tell if the DJ is truly out of line or not. God knows that Howard Stern is most definitely a pig most of the time. The controversy is as usual, “Is he really in trouble because he is saying something that he shouldn’t say, or is he in trouble for saying EXACTLY what needs to be said?” So in wrestling terms….
The wrestlers are the DJ’s from the standpoint that relates to the song. Backstage they face difficulties when trying to shape their gimmick, storylines, and overall career in the way that they would like. Bookers, agents, and promoters tell them what to do and limit their creativity and ability to get themselves over. To an extent, it’s their own fault. Often times a wrestler who has an immense amount of talent is never pushed properly. Sometimes for good reason, other times for seemingly none at all.
Have you ever been the kid in class that gave the teacher lip if you thought that something that he/she did was ridiculous or unfair? Though it felt good and your ego was rewarded with a temporary satisfaction of solid pride, I’m guessing that it wasn’t a pleasant experience from then on. Maybe you got in trouble and got yelled at. Now the teacher hates you and even if it seems that the situation has blown over, they will likely secretly hate you for the rest of your tenure in their class. Now you’re screwed. You can’t call in any favors or ask for any slack, especially if you never really made up and you are a continual problem. Maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe you are 100% justified in your feelings. This is not the point how ever. The point is that going with the flow will make things a lot smoother for you. Never swim against the current. This is often what a lot of wrestlers do. While wrestlers like RVD, Chris Jericho, and Paul London have all had their solid arguments when pointing out to WWE that they’ve been held back and the product is lacking, it does no good to bitch about it. Instead, these workers should suck it up and try to cooperate as best as possible with WWE. The “union guy” in any company is usually hated because he’s the jerk who complains about everything and causes too many problems. Often times a company will promote someone who is less qualified, but more dedicated to the company as opposed to the more qualified person who seems half-hearted about his job. Sure, Triple H might not be the best wrestler out there today, but he is always the one that shows up first and leaves last, sacrifices off days to do whatever promotional work the company needs, works through injuries, and shows a great interest in the future of the WWE. So of course Vince McMahon is willing to keep him in the top spot, as opposed to those who may be better workers but show a lack of motivation in trying to do what is best for the company.
Although it can be the wrestler who screws himself over, WWE does its fair share of screwing over for sure. WWE is definitely too closed minded and often misses out on big opportunities. It is not necessary to put every single worker through the “WWE process” of changing the way they wrestle and forcing them to do things differently. When Ultimo Dragon signed with WWE they gained one of the most respected workers on the planet. But instead of taking advantage and putting him in great match scenarios they opted to keep him on the bottom of the card. For no apparent reason, Stevie Richards has been severely held back. Though he showed his true talent during the days of Right To Censor and he has worked to get into the best physical condition possible, he has not been featured in any major storylines and has been relegated to HEAT indefinitely. An entire Women’s division, which was most promising in 2002 and parts of 2003, has disappeared from WWE, only to be replaced by a nonsensical roster of Playboy models with few skills. Tag teams are broken up. Why? So that WWE can play with them and see if they are truly superstars by building them up as individuals? They just end up forgetting about them. Charlie Haas, The Basham Brothers, Sylvan Grenier, and many others share the same fate. It isn’t really necessary to make Booker T pay for his video game addiction backstage. He goes out every night and makes the crowd go wild, something that many other wrestlers who do get a push often fail to do. It seems that WWE is often too involved in mind games to be able to make the product their priority. And after all this, after the brand extension, WWE has spread itself thin while still doubling the price that we fans have to pay. Not that WWE doesn’t put on a good show (I think WWE mostly kicks ass right now), but it’s absurd that RAW and SmackDown! are solely produced to hype up the Pay-Per-Views, which WWE is aiming to have 15 of each year. So now we have to pay for what we used to get for free (to quote the song for which this column is based off of). WWE is a business, but this is getting out of hand. (See “Yertle the Turtle”, coming in a few weeks).
Though the theme of the song is censorship and oppression, I can’t help but see where WWE is coming from on a lot of things. Sometimes the WWE tells wrestlers to do certain things for a while for a purpose, not just to play those hideous mind games. It’s like when your parents used to tell you not to do certain things and how to behave. You didn’t fully understand what the big deal was, but as time went on and you encountered those situations and made mistakes, you began to comprehend. Batista commented on this in an interview when he said that he was furious when WWE took his heat away as Leviathan in OVW and turned him into Deacon Bautista on SmackDown. He said that he felt limited and when they stripped him of all of the strengths that he developed, he thought he was being screwed over for no reason. But eventually he came to realize that they did it for a reason. By cutting off his strengths, he was able to strengthen the areas that he was weak in, as does a person who develops stronger hearing when they go blind. Sometimes kicking a baby bird out of the nest is the only way to get it to fly. Unfortunately, some just plummet to their death. But in those rare and worthwhile cases, a star is born and he soars.
Unlike the lyrics of the song lead you to believe, there will never truly be a Last DJ. A wrestler doesn’t represent every DJ in the wrestling world. The true DJ’s are wrestling fans. As a wrestling columnist I have restrictions on what I can say, but only in terms of saying offensive things about race, sex, and sensitive political issues. Other than that, I have an open mic as far as wrestling is concerned. I can state any complaint or praise, no matter how outlandish. If a website owner doesn’t approve of my style any more, I may be removed from their site. But I can always get my own site (which I have) and say whatever I want to there, just as any wrestler can start their own promotion and do things their way. But isn’t it interesting that some of the things we disagreed with our parents about before are now things that we agree with and even emulate? The same goes with going from a staff member of a website to becoming a webmaster and going from working for a wrestling promotion to owning one. If Rob Van Dam opened up a promotion it’s guaranteed that some day down the line he would be accused of being oppressing and unfair also. That’s the cycle that we all live in. But back to the point, so long as there are fans, there will never cease to be a strong voice out there, a voice that demands what it wants and demands what is fair. We have a right to watch RVD wrestle as a main eventer if that is what we so wish. It’s not like we haven’t had an impact before. We let WWE know that we wanted to see Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero as Heavyweight Champions and at Wrestlemania 20 we got it in a big way. We have grown so powerful that the WWE has created Taboo Tuesday in an attempt to capture the interest of the internet fans. The amount of news leaks and discussions on the internet prompted WWE to create this gigantic Edge/Lita/Matt Hardy storyline that has caught amazing excitement (I still fully believe that this is ALL a work, meaning that Matt Hardy and Lita are still very much so together). We will not relent, WE WILL NOT DIE.
10,000 Fists by Disturbed will be the theme of my next column in the ‘The Boom Box’ series, which will be much like the last paragraph that you just read, only far more in depth and perhaps more heated.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the bit of change. I am still deciding on how the format should be, so the entire structure will change over time. I have dozens of songs lined up so this series will continue for a while. I will still be writing ‘The 5 Star Truth’ simultaneously how ever.
TheWrestlingAsylum.com, the official new forums of TheWrestlingVoice.com, will be launched this Sunday, the same day as No Mercy, which we will be having Live Coverage of.