The Hot Topic: Iconongraphy

Rob Taylor


THT is back and in full effect, strap yourselves in cos we are going through some controversial turf this week… First as ever, we look at the events of the last week…

9 Wrestlers have gone already, who be next? Some will no doubt continue their careers in TNA… Was WWE right to release these guys? In Test and Gunn’s case yes… both had run their course and arguably pushed their luck. Test would probably have gone long ago if not for Stacy, and Gunn had plenty of chances, but still couldn’t keep it together out of the ring… I feel sorry a little In the case of someone like A-Train, he was hurt and never a problem for WWE…but this could be the best thing that could have happened, now he can go to TNA, work on his own image and try something different, the bones of the talent were fine for a big man, it was WWE’s insistence on him looking (and sounding) ridiculous that hurt him… In the cases of Johnny Stamboli, Gail Kim, these guys have definite possibilities for Japan. As for Nidia? Well, she won Tough Enough and got 4 years in WWE, not bad really. A lot of WWE talents INCLUDING, main event guys need to be very careful over the next few weeks…

Finally a new force emerges to challenge Evolution and wouldn’t you know it…Jericho is the point man… This is a really exciting angle for Y2J, while Benoit has been more “main event” lately, he seems to be backing Jericho, Maven and Shelton up rather than being the leader…This could be the angle that sees Jericho return to the title picture… IF…they don’t blow it by just feeding him to Trips at Survivor Series…As for Maven, he has been ready for sometime, I was genuinely impressed by his match with Robbie Brookside at the RAW tapings, he’s come a long way and is ready for a major push…I’d like to see these guys called “The Young Guns” or “The something similar…

Carlito is getting more annoying by the week, was spitting an apple really the best they could come up with? Wouldn’t hitting with a coconut be more appropriate (and get him some REAL heel heat?) and how is the Foxy Cleopatra ‘look a reflection of “cool”?

Trips and Steph seemingly dropped the ball this week in Vince’s absence… Sure it was a unique situation, but that’s what happens when egos make fixtures like Pat Patterson want to leave…Pat must be replaced now or made an offer to return, cos “The McMahon-Helmsley era” isn’t ready for the responsibility yet, if those reports are to be believed of course…

Remember, if you have something to say, mail me at robwilltaylor@hotmail.com or visit the WZ Columns lounge…DO NOT USE MY OLD AOL ADDY…

Now onto our much anticipated main topic, the one I mentioned from my visit to RAW…

The discussion in the hotel bar, centred on a concept that seems cut and dried, but is nowhere near, and is such a divisive one… I call it Iconography…. According to Chambers dictionary, an icon is “a person or thing that is uncritically adored, revered or admired, or is regarded as a symbol of a particular culture or sphere, etc; an idol.”

In terms of wrestling then, if we stick to that strict definition, most famous wrestlers of the last 30 years would be considered Icons as in some ways they would define wrestling to those who understand it, my argument is that you have to look at it more closely and in doing so, eliminate some people who the majority of fans would call an Icon.

So who are we talking about?

Take Bret Hart for example, to millions of fans the epitome of wrestling, a legend and an Icon. Undertaker, the same… In Hart’s case, legend yes…an Icon, NO… Why the hell not I hear you scream… calm down, take a deep breath and I will explain.

Bret Hart came through the ranks to achieve a level of greatness, during his era, he was considered the top star in the business, but to most outside of wrestling fandom, Bret was not even that well known. As World Champion, Bret was not a media darling, he made odd TV appearances, but was not instantly recognisable as a wrestler, even in his attire, he didn’t define wrestling to the world at large…

During the ’90’s there were other men who were more instantly recognisable as wrestlers to even the most hardened non-fan. The Undertaker is an icon because he stood out in such a way that you could mention “The Undertaker” in a conversation, and most people would know instantly he was a wrestler, in the WWF/WWE and know he is successful or even “cool”, his visual identity has always been so strong that showing a non-fan a picture of the Undertaker, they would likely be able to know who he is or at least get the gist of what he does…

That is the difference between an Icon and a Legend, is simple, but in some ways a gaping chasm…An Icon defines both their time and as the definition says, the culture of the time. Steve Austin is an Icon, because he encapsulated the “F*** Authority” mood of the late 1990’s just as Hogan had defined the 1980’s with his “American Hero” identity.

Mick Foley is unlikely to be remembered as an Icon, despite all he has done for the business, harsh, and I wish it wasn’t so, but neither will Shawn Michaels, because while they have succeeded, others have blazed the trail for them or taken that trail to the next level, Austin had already defined the “Attitude Era”, Foley played a big part in its evolution, but Austin will be remembered for it’s birth and vitality… Same for Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and to date, Triple H, they have all had major impact on the “noughties” but have not defined it, that has fallen to men like The Rock who have, like other icons, transcended the business to become legitimate cultural icons on their own.

There is hope for some in WWE in particular for Icon status, John Cena seems well placed to eventually move on from his current gimmick and become someone important. Eddy Guererro has the opportunity to do so, as potentially does Randy Orton over time… but for many it has passed by, they will always be legends, but will never take that next step and be true icons, however much we, as their fans argue they are. Much as I love guys like Davey Boy Smith or Rick Rude, they did not make Icon status, and never will be…it’s sad, it hurts and it’s wrong…but it’s reality…

So with that in mind I launch…. THT Icon…. An award given to those who have achieved that mythical status worthy of the name “Icon”… The first two inductees are Andre The Giant & Antonio Inoki….

Andre The Giant….the name itself has meaning; even those who never knew he was a wrestler have heard of or seen him on TV. Andre became an Icon because of his uniqueness. Never before or since (sorry Big Show) have we seen a man SO immense that his hand could dwarf an opponent’s head, never has there been a man who despite being so different, was totally at ease with himself and confident…. Andre truly was a Giant of a man, even to those who only know him from his “Princess Bride” movie role… Despite his ill health in later years, Andre’s 70’s and ’80’s matches show a man who was not unbeatable cos a promoter made him so, but cos no one really could beat him…Indeed Andre was probably the last “true” champion of that mould we will ever see….

Antonio Inoki is revered in his native Japan with good reason, not only did he take Japanese wrestling to great glories and popularity, but he was able to parlay his skills into the diplomatic and political arena as a member of the Diet, Japan’s parliament… Inoki’s strategy was simple, but brutally and clinically effective…embrace the world at large, use American talent and exposure to fuel business back in Japan, to the stage where he participated in boxer Vs wrestler contests with Muhammed Ali…Inoki showed that wrestlers ARE athletes by matching Ali and to many clearly besting him… That Inoki was willing to put his business, his career and his reputation on the line in what could have been a total nightmare was a mark of the man who would later as a promoter stage the largest ever show in Asia (95,000 in Seoul) and take New Japan to being arguably the most consistently successful promotion ever

Those are the first 2 THT Icons…. Your feedback and comments are welcomed…to robwilltaylor@hotmail.com If your pick wasn’t there, they might be next time, or they might never be…remember, being a legend does not make you an ICON…

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!
monitoring_string = "851cc24eadecaa7a82287c82808f23d0"