Finally, A Real Heel; Another Crap Heel; The Way We Were

Mark Madden

FINALLY, A REAL HEEL

 

Wade Keller wrote an excellent column in Pro Wrestling Torch about the potential elevation of Bully Ray to the top heel spot in TNA (or even WWE). There wasn’t much about it I disagreed with.

 

Bully Ray has turned back time to create a vision of what a pro wrestling heel used to be, and should be, and he’s very good at it. He’s outspoken, but not forthright. He’s tough, but cowardly in all the right spots. He’s physically intimidating, but still cheats. He’s not at all cool. Generally, I think Bully Ray SUCKS. But he’s doing a great job.

 

It’s just way too late for all that.

 

Fake wrestling is BADLY overexposed on free TV. You can’t paint over what Bully Ray was. He’s the fat guy. The guy with the black brother. The “get the tables” guy. You can’t reinvent wrestlers anymore.

 

Remember when Tony Atlas came out as Saba Simba? Nobody saw him as a “Ugandan warrior.” They saw him as Tony Atlas. This isn’t so drastic, but it’s the same principle.

 

Oh, people haven’t forgotten Bully Ray’s stuttering ECW persona…because nobody saw it in the first place. Great promotion. No audience.

 

How does a 39-year-old tag-team guy who’s never been on top of the card as a single suddenly make that jump? How does he conquer past perception? I’m not sure he can.

 

Anyway, would Impact’s “stars” do what’s necessary for Bully Ray to go all the way? I’m not sure they would.

 

At the very least, Bully Ray provides Impact with a blueprint for what works and what doesn’t. What he’s doing works. What everybody else is doing doesn’t. Forget top heel. Bully Ray should be booker.

 

At Impact, one guy has proved “Wrestling Matters.” It’s Bully Ray.

 

ANOTHER CRAP HEEL

 

Let’s see if I’ve got this right: R-Truth lost his WWE championship bout to John Cena because – in the middle of the biggest match of his career and one win away from breaking the “conspiracy” against him – he got distracted by a KID, then incapacitated by WATER.

 

How am I supposed to take R-Truth seriously? Well, luckily…I wasn’t taking R-Truth seriously in the first place.

 

R-Truth has been in the mid-card (or below, or unemployed, or worse yet, on Impact) so long that the only way to legit get him over was for him to do something besides being OUTSMARTED BY A KID, then INCAPACITATED BY WATER. At this stage in his extremely lackluster career, R-Truth needs bold strokes, not slapstick losses.

 

R-Truth came off as a mere filler challenger. Which is exactly what he is.

 

If you want to judge a heel challenger, listen to and watch the crowd during his title shot. The crowd at Capitol Punishment never appeared to believe, not even for a second, that Truth could win the championship.

 

But VKM got his main message across: Little Jimmy is smarter than a grown black man. HOLY MACKEREL!

 

THE WAY WE WERE

 

When Mark Madden-era WCW played Las Vegas, we worked the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Great facility, and host to lots of other big-time events. The Tyson-Holyfield ear-biting extravaganza took place the night before a WCW PPV. I was in my room – thank God – when rioting took place in the casino. Shots were fired.

 

And once, Barbra Streisand played MGM Grand Garden the night before WCW Monday Nitro.

 

Streisand is a legend, a big draw, and a diva in every sense of the word. A bunch of us were backstage the day of the Streisand show, and signs were scattered throughout backstage that warned against making eye contact with Streisand. I forget the exact verbiage, but the message was: DO NOT LOOK MS. STREISAND DIRECTLY IN THE EYE.

 

Enter Scott Hall.

 

Scott thought it was hilarious, and ridiculous, that you couldn’t make eye contact with Streisand. So we’re leaving, and who comes walking down the corridor in the opposite direction but BARBRA STREISAND. Unattended. Uh-oh.

 

Scott’s about three steps away when he cuts sharply in front of her and PUTS HIS FACE ABOUT SIX INCHES AWAY FROM HERS. The only way to make more direct eye contact would have been via cornea transplant. Streisand didn’t scream. She kind of gasped, and flinched. But I give her credit, she didn’t overreact. Scott just backed away, smiled broadly and kept walking.

 

The original KISS played a WCW Monday Nitro in Vegas, and all the wrestlers wanted to meet those guys. The least accessible was guitarist Ace Frehley. When we finally tracked him down in catering, he was WASTED. Scarred face, pallid skin, pupils like pinpricks…Frehley bore the trauma of a life lived hard.

 

Enter Scott Hall.

 

Scott, as you’re aware, was (and is) no stranger to that sort of lifestyle. But when he saw Ace, he nonetheless exclaimed: “Ace…WHAT THE F*** HAPPENED?” Ace just smiled wearily and was nonetheless gracious.

 

I haven’t seen Scott lately. But I saw Ace in concert this past Friday. Five years sober, and he ROCKED.

 

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing WZMarkMadden@hotmail.com.

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