The Anti-Antagonist: Where’s My Push?

Adam Gorzelsky

Jim RossIn a recent interview, Jim Ross provided an interesting inside perspective into the deliberative process regarding the decision to push a wrestler. Citing examples of individuals who put forth a lacking effort while hoping for a push, JR essentially put forth the notion that those who work hard and excel at their job receive the pushes, while the others are left behind.

I want to start off by saying that I have tremendous respect for Jim Ross. The mark that he has left on this business both with his iconic announcing and tireless work as a talent scout is nothing short of indelible. Albeit clichéd, I don’t hesitate to say that JR has forgotten more about professional wrestling than I’ll ever know about the business.

I also can’t disagree with the general premise of JR’s statements. Without a doubt, a key ingredient to success in any walk of life is hard work and dedication to one’s craft. I have no doubt that even the most talented of individuals could fall by the wayside in WWE as a result of a lackadaisical attitude. One also would hope that the inverse is true for those who pour their heart and soul into the business.

With that said, I do take issue with JR’s statements on this matter. When it comes to any opinion from JR regarding WWE, I can’t help but take those thoughts with a grain of salt. While JR possesses an incredible amount of knowledge about the business, he undoubtedly is a company man through and through. While this fact does not diminish his acumen regarding professional wrestling, it certainly calls into question his objectivity.

Case and point, in responding to the notion that WWE would ever hold back or bury a wrestler, Ross stated:

“It’s not that the company are trying to hold someone back or keep someone down. That’s totally counter-productive. No businessman of any intellect is going to do that in any business.”

Really?

Counter-productive or not, the notion that businesses never play favorites is ludicrous. Every walk of life is permeated with politics in one form or another. The most talented and hard working often find themselves standing in line behind a well-connected individual who is afforded every opportunity under the sun. While the underdogs who manage to smash through this glass ceiling are hailed as exceptions to the  rule, such success stories do not alter the underlying paradigm.

One does not need an extensive background in professional wrestling to understand the short-sighted nature of JR’s comments…one simply needs to experience life. Nevertheless, such examples emanating from WWE are more than plentiful.

Look no further than CM Punk. By now, his story of success is well known to anybody who cares to call him or herself a wrestling fan. Phil Brooks dedicated his life to professional wrestling, even to the extent of destroying many of the personal relationships that existed away from the business. He is and was a true student of the game who made the most of his time on and off the camera.

Despite this dedication and immense talent, he was pegged as nothing more than an Indy wonder. Without the support of Paul Heyman, he likely never would have escaped OVW. Even after surviving this exodus and maximizing his on-screen time, he was pushed to the brink of WWE extinction.

One well-placed and expertly delivered promo altered this fate and cemented his place within the company. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the circumstances that preceded this ascension or the content of the promo itself. CM Punk overcame nearly insurmountable odds on the back of raw talent and impeccable timing. Others have not been so fortunate.

Ultimately, the reality of the situation in WWE is no different than the reality in many, if not all, walks of life. The business is cutthroat and often unfair. While we should not necessarily condemn WWE for falling victim to the political forces that shape the business climate, we also should not hide our heads in the sand and pretend that those political forces do not exist.

For every CM Punk success story there are innumerable accounts of individuals stifled by the likes of the Kliq in the 90’s, Triple H in 00’s, or even John Cena as of late. While a hint of political paranoia is going to be held by any wrestler who fails to achieve success, the stench of backstage influence is too apparent and logical to discount completely.

In the end, any wrestler seeking to reach WWE and achieve success during that stay would be wise to heed the advice of one of the greatest minds in the business. Just don’t assume that talent, charisma, and a strict adherence to these tenets will guarantee success.

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