Kleck Goes Daily! Week 2- Day 14: Jimmy Snuka: Aftermath
Feb 26, 2017 - 11:58:52 PM
Hello all and welcome to day 14 of Kleck Goes Daily! This column is on the brief side, as it picks us up where we left off yesterday and then ties everything together. Let's just dive right in...
Jimmy Snuka: Aftermath
I didn't mention in the column yesterday a big reason why the case against Jimmy Snuka was reopened after all those years in the untimely, tragic death of Nancy Argentino. For some baffling reason Jimmy decided to divulge details of the case in his book published a short while before my last column. The problem is his recollections of happenings in the book didn't match up with his police testimony all those years ago when the crime was commited, which was enough for police to demand the case be reopened due to inconsistencies in eyewitness testimony. Shame- a human emotion.
In the book, Jimmy mentions that Nancy slipped on some grass while trying to relieve herself, and he actually didn't touch her at all. Here is the thing about changing your eyewitness testimony- don't. Undoubtedly Jimmy did this for certain legal reasons, but he neglected to think about the fact that he was on record with police as having said multiple times that he did touch her, as he admitted he was "rough housing" with her right before her fall.
Jimmy's book was essentially trying to paint a picture of a guy we never knew- a romanticism for fans. What this whole case has shown many of his fans though is that he was anything but a romanticism behind the scenes. And of all of this, one of the most haunting things I uncovered was Vince's quote to one of the investigators hired by the Argentino's. Haunting because growing up we idolize the men and women in this industry, and Vince eludes to the fact that his job is to keep them legally out of trouble, regardless of their innocence.
When you think of it that way Vince is/was essentially a drug dealer. His business, in a nutshell, is to attract an audience with the good, while sweeping the bad under the rug. And based on the quote it seems apparent that he had to do exactly that quite often. Makes you wonder if this profession attracts a certain kind of person, or this profession creates a certain kind of person.
Being a professional wrestler is not an easy job. The lights, camera, action- the fans, the heritage of the sport itself, these are not things that weigh lightly on the minds of the men and women who do it. And one thing I think a fair few of us are guilty of is dehumanizing these performers. Many of us start watching as kids. We marvel and are amazed by what they can do in the ring. We immortalize them. What this particular case did for me though is show that these individuals are human.
We spend so much of our lives living in this sphere of influence- watching wrestling we immortalize people based on their actions in the ring. Truth is though guys like Jimmy Snuka and Chris Benoit were in the same age group as I am now. And the things they did outside of wrestling were hardly upholding of that lofty image we had in our young minds.
These men and women are human. Some of them make good choices in life, while some not so much. Once we detach humanity from them though, we imagine them as some kind of infallible super beings.
Jimmy Snuka was acquitted of all charges. The reason was not because he was innocent, but rather because he was deemed incompetant to stand trail. Jimmy developed Dementia and CTE in his golden years, and as a result was deemed legally incapable of things as basic as memory or sanity.
Jimmy also was living with cancer. So even though he didn't stand trial for his earlier actions, he suffered all the same, in addition to how he suffered as a result of fan judgement for all those years before the case details were all disclosed.
If he were the superhuman I remembered him as, the guy who jumped gracefully off the top of cages without consequence, things like CTE, Dementia, and Cancer wouldn't have affected him, but they did. The point is at some point we need to recognize that these performers are no different than anyone else- flawed human beings.
And maybe, partially, we idolize them because we know subconsciously they are human and yet they get to fly so high. The lure of the spotlight and fame. Though with that amount of attention on them it is also magnified when they dip low.
And in the end Jimmy died, most likely unaware of any of it. The good, the bad, none of it. So the only people affected by his life were outside of himself. The fans who loved him for what he did in the ring, the family of Nancy, who watched their daughter, sister, cousin, e.t.c. be killed, his family who never really saw him much until he retired, and by then it was too late to form the connection they always needed- the one we think we got.
And now when I catch an old match with him in it, I question if I want to watch because of what I now know. It is similar to Chris Benoit- despite being one of the greatest wrestlers who lived, what they wound up doing outside of wrestling, in their human existance, wound up overshadowing what they did in the ring. Now everytime I see a young Jimmy I think about in that point in his life, he was getting off work, getting loaded and drugged up, and beating the hell out of women- to the point where one of them died from it.
I have a hard time watching because who knows exactly what he did after that specific episode of WWF. Maybe that was the show right before he chased Nancy through a hotel hallway before smashing her face into a wall repeatedly while horrified onlookers called police because they knew they couldn't stop him from doing whatever he wanted. Maybe it was hours after he smashed her face into the ground, leading to the head trauma that caused her to die far too young- who knows, but what we know now of the human, affects our viewership of the legend.
And all of this won't make me stop watching professional wrestling, but it certainly makes me second guess just how much I can idolize another human for something they do on a scripted television program. Thankfully a dark side of the industry seems to be washing away in modern times. The drugs, alcoholism, abuse, and law breaking all seem to be less prevalent, and some of the thanks can be given directly to actions like those of Chris and Jimmy forcing pro wrestling to clean up for image sake. So in some regards deaths like those suffered by Nancy were not experienced in vain.
And cases of CTE have created a safer work environment for wrestlers among others, so the ends can darkly justify the means to an extent. And in cases like this, we see that this industry isn't a lot different from many others in that it attracts both good and bad. In the end humans are humans, and their nature isn't purely expressed by their environment. There are guys like Jimmy who beat the hell out of women and they don't wrestle professionally for a living. A camera magnifies everything though, so we should be careful of the power we give it.
Some days I can sit and watch older matches with guys like Jimmy and Chris in them and I can focus solely on the wrestling. Other times their actions outside of the ring overwhelm me, making it impossible. The last thing any human wants is to feel responsible for that kind of destruction, and yet as fans of professional wrestling we seem to be thrust into that position frequently. Which makes me realize that a lot of the reason I have days when I cannot watch them, it's because I feel partly responsible- like I had a hand in creating such a monster.
The truth is though life happens regardless. For as many proactive steps and precautions we may take, we won't be able to erase all pain, suffering, and tragedy in this world. It will pop up somewhere. And that doesn't mean we can simply stop trying to make this world a better place, but it shows us that humanity is inescapable regardless of how we navigate this world.
So I will watch wrestling, but cases like this show me that these individuals are no different from you and I. They suffer like us, get mad like us, they bleed like us, and are human like us. The best we can do is treat these performers as human, and hold the industry accountable for their working conditions. Beyond that there is nothing we can do, or can expect of ourselves.
In the end all we can do in this world is do our part. And within our part is a fandom to a sport that is marred by tragedy. Though if most of us stop watching the profession, it will still live on because there are always those who will still watch. So all I can do is live my own life as true and as good as possible, and affect change in that manner. Beyond that it is out of our control, and not something we should dwell on. Though remembering isn't dwelling. If you're the same age as these performers, or older, you begin to realize that we have the power to live differently, and be the change we want to see around us. It all depends on us. Which is a power we won't take as lightly as men like Jimmy Snuka did. And his failings as a man, and wrestlings failings as an industry become anything but fruitless. Even the bad holds value, which is all we can take from this.
We can't change the past, but we can help as fans create a better future.
And I'm spent. Emotionally just done, especially after the day I had of chasing my children around before this. Any thing you'd like to add or discuss? Let's talk below. Until then I am Kleckamania, thank you for joining me and see you once again tomorrow.
Hello all! Welcome back for day 13 of Kleck Goes Daily! Today I wanted to take a serious turn and start a 2 day mini series within this series. Today's column is an edited repost from a column series with two wonderful writers- JacobWrestledGod and Subho- a collaboration written in the Columns Forum of this very website in late 2014. (Sign up for a free account and join in on the discussions and writing- the Columns Forum is like a super fan lounge, lots of good people talking wrestling, good community for a wrestling fan!) The series is called Seven, which took a glimpse into 7 professional wrestlers who have killed another person outside of pro wrestling. Today's column was the 4th in the series, and it is about the recently deceased Jimmy Snuka. I have to warn that this isn't a tribute mini series- this is a genuine, heavily researched account of Jimmy Snuka and what happened between he and Nancy Argentino. Without further delay...
Jimmy Snuka: Could You?
Have you ever gotten so mad that you simply snapped? Could you willingly kill someone? I know a lot of people get into situations throughout their days where they tend to half-heartedly consider such an act, but could you honestly go through with it? Boss being a total prick; significant other hurt you bad; arch nemesis finally pushed you to the brink- but no matter how far or hard you were pushed, when push came to shove could you? Would you? Well one of my childhood heroes very likely might have...
After a WWF event in Allentown, Pennsylvania on May 10th, 1983, James Reiher, or Jimmy Snuka as the wrestling world knows him claims to have walked into his motel room to find his then girlfriend, Nancy Argentino gasping for air with a yellow fluid secreting from her mouth and nose. Nancy Argentino was rushed to Allentown's Sacred Heart Medical Center where she was pronounced dead a short while after, having suffered from, "undetermined craniocerebral injuries".
On a personal note I researched extensively not just to write a column, but simply for my own curiosity. You see I don't even have recollection of this happening. Given I was a young little Kleck during those golden years, but up until the internet truly became a mainstream source of knowledge this seemed to be fairly obscure. Maybe I was too young to remember, however it seems most of the details of the case were only very recently released. I want to acknowledge here that this is as much of a search for the truth for me as anything within this column. You see I loved Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka as a kid. If you asked a number of my family you would hear numerous stories of me emulating him and his moves back then. Only Hogan and Junkyard Dog were above him as my childhood favorites. Through the years this controversy has created quite a bit of hostility towards the man, and having no true facts to go on from these people kind of alarmed me. I am hoping here to kind of determine if the hostility is truly warranted, considering Jimmy himself swears up and down that he did not kill Nancy, and that this whole ordeal has scared him for life. Let's take this journey together through this potential murder.
What We Know
I have to say that when I started researching this the first thing that started to stick out to me is that they reported Nancy had a yellow liquid oozing out of her mouth and nose, yet nowhere I have looked seems to explain just what the liquid was. That seemed weird to me so I dug quite a bit to find what I believe to be the answer. My first solid lead came from the American Rhinologic Society. Let's take a look...
"A disruption in the brain lining (a.k.a. dura) and the bone separating the brain and the sinuses will result in the drainage of fluid that normally surrounds the brain into the sinuses. This fluid is known as cerebrospinal fluid or "CSF." Drainage of CSF into the sinuses can result in a multitude of problems, not to mention the often times annoying constancy of nasal dripping."
At first this seemed like a perfect fit until I found multiple sources stating that CSF is a clear liquid unless it is accompanied by blood. As I researched further I found multiple reports of this mystery liquid leaking shortly after blunt force trauma. It appears that depending on the individual and the trauma that a bright yellow liquid can discharge as a result of such an occurance, however it is uncommon.
The next thing that struck me was that upon the examination of Nancy Argentino's body the specialists noticed that there were over two dozen cuts and contusions found among her head, chin, buttocks, legs, ears, arms, back, feet and hands. The terminology used by the professionals here was that it was a likely "mate abuse" situation. For me personally I was kind of shocked to see that terminology. Maybe I am naive and don't treat women the way a seemingly alarmingly high rate of other men do, but I initially suspected she might have been the victim of a break in, and was as a result sexually assaulted. Reports concluded though that Nancy and Jimmy were the only two individuals who had been in their room that evening.
Once it started to sink in that not only could someone abuse a women so thoroughly, but that it was potentially perpetrated by one of my childhood heroes- I honestly felt sick. I tend not to just willingly accept what is popular sentiment though until I feel satisfied with the answers, so I felt the need to look into Jimmy's other relationships, and his parenting...
I have found no report on Jimmy having ever physically abused his children. On the contrary, apart from some recollection of him being a stern father, he was mostly remembered as a loving and caring dad while his children were growing up. Multiple of his children did however state that there was abuse amongst Jimmy and their mother- although they have also eluded to the fact that the abuse was two-sided, and at times provoked by their mother Sharon.
For a while in the WWF Buddy Rogers was assigned to travel with Jimmy to essentially keep him on the up and up, and help him get to his bookings. Buddy's wife became friends with Sharon and it became readily apparent to them both that Jimmy used to beat his wife regularly.
An apparent former girlfriend of Jimmy's was also trying to convince Nancy leading up to her death that Snuka was a dangerously abusive man. Nancy's younger sister once recalled Snuka threatening her when they were alone saying, "I could kick you and put my hands around your throat and nobody would know." Whether you believe that or not coming from someone who monetarily stood to gain something from Snuka's prosecution, what is undeniable is that Jimmy had been arrested on January 18, 1983 at a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Salina, NY related to reports of Snuka abusing Nancy. He was initially arrested for 2nd and 3rd degree assault, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration. Despite an officer who responded to the call witnessing Jimmy at one point grabbing Nancy by her hair and dragging her face against the drywall; coupled with multiple complaints that night to the staff of the occupants in Jimmy's room being involved in a fight involving a man abusing a woman; and police initially reporting that Nancy had suffered a bruised right thumb, a contusion to the neck, possible fractured ribs, and injury to the lower back- Nancy swore later in a deposition that Jimmy never hit her or intentionally harmed her. That's not a classic abuse victim in a domestic partnership response if I've ever seen one...
I'm personally not enjoying uncovering this pattern of abuse. Especially not out of someone I idolized so much as a kid. One thing that keeps popping up in all of my research of Jimmy's abusive past was drugs. Two particular quotes stuck out to me made by Buddy Rogers, "Jimmy used to beat the shit out of that woman. (His then wife Sharon) She would show up at our house, bruised and battered. But she couldn’t leave him – he had her hooked on the same junk he was using" and, "Jimmy could be a sweet person, but on that stuff he was totally uncontrollable" in reference to Snuka's cocaine habit which subsequently was the reason Rogers, Snuka's next door neighbor at the time, stopped traveling with Jimmy due to a particular instance of Snuka snorting coke in the car while they were traveling together.
Another point of interest comes from 5 separate accounts of what Snuka had said in relation to the death of Nancy Argentino. Jimmy told a responding officer that he and Nancy "were fooling around" outside the hotel room door when he pushed her and she fell, thus striking her head; emergency room employees, Carol McBride and Susan St. Clair told police that Snuka had stated that he and Nancy had gotten into an argument and, "he pushed her and she fell back and hit her head"; Emergency room doctor John Fassl told police that Jimmy had said that he and Nancy were playing around and she, "was pushed and fell backwards and struck her head", and at some point after the fall they were fooling around again, with Snuka giving Nancy, "light slaps to the face"; and finally hospital chaplain Barbara Smith assisted Snuka in calling the Argentino family after Nancy was declared dead. Barbara mentioned to police that Jimmy had told her he and Nancy had stopped on the way to Allentown to go to the bathroom and were clowning around when he shoved her with, "his forearm and she fell backward on her back and hit her head on the concrete."
Snuka later denied those quotes, claiming that the individuals had misheard him. Jimmy stood firm by the story that on their way (Nancy & Jimmy) to Allentown they had stopped along the road to relieve themselves, and that Nancy had slipped on grass and hit the back of her head against some concrete. Jimmy stated that he believed the hit had given her a bad concussion, yet he admittedly slapped her in the face to get her to come to, and had her drive them the rest of the way to Allentown due to Jimmy not having a license. Snuka went on stating that she seemed out of it, and in the morning Nancy had chosen to stay in bed and rest. Jimmy claims to have checked in on her twice the next day; once in between tapings, and a 2nd time immediately after the tapings, which contradicted testimony by Don Muraco and Mr. Fuji who had both stated that Snuka went out with them immediately after the tapings to have a few drinks.
Despite his history of prior abuse, inconsistencies in story, and all of the signs seemingly pointing to Snuka having killed Argentino, the case went cold immediately following a meeting on June 1st of 1983 between Snuka, Vincent K. McMahon, and investigators. Jimmy Snuka's recollection of the meeting was ridiculous. He stated that all he knew was that Vince had a briefcase and was talking, and that all he knew was that he didn't hurt Nancy... His recollection also seemingly coincides with an investigators impression of Jimmy at the scene of the crime. The investigator noted that Jimmy seemed to be playing dumb, using his cultural gap as a means to come off as naive, "I’ve seen that trick before, he was letting McMahon act as his mouthpiece.” To this day nobody seems to know why the case lost all traction after that meeting, however I dug a bit more to find some surprising information.
Nancy Argentino's family hired 2 separate private investigations to be conducted. The first was by a lawyer out of New York named Richard Cushing. Mr. Cushing concluded based on what he found that Jimmy Snuka should have been indicted, and speculated as to why he wasn't, "I came away feeling Snuka should have been indicted. The police and the D.A. felt otherwise. The D.A. seemed like a nice enough person who wanted to do nothing. There was fear, I think, on two counts: fear of the amount of money the World Wrestling Federation had, and physical fear of the size of these people.” Cushing went further, "Moreover, Vince McMahon made it clear to me that her (Nancy's) reputation would be besmirched." Mr. Cushing also disclosed after interviews with Vince something else that the head of WWF had said to him, "Look, I’m in the garbage business. If you think I’m going to be hurt by the revelation that one of my wrestlers is really a violent individual, you’re mistaken."
What some believe to have been the cases unraveling was the lack of evidence substantiating the death as a homicide rather than simple negligence, although many question why the case never seemed to receive the follow through typically displayed in other cases of a similar nature. The contradiction was also despite the initial Autopsy Reports findings that Nancy displayed no signs or material associated with a fall on pavement, and their insistence to the District Attorney's office to treat the case as a homicide, and conduct investigations accordingly. Despite the case mysteriously going cold, Nancy's family managed to win a civil suit against Snuka for the wrongful death of their daughter, thus awarding them five hundred thousand dollars. Money that the family has still yet to see due to Snuka citing that he had no money to give them, stating that he no longer had any of the money he had made while employed with the WWF.
An announcement was just made earlier this year that a Pennsylvania grand jury will be reopening and investigating the case in light of the autopsy report and interviews mentioned above being recently released and made available to the public in 2013. Although this information is new to the public, it was available to authorities 31 years ago when the case went cold. With multiple experts stating that the case has gained no new footing or traction, it seems as if the reopening of the case is merely a formality to appease the general public's scrutiny. Some within the field have already stated that the case hasn't held up well in the time lapsed, meaning the chances of Snuka being found guilty are slim to none.
So where is the justice? After exhaustively researching this case I will admit that I now believe that James Reiher killed Nancy Argentino- although I still believe it was accidental, or involuntary manslaughter. Was Jimmy an abusive man who seemed to get a cheap thrill from hurting women? Undoubtedly yes. That does not make a murderer though. And I found no news on Snuka having killed anyone before. As much as this research has made me lose faith and respect for a personal hero of mine as a kid- I believe his intent was to harm Nancy, not to kill her. The difference between negligence and intent to kill is what will prevent this case from ending with Jimmy Snuka being found guilty of murder, and it should.
It should because the judicial system was put in place for our liberty and protection. Sometimes unsavory individuals will fall through the cracks, but as a whole we should be grateful that we have a system that goes to such great lengths to protect the rights of its citizens. We may want Snuka to pay for committing such despicable acts, but just because the judicial system won't grant us that, it doesn't mean that he hasn't already.
For a long time I was frustrated by the fans who so openly and maliciously attacked one of my all-time favorites. I couldn't understand how they could be so quick to judge without having all of the facts. After reviewing those facts here it seems the majority were right. Sadly I will never look at Jimmy Snuka the same way again. Goodbye childhood hero. Goodbye innocence.
Something that troubled me as much as the thought of one of my heroes abusing and killing a woman though was how fast a lot of people cast down judgement without all of the facts. The facts of the case weren't even made public until last year, yet a lot of people had already made up their minds and acted accordingly. Even if your initial assumption is right, it is a dangerous game to play with lives on the line to cast judgement before informing ourselves. If our judicial system wasn't held in check, and they acted in that vain a lot of innocent people would be wrongly sentenced. It has happened in the past. For every James Reiher brought to justice there would also be many more Leonard Peltier's having their freedoms unjustly stripped away. Cases like that are a solid reason why we need to embrace a system that requires guilt and intent to be firmly proven these days.
For over 30 years Jimmy has been serving a sentence. One created by the world around him, outside of the confines of a judicial system. It turned out to be a sentence he seems to deserve, but what if last year those reports showed something that completely exonerated Jimmy? At that point all of those death threats, treatment and hatred would be irreversible, and perpetrated onto an innocent man. So it seems many of us could cast irreversible judgement. I would be just as guilty in other instances.
This column wound up showing me more than the truth about Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka- it showed me a truth both I, and a large portion of the audience has within ourselves. We have the ability to reason. Which should separate us from those like Jimmy, who have acted outside of it. None of us should act solely on here say, or our initial emotional responses/impulses- because then the question is no longer "could you?", but rather, "what separates us from him?"
In some ways not nearly enough...
And that wraps up day 13. Any comments or discussion? You know what to do. Join me tomorrow for the last day of week 2, and the 2nd part of today's topic. Tomorrow I will discuss what has happened since I wrote today's column. I am Kleckamania, and thanks for reading!
Welcome back party people! Listen, I'll level with you, my youngest toddler smashed my tablet a while ago on purpose- he is entering that age of development parents fondly refer to as 'pure hell' -the ages of two through three. And lucky us, he does everything super early! So we get to look forward to extra jerk time thanks to our little proud overachiever! I really do love the child, but bedtime was necessary for daddies sanity, and beer happened- a few at least. God I'm a wreck, one minute I'm praising Jake The Snake's sobriety and the next I'm drinking oil tankers and writing nonsense. This is Kleck, and for better or for worse, this is how I daily.
This daily should cheer me up. For it is of a legend. On the level of Paul Bunyon, but of professional wrestling fame- of course I am speaking of Rosa Mendes.
A Legend Retires (A Look Back On A True GOAT)
February 13th of 2017 will go down in infamy as the day professional wrestling suffered it's greatest blow.
Listen, I know just the mere mention of Rosa Mendes' retirement sends shockwaves of sadness through collective humanities very being, but in honor of the legend she was, we need to pay homage to her.
This super being won a staggering 10ish times while suffering only about 100 losses as a WWE competitor.
What's more impressive is almost all of her wins involved teamwork, often times in 4-1 or 6-1 matches against the ever mighty and daunting Nikki Bella. You could even say Rosa had Nikki's number in the ring.
Her 100 some odd loses were clearly flukes, just smoke and mirrors to distract from her pedigree of excellence. After all you can't intimidate people with greatness too much.
In her off time Rosa liked to get super drunk, (high?), and pregnant.
Rosa's humanitarianism knew no bounds, as in her endeavor to enlighten people on human anatomy she showed us her boobies and bare butt multiple times in the name of education. As a side note we appreciated those lessons greatly.
Rosa never returned after giving birth to her baby girl Jordan, many consider Jordan to be her only true kryptonite in professional wrestling. And after reflecting back on her impressive win/loss record, it is no wonder why.
Rosa set a streak of only losing 6 times in Pay Per View matches, her career PPV record of 0-6 will go down in the record books as a truly imposing record to break.
I know I am not the only fan who is crushed by this tragic retirement, but I was the first to speak out, as the others were just too sad. And do you blame them? Rosa was a hallmark of achievement and domination, plus she was pretty, and had fantastic hair. WWE has truly lost one of the greats.
But Rosa wouldn't want us to dwell on the negatives, she would want us to be like her and celebrate- party a lot. Like a lot lot.
Only then can we hope to ascertain her true value to WWE, and professional wrestling as a whole.
And with that I say sweet dreams princess of ..... Canada?!?! Who would have guessed?!?
Anyways, we will miss you. You were an asset to WWE, and the entire universe. We will carry your legend on through eternity, or until the booze wears off. Thank you Rosa!
Well there it is- are you touched? Don't even pretend you aren't! That tribute would warm even the coldest of cockels. Rosa was a bi-racial angel! I know it may be too soon, and the pain still too real, but if you would like to celebrate Rosa's greatness with me in the comments section below it would be gladly welcomed. Until then I am Kleckamania, thank you for joining me for this heavy hearted column, and I will see you tomorrow.
Welcome back to day 11 of Kleck Goes Daily! So I've decided to go ahead and do 1 more what if. Call it a flash back of love for Marvel Comics back in the day. Though this column isn't likely to contain any glimpses into alternate reality Wolverines or Spider-Mans- well besides that one. This column is about Mark Henry though, and a moment in time that I think he was absolutely robbed by WWE. Let's take a look...
What If??? (Mark Henry Beat John Cena In 2013)
There is this segment that happened on Monday Night RAW on June 17th of 2013, that I rank as one of the absolute best heel moments in professional wrestling history. In fact, when I think about the biggest heel moments in wrestling, I can only think of about 4 off the top of my head that might top it. You'll wonder if I don't tell you so Hogan joining NWO, Bully Ray revealing he was the leader of Aces & 8's to Brooke and Hulk Hogan, Montreal Screwjob, and the dastardly Shawn Michaels putting poor Marty Jannetty through the barbershop glass window (I'm still butt hurt over this. HBK you ruined the Rockers you monster!) Those are the only moments that seem to compare to this one in my mind.
The moment I'm referring to is Mark Henry's fake retirement speech/segment. If you haven't seen this yet I urge you to check it out as soon as you can! For anyone who didn't watch WWE around that time, or simply forgot, Mark Henry was in the midst of one of the best heel runs I can recall. The man was simply on fire in his character work, and was one of the most believable heel monsters ever when WWE booked him right. And this moment in time was his masterpiece.
John Cena was cutting a promo when Mark approached the ring. John hessitated, because like I said back then Mark was one of the biggest heels, but then Mark walked past and started cutting a retirement speech. With tears in his eyes, and a slightly shakey voice, the genuineness dropped most everyone's guard, including John's. And in the perfect moment, in one fluid motion Mark went from going in for an embrace with John, to entering him into the Hall Of Pain. It was one of the most genius heel moments I've ever seen in my life.
So what happened next? Well that spot led perfectly into a WWE Title match at Money In The Bank. Though John retained the title...
Why? Well if you remember the very next PPV was Summerslam, as in the Summerslam Daniel Bryan finally beat Cena clean to win the WWE Championship. The very same night Randy Orton cashed in his recently won MITB Briefcase to win the WWE Championship over Daniel Bryan just minutes later. This was the moment in the story arch where the Authority turned on Daniel Bryan.
At this point you realize that regardless of who won between Mark and John at MITB, that the main storyline went directly through the WWE Championship for the remainder of the year. Well damn. That just seems so tragic for Mark, as truly that promo/segment was the pinnacle of heel work. The guy deserved to be rewarded! Though I do think WWE could have still given Mark the strap at MITB and made it work.
Granted, he would have only held the belt for a month, but what he did in that moment deserved at least something if you ask me. Especially considering Mark has never held that title, and most likely never will considering his career is just about done at this point.
The storyline didnt demand Bryan beat Cena, though I admit we would be losing out on a match that I believe to this day is still the highest rated WWE match by Dave Meltzer. This is tough. It just sucks to see Mark not get proper recognition for such brilliance, but you can understand at least slightly why he didn't in that moment because of WWE's plans for Daniel Bryan.
There were options though, and I think WWE could have given him something. Del Rio was the current World Heavyweight Champ, and his only notable beef was with Rob Van Dam at the time. Months later of all people Cena beat Del Rio, and if you remember he carried the World Heavyweight Championship to December when he lost it to Orton in the unifying match at TLC. Did Cena have to have both spots? No. And as much as I respect Cena these days, I still think Mark could have been rewarded with at least the WHC. Maybe Cena retained the WWE Title via some flukey spot against Henry, and after Cena beat Del Rio for the WHC Henry comes knocking and finally beats Cena? That would have also fit bitter if WWE was determined on Damian Sandow losing his cash in match, as if he loses to someone like Henry at least the crowd heat works for his character!
I am a bit bitter about it still. Partially because I think Henry was at times criminally underutilized, and not allowed to run at the top of the card as much as he deserved in that particular stretch of his career, but mainly because a moment like that is something all wrestlers, and particularly heels aspire to. That retirement spot was masterclass work! So it sucks to see a guy not get a proper push as a result. I get why it didn't happen, but that doesn't mean it sits well.
I guess the only true consolation that can be given at this point is if Henry sees columns like this, and knows that his heel work did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. That moment was beautiful, and that stretch of Henry's career is among my all-time favorite heel work in all of professional wrestling. I didn't really like him at the beginning of his career, but the guy worked hard to become one of the best modern heels WWE has had. When he retires I know I'll miss him, and remember moments like that very fondly.
Well that wraps up today. Any comments, opinions, insight? Let's discuss it below! Until then thank you for joining me once again, and hopefully see you tomorrow!
Hello all and welcome to day 10 of Kleck Goes Daily! We've gone double digits! Today I wanted to cover a topic that kind of sprung up in my mind as a direct result of yesterday's column. Today's topic isn't an example of a time WWE absolutely should have booked on the fly, because as you'll see below who knows the consequences or chain reaction that would stem from a change of booking on this particular night. That is kind of what this column is though, just a glimpse into the what if. The event this is centered around is the 2012 version of Elimination Chamber (World Heavyweight Title match), and the what if is What If Santino Marella Won? Well then let's take a look...
What If??? (Elimination Chamber 2012)
When I wrote yesterday's column I was thinking of times that I thought booking probably should have been different- moments that I felt WWE might have missed out on an opportunity. This particular match was one of the two moments that immediately jumped into my mind (maybe I'll cover the other one tomorrow if people would like? And or if I'm motivated to lol). For today though, particularly, I thought that Santino Marella should have won the 2012 World Heavyweight Elimination Chamber match.
Santino Marella, a World Heavyweight Champion- A stretch right? 99 percent of the time I would agree, though in this one instance I think he could have easily fit in that role. As we discuss this though I want to set the stage by talking about the match and background a little bit first.
Leading into this event Randy Orton was supposed to be involved in this match but was pulled last minute due to an injury caused by Daniel Bryan. So to determine who would replace Orton, Teddy Long held trial matches and a Battle Royal. Goofy Santino, the comedy relief wrestler, pulled off the improbable, and as a result won a spot in this match.
In the time leading up to the match, including on the PPV, WWE ran vignettes of Santino, portraying him like fictional character Rocky Balboa. He was training and preparing for the match in a light hearted nature. This was made more humorous by the average fan knowing in their heart Santino stood no chance of actually winning.
As the match is about to start a young Daniel Bryan comes down to the ring with the World Heavyweight Title around his waist, chanting "Yes" back when fans boo'd him heavily. If you don't remember, at this point Daniel was firmly a heel, currently being sexist and manipulative with his scripted girlfriend AJ Lee. And he had even used her as a shield, and then an emotional crutch to attack Big Show both physically and mentally. When I saw him my eyes started to immediately well up, apparently I'm still nowhere near over him retiring.
As Big Show comes out you can see the biggest theme of the match, Show's new found anger and hatred towards DB. At this point I also came to the realization that only one of the six participants in this match is still an active wrestler in WWE, with Wade Barrett, Great Khali, Cody Rhodes and Santino no longer working for the company, while Daniel is retired but still on the payroll as the general manager of Smackdown. This means Big Show is the only guy left. How many people would have guessed then that he would be the one left if asked in the moment? Probably nobody. Pretty crazy to think about only four years later.
As the match rolls on I am reminded that this was the best Elimination Match I can ever remember watching, as the intertwined story archs and the use of the chamber and pods themselves was outstanding throughout. Particularly the best moment for me was when Daniel Bryan was the last entrant remaining in a pod, and Big Show broke into his pod and started beating him down in the pod before Daniel was even technically in the match!
There was a running overall theme of everyone beating the hell out of Santino, as often Santino was either laid out cold, or about to be after attempting to mount offense against the various entrants. There was also a building theme of Cody Rhodes against Big Show, as if you remember this match led into their feud match at that year's Wrestlemania, finalized by Cody Rhodes eliminating Big Show in this match.
Towards the end we are left with Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, and Santino, and each time Santino mounts offense the fans are getting more and more vocal, starting to pull hard for the ultimate underdog. By the time Santino sneaks in a pin on Wade right after a Daniel Bryan flying headbutt the crowd is reaching a fever pitch for him, as with only two people left people start to wonder if he can actually pull off the impossible.
The running theme of Santino being a joke continues, as once Daniel Bryan realizes Santino is the only opponent left he laughs hysterically and jokes about it. They go back and forth a little and Santino actually nails Daniel with the Cobra! The fans are stunned and now on their feet, collectively screaming in approval of Santino picking up the win but DB kicks out on a nearfall! As Santino sits for a second in disbelief, Daniel immediately no sells the finisher and locks in the Yes Lock on Santino. Santino nearly fights out but Daniel reapplies it for the win. When Santino was fighting out of the Yes Lock the fans were going nuts, and once he taps out fans boo'd so loudly. It is hard to remember days when crowds boo'd Daniel this much. This night it was a mixture of DB being a dastardly heel, and people rallying behind Santino.
There was a building narrative throughout of fans going from laughing at Santino, to slowly pulling for him, concluding with fans on their feet cheering wildly for him. When he taps out you can almost hear the wind collectively leave the arena, as fans realize the proverbial cinderella has left the ball.
I count myself as a massive Daniel Bryan fan, but even in the moment, I remember watching the conclusion for the first time in real time, and thinking Santino should have won. And today as I revisited the match, I felt the same way, but stopped to think about what happened immediately after this match.
If you remember the very next PPV was Wrestlemania, as in the Wrestlemania that Sheamus beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Title in about 18 seconds. So if Santino won this chamber match that encounter might not have ever happened, as WWE seemed hell bent on putting the strap on the Celtic Muppet. This is where the butterfly effect comes in, if DB never faced Sheamus at Wrestlemania 28, how would DB have been booked?
Would he have still been put on the underdog path that led to his historic WWE Title win just two Wrestlemania's later? Would he have still been booked into anger management with Kane? Would the fans have still wound up rallying behind him if he wasn't embarrassed so thoroughly at Wrestlemania 28? We will never truly know.
It is safe to assume that at the time WWE had no plans of pushing Daniel Bryan to that level, though his heel run definitely opened their eyes to his potential. Did the crowd reaction at that Wrestlemania truly begin the ball rolling for Daniel Bryan? I think a lot of fans misremember this moment, as when it happened, Sheamus was cheered and fans were dominantly laughing and happy. So I don't think personally that that Wrestlemania moment was crucial in DB's eventual rise to prominence, though it did add a layer to his character of people questioning his adequacy, especially Kane when they eventually formed team Hell No.
It really makes you wonder what exact moment started that ball rolling for DB.
Meanwhile if Santino won there is a good chance he would have eaten that loss at Wrestlemania to Sheamus, though if not I could see a 4-5 month title reign being wildly entertaining if WWE booked it right. I could see Santino pulling off sloppy, flukey wins every time he fought while champ, and then eventually losing the title the one time he wrestled great and his opponent was the one who caught some fluke luck. A comedically tragic title run, perfectly fitting of Santino. And even if not, it would have even fit his character better to eat that quick loss at Wrestlemania to Sheamus, as it was a running theme of Santino getting pumped up just to get smashed quick. The comedically tragic running theme of the character's wrestling life.
It almost fits so well that you wonder if that was the original intention of booking, and WWE just got cold feet last minute and decided to keep the strap on Daniel Bryan instead, just putting him into that spot with Sheamus. We may never know. Though to this day a big part of me thinks WWE may have missed a trick by not gifting Santino that one World Title win. And it sure seemed WWE had intentions greater than Santino just losing when you consider all of the promos and vignettes of Santino leading up to the match (way more then any other contestant in the match). An interesting what if scenario to think about...
What do you think? I'd love to hear your insight and or thoughts on any of this in the comments section below! And in the meantime I thank you for once again joining me today, and hope you will join me again tomorrow for Day 11, where I think I might just dive into the other What If that crossed my mind initially, as I feel way more strongly about that one being handled wrong- but that is a topic for tomorrow. Until then, I'm Kleckamania, and good night!
Hello all and welcome back to the column series that takes less days off than Darren Young! This is Kleck Goes Daily! Today I wanted to discuss something that was inspired from tonight's main event on Smackdown. So let's get to it!
On The Fly Booking (Continuity Is Key)
On tonight's episode of Smackdown there was a Battle Royal main event to determine who would be facing Bray Wyatt for the WWE World Title in his triple threat match with Randy Orton at Wrestlemania.... oops, that part hasn't happened yet.
In the closing moments of the match a mistake occurred between AJ Styles and Luke Harper. How do I know this? Well because of what happened immediately after.
What Happened: Both AJ Styles and Luke Harper tumbled out to the floor, with AJ's feet very obviously touching first.
What Happened After: Refs had a meeting of the "minds" and determined that it was too close to call.... resulting in a tie.
What Happened After The After: Daniel Bryan came out and agreed that it was a tie, despite watching it on a television screen in the back. He then ordered the two men to face next week on Smackdown to determine who would go on to face Wyatt at Wrestlemania.
Listen, we get it. You guys had plans for it to actually be a tie. It was planned for both guys feet to touch at the same time so that you could draw out Luke Harper winning until next week's Smackdown. The company needs ratings and you guys gotta keep it compelling.
The problem is that everyone at home who was watching, and have working eyes, saw AJ Styles' feet touch first, and it wasn't even remotely close. Sometimes plans don't work out- especially in a scripted live action sport like wrestling. Sometimes booking doesn't go as planned. And covering it up simply won't suffice.
I won't just complain though, I'll offer some tips and suggestions. So what should and shouldn't be done in those kind of moments?
What Shouldn't Be Done: Literally the exact thing you did tonight.
What Should Be Done: Don't treat your fans like morons and pretend something went one way when it blatantly didn't.
It was a mistake, it was unplanned, we get that. But don't try to force things to go the way they were booked beforehand. Especially in moments like this when it is so extremely noticeable. This is one of those moments where WWE needs to book on the fly.
In order to not alienate us, in that moment they should have acknowledged that it didn't work out and just awarded Luke Harper with the deserved win. The alternate to that is literally WWE telling us that we didn't see what we saw.
A bit condescending, especially when you think back to times in the past when matches were restarted, or decisions were reversed based on officials watching on tvs in the back. A precedent had been set by WWE numerous times in the past. So in moments like this, all continuity goes right out the proverbial window. We know there is no way Daniel Bryan watched from the back and couldn't determine who won. We were watching the same match, it couldn't have been more blatantly obvious who won outright.
Why is this so important? Well it is one of the biggest issues with WWE programming. Continuity tends to be beaten to death on a semi consistent basis. It is a big put off for your consumers to be told what they saw, or think is wrong when the proof is right there on tape, and they're being told they are wrong by officials who have access to the proof right there at their disposal, and are supposed to be on the level. It's a different story when the official is a heel, then it is a great touch of storytelling. The problem with this though is that Daniel Bryan is one of the biggest faces in company history, so that doesn't apply here even slightly.
It very clearly wasn't an angle, it was just an honest mistake. The issue is trying to cover it up instead of acknowledging it was a mistake, and booking from there accordingly. I guess it rubs me the wrong way so much because everytime something like this happens, it feels like WWE assumes and thinks that we are essentially neanderthals who make Forrest Gump seem as intellectual as Stephen Hawking. It's a bit disrespectful to fans, insulting to our intelligence. And when you are in the business of providing a good or service for a consumer base, one of the absolute worst things you can do is to insult your customers intelligence. Which is kind of how I was made to feel when they pretended it was a draw tonight.
It's inconvenient, it sucks because you had it scripted to go down one way, and would need to change all of that just to not alienate your consumer base, but that's a part of business. You gotta roll with the punches in order for your fans to not feel insulted. And I'm kind of surprised that this kind of scenario hasn't been addressed from within the company, as this wasn't the first time we have seen, in particular, Royal Rumbles and Battle Royals end in a way that wasn't intended. And this is not the fault of the performers. When you think about it, it is asking a lot to expect two guys to sychronize something like that in the heat of the moment. So maybe using the tie trope in these matches should just be avoided altogether? All that means is the writers have to do a tiny bit more work to reach the same conclusion, but isn't that worth it in exchange for not pissing off your fans?
And I get that we are easily pissed off, we are a loud, obnoxious bunch truly, but this is a justifiable reason for us to be.
So yeah, the match was great up until that moment, but from that point on is the definition of why so many fans have walked away from the WWE product, and a big reason years ago why I started watching TNA as well- because I was sick and tired of the major continuity issues within the WWE product- so I sought continuity elsewhere.
And truly it is an easy fix. Continuity is so easy to maintain and keep track of. It isn't asking a lot by us fans to expect it. It's not like we are asking for Chikara level continuity, just the basics. So if anyone within WWE reads this, please seriously consider it, as moments like this kind of make me as a fan of 30 plus years want to take a break or watch other wrestling promotions that don't blatantly insult my intelligence. /end rant
Phew! I knew the second I saw that finish what I was gonna write about, and I knew I'd be heated. This is just one of those buttons for me. Continuity is big. If I didn't want continuity I'd just watch a bunch of random things happen one after another all the time, with no rhyme or reason- kind of like a Stanley Kubrick film. When I watch wrestling though, I need finite rules and set storylines. Changing those things on whims because it better fits a current story arch pretty much taints the entire product. But maybe I am overreacting?
Am I? What do you think about this? I'd love to discuss it in the comments section below! Until then I am Kleckamania- thank you for reading, and I hope to see you all tomorrow for day 10!
Welcome all to day 8 of Kleck Goes Daily! I figured the last thread was getting a little too long, so for scrolling purposes I decided to start a fresh one. Now I have a new blank canvas to taint (muwahaha)! I figured today we could look at some of the happenings from Monday Night RAW and discuss what said happenings might mean going ahead into Fast Lane and Wrestlemania. Shall we?
Strowmans & Romans & Big Shows Oh My! (Where's Shaq?!?)
As many of you were aware, there were rumors of Big Show facing off against Shaquille O'Neal at Wrestlemania. I believe Big Show even confirmed this himself? And in the past few months Show has been off TV bulking up bigtime (Big Show with abs depresses me), so it seemed like we had found out WWE's big gimmick/celebrity match for the annual classic. Then of course news surfaces (Via Big Show's Twitter) that Big Show is set to return tonight to face..... Braun Strowman?!?
This threw me for a loop. One thing you can bank on with WWE is that when a wrestler is set to have a big match at a PPV as big as Wrestlemania, win or lose in that match they will be booked very strong leading into it. Not to mention tonight marked Big Show's return to the active roster after having a fair amount of time off. Returns usually translate into wins as well, as often times a big break signifies a bit of a character revamp. So when Big Show versus Strowman was announced for tonight I was definitely scratching my head.
Especially when of all opponents Show could face he squares off with Strowman, who is (I believe?) still undefeated and being built up as this unstoppable monster. Immovable object versus unstoppable force seems a bit odd considering the circumstances.
So at first I definitely figured there would be a screwy finish to the match, as either man losing right now would make absolutely zero sense. My money was on Reigns coming out and causing a disqualification, but nope, Strowman won squeaky clean... Did I miss something??
All I can gather from this is that the match with Shaq is not happening at Wrestlemania, though if it isn't then why would they bring Big Show back now? You'd imagine WWE had an idea in mind for Show to return now, and it involved some kind of Wrestlemania angle, so why feed Show to Strowman right out of the gate?
The odd booking didn't stop there though, as an exhausted Strowman destroyed a fresh Roman Reigns immediately after the match... This kind of writing makes me wonder if WWE has some very poorly trained chimps booking RAW for them. Not to mention what does that say about the current RAW Tag Team Champs considering Roman Reigns has single handedly dominated them two weeks in a row? Just terrible booking honestly. I get that they want Roman to go into Fast Lane looking beastly, but then why logically would he get obliterated when he jumps a guy who just had a grueling match? Is that to say that Gallows and Anderson only equate to a fraction of Braun Strowman, considering? Way to make the tag straps look like a total joke, WWE. Looks like we know who will win the RAW Tag Titles at Wrestlemania- here's a hint, their name starts with an "R" and ends with "ealest guys in the room" (assuming the feud carries through Fast Lane, which I think it will).
With two weeks to go until Fast Lane we can guess based on reverse booking that Reigns will stand tall on next week's RAW, and then Strowman will win at Fast Lane. At least I hope that is how this is going, as if Reigns just unceremoniously ends Strowman's streak at a smaller PPV like Fast Lane, especially considering it is the PPV immediately before Wrestlemania, then it seems like WWE is just shooting themselves in the foot. Everything about this just reaks of a false finish between these guys at Fast Lane then, as undoubtedly both have matches at Wrestlemania, and they both need to go in looking strong, right? The question now remains though, who are each of these guys facing at Wrestlemania?
This is where my stomach starts to slowly churn. You know, that moment right before an epic puke fest? As it seemed obvious based on watching the Royal Rumble that the Undertaker is set to square off against Reigns at Wrestlemania. So is this all just a build to make Roman look ready for Taker? And does that mean WWE is about to feed Strowman to Reigns at Fast Lane? Ugh. Will they never learn?
I will say though it has seemed obvious to me that WWE is slowly turning Reigns heel, but his build coming at the expense of Strowman and the RAW tag champs seems like a terrible idea. And it definitely feels like that is exactly what is about to happen, especially considering Strowman has no set in stone opponent for Wrestlemania as of yet (that I know of unless I missed something?).
And if WWE is doing all of this and it doesn't result in Reigns beating Taker in heel fashion at Wrestlemania, then I am pretty close to being at wit's end in regards to WWE's fetish with pushing a face Roman Reigns. Newsflash, the fans boo Reigns even when completely unprovoked. The man can just show up on screen and be smiling and fans very loudly, audibly boo. I'm not sure I can say Reigns will never be accepted as a face by the fans, but if it ever happens, it will be years from now, after Reigns goes full circle. If WWE keeps trying to skip the heel part then they have no one to blame but themselves for fans turning on the product.
And beside all of that, where does this leave Big Show and Braun Strowman? Do they have another match at Mania? Seems a bit odd considering Strowman just thoroughly beat Show on RAW. All in all I'd say the bookers for RAW just grabbed storyline continuity by the throat and chokeslammed it to wherever Kane kayfabe resides. Unless of course this is all leading to an extended program between Reigns and Strowman, though if that happens it seems not so suspenseful unless their Fast Lane match results in no clear winner.
To me, all of this makes me think WWE just had to scramble and change booking on the fly because something just fell through. My guess is two things just fell through- no Shaq at Mania, and the Reigns versus Taker match is up in the air at best, or simply not happening. When you see booking as terribly bad as we saw tonight on RAW, oftentimes it signals a big, abrupt change of course in longer term booking. And my money is on one, or both of those things.
Though it seems too premature to think Reigns versus Taker isn't happening, especially when you look to the past and see how all of Taker's opponents for Mania are typically booked right before the match(es) (as red hot as the sun). So truly the only way we will be able to determine which it is is once we have seen the finish to Strowman vs. Reigns at Fast Lane. Nothing like anticipating a match because you are horrified to imagine it ending in one particular way. I'm starting to think WWE likes it when we dread the results of a Roman Reigns match, which is a big reason I do think he is going full heel soon. The other outcome would indicate WWE is completely inept and clueless, which I refuse to believe considering the empire they have built.
So Monday Night RAW ends and we are seemingly left with more questions then we had when we came in. Not always a bad thing, but in this instance all the questions seem to come from really really bad booking. Yuck. Looks like we have to wait another week with baited breath to see if things clear up. Though considering what we just saw tonight, I'm guessing we aren't in Kansas anymore...
And that wraps up day 8. Any questions, comments, or theories about this topic? I'd love to discuss it in the comments section below. Until then I'm Kleckamania, as always thank you for reading, and I hope to see you tomorrow!