The Very Foolish Sarah Tressler

Let’s play The Empathy Game.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a moment.  Let’s say you’re a young writer in your 20s.  You’re highly educated with a couple of internships under your belt which allowed you to gain some experience working for the media.  All of this leads you to a job interview with a well-established newspaper.  But there’s a problem.

Because media internships are usually unpaid (you’re essentially a volunteer worker), you need to make money elsewhere.  Even if you’re lucky to get a side job at a restaurant or a retail store, the money’s not great.  But if you’re good looking and in decent enough shape to become a stripper, you’ll get paid considerably more.

So, let’s say you get the stripper gig and your financial situation brightens.  But you really want to make an impression on this newspaper that’s looking for a reporter to cover a particular beat, a job you would much rather have.  Here’s the big question:  do you tell them about your other gig?

Sarah Tressler didn’t inform The Houston Chronicle that she had been stripping in gentlemen’s clubs off and on for years.  (ABC News reports she started in 2004 although she herself notes here that she had entered one at age 16.  She doesn’t specify whether she was an employee or a patron at the time.  April 2 UPDATE:  Tressler responds in a comment on this entry that she was just a customer.  I appreciate the clarification.)  Starting out as a freelancer, the 29-year-old ultimately became a full-time reporter covering high society stories for the conservative Texas city broadsheet.  (Besides the stripping, she’s also a lecturer at the University Of Houston, according to her LinkedIn profile.)

But after this story surfaced, she got fired.

It turns out that Tressler has been maintaining a blog about her stripping experiences since August 2009.  Entitled Diary Of An Angry Stripper, she lays out everything you’d ever want to know about the strip club business.  Having gone through a number of her pieces, I’m relieved I was never one of her customers.  She might need to talk to Dr. Drew about her chronic addiction to complaining.

But back to her firing.  Did the Chronicle have any legal justification in letting her go?  From what I can tell, no.  Did Tressler really have an obligation to inform the paper of her other gig at any time during her employment?  Probably not.  She wasn’t doing anything illegal and wasn’t really embarrassing the paper in any concrete way.  Furthermore, she wasn’t on company time when she was stripping.  What she does away from the paper is her own damn business.

That being said, Tressler’s whining about being exposed by that Houston Press article is absurd.  First, her site is publicly available.  Anyone can access it.  Second, Tressler didn’t exactly hide her identity on there.  After every single entry and comment she makes you’ll find “sarahtress”.  Guess what her official Twitter account is.  You guessed it:  sarahtress.

Let’s go even further.  On her Angry Stripper Twitter account, you’ll find this and this.  On the Sarah Tress account, there’s this.  No one needed to hire Adrian Monk to solve this mystery.

I’m no clinical psychologist but Tressler appears to be suffering from Megan Fox Disease, a terrible disorder that affects beautiful young women in their 20s.  It works like this.  The MFD sufferer, secretly insecure and uncertain, projects an overly confident personality that rubs lesser mortals the wrong way.  They can be irritable, hypercritical, and generally unpleasant company, either in the workplace or in social settings, all the while blissfully unaware of the potential consequences said behaviour can inspire.  While they themselves find their antics absolutely hilarious, MFD sufferers are the only ones laughing.

They’re also horrifyingly indiscreet.  Fox, herself, dumbly compared her Transformers director Michael Bay to Hitler (which ultimately cost her a job in the second sequel).  As a result, she hasn’t had a hit movie since.  Tressler went much further about another famous person in a deeply embarrassing piece on her blog.

When she interned for US Weekly, she interviewed the actor Jeremy Piven.  They apparently hit it off and ended up fooling around.  She wrote about it on her Angry Stripper blog in a piece called “About Sarah, Contd” which I’d link to but she has since deleted it.  (You can’t find a cached copy, either.)  However, Gawker, among many other websites, quoted from it, before it disappeared.

One wonders what she stood to gain from publicly sharing this anecdote from her private life other than humiliating Piven who simply wanted to get it on with her.  (No crime was committed after all.)  Let me pose an obvious question:  what if the roles were reversed?  Would Tressler have been ok with Piven writing critically about her sexual skills, particularly if they were lacking, for all the world to see?  Would anyone want to read a public blog entry about how bad they suck at sex?

For someone as admirably educated and hardworking as Tressler to be so reckless like this is, quite frankly, perplexing.  Why would any self-respecting guy date someone this self-absorbed, disconnected and indiscreet?  Where is her common sense?  In the end, if she didn’t want anyone to know about her stripping, why would she make it so easy for anyone to find out about it?

While being interviewed by Good Morning America, she claimed the Houston Press story was “mean” and couldn’t understand why anyone would write about her like that.  With regards to her blog, I’m sure Piven and the guys who see her strip are wondering the exact same thing about themselves.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 31, 2012
11:17 p.m.

UPDATE:  Tressler responds with two comments under the name “sarahtress”.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 1, 2012
10:17 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  Tressler has posted a couple of recent entries on her Angry Stripper blog since being fired from The Chronicle.  In “OMIGOD I’m tired!”, she reveals that she deleted “most of my posts” but later says, “I’ll add some old posts periodically.”.  I guess she’s waiting for the fallout fom this story to die down, hence this sudden desire for literary housekeeping.  For a writer who wants to project an image of fearless outrageousness, this seems odd.

“Money and Media” is her first public attempt to make sense of her firing.  For the most part, it’s a thoughtful piece.  Tressler seems genuinely confused as to why her stripping gig was reported on in the first place and why she lost her reporting job over it.  She asks a lot of valid questions.  As a result, for the first time she comes across as a sympathetic figure.

That being said, she reiterates her feeling that the Houston Press story was “mean…because my termination was, I think, a foreseeable outcome.”  But is it really The Press’ fault for reporting an interesting fact that was in no way a big secret?  (And how would they know she would be fired?)  As I stated originally, Tressler made no real effort to conceal her identity in connection with her stripping.  Anyone who wanted to put two and two together could do so very easily.  Based on her above statement, she correctly determined that disclosing her stripping gigs to The Chronicle from the very beginning may have prevented her from even getting that reporting job in the first place.  She was essentially put in a no-win situation.

Her downplaying of her lucrative stripping gigs (“a little hobby”) and the Angry Stripper blog (“a little blog to write about it”) is an interesting albeit transparent defense tactic.  She told Good Morning America she can make 2000 bucks in a single night.  Her fearlessly bold writing style (see this as a key example) didn’t escape the notice of Maxim Magazine which mentioned her blog in its October 2010 issue.  (Tressler seemed deeply conflicted about it at the time.)

I suspect this attempt to minimize this part of her life is to persuade readers of the overall unnewsworthiness of the Houston Press story.  Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure many care that a professional writer strips on the site.  This revelation won’t affect many people’s daily lives.  I certainly don’t give a shit.  But when that same person maintains a public blog about it, well, it’s hard to argue with the Press’ decision to cover it.  It’s an entertaining media story, whether Tressler likes it or not.  In the end, the fact remains had The Chronicle not fired her, this story wouldn’t have gone global.

While it’s nice to see her in a more reflective, questioning mode (it sure beats the grumbly narcissist she usually is), I wonder if she has any regrets about being so cavalier about publicly revealing the general awfulness of stripping.  Surely, being professionally fulfilled matters more than a huge payday.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, April 2, 2012
3:40 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  Tressler offers a rebuttal to my previous update in the comment section of this entry.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, April 2, 2012
10:56 p.m.

UPDATE 4:  She must’ve made a great impression on Good Morning America.  According to this, Tressler has quickly rebounded with a new gig covering the aftermath of the recent Texas tornadoes for the ABC morning show staple.  Even though I’ve been critical of her, I do want to wish her well with her new job.  May she make the most of this new opportunity.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
3:14 p.m.

UPDATE 5:  Tressler has hired controversial attorney Gloria Allred to represent her as she pursues a recently filed complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding her firing from The Houston Chronicle.  The New York Daily News has more here.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, May 11, 2012
10:46 p.m.

Published in: on March 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm  Comments (21)  

All The Good Ones Aren’t Taken

I see you look through me
And I know I don’t have a chance
Your body language screaming
In its oddly defensive stance
Your eyes melt my skin
With lasers full of hatred
A passion that will never ignite
Your closedmindedness is too sacred

I often hear your complaints
About the lack of available good guys
And how you constantly attract creeps
Who can’t stop feeling up your thighs
But when you limit your possibilities
And refuse to change course
How do you hope to find fulfillment?
You know settling can still lead to divorce

Your indifference to better options
Always leaves you in a saddened state
At the rate things are going
I often wonder if you’re really straight
I’m actually being facetious
I know who you really are
But I’m far less appetizing
Than the hunks at your local bar

You hide behind your beauty
Wearing such an appealing mask
It helps steer the conversation away
From probing questions they could ask
Continuing along this beaten path
Is a wasted journey for a fool
You’re better off swimming
Towards the deeper end of the pool

Yet you remain blind to decency
Each and every time it comes calling
And you still put up with all these jerks
Don’t you ever find that appalling?
All these empty experiences
Would leave the weaker completely shaken
Your stubbornness prevents you from realizing
All the good ones aren’t taken

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 29, 2012
11:54 p.m.

Published in: on March 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Suggestions For The Next David Bowie Singles Collection

Fifteen years ago, EMI released The Best Of David Bowie 1969-1974, a terrific one-disc overview of the British rock legend’s first period of success.  Then, in 1998, the company issued The Best Of David Bowie 1974-1979, another awesome single disc collection.  Seven years after that, these two compilations were re-packaged with a third disc of hits (The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987, also very fine) and released under the name, The Platinum Collection.  (I would love to own a copy but can never find it.)  In 2007, The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987 got a separate release.  (The CD was paired with a bonus DVD of videos from that era.)

Although he never had another American Top 40 hit after 1987, Bowie continued to release a whole slew of successful rock radio singles, many of which cracked the Top 40 in Britain, for almost the next 20 years.  What better way to honour that overlooked period of his career than with another single-disc Best Of… collection.  Call it The Best Of David Bowie 1987-2003.

So, what songs should make the cut for this hypothetical conclusion to The Best Of David Bowie series?  Let’s sequence this imaginary collection in this order, one song at a time:

Track #1:  New Killer Star (Single Edit)

Nominated for a Grammy, this stellar opener to Bowie’s final, uneven studio album, 2003’s Reality, would also be a great way to open The Best Of David Bowie 1987-2003.  And yes, the title is a pun, just like Aladdin Sane.

Track #2:  Little Wonder (Single Edit)

The full version on the 1997 CD, Earthling, is six minutes long so if we want to find room for this jungle-inspired tribute to Bowie’s 70s heyday, it’s best to go with the four-minute single edit which simply excises an instrumental interlude and parts of the ending, without at all sacrificing the heart of the song and its unique multiple time-signature structure.

Track #3:  The Heart’s Filthy Lesson (Single Edit)

The best known single from the 1995 concept record, Outside, for a lot of younger alt-rock fans who weren’t around during his commercial and creative apex in the 70s and 80s, this was their first introduction to him, albeit a bleak and grimy one.

Track #4:  Never Let Me Down (Single Version)

Two singles from the much maligned 1987 album, Never Let Me Down, – Time Will Crawl and Day In, Day Out – were included on The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987.  But not the title song, a re-recording of the album version.  Considering it was the last American Top 40 hit Bowie would ever have, its inclusion is essential to this imaginary collection.

Track #5:  Under The God (with Tin Machine)

Deeply discouraged by his accessible dance music at the end of the 1980s, Bowie reunited with the solid rhythm section from Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album (Hunt and Tony Sales) and brought on board the talented Reeves Gabrels to form the short-lived Tin Machine.  This track from their 1989 self-titled debut was the biggest hit from it, reaching the Top 10 on American rock radio and Top 5 on modern rock stations.  Regardless of how one views their limited output, Tin Machine revived Bowie’s interests in futuristic experimentation and assured him another decade of studio work with Gabrels along for the ride.

Track #6:  The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Single Edit)

Loosely inspired by The Stooges’ Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (from the Bowie-produced Raw Power), it originally appeared on the 1999 CD, …Hours, in a slightly longer running time.  The single edit should suffice for The Best Of David Bowie 1987-2003.

Track #7:  Dead Man Walking (Single Edit)

Another epic track from Earthling, this lyrically wistful raver is about Bowie’s longtime creative and personal friendships with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, and his coming to terms with his mortality.  It clocks in at 7 minutes on the album but the four-minute single edit will do just fine.

Track #8:  Fame ’90 (Gass Mix)

As Bowie was gearing up for Tin Machine, he acquired the rights to most of his back catalogue from PolyGram and RCA.  He ultimately made a deal with indie label Rykodisc Records to reissue every studio and live album he made for those labels between 1969 and 1980 over the next few years.

After the 1989 release of the Sound + Vision box set, which kicked the whole reissue project off, Rykodisc put out Changesbowie, a 1990 greatest hits package whose title was inspired by the previous RCA releases, ChangesOneBowie and ChangesTwoBowie, but featured a very different track listing.  In order to push the album, a remix of his first number one in America was commissioned.  Working from the original single edit rather than the full album cut, the new version of Fame was remixed by John Gass and rechristened Fame ’90 (Gass Mix).

Although it wasn’t really necessary and is most definitely inferior to the original, the entertaining Fame ’90, which appeared on Changesbowie and the Pretty Woman soundtrack, did hit the Top 30 in the UK so that alone justifies its inclusion on our hypothetical compilation.

Track #9:  Real Cool World (Single Edit)

Five years after Never Let Me Down, Bowie released his first proper solo single in the 1990s, following the end of Tin Machine.  This song, from the god awful Cool World movie (which featured a young Brad Pitt and pretty much came and went in 1992), did a lot better on modern rock stations in the US than it did in the UK where it almost hit the Top 10.

Track #10:  Jump They Say (Single Edit)

Bowie’s last Top 10 hit in his native land was this cut from Black Tie White Noise.  Released in 1993, it was his first proper solo album in six years and reunited him with Chic guitarist Niles Rodgers, who produced the Let’s Dance album as well as Real Cool World.  The song was inspired by Bowie’s deceased half-brother Terry who suffered from schizophrenia and committed suicide in 1985.

Track #11:  I’m Afraid Of Americans (V1) (Single Edit)

This song was originally in contention for Outside but ultimately deemed unsuitable so it ended up on the Showgirls Soundtrack instead where it was promptly ignored.  The song was later tweaked for Earthling but curiously it was this Trent Reznor remix, AKA V1, that ended up being issued as the single version.

The closest he ever came to having an American Top 40 hit in the 90s (it peaked at #66 on the Billboard Hot 100), the song nevertheless proved popular on multiple rock radio formats and had a high rotation video clip on MTV.  Bowie even performed the song live during one of Howard Stern’s birthday broadcasts.

Track #12:  Without You I’m Nothing (with Placebo)

The original version of this song was the title cut of this fantastic English trio’s second album and just featured singer Brian Molko on the vocals.  But when a single version was commissioned, the band somehow convinced Bowie to record a vocal track which transformed the song into a rather unusual duet.  As far as outside collaborations go, this ranks right up there with Under Pressure and Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.  The Bowie version appeared as a bonus cut on early pressings of the Black Market Music CD but good luck finding a copy today.  It would be a worthy addition to The Best Of David Bowie 1987-2003.

Track #13 The Buddha Of Suburbia (with Lenny Kravitz)

Bowie made two albums in 1993, the dance-oriented Black Tie White Noise, and the soundtrack to a BBC miniseries called The Buddha Of Suburbia.  The latter featured two versions of the title cut, one of which was issued as a single.  That’s the one with Lenny Kravitz although, to be fair, there is little difference between the two takes.

Track #14:  Slow Burn (Single Edit)

I wasn’t a big fan of Heathen, Bowie’s less than spectacular 2002 reunion with his favourite producer Tony Visconti (who helmed many of his classic albums including his last, Reality), but this single was one of its highlights.  Although it previously appeared on the 2002 double disc North American version of Best Of Bowie, I see no reason to exclude it from my proposed singles collection.

Track #15:  One Shot (Tin Machine)

Bowie’s most successful North American single with Tin Machine was this 1991 track from the critically pummelled Tin Machine II.  It was in regular rotation on American rock stations despite being released in the year of Nevermind and Achtung Baby.

Track #16:  Hallo Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys Remix)

First, in 1969, there was Space Oddity.  Then in 1980, there was Ashes To Ashes.  But in 1995, Bowie wrote his final song about Major Tom, the troubled astronaut who disappeared from the former only to return in the latter.  The rollicking five-minute album version wasn’t issued as a proper single.  Instead, the Pet Shop Boys were commissioned to rework it for this remix version which I’ve never heard.  It would be a welcome choice for my proposed singles collection.

Track #17:  Black Tie White Noise (Single Edit w/ Al B. Sure!)

Inspired by the 1992 LA Riots, the title cut from Bowie’s first solo album of the ’90s was a modest Top 40 hit in Britain.

Track #18:  Strangers When We Meet (Outside Single Edit Version)

The 1995 album, Outside, marked Bowie’s first set of recordings with old collaborator Brian Eno in almost 20 years.  (They last worked together on Lodger back in 1979.)  A concept record about a grizzled detective investigating the murder of a teen prostitute, Strangers When We Meet is actually a re-recording of a song that originally appeared on The Buddha Of Suburbia.

Track #19:  Thursday’s Child (Single Edit)

The final song on my imaginary compilation should be this softer sounding single from …Hours.  While rock radio was given The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell to spin, pop and easy listening stations were offered this one instead.  One of Bowie’s biggest UK hits in the ’90s, it hit the Top 20 there in 1999.

And there you have it.  A 78-minute compilation that nicely sums up the last phase of this British legend’s unusually varied career.  So, when can we expect this idea to become a reality?  Anyone?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
4:51 p.m.

Published in: on March 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm  Comments (2)  

It’s Time

It’s time to be happy
It’s time to be productive
It’s time to be daring
It’s time to be seductive

It’s time for a change
It’s time for a vision
It’s time for a discovery
It’s time for a decision

It’s time not to resist
It’s time not to hold back
It’s time not to pretend
It’s time not to crack

It’s time I felt different
It’s time I felt transcendent
It’s time I felt important
It’s time I felt resplendent

It’s time they understood
It’s time they discovered
It’s time they prepared
It’s time they uncovered

It’s time to cheer up
It’s time to feel free
It’s time to move on
It’s time to let it be

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, March 25, 2012
5:57 p.m.

Published in: on March 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Problems With Bill Maher’s New York Times Op-Ed

“When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?”

That’s a question comedian Bill Maher poses in his recent New York Times Op-Ed.  Headlined “Please Stop Apologizing”, the host of HBO’s Real Time openly wonders why people are so easily offended by comments made by public figures.

The piece begins with the recent non-story about a lame joke Robert De Niro made about three of the wives of the Republican candidates at a Democratic Party fundraiser (“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”).

Newt Gingrich made a big stink about it (because the fatheaded former House Speaker is ironically very thin skinned and apparently speaks for his latest wife) and De Niro has since issued a statement that thankfully doesn’t come close to being an apology (which would be ridiculous) but nonetheless underscores the actor’s intent “not to offend”.   (If Gingrich was going to be super upset about a super tame De Niro joke, you’d think the two-time Academy Award winner would’ve come up with something hilariously biting instead of the groaner he went with.  By the way, when Piers Morgan played the joke to Ann Romney, the wife of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, she laughed, so how offensive could the joke have actually been?)

This non-event leads to Maher’s question.  But just before he poses it, he sarcastically writes this, in relation to the aftermath of the De Niro joke:

“So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.”

And therein lies the problem with his thesis.  As he goes on to list numerous recent examples of people and things that have drawn the ire of the public in the last year as well as offering another political anecdote involving something President Obama advisor David Axelrod said about Mitt Romney’s ad campaign in Illinois, he lumps it all under one of his favourite phrases: “fake outrage”.

By giving equal weight to every example he lists, he creates the illusion that they’re all the same thing, that someone said or did something that wasn’t actually offensive and the backlash that followed was completely manufactured and politically motivated.

But let’s just look at one of these examples he cites.  Last June, Kevin Rogers, a gay citizen, went to a Tracy Morgan gig and heard the 30 Rock star go on a scary, completely unfunny anti-gay rant.  Outraged by this part of the show (which he had been enjoying up to that point), Rogers wrote a public note on Facebook that soon got picked up by the media.  (Sadly, no audio or video has ever surfaced about the infamous moment in question, even though no one has successfully disputed what Rogers claimed.)

According to Rogers on a comment on his own piece, Morgan’s son, who was at the show and was unfortunately the focal point of one of his dad’s awful comments, told the comedian that “he shouldn’t have said what he did” (I’m quoting from Rogers’ paraphrase).  Morgan ended up publicly apologizing through a released statement (he also apologized to Rogers in person) and, also according to Rogers, personally contacted GLAAD, who criticized his remarks, to find out what he could do to make peace with the gay community.  He later met with gay victims of bullying as well as gay homeless teens and expressed his support for gay marriage.

Tina Fey, who created 30 Rock and the part of Tracy Jordan specifically for her former SNL colleague, released her own public statement on the matter, stating that she found Morgan’s remarks “disturbing”.  Wanda Sykes, a fellow comedian who happens to be a lesbian, wasn’t happy about it either.  She expressed her disappointment through her official Twitter account.  They weren’t the only ones who were upset but you get the idea.

In his Times Op-Ed, Maher never singles out anything Morgan said that night to further his claim that it was yet another example of how “we pretend to be outraged over nothing”.  There’s no mention at all about how Morgan proclaimed that gays being born this way (referencing Lady Gaga’s song) was “bullshit” and “a choice” and that “God don’t make no mistakes”, directly inferring that being gay, to use Laura Schlessinger’s awful phrase (which he didn’t use), is “a biological error”.

No mention of Morgan suggesting that he would stab his own son if he told him he was gay, that gay people should stop being “pussies” when they’re being bullied (because being bullied is “insignificant”, don’t you know, and they should just kick ass when they’re being picked on), and that if gays are upset by his comments he didn’t care because, as Rogers noted in his Facebook piece, “if they can take a fucking dick up their ass…they can take a fucking joke.”.

Hilarious, right Bill?  Yeah, nothing outrageous about those comments.  At.  All.

Then, with a straight face, Maher proposes a “National Day of No Outrage” where once a year, “you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.”.

“If that doesn’t work,” he continues, “what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.”

So, by that logic, if someone says something libellous, slanderous or simply dangerous, for example, we shouldn’t criticize the person for what they said?  We should just let offensive dishonesty go uncorrected and undocumented?

Let’s go back to Tracy Morgan for a second.  What did Maher say about him last June?

From the official CNN transcript of Maher’s June 14, 2011 appearance on AC360:

“Look, I mean, was it the smartest thing to say?  No.  But it was a joke.  America, especially liberals, have this pie-in-the-sky idea that, somehow, all minorities are sympathetic to each other, so how could a black guy say something about gays?  Shouldn’t they both know about oppression?”

Relax, America.  The social commentator Morgan was just doing dumb material.  No biggie.  Nothing so terrible to get all your uptight panties in a wad.  Just some anti-gay “jokes” that received a “thunderous cheer” from the crowd that night, according to Kevin Rogers.  Those “10 to 15 people” who “walked out”, they just can’t take a “joke”, can they?  Ditto Tina Fey and Wanda Sykes, right Bill?

Channelling Chris Rock, Maher ends his Op-Ed thusly:

“I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.”

Maher kids about both my country and Romney but shouldn’t these jokes have just, oh I don’t know, a sliver of truth to them and actually be funny in order to prove his point?  Plenty of offensive things have been said publicly in The Great White North by celebrities, politicians and newspaper writers over the years (I’m looking at you, Bloaty McFatAss).  If you don’t believe me, do a Google search.  As for Romney, isn’t he all for needlessly escalating tensions with Iran to the point of a full-scale war?  That’s not offensive?

This idea Maher has that awful, spiteful comments from public figures being roundly condemned will result in “our rough edges” being “sand[ed] down” leading to the “drain[ing]” of  “all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse” is such self-righteous bullshit from someone who once compared the mentally challenged to dogs and thinks nothing of calling Sarah Palin a “cunt”, among other controversial “jokes”, and yet hasn’t softened his act in any shape or form.   (For the record, he only apologized for the former, not the latter.)

It sounds like Maher wants to be able to say awful things in the context of a joke and not have anyone complain about it.  Why?  Because he doesn’t want to have to justify what he says.  He just wants the laugh.  But if you’re not getting the laugh, how can you defend the joke?

Which brings me back to his question:  “When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?”  Is he suggesting that the widespread criticism of Don Imus, Morgan, Rush Limbaugh, the foolish ESPN employee who wrote “Chink In The Armour” about New York Knick Jeremy Lin and himself are really a front for censorship or at least phase one in that ultimately diabolical plan?  That critics aren’t just complaining about questionable judgment and bad decision making, they’re also hoping to end careers?

It’s a bold accusation that Maher can’t be bothered to back up.  It’s not difficult to understand why.  With the exception of Anthony Federico, the ESPN headline writer who got fired for posting what Maher dismissively called “the wrong cliche”, every single person he names in his piece still has a job in the media and more importantly, they haven’t lost their free speech rights.

Just like Bill Maher.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 24, 2012
2:19 a.m.

Distant Dream

Open yourself up to a timeless possibility
Even if it feels like a complete implausibility
A distant dream in a far away land
That can still be reached by insistent demand
Just come out of the cave and take the test
Leave everybody feeling incredibly impressed
“Struggle builds character”, a wise man once said
Just swallow the nutrients and keep your brain well fed

You can feel the future engorging the present
Engaging the status quo with its wave of dissent
Slicing up conventions and challenging beliefs
Unwittingly launching many fevered beefs
With the stubborn, the scared and the truly dumb
All reluctant to abandon their emotional slum
Them taking the chance is just too much to ask
So lead the way by removing your mask

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 22, 2012
4:48 p.m.

Published in: on March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pity The Poor Murderer

Pity the poor man in his stifling uniform
As he’s safely removed from the enveloping storm
Feel your heart breaking as his life hits the skids
So what if he murdered some innocent kids?

Forget about the mothers he exterminated, too
Their lives never mattered to this imperial crew
They’re just obstacles in the way of total domination
What’s with all this widespread global condemnation?

Don’t they get the importance of America’s mission?
It’s to forbid Muslims from making their very own decisions
Their freedom is dangerous and must be stopped
Those who resist can count on being popped

We’re not here to be nice, we’re here to control
And throw all the troublemakers into the blackest hole
Never to be seen or heard from again
Or at the very least, the next five to ten

America has no need to defend its actions
Since it’s being ruled by infallible political factions
We know what’s right so just look away
Pay no attention to the escalating decay

Human rights only matter to those with great powers
Who stay in tune with reality by living in glass towers
They see the big picture while looking from this safe distance
We’ll win ’em over and they’ll give up this silly resistance

It makes no sense that our motives aren’t celebrated
What is it about mass murder that makes us so hated?
Don’t they appreciate how much time we’ve put in
To eliminate their dignity and the rest of their kin?

Is it any wonder why that poor man is sad?
He was just doing his job and now everybody’s mad
Why don’t they leave this poor murderer alone
And accept the fact he didn’t act on his own

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
11:26 p.m.

Published in: on March 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm  Comments (1)  

Influential WrestleMania Moments (Part Seven)

14. Stone Cold Steve Austin turns face at WrestleMania 13 (1997)

In WCW, Stunning Steve Austin never did progress beyond the midcard.  Despite being United States Champion, TV Champion and co-holder of the tag team titles with Brian Pillman, a proper world title run would never come his way in the early 1990s.  After being fired over the phone by Eric Bischoff (who didn’t see a bright future for him) and a brief run in Extreme Championship Wrestling, Austin joined the WWF at the end of 1995.

He shaved off his blond locks and was rechristened The Ringmaster.  Managed by Ted DiBiase, who represented a stable of wrestlers under the name, The Million Dollar Corporation, the character change never clicked with the audience.  But once The Million Dollar Man relocated to WCW, Austin’s career quickly started to gain steam.

By the Spring of 1996, The Ringmaster had become Stone Cold Steve Austin, a tough talking villain who went on to deliver a memorable promo about his King Of The Ring nemesis, Jake Roberts, which finally garnered him some heat (“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”).  But it would be his program with Bret Hart that would culminate in yet another important WrestleMania moment.

While Hart was recovering from legitimate injuries, Austin started cutting him down in promos hoping The Hitman would face him in a match.  When he came back, he accepted Stone Cold’s challenge and they first squared off at the 1996 Survivor Series.  As their feud continued into 1997, they would be booked in a No DQ submission match officiated by Ken Shamrock at WrestleMania 13.

Going into the match, Austin was the villain and Hart was the hero.  It was a pretty stiff, highly energetic brawl right from the get-go and it all led to one important question:  would Stone Cold tap out to The Hitman’s sharpshooter?  His face a bloody mess (thanks to being hit by the timekeeper’s bell earlier on), Austin screamed in agony but refused to quit.  In the end, he only lost the match because he passed out.

Normally, that would be the end of it but Hart decided Austin hadn’t gotten enough punishment.  Because of this crucial decision, the fans turned on The Hitman and started cheering for the once hated Stone Cold.  This clever booking by the WWF began Austin’s road to superstardom as he would go on to feud with owner Vince McMahon for the next two years (and then shockingly align with him and his corporation before one more face turn in the new millennium) and become an important figure for the next several WrestleManias.

Eric Bischoff never thought Austin was worthy of WCW’s World Title but the WWF felt differently about their own championship in 1998.  At WrestleMania 14, WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels, one of the most hated wrestlers at the time because of his involvement in the Montreal Screwjob, passed the torch to Austin in the main event.  The Texas Rattlesnake would win two more world titles, both against The Rock, at WrestleMania 15 and 17.

By 2003, Austin’s troubled history of severe injuries (starting with the botched reverse piledriver at SummerSlam 1997) were making it difficult for him to continue on a full-time basis.  He wrestled his final match against The Rock at WrestleMania 19.  The People’s Champion came out on top.

Despite being retired, Austin has continued to appear from time to time at the Showcase Of The Immortals.  At WrestleMania XX, he refereed the Brock Lesnar/Goldberg match as well as the Battle Of The Billionaires confrontation between Bobby Lashley and the late Umaga at WrestleMania 23 and the Jerry Lawler/Michael Cole debacle at WrestleMania 27.  Also, he was Rowdy Roddy Piper’s guest on Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania 21.

During the years where Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were absent from the height of the Attitude Era, whether you love him or hate him (and you can make a strong case for both), Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest reason anyone cared about WrestleMania.  And it all began with that unexpected face turn in 1997.

15. Shawn Michaels defeats Chris Jericho in his first WrestleMania match in five years (2003)

On the same show that saw Austin wrestle his final match in the WWE, a familiar face made his first appearance at the annual supershow in the new millennium.  After a long absence from the event, he would make a triumphant return and redefine it for the rest of the decade.

After losing the WWF title to The Texas Rattlesnake at WrestleMania 14 in 1998, Michaels would not wrestle in any shape or form for the next four and a half years (due to serious injuries) until he worked a tremendously brutal “Unsanctioned Street Fight” with longtime real-life pal, Triple H, at SummerSlam 2002.  Late in the year, he started a program with Chris Jericho and it all led to the last truly influential moment in WrestleMania history.

At WrestleMania 19, Jericho and Michaels put on a clinic in a fast-paced 23-minute back-and-forth battle that, in many observers eyes’, stole the show. The Heartbreak Kid got the victory. Afterwards, a tearful Jericho hugged his real-life idol and then, without warning, kicked him in the kiwis.  What a bastard.  Great post-match finish, though.

Without a doubt, that match reestablished Michaels as a must-see pay-per-view main event-worthy talent in the Aughts, and at some point during this second golden period, he began referring to himself quite accurately as Mr. WrestleMania.  The following year, he tangled with Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero in the highly regarded Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XX which ended the show.  Benoit won the title.

At WrestleMania 21, he grappled with Kurt Angle in an epic 27-minute battle that saw the Olympic Champion come out on top.  The following year, Michaels put away Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match.  By WrestleMania 23, The Heartbreak Kid was not only delivering consistently strong performances every year at WrestleMania (these encounters were annual candidates for Match Of The Year), he was also greatly improving his professional reputation, something that had to happen after his much loathed primadonna period in the 1990s.  Because of his efforts, he was earning a great deal of respect in the dressing room.

At WM 23, he battled his tag team partner John Cena for the WWE Championship.  In the match’s most memorable moment, Michaels piledrived the champ right on the steel steps causing a huge gash on his head.  (I might be a strange person for saying this but because it’s rarely done anymore I get very warm and fuzzy when I see a traditional piledriver used in a match, especially in this spectacularly brutal way.  I just miss it so much.)

The next year, Michaels had the thankless task of putting Ric Flair out of the WWE.  On paper, it should’ve been a disaster in the making.  A 59-year-old well past his prime against a 41-year-old who looked up to him as a kid.  Who would want to see two old guys tangle at WrestleMania?

That’s why we have storylines that go on for several months before the big show (no pun intended) happens.  In late 2007, Vince McMahon made it a stipulation of every Ric Flair match from that point forward that his career would be on the line every time he stepped into the squared circle.  The next time he loses, he would be forced to retire.  At the 2008 Royal Rumble event, Flair beat MVP, and at No Way Out, he defeated Mr. Kennedy.  But at WrestleMania 24, he met his match in Michaels.

It was, to my personal surprise, sensational.  The slaps to the face at the beginning, the missed moonsault by Michaels on the announce table, Flair uncharacteristically connecting with a flying body press from the top rope (usually he gets body slammed from that position) and that remarkable ending.  A tearful Flair begging Michaels to do his job and finish him off.  Michaels saying “I’m sorry.  I love you.” before putting him away with that superkick.  You could say it was another WrestleMania “pass the torch” moment.

Michaels would finish his final two years in the WWE by becoming obsessed with his old nemesis, The Undertaker, and his undefeated WrestleMania streak.  They would have two highly acclaimed matches at WM 25 and 26.  After coming oh so close to winning in 2009, Michaels demanded a rematch for 2010.  The Dead Man wasn’t interested.  But then Michaels interjected himself into the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match at EC 2010 costing Taker the World Heavyweight Championship.

He ultimately got his wish.  But Taker wanted to raise the stakes.  He’d take the match if Michaels would put his career on the line.  The Heartbreak Kid agreed and the match was booked as the main event of WrestleMania 26.  But once again, Michaels didn’t get the job done.  He hasn’t wrestled since.

If you were to pick the five most important superstars in WrestleMania history, the five guys who truly defined the event and made their appearances essential during their specific eras, the list would include Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and The Undertaker.  Who’s the fifth guy on that esteemed list?  Shawn Michaels.  Without his return to full-time wrestling in the WWE, Undertaker aside, would WrestleMania have mattered in the last ten years?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 15, 2012
2:37 a.m.

CORRECTION:  Austin’s famous catchphrase is actually “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”, not kicked as originally noted.  My apologies for the mistake.  The correction has been made to the original text.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, March 18, 2012
10:12 p.m.

Published in: on March 15, 2012 at 2:37 am  Comments (1)  

Influential WrestleMania Moments (Part Six)

12. The Undertaker defeats Jimmy Snuka (1991)

They had already wrestled each other twice before in the same year.  First in January at Madison Square Garden and then two months later at the Boston Garden.  The result for both encounters was the same.  The Dead Man came out on top.

But at WrestleMania VII when The Undertaker went up against Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka for the third time, little did anyone realize how influential the result of this particular match would be in the long run.  Slotted just before the retirement match between Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior, it took all of four minutes for The Phenom to claim his first WrestleMania victim.  The tombstone piledriver finished off Snuka that night.

Taker had only been in the WWF for four months at that point.  Snuka was among a number of wrestlers, including mostly jobbers, who were putting him over repeatedly helping him build a strong rep as an unstoppable villain completely impervious to pain.  By the end of 1991, he had already won his first WWF World Championship.

After preventing Jake “The Snake” Roberts from attacking Randy Savage’s valet, Elizabeth, The Dead Man became a babyface.  At WrestleMania VIII, Taker beat The Snake in less than seven minutes.  Throughout the next decade, the list of combatants he would put away at the Showcase of the Immortals grew ever more impressive:  Diesel, King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzalez, Sycho Sid, The Big Show, A-Train, Big Boss Man, Triple H, Ric Flair and his brother, Kane, twice.

By 2005, Taker’s untouchable record at WrestleMania (at that point he was 12 and 0, having only missed two shows since 1991), only addressed in passing during previous years, now became the central focus of every match he would have from then on at the annual supercard.  When Randy Orton expressed a desire to break “The Streak” at WM 21, Taker’s task at WrestleMania from that point forward was very straightforward:  remain undefeated on the grandest stage of them all.  All he needed was a worthy opponent who could give him a competitive match.

After disposing of Orton, Taker would successfully put Mark Henry in a casket (WM 22) and defeat both Batista (WM 23) and Edge (WM 24) for the World Heavyweight Championship.  When Shawn Michaels couldn’t get the job done at WrestleMania 25, he put his career on the line at WM 26.  Taker beat him yet again and retired him.  Ten years after defeating him at WM 17, Taker barely escaped with a submission victory over a very determined Triple H at WM 27.

This year, at WrestleMania 28, H gets an unprecendented third shot at breaking The Streak when he squares off against The Phenom in a Hell In A Cell match.  Michaels has signed on to be the Special Guest Referee which just adds to the suspense of how this whole “End of an Era” match will play out.

One thing is for certain.  From a storytelling perspective, at some point Taker has to lose at WrestleMania.  As long as he continues to be pushed he’ll have at least one big match every year in the WWE.  But once he is defeated, he can finally rest in peace.  And look forward to being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.

13. Razor Ramon retains the InterContinental Championship against Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match (1994)

The concept dates back to the early 1970s but it wasn’t until the early 90s that it enjoyed mainstream success for the very first time.  Furthermore, it simultaneously paved the way for many future superstars to break through in their own right.  Two years after he would face Bret Hart in a ladder match for the InterContinental Championship, Shawn Michaels would try to win back his IC title from new champion Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X.

Behind the scenes a few months earlier, Michaels was being difficult.  He didn’t want to drop the belt in a one-on-one title match.  So, he was stripped of it.  Ramon won a battle royal to determine the new champion.  While The Bad Guy showed off the real gold he had legitimately been pushed for, Michaels would parade around with a replica belt proclaiming himself to be the real champion.  To settle the issue, both belts would be hanging high above the squared circle during an extraordinary match at WrestleMania X.

The way to win was simple:  the first man to place a ladder in the ring, climb it and retrieve those belts would become the undisputed IC Champion.  With no disqualifications, no count-outs, no pinfalls, no submissions and no third man in the ring, it was just two guys battling it out for supremacy with nothing but each other standing in the way.  Making things a lot more dangerous, the ladder itself could be used in combat.

Ramon and Michaels had a difficult task ahead of them.  They were booked on a show that had two WWF title matches plus a sibling rivalry encounter between Bret and Owen Hart.  In order to stand out, they had to be better than good.  Like The British Bulldogs and The Dream Team eight years earlier, they had to steal the show in order to leave their mark.

They certainly didn’t disappoint.  For nearly 19 minutes, Ramon and Michaels pummelled each other in a seesaw match-up, as Vince McMahon would say.  Featuring some of the most brutal bumps ever attempted in the pre-Attitude Era, the match has long been recognized as one of the best in WrestleMania history.  In the end, Ramon came crashing down to the mat after first retrieving both belts.

The match was so well regarded both men did it all over again the following year at the 1995 SummerSlam event.  Michaels came out on top in the 25-minute rematch.  During the latter half of the 90s, ladder matches started happening on free TV as well as pay-per-view events.  For the most part these were one-on-one battles.  But at WrestleMania 2000, three tag teams would reinvent the concept by adding tables and chairs to the mix.

The Dudley Boyz defended their tag team titles against Edge & Christian and The Hardys in a Triangle Ladder Match.  The scene-stealing confrontation easily surpassed the WrestleMania standard set by Ramon and Michaels.  All three teams would do it all over again at WrestleMania 17 the following year.  By that point, the match had been renamed a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.

In 2005, the ladder match would be reinvented once more.  Chris Jericho and the writing team wanted to get more guys on the WrestleMania card and have the winner get a future chance to become a world champion.  The result was Money In The Bank.  Six guys (later bumped up to eight in 2007 and ten in 2010) clawing and scratching their way to the top of a ladder to retrieve a briefcase that symbolically represents a guaranteed opportunity to face either the WWE Champion or the World Heavyweight Champion at any time during a one-year period.

Edge won the first MITB at WrestleMania 21 and set the tone for how to cash it in.  Ten months later, after surviving a grueling Elimination Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution 2006, WWE Champion John Cena, bloodied and fatigued, didn’t stand a chance against The Ultimate Opportunist who decided this was the time to get his title shot.  Shortly thereafter, Edge was the new champion to the shock of all who were watching.

With the notable exceptions of Rob Van Dam and Mr. Kennedy, every successive winner of the MITB match has essentially followed the same pattern:  wait for a champion to be vulnerable (always after a tough title defense) and then pounce.  It’s a surefire if utterly predictable and not necessarily honourable way to get pushed.  The only variable is how long suitcase holders wait to cash in.  (While Van Dam booked a WWE title match with John Cena well in advance of the 2006 One Night Stand pay-per-view (which he won) Kennedy couldn’t cash his suitcase in because of a sudden, legitimate injury.  As a result, he lost it in a match with Edge who then cashed it in on The Undertaker to win The World Heavyweight Championship in 2007.)

CM Punk made history in 2008 and 2009 when he became the only performer to win MITB two WrestleManias in a row.  He has since gone on to become one of the top guys in WWE, having been a world champion on five different occasions (six, if you include his ECW title).  After the 2010 MITB match (which a fumbling Jack Swagger won), a whole pay-per-view has been built around the concept and therefore, it’s been dropped from WrestleMania altogether, although there was a faint hope it would return for WM 28.  (Because of the change and the division of the roster on Raw and Smackdown, there are now two such matches every summer on that show.  Each winner gets a shot at their respective brand’s championship.  Raw victors go for the WWE title while Smackdown winners go for the World Heavyweight Championship.)

Regardless of the change, the legacy of Ramon and Michaels at WrestleMania X lives on in the new Reality Era of WWE.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
11:52 p.m.

Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Influential WrestleMania Moments (Part Five)

10. Bad News Brown screws Bret Hart (1988)

The Hitman’s first year in the WWF was awful.  His good guy solo push was going nowhere and he needed to do something to get over quick since creative had nothing for him.  So, when he decided to turn heel, team up with his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart and be represented by the unrelated Jimmy Hart, he essentially wrote his own ticket to success, at least for the next few years.  The Hart Foundation would go on to become tag team champions in January 1987 and hang on to those titles ’til the fall that same year.  For the most part, they were loathed everywhere they worked.  The heel personas were clicking.

They were still a team going into the 20-man battle royal that opened WrestleMania IV in April 1988.  Neidhart was eliminated fairly early so he was a non-factor in the match.  In the end, it came down to Hart, the Junkyard Dog and Bad News Brown, the last three guys in the ring.  The two villains teamed up to throw out the very popular JYD allowing them to raise their arms in victory.  But then, Brown performed his patented Ghetto Blaster kick to the back of Hart’s skull and shortly thereafter, The Hitman found himself thrown over the top rope and to the floor.

As Brown celebrated his sneaky victory, Hart retrieved the trophy that was supposed to be awarded to the winner and slid back into the ring.  Bad News got the hell out of there as Hart proceeded to smash his very large trophy to bits.  The crowd ate it up.  Little did anyone know at the time that this would become a significant moment not just for WrestleMania but for Hart and the WWF in particular.

Although The Hitman had wrestled numerous singles matches during his first four years working for Vince McMahon, he was primarily known for teaming up with The Anvil.  He proved himself again and again in tag matches but rarely had important one-on-one encounters which mostly went unseen by a national audience.  The renewed rivalry with Bad News Brown (Hart feuded with him originally in the early 80s in Calgary when he was Bad News Allen) was Hart’s first chance to move up the mid-card ladder.

Truthfully, the solo push wouldn’t last very long (Hart would work the next three WrestleManias with Neidhart in successive tag matches).  In fact, you could argue it was premature.  But of all the face and heel turns that happened in the early years of this event, this was the most significant.

McMahon needed to look ahead to a future without Hulk Hogan as his top good guy which was only 5 years away.  He needed to steer his business away from the more muscular brawlers who helped make his company thrive in the 1980s and instead focus more on smaller talent who regularly showcased great technical skill in the ring, possessed a natural charisma and could deliver sharp, memorable promos.  Bret Hart could do all three.  He just needed a big push to get to the main event level.  The face turn he received at WrestleMania IV was the first step to reaching that goal.

11. The Ultimate Warrior defeats Hulk Hogan for the World title in more than 20 minutes (1990)

Back in the day, good guys rarely squared off against good guys.  For traditional storytelling purposes, it just didn’t make a lot of sense to book those kinds of matches very often.  The audience needed someone to root for and someone to hate.  But by 1990, the world of professional wrestling was evolving to the point where putting the two most popular wrestlers in a match together on a major supershow was not only good for business, it would help set the tone for future similiarly themed rivalries.

At the 1990 Royal Rumble, WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan and InterContinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior briefly squared off for the first time ever after completely clearing the ring at one point.  It was an experiment to see if the audience would be excited for a future one-on-one match between the two.  They were.  After about a minute or so of action (which ended with each man clotheslining each other), the company knew what the main event for WrestleMania VI would be.

Besides being a “pass the torch” encounter, Hogan vs. Warrior was significant for two other reasons.  First, without a doubt, they were the two most popular babyfaces in the WWF at that time.  Having them battle it out in the main event of an otherwise traditional supershow was exciting and different.  There was genuine suspense about whether one would turn heel and heated debates took place between fans over who would get the push.  In the end, to the detriment of Hulkamaniacs all over the world, The Warrior won the World title.

Since their match in what was once known as the SkyDome in Toronto WrestleMania has showcased many memorable babyface vs. babyface encounters, particularly in the main event.  Consider Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in their 60-minute Iron Man match at WM 12 or Michaels against John Cena (WM 23) and The Undertaker (WM 25 and 26).  Rowdy Roddy Piper put over Bret Hart in their tremendous InterContinental match at WrestleMania 8 while Batista dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to The Undertaker at WrestleMania 23.  Michaels retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24.  And we can’t forget Triple H losing to The Undertaker for a second time at WrestleMania 27.

Second, in the 1980s there wasn’t a single WrestleMania match that lasted at least 20 minutes.  Warrior and Hulk would go almost 23.  Since then, many integral WM battles have hit the 20 minute plateau or have gone considerably longer.  At WrestleMania VII, both the retirement match between The Warrior & Randy Savage and the WWF title match between Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter each lasted 20 minutes.  The Owen Hart/Bret Hart opener of WrestleMania X went just as long.

Other WM epics that went 20 minutes or longer:  Shawn Michaels and Diesel for the WWF title at WrestleMania 11 (20 minutes), Bret Hart and Michaels at WrestleMania 12 (61 minutes), Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13 (22 minutes), Austin and Michaels for the WWF title at WM 14 (20 minutes), The Hardys vs. The Dudleys vs. Edge & Christian at WrestleMania 2000 (22 minutes), the Fatal Four-Way from that same show (36 minutes), Austin and The Rock at WM 17 (33 minutes), Jericho and Michaels at WrestleMania 19 (22 minutes), Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle from that same show (21 minutes), Angle and Eddie Guerrero at WM XX (21 minutes), the Triple Threat WWE title bout from that same show (25 minutes), Cena and Michaels at WM 23 (28 minutes), Flair and Michaels at WM 24 (20 minutes), Edge and The Undertaker from that same show (24 minutes), Undertaker and Michaels at WM 25 (30 minutes), Randy Orton and Triple H from the same show (24 minutes), Undertaker and Michaels at WM 26 (24 minutes), and H and Taker at WM 27 (30 minutes).

At WrestleMania 28, there are two good guy vs. good guy matches booked.  Taker and H in a Hell In A Cell match with another good guy, Shawn Michaels, as the Special Guest Referee and the main event of the evening, John Cena vs. The Rock.  Does anyone believe either battle will go less than 20?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
12:38 a.m.

Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 12:38 am  Comments (1)