Hey guys, welcome back to this week's Jerichoholics Anonymous. It's been a stressful week for me to say the least, but I should still be able to jot out a decent column. Needless to say, the biggest story in the industry right now is the abrupt and immediate departure of Jerry Lawler from the WWF. That's pretty much all you'll find on the bigger wrestling websites today, and I thought I'd chip in my thoughts on the whole issue, as well as who should replace him permanently. I know it's been a little bit overdone in the past few days, but I do have some pretty strong opinions on the issue (as a huge fan of Lawler) so I'll ask you to bear with me. Without any further discussion, let's head into the actual column for this week.
For those wondering who I support in this mess, the answer is clear: Vince McMahon. While he hasn't always been on the right side of the fence in the past (that's certainly an understatement) there's no question that he made the right decision in this instance. Let's be truthful here, how many of us will honestly miss the Kat? First and foremost, she is, without a doubt, the worst female worker in the WWF today. Her punches and kicks (pretty much her entire offense) are sloppy and what few moves she can pull off come out absolutely terrible. The WWF's female roster isn't exactly Japan level, but they've actually got some solid workers mixed up in there. Trish and Stephanie proved they can wrestle beyond everyone's expectations last Sunday at No Way Out. Molly Holly hasn't had a bad match since entering the WWF. Lita isn't a great all around wrestler, but her highspots are dazzling and the crowd is more into her than any other female wrestler I can recall. Jacquelyn is tough as nails, and is a solid presence to have behind the scenes. All in all, The Kat was eye candy in the WWF. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but the problem is that the names listed above are better looking than Stacy Carter also. Despite the fact that she was a terrible worker, plain awful on the microphone, involved in paltry skits/angles, and was probably the sixth best looking "diva" the WWF has to offer, she still got a big head behind the scenes. Her match at No Way Out took longer to draw up than the Steve Austin-Triple H classic, and she wasn't even wrestling! The last thing the WWF needs right now is another Rena Mero, particularly one who doesn't draw half the ratings that the Sable character was capable of capturing. All in all, she was a bad presence to have in the locker room, and that translated onto the camera as well.
It was a pretty logical choice for Vince to release her. Her contract was negotiated by Lawler himself, meaning that it was probably very high, particularly when you consider that she often went months without ever appearing on camera. Jim Ross mentioned weeks ago that roster cuts were inevitable, what makes us all think that this wasn't premeditated? I've noticed that some people are harboring some serious resentment towards the WWF for letting Stacy Carter go, but what they don't realize is that her departure opens up some room on the WWF roster. How many of you would rather see Ms. Kitty on television than CW Anderson, Rob Van Dam, or Little Guido? In all reality, these three names would probably be offered contracts within the same salary range of Stacy. The WWF mentioned that they would release whoever had been a problem behind the scenes first, and then get to the actual firings later. It's obvious that Kat was developing quite an ego, and the writers frequently complained about her pushy requests and demands for more airtime and storylines. Vince put two and two together, realizing that they were getting ready to release some names in order to accommodate the federation's increased size and also that the Kat was an overall bad influence backstage. It's pretty much elementary that she got released, and I don't see any credible reason why she shouldn't have been. Stacy had few redeeming qualities, other than the fact that she was skankier than the average WWF valet.
Jerry Lawler then decided to stand up against the WWF machine, refusing to go along with McMahon's decision to release his wife. While I'm obviously not in favor of his actions or decision, you have to commend him on supporting his wife Stacy. He obviously really cares about her, and was willing to give up what had been his home for a very long time. Lawler loved working alongside Jim Ross and under Vince, and had made many friends throughout his tenure in the federation. It's obvious that he wasn't looking to get released from the company, so his actions were noble and highly commendable, sticking up for his wife against one of the richest (and most powerful) men in America. All compliments aside though, it's really hard to imagine what was going through Jerry's head when he ambushed Vince in his office, demanding that he change his mind about firing The Kat. Vince McMahon very rarely reconsiders his actions, and he's demonstrated that time and time again. He's got a mammoth ego, and it's pretty much well known that "no one is too big" when it comes to Vince's business decisions. It's really very difficult to picturing him reversing his decision, particularly at the behest of a color commentator. It's really very hard to understand why Lawler would think his input would make Vince change his mind about releasing The Kat. What would that show to the rest of the locker room, if he was willing to change his mind over a threat from a commentator. Suppose Triple H, a known friend of Dennis Knight, had a problem with Vince releasing Mideon last month? A situation like this would make Triple H reconsider just sitting back and letting Vince do his thing. Sooner or later wrestlers would begin arguing with Vince about pushes, title reigns, matches, and so on. If they didn't get their way, they could just get up and walk out, and Vince would have little choice but to let them go. A situation like this sets a precedent, and Vince made the best possible decision he could out of two bad options. I know a lot of people will use this as more fuel for their cries of how "Vince McMahon is an egomaniac", but that's really not the case here. He looked over the facts, and made a good decision. Jerry Lawler then came in beligerantly, and expected the most powerful man in the organization to change his decision (which was made for the good of the company and the locker room) over a hollow threat from a color commentator. As I pointed out above, I am a huge fan of Jerry Lawler and his work on both Raw and Smackdown…but it's just hard to approve of his choice here.
Lawler was obviously a very valuable member of the WWF team, and one they certainly didn't anticipate losing. Jerry was the first string color commentator on Raw besides Jim Ross, and also the second string commentator on Smackdown besides Michael Cole. The WWF obviously didn't have any intentions of dropping Lawler by way of releasing Kat (as he has speculated). That's clear by the fact that they haven't trained anyone under Lawler to take over his spot. Sure there's Tazz, and maybe even Michael Hayes, but are either of those fit to sit beside Jim Ross on Monday Night? In the following paragraph, I'll be evaluating these two, as well as a few other possibilities to fill the King's old spot on WWF television.
Tazz- Tazz isn't a bad commentator, but he's really not ready to work with Jim Ross. He's yet to figure out a successful formula for getting both himself, and the talent in the ring, over at the same time. While he does have a good deal of history with Jim Ross, he's just not ready to be in primetime yet. He's got some valuable ring experience, which means that he rarely miscalls spots, moves, or anything of that nature. The problem is, his first job is being a wrestler, and that means he's got to get himself over, first and foremost. It's hard to discuss how tough or strong another wrestler is when you're in the same position. It makes him out to look weak, which is the exact opposite of what Tazz needs right now. Also, let's keep in mind that some of us out here actually like to see him wrestle once in a while…
Michael Hayes- Anyone would be better than this guy. His gruff, grating voice wears on your ears after just a few minutes in the commentary position. He's nowhere near as funny or witty as he thinks he is, and his comments are often more obvious than they are intelligent. He's not a good announcer, and he couldn't call a match on the fly if his life depended on it. To top that off, he just doesn't have the chemistry with Jim Ross that Jerry Lawler had. Lawler often liked to be surprised, and just handed a program with the layout of all the matches on it. From there, he'd just improvise his comments and musings on the fly. This is something that Michael Hayes CAN'T do, and it's obvious that he's got a full game plan right in front of him. Tazz would be miles better than Hayes, who should be kept on late night if at all. Besides, he's already doing a job behind the scenes that would prohibit him from accepting much more responsibility.
Joel Gertner- I personally like this guy a lot. Joel's a funny commentator, but he's also got some great insight. His phony deep voice would have to go, but his "quintessential studmuffin" gimmick could more or less stay. He's always on the action, and makes very good observations on the fly. He'd have to learn to give up his dirty limericks and crude jokes, as even the tamest of them wouldn't make it to the WWF's new, cleaned up program. While Joel might not have the necessary connections and backstage ties that it takes to make it in the WWF, he certainly has the mic work. I could definitely see the fans responding to Gertner, who's even more of a filthy old man than Lawler is. The fans might find him to be too similar to Lawler however, which would be a big problem. The last thing the WWF wants is to have it look like they hired a cheap clone to replace the real thing…the fans would never overlook that.
Don "Cyrus" Callis- Don is the perfect color commentator, in my opinion. He's got great ring experience, talking ability, and a personality that wouldn't have to be censored for WWF television. He's able to call matches on the fly or off a sheet, and has undeniable chemistry with whomever he's working with. Callis could also play a character who's been severely jilted by the WWF, used in terrible angles and completely squandered the last time he was with the organization. His debut would coincide perfectly with appearance of Rhino, Lynn, and Tajiri. He's already had an ECW connection with all three of those superstars, and also with the recently debuting Justin Credible. It's unforunate that he's got such strong heat in the office and in the locker room. Pretty much every writer in the WWF hates the guy, and most of the office guys despise him as well. Chances are he'll never be reassigned, which is a terrible loss for the WWF. He's one of the few people with experience in a major company, good mic skills, and powerful charisma/chemistry. What a loss…
That's pretty much all I have time for this week, folks. I'm sure this column seemed more than a little rushed, but I have had a hectic week to say the very least. Join me back here next week when things should be settled and back to normal. In any case, I'll be here again tomorrow with your News and Rumors, so I'll see you then.