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Monday, July 21, 2014

Vladimir Putin is Not a WWE Character

We're a day removed from the "big" WWE Battleground PPV, and all the venom I felt for a lackluster show has evolved overnight into pure disgust over the way the WWE creative team has incorporated real life events into cheap story lines.

If you missed Battleground, and by God I hope you did, you would have seen and heard the lovely Lana gushing over Russian president Vladimir Putin. This isn't an unusual occurrence. It has actually become a source of cheap heat for the character, since the creative team cannot comprehend how to write genuinely interesting characters.

What did change this week was the inclusion of the Malaysian flight 17 tragedy into the story line. Lana blamed the United States for such tragic events, defended Russia, and once again praised Putin as a true leader and visionary.

It's just sickening. I don't know when I became such a prude, but to make light of such a heinous act for a goddamn wrestling show just makes me feel ill.

I mentioned it in last night's PPV wrap up, but I woke up this morning feeling like I was so emotionally drained from the event that I didn't articulate my distaste well enough. I got up today and left my comfy warm bed and lovely fiancee just to bitch about it.

I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one embarrassed by this turn of events. It seems that WWE has caught themselves in a bit of a firestorm of negative publicity, as both the wrestling insiders and mainstream journalists have both condemned them for their poor taste. In fact, the UK Mail Online summarizes pretty nicely right here.

An even sadder fact to consider is that for a lot of wresting fans who bury their head in the dirt when it comes to the real world, they only know Vladimir Putin as some guy on WWE TV.

Who is this strange looking man? When will he actually appear on TV to manage Rusev and Lana? Will he have a tuxedo match with Howard Finkel?

Putin is not a WWE owned character. He is a very strange little man, and an aggressive leader who has shown little mercy in his lust for power. He is at best an ambitious tactician, and at worst a mass murderer who will lead this planet into World War III.

He was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. For those of you still baffled by how Obama won the prestigious honor in 2009, let that sink in for a second.

And then there was the whole winter Olympics fiasco. We thought then that the extent of Putin's character was that of a bumbling oaf who liked to spend his time outdoors and shirtless. He became a joke for the late night talk show hosts, and America pointed their fingers and laughed at the big asshole from Russia.

We didn't know the ambition of this shirtless man. He would invade Ukraine and start seizing territory, causing an uproar in the international community. The United States spoke out against Russia and there was always whispers about military action against them.

Now, it is looking more and more likely that Russian forces were responsible for the crash of MH17 and the deaths of almost 300 people.

It's not funny anymore, Vince.

This isn't the first time that McMahon thought it would be a great idea to take real life tragedy and spin it into a wrestling angle. Eric Bischoff said it best when he said that controversy creates cash. Hulk Hogan needed a new villain in the 90's, and who better for American audiences to hate than someone from the Middle East? Iraq was all the rage back then, so you knew it wouldn't take long for the then WWF Machine to churn out a stereotypical villain for us too boo and throw popcorn at.

Ignore the real life death tolls and the impact that our war with Iraq would have on the future.

The only saving grace for that disgrace was casting Sgt. Slaughter as an Iraqi sympathizer. It didn't really make sense, but it was a surprise turn that shocked WWF audiences and immediately established Slaughter as a main event heel. He was so good at it that he had to be rushed out of arenas and received more than a few death threats.

He was in GI Joe! Of course it was shocking.

At least with Slaughter the angle was usually about him and his own treachery. I remember them throwing Saddam Hussein in there once or twice for cheap heat, but the week to week shenanigans started and ended with Slaughter. There was even a legitimate involvement with Hussein, as Slaughter's manager allegedly had ties to Saddam as schoolmates.

Not so with Vladimir Putin. He is not a character involved with World Wrestling Entertainment. The only way he will appear on Monday Night Raw is when Lana shamelessly promotes the madman. He will not show up to banter with Zeb Coulter. He will not get his comeuppance for the horrible real life murders he has committed by having Jack Swagger put him in the Patriot Lock. He will never respond to WWE's blatant attempts at garnering controversy based on an unrequited association with his name.

Enough is enough, Vince.

I remember the first time they used Putin on WWE TV. We were watching some pay per view, maybe Wrestlemania, and Lana kept going on and on about this great leader. This was back when Rusev was the Bulgarian brute, and Lana was the hot eye candy that just happened to be from Russia. It was a gimmick that was getting over on its own, so of course they had to completely screw it up.

I looked at my friend Jordan and said if they bring Vladimir Putin into this angle I would leave. We laughed about it, because we still had some misguided faith that they would never be so pathetic.

What a swerve!

Sure enough, there was a giant picture of Putin up on the Titan-tron. Lana smiled and spun around and pushed her boobs out as she gushed over a legitimate monster that WWE was trying to turn into a new character on their family oriented entertainment program.

Gone was the days of the Bulgarian brute, who garnered attention for being a true beast in the ring. Instead, Vince and his band of merry idiots have ushered in a whole new era of tasteless programming, shameless exploitation, and pandering to fear mongers who will buy into this bullshit.

If they want to be really extreme they could show the bodies of the victims from the plane crash. That would net them some ratings!

I feel bad for Rusev and Lana. They're both talented, but this whole controversy will literally do nothing for their careers. If anything, they'll soon find themselves sharing a place among the forgotten characters that were killed off due to poor writing and a reliance on controversy to get them over.

Say hello to Muhammed Hassan for me!

I fully expect to watch a commercial for Raw and have them pull a Law and Order style "ripped from the headlines" bit. It's always easier to imitate what's making waves than to make your own. Some people would say it's art imitating life, but I call it lazy storytelling.

It's no wonder so many people look down on wrestling as both sport and entertainment. WWE has taken the business out of the county fairs, but when something like this happens its not hard to see why we still can't shake the stigma of being low class entertainment.

Shame on you, Vince McMahon.

It's one thing to produce a poor show, it's a completely different atrocity to litter it with the bodies of innocent people.
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