One week after WrestleMania, The Dirty Sheets were sent a controversial video by one of our sources featuring WWE legends Ric Flair and Scott Hall drinking together at Wrestlemania at 11am.
Initially we opted not to run it, deciding it wasn’t a road we wanted to go down. We didn’t see the point. Ric and Scott were both heroes of Nick and Myself. It seemed to be in poor taste to expose these men. If anything we found the video to be sad. Two washed up wrestlers at the end of their road trying to hang on. The most shocking aspect of the video was how appropriate and inevitable the self destruction of these men seemed. As if their demise was pre-destined. Like the end of a Greek Tragedy, or Darren Aronofsky Movie. Nick and I had many conversations about this video in the intervening months. We talked about what if anything could we learn from these men, and how have they fallen so far down from the heights of their careers’.
However, following the events of last weekend, namely my personal online altercation with Aleister Black, where he openly displayed zero respect for his craft or kayfabe, my eyes were opened to the metaphorical cancer that is killing wrestling as we once knew it. The conduct of Aleister Black is indicative of the direction we are unfortunately hedging towards. Aleister plays a character not very unlike the Undertaker. The character is dark, brooding, and mysterious. Aleister then gets on twitter and undermines all of the work he and the WWE have put in to the creation of his character to defend women. He takes a social justice stand against sexism. While we’re all aware that Tom Budgen is not actually Aleister Black, his extreme disregard of kayfabe is an insult to the business that he claims to love so much.
Because it is misogynistic, and if that is you attitude towards woman in 2017 you need to recheck your values and maybe go away. https://t.co/NvwwPvKZWQ
— Devil's Blood (@WWEAleister) September 24, 2017
I don't think the concept of respect is something you grasp. Also interesting to see that you don't really know what to say to me. https://t.co/BonjMAisuz
— Devil's Blood (@WWEAleister) September 24, 2017
Obviously given the recent events regarding Ric Flair’s poor health, the story is even more relevant than it was back in April. Based on the fact this video exists, it’s extremely hard to have any sympathy for Flair and Hall, who are clearly responsible for their own health issues. Regardless millions of fans prayed for Flair while he was recently battling through major medical issues. The same fans were the ones who helped raise $109,432 for Scott Hall’s hip replacement, not once questioning the fact that WCW made Hall a multi-millionaire and that he should’ve been more than capable of funding his own surgery.
Why is it that we care so much for these men, who in the past, wouldn’t garner any sympathy for their own self destructive behavior. Men who would have been thrown on the trash heap of retired washed up wrestlers. The reason is simple, it’s because these men are fucking awesome.
Wrestling is rife with tragedy going all the way back to the beginning. The business was full of tough guys who lived hard and fast and typically met their demise at a young age, alone and broke. However these men while gone were seldom forgotten. Ric Flair and Scott Hall represent the last of a dying breed. Men who lived the gimmick, who embraced kayfabe. Men who at the end of the day were so committed to their character that it nearly killed them.
Kayfabe = Love
As we tiptoe on eggshells in this modern day era, where political correctness is rife and our WWE superstars are more interested in cross-fit and video games, than drinking and partying, I want to ask you a simple question. Who do you love in wrestling right now? Which superstar can you see yourself telling your kids about 15-20 years, or buying a vintage t-shirt of. Whilst we still purchase the shirts of the likes of Roddy Piper, Jake the Snake, Randy Savage, Steve Austin, Razor Ramon, Ric Flair, the list goes on and on; will anyone be purchasing a vintage Seth Rollins shirt in 15 years time?
Everyone we fell in love with, lived their gimmick 24/7. Scott Hall would talk in a Cuban accent in public, and Ric Flair would pay out of his own pocket for jets and limos. Randy Savage went as far as getting a legitimate legal separation from his wife Elizabeth, when the pair were split up on TV, because protecting the business meant something back then. People will often say that kayfabe is dead, well that’s because the WWE killed it with their decision to go public and their desperation to gain mainstream they will never truly have.
Not only did the wrestlers live their gimmicks, but they were passionate about their craft. One great example is the fact that Steve Austin was so passionate about his run as Stone Cold Steve Austin, he never forgave Owen Hart for injuring his neck and shortening his run on top. During a recent interview with The Dirty Sheets, Austin’s ex wife, Jeanie Clarke, revealed that Austin flat out refused to attend Owen Hart’s funeral, he was so angry about the incident and the fact that Hart derailed his career. By comparison, let’s fast forward to 2017, and look at the situation between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. At SummerSlam 2016, Seth Rollins was responsible for injuring Finn Balor, forcing him to forfeit the WWE Universal Championship and killing the biggest push of his career. Not only was Balor not legitimately angry with Rollins, who failed to protect his opponent, but he didn’t even have enough respect for the business to maintain Kayfabe and sell his anger at Rollins. Instead, the pair took selfies together earlier this year, whilst both rehabbing from injuries, after Rollins suffered his own injury in late January. The WWE also aided in killing the issue, when they paired the two together as a tag team on Balor’s first night back with the company, after a 7 month lay-off caused by Rollins.
So while initially, you may be think this video is sad and simply contains two broken down old men who are now a shell of their former selves, look at differently. Ric Flair and Scott Hall are two men who lived and loved their gimmick. They had the x-factor and both of them have more star power in the left pinky toe than most of the current roster. These two men loved, lived and understood how to get their characters to connect with millions of people because they were real. No matter what becomes of them via their bad decisions and poor health, Scott Hall and Ric Flair will outlive all the current superstars, who are suffocating under the black cloud of political correctness.