So yesterday I finally got a chance to see an episode of Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Wrestling, the new show on CMT that combines the wrestling school competition angle of WWE's Tough Enough with the celebrities-behaving-badly frisson of shows like The Surreal Life. Since my wife enjoys trashy reality shows and I dig bad wrestling, we can watch this one together. And man, the wrestling is pretty bad. Though the episode I watched is only the second in the series and I've certainly seen worse from supposed pros at indy shows.
One thing that bugs me about the show is that one of the contestants is Dennis Rodman. As far as I can tell everyone else competing is a complete newbie to the world of sports entertainment. Meanwhile I remember Rodman's main event tag team match with Hulk Hogan at the WCW pay-per-view Bash At The Beach back in '97 or so. I felt bad for the announce team working that night because they were trying to sell the simplest of offensive moves as proof that Rodman knew what he was doing in the ring. The way he lumbered about led some of the folks I was watching with to speculate that Rodman might be under the influence of some sort of recreational substance.
Which is a damn shame, really. This exceptional athlete with a talent for public theatre of the absurd should have been a lock as a great wrestler. His three main event performances represent a level of success that most professional wrestlers will never achieve. And he pretty much sucked donkey balls in all of them. I have his last big match on DVD, a main event singles competition against Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig. To his credit I thought Hennig busted his ass trying to save that match from being a complete load of crap. The fact that the undercard was atrocious actually may have helped in that regard.
So what went wrong with Rodman's wrestling career? Two simple things, I think. First, he was pushed to the top too fast. I can't blame Rodman for grabbing the brass ring when it was within reach, but promotions should know better than to put neophytes at the top of the card. Wrestling has long had a problem with promoters fast-tracking their sons or other favorites. Usually it's a formula for disaster. WCW attaching bad boy Rodman to the nWo was not a bad idea, but that doesn't mean they had to give him a main event!
Second and more importantly, I also always got the impression that pro wrestling was just a lark for Rodman. Failing to take the show seriously is much harder to forgive. Yes, wrestling is stupid and violent but it's also serious business. So while completely unfair to the contestants, putting Rodman in Celebrity Championship Wrestling is intriguing. Will he take the competition seriously enough to leverage his wrestling experience and fantastic athleticism into a win? Or will he phone it in and let Danny Bonnaduce whip his ass?
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