April 10, 2006
God booked for match; Backlash expected
By MICHAEL JENKINSON - Edmonton Sun Columnist
In the quarter century or so that I've been a professional wrestling fan, I thought I had seen it all: great matches, terrible matches, drama that was Shakespearean, incredibly offensive angles, funny characters, wacky comedy ... the works.
But I never, ever thought I would see God advertised in a wrestling match.
Yes, that God. As in, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jehovah God.
Yet here we are. Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, who plays the on-air character "Mr. McMahon," has booked himself and his son Shane into a tag-team match with Shawn Michaels and God for the April 30 WWE pay-per-view show called Backlash.
Long story short, the match came about as a result of the evil McMahon character getting thoroughly whupped by good-guy wrestler Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 22 on April 2. In the feud, McMahon has basically been playing the role of Satan trying to tempt the born-again Michaels (both in real-life and his wrestling character) back to the dark side, as Michaels used to be quite the jerk (both in real life and in his wrestling character) before finding God.
The next night on the WWE's Raw show, McMahon complained that Michaels had help in his Wrestlemania match -- that it wasn't just a one-on-one match. Instead, complained McMahon, Michaels had divine intervention. He would have beaten Shawn had God not interfered. So if God wanted to stick his nose into Vince's business, McMahon was going to put God in the match at Backlash.
I suppose as a Christian I really should be up in arms about this, given that the Bible is quite clear that God is not to be mocked. But the Bible also says that vengeance is the realm of the Lord's, too, so I'll let him make the decision on whether Vince should be smited from above.
For my purposes, the angle is so over-the-top ridiculous that I can't possibly take it seriously. Even the announcers on Raw last Monday night couldn't keep straight faces as McMahon booked God into a match.
Plus, I'm holding out against all reasonable logic that this angle is McMahon's big "road to Damascus" storyline and that in the end, McMahon's character, if not necessarily the man himself, is going to find God and be redeemed.
That might be giving Vince way too much credit, however. After all, this is the guy whose company just spent the last six months exploiting the death of one of its wrestlers, Eddy Guerrero.
And given McMahon's long track record for pushing the envelope when it comes to tasteless wrestling angles and ending up with egg all over his face, there's always the possibility that there will be a, er, backlash to the Backlash match if and when Christian groups hear that God has been reduced to being a player in the WWE's little morality play.
In fact, the WWE might be counting on it, says Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer newsletter, which covers the fake sport from a behind-the-scenes insider's point of view. "I really believe that they're desperately seeking attention right now. They think what's lacking is no one is talking about them -- there's no water-cooler talk.
"They think this will be like the Mel Gibson movie (The Passion of the Christ) and spur them back into being in the mainstream."
But booking God into a match? That's going to get them talked about at water-coolers? That's going to make the WWE mainstream again? "I think there's a fine line between genius and insanity," says Meltzer, "and Vince goes both ways."
Well, give Vince credit for one thing -- at least he didn't announce that he'd booked Allah into a match at Backlash.
But whether this causes a mainstream ruckus or not, no wrestling fan should buy the Backlash pay-per-view actually expecting God to appear. As Meltzer jokes, God hasn't actually signed a contract with the WWE.
Michael Jenkinson is the Comment Editor for the Edmonton Sun. An archive of his columns (about much more than just wrestling) is available here, and he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.