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The next Winter Olympic sport?
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling Columnist
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With Raw pre-empted here in the United States tonight by the Westminster Dog Show, I'll be tuning in to watch the Winter Olympics. I've always looked forward to Olympic years, but the winter Games have always been my favorites for two reasons: hockey and the chance to see some sports that have low profiles here in the U.S. Curling, anyone?

Sadly, not everyone here shares my passion. That's especially true this year, when some industry experts are expecting NBC's Olympic coverage to take ratings losses to things like Desperate Housewives, Survivor, and for all I know, the aforementioned Dog Show. When you're NBC and you've spent ten digits to get the broadcast rights, that just won't do.

Thanks to the SLAM! Wrestling crystal ball (patent pending), I can look into the future to find a way to add some spark to the next Winter Games. All I have to do is keep my tongue firmly in my cheek and the orb will show me what will unfold over the next four years. Check it out:

June 2008 - Surprising most members of the traditional sports media, the International Olympic Committee votes to add professional wrestling to the 2010 Winter Olympics, citing the sport's popularity in the host nation of Canada. Cynics suggest it was the work of NBC, which has ridden the latest up cycle in wrestling's popularity to take first place in the network ratings on the strength of Thursday Night's Main Event. Others think the rumors of Candice Michelle and Lita "persuading" some IOC members to vote for wrestling might have some truth to them. Vince McMahon dismisses the critics in his usual fashion, pointing out that since figure skating went to an American Idol-style fan vote to decide its outcomes starting at the 2007 World Championships, a sport with scripted outcomes is the next logical step for the Games.

December 2008 - Fans rejoice as Bret Hart is named the General Manager of Team Canada's pro wrestling effort. Meanwhile, the WWE posts on HotJobs.com searching for a GM for Team USA. It's believed to be the first ever Olympic GM search requiring at least three years of professional television writing experience.

March 2009 - Team USA GM Joss Whedon names Triple H team captain, touching off angry podcasts on iPod SuperUltraMegas everywhere. The Game approaches obvious candidate Kurt Angle about joining the team, but Angle quits the WWE in disgust since his gimmick as the only true Olympic hero in the federation is about to go up in flames. Bret Hart convinces Chris Jericho to make a triumphant return as captain of Team Canada after Fozzy's latest effort sells only 57 downloads.

August 2009 - Final pro wrestling rosters are turned in for Vancouver. Conspiracy theorists are once again up in arms when no talent from either super popular TNA or newcomer TCW (a.k.a. Turner Championship Wrestling) is chosen for any country. Sports journalists, resigning themselves to a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude, pick the U.S. and Canada as medal favorites with Japan and Mexico as scrappy contenders. WWE writers are unwilling to give Kane an actual place of birth for fear of ruining his gimmick and the Big Red Machine is forced to sit out the Games.

January 2010 - With the Games only a month away, Team USA faces a crisis when team captain Triple H tests positive for YJStinger during the random pre-Olympic drug tests. The flap ends up becoming a non-issue when officials reveal that the beverage is not on the banned substances list because no one, including the manufacturers, actually know what's in the stuff. In other news, NBC announces its broadcast teams, with surprises coming in the form of Tazz hosting weekday studio coverage and Jerry "The King" Lawler replacing the late Dick Button as figure skating color commentator. Even more surprising is the addition of Maria to the luge announce team. "These guys slide really fast," she giggles.

February 12, 2010 - The decision to add wrestling to the Olympics pays immediate dividends when the opening ceremonies enjoy their highest ratings ever, thanks largely to Edge regaining the heel heat he hasn't had for years by using a steel chair to steal the Olympic torch. John Cena finally gets over with all WWE fans by getting the torch back and handing it over to Sidney Crosby, who lights the Olympic flame.

February 14, 2010 - With men's competition saved for the second week, pro wrestling kicks off with women's matches. Unfortunately, the WWE hasn't trained any women's wrestlers for years, so Trish Stratus is forced to wrestle the winner of Diva Search VI repeatedly during all of her preliminary bouts. Elsewhere, Paul Wight stuns the world as a last-minute replacement in pairs figure skating and helps his partner pull off the world's first (and likely last) throw quintuple axle. They still finish the short program in fifth place, trailing two Russian and two Chinese pairs.

February 18, 2010 - Official Olympic consultant Steve Austin decides to spice up the women's final by making it a bra and panties match. NBC is forced to shift the match to late night, where studio host Jim Lampley reaches an excitement level not heard since the glory days of his boxing commentary on HBO.

February 20, 2010 - The Dudley Boyz, the only athletes ever to represent Dudleyville at the Games, win the tag team gold medals with ease. Alas, even at the Olympics, the Spanish announce table doesn't survive the evening. As the men's preliminary matches get underway, a Russian wrestler scores a surprising victory over Randy Orton by working the match as a shoot, saying later through a translator that he "just wanted to prove those annoying internet fans wrong." The IOC decides his actions are contrary to the spirit of the Games and have his victory thrown out.

February 24, 2010 - Another day, another Olympic first. The men's heavyweight quarterfinals make history when they feature the first event at the Games with a special guest referee in the form of Mick Foley. Mr. Socko embodies the Olympic spirit, sporting the five rings on his shirt.

February 27, 2010 - The Vancouver Games are coming to a close, and the men's heavyweight final is one of the last events on the schedule. Batista is supposed to face Rey Mysterio, who has already claimed the cruiserweight gold and overcome the hardest possible draw to get to the heavyweight gold medal match. But something is different about Rey today. He looks bigger, and, well, less Mexican. The match goes on anyway, and suspicions are confirmed when Batista is forced to tap out to a familiar looking Ankle Lock. Turns out that the whole quitting deal was a work, as "Rey" unmasks to reveal that he is actually Kurt Angle is disguise. Realizing that they have no policy on masked athletes, the IOC allows Angle's victory to register toward the American medal count.

February 28, 2010 - As the 2010 Olympics draw to a close with the closing ceremonies, Vince McMahon parties with pleased NBC executives. When IOC president Jacques Rogge stops by, McMahon hits him with his brainstorm for the 2014 Games. Two words: bikini biathlon!

Okay, so the crystal ball sometimes is a little fuzzy on the details. But just in case it does happen, remember that you read it here first.

RELATED LINKS

  • SLAM! Sports covers the 2006 Turin Games
  • From the Olympics to the Pros, from Bad News Allen to Mad Dog Vachon, with lots in between


    Visit Amazon.com


  • The best Olympic resource there is: The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics


    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and his column, Walkin' That Aisle with Nick Tylwalk, appears most Mondays. Comments, compliments and complaints can be sent to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.