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  Feb 25, 1998



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

WWF should clean-up its act


Mat Matters


Informative views and insights on the wrestling world from SLAM! Sports.

DOME SHOW
By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun Sports
 The World Wrestling Federation has gone too far. The messages it is sending to its audience, particularly the younger ones who idolize the performers, is that it is okay to use coarse language and point to the male sexual organ to make a point. And, that's terribly wrong.

I took my son Ben, who is nearly six, to a recent show at the SkyDome in Toronto and I spent part of the evening telling him not to listen to the bad words he was hearing, both from the crowd and, more distubring, the wrestlers.

On more than one occasion one opponent said to another over the public address system, "Get your ass out here" or words to that effect. One wrestler, The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, even threatened to kick the behind -- he used the word "ass" -- of a member of the crowd who was taunting him. Goldust, by the way, wore black makeup with the letters F and U displayed on opposite sides of his cheekbones. He also wore a garish, green body suit and a black studded jock and was taunted by the crowd, who relished calling him "faggot." Even his opponents called him that.

Then there's another wrestler, who is nicknamed "Badd Ass." And how about Stone Cold Steve Austin? He has the word "ass" emblazoned on the shirts that are sold by the WWF. Stone Cold is portrayed as the meanest, fiercest, toughest dude in the WWF. He has a shaved head and a goatee, which collectively aren't bad, but part of his act is gestering with his index fingers. His message is much like the letters on Goldust's face.

Then there's the combination of Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst- Helmsley, who are a tag-team combination known as Degeneration X and are found of using both coarse language and talking about and pointing to their genitals.

At a recent press conference in New York to launch the forthcoming Wrestlemania, Degeneration X joked how they would restrict using coarse language and talking about their private parts during prime time hours. In fact, every time Michaels uttered a swear word during this long proclomation, it was bleeped out.

The message was obvious: the WWF is aware of of the fine line of good taste that it is crossing, but instead of eliminating it all together it chooses to make light of it. It's almost like saying, "yeah, we know, this isn't in the greatest taste, but...so what? Hee, hee, hee."

Granted, this is all a show and will never be confused with reality and, if the truth be told, I find it amusing. But, my son can't see or view the act in the same way I do. He's young enough to easily be impressioned by these people. HBK

He actually likes Shawn Michaels, whom he considers his favourite wrestler. I like Shawn Michaels' athletic ability, but I'm not so sure I want my son pointing to his genitals every time he wants to make a point. As for Hunter Hearst-Helmsley, he's just a cheap immitation of Michaels with his long, blonde hair. Michaels is one of the WWF"s top performers and has been for years. But, is he a role model? Hardly.

Michaels' presence, coupled with a growing dislike for the politics and plot lines of the WWF, prompted five-time champion Bret Hart to go to the rival WCW in, arguably, the biggest-ever exit of a wrestler from one organization to another. WWF boss Vince McMahon has said Hart's exit had more to do with ego and money -- which, in fact, may be true -- but there's no denying that Hart is not the only one wondering what's going on these days in the WWF.

The WWF has been accused on more than one occasion of poor taste in some of its plot lines, yet it has withstood the criticism. It has also withstood scandals about steroids and sex. This time, though, the WWF may be damaging itself more than it realizes. This whole Degeneration X stuff becomes a problem when a father has to tell his son "don't listen to the bad words" he's hearing from inside and outside the ring.

Do you really think the crowd would be using such foul language if it wasn't being thrust in its face by the performers in the ring and the paraphernalia being sold at the shows?

The WWF should examine all of this or its going to lose a future generation.

Including all of the Degeneration Xers!


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Perry Lefko is a sports reporter for the Toronto Sun. He has written two books -- Flutie, a biography of Doug Flutie, and The Greatest Show on Turf, a history of The Breeder's Cup. He can be reached at perry.lefko@sympatico.ca.