Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States; Donald Trump, WWE Hall of Famer; Donald Trump, one-time recipient of a Stone Cold Stunner.
Trump has a superstar bio on wwe.com that mentions the fact that he’s our current president:
“From captivating billionaire to reality TV star, from WWE Hall of Famer to the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump has truly done it all.
“… After trading in his favorite television catchphrase “You’re fired!” for a national promise to “Make America Great Again,” Donald Trump won his first presidential campaign against key contender Hillary Clinton and officially took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017, to become the 45th President of the United States — the first time in history a WWE Hall of Famer would ever hold the distinguished title of U.S. Commander-in-Chief.”
But other than that, WWE hasn’t really played up the fact that someone who has hosted a pair of Wrestlemanias, took part in a “Battle of the Billionaires” with WWE chairman Vince McMahon and once briefly “owned” RAW is now leader of the friggin’ free world. It’s possible they have, but — outside of his updated bio on wwe.com — I don’t think they’ve mentioned it on their website, Twitter, Monday Night RAW or the WWE Network.
Trump and Vince McMahon are, as far as I can tell, friends. Linda McMahon, the former chief executive officer of WWE, was tapped by Trump, and approved, to lead the Small Business Administration (she and Vince also donated money to support Trump’s campaign). Stephanie McMahon, WWE chief brand officer, and her husband, Paul “HHH” Levesque, WWE executive vice president, talent, live events & creative, attended the inauguration (although note that Stephanie doesn’t mention Trump by name in the caption for the photo).
Also, it’s not like WWE hasn’t mixed politics with wrestling before. A Bill Clinton impersonator was at Wrestlemania X. Gennifer Flowers, who allegedly had an affair with Bill Clinton, interviewed the Rock at Wrestlemania XIV (an interview that, according to wwe.com, “marked the first time the People’s Champ uttered his famous catch phrase, ‘If you smell what The Rock is cooking.'”). In 2008, Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton responded to WWE’s Smackdown Your Vote! campaign.
So why … WHY … has WWE downplayed the Trump connection? Did Trump ask them to? Does WWE think mentioning him will anger a significant portion of their fanbase? Or is it that Trump’s America doesn’t jive with that of John Cena’s?
I’m not sure. But the American people/WWE Universe demand answers.
Saturday is the 4th of July. On Sunday, Van Halen kick off their 2015 tour. On July 4, 2004, David Lee Roth played with the Boston Pops in the greatest 4th of July performance of all time. I’m not saying it’s the reason I ended up moving to Boston nine years later, but let’s just say as a matter of fact it is.
David Lee Roth is a ludicrous human being. He was the frontman for one of the biggest rock bands of all time, split with them when they were at their most popular, spent the next 20 or so years releasing solo albums of varying degrees of success, put out an entertaining autobiography, got arrested in Washington Square Park for purchasing $5 worth of pot, reunited with Van Halen, immediately got booted from Van Halen, toured with Sammy Hagar, somehow became the person chosen to replace Howard Stern, got fired from that gig and eventually reunited with Van Halen again, although — since they’re Van Halen — his return signaled the end of original bassist Michael Anthony’s time in the band, as Eddie Van Halen brought in his son, Wolfgang, to play bass. The latest incarnation of Van Halen has actually held together, although fans always assume the whole thing could blow up at any moment.
In the summer of 2002, I attended the Hagar/Roth show in Scranton, Pa. Hagar opened and was a good time despite his Hard rock Jimmy Buffet shtick. Roth closed and strutted out with platinum blonde hair and a skin-tight pink jumpsuit. His performance was … not well received by the crowd. My buddy Mike and I had purchased David Lee Roth T-shirts. On the way out to the parking lot after the show, a guy behind us started singing a reworked version of Roth’s solo song “Just Like Paradise,” changing the lyrics to, “This must be just like David Lee Roth sucks ass.” And in the only instance of anyone finding Mike and I intimidating in our lifetimes, the man’s significant other said to him, “Honey, shhhh! There are Roth fans ahead!”
Anyway, getting back on track, Roth’s performance with The Pops. Or, as the bald guy who introduces Roth to the stage says, “I think it’s time we make the Pops … Rock! What do you say?”
“Jump” kicks in. Roth comes out. No platinum blonde hair this time. No pink jumpsuit. Classy attire for a classy occasion. Most of the crowd, either waving American flags or wearing clothing featuring American flags, do the only proper thing when “Jump” is playing and jump along to the song. At one point Roth joins the conductor of the orchestra so they can sing a few lines together.
Roth is in fine voice. Well, for him. Roth’s strength as a live performer is less his singing and more his spinning jump kicks, of which he does several (one of my favorite parts of his autobiography is when he makes it known that those kicks are not just for show, but are in fact an ancient method of kicking a person off a horse). Roth’s other strength as a live performer is his ability to twirl a mic stand, which he does during the guitar solo. When the War to End All Wars occurs in the next 15 years, Roth will be at the front of the side fighting for the good of humanity twirling away. You know this to be true.
As the song nears its end, members of the orchestra begin leaping out of their chairs. Roth pulls out a few more jump kicks. He looks to the sky, his arms outstretched. A job well done? A fireworks display properly opened for?
Something WWE does better than all other professional sports (I said this in the Macho Man post, and I’ll say it again: On this MLBlog, pro wrestling is considered a professional sport — on par with the XFL and all those other, lesser ones) is promo/highlight videos. WWE fans complain about plenty (Vince McMahon is out of touch, LOLCenawins, the fact that Naked Mideon is no longer employed by the company), but when it comes to these prematch and recap videos, I think pretty much everyone agrees that they’re consistently great.
Here are three of the best:
Wrestlemania XVII: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. the Rock
“I need to beat you, Rock. I need it more than anything you could ever imagine.” — Austin
This Wrestlemania is considered by many to be the best, and the main event was Austin, the challenger, vs. the Rock, the champion. The two biggest stars of the Attitude Era main eventing Wrestlemania for the second time, and this one took place at the Astrodome, which is located in Austin’s home state of Texas.
When the two wrestled in the main event of Wrestlemania XV, Austin was the clear fan favorite going against bad-guy Rock, who was Vince McMahon’s “Corporate champion.” At XVII, Austin was still the top guy, but Rock was not far behind with his millions (AND MILLIONS) of fans.
The video sells the importance of the heavyweight title better than WWE probably has done since, and Austin’s desperation to reclaim it is clear by the line I’ve quoted above (he would *SPOILER* turn to the darkside and align himself with McMahon to win this match). The soundtrack for this video is the song “My Way” by Limp Bizkit. And while I know everyone — even the people who loved them back in the late 1990s/early 2000s — hates that band now, it was a most #hireable choice.
Money in the Bank 2011: CM Punk vs. John Cena
“Do I have everybody’s attention now?” — Punk
This is the PPV after Punk delivered his famous “Pipebomb promo” and went from being a star to a superstar.
Punk was the No. 1 contender, and his contract with WWE was (I’m pretty sure legit) coming to an end. He hadn’t signed a new deal yet, and guaranteed he would win the title — in his home state of Illinois, no less — and then leave the WWE with it.
Punk was angry about the fact that even though he believed he was “Best in the World” and should be face of the company, the WWE — run by Vince, his “idiotic daughter and his doofus son-in-law” (Stephanie McMahon and HHH) — wanted to keep him down so that Cena (Hustle, Loyalty, Respect) would continue being the top guy.
The video, which repeats the line quoted above several times, does a great job of showing how different the two wrestlers are and how outrageously self-righteous/entertaining Punk was at this point. Sadly, no Limp Bizkit this time, although Cena (from West Newbury, Mass.) finally snapping and punching Punk after Punk compares him to the Yankees will always crack me up.
Wrestlemania XXVI: Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker
“You willing to throw DX away?!” — HHH
At Wrestlemania XXV, the Undertaker and Michaels had one of the best, if not the best, Wrestlemania matches of all time. A year later, there was talk that they were going to have a rematch. At first, I didn’t think this was a good idea — How could they top the last one? But after seeing this video on an episode of Monday Night RAW, I was on board.
Michaels had challenged Undertaker to fight him again at Mania XXVI, but the Dead Man just kept going, “Nope.” So Michaels became obsessed to the point that he was attacking his friends, refs and screwing up in all his matches. This led to that HHH quote above, which does not best represent the feud but always kills me due to how sincere and sad HHH sounded, as if Michaels was letting down some noble institution and not a group most known for its catchphrase, “Suck it!”
Eventually, Michaels gets Undertaker angry enough that he grants the rematch — but only if Michaels puts his career on the line. The soundtrack for this video is “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo (a cover of a Kate Bush song) and it is a friggin’ perfect choice. The match itself — which I saw LIVE at my first Wrasslemania — was not as great as the first one, but still very good, and it features the legendary LEAPING TOMBSTONE.
Now, those are three of the best, but I’ve recently discovered one that possibly tops them all: The Best of 1985 highlight video, featuring the song “Riot In the Streets.”
Saturday Night’s Main Event used to air occasionally on NBC in the 1980s and early ’90s (they also brought it back a few times in the 2000s) when SNL was on break. The WWE Network added the entire SNME library over the summer, and since I’d only seen clips of the show before, it was a chance to see new matches/angles/interviews involving childhood favorites like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and the Macho Man. The episodes are quite ridiculous/entertaining, and one of the more ridiculous/entertaining things is the Best of 1985 video package (here’s the link to the episode on WWE Network — the clip starts around the 42-minute mark).
It’s introduced by these two maniacs:
And while the video itself is just random clips from the past year, “Riot in the Streets” sounds like it was written by someone who listened to the Rocky IV soundtrack on repeat until it drove them insane. Lyrics below:
They do all their talking with a gun
They’ll shoot them as fast as they come
Well a million new voices will be found
Their heads are held up high, the braver ones
There’s more than a wall that must come down
Before their flag is raised again!
Someday, the regime will end
The wheels turn, and we must defend
Cause there’s a riot in the streets
Hiding in the dark
Waiting for the light of day
When they call out their warning
We can hear what they say
Cause there’s a riot in the streets
There’s a riot in the streets
We’ve seen frontiers vanish overnight
Some have come down without a fight
But absolute power will soon be gone
We have the strength to carry on!
One of the challenges of democracy
How will we be seen by history?
The video is followed by a “Peace Match” between Nikolai Volkoff, who sings the national anthem of the Soviet Union after entering the ring, and Corporal Kirchner, a former army paratrooper. Volkoff wins. USSR! USSR!
Cause there’s a riot in the streets.
** UPDATE **
Commenter dharmasmugmentioned that “Riot in the Streets” might have replaced the original song, and he/she is CORRECT. The original airing features Billy Ocean’s “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” which fits the video much better, especially the goofy/light-hearted parts. I still consider the “Riot in the Streets” version to be superior, mostly because I wrote this whole friggin’ post about it.