|Posted on Thu, Sep. 26, 2002|
Michael "Mad Dog" Tearson | The media had to grapple with Billy & Chuck 'commitment'
ALMOST any time big-time media types take a pro wrestling angle seriously, they come to regret it.
Scenario: WWF tag team Billy and Chuck is boldly (or is that baldly?) modeled on "Saturday Night Live's" Ambiguously Gay Duo. After months of innuendo and tease, the tag team took the big leap recently to go public with a commitment ceremony.
Leno and Letterman took note in their monologues. ESPN reported the story. The New York Times actually may have triggered the angle with a feature on Billy and Chuck in August.
"Smackdown" and the commitment ceremony were taped in Colorado Springs on Sept. 10. Two days later, the day the show was airing, Billy and Chuck were guests on Howard Stern's morning radio show and then whisked across to "Today," where Matt Lauer interviewed them. They admitted to Stern and Lauer that it was all just a publicity stunt.
GLAAD, the gay advocacy group, had embraced the wedding angle, even sending Lauer a gravy boat to pass along as a wedding present.
That night on "Smackdown," the ceremony aired. But just before the vows were sealed, Chuck spoke up. "It wasn't supposed to go this far. We're not gay."
From here things happened very quickly, so follow closely:
The doddering old justice of the peace took the mike and rambled on about commitment, be it "50 years, 16 months or 3 minutes." Here, the codger removed his latex makeup, revealing Eric Bischoff under the disguise.
Chuck attacked plot mastermind Rico, the duo's erstwhile "styler." Bischoff's goons, Rosie and Jamal, entered to take out Billy and Chuck. For kicks, they also body-slammed Stephanie McMahon, in the ring as official witness for the ceremony.
The next day GLAAD issued a press release expressing its disappointment that the whole affair was nothing but a wrestling angle to set up a Billy and Chuck/Jamal and Rosie match for the "Unforgiven" pay per view.
Hokey smokes, you'd have thought Luke and Laura were getting divorced again on "General Hospital"!
At "Unforgiven," Jamal and Rosie defeated Billy and Chuck. The match's stipulations mandated that if Billy and Chuck lost, Stephanie was supposed to perform "hot lesbian action" in the ring.
Eric Bischoff trotted out a few lovelies as her potential partners, then called out "the ugliest, most disgusting [lesbian]" he said he could find. It turned out to be (male wrestler) Rikishi, wearing a latex mask.
Rikishi flattened Bischoff with a kick to the head.
Moral: Wrestling lives and dies by the swerve. It's still professional wrestling, dammit. It is virtually never politically correct by anyone's agenda or standards. Its job is to entertain with outrage. Take any angle as seriously as real life at your own risk.
Ted "Rocco Rock" Petty, 49, died Saturday en route to a 3PW match with Gary Wolfe in South Philadelphia.
He was coming from Elizabeth, N.J., where he had wrestled Crowbar. His fiancee, wrestler Little Jeanne, and a friend were driving him here when he began to have trouble breathing. They called 911 to meet them at the next exit on the New Jersey Turnpike. There, medics declared him dead.
Teddy Petty was best-known as half of former ECW and WCW tag champs Public Enemy with Johnny Grunge. In wrestling circles, he was well-loved - a warm presence with a huge heart.
Petty was to have married Jeanne Durso on Oct. 26. They had hoped to start a family within the year. Petty's relatives said there is a family history of heart disease.
Before his match with Crowbar, Petty said to his opponent, "Let's make this a fun match. Wrestling hasn't been much fun lately."
Send cards or letters to the Petty Family, 637 Voorhees Ave., Middlesex, N.J. 08846-2452.
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