Monday, June 27, 2011

Kevin Kelly Tries to Go America All Over Everybody's Asses, Fails

Sheamus and Santino prove Kelly wrong
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Former WWE commentator and current ROH/Lucha Libre USA announcer Kevin Kelly raised some eyebrows about the viability of foreign-born/-billed wrestlers as draws in WWE. I guess he has a bug up his ass about Sheamus or Wade Barrett getting main event pushes, or maybe he's just xenophobic. I'm not going to FJM him, because K. Sawyer Paul did it first and probably did it better than I could. Damn these snazzy bloggers with their quick triggers on doing FJM to shitty journalism/opinion writing! I will, however, take another angle with Kelly. He claims that foreign stars will never be big in WWE or in any sport in America:
Hulk Hogan, Rock and Stone Cold are household names. Macho Man is too. John Cena is close but the WWE is not what it was a few years ago and as a result, Cena is not a true household name with the American casual fan. Kids, yes but not adults. Bret Hart is close too but he was on top when the business was in the toilet. Not his fault but while Bret is super-over with hardcore fans, the business climate from his time at the top knocks him down a peg.
Emphasis there is mine. Let's forget for a second that Andre the Giant was perhaps the greatest draw in the regional era of wrestling. Let's forget that Bruno Sammartino, Antonino Rocca, Eduoard Carpentier, Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff, the Great Muta, Davey Boy Smith and even Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio (who, even though were born in America, have strong Mexican roots and could almost be considered "foreign" if you stretch the definition enough) all were super over and either drew money here or helped other guys draw money despite either being born in another country or billed from another land. No, Kelly's argument is flawed right from get-go one.

It really doesn't matter what the fuck Americans think about these foreign guys to an extent.

Kelly mentions the WWE's global initiative in the first paragraph, and then ignores that it exists when he rails against the WWE pushing them dirty foreigners here in the States. That's a dangerously ignorant thing to do, especially given how popular the WWE is in other countries (and conversely, how unpopular MMA and UFC are in some of those other countries... given how much UFC cuts into the WWE's PPV market and other demographics here, that's not trivial). If you're a company trying to make inroads into Ireland, wouldn't you want U2 on your side? Yeah? Okay, so then why is the WWE stupid for pushing Sheamus when they're trying to struggle for a market share in Ireland? Same with Wade Barrett in Britain or Alberto del Rio, Rey Mysterio and now Sin Cara in Mexico or even Great Khali in India.

The truth is, the world is turning into a global marketplace. Local business is being drowned out by Internet commerce and the wide reach of companies trying to use new media, new technology and the burgeoning global infrastructure to capture more and more viewers in places they have never reached before. Couple that with human nature of wanting to identify with people who looked, spoke, acted and had the same culture as they do, and it's a no-brainer to try and tap into each lucrative market.

The WWE has been trying, and succeeding, at cultivating a truly international product, for longer than they've had Sheamus, Barrett and the like on their roster. Kelly denigrates Bret Hart's impact on the business in that blockquoted snippet. While it was true that Hart was on top during a downturn in American business, he was super popular to foreign audiences. You could argue that the international money that Hart brought in helped keep the then-WWF with the resources and revenue that kept them in the same ballpark as WCW was with their Turner-backing.

Hell, and if they get over with American audiences too, which if Kelly would take his head out of his xenophobic ass, he'd notice that they are, then it's gravy. Hell, look at the guys who get the loudest face reactions at any WWE show. John Cena is American, Rey Mysterio is a stylized Mexican and Santino Marella is billed from Calabria, Italy. Three superstars, three countries.

If Kevin Kelly has an axe to grind with WWE, he might as well go about doing so with a better argument, because this one is not rooted in fact or honesty. If he wants to spout that kind of jingoism, let him go on Fox News. It's not needed nor is it welcome in a place where we as wrestling fans not only embrace guys like Sheamus, Barrett, Mysterio and the like, but know full well that their place in the business side of things is very important as well, even if in a wholly hypothetical situation, my fellow Americans spend zero percent of their ticket to see anyone not billed as 100% American, something which has been proven to be patently false.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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