Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WWE Celebrating the 4th of July... in the Southern Hemisphere?

I could get used to seeing this every Fourth of July or on a date somewhere near there
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Eighteen years ago yesterday, the then-WWF held one of the most iconic events in the fed's history. Yokozuna held an open challenge to any American to see if they could bodyslam his 500+ lbs. frame on the USS Intrepid, docked in New York City. It was a foreigner looking to shame Americans on a national landmark, no less. While competitor after competitor failed, the final one, Lex Luger, manned up for the Red, White and Blue and slammed that smug sumo right on his ass. It was a special event for a special holiday, and even though Luger never materialized as the megastar Vince McMahon hoped he'd be after that, it still resonates through WWE's history as something special for a company that purports to love America.

In the grand tradition of that event, WWE spent Independence Day yesterday either doing house shows in or being en route to house shows in the Southern Hemisphere... wait, what? Yes, RAW was on tour in Australia, while Smackdown was gearing up to make South Africa their home for the next week. For a company that very much considers itself part of the heritage of this nation (and for better or worse, they definitely are), for them to tape a show to air on the 4th of July a week before and be out of the country on that date is a little disappointing. Granted, I don't think they should be called to the carpet and have Toby Keith feebly attempt to write a scathing song about their lack of patriotism, but I think on any working holiday they have, they should spend it in the States.

I don't know what the reasoning for their touring schedule was. Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe these were the only times that were convenient for them to visit Australia and South Africa. WWE is a global company, and I'm glad that they travel to all corners of the world. The more I have in common with people around the world, the easier it is for me to gain an audience on here or to talk about if/when I travel abroad. Yeah, I'm selfish. Deal with it.

The thing is, the WWE prides itself on being part of the American fabric. They proved it last night, with Sgt. Slaughter and Jack SWAGGAH~! fighting over the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or with their emphasis on honoring the military each year. It's baffling why they wouldn't want to celebrate the Fourth with their native fans.

I also want to say that I'm not mad at how things are. I mean, we got a really good show last night, and hey, when you boil it all down a date is a date, I guess. That people in other countries get to enjoy WWE is the important thing. At the same time though, I look back at that date on the Intrepid and think, wow, that was a great way to tie into the spirit of the holiday without looking too obsequious or patronizing to the country and the sense of patriotism we feel on that day. I knwo they won't deliver on that moment every year, but if they try (but not too hard), then maybe they have some kind of tradition that keeps going every year.

I dunno, I guess I have more pride in being an American than I thought. It's great that we share one of our longstanding producers of entertainment with the rest of the world. It really is. However, I can't help but feel a bit wistful when we don't get to have just one day for this country. Maybe it'd be a bit better if a top-line indie fed stepped up to fill that tradition, but either way, pro wrestling is something that we Americans do a certain way, and that tradition has become as American as baseball. I think WWE should step up and take that mantel for themselves.

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