Hello every and welcome you've landed... AGAIN on Planet Kayfabe. That's right, 3 columns this week.
Because I like ya a lot.
It's officially the beginning of summer. There's more heat outside than Big Cass had backstage. I hope you're enjoying it. This has been a fairly eventful week and in this edition of Planet Kayfabe I'm going to give my thoughts on the passing of Vader and why it's shitty that he's not in the WWE Hall of Fame (maybe not for the reason you think) The WWE mini-documentary "24" on Matt and Jeff Hardy and some thoughts on Sami Zayn going down with an injury.
The news came out today that Sami Zayn f***ed up his right shoulder (the good one) and re-aggravated his left shoulder, so he's going to be out of action the rest of the year. The news sucks and there's not much more I have to say about it. He's coming out of a "worst feud of the year" candidate with Bobby Lashley. A feud that damaged both guys at least in the short term. I just find it funny that most of the time when someone goes down with an injury in WWE the first thought by myself and many of you is "at least the time off TV will freshen him up".
It's rarely a tough break unless the injury happens close to Wrestlemania, like when Rollins missed it. When someone gets hurt the initial thought is "at least he can escape WWE's shitty creative for a while and come back clean". Unlike Zayn's first big injury during his match with John Cena, this came at a time where the best thing for his character is being off WWE's TV. I guess it is one of those weird WWE fan things that you can't explain to anyone without sounding insane. You can almost be happy a wrestler you like goes down with injury just so WWE doesn't continue to ruin their gimmick. WWE had a good thing with Zayn going as a heel, so as crazy as it sounds, Zayn I wish you all the best on your recovery but you got out at a good time.
On the WWE Network I watched the latest WWE 24 mini-doc on Matt and Jeff Hardy. Notice I didn't say "The Hardy Boyz". They get into the real people. I can't recommend it enough. It was very heavy and they don't pull anything back. They dig into a lot of the more recent history. You've heard about the TLC matches a thousand times. They touch on that, but that's not what this story was about. I'm not going to spoil it if you haven't seen it. I'm just going to say, you're going to get the story about the struggles of both guys. Their well documented issues with drugs and alcohol even including Jeff Hardy's recent DUI arrest.
Yes, they even touch on Victory Road '11 showing raw footage that actually captures what Eric Bischoff said to Jeff Hardy and Sting before the match began. A lot of this stuff brought back a lot of memories for me. Christian said it himself that he said to Matt Hardy that he's going to end up dead. All of us social media and message board dwelling internet wrestling fans during the late 2000's/early 2010's were all waiting for the day that we woke up, logged on the internet and saw the tragic news that one or both of the Hardy Boyz were dead. They showed some of the old videos they would air on YouTube, one of which I especially remember was when they were loaded at some diner and Jeff was going off about CM Punk and Matt was still hung up on the Lita drama that happened half a decade earlier. That combined with all the legal shit concerned a lot of fans and it was morbidly accepted that neither one of them would make it to 40 and before they cleaned up their act, they were right. Back in the day I was a huge fan of the Hardyz or "Team Xtreme". They were young. They looked like the people I hung out with and thought were cool. They did cool moves. They were good looking and relateable. Lita was a f***ing babe. However during this dark period I was so done. In "24" I was painfully reminded of Matt's phony suicide note publicity stunt that really pissed me off. Look, if you want to do a publicity stunt do something harmless like a fake breakup and calling off a fake wedding in Mexico. Don't do something that is going to make your fans worry for your life. Fans that may know someone who has committed suicide or had serious suicidal thoughts or even attempts themselves. SHIT! Goddamn, I'm getting worked up again just thinking about it.
Without spoiling much, the documentary has a slanted happy ending because earlier this year Jeff slammed his car into a guard rail after a night of drinking. Jeff has apparently put his drug abusing past behind him, which is great, of course, but this DUI is pretty serious. Jeff is 40 years old. When is he going to be done with this shit? People have kind of glossed over it, but Jeff has a history of addiction, abuse and getting f***ed up behind the wheel. I guess people don't care much because he walked away uninjured and no one was in the car and no one else was involved, but it doesn't take much for an ordinary DUI to turn much more tragic. Matt Hardy expressed that he was pissed. He wasn't alone. I and all of Jeff's fans were pissed and he walked away considering himself lucky. As outsiders we can only hope this is the last issue like this Jeff will have. They aren't "boyz" anymore. They're middle-aged men with families.
The lighter side is when they get into Matt Hardy creating the "BROKEN" gimmick, which I will admit I thought it was stupid at first. Matt lived the gimmick, which was and is refreshing to see in this era and he made his character the most interesting thing to happen in TNA in years and later he was a hit on the indy scene. Even though I didn't like it at first, it didn't take long for me to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the character and really enjoy its charm and humor. Matt did a great job taking a chance with something new and making it work. He could have easily just worn Tripp pants and done the same Team Xtreme shit for the rest of his life and made a good living off nostalgia, but he remained creative and it paid off and has given his career added longevity. As an old fan of their's its nice to see them doing well in wrestling in 2018.
This past Monday the world lost Big Van Vader, Leon White at the age of 63. The details about his declining health were made public by himself on Twitter in November of 2016 in which he said he had a heart issue and was given about 2 years to live, so he made it another year and a half. He had a great career in Japan and WCW where he was the monster heel of the time, so if you only remember his WWF run, you may not see why so many spoke about him as being such a big deal.
One sour note I have to mention is this year it was disappointing that Vader wasn't inducted into the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame, or the 2017 Hall of Fame for that matter, when we, the fans, and they, the WWE, knew there was a decent chance he wouldn't be around for 2019. Not so much because he needs a WWE HoF ring to validate his career, but more so to give him that one last moment with the fans. Yeah, it would have been sad and emotional, but I'd rather him have the chance to say good-bye than not. Now, he'll probably get inducted but once again it will feel shallow because he's not there like many others who should have been inducted before their deaths. However in this case it wasn't much of a surprise and it could have been avoided by giving him his final bow in 2018's class. Yes, the WWE HoF is a fake hall of fame that is just a glorified awards ceremony. I know. I've said it myself. The actual induction and getting a stupid class ring means shit. The last moment with a large audience means a lot to them, though and he should have had that. That's why I don't really get worked up about someone like Chyna not being in the HoF. It should have happened when she was alive. The reason why I feel that way is because the WWE Hall of Fame isn't about guys getting a silly ring and belt plates, a picture with Vince McMahon and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and a new thing to put in their Twitter bios. It's about the fans. It's the fans getting to see these guys honored and for the workers to have one last intimate moment with a large assembly of fans. Without them there it feels shallow. I know you can't always induct everyone while they are alive. Owen Hart is a good example. It would be great if they could honor him and it would still be a special moment for those close to him and the fans. In the case of Vader, he wanted to be in the Hall of Fame, the company knew he was dying and they had two opportunities to induct him since he first made it public that he had 2 years to live and passed on him and now he's gone. Sure, they could still induct him, but Vader doesn't need the WWE Hall of Fame to validate his career. He's a legend regardless. It's the last goodbye to the fans that would have been special and he and us are not going to get that.
It's frustrating and I try not to be angry given the situation, but its one of those weird WWE things that boggles my mind. Why not honor him even though in his own words he was a ticking time bomb? Because some piddly little news outlet might blame wrestling for his death and it'll make WWE look bad where he spent like 2 years of his career? If WWE thought Vader being there to say 'bye' would have been too sad for that setting -- so what? Yes it would have been sad, but that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. I'd rather have that moment than nothing. At least in his later years he was very active with fans on social media, so I hope he felt he got to say everything he wanted to say before he died. Anyway, changing gears for a bit to not close on such a bitter thought. I missed out on Vader's prime years so a lot of what I've seen is me going back to watch old videos that were suggested to me. For many years I was one of those who only knew his WWF years so I can't speak about how he scared me as a kid like many other fans who grew up in his era will say. Check out his WCW work with Flair, Sting and Cactus Jack to get you started or to refresh your memory.
Rest in peace, Leon White.
Thank you for reading Planet Kayfabe. It has been a long week. If you checked out all 3 columns I posted this week I appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and send me a comment there or post one below.
For NoDQ, this is Planet Kayfabe, I'm K.C. Happy summer and enjoy your weekend.