Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How money is Mayweather?

By Rick Morris

My good friend Russ Cohen, contributor to a couple of different programs in the FDH family (including The Lounge!), posited a take on his Wrestleology website about the incomprehensible decision of World Wrestling Entertainment to procure the services of Floyd “Money” Mayweather for WrestleMania for the cool sum of $20 million. I would suggest strongly that anyone looking for cogent analysis of their mind-boggling decision go over to that particular wing of Russ’s Sportsology media family to check out his breakdown of why this move is as financially stupid when you examine it deeply as it appears on the surface.

He’s completely right that Oscar de la Hoya would have been perfect for this role, if indeed a boxing crossover would be a winning proposition (a dubious concept for me to believe in the first place). De La Hoya coming to the rescue of Rey Misterio wouldn’t have been unbelievable in the manner of notorious Latino-baiter Mayweather attempting to play the hero. Mayweather is a natural heel and the fact that he is getting transitioned into that role slowly over time (at least he appears to be, but who knows with their style of “booking?”) makes more sense than continuing to shoehorn his unlikable, arrogant persona into that of a fan favorite. But this acceptance of reality opens up its own can of worms: how can the match possibly draw any heat if David is the heel and Goliath is (by default) the babyface? The Big Show is three times the size of Mayweather: the ONLY way this concept could ever work would be for the fish-out-of-water boxer to be somebody the public could embrace. Setting up The Big Show as the defender of all things WWE, which he will have to be if Mayweather continues with his “MME” schtick, would compromise his effectiveness and reduce the already small chance that people would pay to see this spectacle. What a catch-22. Plus, this match will be in the midcard, so if it’s not going to be promoted above the Edge/Undertaker World Title match or Cena/HHH/Orton WWE Title match, how the heck can any participant in it be worth 20 mil?

Russ also recaps some memorable boxing/wrestling crossovers. Here are a few more, none of which added anything to the bottom line of their respective promotions (ignoring the obvious Mike Tyson angle at WrestleMania XIV that did actually work):

Joe Frazier refereeing the Dusty Rhodes/Ric Flair NWA World Title match at Starrcade ’84. Frazier stopped the match due to excessive blood loss on the part of Rhodes, prompting some bellyaching from Dusty’s character but ultimately no feud or resolution to follow.

Buster Douglas refereeing the Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage WWF World Title match on Saturday Night’s Main Event in February 1990. Mike Tyson was supposed to fill this role, but his earthshaking knockout at the hands of Douglas earlier in the month caused Vince McMahon to look for a change in plans. Douglas counted a pin on Savage, then dropped him with one punch when the “Macho King” got in his face. Ultimately, this did not lead anywhere either. The course that a Tyson storyline could have taken is intriguing to consider, given how Tyson helped elevate DX and Steve Austin in another era eight years later and given how much of a wrestling fan Tyson had been all of his life. I agree with Russ: given that Tyson’s only erosion has come in his boxing skills, his “sports entertainment” talents would be completely at home if he chose to use them full-time in WWE.

Evander Holyfield boxing Matt Hardy last year on Saturday Night’s Main Event. In this angle, U.S. Champion MVP recruited Holyfield to box Hardy on his behalf. After taking it to an overmatched Hardy, Holyfield turned on an ungrateful MVP and knocked him out. The incident put Hardy over as a never-say-die battler and MVP as the epitome of the obnoxious heel, but it didn’t have any lasting impact on business going forward.

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