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KELLER'S TAKE
KELLER: Did WWE cross a line with heart attack angle on Raw? (Excerpt from PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story #1279)

Nov 14, 2012 - 3:24:30 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

The following is the first portion of a three-page Wade Keller Cover Story in this week's Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #1279 examining the C.M. Punk/Paul Heyman-Jerry Lawler heart attack angle on Monday's Raw...

HEADLINE: Lawler returns to Raw, Punk & Heyman mock heart attack
- New backstage footage airs of paramedics saving Lawler’s life, did WWE cross a line?


On WWE Raw on Monday night, Jerry Lawler returned from his absence after suffering a heart attack. WWE, not one to miss an opportunity to exploit a real life situation to advance storyline or a wrestling character, transitioned abruptly from a heartfelt speech from Lawler thanking fans for their support to a heel promo and angle with C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman.

The response to the angle polarized fans. Some people saw it as a crass exploitation of a real life near tragedy; others saw it as a reasonable business strategy to transition the emotion felt for Lawler into a heel getting heat for being a jerk in response to that emotion. I fall into the latter category. In fact, I laughed out loud when Punk’s music interrupted Lawler as he seemed to be wrapping up his speech thanking the fans for their well wishes. I got wrapped up in what Lawler was saying, and I believed it to be sincere and heartfelt. So when Punk’s music played, I was jarred out of what felt like a real life situation back into pro wrestling’s world of outlandish storylines. But I was okay with it.

In a PWTorch poll afterward, given three choices, 58 percent said they were “disgusted,” 19 percent said they felt “indifferent,” and 23 percent said it was “good for business.”

There are some compelling arguments backing people’s genuine disgust for how WWE transitioned sharply from a real celebration of Lawler’s return to health and return to Raw into another pro wrestling storyline. For one, WWE has a history of exploiting real life situations in tasteless ways, including occasions when there are victims who are being hurt.

I believe WWE’s blurring of the lines between how they portray real life tragedies and phony storyline tragedies is despicable at times, either a heartless and crass attempt to capitalize on real emotions people felt in the past or, perhaps even worse, an attempt to make it seem like past real tragedies were just part of the show after all.

This wasn’t one of those situations, though...

- PWTorch VIP members can read Keller's in-depth, three-page essay on this week's biggest topic in pro wrestling right now in this week's PWTorch Weekly Newsletter. Keller breaks down the nuances of the angle, examines WWE's historical handling of real life tragedies in their storytelling world, and looks at where WWE erred when presenting the angle. Find out you can become a VIP member right now at this link - PWTorch.com/GoVIP .


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