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AS I SEE IT 8/28: Late summer thoughts on wrestling’s connection to this weekend’s big fight

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Well apparently very little news is good news for Ric Flair.
Daughter Ashley (aka Charlotte) Flair was back on the road
with WWE this weekend in what would seem to be good news for
Ric Flair’s recovery process.

She’d flown directly from China (where she’s been doing
promo work for WWE Network’s launch in China) to Atlanta
from China where she was doing promotional work for WWE
Network as well as an initial live event scheduled, and had
been off of TV since then, staying largely at her father’s
bedside even through time off, including Summerslam weekend.

Meanwhile, the McGregor-Mayweather fight has come and gone.
One of the most annoying aspects of the event wasn’t their
unending promotion of the event, nor the fight itself,
which had to be a much better fight than it had any reason
being. What drove me nuts was the unending boxing purity
police droning on and on and on about how this “wasn’t a
real fight”…was a “travesty”…bla… bla… bla… bla…
ad nauseum. We’ll forget that Conor McGregor’s first combat
sports training in Ireland wasn’t MMA…but was boxing,
right in a hardcore “suburb” of Dublin called Crumlin.

Why did the self righteous bullcrap get to me? Because this
mega-event had wrestling’s imprint all over it from
beginning to end.

The event’s promotion was right out of the hype for
Wrestlemania with the roadshow with the two main opponents
to promote it. For those reading not old enough to remember,
boxing never saw big fight hype like this until Muhammad

Ali freely admitted learning the art of promotion from
Gorgeous George. As far back as 1969 he said in an AP
interview: “[I got it] from seeing Gorgeous George wrestle
in Las Vegas,…I saw his aides spraying deodorant in the
opponent’s corner to ‘contain the smell’. I also saw 13,000
full seats. I talked with Gorgeous for five minutes after
the match and started being a big-mouth and a bragger.”

Floyd Mayweather in turn learned his art of hype and smack
talk from Muhammad Ali who learned from Gorgeous George.

As far as the concept of bigtime mixed matches for a US
audience, Muhammad Ali’s 1976 mixed match with Antonio Inoki
was pretty much the direct predecessor of McGregor-

Then there was the small matter of the play-by-play
commentator for the US PPV broadcast. There was a Alanis
Morissette-esque moment when the announcing crew was
announced…and Mauro Ranallo as announced as the event’s
play-by-play voice. All this only weeks after the shameful
bullying of Mauro Ranallo by John Layfield, directly or
indirectly at the behest of Vince McMahon…bullying which
resulted in a major depressive episode for Ranallo, him
disappearing from the airwaves; and eventually leaving
Smackdown as the play by play voice (before returning to be
the voice of NXT…more than likely as the result of some
sort of legal settlement).

Ranallo is, of course, the play-by play voice of Showtime
Boxing (and Bellator PPV) and has called many big money
fights in the past, including the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

For anyone who reported on or followed this whole Ranallo-
WWE saga, the fact that Mauro Ranallo had the single highest
profile combat sports broadcasting gig on the planet…and
Vince McMahon and John Layfield had to pay to watch him (or
more likely, mooch off of someone else) just makes me smile.

In the “I can’t believe WWE has the gall department”, they
were OF COURSE sure to “wish Ranallo” good luck late last
week. Never let it be said that WWE didn’t piggyback off of
something they had nothing to do with, or pat someone on the
back that they kicked out the door with a steel-toed boot
only months ago.

Until next time….
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