Chris Jericho: Rich Freeda/WWF
Mike Flaherty
February 26, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Why pro wrestling outclasses the Olympics

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last… from the ponderous, stultifying, five-ring circus that mercifully concluded on Sunday night in Salt Lake City. Sports entertainment fans can once again pay their undivided attention to the real thing. As if on cue, this week’s ”RAW” (Mondays, 9 p.m., TNN) was a bracing reminder of just how superior wrestling is to the hoary old Games.

?There are never any judging controversies in the squared circle. The grapplers enter the ring, have it out, and if things don’t go their way, hey, they throw the referee over the top rope. There’s a lot to be said for predetermined outcomes.

? Where’s the blood lust? You’d probably have to watch hundreds of hours of Olympic action to see even a droplet of juice dangle from a bitten, chapped lip. But, as the Undertaker and Arne Anderson showed us Monday night, you’re never too far from a crimson mask in the WWF.

? Sure, every once in a while, some leotarded jabroni may wow the judges and attain a perfect score, but the WWF has on its payroll the one, the only Mr. Perfect, aka Kurt Hennig. And hey, you can’t improve upon perfection…although if you’re ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin, you can lay a hell of a beatdown on it.

? When was the last time you were treated to a barroom brawl on the Olympics? Exactly. But Monday night, lucky ”RAW” viewers got to see Chucky and Billy ambush the APA at a Providence, RI, saloon, smashing Bradshaw’s head right through a glass pinball tabletop. Maybe it’s me, but that’s a helluva lot more dramatic than Michelle Kwan stumbling on her stupid little figure skates.

? Similarly, you’re not likely to see an enraged bobsledder take a cinder block to one of his opponents… not like Scott Hall did to Stone Cold’s rickety knee Monday night. I got your thrill of victory and your agony of defeat right here.

? If you don’t like wrestling, you only have to avoid one TV channel at any given time. But, thanks to NBC’s embarrassing cross-promotional orgy, if during the last two weeks, you had a hankering for a news update on MSNBC or CNBC, you were out of luck. And don’t even get me started on the buffoonish Jay Leno’s toadying Salt Lake tie-ins. Forget Osama bin Laden; sheer evil exists in our midst every day: It’s called synergy.

? The only time you’re likely to see a curling stone in the WWF is if it’s landing on someone’s head. And, hey, more often than not, they deserve it.

? Speaking of people deserving a curling stone on the head… The WWF would never (eeeever) subject us to the likes of Donny & Marie, Harry Connick Jr., and ‘N Sync. How, indeed, did people keep their dinners down during those pathetic closing ceremonies anyway?

?”Aw, look, Jim Shea keeps his grandpappy’s picture inside his helmet.” Shut up! That’s just the kind of sappy human-interest pablum the WWF steers well clear of in favor of stories of genuine hard work and devotion. I mean, who wasn’t touched last night by Booker T’s industrious study of the Japanese language, in preparation for the shampoo commercial he hopes to shoot in the land of the Rising Sun. Turns out he’s a gentleman and a scholar.

? Last, and most obviously, it’s the WWF, not the IOC, which can boast the world’s only true Olympic Hero, Kurt Angle. A gold medalist at the ’96 games, Angle plans to return to the Games in ’04, where, we can only hope, he’ll battle his way to gold once again. Of course, if that fails, there’s bound to be a metal folding chair lying around somewhere.

So, am I right, or am I right?

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