By admin | March 29, 2008
Stewart’s wrestling remark not that far off
By Richard Allen
Last year Tony Stewart got into some hot water with the powers that be in NASCAR for suggesting the sport was not all that different from professional wrestling. Stewart’s comments were meant to imply that NASCAR manipulated the final outcomes of races by the use of the “debris” caution.
Perhaps that aspect of the wrestling parallel has died down a bit although it seems as though there have been fewer debris cautions, or at least there has been more debris shown on television since then.
As a kid I watched professional wrestling and I have noticed that in one sense NASCAR is looking more and more like that “sport”. The rivalries that have played out this year have made it seem as though the late Gorilla Monsoon would have been well suited to serve as a NASCAR commentator.
The person who originally made the comment in question has done his part to make his own statement a reality.
A favorite wrestling storyline is to match two bitter rivals against one another. Stewart and old nemesis Kurt Busch wasted no time in renewing their feud. In practice for the season opening Bud Shootout the two came together again, and again, and again. Then, allegedly, they came together yet again in the NASCAR trailer after an old wrestling standby, the personal insult, was employed by Busch.
Unlike wrestling, however, NASCAR did not conveniently have cameras positioned for the post race altercation.
Another favorite wrestling ploy is to have two former friends become enemies. Again, Stewart played a role in this one. He and buddy Kevin Harvick tangled late in the race at Bristol. Afterwards, Harvick invited Stewart over to “fight it out” while he was being interviewed over the track’s public address system. This one seems to have been settled in a loser has his back waxed scenario.
Good thing for George “The Animal” Steele wrestling never used that play.
Then, there is the storyline which involves a newcomer stepping up to challenge one of the established veterans.
When Toyota came to NASCAR, Ford team owner Jack Roush vowed to “hand them their head on a platter”. That feud has really heated up in 2008 as the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing to the Toyota fold has made the foreign brand a serious contender in every race.
Since the beginning of the season, Roush and Toyota representative Lee White have engaged in a war of words, especially when Roush Fenway Racing’s #99 car failed a post race inspection after winning in Las Vegas.
And most recently, Roush has levied a charge that a Toyota team stole a proprietary part from his team. Michael Waltrip Racing, the team in question, has claimed it was a mistake. Roush is considering legal action.
Rivalries, harsh words, bitter feelings and accusations are abundant, and there have only been five races so far. Ratings are higher, storylines are plentiful and intriguing and interest in the sport seems to have returned. So, what’s wrong with being a little like professional wrestling?
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: Articles |