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January 29, 2009

Rourke-Jericho not happening at WrestleMania?

It appears as if the Mickey Rourke-Chris Jericho match at WrestleMania 25 is off. Rourke’s publicist told The Associated Press last night that Rourke will not wrestle at the event in Houston an April 5 and that “he is focusing entirely on his acting career.”

If this is to be taken at face value, I would suspect that Rourke is giving in to pressure from the Hollywood community not to do the match for fear that it could hurt his chances of winning the Best Actor Oscar.

After The Wrestler star initially said that he was going to appear at WrestleMania earlier this week, I raised that very point in a conversation with Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun’s esteemed movie critic. On Monday, I wrote: “I have a feeling that the Motion Pictures Academy of Arts and Sciences is going to turn its nose up at Rourke’s decision to participate in a wrestling match, but I doubt that matters much to him. Rourke has always been a free spirit.” Apparently, even a rebel such as Rourke will conform when an Oscar is on the line.

Looking back at Rourke’s appearance with Jericho on Larry King Live Tuesday night, it did seem as if Rourke was backing out of the match. He said that he “put his foot in his mouth” when mentioning Jericho at the SAG awards and that he wouldn’t face Jericho in a wrestling match because “that’s [Jericho’s] world.” Jericho tried several times to goad Rourke, but the actor wouldn’t take the bait, which is why the segment to me kind of fell flat.

However, before we write this angle off and start speculating on what Jericho’s new role will be at WrestleMania, let’s not forget that this is pro wrestling, and things are not always as they seem.

Maybe Rourke really does think that appearing at WrestleMania will jeopardize his shot at an Oscar, and that’s why he had his publicist say that he won’t do it. Is it possible that he is just saying that for the benefit of academy voters? WrestleMania takes place six weeks after the Oscars, which would still give WWE plenty of time to build up the match, and Rourke wouldn’t have to worry about whether the voters will hold it against him.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if Rourke backing out of the match after his bold pronouncement that he wanted Jericho at WresteMania isn’t all part of the story line. It wouldn’t be the first time WWE worked the mainstream media to further an angle. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but like I said, when it comes to pro wrestling, it’s usually not out of line to question whether something – no matter how real it might seem – is a work.

The story line could go something like this: Jericho calls Rourke a coward for talking tough and then backing down. This goes on for several weeks, and then Roarke shows up out of nowhere to confront Jericho and they have a pull-apart brawl. Rourke then challenges Jericho to face him at WrestleMania.

Even better yet, what if Jericho and Rourke got into a shoving match at an Oscar after party? The publicity for WWE would be unprecedented. And the stuffy academy would really have something to turn their noses up at.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 4:19 AM | | Comments (16)
        

Comments

Hey Kevin

As a self confessed jerichoholic i must admit that i am intrigued by this storyline, i believe that you are right and that this is an angleand that he will be there at WM25.

After what has been said and for wwe to do a segment on raw (there flagship show) its no small investment to them, i think as you said they will play it out that he does not wish to wrestle but jericho pushes him so that he has too, maybe as you said with a skit at the oscars, that would be awesome.

My only worry is that i fear jericho may lose this match when i truly wish for him to win. We will have to wait and see

I turned that interview off after listing to Jericho ramble on, and on. I think Jericho was just trying to capitalize on Rourke's re-found fame & fortune.

It might be an angle on WWF's part, but I don't think Rourke was expecting it.

I found the whole thing uncomfortable, distasteful, and very tacky. But that's how I view the WWF too.

Thank god that match is canceled.
I know the publicity of these stars is good for wwe but it makes wrestling look bad every time an outsider such as LT, Jay Leno or Mayweather defeat an established star. I think it does more harm to the sport than anything. Why not use a wrestler who busts his tail working all year and reward him with a spot in Mania?

Oh Kevin , dare to dream .

I don't see why the Oscar voters should care about whether or not Rourke does Wrestlemania...the reason his performance in The Wrestler was so astounding was mainly because of his against the grain style and personality which would fit perfectly for a segment on WWE. And if indeed the Oscar voters DO care, I hope Rourke isn't worried about winning an Oscar enough to not be himself. Either way, I enjoyed the write-up.

Considering Rourke has NO CHANCE of actually winning the Oscar, he'll be at Wrestlemania. It's all part of the angle.

Or it wouldn't have been done on Larry King like this.

And Jericho will lose the match, 100 percent guaranteed.

I thought the same exact thing - that he may loose his Osacar bid if he is going to wrestle. The Academy does things like that, like the year Eddie Murphgy was nominated (and the favorite to win) for Dreamgirls, it was rumored the reason he didnt win was because Norbit was in the theaters and that it was an embarasment to give someone an award who would be in such a bad movie as Norbit.

On an unrelated note, I was trying to figure out who Jack Swaggert sounds like when he is on the microphone. I finally figured it out...Michael Phelps. Take a listen the next time he speak.

"My only worry is that i fear jericho may lose this match when i truly wish for him to win."

Bribba, in recent history, nearly every time a Hollywood celebrity is involved in a match at ringside, the celebrity (or the face that the celeb is paired with) wins.

WM I - Hogan & Mr. T def. Piper & Orndorff

WM II - Mr. T def. Piper (by DQ) in a boxing match

WM XI - Lawrence Taylor def. Bam Bam Bigelow

WM XIV - Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Shawn Michaels (Mike Tyson counts the pinfall and is aligned with Austin)

WM XXI - Akebono def. The Big Show in a sumo match

WM XXIII - Bobby Lashley def. Umaga, meaning Donald Trump would shave Vince McMahon's head.

WM XXIV - Floyd Mayweather def. The Big Show in a No-DQ match

So, if the Rourke-Jericho match happens, you can almost guarantee that Jericho will lose.

If Mickey Rourke truly backed out of WrestleMania (which is by no means a fact), do you think WWE would appease Chris Jericho by putting him in a match with Stone Cold Steve Austin - like you suggested earlier?

Stone Cold would be about the only opponent that could substitute for Mickey Rourke if Jericho is in an equally high profile match (I know the media won't be reporting on Austin/Jericho, but on the WM25 marquee, it'd be as highly profiled).

I'd rather pay to see Austin/Jericho than Jericho/Rourke, and if Austin wrestles, it would have to be a true professional that could work a match around his limitations.

Kevin,

I must say that nobody thinks out these possible wrestling angles as well as you.

When is WWE going to hire you as a writer to help take things to a higher level again?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Hey, they had their chance in 2001. That ship has sailed. But thanks for the compliment.

I don't really care to see a Jericho/Rourke match but the build up to that type of match could be epic and among the greatest buildups of all time if done right. I'm 95% sure it would never happen but could you imagine if Rourke won the best actor award and during a post win interview was attacked by Jericho and left bloody after being thrown through a window. Jericho could even further it by destroying his oscar and talking about how Rourke made a mockery of a proffession he has worked so hard at. Or maybe Jericho could even attack him during his acceptence speach before being arrested by security. Embarrasing Rourke on the biggest night of his life!

I'm usually a match quality first, angle quality second kind of guy but I would love to see this angle.

Agreed, I just don't buy this. Something tells me that WWE officials & Rourke are geting a kick out of working the Hollywood press with this "withdrawal" story.

100% that was what I thought - he's backing out to further the angle.

If he drops out of this match, says the right things about how he's an accomplished thespian and not some sort of "low-brow" entertainer, the Academy could see that as an apology and give him the Oscar.

Then, maybe he could take the Oscar and bash Jericho in the head with it...

I guess we will find out on Monday Night Raw if the WWE lets it die or if Jericho "addresses" the issue on the show. If they mention the fact that Rourke backed out, I believe that to mean that they are furthering the story line.

I agree with Chris, above. Celebrity matches dilute and ruin the product.

And while I agree with AMC's sentiment, Kevin, I'd rather have you as an insightful and entertaining columnist, than as a probably talented writer who would nonetheless be shouted-down and ignored by the powers that be. The WWE needs good people...but the *best* people would probably be wasted on that company.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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