Ryback Mountain: WWE pokes fun of itself, 'Universe' with RAW proposal

Kevin C. Cox

Funny or offensive? That depends on your tolerance level. For bad puns -- not homosexuality.

Another Monday Night RAW is in the books and considering that we have a major pay-per-view (PPV) event in less than a week, the focus of last night's flagship program should have been the build toward Sunday's (Oct. 6, 2013) Battleground show in Buffalo.

So then why all the hullabaloo about "Ryback Mountain?"

That was the term WWE (off) color commentator Jerry Lawler used to describe the mid-show segment between longtime talent manager Paul Heyman and the cyclopean recruit he "proposed" to enlist as his new "guy," during a whimsical skit designed to make homophobes cringe and the non-threatened chuckle (watch it here).

Mission accomplished.

The reference, of course, points to Brokeback Mountain, a 2005 movie (adapted from a short story of the same name) about two men who find love -- with each other -- in Wyoming during the early sixties. Lawler was insinuating that Heyman's touchy-feely invitation was a reflection of two men in love.

And homosexuality is funny!

Well, not really, but it can be used for effective satire when broached with scrupulous execution. I've always believed that any topic is fair game in comedy, but only if the delivery is designed to offer an intelligent commentary on the subject, as opposed to just pointing and laughing.

That's why George Carlin had a Grammy award-winning career that spanned 50 years, while Andrew Dice Clay cursed his way to quick fame and fortune, only to watch his X-Rated career die a slow, painful death. "Diceman" is playing a local shithole this month about 10 minutes from my house and they can't give the tickets away.

Getting back to RAW...

Fans of the "Attitude Era" will remember Lawler's obsession with "puppies," a countrified nickname for bulging female breasts. He, like most men I (and you) know, find scantily-clad women attractive and that's okay. Just as it's okay not to. But the "King's" rebuke at Monday's "proposal" exposes the fatal flaw of every close-minded homophobe.

You can't hate gay men, yet hoot and holler when two hot girls start kissing.

Our own Cageside General, Geno Mrosko, was incensed over Lawler's apparent disdain for all things homosexual (read those comments here), calling the Memphis legend a "dinosaur" who has "outlived his usefulness" at the WWE broadcast booth.

Perhaps.

But like the above-referenced contradiction when it comes to taking a stand on homosexuality, you can't support tolerance for one group of like-minded people, while showing intolerance for another. Lawler is a victim of his jaundiced generation and while his antipathy may be indefensible, the idea we will eventually live free of prejudice if we all try really hard is a fantasy.

That's why I enjoyed Ryback Mountain.

Witnessing some members of the live audience make that face -- the same face people make when they smell someone else's fart -- had me rolling in the aisles. I dunno, it could just be my weird sense of humor, but I like watching people squirm over silly shit like two men holding hands.

And credit goes to both performers.

WWE is notorious for soliciting reactions by any means necessary. Creative often times does an admirable job of putting the ball in play when it comes to hot-button issues, only to get thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double, rather than waiting for the next performer to bat them in.

The dreadful angles involving "Easy" AJ Lee, as well as the humiliating "Rock Concert," come to mind.

Not this time.

Monday's counterfeit proposal wasn't a rib over Darren Young's coming out party, nor was it a throwback to the ill-conceived "Billy & Chuck" debacle from a decade ago. This was a light-hearted lampoon acted out with the necessary bombast from Ryback, coupled with the right amount of sleaze from the deliciously-distasteful Paul Heyman.

In the end, it served as a reminder -- to both sides -- of just how easy it is to get our manties in a bunch.

Marks.

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