WWE Corporate Flack Is One of the Hardest Jobs in America (2nd in a series)

PREVIOUSLY:

Introducing “WWE Responds to Hearst’s Story on the Abortive Waxman Committee Steroid Investigation” (1st in a series)

Whatever the McMahon family pays Robert Zimmerman to be World Wrestling Entertainment’s vice president for public relations and corporate communications, I don’t think it’s enough.

One part of Zimmerman’s job involves attacking the messenger. Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate and Hearst newspapers is now the latest on the receiving end of this tactic from a company that has no real defense to the substance of what has been reported about it.

Another part of the corporate flack’s portfolio is extinguishing brushfires – sometimes literal ones.

Submitted for your approval is the story at WWE’s pay-per-view show in St. Louis 11 days ago, when wrestler Mark “The Undertaker” Calloway was severely burned in a pyrotechnic mishap as he made his heavily produced entrance. A fan at the scene told Jason Powell of ProWrestling.Net that a flame “shot straight in his face and as he turned away from it he walked straight into a larger one and was engulfed for a second or two.” Calloway, the witness added, “was extremely pissed and threw down his hat, coat, and championship belt. Throughout the time in his pod he was getting bottles of water brought over to him and kept on dumping them on his face and body.”

Calloway went through with his match. After the show, according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Calloway was examined and found to have first- and second-degree burns of his neck and chest. There were visible burn marks.

Zimmerman, Meltzer wrote, “told press reporters when it became a story that Undertaker was only allowed to perform after he was cleared by a ringside physician, but nobody in the arena saw anyone examine him so that was just them trying to cover potential criticism of letting the match go on.”

Zimmerman’s words of wisdom included these: “Thank God he was fine. It basically amounted to a sunburn. It wasn’t over a large area of his body, just a short area, just a little bit on his chest.”

Next: Dave Meltzer’s own embarrassingly inept take on the Hearst newspapers story.

Irv Muchnick

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