WEEK OF MID-DECEMBER '99: TIME FOR THE WRASSLIN' JEWS!
ON the seventh day of Hanukkah in the year 5760, the WASHINGTON POST profiled GOLDBERG ("Goldberg: A David in Goliath's Shoes"), the incredibly popular JEWISH PRO WRESTLER whose near-maniacal intensity, aggressiveness, and explosive strength have made him the current fan favorite and top draw in TED TURNER's WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING. The massively muscled Goldberg is the ultimate example of assimilation, who neither hides his heritage behind a wrestling alias nor exploits it as a gimmick. Goldberg's Jewishness just isn't an issue one way or another to the legions of fans packing arenas to cheer him on as he demolishes All Comers with his patented "spear" (just what it sounds like) and "Jackhammer" suplex/powerslam combination. Goldberg's ability to put keisters in seats has earned him title belts and praise from Jewish commentators, who take inspiration from his spectacular success in a rough-and-tumble profession for which few Jewish mothers groom their sons. (Contrast that eclat to the deafening lay silence that's always greeted the far less successful BARRY HOROWITZ, the talented jobber (i.e., professional loser) whom no rabbis have cited as a modern-day Maccabe, and who never thought to adorn his trunks with a STAR OF DAVID before Goldberg's success.)
The Post story was no scoop, as the Goldberg phenomenon has already been covered by plenty of other non-wrestling media sources, most notably a CITY PAPER "Cheap Seats" column some time ago. Still, the Post offered some fresh insight, musing over what would happen should Goldberg make the transition from good guy ("face") to villain ("heel") . . . as any student of the squared circle knows he surely must. Will the crowd's customary hatred of the heel carry any antisemitic overtones once that heel is Goldberg? An arena full of beer-crazed, trogdolytic crackers of all races calling for Jewish blood must be a sobering prospect to WCW brass.
WIT MEMO says, why not take that scenario and run with it? To WIT MEMO's ears the curses of enraged fans sound like the ringing of cash registers, no matter what they're yelling, so why not pull out all the stops and go completely native with a Jewish heel who embodies the most offensive of all the archetypal stereotypes that have belabored Jews throughout history? Why not? For years, stereotyped ethnics such as Arabs, Russians, and Asians (not to mention Germans, Scandinavians, and even Brits) have been a reliable source of heels, playing to the crowd's underlying xenophobia; why not an evil Chosen One who does his damnest to kindle the sparks of antisemitism that even the most assimilated, fourth-generation American Jew fears lurks dormant in the heart of mainstream, white bread AmeriKKKa? After all, Jews have throughout history been permitted to play dramatic and literary villains without hindrance, even in the works of the greatest of all dead European White Males, BILL SHAKESPEARE. Great heels are in demand now that the end of the cold war has eliminated Russia as a handy enemy. To deny us Jews such juicy starring roles in this day and age of color-blind equal opportunity would be nothing less than scurrilous antisemitism!
WIT MEMO thus humbly offers for your consideration the HEBREW HURRICANE, Jewish heel among heels. Not a hugely muscled behemoth like Goldberg, whose traps are so big he looks like he's got a towel draped over his neck, the Hebrew Hurricane is envisioned as a Jew of the husky, burly, hairy-chested variety (remember PAT BUCHANAN's complaint about "hairy chested Nazi hunters" in the Department of Justice?). We're thinking of a wide body along the lines of ZERO MOSTEL in "Fiddler" (what were they thinking when they cast TOPOL for the movie?) or perhaps, God forfend, professional Hillary-hater and conservative wannabe-intellectual JOHN PODHORETZ, but with beard, glasses and PEOT, those long sidelocks worn by Hasidic Jews. Naturally, the Hebrew Hurricane would be a classic heel, a double-crossing, smooth-talking dirty fighter, administering low blows and rubbing (Kosher) salt in his opponents' eyes whenever the ref's head is turned. And whereas the rabbi in the Post article cited Goldberg as "a fine analogue of Israeli military strength," the Hebrew Hurricane's turncoat sneak attacks on other wrestlers, including his supposed heel allies, would pander to those folks sometimes seen down at the Capitol Mall hollering about Israeli strafing of the U.S.S. Liberty during the Six Day War.
Of course, the best heels never 'walk the aisle' alone; but are generally accompanied to the ring by a MANAGER, one of the verbose and colorful handlers who cover mike duties and outrage the marks (that is, the fans) double-teaming and slipping their charges the dreaded "foreign object" to steal victory from the good guys. No exception to this timeless wrestling formula, the Hebrew Hurricane's closest confidant would be a manager even more biting in his over-the-top personification of the worst antisemitic images: a small, swarthy, greasy, hook-nosed SHYLOCK, rubbing his money-grubbing hands and licking his lips, complete with long dark cloak and broad beaver hat, perhaps with a glittering dollar-sign pin such as worn by the late, great ERNIE ROTH, once known more widely as THE GRAND WIZARD OF WRESTLING. Or perhaps Shylock's modern doppleganger, the overbearing, short-statured, big-monied, entertainment-biz schmooze-mogul, waving a fat cigar while shouting imprecations, pleas and threats into a wafer-thin cell phone; the only thing close WIT MEMO remembers is EUGENE LEVY's (or was it RICK MORANIS'?) obscure LARRY SIEGEL character from SCTV, the show that sometimes exceeds even MONTY PYTHON and MR. SHOW in WIT MEMO's all-time bit humor pantheon.
Picture the scene: the hated Hebrew Hurricane and manager in their progress to the ring, laboring through a gauntlet of angry fans whose booing drowns out the crazily swirling KLEZMER MUSIC. A sudden zoom shot discloses a silver-adorned TORAH in husky embrace, an ISRAELI FLAG draped like a tallis over broad, furry shoulders. Lightning-tongued Shylock takes advantage of the slow passage to engage the frothing fans in brief, heated colloquies, in which he gives a lot better than he ever has to take. With a great flourish of ceremony "HH" ducks through the ropes, gently hands the Torah to a ringside attendant with broadly-gestured warnings to make sure it's handled with care, and then, amid a rain of jeers and paper cups, davens in exaggerated bows before the white-and-blue flag he's removed from his shoulders and held aloft, honoring the proud tradition of famous heels like pre-glasnost "Russian" NIKOLAI VOLKOV and Iranian-cum-Iraqi THE IRON SHEIK (formerly "Hussein Ay-rab") who kowtowed before foreign colors. The marks' fury reaches unbearable heights as the manager (Shecky Silverstein?) noisily buttonholes the ref with hectoring arguments over "the rules," illustrating his points and invoking curses upon the good-guy opponent with arm-waving gesticulations fully comprehended by fans in even the most distant nose-bleed seats.
And then, the lopsided battle is joined: Jack Armstrong the All American
Boy, or whatever the white bread face opponent happens to be named, is
hopelessly outmatched, staggered right from the start by the Hebrew Hurricane's
sneaky repertoire of classic wrestling dirty tricks: crotch shots, eye
gouges, and choking, perhaps with the chain of a MEZUZAH produced
from the shorts while the ref's attention is distracted by the loud mouthed
manager. Thus dazed, Captain America offers little resistance to a devastating
series of elbow drops, powerslams, and big splashes ("matzoh balls") off
the middle rope, POWER MOVES that make best use of the Hebrew Hurricane's
considerable bulk. The pummeling continues at a leisurely pace, the 'Cane
taking time out to strut about the ring and taunt the outraged fans as
the hapless opponent struggles futilely to rise from canvas. But of course,
wrestling promoters know all too well that their scripted matches are elevated
by an injection of drama, the sudden reversals of fortune that enliven
all morality plays. And so it's no surprise when Mr. Goodie Two-Shoes manages
to roll out of the way of a top-rope frog splash that leaves the Hebrew
Hurricane momentarily stunned,
flat on his face in the middle of the ring. The all-American hero clears
the cobwebs and "reaches down in himself" to mount a rally ("house afire!"
exclaim the announcers) that lasts only as long as it takes to con the
fans into believing that there might be a system of justice at work in
the universe after all -- and then the Shylock manager slips the Torah's
SILVER BREASTPLATE to his man in the ring, who uses it to smite
his opponent mightily on the head, in full view of everyone in the building
except the referee, whom the manager has distracted one last, crucial time.
The dirty deed done, the manager now directs the ref's attention back to
the center of the ring, where, having disposed of the now-bent breastplate,
the Hebrew Hurricane has fallen on his unconscious opponent for the one-two-three.
And after the klezmer music swells up again and his hand has been raised
in victory, the Hebrew Hurricane resumes the beating, putting the boots
to the fallen foe as the bell rings repeatedly and the locker room empties,
the other good-guy grapplers rushing to the ring just in time to prevent
the administration of the Hebrew Hurricane's most dangerous hold, the dreaded,
fearsome, BAR MITZVAH BRIS.