Despite what the WWE would have you believe after distancing itself from Mr. Hulk Hogan in recent months, the company has... let's say an uneven track record when it comes to representing people of color. One such example of awful writing that would get them into much hotter water today is the treatment of the Japanese wrestling stable Kai En Tai.
After joining up with the WWF, the group became known as Kaientai, presumably because spaces are just too hard for Americans to pronounce. Among their many bizarre and overtly racist interactions with other WWF superstars was their feud with porn-star character Val Venis.
Venis -- whose name looks and sounds like "penis," by the way -- was something of a lothario within the show's fiction. He entered the ring wearing a towel (because this was somehow sexier than the testicle hugging trunks all wrestlers wear), accompanied by the kind of hot, angry sax solos only the finest fake cable pornography can produce. So, when he began interacting Kaientai and their female manager, Mrs. Yamaguchi-san, it was pretty clear where things were headed. At least at first.
Predictably, Venis wound up in an affair story with Yamaguchi-san. Mr. Yamaguchi wasn't thrilled, and responded by cutting a video of him chopping a salami with a katana while screaming "I choppy choppy your pee pee."
The feud with Venis climaxed -- that's a sex pun, by the way -- when Yamaguchi and Kaientai sucker punched the wrestler, hung him naked in the WWF locker room, and readied to slice his salami, as it were. The screen went black, and the broadcast's final image that week was of a nude Venis, whose member was mercifully shielded from watching children's eyes by his bare ass.
Sadly, that was the end of this masterwork in storytelling, and Venis announced that he had remained whole throughout the conflict.
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection was a beautiful combination. The tag-team featuring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Mick Foley, then in his sock puppet brandishing Mankind gimmick, made absolutely no sense on paper. The Rock was the People's Champion: a handsome, charismatic master of the microphone who was more often than not the chosen face of the WWF. Mick Foley, on the other hand, was a lovable weirdo who would drink thumb tacks if you told him it was for the good of the art.
The characters were worlds apart, and didn't even like each other despite working together. Together, though, they combined two great tastes that tasted like blood and body oil, and went on to win a total of three tag-team championships.
The apex of their alliance occurred not during a feud, or a memorable match, but during a comedy bit. Foley, utilizing the kind of dark, game show host magic he was always destined to wield, summoned forth important figures from his partner's past -- along with fireworks and a shower of balloons. Such important figures might have included friends, family, and mentors that he could have thanked in a touching show of appreciation.
Instead, the bizarre human train ran the rails of "people middle-aged men probably remember with enmity," reminding everyone just who the WWF/WWE thinks it's for. The wish fulfillment continued as The Rock, unperturbed by the fact that a man in a leather mask knew how to find his grade school teachers and high school girlfriends, tore each participant a new one on the microphone with some of his best roasting up to that point. Even his poor Home Economics teacher wasn't safe.
Surreal, masculine revenge fantasy or not, the bit worked very, very well. In fact, it hit an 8.4 on the Nielsen rating, making it the most-watched segment on any episode of Raw. Ever. Which makes it an indisputable high point for Sports Entertainment, and also the human race as a whole.