As I sent off my tax return a couple of months ago, well in advance of today’s deadline, I thought about the IRS, which naturally led me to think about Irwin R. Schyster (IRS) in the WWF in the early 90s. If you don’t know why this was the logical progression of thought, this is obviously your first day at the CJS.
Everyone hates the IRS, and with good cause – they’re the collections agents of the federal government that wastes our money and has been rapidly accruing the largest debt in our country’s history with no sign of stopping anytime soon. So why wasn’t IRS the most hated character in WWF history? This should have been a slam dunk, and yet it wasn’t. IRS was a midcarder who won the tag team championship once with Ted Dibiase (we’ll get to him in a second). Why?
Because they got poor, boring ass Mike Rotundo to play the role whose only idea of where to take the character included calling the audience “tax cheats” before every match. Why would anyone care about being called a tax cheat? Do you know anyone who egregiously cheats on their taxes? If you answered that question in the affirmative, you are exceptionally rich. Poor people (aka wrestling fans) don’t cheat on their taxes. They don’t know how. And if they knew how to game the system like that, they wouldn’t be poor in the first place. He chided us for “not paying our fair share,” which is idiotic considering the relative non-affluence of his audience. How many people in that audience were net tax receivers, I wonder.
Further demonstrating that the WWF creative team had absolutely no idea why this character was supposed to be evil, IRS collected both Razor Ramon’s gold and the Undertaker’s urn to make up for deficiencies in their tax returns (or something). Then, like an idiot, he carried it around in his briefcase instead of handing it off to the government like he was supposed to. Why the hell are we supposed to care about any of this? Does it matter to me that Razor Ramon supposedly was short on his W-4? Do I give a crap if Undertaker forgot to carry a 2 somewhere? Do I hate IRS because he’s trying to correct administrative errors of good guy wrestlers? Or do I hate him because he’s wrongfully accusing virtuous people like the Scarface knockoff and a zombie-looking dead guy of shorting our fair government money? If that’s true, you’re essentially booing a guy for incompetency in his job.
What they should have done was put IRS in charge of the shows. He could collect a fee from all the wrestlers for structural improvements and better working conditions, and instead of making those, he hires three assistants to make boring speeches at the beginning of each telecast while the ring creaks, cracks, and eventually breaks. At which point, he asks the wrestlers to pony up more “emergency dollars” to fix it at 3x the cost. That would have pissed the audience off and people would call for his head every show. People respond to abuse of power (which is why everyone hates the IRS in the first place – they’re perceived as thugs, not pencil-pushing bureaucrats), and the early 90s WWF version of IRS was just a paper-shuffling civil servant. It didn’t help that he bored the living piss out of you in the ring either and finished opponents with a clothesline.
The only time this character actually worked was when he was paired up with the “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. At first blush, this pairing makes no sense. But the more you think about it, the more you realize it’s only gotten more perfect with time. The government worker and the millionaire on the same page together. Screwing over the hard-working blue collar tag teams like the noble Steiner Brothers and the scrungy-but-good-natured Nasty Boys. I’m sure none of this was intentional at the time (the WWF couldn’t even book WWF VS. WCW properly), but damn if it isn’t perfect now.
People like to bitch about the government and big business getting in bed together, and in a very real way, this tag team did exactly that. They were Money Incorporated, which, despite sounding like a company a porn company would invent to hang a paper thin plot off of to peddle smut, fused big business with big government forming the manifestation of everyone’s deepest fears about the corruption of power. These two were the wrestling equivalent of Ken Lay teaming up with Ben Bernanke for the sole purpose of screwing over the working man.
So on this Tax Day, take heart in knowing that the most physical embodiment of business and government teaming up with the blatant, overt purpose of fucking us all happened in the WWE – a place where people like this are given television time.
Happy Tax Day, y’all.
15 Apr 2010 E Dagger