The forced heel

From turnbucklezine:

Can the final minute of last night’s Raw indicate anything to the contrary?  Sure, the audience WANTED to see Cena beat down Barret, but when that didn’t happen and Cena sheepishly walked away (which I can only imagine has never happened on that television program), Orton appeared to every literary cliche you can imagine (riding in on a white stallion, etc…)

Like I said yesterday, you can sort of see the blueprints of the Cena/Nexus story if you remember the Shawn Michaels/JBL story. It’s the idea of a good guy forced to do bad things due to forces beyond his control. It’s a bold move and a difficult position to place a wrestler in, because it forces them to not only divide their audience and test the waters of a full turn, but also to stretch their acting muscles. The fact is, Cena has only ever played a charismatic destroyer, so we don’t know if he has the chops to pull this off. 

It’s a fun gamble. It’s going to either make the fans love him more for having gone through this hardship, or completely turn on him for accepting his new fate.

Not sure if you’ve answered many questions about this already, but I find the fact that you have written a book about professional wrestling absolutely fascinating/inspiring/wonderful.How did you go about publishing it? Do you have previous book-writing experience? Will it be released in print and/or online? Will it be available world-wide? I’m extremely keen to read it, so if I can access it in Australia, that’d be great ;)Thanks in advance (both for answering the questions and for writing what is sure to be a fantastic read)

Hey there, love your blog. 

Publishing is actually what I do for a living. See: here. My partner and I work in publishing services, as we feel that independent authors don’t need giant contracts: they just need a little help from editors and designers. So that’s what I do, and I put my own books out in the same way I do for my clients. 

As for International Object, it’ll be available in just about every format you can think of, from print to epub to audiobook. You’ll be able to buy it from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and pretty well anywhere online. And it won’t be expensive. I’m not totally confirmed on prices yet, but it’ll be low double digits for paper and low single digits for bits. And absolutely, you’ll be able to get it worldwide. 

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to shill a little!

Hi,Let me just add my hat to that appreciation ring you have. I will be sure to read your book when it comes out, because as previous praise has said, a non-always cynical wrestling enthusiast that writes is something everybody can get behind.I’ve grown weary of the Scott Keiths of the world.Anyway, this is just a thank you to you, the Scribe, from one of the many Jesters of the IWC.

It’s funny you mention Scott. I wrote for Inside Pulse a couple of years alongside him, though I don’t think we ever talked. I can’t say anything bad about Scott. He’s thorough and has a voice and a following, but it’s very clear that he’s lost the love for wrestling that he once had. I think everyone does, eventually. We grow tired of believing in this crazy magical dream, and re-enter the real world, where men don’t fly. God knows I’ve been there. 

I think one of the reasons I’m not as cynical as others is that I’m fully embracing WWE’s shift to PG. It gives the writers a constraint, and I’m a firm believer of constraint producing very interesting art (admit it: black and white pictures of blood-stained wrestlers is a pretty cool aesthetic choice). I think the stories WWE has told us since entering this period (I consider Wrestlemania 23 to be the real beginning of the current era) have been far more memorable and emotional than anything they produced in the previous era (2002-2007). I also like that WWE seems like a completely different brand of wrestling than any other organization. While TNA and ROH spent years trying to craft a unique style, WWE’s new direction allows other programs to appear unique simply by continuing to be “wrestling” shows. 

Mostly though, I’m not bitter or cynical because the Tumblr Wrestling Community. Guys like you, Cliff, Mirandaa and so many others have really helped me keep the passion going. 

The reaction from the kids

There’s a lot of talk about how WWE is a PG production and has been for a few years now. But how often do we get a report from what the kids actually think? 

From Inside Pulse:

Several children were in tears after John Cena lost, and the WWE was sure to show a number of shocked and devastated faces after the match. Many parents left with their children immediately after this one.

Last night’s plot is unprecedented by WWE. It’s like if Hogan fought Sgt Slaughter and his Iranian contingent, and lost, and had to join them and become an anti-American. It’s like if Stone Cold lost to Mr McMahon and had to wear a suit everywhere. It’s like if Bret Hart lost to Shawn Michaels and had to go to WCW. 

Wait. 

Well he has a segment called Dashing Cody Rhodes Grooming Tips, where he provides actual male grooming tips, he killed Matt Hardy on a promo about Matt being fat and now he just got paired up randomly with McIntyre and became tag champs. Orton squashed him again on the last Smackdown though, and buried the shit out of McIntyre as well.Anyway, why don’t you like Smackdown?

Ah, I feel all caught up.

I have nothing against Smackdown. I actually like that it’s taped, so you figure people tuning in have a general sense of what’s going to happen and then watch anyway, which is something I’d like to see more of in wrestling fans. But to be totally honest, there’s only so many hours in the week, and it’s hard enough catching Raw as it is. Which is why I’m so excited about any rumour that the show would be nixed. It’s very easy to forget that people have jobs and lives, and 6-10 hours a week of professional wrestling is just way too much professional wrestling. And that’s just WWE. I try to stay roughly abreast on the happenings of TNA and the indie scene, which is a whole other ballpark of time-suck, so Smackdown has always suffered.

What do you think of Dashing Cody Rhodes? is he just a rehash of the Pretty Boy gimmick or is he bringing something new to the game? Also, with the popularity of the Old Spice guy, wouldn’t WWE creative staff pitch him something like that (“look at that guy, now back to me”)? Thanks in advance.

Well, now sounds about right to reveal my nasty secret: I don’t watch Smackdown. I don’t download it, I don’t even really read about it online. So I don’t know much about Rhodes. The last time I really saw him was at Wrestlemania, getting squashed. 

The little I have seen of him seems pretty two dimensional, as if WWE couldn’t figure out a story line for him so they gave him a gimmick instead. Is he over? 

I think we’re safe from the Old Spice joke appearing in WWE. They’ve been known to ape pop culture on occasion, but they’re not known for viral video knockoffs, at least not yet, anyway. 

Praise for Footnotes of Wrestling

From Pizzabodyslam.com:

I was both relieved that there was another wrestling fan on the internet writing about wrestling in the exact same way I felt, and jealous that this writer is so good and I could never capture that same profound style.

I admire Paul for his knowledge, grace, honesty and focus. Those aren’t words you hear in describing a wrestling blog almost EVER. And I mean that.

That made my day. 

Wow

I just checked my analytics since opening up the site, and I can barely believe the amount of people who have checked it out. I don’t want to spout off any number because I hear that’s bad website karma, but needless to say this blog is tenfold more popular than anything I’ve done on the internet. I just want to say thank you for proving my theory about wrestling fans right. You do want intelligent discourse. You do want to feel like all of this isn’t a giant waste of time. You do want to see the odd photo of a really nice-looking female wrestler. All good things. 

I only hope I can keep making you guys mark out. 

Question from CortJstr

What about other wrestlers that tend to appear in the ring after the lights blacking out? Like Sabu or Sting (at least in TNA). It’s never claimed that they have powers but it’s also not explained how they are able to turn the lights off and on again.

That’s a really good question, re: this post regarding the Undertaker and Kane’s “powers.” What’s more interesting about Sabu and Sting is that, unlike the Undertaker and Kane, who always had these weird mystical “powers,” Sabu and Sting slowly gained these things as they went. Sabu began his career manacled like Hannibal Lecter; he only gained the power to turn the lights on and off after he became a good guy. Sting, on the other hand, was just a normal wrestler until WCW “betrayed” him in 1996. He reappeared later with a new costume, a rope harness, and the ability to control the weather as well as some birds. In both cases, we were never given any reasonable explanation as to how these things came to be, or how they were possible. 

What’s interesting about Sting is that he seems to no longer have these powers. He just walks to the ring and talks like any other wrestler now. 

I’m going to chalk this one up to writers of wrestling programs underestimating the intelligence of the audience. They can hide under the veil of “oh, it’s just wrestling, don’t think too hard about it,” but some of us want to think harder about it. We want to know why and how these decisions are made, and what we’re supposed to take away from them. Perhaps we want more from wrestling than the art form is capable of giving, but I don’t believe that. At least, I don’t believe it yet. 

Opportunity

I’m enjoying doing this so far, and I’d like to do more as the release of the book approaches. It’s the first time I’ve seriously released a book about pro wrestling, and I’m really excited. 

I’m also very humbled and appreciative of the attention the blog has received so far. A good number of people who followed Fake Vince are now following me, because (I think) they like me and like how I write, regardless if I’m “playing a character” or not. So I’d like to do something. I’m thinking about doing a video series and a podcast. The video series I want to do alone. The podcast, not so much. Is anyone reading interested in doing a once-a-week or once-every-other-week show about wrestling, talking about it in an intelligent manner as opposed to the typical “I think this guy will win his match because…” or “Vince McMahon ruined the business because…” types of podcasts? I’d be really interested to see who would be up for something like this. I think we could grow it. 

I know I’m a niche within a niche within a niche. I like pro wrestling, but I have no interest in the usual babble. I want to expand the conversation, and I spent a year doing it with humor with Fake Vince. Now I want to do it with a little more seriousness. Who’s with me? Send me an email at ksawyerpaul@gmail.com if you’re interested.