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. 

Demeaning women

turnbucklezine:

Anyone else feel like even during a decent women’s match, the announcers manage to demean the whole thing with a-bit-more-than-latent sexist commentary?

“aw, lookit her, she’s pretty spunky!  She’s like a little pocket rocket/bottle rocket…” etc… I get the impression that when someone the size of, say, an Evan Bourne or Bryan Danielson get in the ring they don’t come up with pet adjectives to use.

I’m not one to usually call people out on this sort of thing, but, to me, it really continues to underscore the fact that, basically, Vince McMahon probably does not give a fuck about women and the company overall probably holds it’s female athletes in lower regard than high school cheerleaders.

Two good points here: the cute nicknames the announcers give the women not only underscore what might be a serious contest (or at least a contest between two serious people. There is a difference), but also that hearing these names over and over gives the impression that the company as a whole is downplaying women. It’s certainly a fair thing to vocalize. 

I don’t think Vince McMahon doesn’t care about women. I just think WWE doesn’t really know what to do with a great female wrestler. Even if you give them similar stories as the men (title chases, personal vendettas, etc) it doesn’t really work, because women are different than men. I think this frustrates WWE creative, who I think would love to do more things with the female roster, but literally don’t know how. This is why female wrestling is really great for a few months every few years, but never great consistently. They get a good idea every now and then. 

The best female wrestling angles are ones that simply can’t be reproduced with men. Take, for instance, the excellent months-long story between Trish Stratus and Mickie James in 2005-2006. You couldn’t have done that with men. You also couldn’t do Gail Kim VS Awesome Kong with men. The secret of a great female wrestling match/angle/story is thus: find a pairing that gives the audience something to think about, give them a story that is wholly unique to their situation and character, and let it build logically. That may be the same template a lot of male wrestling stories use, but it’s important not to use the same particular ingredients. 

As for the cutesy nicknames and the “smart, powerful, sexy” tagline, well, that’s what WWE thinks women wrestlers represent to the WWE audience. I don’t think it’s the WWE being sexist so much as the WWE acknowledging the base sexism of their audience and, unfortunately, attempting to capitalize.

Actually…

From Mikey llorin:

Actually, the Lebelle Lock and the Crippler Crossface are two different maneuvers entirely. The arm-scissor used for the Crossface is just a regular arm-scissor which is used solely to trap the arm, while the arm-scissor used for the Lebelle Lock has the inner scissor-leg over the victim’s arm and shoulder, which actually makes it an inverted arm-scissor similar to an omaplata, adding pressure to the shoulder along with the crossface neck crank.

One can argue that since the Lebelle Lock is actually an omaplata/crossface combination, it’s more similar to a twisted version of Undertaker’s gogoplata Hell’s Gate submission than a regular crossface.

I don’t know that they are two different maneuvers entirely, but fair enough. So it’s not just Daniels acts while applying the move, it’s how he’s doing the move itself that’s differentiating the idea away from Benoit. 

Fake Vince McMahon

After I wrote all the essays for International Object (coming soon!), I took several months off from wrestling and paid almost no attention to the art form from the end of 2008 to nearly halfway through 2009. International Object is as serious as wrestling-related writing gets. It’s not without a joke or two, but it really is mostly serious essays about the artistic side of professional wrestling.

In that time, I wrote a novel and ramped up my small press. Writing-wise, I was very busy. So after I finished the first draft of the novel, I found myself missing pro wrestling a little. I watched some episodes, caught up on what I missed. The summer of 2009 was a good one for WWE. The transition to PG was finally over, and I began to wonder what Vince McMahon thought about all of it. His TV time was getting smaller and smaller. His wife was about to leave the company, as was his son. I thought that even though the business seemed to be growing in an interesting new direction, his personal life may not be at its best, and, perhaps most importantly, the WWE machine might not need him anymore.

Somehow, that turned into a tragicomedy piece where I wrote under the Fake Vince name. Most posts were (at least attempted) humor-based, but every now and then I peppered the blog with pretty sad declarations of Vince’s (likely entirely fictional) personal life. Turns out, I was also pretty good at predicting PPVs.

I wrote Fake Vince for a year. In that year, I took a couple of breaks, but for the most part there was a new post almost every day. That’s a long time for a joke. The best posts were put together in a book that’s still available, and still a pretty good read.

I never kept my identity that much of an airtight secret. Anyone who cared to find out who wrote the blog could find me without much trouble. But this is the first time I’m outright admitting that it’s me to the public.

A couple of weeks ago I put the Fake Vince blog on hiatus. I’m not done with it, and I’m sure once I’ve taken some time away from making jokes I’ll be back with new ones. Probably after the International Object book comes out.