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Thread: Blitz Bomb: Questioning my Religion - A Confessional

  1. #1

    Blitz Bomb: Questioning my Religion - A Confessional

    Every now and then I go on a reading binge of the LOP Column Forums, especially when I have a column idea in mind and need that little nudge to get the idea out of my brain and onto the page. Column writer Romeo, in his last column "Ro is War: White Men's Burden", wrote a brilliant piece, part of which I want to quote as my final inspiration for this column:

    And no matter what they say, the Real Americans can't sell me their change of heart by using that same schtick—especially when they still use xenophobic speech against the Russians. The underlying issue is that there was no solid writing at all to anchor the face turn. You simply cannot wash out that kind of taint; there has to be a good, believable reason behind major changes like this. A personality does not simply change at the drop of a hat, unless there's something wrong with you mentally. Bruce Wayne did not become Batman after some kids took his lunch money—his parents had to be murdered first.

    You can argue that wrestling caters to the lowest common denominator in order to make the most money. But just because the bar is set so close to the ground doesn't mean we do not have the power to raise it higher. Racism and xenophobia, as well as sexism, which Zeb gets into this week, are the things we shouldn't be compromising on in this day and age, especially with the kind of reach and impact the WWE has all over the world.
    I was born and raised Catholic. I went through Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation, the Sacraments of initiation. I did my Bible study, and I learned what it was like to be a good Catholic man. When I was 15, I lost my best friend and almost killed myself...and threw myself into my religion even more after some time in in-patient therapy thinking that it was best for me because Catholicism is what I was raised on. I graduated high school towards the top of my class and as one of the most devout Catholics that you'd ever meet. The second I set foot in my university, I got a true exposure to the real world, and I questioned my belief.

    Within a year, I went to Mass on a Sunday afternoon and a man stumbled in, sitting next to me, still completely drunk from the night before. Many would have blamed him for showing up drunk and "not ready" to receive faith, but I blamed the Church for letting that man down. I questioned my belief. I am now seven years from the end of that questioning of belief, no longer a practicing Catholic. In fact, I don't identify with any religion. I firmly believe, however, a Higher Power exists...but the nature of said Power cannot be known or understood. Seven years later, and I can honestly say that I'm happier and more complete a person than I was as a Catholic.

    I was born and raised on professional wrestling, particularly WWF/E and WCW. It provided an escape from the world around me. During the Monday Night Wars, my family had two TVs so we could watch both Nitro and Raw at the same time. I hailed Vader as "the man", was awed by the high-flying antics of Ultimo Dragon, Jushin Liger, and others, sat amazed at Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Bret Hart, and slowly watched the evolution of WWF into the Attitude Era. I never questioned my fandom, not even after Owen Hart's death.

    As the Attitude Era peaked, I got into American football in junior high school (around 2000) and was the star of the team, punishing opposing offenses as linebacker. My gameplay was respected, my name was feared. I spent more time away from the house, but I still made time to watch my wrestling. Ultimo, Malenko, and Benoit were still there for me to watch, and I grew fond of Chris Jericho's antics. I watched the talents of Mark Jindrak and Sean O'Haire wasted. I watched Chris Benoit celebrate with Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania XX and Shelton Benjamin springboard into Sweet Chin Music in 2005. I never questioned my fandom, not even after the Katie Vick necrophilia angle.

    In August 2006, I started at my university...questioned my religion and my place in life but never my fandom. I had even less time to devote to watching wrestling live, but I had wider access to YouTube and could relive my memories as well as expose myself to wrestling from all around the world. My fandom became stronger, my love was rekindled. I was in Houston to watch Taker vs. HBK at WrestleMania 25. I watched the Young Bucks vs the Motor City Machineguns in an epic tag match in 2010 as TNA fired shots on WWE for Monday night supremacy. 2011 brought the Summer of Punk and the Pipebomb that will live in the annals of wrestling history. I started to question but shouted down my internal arguments.

    I can't shout down the voices anymore. They've drowned out the little kid in me. They've drowned out the child-like wonder of being in front of the screen. Watching wrestling these days sometimes makes me feel like a hypocrite, like I'm worse than the bigots that I've spoken out against. Lana, on behalf of Rusev, spits the vitriol of anti-American, pro-Russian sentiment, and the crowd boos, as well they should. However, Zeb Colter spits the xenophobic vitriol against Russia in defense of America and the people cheer. The fans cheer xenophobia as long as it's the Americans being xenophobic. The fans cheer stereotyping more often than not. Does anyone remember when the Usos debuted on the main roster? They distinguished themselves from the stereotypical Samoan and carried themselves on-screen as being more intelligent and cultured. The fans booed...and now they're being cheered acting like the stereotype of the Samoan wrestler. And now... Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E have formed a stable to take rather than ask, very much like the Nation of Domination. With the way WWE has been having to apologize for everything in this post-Benoit wrestling culture, this stable will have to be booked delicately to avoid the outraged calls of racism that are undoubtedly being formulated.

    Unlike questioning my religion, questioning my wrestling fandom has been very difficult. For every negative I find in the product, I can usually find at least one positive. Paul Heyman's promo at the end of the July 21 Raw on Brock Lesnar was absolutely brilliant, as was Bray Wyatt's promo going into the second hour. The potential of the product to evolve and raise that bar of the "lowest common denominator" keeps me going. Watching guys like Cesaro and Ambrose keeps me going, as does the development of new talent down in NXT. Does being a fan mean I have to like every single thing that's scooped out on the plate for me? Hell no. In my Grand Prix seeding column, I went into how WWE needs legitimate competition to light a fire under their asses. There has been lazy, "plug-n-play" booking for years now, but there's not much alternative other than the Internet unless you live in a market with local shows running on a regular basis. If you're lucky enough to live in one of those markets, I definitely suggest supporting your local promotions.

    I can not and will not encourage anyone to "just stop watching". There really is something for just about every wrestling fan whether you get it in WWE or watch other products, but I encourage you to question your fandom. Are you watching because you legitimately enjoy wrestling? Are you watching because you were raised on it and don't know anything else? How can we as wrestling fans raise the bar and shake the perception of wrestling fans being less intelligent?

    I'm questioning my fandom...I'm still a fan and get my wrestling wherever I can even when I'm bored with the storylines behind the in-ring wrestling. There's a promotion that runs shows not 10 minutes from my house every couple months, and I make sure to spend that $10 every time they come to town. A 4-hour show every 2-3 months provides more entertainment for me than seven hours of weekly TV programming (WWE and TNA) and reminds me why I'm a fan. If you've never been to an independent show, do it and do it as soon as humanly possible. Get back to the grassroots of wrestling. You won't regret it, and it'll enhance your enjoyment of wrestling programming whether on TV or on the Internet.

    Thank you, Romeo, for giving me that last nudge to break through this writer's block. Thank you, CF readers, for reading and giving me feedback. Thank you, local promotions, for bringing wrestling to the people when the larger promotions cannot. The Blitz has spoken.

  2. #2
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    You've opened yourself up to us here and I truly appreciate it. Recently I went to an independent promotion here in Western Australia and I was surprised at how well everything went. Obviously you won't get the same polish or pyro as you would get at a WWE event, but the love for wrestling minus the drama was strong. I enjoyed myself and will be going again next month

  3. #3
    Team Doc Kleckamania's Avatar
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    You are Agnostic like me. We also both started as devout catholics and then ran into a world that made us both question our faith. The personal touch made this column, and you did very well here.

    I do think though that as kids we have blinders on to the xenophobia that has always been prevalent in the product. The sad thing is it is not a question of the bookers or Vince being racist, but rather smart businessmen catering to their fans popular sentiments. There is still a lot of racism rampant and often booking simply mirrors what many fans think/feel. Fear of the unknown. WWE and all of professional wrestling has always played into that exceedingly well.

    Good column blitz. You are improving quite a bit. Look forward to what you come out with next.

  4. #4
    The Underage Pessimist Subho's Avatar
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    Yeah, I kinda feel like you, Blitz. I sometimes feel that I cheer/boo for stuff that shouldn't be that way. That I'm ignoring my own values, and becoming a moral hypocrite. Why would I want Daniel Bryan to slap the smile off of Stephanie's face so much? Why would I want Dixie Carter to be put through a table so much? Why would want an all-black union in WWE when it comes off as seriously racist? Those are just the things that sometimes do make me question my own beliefs. But then again, I guess I've learned to take wrestling as a separate entity altogether and don't really view it with the microscope of real life. The parallels are quite different.

    Good stuff, Blitz. You're visually improving everytime you write another column, and its good to see. Taking inspirations from different sources is also a good trait to have. Good stuff!

  5. #5
    It's funny Winnebago. If it hadn't been for the local live shows, I have a sneaking feeling that I'd have been done with wrestling a long time ago and would be putting my writing somewhere else.

    Kleck: Always good to see you. Mind you, I try not to put any kind of label on beliefs, which makes it easier for me to feel like I'm on my own path. I'm well aware of the xenophobia that's always permeated the product, but I still stand by my firm belief that we should be looking for slightly higher concepts to entertain us in today's culture. If indeed the booking is a reflection of "the fans' sentiments" according to the "smart businessmen", we really have to wonder what the business people are really seeing in the fans.

    Sub: I've always loved looking through either the CF or my collection of books and getting inspirations from different sources for my work. After all, even the biggest inferno started with just a tiny spark. Wrestling's always been an important part of my life, as has analyzing everything in front of me, thus why I focus so heavily on the in-ring action, which is mostly neutral and the place where I can put aside my misgivings most easily.

  6. #6
    Fuck Forest Green PEN15's Avatar
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    Blitz, glad to see you writing something more personal, as well as insightful. I don't fully agree, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of reading this at all.

    As I attempted to summarize to Romeo for his column, I think the complaints about this angle are extremely short sighted and too sensitive. People have faults, such as being xenophobic, but we can still cheer for them for other actions they take. Cheering for Jack Swagger isn't the same as cheering xenophobia; we are cheering the guy who is fighting back against someone who is far worse with their xenophobia. Lesser of two evils. Expecting an amazing story with a turn that is less than a month old in the midcard is rather ludicrous to begin with. Right now WWE isn't and shouldn't be concentrating on putting all the pieces together. No matter where you are going, it all starts with one step, and that's what the Real Americans are taking here. Saying "If you don't like our country, why are you here? Leave!" isn't xenophobic. Want proof? Why was it ok for Big E to be a proud American in their mini feud, but because it's the Real Americans it's controversial? The only problem people have is that when the RA were heels, they were xenophobic jerks. As faces, whether or not it was an elaborate turn with a thousand subtleties, it's not about catering to the lowest common denominator with stupidity, as much as not making everything too complicated too early.

    If Jack and Zeb follow up this feud by challenging Wade Barrett (just a random foreigner I chose) by calling him a limey or something anti British, you might have a point. Wade isn't antagonizing based on patriotism or xenophobia (at least on a regular basis), so for the Real Americans to go that route would be underhanded. But not against Lana and Rusev who are being the original xenophobes.

    I'm not saying you have to like the angle as much as I do. But the reasons given by Ro and yourself are just cop out bullshit excuses.

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    Blitz: I really liked the personal touches in this column. I thought it was thoughtful, and well written. I disagree with the premise though. I actually lean more towards PEN15's side of the argument on this.

    Wrestling has decided that all it takes is one good action to undo a lifetime of evil, and all it takes is one bad action to undo a lifetime of good. Look at Hulk Hogan for instance, he told the fans to "stick it", turned his back on them, ran a truck into The Rock, hit him with a hammer etc, etc, etc. However, once he and The Rock shook hands at WrestleMania at Skydome, and the nWo pounced as The Rock and Hogan fought them off, Hogan was immediately a good guy. Triple H was a dastardly heel when he tore his quad, but came back as a massive face, for no reason other than that the fans missed him.

    Therefore, by wrestling logic, the Real Americans are no longer continuing their prior xenophobic ways, instead, they have taken up the mantle of defending the United States. If you were to evaluate every heel and face turn over the course of WWE's history you'd find loads of hypocrisy in most of them. It's par for the course, but we've come so far in the genre, that we now have to accept that those types of things are commonplace.

    I will say that the WWE is toeing a very thin line, but I fall on PEN's side of it.

  8. #8
    Pen: I'm glad that you're able to enjoy reading and make great commentary. You're absolutely right that WWE doesn't necessarily need to put all the pieces together right off the back. I enjoy Swagger vs Rusev in the ring, but not the storyline behind it. For me the whole "Putin is the greatest" is a bit stale. Hell, even Lana's promos are getting a bit stale, and I'll go on record as saying she could do whatever she wanted to me. WWE had a great opportunity to change things up with Rusev being hailed from Bulgaria, but things went the lazy route to Russia without even so much a crack about the fans not being able to find Bulgaria on a map. The entire angle has worn itself out on me since then.

    Ray: You're absolutely right citing that one good action wipes out a load of bad and vice versa when it comes to wrestling. I have attempted to watch the WWE product as entertainment rather than wrestling, but there are logic holes large enough for Khali to dance through. Maybe hypocrisy is commonplace, but since we've come so far, surely we can close up some of those logic holes...perhaps down to Hornswoggle size.

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    Blitz: There's always going to be logic holes large enough for Khali and The Big Show to dance through together. It's a part of the genre that I don't think can be changed at this point. Shawn Michaels was an arrogant douchebag who became a face simply because his bodyguard Sid powerbombed him. Shouldn't Sid really have become the face there? Wrestling will never make sense, it will always be hypocritical. It's best not to ask how we can close the holes, but rather how to enjoy the product despite them. Swiss Cheese has holes, but it's still a damn good cheese. lol

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by rayhagan1 View Post
    Blitz: There's always going to be logic holes large enough for Khali and The Big Show to dance through together. It's a part of the genre that I don't think can be changed at this point. Shawn Michaels was an arrogant douchebag who became a face simply because his bodyguard Sid powerbombed him. Shouldn't Sid really have become the face there? Wrestling will never make sense, it will always be hypocritical. It's best not to ask how we can close the holes, but rather how to enjoy the product despite them. Swiss Cheese has holes, but it's still a damn good cheese. lol
    Swiss cheese is delicious yes, but when melted on a sandwich, it tastes even better...and the holes that were there have melded with the other sandwich ingredients to where you can get past the holes. That's where good storytelling comes into play.

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    Fuck, now I want a sandwich!

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    Oh, wow. Damn. I feel very flattered, and it's an honor for me to know that I am able to help you. I agree with the rest in that this is a great piece.

    Now, I'm going to comment on Pen's argument here.

    Quote Originally Posted by PEN15 View Post
    As I attempted to summarize to Romeo for his column, I think the complaints about this angle are extremely short sighted and too sensitive. People have faults, such as being xenophobic, but we can still cheer for them for other actions they take. Cheering for Jack Swagger isn't the same as cheering xenophobia; we are cheering the guy who is fighting back against someone who is far worse with their xenophobia. Lesser of two evils. Expecting an amazing story with a turn that is less than a month old in the midcard is rather ludicrous to begin with. Right now WWE isn't and shouldn't be concentrating on putting all the pieces together. No matter where you are going, it all starts with one step, and that's what the Real Americans are taking here. Saying "If you don't like our country, why are you here? Leave!" isn't xenophobic. Want proof? Why was it ok for Big E to be a proud American in their mini feud, but because it's the Real Americans it's controversial? The only problem people have is that when the RA were heels, they were xenophobic jerks. As faces, whether or not it was an elaborate turn with a thousand subtleties, it's not about catering to the lowest common denominator with stupidity, as much as not making everything too complicated too early.

    If Jack and Zeb follow up this feud by challenging Wade Barrett (just a random foreigner I chose) by calling him a limey or something anti British, you might have a point. Wade isn't antagonizing based on patriotism or xenophobia (at least on a regular basis), so for the Real Americans to go that route would be underhanded. But not against Lana and Rusev who are being the original xenophobes.

    I'm not saying you have to like the angle as much as I do. But the reasons given by Ro and yourself are just cop out bullshit excuses.
    First of all, if you just left me with your well-thought out argument instead of calling my opinion a "cop-out bullshit excuse," I would've appreciated it a bit more.

    Second of all, I will agree that I may have jumped the gun on the Real Americans, but I still stand on my conviction that they were the wrong people character-wise to recruit as faces. Mostly because, like I said, not a lot was done to sell me on why I should cheer for them when their face turn is by virtue of shifting their focus to other heels. I don't know. Is it because I'm not American? Maybe that's it.

    Thinking about it more, my issue isn't even really that much with political correctness now, it's just with storytelling that isn't powerful enough to make me suspend my disbelief.

    And why can't I demand a higher standard of storytelling there? Aren't we the people who constantly demand the WWE for a reason to care about its characters and the narratives they try to push us? I don't know about you, and maybe I'm a bit snobbish about this, but I for one no longer want to just settle for "wrestling logic."

    I specifically said I needed something, anything from the Real Americans that I could wrap my head around, because I need more from my heroes. They've dialed it down, sure, but as it stands they're still assholes who are just going after assholes. I agree with you in that they can still salvage this turn by exhibiting a change of heart, but I still haven't seen that in the few weeks since they've made the turn.

    By the way, you can't compare the Real Americans' flip-flopping with most other heel turns. The Real Americans are playing with values and concepts - politics, xenophobia, racism - that have an impact on a very large scale. And this is what I said to De when he told me the same thing: we can't rest on our laurels when it comes to society. We have to demand a better standard for that stuff. It's not the same thing as Ray's Hulk Hogan example - Hogan's turns involved relatively private matters and personal relationships, not large-scale political beliefs.

    If we really want to boil things down to their simplest - why don't you just tell me that my standards are higher than yours? This is basically what it's about, anyway.
    Last edited by Romeo; Today at 04:48 AM.

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