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Thread: Showcase - UK vs US 2012 Columns

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Northern England, UK

    Showcase - UK vs US 2012 Columns

    I'm afraid I can't access any of the collaborative round columns, though Miz and Kervin's was called The Revolution Will be Tweeted. So all of the following are from rounds 2 and 3, unless anyone happens to have originals saved that they'd be willing to share.

    Originally posted by 'Plan for R2 - I 5 Star WWE Match With Attitude

    In my last solo effort, I claimed I hated wrestling. Unfortunately, it seems a few of the readers may have taken that as an exclusive; it is not. I hate wrestling only in the superlative sense of hating something because you love it so much it brings out of you a passion that nothing else can.

    The truth of it is that, while on days I do hate wrestling, in my life I adore it. It is the single greatest industry on the face of this planet without question and when pro wrestling is done right, when all the pieces are in all the right places and when everything just clicks, there is no experience like it.

    Alas, it seems that such a thing is a rarity. A five star match is, in truth, very rare come by. It is the kind of a match that one should be able to claim is perfect. Perhaps not necessarily across the board, but a match where, when all the smoke has cleared, you can sit there and say that it simply could not have been better.

    It would be remiss of me not to mention in a column such as this one the name of everyone’s favourite wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, famed, as he is, for his five star rating system. I will not feign wisdom I do not possess and so at this juncture it is only prudent of me to inform you my knowledge of pro wrestling is limited mainly to the WWE. I dabble elsewhere but only rarely. And it is interesting to note, that in its vast and sprawling history, much unlike its Japanese counterparts, the WWE has only had, according to Meltzer, five matches worthy of scoring five stars. That seems like something of a stretch to me, particularly given the fond memories I have had of pro wrestling since I first started watching every week after Wrestlemania XIV, 6 months after the latest dated five star effort before last summer.

    His list of selections from the WWE is something I am not entirely unfamiliar with and truth be told has remained a mystery to me for a reason I will come to. For those of you unaware, Metlzer claims that the only five star bouts the ‘E has ever given us are as follows:

    Michaels vs. Ramon ~ Wrestlemania X
    Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart ~ Summerslam 1994
    Hart vs. Austin ~ ‘Mania 13
    Michaels vs. Undertaker ~ Hell in a Cell
    Cena vs. Punk – Money in the Bank 2011

    On first look, can you spot what it was that has left me so perplexed? Allow me to divert for a moment.

    The 1980s is undoubetly I think one of the two biggest boom periods in the history of the WWE. It was followed by the largely recognised lull of the New Generation in the 1990s where the roster was thin and the financial profit down from the preceding years, yet a generation that offered us all four initial five star efforts according to Meltzer. A similar lull is the kind of experience we are enduring now in the Age of Cena, with PG and a product widely lambasted. Then we have the era I grew up in, I was reared on; the now infamous Attitude Era remembered so fondly and perhaps with rose-tinted glasses. An era conspicuous by its absence on Dave Meltzer’s list.

    Hence the confusion. The 1980s was dominated by Hogan in an age where wrestling in the WWE was so simplistic I would not consider it strange it does not have its own five star offering, though how Savage vs. Steamboat doesn’t cut the mustard for him I will never know. The Attitude Era though saw a wide spread popularity for wrestling that we’re still hung up on today with stars that became so big they’re either still wrestling, still drawing when they appear to promote their latest venture or have become a mainstream pop culture icon so big they eclipse any pro wrestler before or after in more ways than one. Many herald it as the greatest era in pro wrestling history and it remains the prologue to the modern day age that has suffered such severe criticism because of it. Yet, should Meltzer tell it true, it is an era that offered us no matches worthy of immortality.

    That strikes me as unlikely.

    Of course this is all a personal affair. A five star rating is something so utterly objective we can obviously take no one man’s opinion as gospel, but Meltzer’s ratings are often sworn by and his opinion is regarded in high esteem by professional wrestlers, particularly in the WWE and so there is no doubt some worth to what he says. I researched his criteria for a match reaching five stars and Wikipedia informed me that he looked for work rate, variety, history, story-telling and crowd reaction.

    Such criteria alone helps us see why the Attitude Era may not be present; while never lacking in crowd reaction or history of both workers and feud alike in any given match, matches often did remain quite limited in terms of the variety of moves on offer. At their most frantic, they look like the hare to the modern day tortoise, though sometimes, as is the case in ‘Mania 17s main event, it can be at the expense of in-ring story telling. But to say no match at all between 1998 and 2001 could stand shoulder to shoulder with the matches listed above seems harsh.

    So what better platform than this to give myself the challenge of finding the Attitude Era match worthy of being ranked five stars?

    The quickest way to go about doing this would first be to consider individuals likely to have performed at the required level. Naturally, the first choice is a no-brainer – Triple H. While never reaching the same level of popularity as his two more famed contemporaries, he was undoubtedly the work horse of the three and the glue to the equation no one ever shouted about. His inclusion was never beyond question.

    Who else though? While names like Angle, Benoit and Jericho initially sprang to mind, I discounted them due to their best work coming in later years. I could not feasibly rate any of their work in this era above later output and while The Rock never failed to entertain, to rank him higher than his antithesis Austin and as high as the harder working Triple H seemed similarly unfair. Indeed, initially I was tempted to go for the 3 Stages of Hell Match between Austin and Trips, but on another viewing, while the first two falls easily rank alongside the best of the era, the third fall, and the finish, fell somewhat flat.

No, the other five star performer came in the visage of a man you don’t always think of first. Mick Foley. Here’s a man who, over the years, has made stars out of The Rock, Triple H, Randy Orton and Edge. He has even elevated Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Ric Flair in his time and I would name him easily as the most underrated pro wrestler of all time without a second thought. As a matter of fact, in the age of overbooked wrestling, perennially entertaining albeit thin on in-match content, could any other wrestler have been better positioned to get the most out of the company-wide policy induced limitations?

    Click here to watch Triple H vs. Cactus Jack.

    Naturally, I’m going to review it and bear in mind Meltzer’s criteria.

    First, let’s touch on history. There’s some cool trash talking at the beginning here that helps put over the situation of Trips being out of his league and of Cactus Jack being in his own domain, the story of the wider feud. The history of that feud is played on perfectly throughout by both men and their character work, with Jack teetering constantly on the brink of losing it and Triple H starting proceedings as if he has no idea what to expect from his challenger, though never backing down.

    Sticking with Meltzer’s criteria, the variety of moves here remains unfortunately quite limited, but that’s pretty much an identity stamp of the era and the crowd refuses to hold it against the performers or the match. However, that said, where it lacks variety in wrestling moves, it by no means lacks variety in terms of the creative utilisation of weaponry, with leg drops on chairs, suplexes on palettes and, naturally, Pedigrees on thumb tacks, all of which catapults this to the next level – it indulges itself totally in “Attitude,” so much so that you can hold it up as a banner for the era.

    In fact, that indulgence clearly takes a physical toll on both men, with Triple H blading heavily and early and working through a puncture wound in his calf for almost half an hour. Cactus suffers himself too, seeing his knee caps eat steel and winding up with thumb tacks in his skull. The fact they continue to work through all that and put on a classic stands as testament not only to their work rate and their dedication to the fan base, but also their enthusiasm as performers in an age of enthusiasm that, arguably, has not and may never be matched.

    Yet in the midst of all this gimmickery, it is easy to allow the physical performances of both men to go unnoticed. The impressive kind of wrestling I so often love is absent, but the match is still full of performance positives, with the most obvious being the timing. The spots, the bumps and even Triple H’s blade job are all perfectly on note. The match escalates at a perfect rate and there’s no sense of them rushing to get to the good bit that these sorts of bouts, milder now though they may be, often suffer from. Add on to that the fact that, despite the real physical punishment they put themselves through, the execution of what moves there are never suffers, speaks volumes for both individuals.

    As mentioned previously, their character work is spot on as well. At all times Cactus gives you the sense of being an unhinged son of a bitch capable of snapping at any moment, while Triple H takes a hell of a beating but never shows intimidation, nor shies away from reaching for the extreme himself and it is perhaps that which turned this match into the star making performance for him.

    It’s also worth mentioning that this is a Street Fight that is no stranger to psychology either, and in numerous forms. Meltzer mentions story telling as another of his criteria, and it is something I perhaps value myself above most other things in professional wrestling. In this instance, whether it’s Triple H targeting a briefly injured knee of Cactus Jack with barbed wire or playing on Foley’s ghosts from the previous year with handcuffs and a steel chair, or even The Rock interfering with poetic justice to prevent lightning striking in the same place twice, the two play on crowd semantics like a symphony of destruction. And in terms of match structure, the fact that Triple H enters feeling like the underdog and, by the time you’re half way through, it feels like Cactus Jack is very much the underdog instead says enough on its own without me wasting words on the matter.

    So with the variety there, the story-telling there and the history there, what of Metlzer’s final two criteria? Well, the crowd is always hot for matches of the hardcore variety and here that is no different. It pretty much goes without saying. So what of work-rate? Meltzer, Wiki states, defines this as the amount of action vs. the amount of rest holds. Well, let me ask you a simple question; could you spot a single rest hold here? This is a match that lasts close to thirty minutes and we don’t even get a Mandible Claw or a Figure Four.

    I think the reason for that impressive feat is not because of the fact they aren’t throwing out a technical masterpiece, they don’t need to. The match throughout keeps things simple and as a result, without any over-blown or over-choreographed spots, they are able to just…keep…going. Not to downplay the conditioning of both men, but that surely has to count for something. There is, too, the added benefit that the hardcore stylings are allowed room to feel hardcore as a result, without ever becoming melodramatic or so utterly unbelievable that you simply can’t buy into them being genuine. It feels real and that makes it, in my opinion, so much more hardcore than the Foley/Edge bout from years later.

    This match, simply put, is the Attitude Era at its perfected best. This is Foley at his career best. This is Triple H at the very start of what any of his fans would surely agree would become the single best year of his impressive career, right Cap? And it can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the first Hell in a Cell, with Austin’s own star making match and of course last summer’s instant classic. It even, from what I can tell, matches Meltzer’s criteria for a five star match. It certainly feels like it should.

    But here’s the thing. I said earlier this is a subjective affair. To apply scientific method to this kind of a thing is a nonsense. I would like to think I’ve shown you it ticks the right boxes to be included on Meltzer’s list but there is a bigger meaning to all this.

    The Attitude Era is fondly remembered but increasingly, as always happens over time, a trend of revisionist thinking is coming into existence where instead we feel that time has passed enough to warrant us criticising it and exposing its many, many flaws. The overbooked nonsense, the McMahon’s raping the WWE product and thin focus on actual quality wrestling in favour of protracted brawls. With me particularly, on paper, such an era should be disregarded without a second thought when thinking on a topic such as this. It shouldn’t even be humoured as being on the same level as the kind of action we got under Bret and Shawn and now under the likes of Punk, Bryan and Ziggler. But it had plenty of positives. It was a more frantic time, a more fun time where more happened in one night than often happens in a month today.

    Point being? Sure, you sometimes have to dig a little deep, but go deep enough and you find classic top level bouts for the history books and to think anyone can deny its best matches from being archived alongside the all-time greats is a crime.

    The Attitude Era gave us five star matches. This one just happens to be the very best.

    "Eat my ass, Mooney"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Northern England, UK
    And from his opponent for the same round, Rey Ca$h

    MitB – What's In A Five Star Match?

    For years, people have debated which matches are the best in wrestling. Many people appreciate the actual wrestling portion of a match, preferring to see technical prowess and crisp movements and reversals. Others like a big match feel, wanting the match their watching to feel like the biggest thing in the world. Myself, I prefer a match that's going to entertain me thoroughly, whether it's a brawl, technical classic, or any other style. Every match is different, but one man popularized the most conclusive way to tell which matches in history were the greatest.

    Dave Meltzer started the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1980 and quickly tried to come up with a hook for his publication. As a fan of the film industry, he started using the five star match rating system. (There's no proof that Meltzer was the first to use the system, but he definitely made it famous) In his system, one star is horrible and five stars is an all time classic. He used certain criteria to decide what matches were worthy of being rated five stars. His criteria included the amount of action, as opposed to restholds, the difficulty and variety of moves used, the history of the workers and their feud, the development of an in-match storyline based on the wrestling moves and how they affect the wrestlers, and the overall reaction of the crowd.

    While that was the model he judged his matches on, I've come up with five major proponents that any five star match should have. When I think about a five star match, I think that each one should be a spectacle, both wrestlers should have impeccable chemistry in the ring, the match should have it's fair share of drama either in the match or surrounding it, there should be some pure wrestling visible in the bout, and there must be a fair share of memorable moments. Each five star match may not have all five of these in dominating fashion, but each one has at least a speck of each proponent.

    Make It A Spectacle

    One of the reasons wrestling became less sport and more entertainment is because it became more of a show. Hulk Hogan ushered in an era in which people were more interested in being entertained by any means necessary. Thanks to Hogan, we saw that matches became spectacles. People wanted to see the biggest matches they could imagine, and quite often, they did. The earliest version of a true spectacle in the sports entertainment era was Hulk Hogan VS Andre the Giant. That staredown will live in the minds of every wrestling fan forever. A more bigger, more recent example of a match being a spectacle is Hulk Hogan VS The Rock at WrestleMania X8. It should come as no surprise that Hogan is listed twice here, because what Hogan lacked in the ring, he compensated with his aura and charisma.

    The Hogan/Rock feud was a dream feud for many. The two men might just be the most charismatic wrestlers of their generations, if not history. The match in Toronto was so huge, the crowd turned Hogan from a dastardly heel back into his trademark babyface role. This match wasn't rated five stars by Meltzer or pretty much any other person, but the spectacle of the match is second to none. The actual wrestling in the match wasn't important here because the Toronto crowd that night would've taken the match to another level if they would've had an arm wrestling match. That's just how hot it was, and the wrestlers were visibly moved. If you're going to have a five star match, the match must be a spectacle that people will remember for a long time.

    Tinkering With The Chemistry

    Because wrestling is choreographed to a certain extent, each wrestler has to have a certain amount of wrestling prowess. There are basic moves and sequences that every wrestler knows and must know to be successful and safe. Then, there are some wrestlers that just click. They don't need much choreography or planning. They don't need to use the basic moves and sequences that every wrestler knows; they make up their own. Some wrestlers just have that chemistry. To me, two guys that instantly have that chemistry are Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, and that isn't any more prevalent than at WrestleMania 25 and 26. For the record, I know that there are other choices here, but you'll see why I chose these two and not those later. I have yet to meet a person who didn't love HBK/Taker at Mania 25, and most people rated it five stars (Meltzer rated it 4 ¾ stars). Personally, I preferred their rematch the next year. How many people can take a match that was universally panned as one of the greatest of all time and match, if not surpass it the next year?

    In my opinion, Shawn Michaels (who I think is the greatest of all time) and the Undertaker (best big man worker of all time) have never wrestled a bad match. The first Hell in a Cell match involved these two, and ironically enough, that match was rated five stars by Dave Meltzer. Undertaker has always been a big man who has his best matches with smaller workers, mainly because he's quicker than your average big man and he can keep up better with a smaller guy. Michaels is a guy that can “wrestle a broomstick to a good match,” he has the ability to adapt to whatever guy he's facing. He can brawl if he's facing a brawler (Mick Foley), fly if he's facing a high flyer (Shelton Benjamin or Rey Mysterio), and mat wrestle if he's facing a pure wrestler (Kurt Angle). Putting Michaels and Undertaker together always ensures a great match. They know each other so inherently well that it seems like they know what the other man is thinking. It also helps that both men know how to make a match feel important. If you're going to have a five star match, the participants in the match must have great chemistry.

    It Must Be The Drama

    The rise of sports entertainment allowed the business to capitalize on fans that loved the part of the show that told stories. They liked to see long drawn out feuds, and see how wrestlers responded to certain things. They liked to go home or turn off their televisions and spend the rest of the week wondering what happened next. Drama became not only an important part of the show, but it became the show. WWE started hiring soap opera writers to put on their creative staff, wrestlers stopped using gimmicks and became real life characters with depth, and storylines became imperative to make it on TV. Drama has always added more to a story, and the most recent match that was filled with and aided by drama was John Cena VS CM Punk for the Undisputed WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011.

    There was so much on the line with that match, and so many turns to get there. CM Punk won the number 1 contendership a few weeks before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and proceeded to cut a promo that reinvigorated the business. In the promo, he attacked Vince McMahon and his real life son-in-law Triple H, who actually helps run the company. He called out numerous things he was upset about, namely how he wasn't being utilized in the company although he truly believed he was the best in the world. Most importantly, he revealed that his contract was up the night of Money in the Bank, and he was going to leave the WWE with the WWE Championship before his mic was cut off in an effort to silence him. Vince McMahon then came and tried to suspend and possibly fire Punk until John Cena, WWE Champ at the time and purveyor of all that is good, showed up to fight for Punk and get the match to happen. Vince then told Cena that if he lost the title and Punk left the company with it, Cena would be fired.

    Many fans complain about the lack of competent storylines in wrestling, or the lack of continuity. In this particular storyline, there were a number of believable arcs that invested you in the story. You cared about Punk calling out the WWE, you cared about him fighting for what he wanted and him possibly leaving with the company's highest ranking championship, you cared about Cena possibly losing the title and being fired himself, and you cared about what Vince would do next. Very rarely do you get the perfect storm of a storyline to culminate in a match, which happened to take place in Punk's hometown of Chicago. Much like the Toronto crowd for Rock/Hogan, the Chicago crowd was simply amazing. Cena was boo'd as viciously as he ever had been, and Punk came out to such an ovation, you'd think that a king walked into the building. On top of the great match that happened, the story didn't end with the three count. Before the match was over, Vince brought out his right hand man, John Laurainitis, to screw Punk out of the title much like he did Bret Hart in 1997. Cena saw this happening from the beginning, ran out of the ring, and attacked Laurainitis. When he got back in the ring, Punk kicked him and hit him with his Go to Sleep finisher. Punk pinned him and won the match and the title to a MASSIVE ovation. Punk's facial expressions were priceless. The best part of the whole night was him blowing a goodbye kiss towards Vince and walking out of the arena through the crowd. If you're going to have a five star match, the match must have inherent drama surrounding the match.

    Where's the Wrestling?

    So far, I've told you that you must have spectacle, chemistry, and drama to have a five star match. Well, what about the wrestling? Sports entertainment is what the business has adapted to, however the sign on the marquee still says wrestling. There have been 64 five star matches (as rated by Meltzer), and two men wrestled three in a four month span. Those men are Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat in NWA/WCW. Both men are considered as two of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots, and despite his recent actions over the past few years, most people still consider Flair to be the best ever. When people have a match that is rated five stars, it's an absolute honor. Flair and Steamboat did it at 3 out of four pay-per-views! (I want to show a little love to All Japan Pro Wrestlign and Mitsuharu Misawa in particular. He wrestled 24 five star matches in his career before he died, and I don't think that feat will ever be broken. To this day, I havent' watched any of his matches, but out of respect, I plan to very soon. RIP Mitsuharu Misawa.)

    Flair was the perfect heel, brash and cocky and all about his championship. He truly lived his gimmick, living the fast life in every way possible. Aided by the Four Horsemen, who were all about beating people up and getting money and championships, he was nearly unstoppable. Steamboat, in contrast, was the perfect face. He fought for all that was good, fair, and right. He just cared about wrestling the best match that he could, and lived to please the fans and provide for his family. Every time the two men locked up, it was pure wrestling gold. They could do it all in the ring, and left it all out there for the fans. Each match they wrestled is lesson in how to wrestle a great match. If you're going to have a five star match, the match must have some pure wresting.

    Do You Remember?

    Quite possibly the most important aspect of having a five star match is simply remembering it. How can you be great if you're not remembered? Each five star match has some great memorable moments that you take from it and remember for years to come. Be it a great move, an amazing sequence, a crazy finish, or a certain moment, each great match has one aspect that lasts the test of time. The example I want to use for this is [B][I]Bret Hart VS Steve Austin in a submission match at WrestleMania 13. I remember this match vividly. I remember Stone Cold coming out with the actual glass shattering, Stone Cold getting cheered wildly although he was a heel, Bret Hart looking focused, Ken Shamrock trying to act like a referee, Hart completely dominating Austin and Austin continually getting up, Hart busting Austin open on the guard rail and attacking the wound, the infamous “Blood Stone” moment when Hart had Austin in the Sharpshooter and the blood fell down Austin's face, Austin passing out but never giving up, Hart being massively boo'd by continuing to attack Austin, Shamrock fighting with Hart, and Austin giving the stunner to the referee and leaving to cheers. I realize that sentence was a huge ramble, but I wanted to show how many moments I remembered from this match without having to go back and look at it. That's the mark of a great match.

    Austin was the perfect foil to Hart at the time. Austin was the young, brash upstart that didn't give a damn about anything or anybody but kept fighting, and Hart was the old veteran who was fed up with Austin and stopped caring about the fans or what people thought, and wanted to get the job done. The match was great, and left everybody with something to remember. That Sharpshooter pose is one of the most replayed poses in wrestling history. When you have two charasmatic and talented performers on the biggest stage they can be on, they're bound to leave you with something classic. No one will ever forget Hart VS Austin, not just because it was a great match but because they gave you tons of moments to remember forever.

    Wrestling is a business that is contingent on a number of different things working together in harmony to be successful. A five star match is so rare that the number of different things is intensified for it to happen. If the match becomes a spectacle like Rock VS Hogan, has great chemistry like HBK VS Taker, is filled with drama like Cena VS Punk, is a pure wrestling exhibition like Flair VS Steamboat, and has a ton of memorable moments like Austin VS Hart; you're sure to achieve the rare feat of having a five star match. Just make sure you call Meltzer.


    "Eat my ass, Mooney"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Northern England, UK
    Chrisbear's column for round 2

    Bearly Legal - (UK v US R2) - Coloured People

    As Kendo Nagasaki slowly peeled off his mask a nation sat there longing to know what their hero really looked like. His unmasking will always be one of my most treasured wrestling memories. The bemused look on Granddad Tommy’s face as he finally realised, after over twenty years of thinking otherwise, that Nagasaki wasn’t Asian, is a sight I’ll never forget. Bland looking Englishman Peter Thornley hid behind his mask for over two decades, nobody knew who the man under the mask was, and to this day it remains one of the UK’s most watched ‘sporting’ events.

    Masks have a long and storied wrestling history, but they have their flaws too. For someone like Kane, who made his shocking debut behind a mask, it was the perfect accessory to help create the emotionless monster. Whereas someone like Sin Cara, who was so famous back in his homeland where masks are everyday tradition, struggled to get the fans behind him. More often than not the use of mask will fail to get someone over in the long term. There are of course obvious exceptions to the rule, like the before mentioned Kane, who’s character had a back story for the mask, it fit his character perfectly. The psychology was there.

    There’s the key word…


    For me, as a fan I need to suspend my disbelief, I need to care about what I’m seeing. I want to be engaged in a characters struggle, feel their pain and enjoy their glory. There is only one type of mask that allows me to do this. One type of mask that gets little love these days, and it’s something I miss greatly.

    Face paint can do so much more than any leather mask, any plastic mask, any rubber mask, any mask made from horse hair, any metal mask. I’ll stop this Bubba-esque tirade because I think I’ve made my point, but face paint is without doubt the perfect mask in wrestling. A wrestler’s face is a visual vessel, and the simple addition of colour can be used as an enhancement tool, readily available to any professional wrestler wanting a subtle psychological impact when displaying the battle weary image.

    The benefits of face paint are multi-layered. At first glance, face paint provides colour, an extension of a character, merely something original, or stimulation for the eye. Similar to tabasco sauce in a Bloody Mary, face paint injects that extra bite, the flamboyant flavour to an otherwise bland product. More importantly, along with masking a wrestler's identity, face paint mischievously masks a lack of charisma. If the visual impact is done well, charisma becomes less and less important. In there lies its beauty.

    Strong visual presentation IS wrestling. We mere fans aren’t in the ring with the performers, being kicked in the face, or dropped by The Miz, so in order for our feeble little brains to understand what’s happening; we have to see the anguish etched on the wrestlers faces. We have to see the joy, the pain and just how physically demanding a particular fight is. Face paint illustrates this struggle because as their physically demanding journey continues, we begin to see the face painted wrestler's colourful canvas melt and chip away with the sweat and scrapes brought by battle.

    Hands up now, how many of us growing up were Ultimate Warrior fans? How many us scribbled different designs for his face in our school books? How many of us painted their 4 year old siblings face? OK, maybe that last one was just me but has any wrestler in history used face paint more effectively than the Ultimate Warrior?

    Look at the main event from Wrestlemania VI. I’d suggest this is a perfect example what I’m getting at. We were used to seeing Warrior sprint down to the ring, run around for a few minutes, win and sprint back. Back then I personally hadn’t seen Warrior tested, I only knew this insane man who ran around in a rainbow of aluminous swirling colours. His face paint hid his true identity and his overall aura was a mystery.

    However, as the match with Hogan grew; the physical journey began to take its toll; the paint was chipping away his from his face. Nearing the end of the match he was starting to resemble a relatively normal looking man, actually capable of being beaten. A man we could sympathise with. As the paint wore away and the physicality continued, The Ultimate Warrior began to reveal his true self; the mysterious aura lifted and we saw someone carrying a face of exhaustion. The image of the immaculate warrior shed itself, revealing an image of a battle-hardened hero, no longer masked by his conspicuous face paint.

    People like Goldust, Umaga and The Boogeyman all utilised paint to extend an already interesting character, but outside of this there is still room for face paint in modern day wrestling. A simple addition of colour allowing children across the World could scribble down in their own school books. Jeff Hardy got it wrong, he thought he had an artistic, original look, an addition to the ‘enigma’ façade he tried to portray; he just ended up looking like a Smurf has jizzed in his face. I don’t have the answers as to who should wear it and why, look at someone like Mason Ryan, by his own admission he isn’t the greatest at speaking, but if he debuted with a great big cross scrawled onto his face & started to demolish everyone in his path, admit it, you’d have kept watching.

    It may just be me that misses this style of mask, after all I’m the guy who took his friends kids to the circus and was the only person to come back with a painted face… A lion, if you must know. I feel it’s less limiting than wearing a mask, the emotion, struggle, and the psychology is there for all to see when wearing face paint. I often ask myself would Warrior, Legion of Doom or Demolition have been so popular without it? Probably, but this extra accessory allowed us care about them more than if they simply wore a mask. It also allowed us to be ‘part’ of their ‘gang’ as we doodled in books or painted our siblings.

    In summarising, face paint is one of the most powerful tools to enhance a character, but on a subconscious level, what it does best is illustrate not only the physical struggle, but the mental struggle contained within a match. Though effect can be illustrated in many different ways, there's nothing like watching the ‘powers’ of The Ultimate Warrior, Sting or even Papa Shango disappear in front of us, allowing us to become entwined in their struggle, suspending our disbelief and totally engaging us in this beautiful, incredibly visual world we call professional wrestling.

    "Eat my ass, Mooney"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Northern England, UK
    Mizfan's column for round 3, The Bright Side - Dead Heat

    You might as well be whistling jigs to a milestone.
    -Irish saying, on trying to persuade the very stubborn to change their ways

    Time to start whistling...

    The face/heel dynamic, as it is currently being implemented by the WWE, is dying.

    Hell, it would already be dead if WWE hadn’t hooked it up to life support.

    It used to be so easy, didn’t it? Cheer Hogan, boo the other guy. Or, less specifically, there’s a face and there’s a heel, and the crowd can cheer and boo accordingly without having to worry or go to the trouble of thinking for themselves. It goes all the way back to Gorgeous George, and if you dig real hard you can trace it even farther back, to the days when traveling carnivals would pit their strong men against “hometown heroes” picked from the crowd, who were invariably members of the carnival planted there in order to ensure a satisfying victory for the crowd.

    It was cut and dry. Life was beautiful, or at least simple.

    But not anymore.

    As usual, you can attribute this to (or blame it on) the Attitude Era. As the industry became more and more exposed the industry was forced to change. Shades of grey began to pollute the black and white world that wrestling had operated in for so long. You can follow the face/heel pollution issue farther back than that of course, but as with so many modern wrestling conventions the primary issue stems from the Monday Night Wars. For the first time, things were not clear cut for the crowd. Clear cut was stale and it was a time when being stale was the same as being dead, so in order to provoke intruige the audience was asked to make a moral choice. Was Stone Cold a villain for his vulgar actions and unprovoked attacks, or was he a hero for his rebellious attitude and refusal to compromise? Where the nWo a group of vicious scumbags, or were they an exciting revolution?

    It wasn’t a new power for the audience. On rare occasion a particularly savvy audience would choose to boo a hero like Hogan when he was acting particularly predictable, for example. But when the war was in full swing, in order to up the stakes and bring down the competition, pro wrestling took an unprecedented hands off approach to their heels and faces and let the crowds dictate who did what. Not completely, of course, but more than even before.

    Eventually, WCW could not balance the demands of the crowd with their obligations to their big name draws and celebrity guests and fell by the wayside in a tangled mess. Backed into a corner, WWF was able to dig deep and go the distance. Their roster ran wild with management’s blessing, and the policy eventually carried them to victory. This ceding of control, this willingness to flip the script, was the cost of winning a war.

    Now the war is over, and it seems WWE would very much like to take that control back. If you doubt that assertion, one look at the current face of the WWE will tell you otherwise. WWE has tried every trick they know to get the crowd behind their poster boy, but for the last 7 years it’s all been for nothing. In a post-Lesnar era, the company seems more concerned with making sure everything sticks to the script than with letting the crowd react naturally.

    Cena himself and the WWE in general have made a big deal about how they enjoy letting the audience choose their heroes in this day and age, even going so far to peddle a bit of anti-Cena merchandise in recent history. But don’t be fooled by this little charade, dear readers. WWE is firmly of the opinion that faces should always be cheered, and heels should always be booed, and never the twain shall meet. Cena’s seeming exception to the rule can primarily be attributed to his ungodly knack for selling merchandise and, as mentioned before, his astounding reliability and loyalty to management.

    As a band aid to the broken system, WWE will often try to change a character so they will better match how the crowd is reacting. Are they cheering a heel? Turn him face! Booing a face? Well by gawd, turn him heel! Sounds good, right? Of course, there’s one basic flaw with this policy: the people were already reacting. They were engaged with the character, invested in what they would do and how they would act. The WWE’s idea to capitalize on this momentum, more often than not, is to completely change that popular character and remove everything that made them popular in the first place. Time and time again this is done, all in the name of matching up to the outdated vaudevillian notion that heels must be booed and faces must be cheered.

    Perhaps you are skeptical, dear readers. Fortunately, there are examples aplenty.

    If I gave you the name “Randy Orton” and year “2004”, what you think of? Perhaps you’ll have visions of a bloody star making performance with Mick Foley, or becoming the youngest world champion in history, but what immediately comes to my mind is an unfortunate recollection of what may be the worst face turn in recent history. For those not familiar with the situation, natural born heel Orton had been wowing crowds with his impressive charisma and advanced heel mannerisms. People started enjoying his work so much that he was getting cheers against his face opponents. He was so successful that WWE decided to turn him face the night after his first world title win at Summerslam.

    There were many reasons this face turn tanked so pathetically, including some very shoddy booking and Orton’s inexperience. But the #1 reason in my mind is that the moment Orton became a face he was shoved by management into the generic face template, instantly neutering him of all the natural heelish qualities that had made him over to begin with. There was nothing planned to replace these qualities, but because they didn’t fit the traditional face mold they were thrown out. He went from actually being cheered against legends like the Rock and Mick Foley as a heel to being booed against the most hated man on the planet at the time, Triple H, in a matter of 6 months. WWE effectively killed his face reactions by turning him face. And it’s not as if it’s the first time either, or even an isolated incident. Remember when John Cena was actually popular with the older demographic? A poorly handled face turn and slow neutering of his character would eventually turn the crowd on him as well, though not as quickly or as destructively.

    So what’s the alternative? Let’s accept, for a moment, that it’s important that faces and heels still draw the prescribed reaction. It’s not, but I’m attempting to solve this issue within the WWE mindset. The problem with that mindset is that these days fans are so wise to the business it’s impossible to keep them from cheering the more entertaining heels. As faces grow blander and blander each year, more and more often the crowds are vocally supporting the heels because they are less constrained by artificial boundaries. In fact, these days the heels are a great deal more relatable than the faces. The heels are out for themselves, just as each and every one of us is, while the faces uphold an idealized standard of virtue with a broad grin and empty eyes. Thus, the more observant fan often feels compelled to cheer the heel, causing the WWE to panic and turn the one receiving cheers into their ideal of what a face should be, which of course kills the cheers and often any reactions at all. It’s a vicious cycle.

    So instead of proceeding with an ill advised face turn, let’s consider the different road the WWE sometimes travels down. Consider for a moment, if you will, my namesake the Miz. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that his popularity was growing so much through 2010 to the point where he was starting to garner face pops from the crowd. Perhaps learning a thing or two from the Orton debacle, WWE resisted the urge to turn him face. Unfortunately, their alternative was even worse. After promoting Miz to the main event, WWE proceeded to book him as so pathetically weak and cowardly that no one would even think about getting in his corner. In a way, the WWE got what they wanted. The cheers slowly died away. Unfortunately, so did the crowd’s interest in general, and as they booked him weaker and weaker eventually it reached the point where hardly anyone cared about him anymore. Yay? But hey, at least he wasn’t getting cheered by part of the audience!

    Both of these solutions are terrible. They will continue to recur, unfortunately, until WWE abandons their slavish dedication to a formula which worked best in the 1920s and has slowly been losing steam ever since. Until they rethink these roles, they will continue to kill the natural reactions of an audience that has grown too smart to play by the old script. Everyone is a bit of a smark these days, except perhaps the very young, and even some of them have figured it out. Expecting (or demanding) that these people quash their natural reactions in order to play by the old rules is ludicrous. If the fans are cheering for a heel, that doesn’t mean the heel isn’t doing his job. It just means the audience is wise to his game, and appreciate what a good job he is doing. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if the audience is cheering that means they’re having a good time. Soon the only boos left will be X-Pac heat, as more and more people use the time honored tradition of audience participation to voice their opinions on the content of the show rather than play the role of dutiful supporter to the company line.

    Because that’s what the old way of doing things requires of an audience member. It demands that you play a role, that you take a character upon yourself and somehow forget everything you know about the performance that’s going on in front of you. For instance, if you go to a show and see Dolph Ziggler wrestle an amazing match, your natural reaction is going to be to cheer for the guy. You know how good he is. You understand how hard he’s working, and you want to support him. If he thumbs an eye or pulls the tights, you aren’t going to be offended by his unsportsmanlike conduct, you’ll be impressed with his grasp of psychology. He’s not a sportsman, he’s a performer, and he’s performing beautifully.

    And yet you are asked to boo, you are asked to suppress your real reaction and replace it with something contrived in order to “send the right message”. And if you don’t react in the prescribed, scripted way, the WWE will likely respond by taking away everything you’re enjoying about the character. That’s what you get for not being a team player, random audience member!

    Well guess what? It’s not supposed to be our job to send the message the “right way”. It’s supposed to be the company’s job to understand the demands of their audience and react appropriately.

    The old way is just that: old. It’s something that worked when wrestling was believed to be real. We couldn’t be farther from that mentality these days, and yet these antiquated policies remain in effect. Wrestling desperately needs to evolve their face/heel dynamic, not in how the two sides relate to each other but in how the audience is reaction is gauged. WWE doesn’t even need to do anything very different presentation-wise. Faces can still do good things and heels can still do bad things. The only thing WWE has to NOT do is panic when the crowd reacts in an unexpected way. As long as the spectators aren’t sitting on their hands, chances are it’s not bad sign. It may indicate a tweak is required, or it may indicate that things are working even better than expected. But what it does NOT call for, what it NEVER calls for, is a sudden and baseless complete revamping of a character in order to shove them into preconceived, outdated cookie cutter molds.

    WWE likes movies, right? They want to make movies, though you wouldn't know it by watching The Chaperone. Let's use a movie example then, to drive the point a little closer to home.

    I'm a big fan of horror films. When I watch a monster movie, more often than not I’m rooting for the monster. I just find the monster more interesting. The monster is what I enjoy most, it’s what I pay to see. Does that mean in the sequel the director needs to make the monster more friendly, that he should stop killing people or adopt some sort of code of honor? Hell no! That’s not what I want to see. And neither does it mean that the monster should be gutted and become weak and pathetic. Again, that’s defeating the purpose of the monster. I paid to see that monster, why should the producers care if I want to cheer him or fear him? It doesn’t matter, and to change the formula based on that reaction is downright ludicrous. As long as I’m paying to see him, it shouldn’t make a bit of difference.

    So I’m calling for the WWE to wise up, to not lag behind even the lumbering horror industry in terms of understanding the target audience. I know the entire business was originally based on fooling people into reacting a certain way, but we’re so far past that it’s not even a distant memory for most fans.

    But it just wouldn't be the WWE if they didn't have just one last trick up their sleeve.

    Instead of accepting that fans are now capable of making their own decisions about who to boo and who to cheer, WWE has very recently decided to adopt a new strategy. Call it the “Jericho policy” if you will. The new idea seems to be to take advantage of the fans “insider” knowledge and just act like an asshole all the time, with the idea that people will then legitimately want to boo the heels again. Jericho’s social media activity and obnoxious trolling are all part of this strategy, and I suppose he’s gotten decent heel heat out of it. Unfortunately, most fans that I’ve talked to are just angry and disappointed that a guy they looked up to as a performer has apparently turned into an actual jerk, and the quality and direction of his return has been severely marred as a result. Did any of us think we would get so little enjoyment from the return of Jericho? Yet he’s been so dedicated to getting this new kind of heel heat and confusing the fans that it’s actually not been very fun at all.

    If you need another more painful example, look no farther than the man slathered over every inch of WWE programming, Michael Cole. He’s perfected being awful so well that nobody seems to want to come near him. Sure, he’s got heat, but what good is it? It’s much more likely to make people tune out in irritation than keep watching in the vain hope that someone will lay him out.

    The “new kayfabe”, as some have called it, will not fix the problem. If anything it’ll make it worse, adding an unnecessary new level of complexity which will ultimately only turn people off. As long as WWE cannot accept that their modern fanbase no longer needs to be fooled and knows enough to make their own decisions, they’re not going to be able to get past this issue.

    The old ways are broken. Time to ring in the new.

    "Eat my ass, Mooney"

  5. #5
    This was mine and Bear's round 1 entry that, incredibly, beat Monkey and Missouri Dragon.


    December, 2011, in a conference room at the Staples Center, a few hours prior to a Monday Night Raw broadcast.

    As he looked around the room, Chris Jones took stock of the people contained within it. Some of them were legends of the business that he grew up obsessed with, and he couldn't help but feel a little starstruck by some of the men sat before him; not to mention the surprisingly intimidating woman over to his left. He could feel the weight of their gazes press down on him like a bulldozer on his shoulders. This is it, he told himself. This is the moment.

    As his gaze made its way further around the room, he saw Brian Gerwitz, the chief writer of Raw; a couple of nobody staff writers; the guys who usually book NXT, two pretty mediocre Raw writers, Johnny Ace, and then finally, Paul Levesque. As auditions go, this was probably worse than being a karaoke enthusiast stood clutching an imaginary microphone in front of Simon Cowell.

    He felt an urgent, nerve-ridden nudge in his ribs.

    "Don't just stand there, you Northern prick. Say something!", a British voice hissed.

    To his left stood Joe Franklin, Chris' writing partner. Together, they had been charged with the responsibility of handling the redebut of Brodus Clay - a 375lb monster, a man easily capable of physically dominating about 95% of the roster. This kind of stuff wrote itself, usually - couple of squash matches here, an angry, mean streak there - there was no way this guy wouldn't get over if he could just be fed a couple of skinny treats before coming up against a more established star, who wouldn't let big Brodus have it all his own way. Easy stuff. He started to speak - but no words would come out.

    But as Chris stumbled over his words, the realisation dawned that the feud he had outlined on the plane journey over, the one that was watertight, guaranteed to get his man over and get the crowds excited, had completely vanished from his frayed memory.

    Fuck. Fucking fuckity-fuck fuck FUCK!

    So, he said the first thing that came into his head, and it just so happened to be the best feud in the world. It was the best feud in the world. By the end of his pitch, he and Joe were finishing each others sentences. The room seemed hooked on their every word; every plot twist, every character development, was perfect. It was an angle that would satisfy every mark, every smark, every casual fan, and every hardcore fan. If played right, it had the potential to re-write professional wrestling history.

    He looked into their eyes and it was easy to see...the aghast, bewildered, awed looks etched on their faces. Gerwitz was sat back in his chair, shaking his head, almost shell-shocked by the sheer quality of the angle that had been laid out for them. Stephanie McMahon looked impressed. Johnny Ace was taking notes. This seemed to be going well.

    Gerwitz seemed to collect himself, he turned to them, cleared his throat, and asked a question neither of them were quite prepared for.

    "Are you guys idiots?"

    Instinctively, with an air of drama, they said in unison, "No, sir - we are but men!"

    The room fell silent. The confused look on John Laurinaitis' face was matched by the disapproving one on Stephanie McMahon's. Both Joe and Chris could feel their cheeks reddening in front of everyone.

    “You’re butt men? You guys meet me in the locke-”

    “Shut up, Johnny.”

    “Sorry, Paul.”

    Crap. We are really ‘Plan-ing this one up.

    There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, while Joe and Chris stewed over their frankly not-funny faux pas. Finally, Triple H rose from his seat, adjusted his tie a little, before twisting his neck one way, then the other. An audible click reverberated around the room - everyone heard it, because it was the only sound aside from Joe’s slightly terrified intake of breath. Everyone...everyone knew what was coming.

    This isn’t going to be good.

    "Alright, numbnuts, here's the deal. This angle is fucking ridiculous. If you genuinely think we can sustain storylines of that quality, then be my guest, but you can't. You won't. You're fucking idiots if you think you can. You got it?

    “Every guy who debuts in this place, we have to see if they can sink or swim. You give them a storyline that good, and what do we find out about them? Nothing. Think about Kane, man. That guy’s debut was so damn good, not even Katie Vick could ruin him - and I tried really fucking hard with that one. We can’t have kids more over than the champ on day one - think about it, that’s fucking retarded! That’s even more retarded than that dumb shit “The Monkey” and that idiot Missy Dragon tried to make us do, you know, that shit with Dusty? Who the fuck wants to see a family feud these days? It’s been done so many times now, no-one gives a shit...

    Joe rose to the defence of his fledgling script-writing colleagues. “I thought that angle was pretty good. It seemed to be really well thought out, and I kind of wish we had been able to come up with that. You’re not going to use that one either?”

    Levesque ignored him. “You got to think of the entire audience, you dumb fucks! You got to give them just enough to tune in next week, and not a thing more! You give them caviar today, they ain’t gonna be happy with sausages next month, are they?!”

    Somehow, in the midst of this rant, Levesque had removed his jacket and tie, and loosened his collar by undoing the top four buttons of his shirt. Joe couldn't help but wonder if The Undertaker was nearby.

    " fucking fucks...this shit is so fucking easy. You get this fat prick over by giving him smaller pricks to squash, literally" - there was a pause, as a few of the lesser writers gave an obedient chuckle - "and then he faces someone like Swagger, or Barrett, or, who the fuck cares? It doesn't matter how you package him, it doesn't matter what he says on the microphone, because no-one's going to care. It's his job to get noticed, not yours. You think we have to script this stuff?"

    Chris and Joe looked at each, eyebrows raised.

    "Well, yeah...kinda. That's why you employ writers...isn't it?", Chris ventured.

    "Shut the fuck up! You talk when I ask you a question! You can’t change the face of the industry with one fucking angle, you won’t change history with one fucking guy! Hell, Vince couldn’t do it with me, so what makes you punks think you can do it with Brodus Fat Fuck Clay, huh? Huh? Answer me, you idiots!"

    “Well, Hunter-” Joe began.

    “Shut the fuck up! Did I ask you a question?!”

    Levesque began pacing, and picked up a bottle of mineral water that was set down next to a stack of papers he had brought in. Chris instinctively recoiled, assuming that he was about to be showered with backwash, but in a surprising turn of events, Levesque swallowed the gulp of water he had taken.

    “You know...I had such high hopes for you two. You two really seemed to get it, you seemed to...understand how shit works around here. Not like those hillbillies in that stupid freakin’ Cadillac. That’s why I got you in. But the truth is, you’d be better off dressing the guy up as a freakin’ dancing dinosaur.”

    The comment was quite obviously, to Joe and to Chris, a throwaway one designed to make them feel quite stupid about their pitch. However, in what turns out to be a pretty major flaw in the WWE Creative department, not too many of them have a particular firm grasp of irony.

    “Great idea, Hunter.” This came from one of the NXT writers.

    “Like it, sir. I can see that working...” A Raw writer, the name of whom neither Joe or Chris could remember.

    “Funkasaurus!” This was Gerwitz, a man who both Chris and Joe believed should really know better. Funka-what?

    “Funny you should mention that, Hunter - I was chatting to Johnston the other day, and he was saying it’s a shame we never got to use The Cat’s theme more. This would be a perfect fit!” Johnny Ace was getting in on the act.

    Levesque turned to the hapless writers, and shrugged his shoulders. “You see? It’s as easy as that.” He left the room to refill his water bottle, and in the background, the ridiculous conversation seemed to be gathering momentum. The grown men around the table were discussing disco balls, dance routines, a ring demeanour that made Clay sound more like a sex offender than a funk machine.

    Chris spoke up, attempting to join in. “Okay, okay, okay, how about this; he commentates on his own matches while he’s wrestling?”

    The room paused and drew breath, as Levesque appeared behind them again.

    “That’s the crappiest idea I’ve heard all day. Get the fuck out of here, you dumb fucks - I can’t have you wasting any more of my time!”

    And with that, Levesque grabbed Joe and Chris by the collars and threw them out the door. He then hit a double-edged spinebuster on Chris, before laying out Joe with a Pedigree. The door slammed, the two wannabe-writers left in a heap in the corridor.

    Chris and Joe sighed, defeated, slumped against the wall, their dreams shattered, their motivation drained, their bodies aching from the quite unnecessary violence.. As the door closed behind them, they could hear Laurinaitis yelling “Somebody had better call your momma!”

    Fucking Americans.

    One year later...Chris calls Joe at

    “Mate, did you see Impact, did you see Impact??”

    Joe’s expression turned from one of annoyance at being woken up, to confusion over what the hell Impact was, to one of pure disgust. “No...what the fuck would I do that for? Is Australian TV really all that bad?”

    So Joe listened, as Chris told him all about Brodus’ debut that week, and how every detail was exactly as Chris and Joe had described in the Creative meeting just over a year previously. The IWC was buzzing, with some commentators describing it as ‘the greatest debut of all time...”

    “Motherfucker. Laurinaitis had better get himself a decent lawyer...”


    Johnny Ace did get a decent lawyer, but he didn’t need him for a
    lawsuit against the young Brits. WWE were livid that a storyline contrived in their creative meeting ended up playing out in Orlando. They went on to successfully sue Laurinaitis and Impact Entertainment (as they were now known) for $20 million but that turned out to be peanuts. You see, to avoid the second lawsuit from across the Atlantic, Joe and Chris were given a permanent place on the writing staff. Within six months, they were the top dogs, Shmodus Gaye had become a bigger name than Austin and the WWE was being comprehensively beaten in TV ratings and buy-rates. However, this peak in wrestling history wouldn’t last long, as a few weeks later, in a drunken state, Chris booked himself into the Gaye vs Hogan main event at Bound for Glory. He bottled Shmodus in both knees and the shoulder before stabbing Hulk 76 times and leaving the Impact Zone wearing nothing but the world title - as a hat. Hogan would die from his injuries and Dixie Carter would sell the company to Paul and Stephanie Levesque. Despite being the most horrific incident in pro wrestling history, it broke the YouTube record for most views in a 24 hour period, and won a Golden Globe for ‘Best Use of Color’. Chris’ acceptance speech became the second most viewed video in 24 hours the day after.

    Shmodus Gaye would return to the WWE after three years of intense physiotherapy and
    counselling. He came back as the Funkasaurus, losing to Triple H in a 30 second at Wrestlemania 32, and was never to wrestle on pay-per-view again.

    John Laurinaitis would never work in the wrestling industry again but had a mildly successful career producing erotic movies starring former divas and knockouts.

    Joe Franklin is Chairman of the GWA (Geezer Wrestling Alliance) which mainly promotes matches between local vagrants and gypsies from
    travelling funfairs. He is not married, has lost his house and currently sleeps in his Ford Fiesta.

    Chris Jones is serving twenty-five years to life for homicide in a Florida state penitentiary. He is treated as a hero by his fellow inmates and is
    author of the best selling novel “Ending Hulkamania”. He will not be eligible for parole until 2031.

  6. #6
    This was mine and Rey Cash's colab column from round 1. It was not a winning effort, apparently. Biased judges and whatnot. Oh, and six years later, I feel comfortable admitting that I made up all the supposed family members of mine. Oh well...

    A note from the captain of Team US: Rey and I were going to write a column about roster and PPV card diversity. Then, an extremely talent Brit, Prime Time, beat us to the punch, so it was back to the drawing board. However, I believe we came up with an even better concept that will allow us to beat Mazza even worse than his father did when he was growing up in the 1920s.

    Fucking wankers...

    “The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.” ~ Kendall Hailey

    I have a fairly large extended family. As much as an individual as I am, a large portion of my identity is tied up in my family. Values, customs, mannerisms… all of these things have been influenced by what has come before me. I will continue to influence all that comes after me.

    For this reason, I am thankful I have a fairly diverse family. I would not want to come from a tradition of singularities – one belief, one viewpoint, and one right way of doing things. I am blessed to be the sum of many different parts rather than the same building block stacked over and over again. Each of my family members teaches me different things and offer unique points of view.

    See, Mavsy here was telling me about some of his family and I immediately realized that they seemed eerily similar to a few different wrestlers. The beauty of diversity, especially in wrestling, is that with so many different styles and types and personalities; everybody has to work together, much like a family. So, Mavsy's going to tell you about his family, and I'm going to tell you who each family member reminds me of. Pretty simple, right? Get it started, man.

    My stepbrother-in-law, Eric, is a goth. Or a punk… I don’t really know the difference. He’s a video game designer who places high importance on being his own person. Tattoos visibly scale his arms… whenever they’re not covered in all black clothing. He changes his hair color frequently, from pink to red to green or any other color of the spectrum. To me, Eric exemplifies the benefits of stepping away from what is expected, and how thrilling it can be to live life outside of the box. Creativity for creativity’s sake is usually uninspired, but when it serves a purpose, originality and imagination are invaluable assets.

    So is he Team Edward or Team Jacob? Seriously, he reminds me a lot of Gangrel a little bit. Does Eric drink clamatto juice? Like you said though, Eric and Gangrel definitely are different than what's expected, and I guess that's a positive. It's a little freaky that Gangrel has fangs though. And he married Luna. Eric seems A LOT more normal than that.

    My paternal grandfather is more conservative than the hypothetical offspring of Glenn Beck and Herman Cain. At every family get together, he’s spouting off about some facet of his extreme Republican views. It’s “less government” this and “no more dead babies” that and on and on and on. To be honest, it can get tiring. However, there are aspects of my grandfather’s conservative nature that I love. He’s fiercely loyal to his country. He may not like it when Democrats are in power, but he always respects the mechanisms of American government. His values also mean he’s fiercely loyal to his family. He loves us all so much and would do anything in his power to protect us from a threat. Hopefully, he never has to… he has a lot of guns.

    I knew you were a Republican. Damn North Texans. So when you told me about your grandfather, it immediately reminded me of the wrestling god himself: JBL. Does your grandpa wear a khaki ten-gallon hat? If so, I think that'd be hilariously cool. Anyway, JBL is the living embodiment of your stereotypical republican. He's like he's trying to run for president, except he's like that all the time. Still, he's always been extremely loyal, even enduring some shit gimmicks in his day. He even became a bit of a leader backstage, even if he was a big ass bully. Nobody said Texans were soft. But I love JBL, probably like you love your grandpa. Just not in a grandpa type of way...Just don't bring up immigration. These guys probably will shoot you.

    My crazy uncle Phil is a riot. He’s always the life of the party. You never know where he is at any given moment. He could be snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, scuba diving in the Mediterranean, or ziplining through the Amazon rainforest. Even when he’s not on extreme adventures, he brings a devil-may-care attitude to all he does. He shows me that life is meant to be an active experience, not a passive one. His personality inspires me to take chances and have fun with every minute of life. It can be scary to take risks, but my uncle personifies that some risks are well worth taking.

    If we're talking about risk takers, only one guy can come to mind. Mick Foley is the craziest, sickest bastard that's ever laced a pair of boots...and didn't wrestle for CZW, but still. Foley didn't give a shit about his body. All he cared about was taking the next step to please the fans. He truly destroyed his body to get a chance, and it paid dividends. It also doesn't help that he is one of the most loveable people in the wrestling business. If he isn't wrestling than he's commentating, or being commissioner, or writing books, or acting, or doing stand get the picture.

    It takes a strong woman to be married to my uncle Phil. My aunt Kelly definitely fits that bill. I admire her strength and integrity so much. As a young African American girl in the 1960’s, she endured ugly racism nearly every day. I believe that this directly led to her developing an indomitable spirit. When you have to persevere against hate at such an early age, a tolerance is built inside of you; anything is bearable. I draw a lot of inspiration from Aunt Kelly’s “This too shall pass” mindset. It doesn’t matter what the obstacle is: it can be overcome. Although Aunt Kelly is pretty big… instead of climbing over the obstacle, she’d probably just bulldoze her way through it.

    You didn't tell me that your Uncle Phil was swirling! Getting some ebony action, eh? Watch out man, we may be related some kind of way. Anyway, Aunt Kelly reminds me of an IWC favorite: Kharma. They remind me of each other because...well because they're both big and black. Sorry, but you said it first. But seriously, I have major respect for Kharma being in the middle of the biggest push of her career and saying "fuck it. I want to have a baby." That takes a lot of guts because it can get you a lot of hate, especially considering the major push she was getting.

    My brother, Kent, is extremely competitive. I remember when we were growing up, our family took an extremely long road trip. Well, it might not have been extremely long, but it damn sure felt that way. It was a never-ending stream of car games that he always seemed to win. The license plate game, the billboard game, the car bingo game… and God forbid if I actually beat him at something. He would throw a hissy fit and claim I cheated. As exasperating as it could be growing up, I now recognize that Kent can teach me something about pride. There’s no reason not to take pride in everything I do. And what’s the point of doing it if I’m not going to do my best?

    Kent reminds me of the Kent State graduate, Dolph Ziggler. Dude seriously looks like he's race you from the couch to the TV. He's not lying about being the "Show Off." That's how dude really is, and it seems like Kent is the same way. Really, is it that damn serious? For Dolph and Kent, it must be, because they damn sure seem like they take pride in everything they do. In a sense, that can be a redeeming quality. You can't be successful at anything if you don't take it seriously and appreciate what you're doing. You'd appreciate what you do too if you were a cheerleader named Nicky.

    My step-grandmother is Italian. Full-blooded Italian. Bonafide, one hundred percent, lasagna and meatballs to die for, Italian. To be honest, it can be grating. Her personality is so over the top, it’s as if she’s begging to be stereotyped. I admire the way she’s able to find humor in everything she does, though. Life isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously. It’s refreshing when she recognizes how animated she’s being and pokes fun at herself. It just goes to show that if I can’t laugh at myself, then how can I laugh at anything?

    Too easy. She's exactly like my boy Santino. Seriously man, it's not even hard anymore. If I had to compare the two, it's obviously that they both value humor, which they use to lighten up the mood and brighten up people's days. It's a beautiful thing to be legitimately funny. Not forced funny, but naturally. Have you watched Jersey Shore? Man, Italians are hilarious. Naturally.

    Then there’s my cousin, Mike. He basically only shows up to family events if he knows alcohol is going to be served. More often than not, he makes a drunken fool out of himself. It’s not that he’s a total screw up – he does quite well for himself at work. But that’s never the Mike we see. It can be aggravating, but to me Mike illustrates that it’s OK to be looking out for yourself first and foremost. It’s selfish when he comes and hijacks a reunion or birthday party with his drunken antics. We wish he’d be more considerate, but he’s doing what he wants to do and really doesn’t give a damn about what any of us think. While I never want to take it to Mike’s extremes, I believe I could stand to learn to care less about what people think of me.

    OK, so you have a cousin that is selfish, a user, and only shows up when he's getting something he wants? Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees The Rock in him! I mean seriously, I love the dude and all but I don't believe for one second that he came back because he loves the business. He knows he can make an easy 7 figure number for one match, and numerous publicity and merchandise sales. But, like your cousin Mike, he doesn't half ass when business is at the forefront. It's just bridging the gap from business Mike/Rock to regular Mike/Rock that's the problem. The best part about all of it? Rock is so loved, people are defending him at every turn! Obviously he doesn't give a damn what people think, and neither does Mike.

    Whether Goth or conservative, risk-taking or ne’er-do-well, strong or weak, courageous or cowardly, I will always love my family. Each member contributes to the family dynamic so that we are more than the sum of our parts. I may not have chosen these people if I‘d had the chance. That doesn’t stop me from being extremely thankful life chose them for me.

    Well said my man. Just like your family, wrestling (the WWE in general) is one as well. They all need each other to work together to reach one common goal, and they have many different issues throughout the way. Each person has a different personality, not counting their actual gimmick, and it can get difficult for everybody to get along and work together. Some way, it all works out and we get a wonderful product to watch numerous times in a week. I think we can all agree that diversity brings out the best out of every situation. If there was no diversity, everyone would probably look and sound like John Laurinaitis. I don't think any of you want that...

  7. #7
    This was my column for round 2. The prompt had to do with Jinder Mahal - I can't remember exactly, but it might have been about how WWE should get Jinder Mahal over. Little did we all know...

    Normally when I write a column, it’s on a topic about which I have something poignant to say or meaningful to discuss. The importance I attach to my idea or concept powers me through the writing process. Writing an essay for school or even a column for LOP can be a troubling experience. While I consider myself a good writer, I have to fight myself from editing content as I develop it. It’s much better to write first and revise later, but the perfectionist in me wants to fix every minute flaw I make as I go.

    This problem becomes even more challenging when I don’t feel a strong connection to my topic. The little content I do manage to develop through my writer’s block gets edited and chopped down immediately. Normally, this doesn’t happen very often because I choose my own topics. But in a tournament, my writing process gets turned on its head. “Don’t want to write about wrestling unions, do you Mavsman? Well TOO FUCKING BAD!” In such situations, the challenge isn’t necessarily to beat my opponent, but to beat the writing demons plaguing my creative process.

    This is a roundabout way of saying that I have nothing to write about Jinder Mahal. Or at least, I didn’t think I did. I tried watching some of his matches for motivation, looking for some tiny thing that stuck out that I could potentially dissect. No luck. I scoured Internet message boards searching for opinions on the Indian I could play off of, but I failed to find anything I liked. On a certain level, I think I may have been blocking myself from finding something to write on; such was my hatred for this topic. But then, upon reading Mahal’s Wikipedia page, this quote jumped off the screen at me.

    “I think they needed an Indian guy, they were looking for one.”

    I clicked on the source for the quote. It was an article from when he was preparing to leave Stampede Wrestling to head to FCW. In the article, when asked if he had a problem playing up his Indian heritage, Mahal said, “No, I have no problem… It’s part of wrestling! It's a good thing, actually. I can use it, you can use it to your benefit to get over or get heat with the fans.”

    The benefit of rose colored glasses is quite obvious here. Mahal and the WWE have tried using his heritage to their advantage, and it isn’t working. The intentions are logically sound. The market in India is booming. While the American market has long surpassed the peak of its saturation, the Indian market is still young and emerging. Given this, it’s easy to see why the WWE is pushing so hard for Indian characters on television. India represents a huge opportunity for growth for the WWE. “If we can couple Mahal and Khali and create intriguing television, imagine the ratings we’ll pull in India! Imagine the merchandise sales!”

    Perhaps, even without intriguing television, the WWE feels they are reaching their goal in relation to the Indian market. That may be why, despite widespread hatred and apathy, Mahal continues to be featured on SmackDown. But you have to imagine the WWE knows the Mahal project is not working quite the way they envisioned it. I wonder whether the WWE is trying to fix the problem or if instead they’re more worried about assigning blame for it.

    If it’s the latter case, the WWE will stumble into a question that’s been bothersome for years: whose responsibility is it for a wrestler to get over, the wrestler himself or the bookers? I believe the WWE’s mindset for years has been that it’s a wrestler’s responsibility to get over. They have solid reasons for this belief. If the WWE gives every debuting wrestler the push of all pushes and practically guarantees their success, how can they separate the wheat from the chaff? It makes sense for the WWE to run as a meritocracy, pushing high-performing wrestlers to the main event scene and dropping underachievers off of the roster. This encourages wrestlers to continue pushing their characters and their work, not allowing them to become complacent. After all, it took only a year for The Miz to go from main eventing Wrestlemania to not having a clear-cut match for this year’s card.

    But in a case where the company throws their full weight behind every wrestler, distinguishing between wrestlers becomes much harder. Granted, it wouldn’t be impossible, and it would arguably lead to a higher quality product, but it would also be much more time-consuming and resource-draining. I completely understand why the WWE has set up the system they have. But from Jinder Mahal’s perspective, I’d have to be disappointed. If I was called up to the roster for a specific purpose and given a gimmick for a precise reason, I’d probably expect for that gimmick to get over with the fans, and if it didn’t, to have the support of management behind me. But what happens when the gimmick flounders and I go seek help from higher-ups only to receive a shrug of the shoulders and a curt “figure it out for yourself.”? How is that helpful? How does that promote the company’s best interests?

    So the WWE blames Mahal for not pushing to distinguish himself and figure things out on his own. Mahal blames the WWE for not fully supporting him and leaving him drowning in the sea of popular opinion when he was clearly pushed off the boat before he’d learned how to swim. Who’s right?

    In the end, they both are. I don’t think it’s a problem where blame can be laid solely on one entity’s shoulders. It’s foolish for the WWE to let investments depreciate in value. They need to be helping Mahal develop his skills so that he can flourish. At the same time, Mahal can’t expect the company to be his saving grace. Like Zack Ryder, he needs to find a niche he can occupy and do everything in his power to improve to the point he can occupy it believably.

    I don’t doubt that Jinder Mahal is trying to get better. It would be pretty stupid to realize you’re not getting over and then do nothing about it. While he shouldn’t have been called up as early as he was, it happened anyways. It is now time to make the best of the situation, as I’m sure he would not be thrilled with a demotion to FCW. So assuming that Mahal and the WWE are trying to fix the problem instead of assign blame for it, what can they do? How can they begin to get Mahal over with the fans?

    A couple of years back, I went to a summer theater camp for two weeks. Early on, we had a class in improvisation. One of the games we played was simply titled “Yes And.” Two campers were sent up on stage and given a basic scenario. After the first line of dialogue establishing the situation, every subsequent line had to begin with the words “Yes and”. The game was intended to ingrain two fundamental rules of improv into us: Always accept the suggestions and prompts of other actors and always keep the scene moving along by adding new stakes or consequences to the action.

    This concept of “yes and” is applicable in a lot of areas of life, including wrestling. I think that as soon as a wrestler grows content, the battle is lost. John Cena didn’t get to where he is today by being content with his position in the company. He strives not only to maintain his spot on the card, but to make sure he’s getting better every time he performs. The strides may be small. But there is no such thing as standing pat. You’re either evolving or devolving. By continually tweaking and adding, a wrestler can choose to evolve rather than devolve.

    “Yes and” is a lesson Mahal can utilize. He has an offense predicated on knee strikes at the moment. Yes and? How can he improve his believability in the ring? How can he add impact to his moves and better psychology to his matches? Mahal is an Indian playboy who came to the WWE and immediately blackmailed the Great Khali to do his bidding. Yes and? What are his motives and desires? What does he stand to gain? To lose?

    Mahal hasn’t had a lot of character development since debuting. How he cuts his promos has a lot to do with this. A large portion of the audience fails to connect with Mahal because he comes to the ring speaking in Punjabi. Yes, it helps put over the fact that he’s foreign. Yes, Americans stereotypically have a disposition to dislike foreigners. But it’s impossible for fans to relate to a wrestler if they can’t understand him. Having Mahal cut his promos predominantly in a foreign language is like taking one step forward and two steps back. It gets over the fact that he’s an “angry Indian,” but we lose the effect of the words he’s saying and the implications they carry. Unless the WWE is willing to pay for Rosetta Stone lessons for millions of fans, Mahal delivering promos in Punjabi is a flawed concept.

    Mahal can improve his promo skills and interactions with fans. As long as he’s working at it, his wrestling will get better. Given these things, his relationship with fans and standing in the company should improve, if all goes well of course. As long as he keeps evaluating his position with a “yes and” philosophy (which includes accepting the feedback of fans and management and incorporating it into his character changes), Mahal should only get better. The question becomes, are fans willing to let him get better?

    You see, “Yes and” works over time. It took time at theatre camp for scenes to develop. You can’t jump immediately from the introduction to the conclusion. There needs to be time for the middle. That’s where the ups and downs, the twists and turns, and the character development and plot details are fleshed out. In our culture, we have a tendency to expect results immediately. However, Mahal is only getting 5-10 minutes a week to make his mark on SmackDown. That’s not a lot of time to judge on, nor does it leave much space for improvement.
    Similarly, when we judge Mahal’s development, we quite naturally do it on a weekly basis. However, that’s too short of a time frame to really be able to prognosticate anything of worth. If I consistently see someone on a Friday week after week, I’m probably not going to notice that they got taller. But if a month or a year goes by, I’m certain to detect more accurately differences in their appearance. So while the tides may be against Mahal now, who knows what the opinion of fans will be six months or even a year from now?

    The trick to beating writer’s block is to power right through it. With perseverance, I can work my way through any mental barrier. In a way, it’s using the “yes and” approach. I had no idea how to approach the topic of Jinder Mahal. I searched and searched until I found a tiny foothold to prop the door open. Then, I kept pushing to make small improvements in my arguments and reasoning. Yes, I had to give up and circle back on a couple of drafts. But in the end, I have a column that I’m proud to post.

    Jinder Mahal and the WWE can’t give up just because things aren’t going well now. Both of them need to keep pushing to find new ways to develop and utilize the talents and attributes Mahal brings to the table. In the end, it might not work out. But it would be foolish to give up until every avenue has been explored and every stone unturned. You never know which stone will become the next Stone Cold unless you allow development to take place over time.

  8. #8
    And this was my round 3 column, that pissed Prime Time off when it beat him...

    After May 17, 1997, Midlothian, Virginia was never the same again. Big Guy Pat & L.L. Cool collided with the Intimidator and Gino Blanchard at the Middle school. A standard that not even Jackie Gayda could top was set that day, a standard that will likely last until the sun burns out. ~ YouTube description of the match that I don’t expect you to watch
    “Where conscious subjectivity is concerned, there is no distinction between the observation and the thing observed.” ~ John Searle
    There are roughly 7 billion people on Earth. Each person averages thousands of thoughts a day. Quadrillions of thoughts, every single day - the human experience, in aggregate form. Exuberant joy, individual triumph, bone-shattering grief. And what of the shared experiences: the birthday celebrations, graduation ceremonies, natural disasters and the like? These will be remembered collectively, but perhaps not thought of all the same. A single event, significant or insignificant, can be interpreted many ways and have wide-ranging ripples. And as is so often the case, perspective proves to be everything.
    May 17, 1997
    Alright, cool, the match is about to get started. I was hoping for a bigger crowd, but this is alright I guess. Now I just gotta hope the guys keep their cool and remember the big spots. I think LL can handle this, but I’m worried about Gino, Intimidator, and Pat. It doesn’t seem to matter how long they do this or how much they practice. There’s no two ways around it: they’re as green as a leprechaun’s asshole. As referee, I’m hoping I can help keep the match together, but there’s only so much I can really do.
    OK, time to get this thing going. Ah good, everything is going smoothly so far. A nice face counterstrike to the heels’ sneak attack at the beginning, just like we talked about. Good start.
    Ooh, that clothesline was pretty pathetic, but it’s OK, nothing we can’t bounce back from. Oh man, did LL Cool just spank Gino? We didn’t talk about that. I gotta pull him aside and tell him to tone down the adlibbing.
    Alright, it hasn’t been the best match ever (obviously), but we should be headed to the finish now. Fuck! LL just botched his shoulder-block from the second rope. That was supposed to end the match! I guess we’re gonna have to see how well they all adlib now. Oh shit. GUYS! ALL OF YOU FLAILING AROUND ON TOP OF EACHOTHER IN THE RING IS NOT THE WAY A TAG MATCH IS SUPPOSED TO BREAK DOWN!!!! Great. LL just hit the shoulder-block so I can make the 3 count and end this thing.
    You know what… this actually wasn’t that bad. I mean, yeah, it was terrible and all, but it was a marked improvement on their effort from a week ago. And that’s nothing to sneer at. No, these guys are never gonna make it in WWF or WCW, but for what we’re trying to do as a local promotion, it’ll be just fine… I guess.
    November 28, 2009

    “Oh my fucking gosh, dude, you HAVE to check this out!”
    That’s my best friend, Cody. It’s one of the last days of Thanksgiving break. I’m over at his house, and we are both bored as shit.
    “What is it?” I reply, hoping it’s something that can keep us entertained for a little bit.
    “Dude, I was just messing around on YouTube and I typed in ‘Worst Wrestling Match Ever’. You’re not going to believe how fucking hysterical this is.”
    Cody turned his laptop screen toward me. It was grainy footage from some gym… looks like it could have been a high school. Oh no, the description says it’s a middle school gym. Well, I guess that doesn’t really matter. Anyways, as I start watching, two of the fattest fuckers I’ve ever seen waddle towards the ring. They look like they’d been binge eating out of the dumpster in the shittiest McDonald’s in America. They sneak into the ring and start beating up on two guys who are just as fat. The match keeps going, and it’s so fucking awful and terrible to watch that it actually becomes riveting. How much worse can these guys get? I have to find out.
    “Man, I’ve seen 4 year olds fight better than this,” I say to Cody.
    “Shit man, I’ve seen poodles more vicious than these guys,” he counters.
    “I mean, this is the greatest idea for a reality TV show ever, isn’t it? Take four fat guys, starve them for a day or two, and then throw a Twinkie in the middle of the room. That’s basically what we’re watching right now!” We both start laughing at the ridiculous concept and how well it matches the video before us.
    We keep watching, and it keeps getting worse and worse. Towards the end, they all pile into the ring on top of one another.
    “I feel like we’re stuck in some alternate universe. In the other universe, 4 hot chicks are sexily having a pillow fight. And here we are stuck watching this shit,” Cody chortles.
    “Dude, now it’s like they’ve decided to have an orgy centered around the Twinkie instead of fight for it!” I exclaim.
    “Worst. Porn. Ever,” Cody chuckles as he powers down his laptop. “That’s ten minutes of my life I’m never getting back.”
    “Yeah,” I say to him. “Well at least it was worth a laugh.”
    May 17, 1997

    I decided to go down to the middle school to see some wrestlin’ cuz my grandson Connor likes it. Now wrestlin’ hasn’t always been my favorite thing in the world, but I watched every now and then when the darn TV got stuck on it and I couldn’t get the damned thing to switch. Like I said, it’s never been my favorite, but Connor just can’t get enough of it. And like any good granddaddy, I do my best by my grandkids.
    So I went by my son’s house to pick up Connor. He was so excited, mouth runnin’ a mile a minute, all “Bret Hart” this and “NWO” that. Bless his heart, I don’t know if he knew he wasn’t gonna be seein’ any of them big time wrestlers, he’s only 5 after all. It’s kinda hard to get a young boy to understand that. So we got to the school and made our way into the gym. I could tell he was kinda upset none of his big heroes were there, but he was still excited to be seein’ some live wrestlin’.
    The first match of the night began. Boy, it just did nothin’ for me. It was 4 big ol’ boys, I don’t remember all of their names, but I think one of them was called The Intimidator or somethin’ like that. I mean, I guess it was OK, but really those guys just weren’t that good. They weren’t in the best shape, and I don’t know, I don’t reckon I’m the best judge of this kind of thing but it just seemed kind of clumsy to me. I don’t know if they really knew what they were doin’ in there. I mean, there was one point in the match where one of the big guys just held another guy’s arm down on the mat. I mean, is that supposed to hurt? Now, like I said, I don’t know much about this kind of thing, but it just seemed a little dumb to me, that’s all. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t not like it, you know what I mean? I guess I just didn’t care that much, that’s all.

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Really? Degen is going to make me review this match? Really!?! I mean, I knew that NXT wasn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world, but this is just impossible. How am I supposed to review this match seriously? Take the complete opposite of something beautiful (like the lush, picturesque, rolling hills of Ireland for example) and you have this match. It’s atrocious. I have my work cut out for me.
    You know what? Watching this match, I’m struck by something deep, way deeper than this match probably deserves. But looking around the depressing middle school gym and the empty bleachers, and seeing the sad state of the wrestlers in the ring, I can’t help but wonder if these wrestlers ever had bigger dreams. Did they grow up as kids and teenagers wanting to be the next Hulk Hogan and this is as far as they could get? Why are they putting themselves through the jeers and catcalls from the very few people in attendance? What’s their motivation to go through with this atrocity?
    There’s something magical about wrestling, and I can’t criticize these guys for trying to tap into it. Whether this is just a hobby or something more serious for them, I am in no position to judge their motives. Sure, I think the match sucks and they should stop wasting their time. But if they know that they’re terrible and they keep climbing in the ring week after week … well there’s something admirable about that, no matter how hideous the end result.
    May 17, 1997

    Hi! My name’s Connor. I’m 5. I really like wrestling. It’s a lot of fun. Those big guys just get in the ring and they start fighting and it’s really cool to watch. I love my grandpa. He’s taking me to see wrestling! It’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’re gonna have so much fun!
    Oh my gosh! The first match is starting now. Oh wow, these guys are so big. This is so cool! They keep on fighting and it keeps going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Wow, some of these moves look like they really hurt! Oh my gosh! Did you see that! LL Cool just climbed up on the ropes and jumped right into The Intimidator! And then he pinned him! And won! That was so cool! I love wrestling. Do you think I could be a wrestler? I want to be a wrestler! I love my grandpa. I’m so glad he let me come see wrestling with him. This is the best night ever!

    Mavsman is an arse. Genius perhaps, but still an arse. He knew that this was the topic I would have the most trouble with and the least material with which to work. I guess I can’t blame him. If I were in his shoes, I probably would have stuck myself with the same topic.

    This match is terrible. It’s just botch after botch after botch. What can I possibly say about this match other than how terrible it is? I mean, these guys are complete amateurs. It offends me that the world considers this wrestling. I already have enough trouble defending my fandom to family and friends whenever they ask about it. If they were to see a match like this, there would be no defense. The fact that something this terrible is associated with something I love so much just sickens me. There is absolutely no saving grace to this match.
    Well… maybe there is. I mean, this match does make me appreciate quality wrestling even more. In a strange, relativistic kind of way, I guess that’s something nice you can say about this match. Knowing how horrific the lows can be makes me appreciate the highs and even the mundane averages that much more. A three minute squash match on Raw is an absolute masterpiece compared to this. I guess I can thank this match for giving me a better appreciation of what I watch on a weekly basis.

    Mavsman is still an arse, though.

    Optimism - things could have been much, much worse. Humor – an appropriate response to a ridiculous affair. Apathy – an uncaring appraisal of the present reality. Pondering – how does one find motivation in the face of lost dreams? Wonder – gaping in amazement at an awe-inspiring spectacle. Anger – an enraged, fiery passion felt because something so hideous is associated with something so loved.

    Six responses. Three days. One reality. Who is to say which response is correct? How can collective judgment be reached on something so divisive and open-ended? Is it possible when there are an infinite number of interpretations to a finite event?

    The subjective nature of reviews and critiques renders them laughable at a core level. Yet society feels the need to rank and prod and push until everything lines up in a neat little stack from best to worst, tolerable to intolerable. This need will never go away. But it must be remembered that for every majority opinion, thousands of minority opinions exist, and the distinctions between them can be subtle shades of grey. Perspective is everything.

    “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” ~ Unknown

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Ahhhh Mizfan. I will forever be 0.5 points better than you

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Northern England, UK
    Thrilled to have found this in my e-mail for some reason. Mazza's R3 entry, the infamous 波動拳 AKA ↓↘→PUNCH

    To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.

    There is no phrase more fitting for the journey on which I am about to embark. You see, I am on a mission to be the best damn fighter the world has ever seen. I am not alone in that quest, though. There are people just like me in every corner of the globe. Their goal is simple. They are already viewed, in their region, as the best. Now they strive to become the very best of the best. Their motivations are all very different. Some are in this for the fame, some for the money, and these are the pure ones compared to the guys who are looking for revenge. Some are out just to prove that their style is the greatest. Others do it the name of patriotism. There is nothing more noble than going to battle for your country but, essentially, everybody does it for themselves. I am no different. I could tell you a great back story on my motivation for doing this; there is definitely one there, but frankly it doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is that I am doing this so I can become <i>the</i> man.

    And I am definitely ready. I am in tip top condition having completed my training - a training that was intense, both mentally and physically. Many of the opponents I will meet up with will scoff at the fighting style I have mastered but they will underestimate me at their peril. I may not have been taught my art by a grand master or cool <i>sensei</i> who can instill fear despite his age, but I can still go. They say guys like me are just generic and mass produced these days in the hope of catching the eye of one of the big feds in the US but the fact is, we are all born out of catch-as-catch-can and once my mission is complete, it will be impossible to ignore me. You can bet your life that I am going to pick up a lot of things along the way to fuse into my style, but others are going to learn from me too.

    My journey is not only going to take me across the globe, it is also going to take me across time. Just as you cannot claim to be the greatest if you only dominate one region, the same can be said for dominating one era. I am a strong believer than you need to fully embrace the history of something to take it forward and that is exactly what I intend to do. I cannot even begin to count the hours and hours of scouting I have done. I need to make sure that I am fighting the right person from the right era in the right regions. Of course I had to start at home, going back to a time when wrestling ruled Saturdays and was massive compared to the empty shell it is today.

    <center><img src=></center>

    January 1980 - London, England
    There was only ever going to be one choice of opponent at home. Back in this massive boom period for British wrestling, Joint Promotions ruled the roost and their booker was also the big brother of their biggest star. The only way this was going down was if it was against Big Daddy. I had studied and considered taking on the likes of Mick McManus, Rollerball Rocco and Kendo Nagasaki but even without Max Crabtree’s insistence, the choice would have been a simple one. There is probably more showmanship in British wrestling than there is anywhere else and there was no bigger showman than Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree. I was so enthralled by the atmosphere in Wembley Arena that I found myself watching the undercard when I should have been preparing. The star was undoubtedly World Lightweight Champion Johnny Saint and he had me wondering if I had picked the wrong man to fight. Our eyes met briefly as he returned to the lockers and it was clear he felt the same way. There was no time to dwell on it however and I soon found myself in the ring.

    I could not believe the amount of heat I was drawing from the crowd that seemed to be predominantly made up of old ladies. Of course it helped that I had notorious “baddie” Giant Haystacks as my second but I think even Mother Fricking Teresa would draw heat if she was up against the Blond Giant. The nerves were really setting in as he came out to the sounds of “We Shall Not Be Moved” and I was just in awe of his sheer size as the announcements were going on. I learned a valuable lesson about remaining focused as I was immediately hit with a couple of bodychecks and a Splashdown. My journey had only just begun when I heard the words of the MC saying that I had been pinned in just 1 minute and 6 seconds of round 1. Luckily for me this match was being fought under the “2 falls, 2 submissions or a knockout” rules but I knew I had to get my head into the game and fast. I quickly learned that that was not an easy thing to do when you are are hurting, your opponent is strutting around the ring and everybody in attendance is chanting “EASY... EASY... EASY...”

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    Boy did I run the ropes after that. Speed was my key to keep away from the big guy’s offence and I soon saw him begin to tire. There would be more chance of winning the lottery than getting two falls over the someone that size so I knew I had to go for the knockout. This would be no easy feat but fortunately I had a weapon of mass destruction at my disposal. I knew how the business was going to evolve over the next thirty years. It was round five and I told Haystacks to distract the referee. Whilst he was doing this I ducked out of the ring and grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be a wooden chair. I could see the look of confusion on the face of my opponent as he tried to figure out if I would actually hit him over the head with my weapon. By the time he realised the answer was “yes”, the referee had counted to ten and I had got out of dodge (taking Big Daddy’s awesome sequin Union Flag jacket with me). I got hit by at least 3 handbags running to the back and realised I needed to get out of the building as quickly as possible. I grabbed my stuff and without changing, jumped in a cab home. I had passed my first big test and, after a date against Irish Whip Wrestling’s Sheamus O'Shaunessy in a 2005 version of Dublin, I would soon be flying off for my next major test in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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    December 1999 - Tokyo, Japan
    It felt like a long road to get here today. There was never going to be any chance of accomplishing what I wanted without conquering Japan. There is an amazing history here that I never paid attention to when I was purely a fan. Sure I had heard a lot of big names, and even seen a couple wrestle but I had to make a choice. Where would I go? When would I go? With whom would I go? There were so many things to take into consideration. All Japan or New Japan? King’s Road or Strong? And then there were the names. So many jumped out at me. Rikidōzan, Shohei Baba, Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Jumbo Tsuruta, Kenta Kobashi and Keiji Mutoh all came to mind but there was one guy that I was always oh so curious about. The man who seemed to have Dave Meltzer constantly ejaculating in his pants. Mitshuharu Misawa.

    The first thing you notice about the business here is just how serious it is. It is so far removed from the pantomime atmosphere back home. I have found myself in AJPW at a time where my opponent is actually President of the company following years under co-founder and legend Giant Baba. To be honest things seem unstable and it isn’t particularly clear who is running the show. I would be lying if I said I didn’t choose this moment in time to try and take advantage of any confusion in priorities Misawa might be having. On my way to the ring I noticed just how hot the crowd were, but these weren’t grannies wearing their bingo specials. No, it seemed like a good 83% of them were business men all suited up. I came out to Rule Britannia in Big Daddy’s jacket but they didn’t seem to know how to react to me. I am so used to getting the heat I am trying to draw or massive pops from the people who think it is cool to cheer the bad guy. Here I was getting pretty much a respectful round of applause. I would need turn up the obnoxious to full volume.

    The first thing I notice when the match got underway was how average Misawa looked. I saw his long time rival Kenta Kobashi in the locker room before hand and he looked mighty impressive in comparison. That however was the only thing I found average about my opponent as he started to hit me with some of the hardest strikes I have felt in my life. I heard the Japanese were stiff, but damn! Thinking it would be rude not to respond in kind, I tried to go hard too (even using the bicycle kick that O’Shaunessy almost took me out with before I rolled him up for the win). He also liked a submission hold, and that was definitely more up my alley. It gave me a chance to show off some of my mat skills and more importantly try and taunt the crowd with some of Big Daddy’s “Easy” chants. Again, it didn’t have quite the desired effect but at least this time you could tell that they didn’t like it. I was soon getting my arse handed to me again, however, to the point where I was enjoying getting planted on my face, just to get a break from being dropped on the back of my head. Somehow I managed to stay (barely) conscious and make a fight back on nothing but adrenaline and desire. I can’t remember a great deal about how we got to the finish but I know I ended it by coming off the top rope and planting my knee firmly in Misawa’s head. The crowd seemed pretty appreciative of my victory and by that stage I was so out of it and confused to try and convince them otherwise. I just lay there next to an amazing opponent and soaked it all in.

    February 2012 - Back home
    It’s a month since I defeated Misawa and I can still feel the effects of the match on every part of my body. I have one week to rest before I can move on to the next stage of my journey but it really was a hectic thirty days following my big moment in the Tokyo Dome. I had a much easier time of it in Down Under in 1976 as I defeated World Championship Wrestling’s NWA Austra-Asian Heavyweight Champion, Ron Miller. This is where I met a man who would become my manager for the remainder of my journey. Skandor Akbar was just what I needed to help me in mastering the art of heel. I felt I had failed in that respect in Japan and didn’t want that to happen again. It certainly didn’t in Cape Town as I defeated Shaun Koen of the African Wrestling Alliance in the mid-90s. South Africa actually reminded me a lot of home with all the grannies, and boy did they hate me and Skandor. In between the big fights it was training as usual. Only this time I wasn’t pumping weights. I spend every available minute going over the Misawa fight. There is so much that I can learn from him and so many moves I can incorporate into my style.

    July 1958 - Mexico City, Mexico
    Just like Japan, there was no shortage of legendary wrestlers to take on in Mexico but, even then, the final choice wasn’t a hard one. Mil Mascaras, Gory Guerrero and Blue Demon would all have made for more than worthy adversaries, as would El Hijo Del Santo but it is his father, El Santo, who is the icon I needed to face, even if it meant going back further than I had ever been before. Whereas Japan was definitely different to what I was used to, what I experienced in the 50s version of Arena Mexico was just a total culture shock. The crowds everywhere I went absolutely loved what they were watching, but here in the Empresa Mexicana de la Lucha Libre they seemed take their fandom a step further. It was as if they lived and breathed everything that their heroes do, and hero seems to be the perfect word here.

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    Whatever I did on this day, I would have been the heel but still the little things like my flashy jacket had that much more impact in a different era and culture. I debuted a new nickname in the EMLL. “The World Warrior” was absolutely hated by the fans in attendance, even before I walked through the curtain. As much fun as riling them up was, though, I had to be all business in the ring. Whereas Daddy was big and awkward and Misawa was stiffer than Ron Jeremy after a handful of blue pills, Santo was silky smooth and as quick as a cat. I have more stamina than almost everyone I know but he had me breathing heavy from less than a minute in. El Santo wrestled for five decades and I immediately regretted not choosing an older incarnation of this lucha icon. It wasn’t just about the conditioning either. When we weren’t running around the ring, the guy was stretching me seven ways ‘til Sunday. I was not expecting to find myself on the mat more in this lucha battle than I did in a puroresu one but that’s what was happening.

    I needed to find an answer to throw Santo off his game and fortunately I had the perfect solution. There is nothing more important for a luchadore than his mask and in typical heel fashion I tried to exploit that. Whenever he was on the offensive, I would grab at it. With every deep arm drag I would get a little more of the infamous silver mask and he soon began adapting his offence to deal with that. By this point I was finding myself becoming more and more comfortable with the high paced quick turnover of moves and I was mixing it up with some of the stiff strikes and kicks that I picked up in Japan. The more I landed, the slower the pace of the match became. Santo knew the tide was turning in my favour and tried to end it, landing another one of his slick arm drags and going for his trademark diving headbutt. I was waiting for it, however, and locked him into his own finisher (it had hurt me so much earlier in the match, I knew it would get the job done), the camel clutch. He tried desperately to get free and hung on in the for way longer that I thought he could have but eventually the submission victory was mine. He gave me a great rub after the match by extending his hand. I would normally have kept true to my heel self and slapped him or something but I decided to accept the handshake with just how hardcore the pro-Santo the crowd looked like they could get. Backstage he told me about how he was breaking into the movie business and how “Santo” would become its own franchise. I feel like in one day with this legend I have learnt so much both in the ring and away from it.

    December 1988 - On the Road
    Here I sit in a shitty Cadillac that Skandor is driving on the way to my date to destiny. Sure, it’s a shit heap of a yankee vehicle for such an important event but it’s all the hire company had. It’s only been a couple of weeks since my battle with Santo but it already feels like an eternity. From there I went to 1984 San Juan to take on the WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion, Carlos Colon. There was no worry about not getting the heat I needed here. The crowd were as hot for their hero as anywhere I have ever seen (even Mexico) and that just helped me heel it up to the max. When Akbar hit Colon with the ring bell and I followed it up with Global Domination (the Bridging German Suplex pin finisher I had picked up from Misawa) it literally caused a riot. I have never had to leave anywhere in such a hurry in my life. I actually had to wear a disguise to travel to the airport as I flew out for my next match in Canada.

    Up in Stampede in 1972, I actually had the pleasure of staying in Stu Hart’s house, sleeping just above the infamous dungeon. What a crazy place that was. The eldest kids were just getting into the business and Bret was an awkward 15-year-old. During my short stay I heard Smith, Bruce, Keith and Bret all screaming during trips downstairs with dad. Out of the dungeon though he seemed like a great father who loved his kids to death, including a very cheeky 7-year-old Owen. I wasn’t in Calgary for the Harts though; it was for a match against Colon’s bitter rival, Abdullah the Butcher. This guy was so evil that I actually got massive face pops in the Stampede Corral. For one night only, The World Warrior was a hero. Only in Canada, right? I actually tried to end the match quickly with the same trick I used on Big Daddy but Abdullah didn’t even flinch as the chair smashed into pieces over his head. I took as bad a beating as I did in the Tokyo Dome but after brawling all over ringside, I managed to sneak back in the ring for the count-out victory. Maybe a little cheap but it sent the crowd home happy and it left a bit in the tank for me as I would head towards the final battle to take on the big boss. With all the obstacles out of the way, I would have my moment to go to battle with my M Bison.

    This final match will be what my journey all comes down to. This will be for all the marbles and I will need to use everything I have learnt so far if I want to survive. Big Daddy’s showmanship, Misawa’s move set, Santo’s silky smooth execution and Abdullah’s brawling have all added layers to my game. That still might not be enough though but fortunately I have a trick up my sleeve. Skandor has a little something that he has been teaching me throughout our journey and I plan on using this to end the match tonight. Nobody, least of all my opponent will be expecting a fireball. I am going over the execution over and over again as I fall asleep. Getting that right is all that stands between me and fulfilling legacy. It feels like it is only five minutes later that Skandor wakes me up but it was actually five hours.

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    We are almost there and as we approach the arena, all I can hear is that one immortal phrase repeating over and over again...

    To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.

    "Eat my ass, Mooney"

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