And now that I’m done being a pervert, let’s get right into the RAW ending. Triple H’s fake concussion storyline. Just a few weeks after Ziggler suffered a real-life serious concussion on Smackdown. I have a lot of weird thoughts about all of this so I hope I do them justice with this rant. Firstly, the way the ending was done and the way the episode came to a close, it was supposed to make people think it was real. In fact I got more than a few tweets asking me if it was a work. It’s a work, but I can forgive the confusion. Sort of. The segment was designed to seem like an unexpected event. Even though it was clearly set up ahead of time with that scene where Triple H was informed that he wasn’t medically cleared to compete and he ignored it.
So why do this story when the company’s World Heavyweight Champion is actually on the shelf for a serious concussion? Isn’t that enough of a concussion storyline? Why dramatize it with a fake head injury? And why trick people? Again, this leads me into a much larger discussion that I’ll get to in a few sentences, but why do things that “blur the line?” I suppose the WWE’s, and all of pro-wrestling’s, bread and butter are the super-obsessed fans. The ones who go overboard with their devotion. The people who “believe.” And I’m even hesitant to use quotes there because some folks, in this day and age, still think a percentage of it is real. And hopefully, those people are under the age of 10.
But I’ll just put this here in all caps, right on the first page of the Wrap Up. WE KNOW IT’S NOT REAL! Because, as you all know, once this column hits the main IGN blogroll in the evening, we’ll get a bunch of comments and trolling down votes from guys who write things like “Don’t you guys know this stuff is fake?” and “Why don’t you watch UFC for some real fighting?” The last one being my favorite because they think we watch wrestling to see something close to a real fight. Which it’s not even close to being. I love wrestling, but I have no interest in UFC. Being tangentially adjacent to “real fighting” isn’t why I watch. It’s not satisfying a craving that I could assuage by watching pit fighting or bum brawls. Wrestling is wrestling, and there’s just no way to properly convey all the aspects of it to someone who holds it in contempt.
But I have a theory. I think that so many people look down at wrestling, and wrestling fans, because of the sports broadcast model it uses. It’s treated as being real by the people calling the action. It’s portrayed as real events happening in real-time. It has a ring, spectators, commentators, time keepers, and all the garnish that comes with, say, a boxing match. It has referees for crying out loud. It has “rules.” And I think that turns people off more than anything else. I was recently asked what elements prevent wrestling from competing with other shows and I think its biggest hurdle has always been the framework. And that some take the facade of reality as an automatic insult.
Look, I say this knowing full well that there’ve been wrestling booms and that the WWE itself is now a global monster. But this is the reason why wrestling has always had, and always will have, a hard time crossing over into more mainstream pools of entertainment. It has it’s own huge pool, but it remains separate. It’s why, as well as it does for them, the honchos at USA Network always find themselves defending wrestling, year after year, as being part of their primetime lineup. People wouldn’t blink twice if they came up with a show about a sassy crime fighting duo, with one being blind and the other having an immune system so weak that he has to be sealed in a sterilized dome, and called it Bubble Vision. But wrestling? Isn’t that stuff fake? Doesn’t it present things to its audience in a way that’s contrary to reality?
And I’m not suggesting that wrestling should change its televised model at all, just that it will always be treated as a mostly separate entity in the realm of entertainment. And it also does itself no favors by keeping such a closed lid on things that it, over the course of decades, spawned entire websites devoted to rumors and pontification. And again, the dirt sheets are a direct result of the way wrestling carries itself. The way it keeps its backstage locked down. I’m not condemning anything, just looking at cause and effect.
So we’ll get people who object to the very idea of wrestling being on IGN, which covers the imaginary world of games, movies, TV shows and comics on a daily basis. Simply because it portrays itself, for the sake of storylines and action, as not being fake while using a model that’s used to broadcast real sports competition. Now with pre-shows and post-shows even, featuring talented people doing nothing more than spinning their wheels, trying to come up with something remotely interesting to say. And an app that lets you watch even more pointless interviews. Or, even worse, watch Ryback watch TV. You’re watching him watch the same TV show you’re watching! So in this respect, it will always be niche. And it will never be a thriving topic for an cable TV network.
Which brings me back to Triple H’s story. I’m not going to say it was tasteless, but the old school “anything goes” mindset that nothing is off the table when it comes to trying to make people think what they’re watching is real is another reason people turn their nose up at wrestling. Because not only are there no boundaries when it comes to deaths or injuries, the incidents are used as fodder to give the product a larger air of being real. So it’s base. It’s crass, by the very definition of the word. They’re going to take real awful things and use them to enhance the fake stories. If they had, say, had Curt Axel attack Triple H while he was dizzy, it would have felt more like a fun storyline. Triple H gets woozy, sits down and then Axel strikes. Pummeling Hunter when he’s at his weakest. But it was done up to seem real, and with Lawler’s heart attack so fresh in our mind, and others out there (including the Wrap Up’s own sultry sorceress Daffney!) still suffering the very real effects of concussions, I just wonder why they chose this particular avenue. Especially now that they’ve given him “retrograde amnesia” - like the kind Ziggler actually had surrounding the two days prior to his injury!
I owe so much of my love for professional wrestling to both of these men. Before I go on proclaiming my admiration for both of these men’s accomplishments as wrestlers I’d 1st like to acknowledge that both are not only highly regarded for their skills in the ring & on a microphone (they’re both pretty great commentators come to think of it) but more importantly as genuine, hilarious & kind men who are loving fathers as well as husbands. Those attributes are what any man should be lucky enough to be described as having when being discussed but their peers as well as their fans. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some interaction with Kevin Steen on twitter as well as in person at PWG shows & I’m always happy to have the chance to speak with him, incredibly nice guy & I’ve never seen someone talk about Owen Hart without a smile on their face.
I to this day can think back to the day me & my brothers going to rent movies & not finding a good 3rd movie to get when 6 or 7 year old me stumbled onto a whole section of WWF tapes at Star Video & since none of my brother’s could agree on another movie they decided the baby brother could get to pick the last movie & of all slew of tapes they had only one that I needed to see, Summerslam 1994. They finally found The Undertaker & he was fighting an imposter Undertaker & 2 brothers locked in a cage! Bret Hart was awesome to me as a kid & then his baby brother came out & was as awesome as he was! The Hart brothers were gonna be WWF, Intercontinental & Tag Team champions for sure! But baby brother Owen got mad at older brother Bret & beat up on his already hurt brother. I shouldn’t have still liked Owen but I did, he was a bad guy for what he did! Owen eventually dared him to fight him but Bret just couldn’t see himself doing it but Owen kept egging him on to do it because he was tired of everyone not giving Owen the respect he deserved all while living in Bret’s shadow. They agreed to a match & did it at the BIGGEST STAGE OF THEM ALL & OWEN BEAT HIM!!! But Bret became WWF champion later that night again taking the spotlight from Owen. Owen proved he was the better brother & would get to prove it again but also become the new WWF champion!
To say I was riveted til the end of that tape would be a disservice to that PPV & I already knew Bret had won because I had watched Superstars that week & seen that Bret still had the title & even though my brothers felt the need to keep reminding me of that fact through the whole PPV leading up to their match I didn’t care. I had to see Owen & Bret fight. I had to be shown that good always prevailed over evil no matter what face it took, even if it was the face of a once loved one. Owen was awesome but was bad for his actions & wasn’t supposed to be liked for what he did & eventually paid for his actions.
I kept hearing about these 2 guys who were wrestling on the indy scene who people kept saying had the best feud & matches of the last year, year & a half (at that point) & recognized them from some fucking brutal tag matches I’d seen online. Kevin Steen & El Generico were an incredible team & talented guys I wished I could see for myself just because there was something about these guys that made me want to actively inform myself with the independent scene in wrestling than I already had for some reason but I found out one of them turned on the other (like all great tag teams had done before them) but that thiswas special. This wasn’t just yet another tale of allies & friends becoming rivals & enemies but almost the best personification of good vs evil professional wrestling had seen. I thought it was more hype from guys on the internet til one of them directed me to a hype video that was made for their iPPV match with the highest stakes possible being put on the line, Generico’s mask vs Steen’s job. As the video was loading I was reluctant to believe that much hype about ANY match & then the video was done loading … I was so wrong that I no longer even trusted my own judgement for a brief moment until I made the conscious effort to familiarize myself with even more independent wrestling than before. So I would look more indy talent than I had previously had besides whenever XPW was on tv here in LA or some other show called Epic that was hosted by the latino that used to be on XPW Larry Rivera & some dude in a mask called Excalibur.
Skippng a few months ahead, I was yet again watching that Final Battle video when another preview was on the “Similar To This Video” sidebar on youtube & said PWG - Preview - 2011 Battle of Los Angeles & immediately recognized that name because I had read that Finlay was at that show wrestling none other than Kevin Steen! I watched it & started recognizing so many of the guys I had only seen in ROH but were all wrestling in LA. I then saw the final 2 guys in that night’s tournament . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=GWGGLbhoLko#t=247s
Such phenomenal talent wrestling like 45 minutes away from me. A coworker of mine overheard me talking about how awesome everything El Generico & Kevin Steen had been doing & asked to see the BOLA 2011 preview & was dumbfounded by how incredible it all looked & were we both hyped to go & actually see for ourselves so I looked online & found something too good to be true, the card for Steenwolf. Top to bottom, an unbelievable amount of talent on a single card that was less than an hour away & tickets were less than $50 but more importantly I finally got the chance to see Kevin Steen & El Generico in person but they’d be wrestling each other in ladder match!
I am one of the lucky few who could say they not only saw an instantaneous classic between Generico & Steen but also the return of the legendary Super Dragon.
I was there when El Generico & Kevin Steen reluctantly joined forces to aide Rick Knox against the Young Bucks.
I was there when they reunited again against the Briscoes & Future Shock but ultimately losing to the Young Bucks in finals of DDT4 2013.
I was there for this moment:
As much as I owe Bret & Owen Hart for making me love professional wrestling I owe El Generico & Kevin Steen even more for not only reminding me how powerful the emotions created by professional wrestling wrestling can be but just like Owen/Bret made me pay attention to a wrestling they had a similar affect on a child near & dear to my own heart, my niece Samantha. Their match at BOLA 2011 was playing on my tv as we played with clay but something about those 2 made her stop & look up to watch them. She asked to see more of them fighting. I showed her some each of their stuff from some ROH compilations I had (nothing from their rivalry) & she was enthralled. Just like when I was a kid, she sided with the good guy & had to hate the bad guy. She even practiced her writing by spelling Generico’s name which I took a picture of & tweeted to Generico
I was lucky enough to get her their autographs for her & I managed to hand Generico a couple of drawings she made for him
As much as I can ever hope to ever thank either of those two men it would never be enough. Thanks to them & all the talented people at PWG I’ve taken now 4 coworkers with no prior interest in wrestling & for their June 15th show will add 7 more people who want to go see a PWG show for themselves.
For making me an even bigger fan & creating a new one amongst many others, Thank You.
Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in 1989 - and who was furious he wasn’t consulted about the creepy role - offered a cryptic comment when told Ledger was dead. “Well,” Nicholson told reporters in London early Wednesday, “I warned him.”
That last quote gave me chills
Really? Interesting if true
I read something that said he told him not to do it. Joker is one of, if not the, most sadistic villains. He kills to kill. There’s no method. Which is why all of the previous portrails were campy or jokey.
There is no way you can portray a character like that and not bring home even the smallest bits of it. It’s kind of sad. The Joker was scary as shit, and I honestly believe that getting into that character messed with his head.
It would be really interesting to see the notebook Ledger kept while working up the character, maybe it did mess with his head.. and that quote is something to think about, if true.
well shit you know when jack nicholson thinks something is too creepy it’s probably too creepy
thank you for contributing to this discussion your thoughtful asterisk makes a very good point