Today is Wrestlemania. Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday. I asked my wife what she wanted for her birthday. I said, “Honey, if you could have anything in the whole world what would it be?”
“Anything?” she asked.
“Of course, dear, anything.”
She thought about it for a few seconds.
“Can we not do that stupid wrestling thing where your friends come over and get trashed?”
“Is that the one where the ugly rapper guy always wins?”
“Then yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. That’s what I want for my birthday. To not have to watch that crap.”
No Wrestlemania this year. It’s a shame. Twenty years of wrestling tradition broken by one woman’s birthday wish. She feels the sport is silly, the acting terrible, the storylines predictable, and of course, the whole thing is “fake”. What she fails to realize, and this goes for most detractors of the sport, is that we as wrestling fans know this. There are never any delusions about the quality of the show as a piece of a television. However, it’s because of all these things that we enjoy watching it. It sets up the next joke.
I still hold on to my childhood belief that I’m only a few life circumstances from finding myself in the wrestling business. True, it’s difficult for slightly overweight writers in their late-twenties who chain smoke to break into the biz without trying, but this is something I find myself holding onto during those parts of the work week when I feel like nobody. I see myself donning some kind of costume and devising a character of my own creation who will wreak havoc upon the WWE by means of cunning rather than muscle. And I’ll get booed. And I would like that. The wrestling villain, or “heel”, sounds far more appealing than being the protagonist “face” who signs autographs for children and keeps them off drugs.
In fact, I see myself on television building great heel heat with the audience, not by sticking it to John Cena, but instead punishing his fans by walking around the parking lot outside the arena smashing people’s windshields with a baseball bat and ripping out their stereos while WWE fans watch on the RAW jumbo-tron. I think this would work as an angle. The villain who steals people’s shit and breaks what they worked hard for.
People don’t give the WWE writers enough credit, but I do. It has to challenging to script five hours of content each week with a constantly changing cast where there are no reruns, no off-season, and each story cycle is structured around a monthly Pay-Per-View amid larger quarterly Pay-Per-Views. Any number of real life variables can destroy a carefully designed arc, whether it’s injury, real life drama backstage, or (as is often the case) it just doesn’t connect with the fans. The writers are working with athletes, not actors, most of whom can barely growl let alone carry a story by themselves. And with the challenge of constantly needing to “sell” the event, there’s GOBS of exposition. “Can you believe that last week the Undertaker interrupted my match and cost me the WWE Intercontinental championship after being out of action for three months?”
I’ve come up with five characters that I think WWE fans would connect with, if given the opportunity. These are simple concepts rooted in the simple, populist tone that seems to be Vince McMahon’s reality.
1. The Hippie
The hippie doesn’t condone violence. Nor is he amused with Vince McMahon’s multi-national empire that allows children to make WWE toys in the third world, perpetuates globalization, helps destroy the environment, and degrades women. Also, the hippie goes to Bonnaroo every year for the crunchy tunes and company of other like-minded Berkeley scholars. When the hippie enters the arena, flower pedals fall from the rafters and the sound system blares Barry McGuire’s standard, “Eve of Destruction”.
2. TOTEM POLE!
Totem Pole is tall. And he’s Native American. And every time Totem Pole enters the arena an announcer must growl “TOTEM POLE!!!” to emphasize just how gigantic Totem Pole is. And because of his lackluster abilities on the mic, Totem Pole is given lame catch phrases that are really just bad puns on his angle: “Do you have what it takes to climb the totem pole?”
Fartbox is a morbidly obese, bald-headed man with a face like a baby whose gimmick is to tangle his opponent in a grappling move which puts their face next to his ass to perform his finishing move, “Death by Chocolate”. Fartbox also suffers from a slight mental handicap which makes him susceptible to influence. Heel wrestlers can use things such as stickers, candy, coloring books, and trips to McDonald’s to sway Fartbox into their stable or to get him to perpetuate last minute match interference when the referee has been knocked out (which he usually is).
4. Claireece “Precious” Jones
No explanation required. But I will say, this bitch is 10 miles of bad road.
5. Peter C. Petersen
Think “Popeye” meets “Ultimate Warrior”. Peter C. Petersen seems an unlikely challenger in the squared-circle. He’s small, scraggly, and doesn’t have much skill. But his work at the youth center (possible “Precious” angle???) allows him access to the “spinach” that drives his abilities. When Peter takes a puff of the pepper he not only sprints to the ring, he actually runs through it. Peter is an unstoppable, unstable, sherm-smoking juggernaut who divebombs from the top turnbuckle with little regard for self-preservation. He’s that swirling dust cloud seen in comic strips to display fighting.
So there you have it. Wrestlemania starts in five hours. I’ll be here, thinking about Wrestlemanias passed…