SYMPATHY FOR THE @$$#*!&
Last week’s column seemed to touch a nerve with a few people, which is always gratifying. I do feel the need to clarify what I was talking about, though. I don’ t think that the difference between an artist or businessman has to do with the level of talent that a wrestler has or the amount of success they’ve received. In my opinion, it’s all about what motivates them.
This week’s column also touches on the subject of motivation. In this IP forum thread we get into a discussion about why it is that “discerning” fans (like you and I) often recognise and respect wrestlers who are motivated by the love of what they are doing and the desire to be the best, whereas certain powerful promoters sometimes seem not to care. It’s another way of re-stating the common IWC lament: Why are they pushing the steroid monsters and bimbos down our throats while talented male and female wrestlers languish in the indies or on the B-shows?
If rumours are to be believed, we might go so far as to ask: Why do certain promoters push gassed-up goofs who lack basic skills to the point that they are legitimately injuring talented veterans? Why has the best indy wrestler in North America become so frustrated that he’s talking about leaving the business?
I DON’T REALLY HAVE ANY IDEA
Obviously, I don’t really know what any of the powerful promoters are thinking. I can only speculate. My usual guess is that certain powerful promoters are in fact kind of dumb. I base this opinion on flimsy evidence like rumours I’ve read about them liking fart jokes and memories I have of them making obviously stupid business decisions or getting involved in embarrassingly lousy skits on their own TV programs. The possibility that these men are kind of dumb is compounded by the even more likely possibility that they are convinced that they in fact possess overwhelming genius. This suspicion is also based on flimsy evidence, such as that fact that wrestlers who might benefit from being on a promoter’s good side constantly refer to the promoter as a genius in interviews and autobiographies.
HERE’S ANOTHER POSSIBILITY
Another idea that came out of discussing last week’s column with my internet friends was that not all artists are great artists. In point of fact, it’s probably pretty common for someone with the purest motivations in the world to genuinely suck at what they are doing anyway. Someone can be motivated by love but held back by limited talent, or by a flawed vision of what they are striving for.
For all I know – and I frankly don’t know anything about this particular subject – Vince McMahon may well not be motivated by the desire to make money, or by the desire to be accepted by polite Connecticut society, or by the desire to prove something about his manhood to the jocks who bullied him in high school… or by any of the other various motivations that have been attributed to him over the years by jealous idiots like myself. For all we know – and you probably don’t know any more than I do – he might very well be motivated by the love of professional wrestling. The problem, then, might be that his vision is so entirely unique that almost none of us are able to truly share it. Vincent Van Gogh was largely unappreciated in his own time. Maybe it’s up to future generations to truly appreciate McMahon’s apparent vision of Professional Wrestling as a mixture of lame soft-core porn, unfunny sophomoric comedy, monothematic promos, nepotism, megalomania, necrophilia, and short matches with the wrong guy going over more often than not.
Actually, when I put it that way, it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Giant Baba never booked a necrophilia angle!
OR, HOW ABOUT THIS?
If you really want some insight into how a promoter’s mind works, perhaps you should try playing Extreme Warfare Revenge. I think you might still be able to download it here
EWR is a reasonably fun text-based computer game that allows you to simulate what it would be like to run your own promotion. You can start out with a backyard fed and try to build it into a global powerhouse promotion, or you can jump right in and take over World Wrestling Entertainment. You sign the wrestlers, book the matches, and decide who gets mike time, what angles are used to develop your feuds, and who wins the belts.
Here’s the thing: EWR is just a game. Even the most dedicated EWR players can’t possibly spend more than a few hours a week on the game. It isn’t ever going to be the most important thing in your life, unless perhaps you are the game’s creator Adam Ryland. (If so: Hey, thanks for the game!) Still, it is all but inevitable that you’ll get a little bit caught up in how certain wrestlers are doing in your game. You will want certain wrestlers to get over enough to be used in the Main Event, and you will want to see certain wrestlers held down. It’s human nature.
If I’m booking my dream fed, I want my favourite wrestlers to be on top. The essential genius of the game, however, is that the player doesn’t have complete control over who gets over with the crowd. The crowd has some say in it, too. It can be frustrating when a wrestler that you are not a fan of becomes more popular than one of your favourites.
If you are anything like me, or like my friends who have played the game, you will likely respond by de-pushing the guys you don’t like, and desperately trying to get your favourite wrestlers over by having them win lengthy feuds, giving them lots of interview time, and putting them in angles on every show.
Maybe you won’t do this, but I wouldn’t count in it. I myself stopped playing the game about a year ago when I realised what I was doing. I was shoving my own favourite guys down the audience’s throat. If the fans wanted to see someone else, I ignored them.
As I said, EWR is just a game. The wrestlers in my promotion are, I suppose, little strings of computer code. They are not real flesh and blood human beings that I work with, travel with, and know intimately. None of the little strings of code have ever made me laugh when I was down, taken a fall so that I could look like a hero, or married into my family. Still, I can’t help but have my favourites.
Most of us have complained, at one time or another, about the way that certain promotions are booked. Most of us have theories about what we’d do if we were in charge. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Still, when the urge to bitch and moan grabs me by the throat, it sometimes helps to remind myself that wrestling promoters are only human, and just as subject to the whims and vagaries of human nature as we all are.
THANKS FOR READING!
The Movies guys have done a great job on their Star Wars Special Feature.
Jed posted a nice review of the book that I just got in the mail today, and that I’m going to start reading as soon as this column is finished.
Ring of Honor’s website is reporting that Bryan Danielson might be leaving wrestling. The way they are reporting it makes it seem like a work, but I have reason to believe that it may be true. If it is, I wish him Godspeed and hope that his journey leads him back inside the squared circle before long.