Ahh, the glorious world of fan fiction.
For those of you who have been reading my columns for a while, you’ll know that I am a writer. I have a book out there available somewhere, and there are more of my short stories in various anthologies than you could probably be bothered tracking down. But one of the best parts of being a writer is that you get to read lots of things and call it “part of your job”.
Well, recently I finished a short novel based around the wonderful world of independent wrestling. I wanted to make damn sure it did not fall into the traps of fanfic pastiches, so I read a heap of wrestling fanfic to make sure I was on the sort of right track to avoid these pitfalls.
Having said that, I found enough stuff to help me on my way. But I did get seriously side-tracked at one point by a number of stories that were cross-over tales with other franchises or characters. I spent too long just reading some of the worst writing you can imagine.
The majority were the sort of things where desperate teenagers write stories where the wrestlers end up being their best friends/lovers/fathers. Some of these verged on pornography and quite a few crossed that line without so much as a backward glance (for what it’s worth, I tried to make it a point not to read porn for my research because, well, it’s not what I’m interested in writing about). And, man!, does Jeff Hardy appear in wa-a-a-ay too many of these!
Then there are the stories where we have “hot” (your mileage may vary) wrestler-on-wrestler action. John Cena and Randy Orton appear to be in a lot of these. I mean… a LOT of these. Grappling turns into, well, grappling of a different sort. Or else one of these two (or Hulk Hogan) ends up with some famous person. Captain Kirk from Star Trek springs to mind, because I stupidly read it through to the end. Kirk and Cena…
The final one that is everywhere is the one where various WWE/TNA/WCW superstars are thrown into a reality TV show, especially Big Brother and Survivor. The best one I read (which I can’t find now) was Survivor: WCW, where the dying days of WCW are presented as a Survivor series. But the best isn’t what this is about. This is about the more common types out there.
So here is a list of some of the more, shall we say, interesting ones I read. In these, the WWE characters interact with the fictional worlds, and there’s not an author avatar in sight (and, truth be told, that last limited this selection hugely).
Links are up with them, so I’ll leave it up to you to seek them out. If you want. Except for the last one. Because it no longer exists. But, damn, if it isn’t… interesting.
(Edit: Number 3 has also disappeared. Bastards!)
1. Harry Potter
Kane joins Hogwarts! A huge 12 year old who chokes people and can cause fire! It actually… makes sense, now that I think about it.
Well, first, the technical stuff. Unlike most fanfic, a majority of the grammar here is not too bad. Still enough to make any self-respecting editor have kittens, but nothing that actually kills the flow of the story. And at a scant 2 chapters it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The story. Well, Kane would seem to be a perfect fit in the magical world of Hogwarts. And the author even has Kane’s mannerisms down pretty well. Draco Malfoy has some of the character from the books. But the other characters are shadows of the originals, and exist only to be there for Kane to be Kane. The character of Kane is all action, nothing internal. The ending is mildly interesting, for what is was worth.
And… what’s wrong with it then?
The potential was there for this to be so much more. It would have fitted in with the vein of the Deadly Hallows, but what we got was child-like characterisation out of Philosopher’s Stone. Kane with the powers over fire and his hidden past, even the diabolical look of him would have fitted in well with that final year and the magic battle, almost as a deus ex machina type of character. The concept is actually one that would work in the world of fanfic. But the execution is off. It’s little kiddie stuff. It misses the point of Harry Potter as a Hero Quest style of story, and it misses the point of Kane as someone with a very confused upbringing and deep psychological scars. Sure, it’s a few thousand words of fanfic, but it reads like a proposal, not a story.
Oh, and nothing actually seems to happen. It’s just – here’s Kane. Wow.
2. Total Drama
The kids from the Total Drama series of cartoons take on legends of wrestling in a series of fights. (Disclaimer: Total Drama is one of my favourite cartoons.)
First, the technical stuff. This is presented as if a transcript of a show. No description of the action, just what people say. That makes it slightly jarring. And also means there are less mistakes than would otherwise be there, because there’s enough as it is.
The story fits in well with the TD universe. It is exactly the sort of thing that would happen if the writers had permission to use WWE names and likenesses. As for fitting into the WWE universe… well, not so much.
And… what’s wrong with it then?
This is a case where the writer decided that catchphrases were all that made up anything. Gorilla Monsoon spouts off all the right Gorilla-isms, but the Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura ones come across as something out of Heroes Of Wrestling. It’s as though the writer watched the Wrestlemania anthology – once, while making a complicated meringue – and based everything on that.
It’s even worse with the TD characters. This writer clearly likes Total Drama, but missed the whole point of them being cartoon teenagers who parodied the stereotypes of actual reality TV show contestants, because these stereotypes which made them who they were are ignored! I mean he gave Courtney a Charlie Daniels Band song as her theme music because “they both played the violin”! It felt so very odd… and yet I read all 20,000 words of the damn thing.
3. Romeo And Juliet
First, there are so many of these with a wrestler playing the Romeo or Juliet part and the author avatar playing the other, it’s actually… quite sad really. But this one – this one – has the elements of the story featuring two WWE wrestlers – Lita And Matt Hardy.
The technical stuff of this really made it hard to read. The only way you seemed to know if a new sentence was starting was by the words “And then…” Spelling was random. Punctuation was non-existent. It was set in a wrestling arena. But it actually seemed to have some semblance of trying to follow the story-line, with Christian (?) playing the role of Mercutio (and “dying” by going off to another wrestling promotion) until the end.
And… apart from the obvious, what’s wrong with it then?
Well, for a start, has anyone who actually writes about Romeo and Juliet actually read the play? Or do they just base their stories on one of the film versions or what they think happened? The story goes: Two warring clans in a blood feud (as in, people die), two really young kids (Juliet was 13!), a very brief fling, lots of lying by lots of people, a suicide pact, the end. So, this leads to… The ‘warring clans’ were the Hardy Boyz against everyone else. But wasn’t Lita already with the Hardys? There was very little lying by other people. And dying at the end meant Matt deliberately taking a bump through a table that killed him, and Lita pretending to die so she could run off with Edge. Serioiusly.
But what really sets this one apart is the language. The descriptions of the wrestling moves read like a Vince McMahon commentary of a match, as though the person likes wrestling, but doesn’t quite understand it. Quotes are lifted verbatim from the Shakespeare play, mixed in with modern aphorisms. But at least Matt Hardy didn’t pretend to die as well so he could run off with the author…
4. Family Guy
Possibly one of the most straight-forward ones, as it is more than possible that Stone Cold Steve Austin would appear as a character on Family Guy. Sort of like a low-rent Simpsons cameo. And the actions of Austin in this are sort of like the character.
Technically… well, again, spelling, punctuation and grammar (especially verb tenses) are all optional, sentence structure is interesting and… Look, I don’t care how good a story or concept is, I don’t know an editor who would put up with this.
And… apart from the lack of writing skills, what’s wrong with it then?
For a start, it’s as funny as cucumber sandwich. The author even says, “Well tell me that wasn’t funny.” Okay – that wasn’t funny. Stewie has none of the vindictive genius his character is based on, and, well, maybe Austin has some of his Stone Cold-ness, but the rest of the characters are just…
Austin diapers Peter in a supermarket. There’s a “cutaway” of a dead Superman. I think it wants to be a script, but it doesn’t know. It’s… It’s there. It’s like rhythmic gymnastics or synchronised swimming at the Olympics – we all know it’s there, but none of us can tell why.
Sad admission – I’ve read half of the first Twilight book. Yes, I’ve read some Twilight. I’ve seen none of the movies, avoid online discussions of it, and think it shows how low the level of intelligence has descended in the Western world (only reinforced by the 50 Shades… series).
This fanfic is amazing because it mirrors Meyers’ writing style exactly. I mean, perfectly, down to her misuse of words and the phrases, and to the words she uses too often. But then there’s the characters – Stephanie McMahon in the Bella role, HHH as Edward and Chris Jericho as Jacob. Oh, and there’s a wrestling match that sounds suspiciously like the phantom title change between HHH and Jericho.
So… if it’s so good, what’s wrong with it then?
It’s Twilight! Yes, the fanfic mirrors the original brilliantly, but it’s still Twilight! It’s poorly written and poorly thought out. The wrestling scene occurs on a high school football field, and they bounce off fencing and jump from the goal uprights. It even leaves itself open for a sequel!
I had the feeling at first that this was a parody, but there was no humour. It was a re-telling with lots of wrestling allusions. Maybe it was an homage. Or maybe Ms Meyers herself actually wrote it. No; I think professional wrestling would be too high-brow for her…
I don’t know what’s sadder – the fact that someone read Twilight and thought it’d be better if it had wrestlers in, the fact that someone then went ahead and wrote it, the fact that I read it (all 23000 words of it), or the fact I was the 15000th person to read it.
Okay, part of this was to rip on fanfic in general. But the deeper part is to show that wrestling fans are like every other fan of every other pop culture phenomenon out there. They watch it no matter how crap it’s become, and some of them are so obsessed with their idols that they write fiction which they think is the best thing since the invention of paper.
And it just shows that no matter the highs and lows of the wrestling cycle, it is a part of the culture now. Just so long as I never – EVER – have to think about Kirk and Cena together again…
Tags: chris jericho, christian, edge, Gorilla Monsoon, hardy boys, HHH, john cena, kane, Lita, Matt Hardy, randy orton, Stephanie McMahon, Steve Austin, Survivor, view from down here, WWE