View From Down Here – Talking to my Son (John Cena, Daniel Bryan, etc.)

Everyone is talking ad nauseam about Daniel Bryan being John Cena’s opponent for Summerslam, how the Money in the Bank matches seemed to have improved the standing of a few superstars in the eyes of the public, how Curtis Axel still isn’t impressing greatly, how Mark Henry… and how Sheamus… and will Randy Orton… Same topics, all the time.


I get bored reading most of them, so I’m not going to join them.


Last week I wrote about a concussion incident, and while I got quite a few views, only two people actually commented. (Thanks Blair and Swayze!) I was curious as to why; it’s not like this topic was out of the blue, what with the recent concussions in the sport and all that. So I asked one of my regular readers what he thought.


“It cut too close to the bone. It wasn’t about anything on TV. You made it real and people don’t like it to be too real. They like suspension of disbelief. Your article made them uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable, that’s for sure.”


Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. It wasn’t my intention to make people wince at the thought of a wrestler losing chunks of their day like that. I just thought I’d put into perspective some things that have happened recently.


It made me feel a bit down on what I was going to write this week. I was at a loss. And then my son came to the rescue.


Whenever I’ve brought him up in the past, he’s garnered a pretty good response, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to look at his wrestling viewing habits. He’s now 8 and a half, and we’re at the end of the winter school holidays. Lots of rain and wind and miserable weather, so I’ve let him go through my collection of wrestling DVDs while his sister works her way through my collection of classic Looney Tunes cartoons, between bouts of art and craft and writing and journeys to places where we can keep dry.


By the midway mark of the second week I noticed 2 DVD sets getting a lot more viewing than any others. Sure, he loves going to watch the wrestling live (he’s a little Riot City Wrestling fan), but he’s also getting more and more into the WWF/E. His current favourite match is Shawn Michaels v Chris Jericho from Unforgiven 2008. But there’s more. He thinks John Cena is boring and thinks Sheamus looks like one of those old Troll dolls from the 1980s (there’s a few around the place here… sorry). He wishes Batista was still wrestling, and loves Macho Man’s flying elbow (he does a pretty mean “oooh-yeah!” as well). He thinks Undertaker is strange-looking and thinks Steve Austin looks like a Bobble-head, especially when he’s talking crap to someone. And he thinks the Rock is funny on the microphone. He made a few more comments as well, but we’ll come to them in a bit.


But the 2 DVD sets are, I think, interesting.


The first is the Hell in a Cell box set (not the PPVs of that name, but the 3-disc set of the first HiaC matches). Discs one and two have been played over and over (Disc 3 is a “bit boring”, apparently). He loves the Foley/Undertaker infamous throw from the top of the cage match, but his favourite is the 6-man one. Now, this is why I think it’s interesting. Most reviews of that show (Armageddon 2000) indicate that, at best, it was a mediocre (although if I recall correctly, at the time Meltzer thought it was a MOTYC) effort, between 2 ½ and 3 ½ stars. But my son loved it. He thought it was exciting and intense and he laughed at the right places and ‘ooh-ed’ when Rikishi fell off the cage onto the truck. He even threw his hands up the first time he watched it when Angle stole the pin (did anyone sell the Stunner better than the Rock? I mean, ever?). The match worked for him.


The second disc set he loves has been Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits And Misses, the one that came out with the bonus Hardcore Disc. All the discs have been watched. Foley is now his favourite wrestler, and not, I think, because his dad bears more than a passing resemblance to the great man (I could never lace his boots in the actual ring), but because he is so entertained by the matches. Some of the more hardcore ones make him wince a bit, but there are matches on that set he has watched to death. Foley is now his favourite wrestler. Again, this is interesting. It’s not someone shoved down our throats. It’s not a He-Man Adonis with a body built from a syringe and a bottle – it’s a man who worked hard and got there by sheer talent and force of personality. He doesn’t care what the guy looks like – he just cares that Foley is entertaining.


So what else? Briefly, the rest of the comments I got from the lad were:
He enjoys the 1994 Royal Rumble, especially the Diesel bits and the double finish.
He likes some old TNA six-sided ring action.
He hates Living Dangerously 2000.
He thinks Wrestlemania 4 is “pretty cool” but “it gets boring in the middle”.
He’s not a fan of lucha libre because “it looks too fake” (much to his dad’s disappointment).
He thinks selling (“making people think you’re hurt”) is important; he thinks stories aren’t.
He likes Daniel Bryan “especially the way he kicks people”.
He thinks Ryback looks like he’s holding in a sneeze all the time.
He thinks the Big Show is scary.
He thinks cage matches are “all the same” (the Bloodbath DVD set was not well received, I’m afraid).
He thought Wrestlemania 29 was too long, liked Royal Rumble 2013, thought Payback 2013 was “pretty good”, thought Extreme Rules 2013 was “really boring”, and hasn’t seen Money In the Bank 2013 yet.
He likes guys on the mic who entertain him.
He doesn’t like rest-holds or submission moves (except the Sharpshooter/Scorpion Death Lock).
He doesn’t mind blood.


For all the talk about the fact I love things like psychology and work-rate and realism and clean moves and old school stuff like that in my wrestling matches, as I’ve said before again and again, I am no longer the WWE’s target audience. My son is. And what does he like? Things that entertain him. He likes fast action. He doesn’t care about the story-lines, but he does care about whether things hurt or not, or whether the people look like they’re hurt.


One last thing, and I think this is important: One thing I hear from him a bit is, “He looks fake.” Not the move looks fake, but the wrestler looks fake, and this boils down to poor or odd selling. Usually.


Sure, he might be a bit different to a lot of kids. After all, how many children have seen their father taken out by a flying cross body, or miss a top rope moonsault, or get dropped twelve feet by a superplex? But he still wants to have fun with his wrestling viewing and enjoy what he is seeing.


And, at the moment, that means ignoring the more recent PPV offerings and trawling through the archives.


All up, I think he’s a pretty cool dude.


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