Before I Get Started…
It’s 7:01pm on March 1st, 2015, I’m in my boxers and a Florida Gators t-shirt, listening to the Soundscapes channel on Music Choice, and I’ve dusted off the ol’ laptop and it’s time for me to pull my Undertaker/Triple H/A-List creative routine and only show up for the build to
WrestleMania XXXI JUST WRESTLEMANIA WHO NUMBERS THINGS ANYWAY EXCEPT FOR $9.99!!!!!!
As I’m wont to do from time to time, I’ll give you an update on what ol’ Rey Mundo has been up to since my last column. My girlfriend is now my fiancee, we’re planning our wedding for Autumn of 2016, I’m still at the same job (door-to-door rotary phone salesman — it’s not as dumb as it sounds, I tend to just sell in hipster neighborhoods with my pitch being that no one else is using rotary phones and it’d be totes hilars if they bought one), living in the same town (down the road from C.B. who is still the coolest MoFo low down ’round this town), in the same house. Overall, life is very good and only getting better.
Also, I’m not wearing any pants, which totally warranted mentioning again.
Anyway, for all things me you can peep my Instagram and/or Twitter at @ElKatook. I have no coolness about me at all so enjoy my rants on the NBA and pictures of me fresh out of the barber shop. Okay, that’s enough. On to the show.
Suspension of Disbelief begins… Now!
I’m a huge fan of underdogs.
We’ve already explored in this space, back about three years, how I felt about my picks, preferences, and paramours never taking me to where I wanted to go. I resided in a place where I not only didn’t have things break my way, but they didn’t break my way in spectacular, almost divine fashion. Truly, I felt like things weren’t going my way, would never go my way, and worse than all that — were never supposed to go my way.
I felt like the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Generals, the Cleveland Browns…
Wait, Wrestling Column. Allow me to recalibrate.
I felt like The Brooklyn Brawler, “Iron” Mike Sharpe, and Kofi Kingston in the Royal Rumble — the latter of which will THEN, NOW, and FOREVER be my irrational pick to win the Rumble.
In other words, I couldn’t win, would never win, and it was almost foolish to believe that I would ever hoist that trophy, be adorned with that gold medal, or slip that championship belt around my waist or ring on my finger.
Lately the tag line that WWE likes to throw around for Daniel Bryan is that he’s an underdog. His small stature makes him a David in the World of Goliaths, and everything he does is due to gritty perseverance and superior studying and preparation, almost directly in the face of his minuteness.
The tag line for Roman Reigns is that he’s the powerhouse juggernaut, the WWE’s unstoppable force that is building the momentum towards greatness and dominance, that his sheer physicality is enough to give him the strength to ascend.
The tag line that the majority of the wrestling fans I’ve encountered is that Daniel Bryan is the guy that should be, much like Kenny Fisher, Da Man. They want him to be the guy who wins the belt, headlines the shows, whose music plays at the end of every match. His indy pedigree, his wrestling skill, his popularity, his every-man accessibility makes him their guy and the logical choice to be the face of the WWE.
The rap on Roman Reigns from the majority of the wrestling fans I’ve encountered is that Roman Reigns isn’t ready, can’t wrestle, can’t talk, has a limited move-set, and should be kept far away from the main events because he’s who THEY want, not who WE want.
Well, in the words of the immortal Jules Winfield: Allow me to retort.
See, back in the 80s we had “Revenge of the Nerds,” and the intellectual, bashful, non-trendy types with their asthma and their prescription lenses triumphed against the bullies — those people who used their strength in numbers and just plain strength to intimidate and harass people who looked and thought and felt differently from them.
Well, in the thirty years or so since “Nerds,” we’ve been transitioned into a “The Big Bang Theory” / Fanboy world where, much to Beyonce’s chagrin, it’s not girls who run this world, but “nerds.” Zack and Slater don’t run things anymore. Screech does. Laura and Eddie aren’t the cool kids. Urkel is. Parker Lewis and Mikey aren’t the ones requesting folks synchronize their swatches. Jerry is. Cameron is in charge, and Ferris is the one at the bottom of that pool.
This is the world we live in, where those “nerdy” pursuits like video games and comic books and escapist fantasy or Sci-Fi (SyFy?) fare is the norm, is the standard-bearer, is the colossus that dictates trends. I get more funny looks when I say I don’t watch stuff like “The Walking Dead” or “Doctor Who” than if I said I did. The world done flipped, but man, the Tri-Lams not only got their revenge, but they’re now the ones who are bullying the Alpha Betas.
That snarky sarcasm and meme’ing and epic fail’ing of things… That cool, ironic, detached indifference… That gang attack and pile-ons of insults… Those used to be the tools and the arsenal of the bullies, of the physically stronger, of the ones who ruled with the threat of violence or actual violence. Now they’re used by the same people who have the audacity to claim that their participation in billion-dollar industries is somehow still counter-culture or envelope-pushing.
And now those folks are bringing their war to WWE.
Daniel Bryan is the new Stan Gable.
Daniel Bryan is the new Ogre.
Daniel Bryan is the new White Goodman.
Roman Reigns is now Lewis Skolnick.
Roman Reigns is now Gilbert Lowell.
Roman Reigns is now Peter La Fleur.
That rap on Roman Reigns — not ready, too green, struggles on the mic, limited move-set — is precisely WHY Roman Reigns is the underdog. It’s precisely why he SHOULD be in the main event of WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar.
Roman Reigns IS green. Roman Reigns IS NOT ready. Roman Reigns DOES struggle on the mic. I won’t exactly cosign the limited move-set because he’s just starting out and hasn’t had the time to evolve, but seeing him bust out those three Angle-Slam’esque suplexes at WWE FastLane was a much-needed addition.
Roman Reigns and his whole storyline intrigues me — I’m curious to see if he can be Kenny Fisher. I wanna see if he can be the guy who gets people excited and draws them into the show and gives us some new energy.
Daniel Bryan isn’t the underdog at all, not when everyone loves him and wants him to win and thinks he should win and freaks out when he doesn’t win.
Daniel Bryan isn’t the underdog at all, not when he won TWO matches at WrestleMania XXX, over guys who have a combined, what, 30 world championships?
He’s established. He’s a fan favorite. He’s a main event guy in a company that has like 5 or 6 credible main event guys. We’ve done the D-Bry thing. We’ve done the “Yes Movement” thing.
It’s time to move on to another guy, at least just to see if he can do it, and that’s really what this whole underdog thing is about. Roman Reigns was booed unmercifully at the Royal Rumble and what bugged me the most about it is that the guy is just starting out. The guy is just beginning the first real crucial run of his career, and the Philly crowd did everything possible short of sending the T-800 back to his Mom’s house before he was born in order to stop his push.
And why? Because he’s green? Because he can’t talk on the mic? Because he hasn’t “paid his dues?” Because “They” want him as The Guy? Because the WWE is going to push him over established guys?
Well, lawd’a’mercy, you just described the 2002 run of Roman Reign’s WrestleMania opponent, the beast incarnate, Brrrrrock Lllllesnar.
Roman deserves this opportunity, the same way you can have a young upstart team find it’s way into the SuperBowl or the NBA Finals. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but they’re given the opportunity to see if they can do something special. We all like to ride the fence between “Wrestling should be more like a real sport” and “Wrestling should be more like a variety show with an emphasis on physicality,” but this is one case where if you truly tried some…
…wait for it…
…Suspension of Disbelief, you might be able to let yourself enter a world where this big strong dude used his big strong dudeness to beat the little guy with the big heart to earn the right to fight the bigger stronger dude for the championship, fluke or not.
Daniel Bryan — Globo Gym — has the support, the numbers, the acumen, the experience, and everyone thinks he should win everything ever because he’s their guy. Well, that already happened in 2014, and it sucks that homeboy got hurt, and it’s tragic that at his professional pinnacle he lost his dad — but speaking only of the WWE alone and not his personal life…
We’ve seen this one before.
Anyway, in closing, Roman Reigns is the Average Joe’s dodgeball team. Roman Reigns is Peter La Fleur’s rag-tag bunch of lovable misfits, and I am, in a non-crushed-by-a-gigantic-sign way, Patches O’Houlihan. I will teach Roman, via this space here, to grab his victory by the haunches and *awkward thrusting motion* hump it into submission.
I believe in Roman, I believe in his of-late cocky, “Oh we’re gonna see what happens at ‘Mania, foo’!” bravado. I believe, if given a shot, he can be a solid, serviceable main event player — against Cena, Bryan, Rollins, whoever.
And if Roman can dodge the wrenches thrown by the Tri-Lams, he can dodge an F-5 and pick up the win at WrestleMania.
Ooh, ahh. Alpha Beta. Greek Fraternity. Roman reign.
This has been Suspension of Disbelief.
Rey Mundo knows “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” came out ten years ago, and “Revenge of the Nerds” came out almost thirty years ago, but dammit, this is his column and he’ll write whatever he wants to. Big butt farty poop snot boobie burp.
Tags: Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns