By now, I’ve written a few of these “vs.” posts, and although they’re generally about counterpoints to articles, I generally don’t disagree on the entirety of the posts I target. This will be the first exception to that trend. I’ve tried to find merit in fellow Pulse writer Rey Mundo’s latest, where he tries to defend the Roman Reigns push by painting him as the underdog, but I simply couldn’t. Whether that’s due to my incapabilities of analyzing thoroughly enough for said ethos or if the article lacked any hint of it to begin with, well, I’ll leave to you to your own conclusions
I’m a huge fan of underdogs.
I’m going to call bullshit on this, Rey. Your previous article, an editorial on ‘Mania 30, had you stating that the “plucky underdog” Daniel Bryan was not your guy, but rather The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin were. The latter three were hardly ever considered underdogs. Already, I’m inclined to question your understanding of the term.
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.
I’m trying to not stress on writer credibility and stick more to the topic, but seriously, when it comes to wrestling, my friend, your columns have never had a “rooting for not the main guy they’re pushing” feel to it. I’m not trying to say they weren’t or aren’t good. I wouldn’t have kept up with them if I didn’t enjoy at least the majority of them. And I’m not trying to say that rooting for John Cena, The Rock, and all the other guys that WWE wants you to root for automatically makes for bad writing. Like I said, I enjoy the majority of your work. But your sports team preferences don’t mirror your wrestling picks outside of the three you mentioned here. In this particular part. Of this particular article.
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.
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.
You do know that television and movies aren’t real life, right? Just because people’s taste have changed doesn’t mean social hierarchy has. Yes, people have gravitated towards comics and sci-fi. But that just means mainstream taste has changed. Not the people in the mainstream itself. In all the examples you listed, “Revenge of the Nerds”, Screech, Urkel, they were all protagonists, just as the characters in “The Big Bang Theory”. They still faced the same obstacles as generally what nerds face. Also, the internet age has made much more content much more widely available. But again, that doesn’t mean we’ve made a social 180. By that logic, because our media is much more minority and gay friendly, minorities and gays are no longer oppressed. Which, as exemplified by New Day, is complete bullshit.
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.
No. This is precisely why, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Roman Reigns is favored and privileged. Because despite him being lacking these fundamental qualities of the “top guy”, he is being granted that level because he has a look the company prefers rather than the guy the fans prefer.
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.
He isn’t. He did when he was with the Shield because it was the Shield. He had a bit of it mid 2014. Post-injury, though, it was gone. And instead of letting it build back up slowly, he was booked to be shoved down our throats, which caused an, ahem, backlash. Not his fault, but he isn’t.
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?
An underdog isn’t defined by accomplishments. An underdog is defined by how he is perceived. And there has never been an underdog more fitting of that term than Daniel Bryan. People don’t freak out because he doesn’t win. People freak out because, no matter how much they voice their support for him to be in the main event status, the company seems driven as hell to book him as a mid-carder. And one Wrestlemania doesn’t change that fact.
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.
So, by this logic, wrestlers should only be given one title run in their careers because “we’ve done the thing”. Your favorites The Rock, Hogan, and Austin would probably not benefit by that train of thought booking.
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?
See, now I absolutely know you have no idea what the concept of an underdog is. People don’t hate Roman because of Roman. People hate that he’s being booked as the opposite of an underdog, where as the underdog they are supporting is once again being snubbed.
Well, lawd’a’mercy, you just described the 2002 run of Roman Reign’s WrestleMania opponent, the beast incarnate, Brrrrrock Lllllesnar.
Except people were rooting for Lesnar back then. People wanted to see him take down Rocky. Just like now, people want to see Bryan take down Lesnar. If they pushed somebody who was not Lesnar to go over Rock in 2002, he may have had a similar reaction to what Reigns is experiencing. In 2002, Lesnar was the crowd’s favorite. Now, Bryan is. Your parallels are inaccurate.
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.
It’s 2015. No one rides that supposed fence you described. Everyone knows WWE is a variety show with an emphasis on physicality. That’s why there’s such a problem with this situation. It’s a scripted show. And on scripted shows, you give the fans what they want. If not, expect a loss in viewership and investment. Pure and simple.
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…
One Wrestlemania does not overturn one’s status. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t. No matter how much you bring this argument up, Daniel Bryan is no less an underdog than he was when he started with the company. The only difference is the fans actually acknowledge his talent, and they voice it undeniably.
Look, Rey. One of the main reasons I enjoy your columns is that it’s very much editorial to the max. You’re not afraid to mark for who you mark for, and you’ve never made it a point to apologize for it. I’m down with that.
But trying to make a clearly inaccurate argument as an objective fact when it’s clearly based on your personal bias towards which wrestler you like is a fruitless task. You like Reigns. Awesome. I do to. You don’t like Bryan as much. Cool. I’m a big fan of his. But to paint the good looking, obviously favored, and less talented guy as an “underdog” over the guy who has never been favored by the company, has an off the wall look, but has talent that the fans can see and are behind? No amount of bad references and oddly-placed onomatopoeia can win you that argument.
With that said, congrats on the engagement, my fellow Pulse dweller.
Tags: Daniel Bryan, Kue, pulse, Roman Reigns, suspension of disbelief