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Samuel 'Plan
12-23-2018, 02:58 PM
Before the last reset I recall we had a thread for writers to post older retro columns in! Considering my Shakespeare adaptation from the 2018 CSI tourney back at the start of the year got mentioned by SirSam in his EOY thread, I thought I'd resurrect the aforementioned thread and re-post the column in question!

The round stipulation was to adapt Act III Scene I of Romeo and Juliet using wrestling as inspiration (at least that's close enough to the stip anyway!). So here is my version, which used the Rollins/Ambrose relationship as inspiration.

----


Act III

Scene I. A public place.

[Enter Bray Wyatt.]


BRAY: All the foulest pieces of Seth’s
Soul doth lend me form; thus all he’s
Left is sadness and regrets.
All our natures are unchanging,
E’en for men as driven as you,
Architect. Your fetid lust lets
Glory fuel your finest acts of
Treachery. Such acts still doth form
Thy tainted heraldry - a pit
Of vice that runs deeper than you
Might yet realise; from which I hath
Emerged – being fear made flesh.
You dare believe I no longer
Exist, having slain the King of
Kings and, with peace, made your treatise?
How temerity can make us
Fools. You fail to realise that
I am e’rywhere, Seth, and that
I am all things; for all men fear.
Slave to me, is what you still are,
Your fate is mine to tear apart.
Ever closer draws the hour for
Me to claim your broken soul, and
Watch you burn in fires of sins your
Own. Thus your name and visage will,
Yet again, become mine once more.
Soft! ‘Ere comes the Chairman Vince, whose
Vile cause should be obtained, should it
Better serve my own cruel purpose.


[Enter Vince McMahon.]


BRAY: Lord of family named Corp’rate,
What lends cause for looks so irate?

VINCE: Shut up, demon! ‘Tis not fear that ails me; you’ve nothing to feast on here. I am angry. My own flesh and blood doth disappoint, and now cowers in fear of what this man, so named Kingslayer, might yet achieve in the fever of his will. Now that he stands free of my son-in-law’s plots, truly hath he become a thorn by other name that pricks as sharply. The failure of my foolish children will sit as a black mark upon my name, for I had thought to raise fighters, not failures! Now this wretched son of a bitch, whose name Seth Rollins my kin dare not utter, chases for love the golden crown I have forged with the hammer of my own triumphs. Never again might he be bent to our own ends and I see no means by which to bring him to his ends.


BRAY [aside]: Glorious luck, that his anger
Be a source of ran’crous chance for
me! It can be but a quirk of
Well-meant fate that sees me meet this
Lord of Family Corp’rate!


VINCE: What do you say of my predicament, you miserly worm?! Speak quickly, or be gone!


BRAY: Cause of yours and cause of mine doth
Meet as one, our intents entwine!
Combined, our minds make evil fly!
Walk with me; Seth’s time runs dry.


[Exeunt Vince McMahon and Bray Wyatt.]

[Enter Dean Ambrose and Renee Young.]

RENEE: My fair Dean Ambrose, let us away and return home. Those that seek to beat you are all around, and tensions in every quarter abound. The night draws close. If we were to be confronted by any who count themselves among the Family Corp’rate, I fear what might become of us.

DEAN: I care not.

RENEE: But in caring not you give cause for my caring to flower all the more!

DEAN: Then perhaps I should pluck your flower so as to put your fear to bed.

RENEE: Would that the energy you wish to spend in plucking flowers be better spent in plucking up courage to do right by my wish, and retire to our chambers so as to avoid a brawl.

DEAN: Fear not, for I am not a brawling type.

RENEE: Fie! Not a brawling type, indeed!

DEAN: You think me so?

RENEE: Am I mistaken in my memory of your sullying a gentleman’s jacket, worth no less than fifteen thousand ducats might I add, so as to revenge the loss of a plant worth five?

DEAN: That much is true.

RENEE: And did this not result in a brawl or two, or maybe more?

DEAN: I remember not.

RENEE: You remember well, I think!

DEAN: ‘Tis not my fault if the gentleman, who so, with malcontent, slew my darling Mitch, did fail to see the balance of my revenge.

RENEE: Fifteen thousand to five? What balance could there ever be in so clearly an unbalanced exchange?

DEAN: Wealth is measured not by ducat but by desire; desire being love by other name. The value of all things is to be found truest there. Thusly, when one man injures what another man desires, so does he injure what that man loves. A return price of equal measure should be found only in reflective injury, lest there be cause for mercy. I saw none then; indeed, as I would see none now were a man to injure you.

RENEE: Flatterer, it is lust you speak of, not love! Love; you that would pluck my flower! Fie!

DEAN: Pluck your flower, nay; pluck up the courage to speak plainly to the object of both my lust and love? Yay! Though me-thinks I spy a glint in your eye, that would it were as you accuse it of being.

RENEE: Your logic is as twisted as my words are become! ‘Tis what gives cause to others to name you lunatic.

DEAN: ‘Tis the absence of such logic that gives me cause to call all others true strangers to sanity, and I its only and lonely friend.

RENEE: How now, lonely, when you keep me so close in your company?

[Re-enter Bray Wyatt.]

RENEE: Alas, here comes what I did fear; the heraldry of Team Corp’rate!

DEAN: Nay. This creature is known to me. No matter his colours, he is no more a Corp’rate as he is a Hound; so let him as ever yap as small dogs do.


BRAY: Stay your hands in such nervous heat!
Where is Seth? I wish us to speak.

DEAN: My nerves are steel; I know my demons and accept them, as does my brother Seth. You have no business with him despite your vile form. Now be gone, before you give me cause to brawl!


BRAY: Quick to draw your sword when Seth’s name
Walks abroad I see! Do tell, pray,
What would our dearest Renee say?

DEAN: Your fool’s games fall on deaf ears; would that your irksome rhymes do the same. A headache do they lend me, and generously so I might add. It is a simple thing, to let a man alone to his business; yet here you come to mar my evening as sure as the moon arrives to light it, barking like some rabid, untamťd dog! Be gone, I said, or brawl we will!

RENEE: Dean, he wears the colours of Team Corp’rate! Care thee not, I know, and be not among their number I do comprehend, but injure him in so public a place as this and be branded criminal for your act! Let us retire, as I did beseech before. Play not their game, for you are not your brother’s keeper, despite all you have both been through together and apart.

[Enter Seth Rollins.]


BRAY: Preach no more! Here walks my man!

DEAN: Your man? Fie! Long gone are the years he wore your face and walked in line with liars and cheats. To this day he remains my brother, in spite of the sleights he wrought upon me in the thralls of thy maleficent will. Know, demon, that for as long as this body doth draw breath then ne’er again will he be yours!


BRAY: Architect! You’ll turn, you blaggard!
Seth Rollins! I call thee coward!

SETH: Not coward. But my hands are stayed this day.
That uniform you wear does drag me to
My memories of days my better self
Was lost. The fight I won against the King
Of Kings did end the nightmare of those days
And now I am a liberated soul.
My peace precludes a foolish war with thee,
That would risk all good things I won in spite
Of thee. Foul self leave, and let us all be.

DEAN: You refuse the fight? Do I dream Seth, or do you now refrain from taking up your sword to slay this tormenting wraith? Why, what cowering submission this is! You are vulnerable still to the temptations of your vice! So be it. To stand in your place in such a void of strength is what a brother is fashioned for. Thus presently, in truth, I am my brother’s keeper, and only in haste would ever choose to be so. My love for thee can bear this brawl, and will thusly in thy stead. Bray! Stand to, and fight! My place is between you both, for Seth’s war is my own.

SETH: Oh good and loving brother, please do not
Again succumb to your emotion, but
Think this through and, as is needed, ignore
Their taunting action. Don’t risk all in my
Undeservťd name, but hold steady your
Soul and deny our enemy their goal!


BRAY: With laughter at Seth’s weak willed husk
Of body do I respond!
Sweet sits the taste of my breaking
These two brothers’ once strong bond!

DEAN: Bring me a miracle and still your lubricious words, snake!

[They fight.]

SETH: Enough of this madness! I am not slave
To the will of Wyatt! I need no strength
Lent by brother! My love for the golden
Crown Vince hath forged is tamťd now! I can
Not have my brother’s end upon my soul!

[Bray under Seth’s arm thrusts Dean in with unseen dagger, and flees.]

DEAN: Such a prick has never been known; a curse on both of your selves, Seth.

RENEE: Dean, you are wounded!

DEAN: Aye, ‘tis true; but wounded only that you were proven the righter of our contest. I am a brawling type, it seems.

RENEE: Never has it felt so sore to be so right.

DEAN: You’ve felt sorer, of this I’m sure.

RENEE: How impishly you play with words, even now!

SETH: Then the wound must not be quite so grievous.

DEAN: There can be no wound so grievous as to compare to the sting of your once trait’rous chair. Though I confess that this one aches fierce in my heart, which now splits deeper than even thy own soul. I was hurt under your arm. Why must you have come between us? I had your fight in hand.

SETH: I could not bear the prospect of your death,
Nor notion of some gross injustice wrought
Upon you greater than e’en my frightful sins.

DEAN: The world grows quiet and in the first makes sense about me. My life was lifted to heavens for knowing you, and rose above its most cursed solitude for my loving you. My life was dragged through levels of hell for having known ugliest betrayal as forged by you, and now ends for having been saved by you. Oh, cruel irony! My brother, my brother, wherefore art thou Seth Rollins, my brother? A curse on both your selves!

[He dies.]

RENEE: His peace doth now bear him to a silent rest he could have never known in this mad world. Fare ye well, my love. You were too good a man to be long for our world.

SETH: Ambrose falls victim of my hubris and,
Once more, of my passing keen ambitions.
Am I fated to be Bray’s slave for all
Of my remaining days? Alas for Bray,
Cruel japes of fate do stir my will most fierce!
Avoiding fighting my worst self has been
Avoiding losing, and becoming my
Worst self; but fight I must or face the whole
Sore pain of Dean’s sad loss. Corp’rate and Bray
Are doomed to fall, for now I set my will
To avenge our Dean and reclaim my soul!

[Re-enter Bray Wyatt.]

RENEE: The pestilent creature that would bear your name and face returns to taunt once more.

SETH: You laugh in horrid triumph as our tears
Still sting fresh. My brother lays here, the cost
Of my base will; now I turn base will on
Thee. Call me blaggard once again, or call
Me coward better still! Your grasp that has
So blinded me I shall now break, and in
So doing end all hells you’ve made withal!


BRAY: I mock your loss, which offers me
Gain! Go join Dean in lands of slain.
Then your soul is mine again, and
Nought will stop Fear’s ascending reign!

[They fight. Bray Wyatt falls.]

RENEE: Go now Seth! He wears the Family Corp’rate colours, and here comes a crowd to call you villain and breathe life into Vince’s long endeavour.

SETH: Had I been more myself and thought this through
Still would our Dean lie still - I am no fool.

[Exit Seth Rollins.]

[Enter Vince McMahon and a crowd.]

A FAN: Where did the odious villain go that killed this innocent man named Dean?

A CORP’RATE STOOGE: And what of the man that did slay this honourable Corp’rate fellow?

RENEE: My muse Dean Ambrose here was slain not one hour hence by this Bray Wyatt.

A CORP’RATE STOOGE: Who in turn was slain by whom?

VINCE: Only one man would find bloodied success in the seeking of such revenge, who is so named the Kingslayer. His lust for the golden crown I crafted starves in the light of my own success and, in starving, it seems his hunger grows boundless in its appetite. Forthwith he is banished from my lands; let it be known under pain of death.

[Exeunt crowd.]

VINCE: Do with these bodies as you so wish, small mewling child. I have better business to attend.

RENEE: I would like to know how deep it cuts, your unflattering failure that saw Seth kill Bray and yet remain to seek to burn all things down.

VINCE: Of what failure do you speak? Seth might live but night closes as home to two fewer enemies than the day did break with! And if Seth Rollins returns then his lesson shall be learnt in like fashion to that of Dean and Bray - life is but the continued absence of positive dispositions, and then one becomes carrion for crows!

[Exeunt.]

mizfan
12-24-2018, 12:38 PM
Man… hey man… you want to play a game? I just found out about this new one. It’s called “Settlers of the Underground”, and it seems pretty awesome. It’s exciting as hell, and look at all the different pieces you can use! A lot of them have these little masks on them, which I thought was kind of cool, and they can really zip around the board. The rules are a little different than what we’re used to, but they’re really easy to learn and you can come up with some awesome ways to play. And seriously, look at how many different twists and turns can happen as you play! Even the board looks awesome, it looks like a little Temple, and your pieces can go through the roof, or the window, or down the stairs, and all sorts of other crazy stuff. It’s got this great backstory that’s easy to pick up, and there’s murder and evil gods and a ninja skeleton that breaks arms and all kinds of outside the box stuff. See, they even have it printed on the outside of the box, just look at that crazy artwork! I think it’s got a lot of potential to be the most fun thing we’ve played in a while. What do you think?

Oh… you want to play… that. Again. Are you sure? I mean, it’s just that’s what we always play. And when we play THAT, you always seem to get mad. I remember last time you were complaining all the little pieces look practically the same, and none of them can do anything interesting. I’m just saying, you’d think there’d be some significant differences if a hotel was owned by a cat or by a wheelbarrow, or something. But no, basically whatever piece you plug in, everything just goes down exactly the same. And there’s no real story, you just kind of run around in the same circle over and over again. It never really changes at all, even when they come out with a new edition that’s supposed to be different, it’s always the same thing. I’m just saying man, that’s what YOU said last time we played, so don’t look at me like I’m crazy. So, since you were the one complaining, I thought maybe a new game would be more interesting. But hey, if you want to keep playing this, I guess that’s ok. Yeah, it’s very familiar, and it’s definitely a classic. I know, we’ve been playing it for years, and years. We’ve had some good times… I guess.


*****

New game time, buddy! After that last session, I figured you’d want to play something fresh for sure, so I ran right out and bought this one. It’s called “New Japan Pro Scrabble”. It’s a thinking man’s game! The playing can be intense, and there are a lot of subtle moves you can make that really enhance the gameplay. The games can run a little long, but you’ll hardly notice because the level of play is so advanced. It’s got some of the best pieces in the world, and it’s even incorporated a few elements of your old favorites to make things more accessible. See, you can even play as the old light up jacket piece from our usual game! You can match it up with this little cleaning broom piece, or use one of these bullet pieces from the box. And it takes a LOT to win this one, so when somebody is on top of the hill you know they really must be something. And best of all, everything’s been translated to English now, so no worries about playing in Japanese! People are really excited about this game and it seems like it’s just getting bigger and bigger, and it’s never been easier to get into. What do you say, we can try it once and see if you like it?

Oh… you’ve already set up… ok, I guess we’re not changing it up. Yet again. Ok, really? Because last time you got really, really mad about the way the rules said we were supposed to use your favorite pieces. That the top hat could only move one square at a time, no matter how much you liked it. Remember, you said it was like the rules were different and the game would only favor the pieces that it really liked? And that every time they bring in a new piece, they ruin everything that seemed exciting about it at first? Like, look at the little robe piece. When they first announced it, it sounded like it had a bunch of interesting game play applications, but now the only special rule with it is that you have to sing that “Glorious” song every time you roll the dice. And this piece, you remember they brought it over specially from Japan, and it was supposed to be a game changer? But after that first game, they treated it like any other piece, and now nobody even plays with it anymore. Is any of this ringing a bell? Ok, I see you’re starting the game, so I’ll play with you, but you better not get mad this time. If you do, we are definitely playing something else next time.


*****

Pull up a chair buddy, this time we are playing something new, and there’s nothing you can say about it! This one is called “Chess Mundial De Lucha Libre”. Pretty exotic, right?? This one has got some really different rules, and it might take a minute to get into, but it’s actually the oldest game in the world and has been beloved for decades and decades by players across the world. It’s completely fresh, all the pieces and players get an equal chance to show their ability and rise and fall based on more than the way they look, and the game play is some of the most exciting you will ever experience! And if you play a really big game, some of the pieces can even lose their little hairdos or their masks, and sometimes they can’t even get them back so there’s even consequences from one game to the next. They’ve got this little bone piece, and this barrel, and they can do some stuff you haven’t even seen before. I think it’s really going to snap you out of your funk, it’s gonna be a whole new experience and who knows? You might fall in love with gaming all over again! So let’s get started, I’ll just set up the…

Oh… you already set up… that same… old… game… again. Oh.

Look man… I can’t do this anymore. You play the game, you bitch about the game, then you sit down to play the game again. Maybe when we were younger, we couldn’t reach the other games on the shelf, but these days you can get any game in the whole closet down at any time. It’s so easy, but all you want to do is play this game because you used to like it so much back in the day. I mean, I remember the good times as well as you do. I remember racing the little beer can game piece around the board, banging into all the others and wrecking up shit. I remember the little bull piece and how it was the only one that could keep up with the beer can when he played. I even remember the little butt cheeks piece. Remember that one? That one was too cool, seriously. But man, it’s been FOREVER since those days! It’s like it’s not even the same game anymore. I’m sure lots of people like the game for what it is now, but all you do is complain about it! But every time I suggest something new, you don’t care, or you talk about how all other games are not “in the big league”. I pitch “CHIKARA Ship”, you think it looks low rent. I bring home “Clue of Honor”, and you say it’s probably boring. I was even willing to try “Total Nonstop Sorry!”, that game from Global Force or Impact or whatever, but you won’t even give it a look. But we sit down with this game, the one YOU always want to play, and how many times can the bullet proof vest piece pass go before you start ranting and bitching? How many times can the little sledgehammer or the trench coat get brought out before it’s not fun anymore? I barely ever even see the little throwing guy piece, and he’s supposed to be the most important one of the bunch! I can’t stand playing the same old game with you anymore, man! I just can’t stand it, I feel like I’m going nuts! We need to play something new, right now, or I don’t think we can be gamers together anymore. So, what’s it going to be?

You… you want to play the Junior version. Of the same game. This version is yellow, I see. Nope, not red or blue, so it’s totally different. Sure. Great. Ok, goodbye buddy. No, yeah, I see what you’ve got there. You enjoy that. Have a nice life playing a game you hate. I’m out!


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Benjamin Button
12-24-2018, 08:18 PM
The old years....

If stacked up dominoes could send their shared pain of a collapse to one place, that place may understand my aching when I dropped on the mattress. My syndrome aged me backwards. I was born what he became: an old irrelevant man. I was Benjamin Button; the man on the other side of the curled up naked woman was Ric Flair, my hero.


“I’m leaving,” she said, “two dicks and no boners, what a horrible time.” She held the sheet against her breasts and wrapped it around her body. Flair set half-way up, while his own boobs sagged over his large belly. Pressing his palms against the mattress to hold up his weight, he looked at me with his mouth open.“Where is she going?” he said.


“She’s leaving. You and I both fell asleep.”


“Wait, sweetheart, you haven’t even begun to ride Space Mountain!” Ric cried.


She was now fully clothed with her hair in a messed up pony tail and her feet cramming into her heels. “I’m going to get on twitter and tweet that Space Mountain is broke, and you—you’re no better, Benjamin Button. Your dead weight dick just drops to the side!”


“Go tweet, you twat!” I yelled, reaching for my walker. “Who needs you?”


After the door slammed, I heard sobbing. Ric’s nose turned red, and his lips and chin pouted in a curled up mess.


“Don’t worry about her, champ. Just some 19 year old know nothing. She didn’t see you wrestle that two out of three fall match with Rick Steamboat. To me you’re still strutting in those alligator shoes. You’re the man with the long hair and the big gold belt. You’re out there almost getting pinned but— plot twist— instead having the 60 minute time limit draw. What’s it like to be young, champ? What’s it like to be in the prime of your life? To have the money and the fame?”


“Who’s that guy? Who’s that fucking guy?” Flair reached over the side of the bed and grabbed his bottle of Screaming Eagle and continued crying and drinking.


“All you ever do, anymore, is cry,” I mumbled to myself, closing the door.


As I rolled my walker down the sidewalk, I thought in the streetlamp lighting, “Will I be the same as a young man as I am an old man, or will I be ready for the moment?”


“It aint all it itsth cracked up to be, kid.” From across the street, I heard a voice with a lisp say. With his hands in his pocket and teeth as white as the curled hair hanging from his hat, the round figure in the fur coat and top hat smiled at me.


“My lord, the Screaming Eagle must be hitting me! You died two years ago!” I said.


“You’re only asth dead asth you feel.” Dusty Rhodes roared in laughter underneath the top hat. “Besidesth if I wasth dead would I be thisth perty?”


“Who…are you?” I said. And what do you mean…not all it’s cracked up to be?”


“You’re going to think I’m being corny.” He said. “But the fame isth justh a Dusthy finisth. You misth out on the family, you misth out on the friendsth, you misth out on true—” His voice rose “lovin’ and duvin’. And you think you got sthomething, but it’sth justh a Dusthy finisth!”


“You know what? No. You say this now, because you had your chance. I’m just starting out.” I shook my head and continued, “Bah, Screaming Eagle…”


The cab driver emerged from the front seat. “You ok, there?”


“What’s your name?” I asked the bald driver in a vest. The street lamp and my aged eyes didn’t give me enough light to make out his expression.


“My name Virgil.” He said. Somehow, I felt he smiled.


“Virgil, do you see anybody across the road?”


“No, mista, I don’t.”


He took my elbow and helped me in the backseat.



The prime years...


Long after we buried Flair, I looked in my apartment’s hall of mirrors and beheld Brad Pitt, except with muscles bulking from my back and front upper torso and my biceps. Wrestle-Mania 45 would be mine. Still, I couldn’t think of Ric without thinking of how at his wake, I slept with the champ’s 16th wife—his widow. I did it doggy style, with her silk black dress over her waste and her thong down, because it made me feel power. At that time of my life Stephanie McMahon, HHH, and their son, Stephanie McMahon Jr., told every outlet I would be a most unique superstar. My ego made me fuck her. And worse it made me do her standing doggy style, with her head under the lid of Ric’s coffin. I saw through her eyes and smelled through her nose: the coffin, the metal, the wood, the hardness, the champ inside there, more rotten than ever. Her moaning and mourning poured into the shell of the champ who’d done his final Flair drop.


“You ready for this, champ,” the gray beard of Enzo said. He appeared behind me in the mirror with a head band, bleached hair, and a gray beard. Short but loud, my manager made me feel prestigious, calling me champ.


“I’m going to win the belt at Wrestle-Mania. Of course, I’m ready.” I said smiling, ear to ear.


“I meant to shmoke some rocks, dummy!” He pulled out his crack-pipe, and his gray beard turned to a villain’s smile.


When Wrestle-Mania came, and the main event hit, Enzo walked behind me and the Zo train followed me holding my IC title and my US title above their heads. I’d now challenge for the Universal title. WWE showcased giants, midgets, Greek gods, but never a man who aged backwards—never until I came along. I threw the hood off my robe and a couple 18 year old female You Tube celebrities, a nine and a ten, took the robe from me. I chased them around the ring as they laughed. I swung at the air, ready to challenge the champ; the one everyone talked about since November. Her classical music entrance theme hit.


First came out the manager Dolphy Ziggler, who’d fully transitioned into a woman from only being part the way there during her wrestling days. Then emerged, carrying the beauty of the red strap, Charlotte Flair. The 60,000 at the Citrus Bowl cheered for her strength. She’d overcome her brother and father’s death. Also, The fall prior, with a figure 8 on Kevin Owens, she pushed and pushed to apply pressure. He passed out and got counted down. With shoulders widened but smile humbled, the first female to win the Universal title celebrated in front of Greensboro, at the Starrcade house show she won it at. Then, when nobody but she, the WWE 24 cameraman, and Dolphy were around, she touched the tear on her cheek, as if it could connect her to her father and brother only for a moment's magic. Dolphy placed her hand on the champion's back and whispered, “Sweetheart, they’re proud of you.”


The surreal stare-down in one's first Wrestle-Mania takes a back seat to the nudging from the importance of perfection. As the champ squeezed my head with her long legs, I recognized the irony to myself. My hero’s daughter would lose and retire to be with family before she got too old to enjoy that. What a fool I thought, maneuvering my way to my feet. I grabbed her legs and snapped on an abrupt figure four. I noticed her tan left leg sagged a bit. Her age caught up to her, while I had shed 50 years in just 10. I heard the crowd's “woos!” and I ripped at her leg. Then, I bridged my body and turned it into a figure 8! The Woos turned to boos and chants for Charlotte. What a perfect performance! She powered out. We both mounted to our feet and she chopped the shit out of me with a slap that even a roofless arena could hear. The Woos could be heard again. 15 minutes disappeared in going from just a few short rest-holds to fast and furious chops and punches to top rope drops. The match paced itself like my life. When she super-plexed me, the body that once could not sustain a drop on the mattress could feel nothing but adrenaline against the canvas. She pulled at my leg. And, then, she locked me for a figure 8! I sold like her stepmom had once done for me, but then she slapped my leg with the signal we agreed would be given for me if she would allow me to reverse the hold. I laughed in evil jubilee. As I turned, and she and I lay on our stomachs, I eyed Enzo’s face at ringside, his smirking and winking. I pushed up, applying pressure. The hold then released. She and I stood, and she chopped me down. She went to lock me one more time with her figure 8, and I rolled her up: 1, 2, 3... The bell rang. If the crowd made a sound it went in the heavens above the roofless arena, and the gods kept it a secret. But without looking I could see the fans’ tears. Dave Meltzer leaked it’d be sweet Charlotte’s retirement.


The referee handed me the title. I walked half way down the aisle holding ol’ red up with the Zo train holding my other titles up. I looked around, and the crowd was on their feet, embracing Charlotte. I could feel their pain. They chanted, “Thank you, Charlotte!”


You see this, champ! You see this! She’s shtealing your pizzazz.” Enzo complained.


Anger moved me back to the ring, shaking my head. She conspired this! She calculated the people would sympathize for her and demand her return, hence she’d be on top, again. I limped back to the ring, pulled myself to the apron, and grabbed the referee by the shirt. “Tell her to get the fuck out of my limelight!” The referee nodded his frown marks at me, walked over to her, and whispered to her. The members of the Zo train hoisted me up. I saw the image of Ric at Starrcade 83, holding the ten pounds of gold over his head and letting the blood run down his body. I glimpsed that Charlotte stepped through the ropes and put her head down and her arm around Dolphy. This image vanished in the moment but haunted me, years later.




And those years came quickly. At my apartment the doorbell rang, and Enzo greeted me with a bottle of Screaming Eagle. “Why so sherious, champ? You get the call or shomething?”


Before the Screaming Eagle and pain killers numbed me, the feeling of my bare feet in the soft and clean checkered carpet resonated. Home felt strange. Still, I'd feel this for years to come. “No but I’m expecting it.” I replied, concerning the call he inquired of.




The teenage years...



We smoked rocks, and he bragged about his Instagram followers. I said little. Social media had been unkind to me with me being a casualty of the new “Me Three movement.” The movement got its roots in the “Me Too,” of years past but had a 3 strike rule. I’d grabbed an ass at a party once. The cool fabric full of flesh failed to be worth it now. She turned and pushed me and said, “just cuz your Benjamin Button doesn’t mean you can do what you want." The coke, the Screamin’ Eagle, the ego, made me shrug it off. Strike two and three came from the girl on YouTube on my phone.


“Turn that shit off," Enzo said. “She’s just a whore.”


I responded little in my alcohol and pain killer infused trance. I felt none of her words as I looked into her eyes. Her pupils showed to be present and brown, but their souls absent. The camera shot upwards at her pale skin, thin mouth, and bangs. She said “You need to know, twice, Benjamin Button sexually assaulted me. The sex was non-consensual, because he bothered me multiple times before I said yes on both occasions.”


A soft, male voice in the background asked. “How many times did he bother you before each time?”


“Upwards of twice!” she said.


“Waky waky!” Enzo grabbed my phone from me. “I shaid turn the whore off.”


Then, the phone rang. I grabbed it from Enzo and answered. “Hello.”


“Hello, Benjamin.” The husky voice of Stephanie McMahon Jr. said.


He didn’t have to say more but did. He spoke about advertisers and shareholders and how my image wasn’t up to par. I said nothing. He said nobody wanted to lose to a man who looked like a 16 year old boy. I felt nothing. He gave his regards. We hung up.


The following years, Enzo remained on TV, and I didn’t see him anymore. I spent time at home and spent money on drugs and whores. That’s how I met her.



"You look like you're 10 years old," Shelly said.


With my squeaking I said, “Just bend over. You’ll see I aint no little boy.”


“Wow, you’re really that Benjamin Button!” She walked about my apartment and leaned on the window seal made out of a bed. She peered over Lake Michigan with her short curly hair. Then, I felt something; a warm feeling that in the past I never made time to notice. “You know what the difference between me and drug dealer is?” she said.


I smirked. “What.”


“They can only sell their crack once; I can wash mine and sell it again.”


I chuckled with heart.


“I could get use this view…” Shelly said.


The image of her leaning over the window seal with Lake Michigan in the background. “Yeah, me too.” I remarked.


Shelly and I married, but the love I felt grew to that of a mix of one would have for a wife with that of a sister, and finally a mother. She took me to the park and pushed me on the swing. Sex became an option no longer. The younger I got, the less time we spent together. I blamed her not. The responsibility to take care of me, I wished to put on nobody. But to let her go meant dying alone. We’d go to the park and I’d hug her and squeeze her like I’d never see her again.


My ability to speak became small words, and soon all I could do to get her attention was cry. The crib, made of fiberglass and wood, rocked for some time on the checkered carpet. Also, looking like the coach out a fairy-tale, it appeared to be a luxurious bed to grow out of, but some days I couldn't look at it, knowing the coach-like thing awaited me. Once my life became refined to it, it’s all I could do but hope she'd picked me up and I’d smell the floral scent of her “Roses are Red” perfume. I could not speak but thoughts haunted me: Flair’s tears over the bottle of screaming Eagle, Charlotte going through the ropes and hugging Dolphy after my denial of her goodbye to her fans, and Shelly not being home. I cried a lot.


The baby years...



Then, day and night, I felt my throat sore, my nose wet, and my blood hot. I’d cry and cry and some days, Shelly would pick me up and whisper to me.



The day came. I felt hungry in my crib. I heard the door open. Then, I silenced as her head rose into sight. Her eyes lit up. I laughed. Then, I felt my crib quake. Then... she... moaned. Pounding and moaning reached the threshold of my senses and conscience awareness. "Oh, n--n--o..." I thought. Her head began to bounce in and out of my view. "Shelly, no!" My crib shook from the impact of another man's weight shoving her into it. “Shelly no, Shelly no!" I thought. “Stop!”


She moaned and moaned as I cried and cried.


Next, smoke and his head band and gray beard came into sight. “How ya doing, baby Benjy.” Enzo laughed. Then Shelly laughed, and they slobbered all over each other in front of me.


A chin cleft came into sight. Stephanie McMahon Jr. said. “He doesn’t look good at all.” He paused and his head looked at Shelly's curly one. “We should put you on TV!” Stephanie McMahon Jr. said to Shelly. He, Enzo, and Shelly laughed aloud.


I cried in protest, but they ignored it and their laughing faces moved out of my sight. Come back, you bastard! I wanted to yell to Enzo. Come back, you dirty whore! I wanted to yell at Shelly. But jailed by this fiber glass and wood, all I could do was cry.

I heard the door shut, and my crying exhausted. Utter quietness consumed the room. Alas, to die alone I was left to do. Too tired to make a sound, I stared into forever's silence. A back door creaked and broke the eternity. Foot steps made it's way to me, away from me, and finally back to me again.


A familiar smiling face with curly white hair and a top hat came into sight. Dusty had dark circles under his eyes, but his grin sparkled as white as his hair. He picked me up in his soft arms. His fur coat itched yet comforted me. “Hushth, little baby. Don't sthay a word. Sthoon it will be over and you going to understhand the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.” He said.

mizfan
12-26-2018, 12:38 AM
I forgot all about this one! Thanks for reposting it, loved reading it again.

Benjamin Button
01-20-2019, 05:31 AM
The Time Limit Has Expired.

Minutes 60-50:


When the bell rings, the fan observes the champion, Ric Flair, emitting selfishness with just an expression and a swallow—that frown on the champ with the cleft underneath moving in slow motion. Then, the fan turns his attention to Barry, on the other end of the ring, bouncing his long (or maybe lanky) youth off the ropes.


The fan shouldn’t be there. But he sits his ass against the hard chair, anyway, and yells like there’s no tomorrow. He yells in protest of a tomorrow coming.


He remembers laughing on the beach with Joan, holding the sand in his hand. With it slipping through his fingers, he squeezed some of it just as hard as he could.


She laughed and said, “You can’t hold that forever, you know!”


He doesn’t have words to describe the ocean. He can’t remember Miami well enough. Too much booze, too much fun, and too many years had passed, and it all passed like flashes. Still, he remembers in a lust filled moment of hugging her, in her string bikini, saying the dumbest thing. He said, “Maybe, I’ll put it in a jar.”


“We didn’t bring a jar, silly!” she told him in Miami.


He drinks more bud out of the plastic cup. He shouldn’t be buying a beer that expensive. Brad fired him after 13 and Ĺ years, but he bought this ticket before he knew he couldn’t afford it! It’s funny how money in the bank begins to spend away when there’s no check being deposited. He sits there wondering if Joan will be there when he gets back, wondering if she’ll take the dog, little Nina, away with her. “I refuse to walk that dog in her little dress.” He said to Joan. “I don’t want to look like a queer!” One thing he knew; his hero, Bob Windham, wouldn’t walk a Jack Russel in a tutu.


Flair and Barry Windham taunt him, as Flair struts instead of locking up with Barry.


“Go, Barry! Go Barry!” He shouts. He thinks Barry’s eyes met his, but he was probably just looking in his direction. Barry, the son of Black Jack, could really do what his father never did; become World Champion! Flair tells the stranger sitting next to him to shut up; calls him fat. The guy in his “American Dream” hat seems embarrassed but smiles, anyway.


He prefers a golden retriever over a Jack Russel, like Nina, but over time she won his heart over with her constant tail wagging and her embracing when he use to get home from work. Oh, that’s right, work—how will he afford all her shots? The hardest thing he had to tell Joan—ever— was, “Brad Whitley sat across from me, today, somber faced, and leaned in and said, ‘we just think it’s best for both parties if we go separate directions.’” Lately, Joan’s done something he’d never seen her do, drink tequila straight. She never drank it straight, but she takes it that way now with the last of their savings like it’s the end of the world. He wonders if she’d be there when he gets home. She demanded that he return the ticket, but there weren’t refunds.


As Flair wrenches at Barry’s head with the side headlock, he hopes the match lasts forever. He doesn’t want to go back to life outside it.


“We didn’t bring a jar, silly.” She told him in Miami.


Minutes 50-45


Barry rolls Flair over, and Flair kicks out at two. He rolls him up twice more. The fans cheer and Barry feels them in his hands. With sweat already making his hair a darker blonde, he slips out and locks Flair’s head with his own head lock. He has a wedgie and he doesn’t care. He won’t let this moment slip through the cracks. So many women: and he can’t wait for the party tonight.


He hooks Flair’s head, fast and loosely.


Minutes 45-40


The fan looks at the guy with the Dusty hat next to him just smiling. Next to the other guy there’s an empty seat. Strange, it was for seats that close to ringside to be empty. Flair had just wiggled out of the head lock and jerked Barry legs, then pointed right at the guy, and said “Shut up, fat boy!” That marked the second time in only 15 minutes Ric Flair berated this man. Why does Flair keep yelling at this guy? He hasn’t made a peep the entire match?


“Hey!” He said to the man. “You just gonna let him talk to you like that?”
The man kept smiling, lying back. “It’s ok. I just want to enjoy it. Was supposed to bring my buddy with me tonight…”


The empty seat where that man’s buddy should be wasn’t lost on the fan.
“I lost him, unexpectedly. He use to drink so much and I learned to pick him up, ya know.” The fan continued in a daze, looking ahead. “I lifted at the knees and just pulled as quickly as I could and helped him to the car. Lost him to a heart attack. I think of his weight in my arms and the life that use to be inside it all.” The man in the Dusty hat said.


The fan replied, “Sorry to hear.” They both looked ahead not facing each other. However, the fan just thought of one word “sand.” This Dusty fan’s friend had just slipped through his arms, too soon.


“We didn’t bring a jar, silly.” Joan, once, told him in Miami.


Minutes 40-30.


Flair wrestles with the best ways to make Barry look good. The crowd silences. They need something more. If he makes Windham look good, Florida will want him to stay champ. He doesn’t want to ever give it back to Dusty or Harley. This has to be his time. “Put your arms around me,” Flair whispers. “Turn on your knees, mount your feet to the ground, push up slowly— I said slowly— you’re going too fast. Ok good you got it! Now, back-body drop me!” Flair fills himself slipping through the sweat in Barry’s arms and continues, “Hurry up! Make it fast!” Flair feels the hard canvas and bounces just a bit. He screams and holds on to the scream as long as his voice allows. In return, the fans cheer for as long as they can.


But nobody brought a jar.


Minutes 30-20

The fan forgets it all: the lost job, the failing marriage, the dog. In minutes 30 to 20 he lives inside cross body blocks and flip overs. Inside cradles and counters. Will Flair pin Barry? No! He can’t! Barry keeps kicking out! It’s like a basketball game, Barry gets the ball and right when he gets to the rim, Flair fouls him or makes the steal from him. It’s back and forth! The guy in the Dusty hat, next to him, loosens his pants to breathe. Barry goes behind Flair and rolls him up. 1, 2, and 2 and Ĺ! In Ĺ seconds Barry of done what his favorite, Black Jack, never did; win the belt! But the match still has 20 minutes left before curfew; Barry still has time!


Minutes 20-10:


“Let’s end it a bit early tonight, Ric. Let’s hit the town. You only live once!” Barry whispers, breathing heavily as Flair stretches his abdominal.


“Do you hear these people,” Flair says, “They’re chanting your name!”


Barry can’t see anything but Flair’s foot in a blur. He rocks Flair forward a couple of times just to hear the crowd, again.


“You’re dad’s standing,” Flair says, “Standing! Matches like this don’t happen at every house.”


Barry chuckles to himself. For him this is just the beginning. It’s just one more marathon with Ric...He knows his best days will come in time.


Minutes 10-1:


Then, Flair feels the frequency of his high scream for as long as he can feel it as Windham reverses the adnominal stretch with a hip toss. As he sees the body approach him quickly, he halts time and the fans cheers as he bends at the knees and lifts Widham up for an atomic drop. He lost the time between the atomic drop and the figure four, but yelled profanity’s at Windham on the outside and smiled on the inside as he applied more and more pressure. “Yes,” he thought. “They love Barry. I’ve done it! Neither Harley nor Dusty could do this!” He doubted himself before, but as he a rolled on his stomach and screamed like he was being pushed to the gas chamber, he never felt better about his fate.


He let Barry loose. Then, he heard the fans count the seconds until he mounted, with the assistance of the ropes, to his feet. He stood and woo’d and smiled at the boos. He walks over to Barry to hook him one more time, but Barry inside cradles him. With ring awareness being his only sight, the 60 minute man knows what 2 and ĺ’s of a second felt like and kicks out just at it.


He throws Barry off the ropes and locks a sleeper, but knowing he only has 4 minutes left, he doesn’t hold on too long. He whispers to Barry, “I’m going to let you go, but you have to hit the best lariat of your life. Knock me to the other side of the ring, punk!”


At Barry’s feigned strength Flair feels he bounce off the ropes and feels Barry’s arm across his lip. At 2 and 3 quarters of a referees slap against the mat, Flair places his foot across the bottom rope.


The two mount to their feet run off opposite side. Things got blurry for Flair as Windham’s head hits his. He’s finally tiring down and hope the referee counts slowly as they lay on the mat. With less than 60 minutes to go he feels his body his the canvas with sunset flips and rolls ups.


He can’t go any longer. They’ve pushed too long. But, then, then the official got on the mat and counted, then whispered 6 seconds left. Flair quickly grabbed Barry’s slippery locks and call bulldog. He felt little as Barry kicked near his gut, grabbed his hair, locked him into darkness, ran with him, and dropped him on his nose. The referee slapped the mat just once and the bell rang


***


In the left corner, lay flair holding just ten pounds over his tired body. For him the urgency of the moment means everything. He has to make this 3rd title rein the best. He has to be better than Harley, than Dusty, than Kiniski, than Brisco even. He breathes at ease, knowing he’s learned how to do it.

In the right corner, Barry tries his best to show disappointment. His dad told him to be patient. His years would come, he thought to himself, but tonight’s the party.

In the crowd, the fan hears the boos for Flair and the chants for Barry, but anxiety locks him in a hold. He feels for the man next to him, who lost his buddy forever, but like many fans before him and after him, the stalling can’t last forever. The time limit has expired, and now he must wrestle being a grown man.

mizfan
01-20-2019, 05:21 PM
Nice, one of my favorites. Here's one of mine, I think it was from 2014. Funny how times changes.




Heroes

It’s not hard to have a hero in wrestling. Everyone at least has a favorite, and for those of us who follow the business a little more closely than is perhaps healthy, it’s not a big step to elevate someone to an even higher level. What these men, and sometimes women, do on a weekly basis is frankly inhuman. We’ve all got those one or two guys that we think the world of, guys for whom our emotions go beyond personal favorites into a realm of deeper respect and connection.

My name is mizfan, and the Miz is one of my heroes.

Yes, still.

I’ve got a long history of picking losers to root for. Whether it was Tajiri as the unsung 7th member of the Smackdown Six (damn you, Chavo!), Chris Benoit being my favorite wrestler right up until you-know-what, or even in the modern day as TNA limps along to static ratings and flagging critical reaction, I have a tendency to support the losing team one way or another. I’m a Kane-over-Undertaker kind of guy, if that clarifies things for you at all.

But I think we all know deep down that at one point it was anything but a losing proposition to support the rising star of the Miz. In 2008? Easy. In 2009? Nothing simpler. By 2010 you’d have to dead to not take notice of the man one way or another, and by the end of that year it seemed that his journey from forgettable nobody to one of the biggest stars of the company was complete, with only a minor (albeit insufferable) detour through some very painful “hosting” duties. Hoorah, am I right? No, in fact it was horribly wrong, but all in all everything seemed to be coming up roses for Mike Mizanin and his fans.

I won’t lie to you, dear readers. The Miz became something of a hero to me, not because I believed he was necessarily one of the best wrestlers of all time, but by virtue of the very long odds he overcame to get to the top. An outsider to the business and an outcast in the locker room, the very fact of his hiring seemed to be a rather lame low grade publicity grab by the WWE. Initially it seemed he would just be another in a long line of poorly chosen performers given screen time for all the wrong reasons.

But the Miz was different than so many other Z-grade celebrities who have been given a chance over the years to ply their trade, whatever that might have been (because it sure as hell wasn’t always wrestling). Rather than fading away as his interest waned or caving to the pressure from his fellow performers to leave his spot for someone more “deserving”, he buckled down and made massive improvements over the years until he became one of the hottest commodities in wrestling.

To me, the man was a symbol that anything is possible with hard work and determination, so when my hero reached the top of the company at the tail end of 2010 I couldn’t have been happier.

Heroes can let you down.

Please dear readers, don’t think I’m here to denounce the man, as there are many reasons for his fall from grace. His WWE Championship reign, which should have been the peak of his career, was mired in and overshadowed by a reprehensible feud between announcers. His Wrestlemania main event ended up badly shorted for time, marred by a mid-match concussion, and despite his best efforts to the contrary, suffered from a massive lack of focus on the actual WWE Champion. His post championship career was immediately sabotaged by perhaps the worst booked championship rematch of the modern era, and followed up by one of the most poorly considered pushes in any era in the form of Alex “15 seconds of fame” Riley.

It hurts me to go back and see how over the man still was through months and months of bad booking, but eventually failed or aborted angles took their toll, and the people started to care less and less about the Awesome One. Many of his staunch defenders revealed themselves as fair-weather fans and denounced ever having been a fan of the man in the first place. I was not one of them, but I can’t say I didn’t at least question myself about the man I had taken my name from.

But what really got me, sliding into 2012, is that the Miz himself seemed to stop caring. His promos degraded, his ring work became duller and occasionally even dangerous, and his character seemed to lack all direction.

It was a dark time to be a mizfan, my friends, and when the catastrophic decision to turn him face inevitably came down, it seemed to be all over. I remained a vocal supporter of the man’s potential, but I could no longer co-sign his current work.

I won’t lie, I was hurt to see my hero slide down the company ladder. Whether he was disheartened by the ever increasing obstacles laid in his path by the company, angles too bad or meaningless to salvage and a complete lack of direction, or if he was tired of going against the grain, or even if he was simply satisfied with his career and content to coast for however many years remained, it didn’t make much difference to a faithful mizfan like myself.

Heroes are just people after all.

As time went by and I gained a little distance from the Miz’s midcard slide, I started to wonder if I was even justified to blame the man for being disheartened. God knows there are plenty of days of at work where I struggle to perform at my peak, especially if I’ve got conflict with the bosses. Any my job doesn’t have anything on the stress of being a professional wrestler.

So the question is, do I as a fan who sits on his ass have any right to criticize the burnout of a wrestler who is constantly on the road, constantly putting his body on the line?

Of course I do, I’m the customer. But that doesn’t mean it’s not understandable. The Miz gave me so many good years, so many amazing memories. If he doesn’t want to climb the mountain all over again, that’s his right. I should just be happy for what I had, and move on.

And yet…

Heroes can be reborn.

I won’t lie to you, mizfan fans. WWE and myself have been having something of a difference of opinion these past few months, so I can’t say I’ve been watching the most recent adventures of the world’s largest sports entertainment conglomerate as closely as I once did.

Even so, hope springs eternal when you’re a manic optimist. I have heard tell that the Miz is back, and not just in body but perhaps even in spirit for the first time in the last few years. Could it be? I can barely bring myself to hope that it’s true, that one of my favorite wrestlers of all time could come close to his former glory, so recently won and yet seeming so distant after several years of disuse.

Time will tell for the Miz himself, but I can’t help but marvel at how deeply these characters sink into our psyche. It doesn’t matter a bit in the practical sense to me if Mike Mizanin fell off the face of the earth tomorrow, but even years after my interest in the man as a performer hit his peak I’m still so invested in the man’s success or failure that I’ll follow his career even if I’m not watching the show he’s featured on. The connection between a fan and his favorite wrestler is so deep, so primal. It transcends logic entirely and blasts in on an emotional level.

I may have a history of picking losers, but by god when I pick them, I stick with them. I don’t think I even have much choice in the matter, to be honest. No matter how we analyze the statistics and break down the technicalities, we are all of us in the end linked, perhaps even chained, to our heroes.

So here’s to the Miz getting a second shot at the Wrestlemania main event he deserved, and if I’m the only one watching it so be it.

Benjamin Button
04-04-2019, 10:56 PM
I just got around to reading this, as I missed it when you posted it. Very emotive, relatable, powerful piece..I'm curious as to what you think of the Miz, now. For me, he's always one of the few bright spots on the show whenever I watch it...But it's been awhile since I have, admittedly.

mizfan
04-05-2019, 02:50 PM
He rebounded like a champ and I love it! Even though I still haven't watched him much, I do dig up his best stuff now and then. I made a point to watch Bryan/Miz when it happened last year and thought it was great, underrated because of the weirdly dead crowd but super fun. Still hope he gets the 2nd WM main event he deserves.

SirSam
04-10-2019, 07:06 AM
This was a great piece Mizfan. I'd love to see a reprisal of it given how Miz has completely rejuvenated his career and arguably reached greater heights than before but as the IC champ instead of WWE one. Hell, my favourite WWE match last year was his match with Rollins, he was meant to be moving brands so there was no way he should have been able to win the Raw championship but they made me believe for a few minutes and there isn't much more than you can do than that. He also had a surprisingly good match with Shane McMahon of all people at Mania.

JacobWrestledGod
04-10-2019, 09:58 AM
There was a time that Miz became my fav... but WWE just didn’t push him as a top star...

Benjamin Button
08-26-2019, 04:32 AM
One of the first columns I wrote here. This was written in September 2009.


Button Up




The Rise and Fall of WCW


To understand my love for WCW you have to go back with me. You have to be six. You have to believe wrestling is not a work. You have to see a world in black and white and the people who surround you as good guys and bad guys. At the late age of six, I started kindergarten; I was a silent observer. Don’t take my shyness for weakness, though. I had an overwhelming amount of confidence in myself. Back then, I didn’t have to try to prove anything to anybody. I naturally believed in me. Me, my mother, and close friends were the good guys. Everyone different than me was bad. The class clown, he was bad guy for pulling the girls’ dresses up. I felt no remorse for the girls either. They were jobbers for being shamed by having their underwear shown, and I didn’t much like their underwear, always white with dots, or ducks, or shit of the sort. One girl, Candice Pittman, tall and quite a bit larger than the other girls, was especially contemptible. After having her dress pulled up, she laughed. Then she beat up Nick, the class clown, for pulling up her dress.


At this point I knew what I must do. I had to make Nick and Candice pay. This may seem a bit bizarre, considering neither had done anything directly to me, but you remember that your six again, and I’m a hero who can’t just sit back and watch this injustice. A boy pulling dresses up. A big girl, whose polka dot underwear I loathed, showing no shame. I had decided that I would beat both Candice and Nick up.


The fight with Nick took place in the corner of the gym, between the walls and bleachers. Okay, so we didn’t throw punches or kicks, but I took Nick to the ground. I made him pay. The fight with Candice took place in the center of the gym. (Usually I fought in secret places, but I must not have been able to get a hold of her in private.) In case any of you are becoming fans of this six year old version of Goldberg, I won’t detail my fight with the girl. Let’s just say winning 1 out of 2 isn’t that bad, and this five year old girl was a big bitch to try to tackle.



The Curious Case of What a Child Saw



(Part 2) Heels, bitches you just can't beat



The first time I saw WCW was in June, 1991. I was six, and the image of a man lying on the ramp with blood pouring from his head scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know I was seeing Super Brawl highlights. I didn’t have any knowledge of the NWA World Championship Title or that the match was being contested for it. I glimpsed the man who I would later know to be Tatsumi Fuginami, before I saw the white haired bloody man crawling. At the sight of this, I ran from the room, crying.


Being a curious boy, I asked questions about the white haired man. My mother told me his hair was bleached blonde, not white, and that he was Ric Flair. After having some questions answered, I furthered my investigation by watching wrestling with my two brothers. When I obtained a little knowledge of Flair and the violent sport, the blood Flair shed for wrestling still didn’t impress me. A matter of fact, it offended me. I had my integrity. I was six and mighty, and I hated that motherfucker for making me cry! The more I learned about him, the more I detested him. In the beginning, I got Flair and Windham confused, therefore I hated Windham too. I hated anything associated with Flair. He was a cheater, a coward, and a bad guy, just like the bad guys from my school. But no worries, he would get his from Luger at the Great American Bash, 1991.


Flair didn’t make it to the Bash; he left WCW just prior. Flair had dropped me off at the doorstep of professional wrestling and abandoned me like a bad father, but he left me one thing. He left me a hatred for the heels that he left behind and the ones that would come after him. After Flair left for the WWF in the summer of 1991, I jeered Austin, the Free Birds, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, Cactus Jack, and in the fall I was introduced to another man I despised, Ravishing Rick Rude. My biggest reason for finding these creatures, known as heels, to be foul was they constantly cheated the heroes, who represented me.


When the Z-Man took on Steve Austin and Austin cheated to win, that was me losing. But when Dustin or someone from the locker room showed up and told the referee how Austin had cheated and when the referee found Austin's brass knuckles and restarted the match, living vicariously through the Z- Man, I had another chance. The rollercoaster ride was mounting its way back up, I would fight Austin with super kicks, spinning wheel kicks, inside cradles, and sunset flips until the last ten seconds of the time limit. The ring announcer, Gary Michael Capetta’s, voice would be heard saying, “Ten seconds remaining to the time limit, ten seconds.” Then he would start the count down, “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five (At this point in the pit of my stomach, I could feel the exciting possibility that the title could change hands dancing with the disappointing possibility that a time limit draw could occur.) four, three, I, living through Tom Zenk, would crucifix Austin, having him beat, two, one. Ding! Ding! Ding! Copetta would announce, “The time limit has expired.”


That summer, whether it was the Z-Man, or Flyin Brian, or Rhodes, or PN News, when they went down to the likes of Steve Austin, the Fabulous Free Birds, and the Enforcers ( Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszco) I went down with them. But I remember, really well, one of the first times I finally saw good guys take the belts. On August 5, 1991, Big Josh, Dustin Rhodes and the Z-Man upset the Fabulous Free Birds and Bad Street for the WCW World Six Man Tag Titles. As the in ring celebration went on, I jumped off the little love- seat and ran around the house. I had only been watching for less than two months, but the Free Bird’s title reign seemed to have lasted forever, and I had watched Dustin, the Z-Man, and Big Josh challenge for plenty of other titles, only to be screwed. Justice was served, finally!


The WCW Halloween Phantom


In the fall of 1991, everything I knew to be good was threatened like never before. It started when I heard the card for Halloween Havoc announced. One match on this list could not go under a child's radar. “The WCW Halloween Phantom vs. The Z-Man.” "Phantom?" Who was the mystery man? Was it even human?


After Havoc, WCW showed the highlights of the Phantom dominating the Z-man. Then, they aired footage from an unforgettable interview where Eric Bischoff called out Paul E Dangerously. Dangerously announced that he had acquired the Phantom as the man he would manage. Recently, I checked this interview out on Youtube.com. Paul E Dangerously said, “These guys think I’m too controversial. These guys say, Paul E., you’re too outspoken. So they say to me, 'Paul E. Dangerously, you are no longer the co-host of World Championship Wrestling'…NOW, this means war! This means war on the championship committee. This means war on World Championship Wrestling because in case you forgot, I happen to have a managers’ license, and the way to bankrupt this whole damn company is to take away your heroes, and I’m starting right at the top with Sting….so I went out and got the first lady of World Championship Wrestling, Medusa. And I said Medusa find me the man that can eliminate Sting….Ladies and gentlemen the man Medusa brought to me is here tonight. His name is the WCW Halloween Phantom! “


I couldn’t remember those words from Paul E. Dangerously, but I remembered how they made me feel, and the feeling I got when the WCW Halloween Phantom revealed himself to be Rick Rude. I was sold. This guy was a serious threat. Nobody who saw Sting and Rick Rude square off at the Clash of the champions in November 1991, could forget it. In an attack orchestrated by Paul E. Dangerously, Sting had suffered a leg injury, by being clipped by Lex Luger earlier in the night, but the Stinger managed to limp down the aisle. With his amazing upper body strength, Sting threw Rude around, but in the end, Rude went after Sting’s bad wheel and stole the US title from Sting. I didn’t know what to do. Rude had beaten Sting. Even worse, the ultimate evil alliance, the Dangerous Alliance, had been formed.


An adult's perspective: The heels.


In my kindergarten class, I could not have felt like a hero had I not been tested by class clowns, big bitches, and scary teachers with thick paddles. What I could not have seen, as a naive child, was Flair had for many years brought out the best in the heroes that challenged him. When he departed from WCW in the summer of 1991, it was detrimental for the remaining heels to step up and keep the show going. In my opinion, they did just that. From the top of the card to the bottom, WCW had the most talented heels in the wrestling business at the time. The Free Birds rocked and rolled with the US Tag Titles and the World Six Man Tag Titles (God I love those belts) Steve Austin with the TV title, Arn and Larry with the WCW World Tag Titles, Luger with the WCW World Title. Also, God sent WCW a great heel in Cactus Jack, God even packaged him in a giant gift box. In the fall, the Dangerous Alliance was formed. This tremendous faction consisted of Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zybyzsco, and Arn Anderson with managers, Paul E. and Medusa. Rick Rude had the look, the arrogance, and the wrestling ability to be a solid world champion on any roster, in any era. Rude said he would take Sting out, and it was clear that he meant business at the Clash in November, 1991. When Sting limped out, Rude ran down the aisle with an urgency to destroy the Stinger. What an actor Rude was! Check out his stuff. Man, did he elevate high when being thrown around the ring!


Say what you will about the heels in WCW, who replaced Flair. They may not have been responsible for the rise of WCW, but they damn sure held the fort down until the “big names” came in, especially Rude and Austin, who from 1991 through 1994, remained heels, held titles, and had great wars and matches with Steamboat, Sting, and more.

I use to wonder how WCW stayed consistent during these early years when so many backstage bosses came and went. In retrospect, I see the company stayed solid because the inmates, WCW’s most notorious heels, ran the asylum and they ran it pretty damn well.


That wraps up the "What a Child Saw" part of the series. Next time; as my perspective of life changed so did the world of WCW.

mizfan
08-26-2019, 02:15 PM
Man, this was fun stuff Benny. Wrestling through the eyes of a child is something I never got to experience firsthand but I love hearing about it. What a time to start watching...

Benjamin Button
08-30-2019, 01:04 AM
Man, it'd be tough to remember that stuff nowadays. Hell, I can barely remember what 2009 felt like. Memory and alcohol don't age well together.

Prime Time
10-31-2019, 09:52 AM
I started writing wrestling columns in 2003, where I was generally a more optimistic voice, looking for the bright side in a business that was seeing people leave it in droves. I was promoted to the Main page in 2004. I got more and more disenchanted though, struggling through 2006 until in 2007 something between me and wrestling just broke. I limped on until May of that year (somehow, though I don't recall seeing anything after the Royal Rumble) when I posted a farewell, and quit writing about wrestling.

In 2010, Bret Hart's reconciliation with Shawn Michaels got my attention and I found myself glancing at both WWE and TNA across the course of the year. By the end of that year, I'd been writing with Mazza about the world cup, and then he approached me about returning to writing as a one-off. Two CF columnist of the year and seven COTM wins later, the rest, as they say, is history.

Nonetheless, I have managed to track down that return column, from November 2010 - it's Return of the Prime.

=============================================

ĎSup CF? Well, yet another collab in the forums can mean only one thing. Thatís right, Mazza has taken another step along the road to becoming more of a collab whore than SkitZ was at his worst. But donít worry, today it is worth it as I will be bringing back a certified hall of famer who has been on a bit of a hiatus recently. See, problem is, he seems to spend most of his free time watching billiards and lacrosse but today I am going to try and trick him into writing about wrestling again. So please welcome my Awesome World Cup Blog partner, Prime Time.

Wait, what? How the hell did I get back here again? This isnít the sports forum.... Maz, whatís going on?

Well, Prime, today you are going to talk about wrestling. Remember wrestling? Similar to what Joey Barton does or a City training session. I am pretty sure it is what made you join this site in 1987.

Yeah, but that was a long time ago. I donít even LIKE wrestling anymore. I only watch it.... well, I donít know why I watch it. Iím pretty sure itís just because I always have, now. Habits are hard to break. I do want to talk about the ructions at Man City though. Do you think thatíll stop them winning the league?

I think you need to get a grip. This is a wrestling forum and we arenít here to talk about Cityís lack of title credentials. Letís talk about one of the big stories going around in the wrestling world at the moment. How about The Miz as champion?

Fine. We can talk about wrestling for a minute, but then Iím leaving. Miz as champion is, honestly, laughworthy. You need more than just a smug face to be a decent world champion. You want me to be honest? Iíve been more entertained by Freddie Joe Floyd than I ever have been by The Miz.... because heís The Miz, and heís..... AVERAGE!

Ha! You are not wrong there. But the product is not all bad. Michael Cole has recently been turning in some performances on commentary which are almost Big Ron levels of legendary. Would you consider yourself a Cole Miner?

Is that some kind of sexual thing? Look, I said Iíd talk about wrestling for a minute, and I did. Canít we talk about something else now? The Ashes are on, and weíre killing the Aussies. Címon, everyone hates the Aussies!

Fuck the Aussies! Especially the fucking idiots who randomly pop by the footy thread. Fucking convicts. I guess a couple of them are alright though. None of them are cricketers though. What the fuck is a googly anyway? Now, Andy, Ashley, Carlton, we know you like a Cole. So what about Michael?


Well, first of all, a googly is a ball bowled from the wrist that spins back into the right handed batsman as opposed to away, which is more conventional. But I guess you didnít really want to know that. I hate Michael Cole, in all honesty, but not in the good, heís a heel so I hate him kind of way. I hate him because this whole heel turn of his is just lazy. There was a much better announcer way back when called Gordon Solie, and in the NWA he was off limits (at least when they werenít desperate) for stories and physical altercations with wrestlers. Iíve always thought your play by play guy should be like that, they should be authoritative like Solie, Ed Whalen or Monsoon, and that anytime you do anything like this with Cole it reeks of desperation.

So what you are saying is things were a lot better in the 1920s?

Iím saying things were a lot better in the eighties and nineties. I wasnít around in the twenties, but Iíd wager they were better then too.

Well Wade Barrett looks like he is from the 1920ís. And he is British. You have to like the Nexus storyline that we have been treated to this year?

Nearly. Barrettís a hell of a heel and he could develop into a star. I mean, heís not a great wrestler, but he has more than one string to his bow, which I like. Heís by turns smug and sinister, and a much more complex character than we are used to seeing these days. Itís all a case of so near so far with the Nexus, but I canít help but feel the whole thing has been rushed. This kind of feud should be a slow burner leading to a huge match at Wrestlemania. You know what I blame? Monthly PPVís. If we were still dealing with the big 5, theyíd have got this thing right. Hey, if we had smaller, 2 hour in your house events weíd probably get through it ok. Having to have a huge event every month takes the shine off the best matches, and really guts the best feuds.

Prime, it is 2010, bro. It is time to let go of the nineties. Sure, some things were better back in the old days but some things are better now. It seems you have turned into that grumpy old man. You know, the one who always thinks things were better in his day? The type of guy that when you kick your ball into his garden, he takes a knife to it rather than throwing it back. Whatís up with that, dude?

Humbug. I just want to watch a wrestling show that makes sense. Itís not my fault that WWE haven't given it to me since 1997.

Ok, so how about you tell us a bit about the things that are missing in todayís product which made the New Generation period so great (ha!).

Man, the new generation has got a bad press. Everyone thinks it was gimmick ridden, but most of them were holdovers from the previous era. Not too many wrestlers were given horrendous gimmicks during the period. I remember Salvatore Sincere and the Sultan, but that was about it. Incidentally, Alberto Del Rio is basically Salvatore Sincere crossed with Ted DiBiase. I like to think of him as the Mexican dollar man. Yeah, in the mid nineties you had an edge to it that had been missing in the Hogan years, without abandoning the Ďsportí part of sports entertainment. You watched Bret or Shawn fight Diesel, and you knew theyíd spend a long time focusing on how they could take away his size advantage, his power advantage. Much more was put into getting you invested in the in-ring product. These days itís almost like WCW in 1999 - the matches are basically just framing for the stories.

Ö. Sorry, dozed off. Someone must have mentioned Bret Hart. Bret gets credited as being a master storyteller. I call shenanigans on that from the get go. All he ever did was run through his move set and then go into a strop if he lost. Whereas I agree that a lot of the wrestlers today donít have great story telling abilities, most are way better than Bret ďFuckingĒ Hart.

Now you are just going out of your way to wind me up, and it isnít going to work. Iím not going to try and convince you, because we both know weíll never agree on Bret. You know I think the idea that Bret had five moves and went through them is spurious. Iím going to move it on and just say that you look at when Bret was headlining, and you look at when Shawn Michaels was headlining, and I donít think there is anyone in the company today, at any level, who could have been any higher than a mid-carder back then.

Really? You donít think John Cena would have easily been the biggest draw of a really weak New Generation Main Event. My normal Bret bias aside, I would say that Bret would have been the midcarder in todayís WWE. He would have been just another in the Christian, Matt Hardy, William Regal category. He may have had talent in the ring, but he didn't have enough to his game that would warrant a push today. This is not just Bret either, I would say that it would be the case for pretty much everyone from that time period outside of Michaels and Taker. Nash and Sid maybe as transitional champs today but certainly not leaders of their brands.

You have a point on one hand, but on the other I think Iím right. Bret probably would have struggled to be world champion in todayís climate, had the Hart Foundation been a tag team in 2000. Wrestlers, I mean real in-ring wrestlers, and have struggled in the WWE in recent years. He probably would never have gotten out of the pack. With that said, Bret elevated himself and stood out in 1991, when the roster featured Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Rick Martel, Ted DiBiase, The Rockers, British Bulldog and Ricky Steamboat. Iíd also take issue with the fact that the mid-nineties had a weak main event. In recent years, WWE have failed to sell out arenas that they sold out routinely in 1996 when WCW were handing their ass to them on a plate. Nash and Sid werenít great wrestlers, but they were both world champions and genuine Ďbig mení wrestlers. The only ones who have managed that in recent years are the Big Show and Batista. Sid is more menacing than either, and Nash has ten times the charisma of either. Undertaker and Kane have both knocked around, but of course, they are both New Generation stars really. As for Cena, I donít think heíd have the ring skills to stand out back then. Heíd have been an Ahmed Johnson with greater longevity. He canít outdraw the 1996 Shawn Michaels now, with no WCW competition, so why should he have taken Michaels, or Steve Austinís, slot at the top of the card?

LOL - Seriously? Ahmed Johnson? Look, here is the thing, if you took everything from 1996 and but it back in, it still wouldnít draw like 96. The climate has changed, like you said, lack of competition is one of the main reasons. The fact is, during the New Generation Era the fans were on the verge of totally changing the landscape of wrestling. Since then, it has changed again and will more than like change again by the time we end up this column. The fact is though that there are certain talents would be timeless. I personally think Cena is one of these talents and for the record, as much as I hate him, so is Bret Hart. There is one place where I would gladly take Bret Hart in todayís industry and that is in the tag team division.

Thatís another thing. I would settle for just having a real tag division. I wouldnít dispute that Cena has talent. He obviously has charisma. I canít argue to that the landscape has changed and so things that worked then might not necessarily now. All I can say is that you go back through time and compare their attributes to the people that were around way back when, and I donít think Cena comes up favourably. He doesnít have Bretís ring skills, Hoganís charisma, and thereís no way heís the total package like a Hennig, Savage or Michaels. In all honesty, to me Cena will always be a midcarder, and that is the reason I think heís never got that great babyface reaction from more than 65% of the crowd. Heís never had that x-factor that all the other top babyfaces in WWE have had, and so a significant portion of the crowd resent him for it. Thatís not to say he doesnít have talent, it would have happened to Rick Martel or Greg Valentine had it happened to them too, but Cenaís position on the top of the card in spite of this is proof, for me, that there is no-one at the level of yesterdayís main event stars.

That is a bold statement. I would argue that Cena has more in ring skill than Hogan did and even Austin did at the time he was on top. As for his crowd reaction, this is just the climate of wrestling today. If the fan base acted like they do today in the late 80ís, the Hogan years would have been totally different. It may have been for the better as the DiBiaseís and Hennigís may have got the title runs they deserved. I donít think Cena has Hogan or Austin levels of popularity but I think he could certainly hold his own as a main eventer.

An occasional main-eventer, a la the British Bulldog, perhaps. Thing is, I donít think the crowd reaction is necessarily something to do with the climate of wrestling. If it were in TNA, Iíd buy it, but negative reactions for other stars are always much more muted. On Hogan and Austin, there is no denying that Cena has an advantage on Austin when he had a broken neck. I actually think Hogan was under-rated in ring. Cena may have a slight advantage, and he can definitely work faster, but Iíd put them both in the same bracket. They can both have the great match with the right person. Neither of them is going to carry an inferior worker to a very good or great match, so in effect, they are in much the same place ring-wise. For all his charisma, and he does have his fair share of it, he doesnít have the charisma of either of the two pop culture phenomena in wrestling, nor does he have the charisma of The Rock, Jake Roberts, Dusty Rhodes... the list could go on, and on.

I am no major Cena fan or anything, but I would put him in the second string charisma wise. In terms of the crowd reaction, I think you are missing something. The fact that there is ALWAYS a crowd reaction. People may not be behind his fight for the rights of every man, or fight against the boss, but they most definitely care more than most wrestlers are cared for.

I donít buy that. I donít think people booing Cena means theyíll pay to see Cena get beat. I think itís basically a more active form of apathy. Itís not so much hate as the anger that comes from disinterest. Cenaís doing a lot better on this front than he has in the past when the audience used to split literally right down the middle or even slightly against him, but besides, what are we saying about how weíve lowered our standards when the top babyface now only has to command the support of two thirds of the audience? That was enough to turn The Rock heel in 1997.

The difference is The Rock wasnít at the top of the card. But I see your point and I think a lot of the IWC agree and it is why they want a Cena heel turn. What do you think the crowd reactions would be like if Cena were to turn heel?

Cena can play a heel, but heís obviously never had to play a main event heel. That said, it is easier to play a heel than a babyface, so I imagine he would acquit himself well. As long as he didnít try and play it too much for laughs then I think that barring the minority of fools you always get, heíd get a very good heel reaction, especially from all the little kids a la Hogan. That said, he still would only have been IC title level in 1996.

Well, I guess we will never know unless Jovan helps us out. So moving on, I am sure there are plenty of other things that were much better in your day (I swear, I am actually older than you, but I digress). Do you want to try and sell me on anything else?

Oh yes. Four words. Todd Mother Fuckiní Pettengill.

Ha awesome. I will never ever forget him interviewing ďBill ClintonĒ at the greatest WrestleMania of all time.

I know, right? One thing WWE have been missing for years, along with a decent commentator, genuine main eventer and believable authority structure, is a genuine salesman, an unashamed shill who is willing to be hyper as all hell and sell the product on a match by match basis. Todd had no problem making Bart Gunn vs. Tom Pritchard sound like the most important thing you could do with your week. Nowadays itís Ďsit through this Dolph Ziggler match and eventually youíll see Edgeí. WWE needs a new Todd, and fast.

What on earth happened to him? Did his Ritalin addiction finally catch up with him? But yeah, I think they had someone who could do that to a certain extent in The Coach, but certainly nobody else since then.

Agreed. But thereís plenty of roles Iíd like to see back in the WWE. Decent international stars like Davey Boy Smith would be a start. Iíd love to see managers in the Bobby Heenan or Jim Cornette mould, and a color-commentator that adds as much to the program as Jesse Ventura. Whatís more, Iíd love an established star, a Shawn Michaels type or somebody similar, to fulfil the Jack Tunney role. Iím fed up of authority figures being dragged through storylines. Itís just running over the same ground, and itís lazy.

Ok, there are quite a few different bits in there. I donít think the WWE has a problem in terms of international stars. In fact I think Britain is clearly being represented better than we ever have before in the WWE. Barrett, McIntyre, Regal and Ryan Mason on the verge of a call up. We can kind of adopt Sheamus too. I am sure he had an English grandparent that would give him a place in our football team. In terms of the managers, I could not agree more. This is a great art that is dead, and it annoys me more than the lack of tag teams. Until recently, I would have agreed on the commentator front. I think Coleís heel turn has freshened things up a great deal and CM Punk has actually been reminding me of Ventura on his first couple of weeks on the Raw team. As for Tunney, I always hated that fucker. He was just the anonymous GM with a face. Making some absolutely ridiculous calls. Who can forget the end of 1991 beginning of 1992?

I recall. My favourite WWF president was actually Gorilla Monsoon, but I thought Tunney might resonate more with some people. What I liked about that role, though, was it was believable, and it was impartial. Tunney was as likely to hold up the title from Hogan, or Monsoon suspend Warrior, as they were to come down on heels. Babyfaces didnít constantly have to fight against bigger and bigger odds and theyíd sometimes do their bit to challenge the sneaky heels, meaning faces were more believable and heels had to be more dastardly to get one over. Iíd ideally want someone the camera is kinder to than Tunney, hence my choice of Shawn Michaels, though Iíd want him playing it as more of a suit than he did as ĎCommissioner Michaelsí. Iíve already given my opinion of Coleís heel turn, so I wonít bore people with that again. On the international stars, there is no doubt that Sheamus is a standout, but in the old days you had Bret from Canada, the Bulldog from the UK, Yokozuna from ďJapanĒ, all either in the main event or near it. Thereís probably even more that are slipping my mind. What Iíd really like is for some of the international flavour on the show to challenge a little more, so that their matches all have that feeling like itís a nationís best who could win the world title given a bit of luck and a good run. Right now, I feel like Sheamus is the only one, and itís a bit of a travesty that someone like Khali, with his bulk, doesnít have that aura. I guess this is more of a missed opportunity to beat the old days than anything. I just feel that they did more with less back then.

I think that maybe a bit harsh. There are Irish, Canadians, Mexicans and Brits around the main event scene. Fuck, even Kane was born in Spain. Add the Santinoís and Koslovs splashed around the rest of the roster and I think they are more World now than they've ever been. I also hated Commissioner Michaels. I think the authority figures come and go a lot in the WWE with some being better than others. The anonymous GM is getting ridiculous now but even so, I am sure it won't be long until we have another decent one.

Yíknow what, Iíll give you the international stars. I may have been too hasty on that one. You are right about authority figures coming and going in the WWE a lot these days, but what I really want with the establishment of a President is a move beyond those days of change. I want to go beyond GMís having nemeses. I want them to be above the general hustle and bustle of storylines. I want them to be Ďcleanerí than GMís, more permanent than GMís, and ultimately more convincing than GMís.

I personally blame the end of that on Vader. But anyway, remember when you said you would talk about wrestling for a few minutes? That was 3,500 words ago and as per in the IWC, we have come to no consensus. That is one of the great things about this business. I think it is fair to say though that although there were undoubtedly better back in the good old days, some things that are about today are not as bad they seem at times. Although I would love to see Fabregas, Nasri and Co have Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Bould and Adams playing behind them, unfortunately we can never have our cake and eat it too (what a strange saying that is. Why have a cake if you canít eat it?).

It could be one of the great things about the business, but Iím in a pessimistic mood and canít help but think Iíve managed to get 3,500 words out of knocking the business from all angles. I think part of the problem is that unlike getting the legendary Arsenal back four behind a good attacking side, they control how the product goes out on tv. They could present John Cena better by having a stick-man control a two minute promo rather than let him, or Orton, or whoever, ramble on for ten minutes saying NOTHING. Matches could be improved just be telling people to take a step back and lose occasionally without hitting a finisher. Iím never going to have an in his prime Bret Hart back, but when I long for the old days that isnít what I want. I want a new generation that retained the best bits of the old days, rather than a replica. I want their stars to have the weaknesses hidden and their strengths amplified. I want their trainees to not all wrestle like clones of each other. That is attainable, and itís a constant disappointment that they never live up to my expectations. This was meant to be a light finish, but Iíve just bought the mood right down now, huh?

Meh! You know what, I think it is time for you to head on back to Sports. You are really killing my vibe. But before you do, can I have my ball back please?

Pfft. Whatever, man. Iím going back to watching Wrestlemania VIII on DVD. You can have your ball back at the end of the week, and donít be surprised if itís punctured.

mizfan
10-31-2019, 01:54 PM
God, this takes me back. I dearly miss Mazza as a voice around here, he was the soul of this place when I started coming around. One of the most flat out likeable writers I have ever read, here or anywhere.

Still think Cena's just a midcarder, Pete? I might have said the same in 2010 but looking back now I look at his legacy differently.

Prime Time
10-31-2019, 02:06 PM
I mean, I was slightly piling in because that was the nature of collabing with Maz. But I suppose if I was to summarise it, I think they got Cena over by hammering away at it for so long that he got over almost by exhaustion. He's definitely a star now, and in hindsight he was further along the road there than I was implying. But I suppose the point - that with the first five years or so he had, in any other era, he would have been middling at best - I do sort of think that still stands.

It's a funny thing about comparing eras though, because you end up with so many variables.

mizfan
10-31-2019, 02:10 PM
Oh, no doubt. If Cena had come up in an earlier era he would have had different experiences, training, and booking, and that would have changed almost everything about him, so you really can't say.

Prime Time
10-31-2019, 06:13 PM
In truth, I actually think a Cena trained in the way he would have been if he'd come up in the late 1980s could well have been something to behold. A Cena working his style a handful of big matches a year and wrestling on TV about every third week could have been a phenomenon. But that makes for a much less sexy point in a column.

Truth is, I don't believe anyone was as big a deal after the height of Brock's run in 2002 as the top guys were through in any era prior to that. Even the territory guys - sure they didn't have national exposure in the same way but they were bigger deals in their respective markets. In some cases these guys were amongst the most popular athletes in their regions. Cena eventually got past that of course, and by 2011 or 2012 he genuinely started feeling like a legit star, not just a minor star under the bigger WWE umbrella. But up until a year or so after I started watching up again... he always fell down like a downgrade.

SirSam
10-31-2019, 06:15 PM
I started writing wrestling columns in 2003, where I was generally a more optimistic voice, looking for the bright side in a business that was seeing people leave it in droves. I was promoted to the Main page in 2004. I got more and more disenchanted though, struggling through 2006 until in 2007 something between me and wrestling just broke.

This is a weird pattern I've been seeing crop up with writers. Not all writers but certainly if I look at Doc it rings very true, to some extent Plan although I'm not as familiar with his earlier work here on the CF but certainly in the past I saw him as a voice pointing out positives in a sea of overly cynical views and I know I myself have felt this strongly in my own writing, certainly if it wasn't for me discovering a love for other promotions outside WWE I would be really struggling to stay positive now. I'm not sure what to make of it really but it is an interesting observation.

Another thing I thought of when I read this was how columns like this that are mostly back and forth chatting have really disappeared. When I first discovered LOP back in 2009 I remember them being really common but you just don't see them as much. There are probably a number of factors at play, practically there aren't as many of us around now and most of us don't have a lot of time on our hands to write in this way. I also think the growth in podcasts has changed things, this had a real chit/chat back and forth vibe which is basically what you get in a podcast.

Anyway I'll leave it at that given you are talking a lot about an era of wrestling I peaced out on. Fun read though.