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  1. #1
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    (KOTC - ROUND 1) The Final Countdown by timebomb4321

    The Final Countdown written by: timebomb4321

    It’s inside of all of us whether we want to admit it or not. Some of us wear it on our sleeve…”Does this dress make me look fat?” Others will do everything they can to pretend it doesn’t exist, and insulate themselves inside a fake, manufactured world of perfection on display via Facebook and Instagram. It is the false belief that if I hit a flex from just the right angle and add just enough camera filters, I am the second coming of Bobby Lashley. When looked up in the dictionary, or for you millennials out there, googled…..insecurity is defined as an uncertainty about oneself; lack of confidence. It can also be described as the state of being open to danger or threat; a lack of protection. The truth is that when I was presented insecurity as my topic for the first round of the King of the Columnists tournament I was both extremely confident and scared as hell at the same exact time. Therein lies the true paradox of the insecurity that lives within me.

    As a wrestling fan of over 35 years (slow your roll ya’ll I’m only 40!), I have spent what amounts to almost my entire life investing inside this crazy, over the top world of sports entertainment. Because that’s what we do as fans. It doesn’t matter where you come from, your race, gender, age, orientation, etc…….true hardcore, passionate fans of pro wrestling enjoy it for what it is, a fun yet sometimes maddening escape from real life. For those 2 or 3 (or 7 if you were at the Royal Rumble like I was) hours, we leave our jobs, our stresses and yes, our insecurities at the door and immerse ourselves in the land of make believe. The only place where your suspension of disbelief is intrinsically ingrained for just a little while, nothing else matters. If you have been to live events you have seen firsthand a brotherhood and an ever growing sisterhood like no other inside the arenas. It is sports, theater, cosplay and a rock concert thrown into a blender and it is amazing. High fiving total strangers in the stands and lively debates about who is the greatest of all time is the norm.

    But what if I told you that the source of our comfort, our entertainment, our escape from our own insecurities in life is actually based fully and rooted in those very same insecurities we seek shelter from? The traveling circus that is WWE has its very own billionaire ring leader by the name of Vince McMahon, and while the average human being is made up of about 65% water, Vince is made up of about 65% insecurity. But Timebomb, what does Vince have to be insecure about? He is the owner of the most successful and profitable professional wrestling /sports entertainment conglomerate in history. I would ask you the reader to take a closer look and you will find a man whose own insecurities play out within every fiber of his being and facet of his product. There’s a saying and a general belief, depending on who you ask, that size matters. Well this is no more true with anyone than it is with Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon. His empire was built on the backs of behemoths such as Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Don’t even get me started on Hulk Hogan, another member of the Insecurity Mt. Rushmore. In Vince’s mind, the top wrestlers needed to be larger than life…someone you wouldn’t find next to you at the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, he knew he needed those smaller, excellent workers such as Dynamite Kid and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, however those guys were only going to be pushed so far and they knew it. So I ask you…was it a smart tactic by a genius businessman or his own insecurity playing out on television. But Timebomb, what about that period in the mid 90’s when guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, two of the greatest to ever lace them up, were ruling the company as top guys? Well if you remember correctly, it took a steroid scandal and subsequent trial for Vince to have an abrupt, and unwanted about face regarding his product. This may rub some people the wrong way and sound like heresy, but I truly believe that without the steroid scandal, guys like Bret and Shawn wouldn’t have ever sniffed the main event scene. No discredit to their abilities at all, but in Vince’s insecure mind, if he is bigger than you are…well you can’t seriously be his world champion.

    Fast forward to today’s product and it’s clear to see that the technology boom has directly affected the business in many ways. Social media has played a huge role as a companion to the on screen product. Storylines are both created and furthered using twitter and Instagram. Wrestlers regularly both break and keep kayfabe online, depending on the topics they post on. Times are a changing and whether you realize it or not, WWE has changed right along with them by in my mind, brilliantly pushing their talents on social media which both gets new eyes on the product as well as provides the ever hungry IWC with a healthy alternative to the dirt sheets. But alas, when it comes to Vince McMahon, the more things change, the more they stay the same. At its core, for all his business acumen and power, Vince is emotionally immature and perpetually insecure. Insecurity, after all, takes on various forms and fashions. It has been well documented over the years the level of insecurity Vince has with presenting an African American wrestler as a true top level elite guy. A sort of racial insecurity, if you will, that continually sees him pigeon hole and stereotype talented African American superstars into dancing groups (New Day), militant groups (Nation of Domination) or simply pairing together for no other reason than they are black (think Titus Worldwide and Lashley/Lio Rush). Before I get hit with the whole….Lashley needed a mouth piece….I ask you this. Insecurities like this are why CM Punk put it best when he said that Vince “is a millionaire that SHOULD BE a billionaire”. The most egregious level of Vince’s insecurity however is how he is handling the developing situation concerning the upcoming birth of All Elite Wrestling. Now, you and I know that AEW will not overtake WWE, nor will they present and bring in the numbers to “threaten WWE”, a task that would take years of sustainability and success to even imagine. What they do present however, is an alternative. In this new age of YouTube, Hulu, streaming services, etc., options for wrestling fans have never been greater. Vince’s insecurity is downright palpable at this point, and small cracks are beginning to show. Just look at the past few weeks following the announcement of AEW. First you have multiple talents, frustrated with bad creative and for some, no creative at all, asking for releases. The only release to be granted thus far, Hideo Itami, who reportedly had to agree to return to Japan rather than sign to AEW to obtain the release. The others will not be released and will have to wait out their remaining contracts. Things definitely got a bit turned up with the news about Dean Ambrose’s imminent departure in April. For the record, I am of the belief that this is a work, but that will be another column for another day. The cherry on the insecurity sundae was last Sunday while was at Chase Field live, as I live here in Phoenix, witnessing firsthand security forcing a guy to remove his AEW merchandise or risk ejection from the event. Some people will argue its smart business as it is WWE’s show, but I am not of those people. To me it is insecurity at its worst. These weren’t shirts with body parts, or sexual references or obscenities…these were simply shirts from other wrestling companies.

    These next few months leading into and past Wrestlemania will be a critical time for the future direction of WWE. Can Vince mange to overcome his insecurity and keep the product progressive and forward moving heading into the new television deals at the end of the year? Will more and more talent run for the exits? Vince’s response recently to the declining ratings and apathy with the product was to pronounce new faces and fresh matchups here on out. The advertised match for Raw has Elias vs. Jeff Jarrett. So let me ask you….how secure do you feel?

  2. #2
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    I appreciate that you chose this tournament to make your column writing debut. That's ballsy. Props to you, sir.

    I thought it read like a first column. The presentation of walls of text without much separation in paragraphs is a thing most of us have done when we started. In the next round, break it up a bit. I would also encourage you to work on crafting the point you want to make, which is something that comes with experience, but can also come with a thorough read-through or two or three of your own work; I think this piece would've benefited from being a bit more direct in its dissection of Vince's insecurity. For instance, why does his well established fascination with big men make him insecure? Could it be because he grew up in poverty, and he therefore felt small, giving him a fundamental need to make his product larger than life as some sort of psychological compensation? I felt like you were on to something here, but as is often the case when you lack experience putting those thoughts to paper, so to speak, it didn't necessarily translate from the headspace to the page.

    There's some raw talent here, and due to DQ you're going to get another round to take some of the suggestions you'll receive and get better straight-away. When this thing is done, come back into the CF and get some experience; the community will make you better as you write more.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do in the Quarters
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  3. #3
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    As Doc said, there's definitely some talent here. I enjoyed the column, and thought there was some good stuff in there.

    The only paragraph that definitely needs spacing out a bit more is the really big one, second from last. You can get away with the others but that's a lot to get through in one go. But you can also use spacing to heighten the effect of your words. You might, for example, want to try something like this in future:

    "There’s a saying and a general belief, depending on who you ask, that size matters. Well this is no more true with anyone than it is with Mr. Vincent Kennedy McMahon. His empire was built on the backs of behemoths such as Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.

    And don’t even get me started on Hulk Hogan; another member of the Insecurity Mt. Rushmore.

    Anyway, in Vince’s mind, the top wrestlers needed to be larger than life…someone you wouldn’t find next to you at the grocery store."

    There's not a lot of difference there - I've flipped the order of Hogan and Andre, set aside the comment on Hogan so it stands out more, and introduced a couple of linking words to make things flow a bit more. But generally speaking the real impact of that change is to take the jab you throw at Hogan, and give it more importance.

    Anyway, I think this was a promising beginning and look forward to seeing what you'll come up with the in the quarter finals.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  4. #4
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    Thank you all for the input. I actually had more spacing but effed up a bit on the cut paste formation. My teacher wife would be proud. Ugh. Like a fine wine though I plan on aging nicely 👍👍👍👍👍

  5. #5
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    Totally agree about Vince's insecurities. I think because Vince made WWE popular in a time when big men ruled the roost he is perhaps insecure by thinking that fans won't accept smaller wrestlers constantly at the top. Perhaps that is why Diesel went from Shawn bodyguard to winning the title before the guy he worked for

  6. #6
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    Exactly... in my opinion on the diesel thing , agreed

  7. #7
    Senior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    Even with the above critiques in mind, I'm still surprised this is only your first column. Your style is strong and has good conversational flow. There are issues with long paragraphs, but I'll believe you about it being a technical hitch. This time...!

    I actually think there are two or three separate columns that could come from your arguments here, especially the points on size and race. They were arguments that had enough evidence to make one stop and think and, if fleshed out, would be a provoking read.

    Very much looking forward to reading more from you.

  8. #8
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    Thank you for the feedback..... much appreciated 👍👍👍👍

  9. #9
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    Welcome! Always love seeing some new blood in these tournaments.

    First thing I noticed – big paragraphs. It’s just an immediate visual thing that makes it a touch more daunting than seeing something broken up into manageably sized paragraphs. There’s certainly a large element of segregating your paragraphs topically, and sometimes when you’re on a roll on one specific train of thought, there’s no natural way to start a new paragraph! I’ve been there. I think, in that instance, often a simple tweak in wording can make a separation seem natural.

    What would be a good example of this, specifically about your column? While it’s not black and white rule whatsoever, I often find that a decent rule of thumb is that questions can be wonderful paragraph starters or concluders. Take your third paragraph, for instance. I’d sooner see “So I ask you…was it a smart tactic by a genius businessman or his own insecurity playing out on television?” end that paragraph, and the next sentence, “But Timebomb, what about that period in the mid 90’s when guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, two of the greatest ever to lace them up, were ruling the company as top guys?” start a new one. (An aside – the first sentence I plucked should’ve had that question mark instead of the period that was actually there).

    A great writer will use his or her writing ability to suck the reader into reading regardless of paragraph bulkiness, but visually, I find it much more…almost relieving to see smaller and spaced out walls of text. Not the most critical deal-breaker, mind, but definitely a relatively easy way to make things a touch more inviting.

    Nothing struck me as a major snag to your writing, but I did see multiple small things that tripped things up. I spotted things like missing commas – “…for Vince to have an abrupt, and unwanted about face” as an example; if you throw the comma after “abrupt”, one should come after “unwanted” as well. Another small thing was the number of slightly clumsily worded sentences (“The only release to be granted thus far, Hideo Itami, who reportedly had to agree to return to Japan rather than sign to AEW to obtain the release” as an example). Saw a few examples of each of these issues.

    Getting into an even more intensely microscopic nitpicking mode, I would argue for an increase of “it’s” and a decrease of “it is” in the opening two paragraphs, a small reduction in the slight overuse of ellipses, and a slight reduction in the number of times you used “etc.” in the middle of sentences. Additionally, I want to focus on the following section: “Before I get hit with the whole….Lashley needed a mouth piece….I ask you this.” To me, this reads as a prelude to a very emphatic point that is made in the form of a question. It’s a good anticipation of a counter-argument, and then prepares the reader for what should be the nail in the coffin for your argument. The thing is, though, you don’t follow up “I ask you this” with a question. You follow it up with a statement. I love the anticipation of a counter-argument and “I ask you this” as a piece in writing, because you’re allowing the hypothetical counter-arguer to answer the question themselves, but you’re so confident that they can logically only come to one conclusion – your conclusion. I think you need to actually ask a question in that instance, though! I also think your statement wasn’t as particularly emphatic or even related as the slight hype was built up for it. Again – I am getting into seriously picky nitpicking territory here! Very small issue.

    I did like how you evolved the pace of your column. You started by relating to the average reader with a discussion of insecurities the everyperson has, and then transitioned from describing a relief to the insecurities (professional wrestling) to opening it up further and disclosing your thoughts on the intrinsic insecurities of that relief itself! In fact, I find your opening line to your third paragraph to be downright wonderful in achieving that transition. Really enjoyed how you opened the column, then moved into the meat of your argument organically. Thought you moved from the meat of your argument to the conclusion nicely, as well.

    The argument itself is an intriguing one. Personally, I find it a bit too speculative and a bit too reaching to come to complete agreement with your firm stance on Vince McMahon’s insecurities. Even if I were to back your thoughts 100%, I think a couple of the examples you describe could be wrung out to issues expanding beyond simple “insecurity”. Do I think your thoughts on the AEW component come down to an argument of insecurity or not? Absolutely. Do I think your thoughts on the Bobby Lashley component come down to an argument of insecurity or not? Ehhh…I’m a little iffier on that one.

    I think there’s a lot of potential here, and it just needs some sharpening and carving. But it was an enjoyable read despite my critiques, and I hope to see you continue to make your mark here in the CF.

  10. #10
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums mate. I won't go too much into writing feedback because the lads above me have said everything I would. However I did want to say that this is quite a nice debut piece, don't worry too much abotu the mistakes, just about everyone's debuts look pretty rough when you go back to them. There is more than enough displayed here to show that you have a lot to say and are going to be able to communicate it very well.

    On to the content. I think insecurity and Vince McMahon two things that go hand in hand. Even though eh projects a very confident persona no one who is as into body building as he is doesn't at least have some sort of personal insecurity. As far as insecurity infiltrating the product, all of the things you say are right but I would go one step further and say it is far more fundamental. In many ways the very fabric of the WWE is built off Vince's own insecurity at being part of the 'wrestling' industry. That is why he rebranded it sports entertainment, that is why he craves having celebrities involved, he is insecure about the reputation and connotations of being part of the legacy of pro wrestling.

    Anyway, good first entry. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with in round 2.



    @Sir_Samuel

  11. #11
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    Welcome to the CF! I'll echo others in saying it is always great to see people getting into this column writing thing. For a first piece, it reads like a first piece. I'm not going to beat a dead horse with the "huge walls of text" comment because it's already been noted so definitely take that under advisement.

    You've got a way to go, and while you get to advance due to Oli's DQ you'll need to take a little more time on your next piece if you want to upset some of these veterans. There's a clear, solid voice in there and I liked what I read, but definitely work on both presentation and layout. Don't be afraid to let your voice shine through. One thing that will set you apart from everyone else is finding that "identity" in your writing. 'Plan is a wordsmith. 'Nony is a storyteller. Who is timebomb? Once you find that you'll see that the actual writing gets much easier.

    Good luck going forward.

  12. #12
    The Brain
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    Welcome to the CF! Vince as the standard bearer of insecurity is an interesting argument, because he clearly also has unbelievable confidence in himself, yet I think there’s some truth to it. I don’t think it’s entirely fair to credit Hogan and Andre as examples of Vince though, because both became enormous stars and draws before even working with him. I’d also be quicker to argue Vince is a flat out racist than insecure about black people. Would like to see these big paragraphs broken up a little more, maybe experiment with some different presentation/structure. Also, Vince now is a billionaire, not a millionaire, so is his strategy paying off? Vince is definitely ultra-sensitive about competition though, as your AEW examples show. I liked the finish here.

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