In last week’s Oppugning! essay, Mike left an interesting comment. If you didn’t see it, here it is:
First, there is a whole set of things I enjoy being told about more than I enjoy experiencing for myself. For instance, the novels of C.J. Cherryh. People have explained to me all the subtext about determinism vs., free will and what it means to be human, and it’s great stuff that makes me want to try it. Then I open one up, and the situation is dreadful and claustrophobic, and the protagonist has the depression and paranoia you get from going three weeks without sleep, and lots of random shit is happening, all of it bad, and the only relief from the tension is a few scenes of really brutal violence. I think “This sounded much better in capsule form.”
Second, trappings. My Dad would have loved the Beatles, if he had ever gotten past their having long hair and dressing funny. And being a lot louder than pop music was supposed to be. I’m the same way with comic books. There may be some really great writing there, but it’s about guys in costumes having fistfights with other guys in costumes, most of whom have really silly super-powers. I’m not saying it’s all crap, I’m saying that for me, I’m not going to get past the trappings.
He finishes up by saying that the Screwjob is something that he’d never have learned about without being guided to it. (He didn’t mention “golly, that’s really kinda cool” but I will assume that it was implied.)
He makes a good point and, I suppose, part of the point of this blog (well, there are dozens of things to which I aspire with this blog but one of them) is to share little awesome things that may have trappings that are difficult to see past. (One of the reasons I solicit guest posts all the time is because I figure that you folks also have little things that shine for you that are worth sharing… and, I suppose, I don’t want to be Owen showing Larry his coin collection.)
As such, after the cut, I’ve got one more scene from wrestling that, if you ask me, had me about as entranced as the Screwjob did.
Okay, one of the reasons that Bret was originally tempted to leave the WWF was the new “edgy” direction the WWF was taking. When Bret was doing his thing in the 80’s, it was pretty much pure “good vs. evil”. With the fall of the Iron Curtain and our much more sophisticated palates, folks were cheering wrestlers that they would have booed the decade before and Vince McMahon, at first, didn’t understand it.
Which brings us to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Steve Austin was originally part of the Hollywood Blondes with Brian Pillman, then came over to the WWF as Ted DiBiase’s protege “The Ringmaster”. Austin was pretty stagnant until he broke it off with DiBiase (an ordained minister) with a promo that “Changed Everything”. He gave it against Jake “The Snake” Roberts who was in the middle of one of his trips through The Program. I apologize for the religious content but it’s essential to understand what happened… the expectation was that folks would boo after this.
“You sit there, and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere… Talk about your Psalms, talk about your John 3:16 … Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!”
They were cheering that. At the following Summerslam, Stone Cold was on the receiving end of a botched piledriver which broke his neck. This didn’t stop him. He didn’t wrestle but he did show up to make mayhem. This culminated in Vince McMahon telling Stone Cold that he didn’t want Stone Cold to wrestle because of the injury. Stone Cold responded by attacking Vince McMahon.
And the audience went nuts.
There was a segment where Vince said that Austin could wrestle if he signed a waiver. Austin attacked Vince McMahon, cut open Vince’s forehead, and signed the waiver with Mr. McMahon’s blood.
And the audience went nutzer.
Now, rumor has it that Vince didn’t understand *WHY* the audience was cheering this. Vince had never really done anything really interactive with the audience. He was an announcer, for goodness’ sake, and did the corporate suit thing like “stand there” when they did a segment where people in suits had to stand around for trophy presentations or whatnot. He was never really much more than innocuous. (I’ve even heard that his feelings were hurt by the fact that Austin was cheered for attacking him at that point in the story.)
Anyway, that’s the setup for the cool part.
Vince McMahon quickly realized that, hey, cheering people spend money and if they enjoyed cheering someone who was beating him up, well, dang it then he was going to make them spend more and more and more.
In 1998, at Wrestlemania XIV, Stone Cold beat Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Title.
And the next night was the first Raw after Stone Cold won the World Heavyweight Title which bring us to the speech that made me write all of that backstory so I could tell you about it.
Stone Cold has the Title. Vince McMahon has the microphone.
Vince speaks: “Stone Cold, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I need a champion that I can be proud of. I need you to be flexible and adapt. Stop the beer swilling, the cursing, all of that. You can either stop that on your own *OR* I will put you on a path that will be unpleasant for you and you’re going to end up doing what I tell you anyway. Hey. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Stone Cold says “Can I have a minute to think about it?”
“Of course, of course.”
And Stone Cold gives Vince a Stone Cold Stunner, stands over him, and says “Let’s do it the hard way.”
I’m not a wrestling fan, and it was predictable as all get-out. But I enjoy the panache of that last bit of dialogue.
One of the things that I don’t understand about much of the “spoilers!” argument is that many of my favorite stories were pretty predictable.
I knew that Luke was going to blow up the Death Star. That’s why I bought the ticket! How disappointing would it have been to have Porkins blow up the Death Star?
Much of wrestling is similar insofar as knowing what is going to happen is not a spoiler (seriously, did *ANYONE* think that Stone Cold would take the deal?) as much as knowing what is going to happen is the reason to go in the first place?
Know what is coming is not a bad thing if you want and enjoy it. It is one of things that never bother me about movies, books, TV, and Wrestling. Yes, I can guess the plot and many of the twists, but that is fine as long as the plot and twists are fun and enjoyable to watch.
That was pretty cool, especially the signing in blood part.
This was during the silly season where non-wrestling segments got the WWF higher ratings than the actual wrestling matches did.
Probably got the idea from Manson’s version of Merry Pranksters. Thinking Tate/Labianca.
Speaking of which, did you know that the Lefty/Goddess/Unrepentant Terrorist/ Bernadine Dohrn and her reprobate scumbag husband, Bill Ayers wrote a book that included in their dedication, none other than the wild serial killer himself, Charles Manson. YES, Dorhn and Ayers, friends of the Community Organizer Bamster, dedicated a book to Charles Manson!!!
Just for comparison, here’s a baseball story I think is terrific. (And yes, I got this from Joe Posnanski’s blog, but since it’s a Duane Kuiper story, I think that as a Giants’ fan I have equal rights to it.)
If you don’t know Kuiper, he’s a great guy. Played second base for years for the Indians and then the Giants, and the most famous thing about him is his career total for home runs: one. Really, one. His broadcast partner, Mike Krukow, was a pitcher, and he hit five. And part of Kuiper’s utter niceness is that when Krukow teases him about that, he’s pretty clearly pretending to get mad, just to play along with the joke. Not a star (obviously), but a guy who played hard and did enough of the the little things to stick around for a decade, and now a first-rate announcer largely because he’s just a good guy to spend a few hours with.
Anyway, one day when Kuiper was playing for the Indians, he got spiked pretty badly by Rod Carew. Kuiper was livid. “I’m going to get a hit and slide into second, and I don’t care if I’m out by 10 feet, I’m going to spike that SOB back!” Jim Bibby, who was pitching that day, calmed him down. “It’s OK. I’ll get him next time he’s up.” Well, as luck would have it, Bibby got pulled before Carew came up again, and then Bibby was traded to the Pirates, so he never faced Carew and the Twins again.
Several years pass, and Kuiper has forgotten all about it, until one day he again sees Carew, now playing for the Angels. Carew comes up to him and says “You little shit!”. Kuiper has no clue. Carew explains. During the off-season, he was on a goodwill tour of Japan with some other major leaguers. He’s facing, you guessed it, Jim Bibby, and on the very first pitch Bibby drills him right in the ribs. In an exhibition game. On a goodwill tour. In Japan. And then Bibby grins at him, and calls “That was for Duane Kuiper!”
Heh. That’s awesome.
(You know, if you eve get a wild hair to write an essay or three about somewhat less pre-determined sporting events…)
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