The Disconnect Between WWE and Sports

I found this video on YouTube showing the most iconic moment for each MLB team. And while I’m not enough of a baseball watcher to judge, I did have one thought: How can “Daniel Bryan winning in the main event of WrestleMania 30 compete with any of these?” And that led me to think about something that’s been on my mind for months: How can WWE compete with actual sports?

So, there’s a critic I follow on Twitter that also talks about WWE pretty regularly (I won’t name him because I don’t want to drag him into this if it gets messy.) Whenever his favorite baseball team loses, he always tweets about it saying “This is why I don’t complain about the current state of WWE”. His line of thinking is that WWE, no matter how good it is, can never compete with actual sports like football, basketball, or baseball because no matter what, you can’t hide the fact that pro wrestling is fake and it always has been, even way before Vince McMahon started branding WWE as “sports entertainment”. He also stated that the reason that WWE is looked down on is because in the promotions before the McMahons, promoters would present the scripted product of pro wrestling as real, which caused people to think wrestling fans are stupid hicks. Also, the fact that the results are pre-determined can turn people off from appreciating the supposed artistry and ability of people like Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, and AJ Styles (even though a lot of people in the industry have skills, even experience in actual sports) because they can’t get into something where the result is decided ahead of time when they can just watch a sporting event where the result ISN’T predetermined and anyone can win.

To the critic I’m talking about: the preordained result is the thing that’s the rub to people. Think about some of the biggest scandals and controversies in sports and you’ll notice one thing they have in common: the notion of trying to manipulate the result a certain way. Whether it’s the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, point shaving in college basketball, match fixing in boxing, Game 6 the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings or the fact that the NBA Draft Lottery is the sports equivalent to The Kennedy Assassination, fixing/rigging/cheating/whatever you want to call it is seen as the cardinal sin of sports, regardless of what sport it is.

Do I agree with this? I’m not sure?

Which brings me back to Daniel Bryan. I’ve said before that I feel that the reason a lot of people get over and loved is because of meta reasons, namely that Braun Strowman destroying Roman Reigns is catharsis for Roman being shoved down fans’ throats, and that the pop for Shane-O-Mac’s return was partially for the fact that Shane represented a chance for change in the way WWE was being run, and I think one of the reasons that moment resonates with people is that it was what people love about sports: the underdog winning it all.

And since then? ESPN is following WWE to the point where you can get notifications about matches on your phone (though on TV interactions I’ve seen are non-kayfabe things, such as Seth Rollins talking about being the cover boy for WWE 2K18, or Stephanie or HHH talking about WrestleMania or SummerSlam), and some of the biggest rumors here on Cageside that gets people talking is UFC and WWE crossing paths, especially when it comes to Ronda Rousey. So, it seems that actual sports are starting to take WWE kind of seriously, even if it’s as a company and not as an in ring product.

As for scripted vs. unscripted? While real sports aren’t scripted, they can present stories that can be as compelling as WWE on its best days, if not better. Remember when Seth Rollins turned on The Shield? Do you think that can compare to the pain that Cleveland Cavaliers fans felt when LeBron James said he was joining to the Miami Heat? And while I’m a huge Becky Lynch fan, I’ll be the first to tell you that the title win at Backlash can’t hold a candle to seeing the Cubs win the 2016 World Series after 108 years of pain, heartbreak, and being a punchline and I’m not even a Cubs fan, and the critic I talked about earlier in this will say because the Cubs’ win wasn’t “booked” and no team the Cubs beat en route to their titles “put them over”.

To add onto it, LeBron James’s move to Miami and his return to Cleveland is, in my opinion, the closest thing actual sports has had to a heel turn and a face turn. And then Kevin Durant joins the Golden State Warrior, which was also seen as a heel turn, to the point where John Cena joked about it when he hosted The ESPYs. And I think nowadays, the Warriors are the NBA’s stable of monster heels. As a result, I can see the idea of a sports fan turning off of WWE, or any other wrestling promotions, if the storylines and feuds are garbage, because their favorite team may be in a storyline of its own.

The last angle of this relationship can be best summed up by one man: Lavar Ball. Remember how outlandish he was when he was on Miz TV? If you don’t watch basketball, let me tell you, and he’ll tell you as well, that’s not something he plays up for the cameras. When Lonzo Ball was drafted by the Lakers (my favorite team), Lava was interviewed and said that he would lead the Lakers to the playoffs, and when that happens, he’d have a hat on that said: “I told you so.” And that’s when I told myself, “I’m never going to complain about a bad promo ever again because I have to deal with the crap that comes out of this guy’s mouth.” The thing is, that what makes Lavar Ball so newsworthy whenever he talks: it’s not scripted. That’s why whenever you see a coach’s postgame meltdown in a press conference (here’s a good one), it’s so gripping. It’s raw emotion, no wondering if it’s a work or a shoot, and it leaves such a scorched earth that even the most diehard CM Punk fan would have to admit that his pipe bomb can’t compete.

Speaking of CM Punk, I think there’s another way that WWE can’t compete with actual sports. Looking back, do you really think that CM Punk, a guy that moved to UFC in his late 30s after being in the pro wrestling business for most of his adult life, stood a chance in the octagon? Compare that to Brock Lesnar, who’s kicked ass in both the WWE and the UFC. One could say that his MMA success could be attributed to the fact that he spent two years prior to his UFC debut pursuing an NFL career, which helped him adapt to actual and unscripted competition before he put on his gloves. Or Brock Lesnar is just a freak of nature that makes everyone shit bricks. Either way, he’s always been presented as a UFC fighter first and as a WWE Superstar second, and I think there’s a reason why.

This isn’t to take away from the accomplishments of those in WWE, nor is it to say that things can go horribly off-script in WWE (Owen Hart and Tyson Kidd are two examples of shit going sideways and things going HORRIBLY south). I love WWE, and I watch it every week. I love the characters that the wrestlers are, I love the action, and I love expressing my opinions on the product in my own way. I just think that comparing WWE to actual sports is just a confusing mess that probably shouldn’t be tackled except by those that can be considered those wise sages that live alone at the peak of a snow capped mountain. And I’m not one of those wise sages, and I never will be.

Grease Is The Word

Believe it or not, I’ve never seen the movie Grease. Well, now that’s changed (thanks, Netflix), and I can actually say that Grease is actually a pretty damn good musical. The story of Danny and Sandy and how they get together is a tale that’s been told at theaters of varying levels across the entire country, and watching the movie I can see why. A lot of the songs in this film are just so good. “Grease”, “You’re The One That I Want”, Greased Lightnin”, “Summer Nights”, I never came across a song I didn’t like while watching this movie. I think the next thing I’m going to do is put these songs through my “ultimate soundtrack test”:  listen to them devoid of any context from the movie and see if I would be willing to buy them on iTunes and listen to them when I’m just chilling. Isn’t Spotify a beautiful thing? And if you have a better name for this test, I’d love to hear it.

The other thing about this movie that I loved about this movie is that it feels pretty real, albeit a 1950s version of real. What I mean is that I can see this as an actual high school that actually has these groups of people as friends and it was written by somebody that went to a school like Rydell High, unlike Mean Girls where it feels like it was written by somebody who’s going by some exaggerated  horror stories they hear from their friends or by what they see on TV…or from a movie. Is this some kind of “full circle” thing? All I know is that I’d rather go to a high school where the popular kids go out for burgers and shakes and wear leather jackets than a school where the popular girly-girls take pride in spreading dirt behind people’s backs. And where one of those popular girly-girls is just SO STUPID. ( -.- Sorry, I just really, really hate that movie.)

Anyway, I’m not into the “theater scene” or “musical scene”, if you want to call it one of those things. What I do know, however, is that Grease is held in pretty high regard when it comes to musicals and musical movies. And now I understand why. Everything about this was fun. Great songs, great acting all around, there was great choreography in the sequences for the bigger songs (especially for “Beauty School Dropout” and “Greased Ligtnin'”), the world felt real, the songs are freaking amazing, and I’d watch it again.

I realized that this is going to be in a section called “Martin’s Reviews”, and when I talked about Wonder Woman, I never gave a score. I’d say that this is an 8/10. It’s really good, but I never really found myself thinking that this breaks into that upper echelon of greatness.

But anyway, you should watch Grease sometime. You’ll be glad you did.

As a parting gift, here’s a funny Grease video from CollegeHumor.

 

 

DEATH BATTLE!

As a writer, and extension, a creator, I think it’s safe to say most in the field have dreams and goals that they wish to achieve, and I consider myself to be no extension. At the top of my list of goals of I wish to reach as a writer is two things:

  1. Be a guest at a fan convention
  2. Be featured on the Web show DEATH BATTLE!

DEATH BATTLE! is a web show done by the website ScrewAttack and the point of the show is to take two fictional characters and have them fight to the death to determine who’s the better of the two. I’ve been watching it for a few years now and there are a lot of good episodes and some bad ones.  The reason I see this as one of my ultimate goals is because of the fact that my character was requested by fans to be on that show. DEATH BATTLE!‘s matchups are the requests of fans (or at least most of them, from what I’ve heard), and if a character of mine was to be featured on that show, it meant that a title I’ve created has developed such a following that a whole bunch of people want me to be on a show that I consider to be one of the best Web shows on the entire Internet. That kind immortality is freaking awesome.

If you want to see the episodes, here’s a playlist. They go from most recent to the first episode.

If you want my personal opinion on DEATH BATTLE!, here are mine:

  • My favorite episodes are (in no particuar order): Goku vs. Superman, Power Rangers vs. Voltron, Scrooge McDuck vs. Shovel Knight, Joker vs. Sweet Tooth, Batman vs. Spider-Man, Iron Man vs. Lex Luthor, Guts vs. Nightmare, Amy Rose vs. Ramona Flowers, and Ratchet & Clank vs. Jak & Daxter.
  • DO NOT WACH THE EPISODE Justin Beiber vs. Rebecca Black. It’s just an excuse to see Internet versions of Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black to both die horribly because they were both the cool things to hate on the Internet when that particular episode was released in 2011 (Rebecca Black’s Friday was huge, and the Internet’s hate levels for Justin Beiber was at its peak.) Personally, I don’t care for either of them and the reason I hate that episode because it was just a stupid episode that was the Internet equivalent of saying you hate something just so people can think you’re cool and you can get the admiration of the cool kids.
  • At the end of Boba Fett vs. Samus Aran Remastered, there’s a song that was muted because of copyright issues. Here’s that episode that someone uploaded to DailyMotion that has the song intact. 

 

So there you go. When it comes to me being a writer, it’s DEATH BATTLE! or bust, at least when it comes to my long form work that features a lot of action. Wish me luck.

 

Welcome To My Blog!

So, what am I doing? I’m taking the plunge, that’s what I’m doing! I’m actually starting a blog. Why exactly am I starting a blog? Well, when I was at Drexel, I will say that I developed what I could consider a skill for writing, and I only hope others will say that I have a skill for writing as well. A lot of my professors have said that my writing was really good when they read my papers for their classes, and I think that has to mean something.

I’ve also written a few short stories for fun, and I’ve thought about trying to write for a living, but first I need to find an audience and promote myself and all that good stuff. This is my attempt to find audience and promote myself. While I’m not sure if I’m in a position to promise much of anything, I hope that I am able to entertain you, make you think I’m a good guy, and think that the stuff I write is something that can be considered good.

 

Welcome to The Results of A Drexel Education. I’m Martin White II, and I hope you enjoy.

 

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