Taking Down Pro Wrestling and MMA
A few years ago, I was a huge fan of pro wrestling because it would combine psuedo-gladiatorial violence with Three Stooges-like pratfalls. I especially liked the interview segments in which wrestlers would describe in the most graphic detail how they would devastate their opponents. It was trash talk at its most trashiest, yet the announcers would treat it more seriously than the political doublespeak on Meet the Press.
Another reason wrestling was fun were the malevolent managers. Although most of these managers would be too ultra, ultra-politically incorrect for today’s audiences, they were more cartoonish and more hilarious than Saturday morning cartoon villains like Snidely Whiplash, Dick Dastardly, Boris Badenov, Riff Raff, and Simon Bar Sinister. At the end of matches, hey would inevitably slip an illegal object to the heels (wrestling parlance for villains) that everyone but the hapless referee would notice. Or they would storm the ring and start engaging in slapstick brawls with the grappling good guys.
Then there were the jobbers. They were the grappler versions of the Washington Generals in which they would almost always lose to the superstars on televised matches. Sometimes they would have a gimmick like “Leaping” Lanny Poffo reading bad poems or Barry Horowitz constantly patting himself on the back. But more often than not, they were just sort of like me–unathletic ordinary Joes who seem to finish last.
But sometime around 2000, I started losing interest in pro wrestling. Maybe because it was because the WWE overwhelmed its competitors like the AWA and WCW and became the only game in town. Or maybe because wrestling changed from being a campy grubby spectacle played in grubby tank towns and even grubbier television studios to an arena sport like basketball, baseball, and football. Or maybe because wrestling replaced managers with divas who looked and acted like Madonna and Lady Gaga. Or maybe because a number of wrestlers stopped being one-dimensional comic book heroes and villains and became Marlon Brando wannabe method actors.
And then came MMA (mixed martial arts). Unlike wrestling, MMA is a real sport with enough violence to rouse a less-than-noble Roman as well as enough blood to satisfy a few dozen vampires. My wife is so repulsed with MMA she thinks it is a throwback to the Dark Ages. Meanwhile, I think even though it is not for the squeamish, MMA is not just an wham-bam-shazam sport, it might just be the best reality fare on television. Let’s face it, it is mesmerizing watching Chuck Norris-like kicks to the face, knees to the groin, jiu-jitsu take downs, and incredible WTF knockouts. That’s why MMA is growing as exponentially as wrestling did in the 1980s and 1990s.
While I will be glancing at the highlights of Wrestlemania, I will be paying more attention to the latest MMA matches. MMA proves that in athletics, reality is more exciting, captivating–and gruesome–than campy fiction.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
I wrestled with the idea of being a pro wrestler until I realized I couldn’t wrestle.