Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Came to Play Part 2

Up until September of last year, I hadn’t watched wrestling in nearly 8 years. I had drifted from it due to a mix of disinterest and feeling like I had outgrown it. There are two things I’ve always loved about wrestling: the storylines and the wrestlers that are just damn good at wrestling. But around 2001-2002, the storylines weren’t of interest to me and not even my favourite wrestlers could save it.

So a sexy accent and magnificent bastardry brought me back to the WWE. I’m also quite the sucker for good vs. evil battles especially when the side of evil is so deliciously evil and that's why Cena vs. Nexus brought me back.

Still, not even a delicious villain with sumptuous tones or the eternal conflict between face and heel were reason enough for me to come out of the wrestling fan closet. This Trekkie had a reputation to protect after all!

I think my Raw watching would have ended just as quickly as they began if it hadn’t been for another house show I went to. This time it was just my sister and I. She had wanted to go because she was convinced John Cena would be there. I wanted to go because my high-powered binoculars, like me, had a crush on Wade Barrett. Since tickets were only 20 bucks each, we decided we’d go for a laugh. I still wore my hood the whole way there though.

Our seats were pretty awesome

House shows don’t involve any of the super cool theatrics that are on the televised shows. There’s no pyro and the matches aren’t commentated. Knowing this before hand, I went in convinced that all I was going to do was leer at oiled up boys, boo and cheer at the appropriate times and renew the drink and popcorn supply when I got bored.

The first match was Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler.

And boy did that match not bore me.

Daniel Bryan is considered one of the best wrestlers in the world and was trained by two of my favourites: Shawn Michaels and William Regal (both being absolutely fantastic at the actual wrestling side of pro wrestling). Being new to the most recent batch of wrestlers in the WWE, I hadn’t known of Bryan or his awesomeness at the time. The mind of this once obsessed wrestling fan that grew up watching Shawn Michaels, William Regal, Chris Jericho, and Owen and Bret Hart was in absolute nerd meltdown while watching Daniel Bryan conjuring his magic. It was nerdgasm after nerdgasm, people. It was the first time I saw his absolutely badass running back flip off the top turnbuckle and I was in love with it. I would marry that back flip.

That night was a blast and that match between Bryan and Ziggler reminded me why I loved wrestling in the first place.

However the house show also reminded me of why I disliked wrestling and why I’m embarrassed to like it. You see, I've always loved women's wrestling but I always disliked how it was treated. Sure back in the WWF day, women’s wrestling wasn’t that big of a deal but they still had quite a few awesome ladies. When I was young, it was Alundra Blayze, Bull Nakano, and Luna Vachon. When I was a little older, it was Sable, Lita, and Chyna. Yes, back in the WWF days, the women wore very little clothing but they still kicked both male and female ass while in very little clothing. Sable came to the ring once in a “bikini” that consisted of a bikini bottom and black paint hand prints over her breasts. My dad had my eyes covered for that but the time she power bombed Marc Mero after kicking him in the groin endeared her to me forever (she was fully dressed for this bit of badassery). Women's wrestling wasn't a main event but at least it was enjoyable.

I don't know how but when I came back I found out women’s wrestling is even less of a deal. The match between Eve Torres and Alicia Fox that I saw was met with the most overwhelming feeling of, “Oh, God, really!?” from the 90% male audience at the house show. Which really surprised me as I had assumed that most of the guys in the audience would be into hot chicks cat fighting in very little ring attire.

What annoys me about women's wrestling in the WWE is the double standard: men have to be good wrestlers first and that’s it. The women have to be supermodels and the wrestling end is not really that important since they’ll pick it up as they go along. That bugs me because not only is it stupid, it’s dangerous. A pro wrestler is like being a stunt person and a lot of training is required to do things properly. One botched move can leave you with broken bones, a concussion or paralysis. And even with training, things can go wrong. With the women not really being expected to do anything other than look pretty, I’m surprised there haven’t been more injuries amongst the female competitors.

That’s not to say there aren’t talented women in WWE. I absolutely love a bunch of them with Melina, Natalya, Tamina, and Beth Phoenix being my fantastic four.

The way the women are presented is what stinks. Female fans feel insulted when the women wrestlers spend most of the match pulling hair and calling each other fat while the male fans are annoyed with the low quality of the wrestling that not even hot chicks in hot pants can save. And with commentators calling a women’s match with, “Well, this is a 3 on 3 Divas match, I wonder what John Cena is up to?” it appears that company isn’t taking the women seriously either.

The treatment of women in the WWE is why I’m embarrassed by it. I wish WWE would go about changing it especially when you hear little girl wrestling fans who would like to be Divas but can’t (they say) because “they’re not pretty”. It’s enough to make one fly to Connecticut, find Vince McMahon’s house, knock on his door, and hit him with a steel chair when he answers. Oy vey.

Despite that, hope remains. In the few months since I’ve been watching, things are getting better. Natalya is the Divas champion and her feud with Melina seems as if it’ll be more about the title and less about mean girl jealousy. And Beth Phoenix is back from an injury and fireman carrying two Divas on her back at the same time to show that’s she feeling better.

I want to be Beth when I grow up despite her being only 5 years older than me.

Though WWE may be turning me into a Red Lantern some nights, I’m recapturing my love of it. I doubt it’ll ever make it out of the guilty pleasure bit of my brain and there are parts I’ll always roll my eyes at. Still I find myself loving it even with the hammy overacting and incredibly bizarre storylines. It’s like a real life comic book: the Superman, the Wonder Woman, the Big Bad, and the final battle (live on Pay Per View!). Most of my old favourites have retired or are about to but I’ve surprised myself with new favourites taking the banner. And you can’t completely hate something that meant a lot to you as a kid even if sections of it embarrass you as an adult (looking at you, Backstreet Boys).

I’ll still buy the magazine while it’s sandwiched between Shape and National Geographic but I'm going to hold my head up high when my sister and I are inevitably the first women in line for the Royal Rumble PPV at the multiplex later this month.

Now that I've spilled the beans, I'd love to hear the tales of your guilty pleasures.

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