People Are Aware It's a Show, Right?
Happy Wednesday TJR faithful. I had originally planned on writing a new edition of A Matter of Character this week on NXT’s “Anti-Diva” Paige, but decided to shelve that piece till next week, so that I could post more of an opinion piece this week. We are only days away from Rock challenging CM Punk for the WWE Championship at The Royal Rumble, and I feel compelled to chime in on the recent anti-Rock sentiment I’ve become accustom to seeing on TJRWrestling.com.
Jacob Lindsey and Andrew Johnson, two of the great writers for TJR, have primarily lead the anti-Rock charge. Jacob thoroughly explained his position in a piece on why he isn’t a fan of The Rock that was well written and met with a lot of criticism. Andrew Johnson shares many of Jacob’s views on The Rock and has expressed them both eloquently and amusingly in his pieces of writing and the comment sections of various other pieces. I do not want to oversimplify their views, but if I had to sum them up in a sentence, they do not find The Rock’s over the top performance, or the content of his promos to be funny, and find him to be an enormous dick, who is treated as though he’s some kind of hero.
Aside from the fact that The Rock’s status as a hero/babyface has everything to do with the fans reaction to what originated as a heel character, or the fact that he obviously garners much more support than he does ire, I do see Jacob and Andrew’s viewpoint, and completely understand the way that they feel about his character. I'm just not sure why they spend so much time and energy expressing their hatred for The Rock.
They are definitely entitled to, and by no means am I trying to change their opinion or tell them that they can’t do with their time what they please, but with all due respect for my colleagues here at TJR, it just seems like a lot of work to hate a fictional character on a TV show. I hate Joffrey Baratheon on HBO’s Game of Thrones. He’s an evil, slimy little shit; but I don’t spend a lot of my free time expressing my hatred for King Joffrey, because again, he’s not a real guy.
Bringing it back to the world of wrestling, I'm not the world's biggest Wade Barrett fan. I just don’t see a star when I look at him, but others disagree with me on that. I don't spend weeks telling people I don't like him over and over again, seemingly trying to change their minds. In fact I try my best to see what others see, because despite the fact that I’m not a fan, I ultimately want to see him succeed, because his success as a character only enhances the time I spend watching the WWE. If it comes up I’ll tell you how I feel about Barrett, or Joffrey, or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (I’ve never found them amusing despite the fact that they seem to be universally liked) but I’ll leave it at that. I don’t need to have vendettas with fictional characters or people that I don’t know.
That’s the part that confuses me about some peoples’ hatred of The Rock. Everyone who has something negative to say makes his or her hatred sound far too personal. Maybe I’m reading into things too much, but everyone is aware that the WWE is fictional television programming, correct? That The Rock is a fictional character, much like Joffrey Baratheon is a fictional character on Game of Thrones? I hate Joffrey, but low and behold, I don’t hate Jack Gleeson (the actor who portrays Joffrey) because he’s and actor playing a character. There is simply nothing he could do as a fictional character to make me hate him as a person, because it’s not real!
I know that wrestling tends to be at its best when it blurs the line between reality and fiction, but at the end of the day its fiction. So when people’s distaste for The Rock comes across as so personal, I can’t help but wonder to myself whether or not they are directing their hatred at the fictional character or the man portraying the character? I tend to feel like it’s the latter because again, feeling so much animosity for a fictional character seems utterly ridiculous; almost as ridiculous as hating a man for the actions of a fictional character he plays on TV.
Again I'm not trying to put words in peoples’ mouths, but whether they're joking or they’re completely serious, or even a mixture of both, I get the message loud and clear; you don't like the character The Rock. You think he’s a dick and way too cartoonish. I'm not trying to change your opinion and I know misery loves company, but I just request that you don't waste your breath trying to make me hate him too.
At the end of the day, you can hate the character The Rock if you want, but its undeniable that there are few people that connect with a live crowd the way he does. It’s indisputable and he proves it every time he enters a ring. You put that man in the ring with a microphone and he'll work the crowd into a frenzy like very few can, because he's an entertainer of the highest order. He certainly would not have died a death like Cena did in that final segment from Raw this past Monday.
Regardless of content, Rock is one of the best because live in any arena, his segments don’t die in large part due to the fact that he makes the live crowd feel like they're part of the show. It's not an easy thing to do, to engage people and make them feel like they are doing more than just watching. John tried to, and failed miserably. In the same situation, The Rock at the very least would have gotten the live crowd into it, because no one can vamp and chew scenery like The Rock. He's arguably the best pure entertainer in the history of WWE, which is why he is valuable to the WWE and has been able to translate so successfully into Hollywood, in a way no other ever has. You can hate the character, but I honestly can't see how you could have anything but respect for the performer.
The Rock’s delivery and his entire character are over the top and larger than life. If you like the more realistic CM Punk style promo, I get where you’re coming from, because I think he’s fantastic too; but that’s why this feud is so great. It's a clashing of personalities, ideas, and styles. CM Punk captivates the viewer and The Rock engages them. This feud is already better than Cena vs. Rock in my opinion because of the culture clash. The Rock and CM Punk are so different, and it makes this rivalry something special. So rather than picking who’s better, bitching about The Rock’s character, or about whether or not he “deserves” a title shot, and altogether taking this entertainment too seriously, I just remind myself that I'm watching two spectacular and contrasting characters doing battle on one of my favorite shows. What more do I need?
Until next time, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying that I’m excited for Sunday. Have a great week everybody!