To start things off, let me just say thanks to everyone who took the time to read my submission column. I understand there are a lot of kinks to work out, but I appreciate anyone who’s so generous as to look over my writing, realize, “This guy’s a snobby prick,” and then take the time to tell me so in the comment section. And that’s not sarcasm. Nor was that. I’m being sincere. If you ever think the tone, writing style or subject matter of my articles could be improved, let me know.
As of now, I have no hard expectation of what my column will be called, what it’ll be about every week or if it’ll even have a consistent format – partly because I’m indecisive and partly because I’m lazy. You do the math. I would but I got a C in Math for the Liberal Arts. If you aren’t familiar with academia that well (I’m sure as hell not), that translates into, “Me no do numbers so good.”
After settling on WrestleMania for today’s column (because my originality is off the charts), it took me a while to sit down and write. There were so many things I wanted to say and for different reasons.
I wanted to discuss the technical prowess demonstrated by the production of WrestleMania – the sets, the attires, the music and the lights in all their technological might; I wanted to compose a convoluted explanation of the discourse surrounding WrestleMania, how it’s shaped us as fans and how we have shaped it; I wanted to endeavor to go about defining that elusive “WrestleMania moment,” pin down the abstract characterizations that elevate a pinfall, a scoop slam or a title belt from the literal and to the constructed realm of wrestling fame; and I wanted to illustrate these ideas using the full extent of my compositional abilities – all the anachronisms, parallelisms and repetitions, as well as other rhetorical and dialectical devices I mention for the same reason as I had considered all those aforementioned subjects: I can be an egomaniacal prick.
I do believe in the importance of theory in elevating our appreciation of a subject or even improving its practice. However, all my attempts at the subjects described above felt oddly self-serving and futile. Maybe I overestimated my ability. Maybe it’s there and I just couldn’t get into it. Regardless, I found myself wanting to write on those subjects more for my own satisfaction (and honestly, it still makes me smug as a stinkbug to have even mentioned them – “Ah, look how clever I am,” is all I think when looking back at that paragraph) than to contribute anything to your WrestleMania week. Perhaps I was caught up too much in the challenge of tackling these elusive subjects and lost sight of my own principles.
Regardless, for this week, before we get into a more regular routine of obnoxiously convoluted columns (they won’t actually be that bad if YOU don’t let them – by calling me a jerk in the comment section, but not actually because I do have feelings, though right now they’re saturated with Easter candy), I wanted to spend more time celebrating WrestleMania than trying to make, “It sure was a thrill when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant,” sound academic, when really that deceptively shallow, emotive response may have more depth than any critical explanation I can give.
If you’ve peeked into any pro wrestling message board, Facebook group or comment section lately, you probably know other fans can be dicks. They always want to (like me) throw a bunch of jargon in your face: “WrestleMania is so overrated, the matches never have a high enough workrate and you could see WAAAAY better spots on the independents!” Thank you, generic wrestling fan with a loose understanding of industry terms.
Everyone’s got something to say about WrestleMania. Some people are simply excited, others are mean (especially non-fans who make fun of my Daniel Bryan underwear and Flight of the Dragon ringtone) and some people just want to analyze the subject to death, peel apart all the glitz and glam, the drama and intrigue, the energy and hype, until it’s just a husk of demanding expectations and, after the event’s passed, disappointment.
My intermediate poetry class is taught by Dan Beachy-Quick. Aside from having a fudging radical name, Beachy-Quick is also a stellar and successful poet who has a Wikipedia page. That essentially makes him a celebrity to us college writers. Not even our beloved John Canton has a Wikpedia page (yet), unless he’s an 18th century English physicist. Anyway, Dan Beachy-Quick loves to remind us of the importance of trying to return to that infantile state of mind where we receive outside stimuli uncritically, knowing life in a way unbound by all the constructs we grow into that strip us of unbridled experience and subject us to an irreversibly contextualized psyche. In laymen’s terms, he wants us to not be overly critical asses.
When it comes to wrestling, sometimes in our haste to extract some sort of understanding of this industry, we start to relish our criticism more than we do our pleasure. Not that I don’t understand. “Criticism is fun to write and to read,” said the big-nosed food critic from Ratatouille. (Can I get a high-five for being the first to reference Ratatouille on TJRWrestling? No?) And I wouldn’t say we’re wrong to complain about the trajectory of the subsequent programs WrestleMania might be foreshadowing, since we are along for the ride and the last place we want to wind up is at a truck stop with five bucks in our pocket, a broken cell phone and a truck driver who insists he’s fine with giving us a ride as he wonders aloud whether he got his caffeine pills mixed up with his sleeping pills.
I get that we all have our expectations, our hopes even, and that when they’re not met we can’t help but be disappointed. But for me, WrestleMania isn’t the time where I get all my Christmas presents, as obviously I’m not sending Vince McMahon a “WrestleMania letter” because if I did, he’d be more likely to light it on fire and then use the flame to light his cigar wrapped in hundred-dollar bills. I have to constantly remind myself that WrestleMania and the WWE as a whole is absolutely beyond my control and, perhaps more importantly, beyond my full understanding. Instead of stomping my feet and complaining when I don’t get a shiny new toy (or Daniel Bryan against Chris Jericho), I try to remember that what goes into the production of a WWE event is more than I can fully appreciate let alone complain about objectively. Though that won’t stop me from trying.
As challenging as it may be, WrestleMania is that time in the WWE calendar year where more than ever I try to return to that uncritical, child-like mindset, where I delight in all the bright lights, the showmanship and athleticism, and get taken in absolutely, or as close to absolutely as I can manage.
We are architects. We have built buildings and we have constructed ourselves and our culture and our people. And we built a ring. And around that ring we built a stadium. And sometimes I just want to look at that ring, that stadium, and forget the macrocosm of theory and criticism swirling around my experience. Like a night with a girl you hooked up with, you might pull yourself out of bed in the morning and drag yourself to work where with your co-workers you divulge the dirty details of the night past, rejoicing or debasing (maybe she was bad in bed?) where appropriate. But to let yourself live unquestioningly in that moment, even when you’ll futilely try to describe the experience later, is my ideal way to experience WrestleMania.
If you’re too cool for flowery sentiments (and to be honest, I’m sneezing a bit), the best way I can put this while retaining the same meaning in its essentials is this: you don’t know everything, I don’t know everything, so we might as well not make asses of ourselves. Enjoy WrestleMania. And if you don’t want to let yourself enjoy WrestleMania, at least don’t try to spoil it for everyone else. No need to Grinch in someone’s Christmas stocking. If you can’t even do that, well, then, fudge, I guess there’s not much I can do short of glaring at my computer screen disapprovingly. Wouldn’t that just be awful?
Go into Sunday not with expectations, not with criticisms, but a willingness to experience WrestleMania. We’ll bitch about it around the water cooler on Monday.
Alright, that’s all for today. I’ll be back next Monday with something. I’m not sure what that something will be yet, but I hope it’ll be good enough to ease your WrestleMania hangover. Or maybe you’ll just call me a snobby prick. That hasn’t actually happened yet, by the way – I don’t want to give the impression there’s some particular commenter who’s picking on me or something. But there’s a first time for everything. In the meantime, check me out on Twitter and/or shoot me an angry email:
Until next week, I’m going to search my apartment for baby chicks made of malt balls. Apparently the egg-shaped Whoppers I bought for Easter hatched and ran away. Cheers, folks.
About Me: So Mr. Canton asked that we scrubs include a brief “About Me” section in our first columns. To keep it short (and it never winds up short when I’m writing – especially because of parenthesized shit like this that pads out the sentence more than it needs to be – I should really stop, I’m only wasting your time – seriously, I need help – there’s no escape – oh wait, it’s over), I’m a second-year English creative writing considering a minor in philosophy (because I’m allergic to money, apparently); I live in Colorado, the Mile-High State (we legalized marijuana because we love burning trees. Get it? Forest fires? “Trees” is slang for weed? Okay, I’ll stop.) and also the least fat state, so yeah, there goes that whole “weed makes you lethargic” argument (I’m aware that’s not actually a good counterargument); and I love writing about pro wrestling because to me, wrestling is an intriguing blend of live performance, staging, athleticism, combat sports and audience interactivity. One of my goals in non-fiction is to compose a book of critical essays about pro wrestling. Endorsed by Mick Foley. And awarded the Nobel Prize. And approved by all the foxy mamas. Foxy mamas dig pro wrestling essayists. Finally, I am a semi-pro wrestler. I affix “semi” because the promotion I’m sporadically training with is super young and only just starting up. But there’s a ring, we fall on it, stuff you might call “wrestling” happens there, so yeah, in all intents and purposes I’m “pro.” Semi-pro. Whatever. Okay, thanks for reading my little bio and I hope you love me.
(Me applying my Texas Cloverleaf/Liontamer combination. Read my column next week or you’re next.)