Get The "F" Out Of Wrestling

No matter where I go, when the topic of professional wrestling is brought up, some would like to strike up a conversation while others would just roll their eyes and use the “F” word. No, I’m not talking about the “F” word that George Carlin used in his seven dirty words routine. (Am I that old)? Jokes aside, the word I consider taboo for wrestling is fake.

Oh hey! Do you want to know what else is fake? Probably your favorite movie or TV series! Because there is no such thing as magical dragons that breathe fire or people with superpowers to take down the bad guys.

Wrestlers are skilled athletes who risk pain and injury...

As wrestling fans, we all know that every match is predetermined on who is winning and who is losing. What people forget, though, is that pulling off certain moves such as Brock Lesnar’s signature suplexes or Shawn Michaels’ superkicks takes specific timing between the two wrestlers, otherwise there will be serious neck injuries that could end up paralyzing someone. 

One of the most important features of a fan-favorite wrestler is not only getting down the timing of pulling the moves but how athletic they are. No matter what the size of the wrestler, big or small, they need to be sure to stay in peak physical condition on strength and stamina in order to survive year in and year out of the ring from either performing their insane signature moves or taking a nasty bump in the ring or going through a table where the athletes risk muscle tears or broken bones.

Non-wrestling fans don't realize that the ring provides very little padding if any at all. What’s underneath the tarp of the ring are 2x8 lumber boards spread across the ring and the only padded things are the turnbuckles. So the bumps you hear after a wrestler gets slammed to the floor and the grimaces on their faces are real because they are feeling that pain throughout their bodies.

One match I'll always remember is the 1998 King of the Ring Pay-Per-View (PPV) Hell in a Cell match Mankind (Mick Foley) vs The Undertaker in a crazy cage. About a  minute after the match started, The Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the cage (22 ft. off the ground) and crashed down on the commentator’s desk with Jim Ross shouting "As God as my witness that man is broken in half!"

It was a scary moment because Mick lay motionless for several minutes with the EMT rushing out to put him on a stretcher. Vince McMahon broke character as the evil owner persona and was legitimately worried about Mick. What happened next was just unbelievable, Mick got out of the stretcher and walked straight back to the cage, ignoring every staff member, and climbed back to the top to continue the match. 

It would go on for the next few minutes until Undertaker did a chokeslam on Mick that busted the cage and fell straight down to the ring. Even worse is that the match still went on and there is a clip of Mick slouched to one of the ring posts a bit bloodied and one of his broken teeth somehow got into one of his nostrils. What is even crazier is that not only did the match continue beyond that, but somehow thumbtacks got thrown in the ring, and Mick got choke-slammed on top of them.

Another instance of a nasty injury was on an episode of RAW on March 8th. Drew McIntyre faced Sheamus in a no disqualification match. Near the end of the match, both guys beat each other with kendo sticks. They went all out with each strike and they posted pictures of each wound from the loud strike that the microphones picked up. The Twitter post here from WWE UK shows their backs after it all went down. Trust me, I’ve actually been smacked by a kendo stick and I know for a fact that the strike hurts like hell!

Wrestlers are talented performers in engaging storylines...

Flashy moves and physicality are not the only selling points of wrestling. What makes the events special are the different characters and storylines that happen throughout the year. Depending on the story/character arch, it might be a one-and-done month-long storyline that ends at an upcoming PPV or, if the story gets pretty hot with the fans, it could be a months-long feud that will end at one of the big PPV events. For my examples, I’m going to use the top four PPV events from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE): WrestleMania, Summer Slam, Survivor Series, or The Royal Rumble. (The WWE was formerly the World Wrestling Federation or WWF.) 

Being able to perform in the ring is hard, but portraying the character is intimidating.

Now you can’t just have a great storyline if you don't have the right characters for it. In the wrestling business, there are two different personalities; Babyface (good guy) or the Heels (bad guys). So basically it’s heroes versus villains. Being able to perform in the ring is hard, but portraying the character is intimidating. Not only do you have to look the part of the good/bad guy, but you have to be believable for the audience when you talk to them so public speaking is a must! Of course, it is harder to do that these days with Covid-19 where the wrestler can not get a feel for the audience if they are liking or hating what they are hearing.

The Hurricane

I've seen so many characters from the past and present that everyone loved and hated. Stone Cold Steve Austin was loved for being anti-establishment. He flips off his boss, drinks beer, and kicks ass, which is what everyone wishes they could do at their day jobs. The Undertaker is pretty much a supernatural type character that is hard to take down and super strong. The Undertaker is also a perfect example of the gimmick character with his dead man look, which is what made him stand out and be memorable. There are other crazy characters that I’ve seen that were memorable that no one else could pull off like The Hurricane (superhero), The Godfather (pimp), and Sting (anti-hero crow). Mick Foley portrayed 3 different characters: Mankind (wears a leather strap mask), Dude Love (hippy), and Cactus Jack (a crazy hardcore guy that loves using barbwire bats).

Another essential thing for a wrestler is their theme music. Every time a wrestler shows up, their theme music drops to let the fans know who’s coming out. The music can be either a catchy beat or a song that can be used for your gym playlist. Shinsuke Nakamura's WrestleMania 34 “The Rising Sun” theme is a perfect example of what gets my blood pumping for the start of my workout. It has Alice Cooper’s guitarist Nita Strauss doing an insane solo at the beginning.

Present-day wrestling in America seems to have fewer gimmicky characters because every wrestler wants to be a badass instead of an off-the-wall character. Right now the best gimmick characters to me are The Fiend who is a supernatural clown type monster that sometimes carries a huge cartoonish hammer that has been seen sporadically this year. The other is The Miz who is easily described as the real-life Johnny Cage where he stars in B-listed movies and so full of himself (just like me).

The Fiend

I could go on and on about the different types of characters in the Wrestling Universe and tell you how they can crank up the crowd but it’s something that you would just have to witness for yourself. What makes today’s wrestling so fun it's more than the WWE. Look for:

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) on TNT
Total Impact on Twitch or AXS TV
New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) on Roku

You do not have to rely on one particular promotion because every promotion actually adds a lot of different flavors that a casual fan would like or want to see what else is out there.

Oh yeah, and if you're feeling nostalgic about wrestling in video games? Check out Michael Saint Gregory's article "Pro Wrestling's Greatest Video Games."

Let me know in the comments below if you are a fan or if you are a new fan that wants to know about the other promotions to watch. Feel free to ask and connect!


An Argument For Trash Talk

With competitions that range from sporting, filming, or even video game events, there is always going to be that one person (maybe a few) that will play mind games with you or against your team by talking trash. I am guilty of being a trash talker so much that some gaming friends I have known will describe me as being an asshole sometimes. 

The best way to describe me or people that are similar to me is like the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, where the doctor asks whether the friends of the so-called injured companion are, indeed, his friends. They respond, “It's like that friend who's an asshole, but he's our asshole.”

So what is the point of trash talking? Is it because you want to be the bad guy and make your opponent salty? I also have been guilty of that. Or have you been classified as the underdog of the fight (rarely me) and used trash talk to your advantage to psych out your opponents? 

One of the greatest boxers, Muhammad Ali, was great at smack talking (aka talking trash). One of his most arrogant quotes that I loved was against Joe Frazier the first time he faced him: "I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked." What makes this quote awesome? It makes you want to watch Ali closer than any other boxer and see if he can back up his claim that no one will ever beat him that year or the following year. Little did Ali know that quote before the first against Joe would become his magnum opus that most of his fans would remember.

One of my favorite non-fiction titles to a book is Controversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff. I'm not going into detail about the book, unless you are a wrestling fan. Smack talk creates controversy on something that can be so outrageous and far fetched that the person on the receiving end will look at you dumbfounded and may not know how to reply to it. Meanwhile, the people who heard what was said will stick around so they can see what will happen next to that will keep them entertained.  

Earlier I mentioned wrestling, a sport that is just a spectacle to watch. The crazy thing that makes a wrestler so popular and memorable by fans is not how crazy or fancy their moves are (even though that does help), but how well they can perform by talking to the camera or audience. One of my favorite wrestlers was the great Macho Man Randy Savage, who non-fans may remember as the Slim Jim spokesman in the 90s. What made Randy Savage so awesome, other than his distinctive gruff voice, was how he would disrespect his opponent in front of the audience. 

One of my favorite interviews with Mean Gene Okerlund was when Randy was telling everyone that his opponent, Tito Santana, was "nothing but garbage," and he pulled out a small trash bin that was supposed to be him and also pulled out a towel for him to cry on. Randy did his job alright by hyping his match with Tito for the intercontinental belt (the step below the heavyweight belt for you non-fans). If he hadn't done that, a lot of fans may not have cared for the match, or Randy would not have gained the huge fanbase he had from the 80s through the late 90s. A bonus interview you should watch is when Randy is talking smack about Hulk Hogan and randomly pulls out coffee creamers claiming to be the cream of the crop.

Now, smack talking is not always sunshine and rainbows. Remember the quote I mentioned earlier from Muhammad Ali about him being a stamp? What made that quote memorable was the fact he did not back up his claim. He lost that fight to Joe Frazier. I may not have been alive back then, but I am sure that Ali was embarrassed for losing that fight after claiming that no one could beat him. However, did it stop him? Heck no! He stood back up and challenged Joe for a second fight that he won, and went on to beat Joe again in a third fight with the coolest boxing match nickname ever, "The Thrilla in Manila."

Will everyone rise back up from a loss no matter how embarrassing it was, even after talking some trash to someone? HELL NO! 90% of smack talkers will be salty on their loss and think of a reason why or how they lost, saying it was pure "luck."

If you ever hear me on The Replayer Podcast, or even on the Retro Replay cast and crew Zoom calls (for Altered Beast or Drew's Soup members), you will know my distinctive sarcastic voice. I only mentioned that because I sometimes jump into fellow Replayer members' Twitch streams between Dan Morris and Andrew Lucy. When things go wrong in our co-op games, I usually get the short end of the stick, and I will actually lose my cool and be "salty." I also have my rants where I think I'm carrying the team. It also became a funny joke on one of Dan’s DeadPan Plays streams titled "Left 4 Dead 2: Friends and Josh." 

You know what though? I enjoy it, I have fun talking smack to people because it lets other people know that "hey, I am here to play video games for not only competition but for laughs." When I talk about having a big game on something, I try to make it as fun as possible to make the gameplay more entertaining through my commentary. Some will say it's a rant, I say, "tomato, tomahto." I can guarantee you this: if you feel like I'm not being funny or that I am being obnoxious at any point, just tell me because I will tone it down. I know I can go overboard.

Sure enough though, ever since Liam McIntyre mentioned that he is a fan of Tekken and beat the Australian champ in a friendly match, it's been on. I figured I would put myself out there and challenge Liam to a match.

Not only did I challenge him on Twitter, but I also bought a Cameo from him and let him know that I'm ready and waiting for a match. I'll follow through, even if I have to go through a Retro Replay tournament idea that he has been toying with. I also thought it would be fun by letting him choose "The House of Neff’s Champion" to beat him with.

So have you figured out why I want to be "That Guy" or the "Salty Pretzel?" 'Cause I only do it for the LULZ.

Are you more often the trash talker or the salty one when you're gaming? Drop your best catchphrases in the comments!


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