Posts Tagged ‘Sports Entertainment’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Mick Foley

January 10, 2016

WILPW

 

As I sit here wearing my brand new Viking Hall t-shirt, I’ve been thinking about the world of Extreme. Speaking of Extreme, we just passed an anniversary that’s very special to me at least in the way of the world of sports entertainment. We’ll get to that very special date in a bit. First, I want to start at the beginning. I want to tell you about one of my personal heroes and a legend in sports entertainment and in life. I’m talking about Cactus Jack. I’m talking about Mankind. I’m also talking about Dude Love. But really, I’m talking about Mick Foley. He’s one of the big reasons I kept being a fan through the end of the previous century and why I keep giving the WWE in particular the benefit of the doubt. But I said that I would begin at the beginning but that means the beginning of my experience.

 

 
I first heard of Mick Foley when he was performing under his Mankind persona. More specifically, I mean his heel role as a deranged basement dweller. My best friend Farris, who introduced me to watching WWE, told me about this guy he had seen premiere. He was crazy, he wore a mask, he ripped his own hair out and he couldn’t feel pain. I was intrigued. When I finally saw him out there in the ring I was even more intrigued. Pretty much every other performer out there was muscle-bound or lithe and fast. Here was a guy who was very rough around the edges and strange. Little did I know that I was becoming intrigued with something that Foley himself put a lot of work into. He read psychology and somewhat based his character on Hannibal Lecter. He debuted and almost immediately went after the Undertaker.

 

 
As he continued to fight in the WWF, I was interested but to be honest I wasn’t that interested. I was way into Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and soon enough Steve Austin and although he was interesting, he was a bad guy and I was in a period of my life where that mattered. Then the atittude era hit and wrestling became way more fun. It was no longer an exciting Saturday Morning cartoon. It was still exaggerated but it felt a little more “real” somehow. That feeling really hit home when Mankind sat down for an interview with the legendary Jim Ross.

 

 
That interview weaved together elements of the Mankind character with elements from Mick Foley’s own life. Never before had I seen a character in sports entertainment with so much backstory and heart. I had no idea at the time that a huge amount of that backstory was real and that Mrs. Foley’s baby boy was a guy after my own heart. From that moment on I was a Mankind fan and I was glued to Raw to see what happened next with him. What came next was that he got to evolve. He became his childhood creation of Dude Love. Who among us wouldn’t be thrilled to bring a childhood dream to life? Really? It was so different from what everybody else was doing.

 

 
Then he became Cactus Jack again but I had never heard of Cactus Jack before because I hadn’t watched WCW back then and I had, at that point, never even heard of ECW. Watching Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack made it clear to me that Mick Foley was the real deal and could put on a hell of a match. This was still a tape world and I had no access so I stuck with his WWF career like glue. Mankind returned but he had now merged all three characters and he was even more entertaining to watch. Then the moment that shocked the world happened.

 

 
I watched Mick Foley fall twenty feet and then get up and fall about fifteen and then keep going. On purpose. For a match. I loved Foley and I was a huge fan before but at that point I was a Foley fan for life. I followed his career even closer at that point and I loved every step of it. Finally he became a babyface, an odd term applied to a guy who was missing teeth. He became more of a comic character but he still fought with heart and I loved him more and more. He had one of my favorite feuds of all time with The Rock and it was the first real experience I had where I loved both the babyface and the heel. It is here that we reach the anniversary of Mick Foley winning his first Heavyweight Championship. It happened on my birthday (December 29, 1999) but it wasn’t broadcast until about a week later. I felt like it was the greatest birthday present in the world.

 

 
It was around this time that he published his first autobiography and I grabbed it up. It was here where Mick Foley became a personal hero. His life, in his own words was an inspiration and I still have my first copy which fell apart from re-reading it over and over. It was here that I learned who Mick Foley was and how I connected to him not just as a character on television but as a human being. It was also here that I learned about ECW and his days in WCW. I tried to get footage where I could but it was still hard to do in 1999. I have since watched a lot of it and enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed his run in TNA as he wasn’t just the same old Foley in a different pond, he adapted. It seems he’s more or less retired from the big spotlight now but he’ll never be forgotten.

 

 
I’m still a big Foley fan but I follow him these days more as a writer than a performer. His insight into the writing and performing part of the business is invaluable. He’s so good at adapting and evolving with the times that he knows just the way to use new and current talent. I would watch him perform again in a heartbeat but I have a feeling he knows he’s better applying his mind to the business and elsewhere.

Derek Porter

April 4, 2015

<A spotlight hits the top of the ramp and unfamiliar music starts up as moving lights start to sweep around the audience, the ramp and the ring.>

Tom Harper: Who’s music is that? We didn’t have any new guys scheduled for tonight. Rachel! You usually know what’s going on. Let us know what’s happening.

Rachel Wyatt: I know about as much as you, Tom, as frightening as that thought is.

<Derek Porter steps into the spotlight and he’s wearing a blazer with no shirt and wraparound sunglasses. He looks seriously at the audience and then busts into an arrogant smirk before heading towards the ring. >

Tom: What is Derek Porter doing? What’s this music and where’s his brother?

Rachel: Shh he’s about to talk.

<Derek held up his hand as soon as he got halfway down the entrance and he pulled a microphone out of his pocket. He looks around and then speaks as she makes his way into the ring>

Derek Porter: My name is Derek Porter and you think you know me. You all think you know me but I’ve been lying to you and I’ve been lying to myself all this time. I’m not a smiling, high fiving Porter boy. I should never have been a member of the Crash Brothers. It was a dumb idea and it was the stupidest tag team in the history of this company. I did it to make my dad happy but you know what? That was a mistake.

My dad. Jerry Porter. Legend. <Said with some sarcasm> So much of a legend that he never won a single belt. At least my brother and I won the tag belts a few times. My dad never amounted to anything in his whole career. I’ve only been here two years and I’ve gone farther than he ever did. There’s just one obstacle in my way. My brother. Like my dad, my brother doesn’t even have half my talent. Without him in the way, I can take this company by storm.

The Porters are done as a tag team. I am the future now. My future includes holding every belt I can get my hands on. Now, I want management out here so we can start planning the future. My future.

<Instead, his brother Jerry Porter Jr. stomps through the curtain and makes a bee line for the ring with no music playing. He looks understandably angry as he rolls into the ring and grabs a microphone>

Jerry: Have you lost your mind? Dad taught us everything we know. I can’t stand back there and here you run him and me down. Either we go to the back and talk about this or you and I throw down right here and right now.

Derek: I’ve got nothing to say to you. I’ve said just about all I’m gonna say.

Jerry: I don’t want to hit you, Derek. We’re brothers.

Derek: Well you know, that’s interesting. Do you want to know why that’s interesting? It’s because – <Mid sentence Derek belts his brother hard with a surprise right, sending him sprawling to the canvas. He rolls out of the ring and grabs a chair and climbs back into the ring. As Jerry starts making it to his feet, Derek blasts him in the back of the head with the chair leaving Jerry in an unconscious heap in the middle of the ring. Derek tosses the chair aside and leaves the ring with a microphone>

Derek: I have no brother. You know what? I think I’ll find the management myself.

<Derek threw down his microphone and walked toward the back>

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: CM Punk

November 4, 2014

WILPW

I think enough time has passed and I’m finally ready to talk with calm emotions about a subject that rocked the world of sports entertainment and is still a sore spot with some people.  In some ways it actually turned out to be less of a big deal than it originally felt like.  Now it’s just a wave of what will become nostalgia for one of my favorite performers of all time.  Of course, I am talking about the departure of CM Punk from the WWE.  At the time, it was more of a blow but now I’m pretty chill about it.

In January 27, 2014 Phillip Brooks aka CM Punk walked out of the WWE, declining to perform as a sports entertainer from that point on.  The word was that he was tired and burned out and displeased with his position in the company.  There’s no real way to know the truth as CM Punk has remained mostly silent on the matter.  At first, I celebrated the move because who among us has not wanted to quit a job we were no longer happy with?  I always loved his character and of course I sided with him. I wanted a better position for him in the company.

As the days stretched into weeks and then months I started to think he was selfish for violating his contract and taking his ball and going home.  I wondered if he was ever coming back and then he finally announced that he had retired from the business.  I felt oddly good about it.  Sure, I was disappointed that his last match was the Royal Rumble.  However, finally getting some solid news provided closure.  Over time I realized that he didn’t owe anyone an explanation.  On top of that, he was able to retire on his own terms without a life-threatening or career-ending injury being the reason.  Months later he started to make appearances outside of the WWE and I found I was just as much a fan of Phil Brooks as I was CM Punk.  I still am.

That said, I will always love and respect CM Punk for the contributions he made to the WWE and the world of sports entertainment at large.  From life in Ring of Honor to Total Nonstop Action to the top of the heap of the WWE, CM Punk was larger than life.

You could read a rundown of his career all day from various sources so I’ll just talk about my personal fandom.  I first saw Punk when he showed up on the “ECW on SyFy” show and I was instantly curious about him.  He came out to ring to some of the coolest punk/metal music and was covered in tattoos.  Most prominent of those tattoos was the symbol for Cobra.  You know Cobra, they fought GI Joe all throughout the eighties and a bit in the nineties.  The other major tattoos were the Pepsi logo and his straightedge tattoos.

I have never indulged much in drugs.  The barely interested me and I always had other  things to do.  I have dabbled here and there with alcohol but I was always worried about its effect on me.  I was always worried that alcohol would help my anxiety too much but also I was worried how it would mix with my depression.  Eventually my reluctance left me with a very low resistance to alcohol and made me a “lightweight” or “cheap drunk”.  At one point, since I wasn’t really indulging much anyway I thought about just going straightedge like my hero CM Punk.  I decided against it but I still think about it from time to time.

Punk was always a great performer both in the ring and out.  He innovated both his character and his in-ring style depending on whether he was a good guy or a bad guy.  He was one of the few performers where I did not care if he was a good guy or a bad guy.  I was always happy to see him out and performing.  I was always glad to hear his <entrance music> which was instantly recognizable.   He became a welcome sight even when the rest of the show was mediocre.  He elevated everyone around him and seemed to be a wrestling luminary even at a young age.

He also was able to highlight a lot of the inequities in sports entertainment, an opportunity that management actually afforded him.  From the Straightedge Superstar to the Straightedge Savior to the Voice of the Voiceless to finally being Best in the World.  To me he really was The Best in the World with very little sarcasm.  I’m glad that I got to see his great career but I’m also glad that I got to see him retire while he was still relatively healthy.  At least we will always have our memories of his great career and, hell, he’s really funny outside of the business too.

Why I Hate Pro-Wrestling

August 24, 2014

Just kidding, I love it but there are some things I hate about it.  Let’s talk about them from time to time. Shall we?

WILPW

Dangerous Behavior

Last episode I talked about sports entertainers purposefully putting themselves in potentially career-ending or life-ending situations.  This can be exciting and, in the right arena, it can mean a higher box office or ratings.  (I exclude pay-per-view buyrates because under the current system they barely still exist.)  I worry about the performers when they do this but I know that they plan these things out and should be alright as long as a mistake isn’t made.

The problem is that an accident isn’t the only way somebody can get hurt in or out of the ring.  When a performer gets injured the industry suffers, the performer suffers and we all suffer.  When Dolph Ziggler suffered a concussion he spent months recovering and all that time the company was down one talented performer.  The same thing happened with Daniel Bryan’s ongoing neck surgeries.  His momentum was killed and we’re left wondering when he’ll be back.  That is if he returns at all.

Edge (Adam Copeland) had so many neck surgeries he had to retire in his late thirties but at least he was still walking.  Darren Drozdov was injured and left in a wheelchair for life.  Owen Hart fell several stories to his death in the middle of the ring because of a stunt gone wrong.   The lists of performers goes on and on those are all just from accidents.

Performers can hurt each other or themselves for a multitude of reasons and none of them are good.  I like my Pro-Wrestling more fake than real so that the performers that I enjoy get to have long, fruitful careers.  Here are some of the horrible reasons that wrestlers get hurt besides accidents.

1: The performers are angry at each other in real life

Most performers seem to be alright with keeping their emotions in check while they are in the ring.  Most of the time when performers hate each other, this sort of combat is done outside of the ring.  The only way we hear about it is through rumors or years later when they do documentaries on it.  It probably happens a lot more in the independent promotions where conditions are worse.   Since it’s easier to get fired this way, most people seem to decide against scrapping backstage or just don’t report it.  Besides, it’s embarassing for people to find out you lost a real fight.

Bret fought Shawn for real backstage and even ripped some of his hair out.   

Jacques Rougeau punched Dynamite Kid’s Teeth out.

Blue Meanie was given a hellish blackeye by JBL.

2: Trying to prove their worth

Trying to hold onto your spot seems to be one of the hardest things to do in wrestling.  The only thing harder is trying to get to a higher spot on the card.  This causes young performers to try their hardest to nearly kill themselves for a shot at the big time.  If they don’t get too injured it sometimes works…. unfortunately.  When these tactics work, it encourages the next young guy or girl to nearly kill themself for their big break.  It worked for the examples below but it probably did not for countless others you will never hear about.

Mick Foley took the Nestea plunge onto concrete

Chris Jericho wrestles with a broken arm

JT Smith intentionaly screwed up moves for attention (No video)

3: People working stiff

Some performers are known for “working stiff” which means that their strikes and maneuvers are done as real as possible.  When they work this way means that they are actually laying into their opponent pretty much as hard as they can.   Most of them do it because it looks better or because they want to test their opponent.  This has a tendency to make the other person work stiff to keep from being steamrolled.  This turns a fake fight into a real one really quickly.  The business tends to give these guys a pass because they legitimize the product but it’s still dangerous.

Vader and Misawa being Stiff as Hell

Mick Foley getting a ligament torn in his jaw

Ultimate Warrior also worked stiff

Candi Darling Promo

August 1, 2014

<Candi Darling is seen walking backstage, carrying a baseball bat, her championship belt and a microphone.  She doesn’t look too concerned, especially given that opponents of the Wolves get ambushed constantly. It is important to note that she is completely alone. She looks right at the camera and stops in her tracks.  She pauses for a moment just giving the camera a curious look as if she had never seen one before.  As usual, she looks and sounds completely unbalanced.  She slowly walks to the camera and grabs hold of it for a big close-up.>

Candi: I think people deny what they really are. We are who we are.  We are the new normal.  You hurt her. You made us unhappy.  We want to be happy.  We have spirit, yes we do.  We have spirit, how about you?  <She has gotten uncomfortably close to the camera by this point>

<Suddenly, Candi lets go of the camera and looks to her right at an interviewer who is not there. The cameraman slowly backs up to reveal this>

Candi: I’m so glad you asked. Everybody is so fired up and I want to do my best.  Sure, there will be blood… but I think we’ll all have a lot of fun with it.  This?  This is my favorite bat.  <She admires the baseball bat for a few moments of silence.>

<In walks Michelle Ross who still has her arm in a sling from Maggie Sinclair’s attack.  Candi stops and turns and smiles at Michelle>

Michelle: Um… <Afer a beat of staring silence> Candi, you do know that you’re facing Maggie Sinclair tonight.  How do you feel about facing one of the Wolves?

Candi: She’s a wolf?  I thought she was a girl.  I guess that changes things. Yes. Yes.  Yes…. Yes.

Michelle: <After a brief beat> Maggie Sinclair is absolutely vicious. <She touches her bad arm gently with her good arm.> Aren’t you afraid to be facing her tonight?

Candi: Oh Meesh, Meesh, Meesh, Meesh, Meesh… <She gently presses fingers against Michelle’s sling. The gesture is somehow very intimate. Candi’s words are calm and almost playful.> I’m vicious too. I’m brutal. I’m violent.  <She gently pulls Michelle in close by the sling. Michelle whimpers slightly> I understand.  She hurt you… but I’ll make sure she never hurts you again.  Never hurts anyone again. <She pulls her even closer, their faces inches from each other> Never again. <She suddenly smiles at her before skipping off toward the ring, baseball bat still in hand. Michelle just stares after her, stunned.>

Announcer 1: Wow… what was that?

Announcer 2: That’s a determined competitor headed to the ring for her match.

Announcer 1: Or a psycho.

Announcer 2: A little bit of both.

Robert Storm/William Cardona/Cass Calloway Promo

July 11, 2014

I posted a little bit of this before but I have a huge project that I have spent a lot of time on.  I created my own fake wrestling company with an ever-expanding roster.  I love writing pro-wrestling promos and exploring characters.  I do realize that my characters owe a lot of their inspiration to the entertainers and story lines I always loved.  I don’t care.  Actually, some of the characters I wrote appeared in my head before I saw performers just like them.  For instance, I wrote Paige before I saw her on NXT.  Well, not exactly but close enough.

*                            *                                  *

<With no fanfare or announcement, William Cardona, Esquire steps out onto the stage with a microphone in hand and starts down the ramp and towards the ring>

Cardona: Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could have your attention just for a little while.  I know this wasn’t scheduled and I will try to keep this brief.

<A chorus of boos and chatter make it so anything the young lawyer would say would most likely be inaudible.  Cardona, who is now in the middle of the ring, gives the crowd a ‘Really?’ look and rolls his eyes.  He mocks checking his watch and taps his foot.  He finally makes the ‘Wrap it Up’ signal with his hand.  The boos grow louder.  Cardona seems to signal something to the timekeepers area and speaks into the microphone which is now louder>

Cardona: That’s about as warm a welcome as I can expect in a place like Miami, I guess.  I can’t wait to get out of this town so I can take a long, long shower and feel clean again.  <More boos>  Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes.  I William Cardona Esquire, as a duly appointed representative of Storm Industries, stand before you in your time of need.  Believe me, your troubles have not gone unnoticed and our heartfelt sympathy is with you.  This situation with these ‘Wolves’ is bad.  If you think that a weak-willed boss like Ms. Trisha Cowan can manage damage control then I’m afraid you are sadly mistaken.  However, you can all start writing your thank you letters now because I have the perfect solution: my client, Robert Storm.

<Cardona points up the ramp as the lights go out and a single spotlight picks out a man in a suit sauntering into the light before fireworks go off and Robert Storm raises his hands in the air like a homecoming hero. Cardona applauds in the ring as he watches his client walk down the ramp and try to shake hands but the audience isn’t really buying it>

Storm: That’s right. I have returned. <Boos> You. Are. Welcome!  <He raises his arms in the air to more boos>  I have returned to save this company from those wolves at the gate and I am not asking for one thing in return. Trust me.  I hate to point out that I told you. I told you. I. Told. You.  You cannot trust Adam Wolf.  Well, I’m here to reassure you that I have experience with Adam. I can offer my expertise and my help. I don’t even want anything in return. Nothing at all. <Storm and Cardona share a look where they all but wink at each other>

<Storm and Cardona look up sharply as their time in the ring is interrupted by the music for Cass Calloway. Cass is carrying a microphone and as the music fades down and the crowd quiets back down, he speaks.>

Cass: I’ve got one question for you, Storm, with all due respect, of course.

Cardona: All questions, especially from inferior wrestlers, should be addressed in writing to Mr. Storm’s legal counsel first.

Storm: I’ll make an exception this time, William.  I’m feeling generous.  Ask your question, Cass, I won’t even complain about how rude it is to interrupt.

Cass: Alright, who asked you?  Who asked you to come and “save” us?

Storm: Nobody asked me to.  I just decided that I owed it to the good people who enjoy the product and services we provide.

Cass: Sounds generous but I think you’re just upset about the Wolves crowding in on your territory.

Storm: My territory. Cass, the only thing I’ve ever wanted was fair and honest competition.

Cass: That’s funny. That’s really funny.  Paul Storm, you’re a bully and a cheat and a liar.

Cardona:  Mr. Calloway, you are crossing the line into actionable slander.

Cass: Again, apologies, I wouldn’t want to get sued.  Everybody out there knows the truth anyway <He points out at the crowd>.  Though, if you’re looking for a fight, you don’t have to look any further than me.
<Suddenly he was in Storm’s face and Storm didn’t shy away>

Storm: If I have to prove that I’m the man for the job then yes. The match is on. I could use a warm-up match.

Cass: You and me. In the center of that ring and you know what?  Let’s make it right now.

<Cardona tries to say something to Storm off microphone but Storm waves him off>

Storm: You’re on.  Get a ref down here! <Storm starts to strip off his jacket and dress shirt as Cass Calloway’s music hits and he and a referee start heading towards the ring. Cardona scurries out of the ring quickly>


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