Posts Tagged ‘ CM Punk ’

WholesomeMania

The last time I wrote about professional wrestling was in November 2012,  if in case you wanna have a look.

For the last few years, the annual wrestling extravaganza, WrestleMania has left me with a sour aftertaste. That was only cured by the following episode of Monday Night Raw. Because the fans that converge upon the WM host city decide to stay back for Raw as well. These episodes have been hot shows, often leading to earth-shattering, F5-raising, YES! chanting, Fandangoing and so much more. The build for this year’s edition was particularly tepid and extremely limited in terms of its marquee matches, given that it was the landmark thirtieth anniversary of the event.

The Rock and John Cena main evented for two years in a row with their boring encounters, the hype was there but neither of their matches could actually deliver the same level of intensity that the undercard bouts could. Thankfully, The Rock isn’t wrestling anymore. This year, there was nascent hype derived from the hoopla surrounding Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts a[phend “Razor Ramon” Scott Hall returning. Hogan was announced as the host for the show, and the latter three were being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The only story with a drive and strong continuity was Daniel Bryan’s struggle for the WWE Heavyweight Championship and his fight against the Authority’s (Stephanie McMahon and Triple H) bias.

The most revered run at WrestleManias, The Undertaker’s undefeated streak was challenged by Brock Lesnar. Taker is perhaps the most senior member of the current actively performing roster. But he stays away for a major part of the year and has only been returning around after Royal Rumble. Lesnar, a beast, is also at best, only around for two months at a stretch, twice a year. The development of their rivalry was often one-sided, and you could never even imagine that The Streak will be broken, let go Lesnar, no one could break it. And then there was John Cena’s “legacy” being threatened by Bray Wyatt and his family. A simple good versus evil saga with convincing performances.

Earlier ‘Manias have had strong undercard matches to offer, but here, it was just these three marquee attractions and a random battle royal, a haywire women’s ‘invitational’, and a six man tag match involving the best three-man team in pro wrestling: The Shield. Not to mention, some booking decisions gone awfully wrong (read Batista’s win at the Rumble, Bryan becoming champion twice and yet not holding it for more than a day) and Punk’s ‘sabbatical’, I wasn’t overtly excited for WrestleMania 30.

Yet I sat patiently to stream the Hall of Fame ceremony and I knew I won’t be watching Mania live because I had a presentation at college. This year’s class was special, the class of hall of fame that is. Jake Roberts, and Scott Hall have been struggling with their demons for the last decade or more. Roberts has had broken marriages, distant children and self-claimingly lost out on his own potential by getting into hardcore drugs. He’s wished for death to come faster. Hall couldn’t walk on his own feet, he was slurring his words all the time. ESPN did a feature on his downfall and depicted his poor health conditions. One man, Diamond Dallas Page, reached out to them. DDP, with his own brand of yoga and obnoxiously loud inspiring quotes and energy, tried to help these two legends.

Their inductions and respective speeches were special and heartwarming. They make you believe that things can always get alright if you try hard and have someone’s support. The two of them got incredibly emotional and if they couldn’t crack your hardcoated shell, nothing else can. Then there was Warrior coming back to the juggernaut to headline the class. He’s had his own issues with the WWE and he’s never shied to make them publicly known. His reconciliation was fun and more nostalgia-evoking. WrestleMania day was finally upon me. YES, I COULDN’T WATCH IT LIVE , so I had to cut off from all internet in order to not spoil any of the match results for me.

As I fixed my butt on a ‘fourth seat’ in train for college, I received a text claiming that the Undertaker had lost. It honestly took me an instant to assume that the person was playing a prank on me. I warned him to not let off any spoilers or he’d face MAJOR consequences, like me blocking him on WhatsApp. Yeah, I’m a total Indian Badass on a local train, instead of Harley. For hours I kept away from the internet, and almost twelve hours after the show originally started airing, I got around to watching it. I avoided the pre-show and went directly for the main show’s spectacle. The stage looked brilliant and the SUPER dome shined with all its bright lights. The moment with Rock, Hogan and Austin was sheer fun and didn’t hurt the staunchest of wrestling purists.

That visual of those three standing together in the middle of the ring, clunking beer cans with each other, was what generations of fans have clamored for. And to follow that, a smart video package of Daniel Bryan’s wrestling history and his clash with Triple H was played, indicating their match was up next. I’m not going to describe how that match went by, but it was an important crease in Bryan’s story. He had now advanced to the triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with Randy Orton and Batista. In case you[phe haven’t seen the show or this match, start skimming through your channel guides for the repeat of the show. The Shield’s mauling of the New Age Outlaws was just perfect and Cesaro is on his way to greatness.

The Wyatt Family entrance was simply spectacular and totally in sync with their character. Cena made his second consecutive “normal” entrance. Wyatt got Cena to go rough, angry and like a madman on a hound. He never got this intense with The Rock, not with Kane, not with Orton. No one in recent times has come close to extracting such rage from Cena. And Wyatt’s evangelic laugh, the swaying of his hands while singing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” They told a story of how Cena was resisting to go to the ‘Dark side’ but they hadn’t built upon it in the weeks preceding to the match. In isolation, the match was a riot.

During the build to this year’s streak match, whenever a casual fan asked me if I thought Lesnar would defeat Taker, I’d give out a cocky “Hell no!”. This overconfidence in the streak wasn’t completely without a reason. The WWE made it last 21 years and it looked too big a record to be broken. Just like that favorite character on your favorite TV show that you never want to die. The match itself was concentrated on telling the story of Undertaker’s weakening. Of his being a mortal. But no one expected any surprises. Until Brock pinned Taker for the three count. The disbelief was back. The cocky confidence was thrown off. Had it really happened or was it a collective nightmare?

The choice of the person who got awarded the honour of breaking the streak is surely questionable, but a man of Taker’s stature must have had a say in the decision. If it had been HHH, or Shawn Michaels or even CM Punk, we wouldn’t be as shocked. And shock was the emotion the WWE were aiming for. Just the way how Breaking Bad had to end, the streak had to end too. I do not think that it should have ended, but for the entertainment that it offered, even in its shocking end, it was excellent while it lasted. It’s still hard to digest that it’s been over a day since the streak broke and a part of our nostalgia and growing up is over. Perhaps, the casual viewers need to find a new reason to just catch up on WrestleMania now.

The main event, Daniel Bryan’s biggest chance at finally winning the title was upon us after this point. After a dramatic display of wrestling ability and a few shenanigans, Bryan was the champion. What’s great about Bryan’s journey is that like CM Punk, he wasn’t a cutout WWE superstar. He weighed 190 pounds, didn’t talk with catchphrases, had a scraggly beard and phenomenal wrestling abilities. He symbolizes being anti-system, but still isn’t displeasing. He ate up all that was thrown his way ever since he’s been here. The 18 second loss at WrestleMania 28, the innumerable screwy finishes, stolen chances. Everything. And yet he persevered and was rewarded the greatest honor in the industry. At the biggest stage of them all. Daniel Bryan is our undisputed WWE champion!

The entire WrestleMania weekend was amazing for me. It was just like a film that kills off your one favorite character at the halfway stage, making you want to wait for that silver lining to come your way in the form of another character’s victory. As cliched as it sounds, WM30 was a wholesome experience that actually took us on a rollercoaster of emotions. From nostalgia to jubilation, from upset to reveling in one man’s celebration and the victory of the fan. The crowd at this WrestleMania was just as awesome as the weekend. Feels great to be a wrestling fan. Again.

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The Ramblings of an Indian Pro Wrestling Fan

Author’s disclaimer: This article isn’t a hardlined prophecy by a wrestling nerd.

Pro wrestling or rather WWE (WWF before 2002) for casual viewers is associated with megalomaniacal storylines revolving around caricatured steroid-injected Davids and genetically freakish Goliaths, thrown in with buxomly ladies. A major section of the  wrestling demograph is built up of especially pre-adolescent freshly testosterone invigorated young boys in schools. The charm of gravity-defying high-flying moonsaults and hard bumps to the ring mat present an exciting entertainment-cum-inspiration source for a lot of these viewers. To do something that isn’t realistically possible in their disciplined and inactive school life hooks them onto the product for the latter viewing experience.

Billy Kidman off the top rope with The Shooting Star Press.

After a few years  and a few revelations later (read as THE INTERNET!), the naive wrestling fans get “educated” about the base realities of the sport and some of them take that as if they’ve been told Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy aren’t real. [By the way, if you didn’t understand what that meant, I was hinting at the part when we realize wrestling isn’t all real and the winners are determined beforehand.] They become disillusioned with the entire product as a whole and disconnect themselves from it by terming it as a step in the process of “growing up”. I digress. Also I digress because I’ve wanted to use this thing because it’s quite cool these days! Okay, let me digress back to the story. But my noble engineering compatriots, the process of growing up isn’t actually that easy.

That’s Mick Foley falling from a height of 20 feet.

The basic underlining concept behind every wrestling match is a good guy going against a bad guy, which is similar to your any television programme like Dexter, Sherlock Holmes, Mandira Bedi’s Shanti and almost every mythical story ever told. The good guy might get siphoned off by the bad guy’s corrupt practices, and other subversive ways. But the money lies in the former defeating the latter eventually at a major event. As governments and economics changed, the characters became more convoluted and rooted to our lives, for example, perhaps the greatest superstar of all times: Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin wasn’t glamorous or a Hulk Hogan with sculpted biceps, running on the beaches of Daytona in yellow-and-red, brother. He was just a bald guy with a small beard and a black vest with black boots by entering the ring to a straight guitar riff following the sound of glass-break, who gave the finger to his tyrannical boss and kicked his derriere (this article isn’t NSFW, what else do you expect to read?) for everyone’s good!

Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!

The character was simply a hardcore mean machine and the audiences never gave a more resoundingly unanimous loud positive reaction to anyone else.  The point that I’m trying to make is how different yet same the wrestling product is. There’s comedy, romance (ugh), action (obviously) suspense, anticipation and most importantly a conflict for the viewers which guy do they like more, often cheering for the villains rather than the quintessential white knight of the company. To look down upon wrestling fans isn’t too uncommon globally, but our breed has a nasty image of taking the entire show business very close to our hearts. The obsession with the stars has waned out through the years but I kid you not when I claim wrestling fans are more extreme than Justin Bieber (or One Direction / Weezy/ Brezzy / Deezy / Whateverzy) fans.

CM Punk is a straight-edge, punk-rock loving ‘current day Stone Cold.’

I’ve seen toddlers, punk rock chicks, heavily tattooed dudes, freakishly awesome bearded guys (yours truly is a proud member of this category), mothers, and even grannies in the same arena chanting for their favourite superstars. But the Indian scene is quite different, most of the viewers are derivatives of the XY-chromosome and usually young. If you’re a wrestling fan and you tell your friends that you can’t go out with them because there’s a pay-per-view (monthly major attraction show) on TV, you must really be prone to supposedly demeaning jibes like “What are you? Ten?” and a cocky laugh. Or the lamest of them all, “Man, wrestling isn’t real.” Yes, whiz kid, you must be Arnold from Terminator who’s arrived to save me from the fake world. You must also observe how I avoided attempting to type his surname. Who’s the real whiz kid now?

Did you say, “wrestling isn’t real?”

Pro wrestling’s also had a deep bond with rock music, except for the occasional Flo-Rida and Limp Bizkit, it’s all smooth Rollin’. (Another inside joke) Sure we do have our Undertakers, Kanes, Ultimate Warriors and Papa Shangos but who doesn’t? Aren’t Indian films and TV shows filled with larger-than-life-ridiculously-powerful villains and vamps? And those who complain how wrestling isn’t the ‘same’ as to what it was back in their day simply need to roll their eyes and take a whiff of their surroundings, it’s 2012. Kids have i-Phones!

Papa Shango

Mogambo
Fair enough?

So sit back, reminisce the old days on Youtube, or watch the new product on television or the internet. There’s TNA, ROH and a lot more independent stuff too. And for the sake of whatever you believe in, don’t ever taunt wrestling fans with a “That isn’t real.”, because you could be right in the middle of a real fight if your friend’s flipped to the right amount.

P.S. This is my entry for my college magazine.

Why It Stays Lukewarm.

I am writing this purely as a fan & I won’t make any references to kayfabe like the dirtsheets & other computer wraaastling mafias do.

I was around 5 when my dad showed me Kane fighting inferno matches, and those bouts scared the shit out of me just because of Kane’s mask & his daunting appearance. I started watching wrestling 2 years later hooked on with some WCW as well. Having missed out on the Austin 3:16, I was heavily into The Rock. Austin was one of a kind, trail blazing messiah for the ailing WWE, but Rock was E-lectrifying! (Electrifying)

I saw The Rock and cheered him even during his villain run. Whatever he did, I was a fan. Around that time, The Mummy Returns came out featuring him. Everyone at my school was totally into anything that the Rock did. Around 2003, the number of mainstream appearances & movies kept on increasing. All of his movies were shoved down my throat by the aggressive marketing that the company did. Soon, Rock was gone. No formal announcements, no goodbye speeches. I started looking for a new guy to watch the show for.

Brock Lesnar went past like a bristling wind, along with Goldberg. Evolution was a great stable of 4 villains (Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista & Randy Orton) Shawn Michaels had always been there. It took a while for John Cena & Batista to come out of the pack as the new flagbearers of WWE. Cena was also one-of-a-kind with his rapping skills & jorts. By 2005, Cena almost became “the guy” as he completed his draft to Monday Night Raw. I confess I became a believer in his “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.” until he squared off against Shawn Michaels, that was the point where Cena started getting the boos from the crowds.

From that match, precisely Wrestlemania 23, Cena wasn’t the gushing hero with all the people chanting in his favor. This continued till the time he squared off against Edge. Cena’s hated for the continuously same persona that he exudes. My argument starts here, even The Rock had a line-up of catchphrases up his sleeve that he used to gain an instant reaction from the crowd. Then why target Cena for the monotony?

I continued being a viewer rather than being a fan of a particular superstar until last year (CM Punk’s cult promo) but Cena-Rock did provide for some excitement.

Cena made a few jibes at The Rock that resonated for my feelings for the Rock. He made a few valid points. Rock started his own anti-Cena tirade with constant references to John’s apparel, lifestyle and what not. Slapstick entertainment? Yes. Long term interest? No. They did virtually nothing to build this “Greatest match of all times” until a cameo from the Rock at Survivor Series and few more catchphrases thrusted as arbitrary trending topics on Twitter.

I still couldn’t buy into the real reason behind this feud. It appeared just a one-off match to garner eyeballs, no personal angst as opposed to what they claimed. Kung pao chicken, Rock concert & “Trending worldwide” sucked. The Rock delivered a promo under a statue of Rocky Balboa, that’s where it really started. The Rock gave the reason for winning this, he had to defeat three generations of superstars to become the greatest of all time. This gold was late-found though.

The week after that, Cena and Rock made a great final build. Rock said “I simply don’t like you” at the end of it, I scratched my head again. I still couldn’t figure out the reason why he doesn’t like Cena. This is where this feud fails for me. Cena gave a practical reason for his issues with the Rock. I somehow figured out why this match is important to The Rock but I couldn’t understand why he hates Cena.

I’ll be watchingWrestlemania 28 because I am a year-long viewer and not for this “Clash of titans”. Hope it turns to be as great as it is expected to be.

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