Sunday, February 11, 2007

Punching in at 1:30 AM

Wow, ten posts already. I'm way behind. I figure I too should introduce myself as well. I'm Brian, a former MIT student (now a working stiff) taking the class as a modified listener - if you would. Like Henry, I will try to pop in myself as much as I can throughout the course. Additionally, I'll be attending the Monday Night LABs so I may meet a few of you there.

As for my story:
I first got into wrestling during the Rock/Austin era sometime in 1999. I really didn't have the chance to delve into the world of wrestling earlier, as cable television was one of the many Americana staples of which I was deprived while growing up. Knowing this, a high-school friend pitched Smackdown (on network TV) to me as something that would be cool to discuss over lunch, and after the first few Rock monologues and DX/Mcmahon family feuds I was hooked. Soon I would be keeping up with the storylines on the internet or through discussion with friends. My fandom tended to irk my parents every so often. Trying to psychoanalyze/rationalize the reasons for a well-adjusted honor student to suddenly obsess over something so "base and low-brow," my dad concluded that it was a desire to see "anger, frustration, and retribution played out on screen." I simply took it as more of a niche sufficiently far enough away from the in-crowd that my friends and I could call our own - much like Anime or Star Trek.

During my first few years of college, I took a small hiatus from wrestling - there was just far less TV time and it was less of a priority. I still took the time to follow who had left and what the bigger angles were. Through divine intervention, a fraternity rush poster offered a Wrestlemania 18 PPV party, and a lifelong friendship was born. It turned out that only 3 of the brothers actually watched wrestling, but that was enough for us. We watched every PPV in the house until the cable was turned off in the house. At that point, we would trudge out to Good Times in Sullivan Square to watch it with the rest of the townies. This tradition continues to this very day.

Over time, I've frequented sites like to keep on top of various ongoings in the behind-the-scenes world of wrestling. This has changed a lot of my perspective on what happens on television. I would consider myself a smart mark - somebody who tends to root for the characters who can work a crowd or perform well as opposed to the pre-determined good guys. Case in point - I was one of the many people booing John Cena while he would spit out a one-liner, do five moves, and hold onto the belt for another month. I booed Edge and Lita for their part in the Matt Hardy saga until Edge largely admitted to it and said "Matt, you lost your job because you were the lesser wrestler." I like Randy Orton because he has good matches and he really is that much of a prick. I've always been interested in seeing how these play out, and how the companies deals with these incidents. Learning about ECW years after they had been finished, I always thought that they were able to roll with these punches pretty well while the WWE for a large part would find itself flatfooted. I actually wrote a paper for David Thorburn's television class analyzing how pro-wrestling in the internet generation tries to handle an audience privy to the backstage reality while presenting a (mostly) separate story, and wondering if and how the two can peacefully coexist.

Like Henry, I agree that over the years there have been highs and lows. Sometimes I would tune in eagerly to see what Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle would do that night, other times I would be so disillusioned that I would play fantasy wrestling and go to the pay per views to shout "POINTS!" every time one of my guys scored. I've debated switching over wholeheartedly to TNA, but I really don't see their product as being all that satisfactory all the time either. I usually spend most of the time hoping that one brand or the other is going to get it right sometime soon, and bring the fans some glory days once again.

Over time, I hope I can share a lot of other opinions and rants about what goes on in wrestling and learn from your own experiences. Thanks for the opportunity, Sam. See you all Monday.


Alex Maki said...

The Austin/Rock feud was probably one of the greatest feuds of this generation. Not only did it culminate into one great match, it offered to the wrestling fans, many great matches until the both had their last match at Wrestlemania XIX.

Sam Ford said...

And the first appearance from the Louxador. Would you consider yourself more of a Psicosis type, or a La Parka type? Or maybe more like El Dandy?

Glad to have you aboard, Brian, and thanks for the initial introduction. My parents didn't seem that distressed at my wrestling watching as an honors student, since their grandparents watched wrestling when they were younger and it was part of the local culture, but there were some distressed folks at school when I picked my hero in high school to be Jim Ross.

Do they still show PPVs in Sullivan Square?

I wrote about soap operas for Thorburn's TV class, so I am sure he was quite shocked. And I gave him more pro wrestling than he could handle as well. Funny that the wrestling class comes while David's on hiatus this semester in the Netherlands.

You point out a strong drive in fandom to stick with something you've devoted time to, hoping they will get it right, since the fan community often gets the feeling they know how it should go better than the writers. I think we should explore this throughout the semester, particularly when thinking about character continuity, etc., and when debating why people watch something consistently that many would argue is "just the same old thing every week."

The idea of watching wrestling for its untapped potential, for what they should be doing but haven't quite gotten right yet, is an interesting proposition and a key part of the viewing experience for the fan community, I think.