Volume Four, Chapter Nine: Random Thoughts

I constantly hear people talk about 1/3rd of men in a certain demographic dare likely to end up in jail. Some use it as a criticism, others use it as an excuse. NEITHER side dares bring up the 2/3rds that never go. That’ll kill the conversation.

Depending on who kills you, you can matter a lot more dead than you ever could alive.

Incidentally, many who mourn the police brutality death of another demographic would never do so for one of their own. Why? Because they know to disdain their own criminals.

The ultimate “supremacist” move? Leave the thug worship to lesser beings, and feel sorry for them when they do. They can’t help themselves.

To publicly say what other people say privately has a 50/50 chance of getting you paid-or fired. Telling people EXACTLY what they want to hear, and holding your laughter until you’re someplace private, is job security.

It’s a damned fool who would trust a chef they just sued to cook anything for them.

If your religion prohibits you from doing something, another person’s religion may demand it.

Ever notice how selective “nonjudgemental” people are about what they eat and who they mingle with?

Truth and kindness are seldom used simultaneously.

There should be marked differences between self-described opponents. Otherwise, one of you is just a store brand version of the other. And that’s about the only thing you two can debate.

Next time, what two guys named Richard taught me about being a hero- or more specifically, NOT being one…

Volume Four, Chapter Eight: Hate-Watchers… and the People They Make

Bill O Kimye CenaTS

Fox News has been the top cable news channel for at least a decade. Keeping Up With the Kardashians has had a long run on E! Entertainment Television. And John Cena is the long-time face of WWE. But Fox News is routinely trashed in mainstream society, the Kardashians are dysfunctional as hell, and adult males abhor Cena.

Those attributes are often overlooked by loyal fans. Conservatives will always watch Fox News. People will watch the Kardashians for… whatever. Cena’s Make-A-Wish work and popularity with women and children will guarantee him a career. But the aforementioned are also aided by another element: hate-watchers.

There are people so filled with hate that they often spend vast amounts of money and time just to tear something down. And don’t think somebody hasn’t noticed. Talk radio hosts and WWE did it first. Cable news and Internet personalities took notes, and laugh in their hate-watchers’ faces daily.

YouTube sensation Tommy “Mr Controversy” Sotomayor’s commentary on the matriarchal ways of the Black community, while often scathing, is really just common private conversation made public. Somebody somewhere has already heard, said or agreed with his words. Tommy’s supporters are very vocal. So are those who don’t support him.

Tommy’s critics go so far as to create multiple social media accounts just to argue with him. That same hate has led Tommy to an offer from XM Radio (which he refused, citing that corporate sponsors would lead to outside creative control) at least a dozen popular YouTube channels, and an upcoming independent movie called “A Fatherless America”.

People will pay good money just to boo John Cena. People shred Bill O’Reilly, Kimye, and Tommy Sotomayor, but they give away money and/or time just to shred them. The hate-watchers get an assumed moral victory, but their focus gets a real, tangible payday. The person fueled by hate has more to lose in the exchange than the hated.

If the hated up and vanishes, where can the hater turn that negative energy? Suppose Fox News, Cena, Tommy or the Kardashians were either yanked off the air, or worse, just voluntarily left the scene? Their antagonists can’t just turn on a dime into a ray of sunshine. A change like that, even if it was gradual, would be the death of them mentally, if not physically.

By nature, the hate-fueled person would have to create something new to lash out at. It’s easier to detest something already there. Consumers have the right to spend their time and money however they like. But those who know how to manipulate hate to their advantage earn the right to pimp them, too. It’s an agreed-upon, albeit uneven, exchange.

Volume Four, Chapter Seven: Can’t Knock the Hustle

Creflo

Megachurch/prosperity preacher Creflo Dollar recently asked his congregation to purchase him a $65M private jet. 33-year-old Congressman Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) recently announced his resignation amid allegations of illegal spending. And Starbucks’ #racetogether promotion, an attempt to capitalize on the “national discussion”, is off and running to collective groans.

Now, of course, all the feigned moral outrage is taking place. Sure, the public can be mad at these men for their avarice, and rightfully so. The prosperity gospel, fabulous politicians, and the so-called conversation on race are all blatant hustles. All three also have victims. But all three are fueled and enabled by willing participants… who call themselves victims when the consequences hit them.

“Bless the blessed, and be blessed” is the so-called prosperity gospel, and to an equal degree, politics. Creflo’s World Changers congregants want him to live lavishly. They are not mostly single welfare mothers. They are simply people hoping their own greed and jealousy of their neighbors apparently better-off neighbors will be sated with a second-hand blessing, i.e. running a hustle on God.

Aaron Schock is the kind of guy the media obsesses over. He’s young, conservative, got abs, and has often been rumored to be gay. The novelty of all that, as is often the case, helped him at first, but hurt him when he came under scrutiny, which most gimmicks and hustles seldom endure (see Herman Cain).

The first major, post-Civil Rights “discussion on race” was in 1986, when Al Sharpton championed alleged rape victim Twanna Brawley. Just like with the “Hoodie March” and  the recent “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movements, it was also founded on a lie. But it only makes sense that a coffee shop that averages $6 a cup would want to cash in on the lucrative, if blatantly false, hustle.

Creflo’s congregants either defended him or feigned outrage and called themselves victims when their church was ridiculed (usually the latter). Schock’s spending only became an issue when his newness wore off. And not even the Black U.S. Attorney General could promote 2014’s greatest urban myth after months of analysis. But the hustles dies for now, and will rise again eventually.

When one concedes that their hustle on God can’t match Creflo’s hustle on them, they leave such a church. When people stop voting out of lust and/or envy, there will be no more Aaron Schocks. And only when a person looks at the body count in their own towns will they know whose lives actually matter to them. A hustle only works if somebody else is either in on it or goes along with it.

Sounds like my brewer going off. Next time, the reason why Fox News will ALWAYS dominate cable news…

Volume Four, Chapter Six: The Squared Circle Orthogonean

Savage and ElizabethThe Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth in their greatest hour: WrestleMania IV. (Photo courtesy of WWE)

For years, the WWE Hall of Fame induction has been the chance for longtime wrestling fans to honor and possibly even meet the legends of the industry they grew up with. The key to receiving induction hinges on a wrestler’s relationship with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. This has led to some notable exemptions and inclusions.

Chyna, the first female Intercontinental Champion, was fired from WWE in 2001, and went on to slam the company at the height of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide media blitz. Neither are often mentioned for Hall induction. Bruno Sammartino refused induction for years. Yet many people at odds with Vince have ended up inducted, often at fans’ behest.

Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Bruno, and even former business competitors like AWA promoter Vergne Gagne had major issues with WWE, but are all Hall of Famers. Abdullah the Butcher never even competed in WWE, but was enshrined nonetheless. And then there’s the case of one “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

David Shoemaker, a.k.a the Masked Man of deadspin.com, did an obituary of sorts for Savage just after his May 20, 2011 death. It’s also the source of the Hofstadter quote from last time. Shoemaker’s “Dead Wrestler of the Week” articles are written by a longtime fan of sports entertainment from a real-world view. The article piece pretty much sums up why people loved Savage.

He had the perfect woman (as of 1984, his real wife, Miss Elizabeth), and was jealous. He had the zany ring gear that still sells. He was believably brutal and agile in the ring. And that intensity in matches came through in spades when he was on the mic. The dream match between Savage and the Rock would be a hit if only for the promos between the two.

But there always seemed to be that underdog trait to Savage. He was the wrestling Orthogonean, the striving up-and-comer nipping at the heels at the elitist Franklin WWF Champion, Hulk Hogan. Much like the most famous Orthogonean, Richard Milhous Nixon, he would finally be the man, but he didn’t soundly beat the man, and was haunted by it.

Savage and Ricky Steamboat stole the show at WrestleMania III in their Intercontinental Championship Match. (Savage reportedly went over every single detail of it for days prior to the match.) Vince decided that Savage deserved a chance to be WWF Champion, and prepared him to replace Hogan, who was about to become a new dad.

Savage won the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV after Hogan’s interference. He lost the belt to Hogan at WrestleMania V. Savage then replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri Martel. He tried to establish himself without two key figures in his career, but it just never felt right. WrestleMania VII saw the Liz/Savage saga come full circle.

Minutes after a “retirement match” loss to the equally nutty Ultimate Warrior, Savage and Elizabeth reunited to tears and cheers from fans. The couple had a “wedding” at SummerSlam 1991, and Savage won a second WWF Championship, and defended his wife’s honor, from Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII. Liz divorced him the same year.

In 1994, he up and left the WWF to join Hogan in WCW, where he got to play a sidekick- again. He even got to reunite with Elizabeth for a spell. Only when he signed with the upstart TNA did Savage, with his career nearly over, truly fly solo. His final televised match at TNA’s Destination Point event in December 2004.

Randy Savage was actually promoting his upcoming WWE action figures and video game appearances at the time of his death. Yet at the Hall of Fame Induction prior to WrestleMania XXVIII, the first after his death, he wasn’t included. Almost instantly, conspiracy theories exploded.

Was Macho Man Randy Savage being denied a shrine because he took the Slim Jim commercial deal to WCW with him? Did Savage refuse to be inducted over the WWF’s “Nacho Man” parody of him? Or was it because of the most bizarre, and therefore most popular, conspiracy: that Vince caught Savage trying to hit on a then-teenage Stephanie McMahon?

Savage’s brother, “Leapin'” Lanny Poffo alleged that the Macho Man only wanted to be inducted if Lanny and their late father, Angelo Poffo, could also be included. Since Lanny is only vaguely remembered for his short stint as the poetic Genius, and hardly anybody remembers Angelo’s Poffo’s ICW promotion, the induction was a no-go.

Vince refused the request, just as Elizabeth Ann Huelette’s family refuse to allow her to be inducted. They feel the wrestling industry killed her (she died in 2003 after an accidental drug and alcohol overdose). As the only surviving immediate family members, Lanny and the Huelettes get to make the call. Lanny finally decided to allow only his brother in.

Savage’s longtime frienemy Hulk Hogan is inducting Savage in the Hall, which loads yet another conspiracy regarding their association at Savage’s death. Meanwhile, fans and non-fans are all celebrating the career of one of the greatest wrestlers ever.

If Hulk Hogan was what kids wanted to be, then Macho Man Randy Savage was who many of us knew we ultimately were. Intense, talented, but too insecure to appreciate what we could do in full.

 

Volume Four, Chapter Five: Dope Fiend Paranoia

“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”- Richard Hofstatder, historian

I’ve lived in East Lake, one of the rougher areas of Chattanooga, Tn., since 2007. Between the crime and my personal history with drugs, you’d think that would be all the incentive in the world not to live here. And you’d be dead wrong. I work second shift, and miss out on a lot. And I’ve stayed clean since 2001 precisely because I live over here.

In order to get to some dope, I’d have to do three things I have no reason to engage in. I need an actual desire to get f*cked up. I’d have to be willing to have all kinds of strangers in my life or in my house. And the third is something that only irked me while addicted, but I hate now: I’d have to listen to people prattle on with their paranoia about law enforcement.

To see it played out on television and the Internet, you’d think the police are just walking up to completely innocent bystanders and slamming them on the ground. I have went my entire lifetime, the bulk of it in the inner cities, without a single violent confrontation with law enforcement. I can name people in East Lake that have done the same.

From early on, and especially when I was driving a cab here in Chattanooga, I realized that yes, law enforcement is a source of revenue to any city. They write tickets and enforce fines. But those fines and tickets are only valid when somebody breaks a law. After all, law enforcement is just that: LAW ENFORCEMENT.

I also knew early on that constant interaction with law enforcement is seldom a good thing. That concept sticks with me to this day. It’s not so much because they’re these corrupt sentinels of selective justice. It’s because when they’re not writing tickets, they’re handling situations that would seem to be beyond reasonable control.

In the places I’ve lived over the years, the neighbors would argue and get in drunken brawls. More times than not, though, they would be broken up by some voice of reason, and those involved would seldom discuss the happenings with just anybody. The old rule growing up was to “Keep the man out your business”.

It was understood that having to bring in a referee was proof that those people didn’t know how to handle their business or ran around and told their business. Either way, people avoided them. It also meant that if “the man” was called often enough, he’d set up shop in the hood. He could descend on them like a marching army, and they didn’t want that.

Hell, even drug dealers knew the value of handling their own affairs. Many of the people I knew doing those things, as wrong as they were, did not want to openly give the neighborhood a rep. Many of them also had full-time jobs, and refused to risk their families or careers by getting arrested or having the phone ring all hours of the night.

Rather than risk finding out too late which police were rogue, they decided not having them around at all was the best option. They were smart enough to at least try to play it smart. Keep in mind that I’m referring to the mid-80’s to the early-90’s, when minding one’s own business was a very important trait.

It’s certainly not that way today. It’s nothing to see some broke-ass dealer standing on the street corner dressed well beyond his means flagging down cars. They do that in-between breaks of police war stories and creating “beefs” on social media. They flash dope money, throw up gang signs, and even do their dirt on video for the world to see on Worldstar Hip-Hop.

In keeping with the paranoia that’s just part and parcel with subversive living, they dedicate their extravagance to all the “haters” out there. That term usually applies to somebody they see out somewhere that doesn’t give the obligatory applause. It never occurs to them that their audience may include somebody who can literally do something about them.

When the goal is attention, the downside is that one rarely gets to decide what kind of attention they draw. Thus, law enforcement’s greatest sin is not capturing someone doing wrong, which even the perpetrator knows to be such. It’s not responding the way the pseudo-celebrity wants them to, and even worse, making them suffer negative consequences.

It’s so odd that people don’t seem to mind the personal consequences of the dope game. The multiple children and stacks of child support, the side effects of drug use, and the frequent poverty don’t bother people. But somebody else imposing a punishment upon them for something they know is wrong seems to be a big problem with the anti-police crowd.

Were they still alive, the martyred saints of this movement, all of who had criminal records, would not be welcome in the neighborhoods of those playing dead on the interstate. The latest anti-police schtick is simply a gathering place for the paranoid, the guilty, or the excitable looking for an excuse to create anarchy. The corpses they march over are simply props.

I’ve been clean for 13 years now, but even then, I recognized the police were a part of my habit, even if indirectly. Rather than risk the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, I just decided to drop the whole damned addiction. I don’t need a cop story to warrant me talking. But some do, and all I can say is that they might as well accept this as part of the price they pay.

The greatest enemy of a paranoid person is most often one of their own making.

Next time, the source where I found the Hofstadter quote…

Volume Four, Chapter Four: Vince’s Coronation Speech

Vince

 

The first and last word in the wrasslin’ business, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. (Image courtesy of Twitter@VinceMcMahon)

On Monday night, March 26, 2001. Vincent Kennedy McMahon the be-all and end-all of professional wrestling. 17 years after nearly monopolizing the industry, he had actually done it. In 1984, he had replaced the longtime National Wrestling Alliance wrestling show on Ted Turner’s WTBS with World Wrestling Federation broadcasts. But the deal was rife with contractual and fan contention.

His quasi-monopoly lasted about eight months, from July 14, 1984 until the night before the first WrestleMania aired (March 30, 1985). But now, thanks in no small part to the implosion of World Championship Wrestling, the company Turner started from the remnants of the bankrupt Jim Crockett Promotions, he now owned the entire wrestling industry.

WCW was in business for nearly six years before they ever actually turned a profit. When they finally struck paydirt, it was because they had Hulk Hogan, the longtime WWF Champion as its front man. Hogan joining WCW gave the company the mainstream focus it had long lacked, and Time-Warner would give him whatever he wanted… as long as Turner was running things.

With the presence of top former WWF stars, WCW actually broke Vince’s chokehold on the business. In 1995, Turner requested WCW EVP Eric Bischoff present a show to go against WWF’s flagship Monday Night Raw. By 1996, WCW Monday Nitro was actually beating the WWF in every major statistic, from TV ratings to ad sales to live event attendance.

Initially, the Nitro introduction was seen as an attempt to splinter a dwindling wrestling audience. Ironically, it had the exact opposite effect; the audience actually grew. Both WCW and the WWF had something different to offer fans. In other words, the wrestling audience had variety to choose from, which made both companies work harder to compete for ratings and revenue.

While conflict between companies is good for fans, such a thing within a company is not. With the increasing margin of victory for WCW, egos began to rise. Many wrestlers also picked and chose when they’d win and lose, leaving the creative process in the air often just until airtime. And even then, matches began to end without a decisive or satisfactory ending. Bischoff completely lost control.

In addition, the establishes stars also refused to help promote the younger talent, despite fans’ interest. With the exception of former NFL player Bill Goldberg, nobody emerged from WCW as a fresh face, even as the old faces kept getting older. The WWF, on the other hand, was constantly giving new stars a chance to shine. After all, their new top stars were one new faces, too.

By the end of 1999, WCW was on its last legs. America Online was about to merge with Time-Warner, and neither company wanted anything to do with WCW, which had went from profiting $35M in 1998 to losing $12M in 1999. By hiring longtime WWF creative head Vince Russo, and putting the WCW belt on comedian David Arquette, the boat just continued to sink.

In 2000, Ted Turner, WCW’s greatest advocate, was forced from his Chairman position due to the Time-Warner/AOL merger. WCW was immediately put up for sale. Vince made an offer in October, but having just signing a TV deal with the National Network (later Spike TV), he couldn’t have two shows on two companies. Then in 2001, Turner TV Chief Jamie Keller refused to air WCW shows.

And so, on Monday, March 26, 2001, Vincent Kennedy McMahon made his coronation speech. It aired on both live broadcasts of Monday Night Raw and the final Monday Nitro. Three days prior, he bought 24 WCW wrestler contracts, and WCW’s 30-year video library, for a mere $3M, a price many wrestlers could actually afford.

WCW is not necessarily remembered for its classic matches. In truth, even during the supersexual “Attitude Era, the WWF had better , if only because of comparison between the two companies. But at its peak, WCW gave the wrestling audience variety, and kept both companies on point through competition. At worst, fans wanted WCW to return to greatness, not implode.

But implosion is often how one-party rule sets in. And more times than not, the winner loses a part of itself as well. And people start to move on or even rebel. Just look at the WWE ratings and buyrates in 2014 compared to 1999, and the growing UFC audience.

The very people who seem to want a monopoly in something are seldom happy if/when they actually get it. The challenges don’t end. They only begin at that point. And the challenges come internally, and externally.

Volume Four, Chapter Three: 21-1

21-1

The sight and sign fans thought they’d never see at WrestleMania… (Image Courtesy of 411mania.com)

At the 1990 Survivor Series pay-per-view, two major debuts occurred. One was the debut of the Gobbledy Gooker, a dancing guy in a turkey suit hatched out of a mysterious “egg” that the World Wrestling Federation had been promoting for months. The fans booed him, and Hector Guerrero, the guy who played him, out of the World Wrestling Federation in weeks.

The other debut was “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s mystery tag team partner. It turned out to be Mean Mark Callous, a 6’9″ 300-lb., former World Championship mid-carder. He was renamed Kane, the Undertaker. Later he was just called Undertaker, or ‘Taker.

The Undertaker was introduced as an invulnerable zombie that looked like a literal Grim Reaper. He also walked across the top ring rope and flew around the ring like a cruiserweight. He finished off foes with a tombstone piledriver. And with his new, even more macabre manager called Paul Bearer, he defeated “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka in under two minutes at WrestleMania VII.

At the time, no one could have guessed that to be the start of the longest annual pay-per-view winning streak, and the longest headlining tenure, in wrestling history. When one looks back throughout WWF/E history after 1993, there have been only two consistent entities: WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, and the man whose real name is Mark Calloway.

During the Monday Night Wars, ‘Taker wished those leaving for WCW well, but also galvanized the remaining WWF stars to tough it out. In rare mainstream interviews, he admits as much. Fans toughed it out as well. The Undertaker persona has evolved from a morbid mortician, an emissary of Hell, a straight-up devil worshipper, and a bad-ass biker. And he actually made the sh*t plausible.

Granted, many guys did get career-altering victories over ‘Taker (Mr. Kennedy, Randy Orton, John Bradshaw Layfield). But ‘Taker wanted to help up-and-comers become the future of the business; his legacy in the industry was set early. The only concession he ever kept was the “The Streak” at WrestleMania. It was pretty much seen as a token of respect from Vince and his fellow wrestlers.

‘Taker’s been part-time since WrestleMania XXVI, where he “retired” the event’s other iconic performer, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Nonetheless, ‘Taker winning at his show has always been a given. Even more likely was his retirement from wrestling without ever losing at the WWE’s biggest event. At worse, he’d at least make it to 24 wins, and possibly lose match #25.

Going into WrestleMania XXX, he was an untouchable 21-0. Brock Lesnar made his WWE rep dominating ‘Taker when he burst on the scene in 2002. But there was no way he’d beat “The Dead Man” on his own playing field. Besides, Paul Bearer, who died just before WM XXIX, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before.

The crowd of 85K at New Orleans’ Superdome (and the Buffalo Wild Wings at Northgate Mall, where I was watching) was silent as Brock pummeled ‘Taker. He kicked out of two of Brock’s F-5 finishers, and kept the crowd into it. But then came the third. One…two…three. Complete silence. Gaping mouths. For many, it was the literal end of an institution that dated back to childhood.

The post-Mania Raw saw Brock Lesnar’s manager, Paul Heyman, tout his client as the “1 in 21-1″ in one of the damnedest wrestling promos ever. Ultimate Warrior made his final, troubling televised appearance before dropping dead the next night. And ‘Taker, always on the post-Mania Raw, was nowhere to be seen. His absence just made the broadcast seem off kilter.

The decision to end “The Streak” was actually made hours before WrestleMania XXX was aired. ‘Taker was suffering from two decades of wear and tear. Both Vince and ‘Taker felt it best to begin the end. But nobody besides those involved in the match, not even those working in the blatantly scripted world of WWE, saw it coming. The response was legitimate, spontaneous shock.

Compare that to when so-and-so says or does this-or-that, and the media manufactures shock and outrage. Unless I pretended to be very naive, or really fake, a gay athlete, a third-world disease on American shores, an election win or loss every other November, or somebody drawing police attention to themselves with horrendous consequences can hardly qualify as shocking or controversial.

I was actually shocked more by that than anything else this year. The bulk of the brouhaha over most things, with the possible exception of international matters like ISIS, Kim Jong-Un, or Vladimir Putin, was far less spontaneous and more fabricated. But then again, when the focus is on self-affirmation, foreign aggression tends to rear its ugly head in times like that.

Volume Four, Chapter Two: Why the Sudden Change?

 I’ve quit smoking. It took a decade to finally decide to quit for good. Not cut back. Not “social smoking”. Just DONE. I can think of a hundred different things I can be doing besides spending a grand a year on a coping mechanism that goes- literally- up in smoke.

In order to quit, you have to be prepared for setbacks, physical changes, and having to change personal habits, and possibly even acquaintances. This will be harder to deal with than the meth addiction.

Changing habits and acquaintances is never an easy thing, but in this case it’s worth it. Cutting back on eating is a no-brainer, now that I realize how much I’m actually capable of putting away. That brings me to the final two sentences of Volume Three.

Simply put, around this time last year, a lot was going on that I never saw coming. I got the chance to meet my half-sister, and to attend my 20th anniversary high school reunion. 2013 ended with a furor over, of all things, the ethnicity of Santa Claus and some Church of Christ duck caller. Damn.

That paved the way to start getting away from social media. It’s become the haven for those in constant need of f*cking hugs. People like that, even if they’re not in the room with you, can suck the air right out of it.

We all know my three main targets since Spring 2013. I’ve pointed out example after example that those three hate each other over similarities, not differences. My big mistake was naming them, highlighting them, and actually giving them a uniqueness they didn’t really deserve. Thus “Ghetto Tendencies”.

Volume Four will not target any particular group; again, that would give them credence. Instead, I’ll just rip into the types of people that we all know, and relate them to the archetypes found in the world of professional wrestling. If your feelings get hurt… well, you know who I’m talking about then, even if I don’t.

The original title of this blog was “Wrestling with Reality”. Current events seem to come fast and loose, so I never got to get into one of my favorite pastimes the way I wanted to. “Montreal” was actually one of the very first blogs I did on WordPress, but never published it until recently.

Montreal was perhaps the root of my “Devil’s Advocate” tendencies to question things, even if the answers make me very uneasy. And that’s just one incident in wrestling I can relate to.

In addition, with 40 coming up, and me not expecting to see it until recently, I think a look back, and ahead would help. A lot of things shape us as people, and I’d love to let you know what some of those things are. And they’ll probably be set to music…

In closing, I’d like to thank all of you who continue to read this blog. Nobody made you do it, but I’m all too glad you did. Any comments, questions, you name it, post them, I won’t remove them. There may be less blogs as well, but it doesn’t mean I’m done. Not by a long shot…

Volume Four, Chapter One: Montreal

 bret-hart-shawn-michaels-montreal-screw-job-exclusive-1496-p

The key to wrestling’s longevity is that it combines numerous facets of all popular entertainment. The promos resemble TBN sermons. It has the glitz and glamor of a pop concert. It has some sex appeal for everybody. And pantomime as it is, it has the contact of sports. The most important part of wrestling, and all serial programs, is the predetermined story line. It’s the most socially adapted aspect of professional wrestling.

The civil unrest in America is due to everybody not keeping to the story line. People really do believe that others should act solely in accordance to what will please them. When people don’t comply, social media explodes. But story lines can only work if every single person involved “does their part”. With 300M people in the U.S., and an equal amount of possible conclusions, that “part” will never be officially defined.

Story lines only work in fiction, and sometimes not even then. I remember the most infamous meltdown in professional wrestling history. Ironically, it came from my all-time favorite wrestler. From Bret The Hit Man Hart, I learned to imitate his ring entrance and walk again. I learned how to celebrate a win, and survive a loss. Yet it was the one time he didn’t rebound from a loss that always stands out in my mind.

On November 9, 1997, the World Wrestling Federation held its annual Survivor Series pay-per-view. The show aired from Montreal’s Molson Centre. Unbeknownst to fans, the main event had no official finish until the show even started. The end of the match began a decade of turmoil.

WWF Chairman Vince McMahon wanted Bret to lose the WWF Championship belt to The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. The title change would segue into the new, adult-oriented direction Vince wanted the WWF to go. In protest, Bret refused to lose to Shawn. Both agreed that Bret should leave the WWF, and he signed onto Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling.

Bret’s publicized imminent departure made losing to Shawn a foregone conclusion to fans. Citing a creative control clause in his contract, and his iconic status in his native Canada, Bret still refused to lose. Two hours before the actual match, Vince told Bret he could go to a draw with Shawn, and forfeit the belt in a farewell speech later. Bret Hart just knew he had forced his employer, and by extrapolation, Shawn Michaels, to give him the sendoff he wanted.

Vince soon admitted he had already planned the night before the match to ensure that Bret lost the belt. He and Shawn told the match’s referee, Earl Hebner, the plan right as the match began. Bret wound up losing when Shawn got him in his own Sharpshooter leg lock, and Hebner (and Vince at ringside and off-camera) called for the bell. At first, people sympathized with Bret. Most people can relate to being humiliated on the job.

As the details of what led up to the now-infamous Montreal Screw Job emerged, public opinion changed. Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Title to Yokozuna before he went to WCW. In addition, it was the fans that showed, through the Nielsen ratings, that they enjoyed the new direction. He had been a moralistic hero at a time when fans wanted to cheer unrepentant guys like the cussing Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Shawn Michaels went on to lose the WWF Title to Austin at WrestleMania XIV on March 29, 1998. He retired from wrestling right after the match. Vince McMahon took the real-life hatred fans and even WWF wrestlers felt for him and created a new antagonist for Austin: Vince himself. Their outrageous on-screen feud would lead the WWF to Wall Street and eventually to Vince buying WCW for a mere $3M in 2001.

Bret Hart was already retired when Vince bought the company. Between horrible creative decisions on the part of WCW, the accidental death of his brother Owen at a WWF pay-per-view, and the success of the Vince/Austin story line based on Montreal, he, perhaps rightfully, became very bitter. In 2002, the same year Shawn returned to the now WWE, Bret suffered a stroke. Only when Vince called him in the hospital did the healing process begin.

In 2010, Shawn and Bret finally made peace. At WrestleMania XXVI, Bret beat Vince in one match, and Shawn retired in another. Shawn wanted to go out with a loss to the Undertaker, and did. At last, it seemed to be all over.

Bret Hart’s Hit Man persona was built around rising up from the pain of defeat over and again. To build such a legend, Bret had to lose. Yet the one time he confused fact with fiction, all hell broke loose. The entire wrestling industry changed when a departing wrestler thought others should follow his script. Reality, as usual, threw a wrench in things. And it took years to make peace with it.

Story lines only work in fiction, and sometimes not even then.

Volume Three Finale: Lordship Salvation

In 2008, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan referred to then-Senator Barack Hussein Obama as the Messiah. Four years later, the son of America’s most famous preacher, Billy Graham, insisted Willard “Mitt” Romney be elected to bring America back to God. Such statements were actually typical for Presidential elections. The difference this time around was that people actually believed them literally. They still do.

When Obama openly touted same-sex marriage on May 9, 2012, the Black church was issued a challenge. In order to re-elect the so-called first Black President, they would have to all but equally endorse homosexuality. If conservatives wished to be rid of Obama, they would have to accept a Mormon elder as their leader. On November 6, 2012, the church overall was forced to compromise. But the Messiah won again, so…

The single biggest draw to the three Abraham-based faiths is now the centerpiece of identity politics. No longer do they look to a book to find redemption from an invisible deity. Instead, they seek restitution in a man on television. Regardless of what party, ideology, or even faith they belong to, their hope lies in Washington, D.C. The greater portion of the U.S. believes in Lordship Salvation: Calling (or voting) on the name of a benefactor to make everything better.

Now, by “salvation”, I don’t mean protection from a scary afterlife, or the promise of a nice one. That’s the old definition. The here and now are the issue today, and the reward for faith is being able to continue in whatever lifestyle one wants to have. Apparently, said lifestyle can only be maintained with the proper final political authority in place. And that final authority will not only validate one’s lifestyle; they’ll destroy those who refuse to do so.

Where the Bible fails, the ballot prevails. When the ballot fails, and one doesn’t get what they want, they go back to the Bible, or some other ideology, for comfort. In either case, the people never find peace. As long as there’s one person out there who mocks their idol or mindset, they simply can’t rest. Things HAVE to line up just right. And they have to line up according to their Savior… which just so happens to side with their worldview.

Obama and Ronald Wilson Reagan, among other political figures, are indeed fascinating and charismatic. But much like Jesus Christ and Mohammed, their followers don’t know them personally from face-to-face encounters and interactions. Their greatest asset is that they embody the mindsets of their worshipers, who can make them into anything they want them to be. They need only be somebody in whose name they can do what they want.

That’s the whole thing behind the worship of such people and celebrities like Brangelina. They embody a certain holy  ideology, and therefore are saints. You can put Jesus Christ in a jar of piss and call it art. Refer to a Long-Legged Mack Daddy or laugh at a Senator reading Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor, and you’re blaspheming. And you’ll notice so-called atheists are the best about calling out such heresies.

Anytime a nation has left a church, it’s ultimately not become atheist. Instead, the worship is transferred to the state, and those who are executively employed in it, such as the former Soviet Union. Since most religions teach of an all-provident entity in heaven, said benefactor need only take up an earthly address to be worshipped. This is called statism today, but it’s ultimately socialism. Conservatives and progressives are only fighting over who’ll run things.

I became a Deist in 2011 to avoid the emotional and manipulative roller coaster of church. I could do like so many and just go along but I won’t. Following this blog, there will be NO further direct postings about politics, especially identity politics. I didn’t stop one form of worship just to be imprisoned in another.

Next time: Volume Four, Chapter One. This blog will now be going in a different direction…

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