The Nosebleeds needs you! The end of the column calls out for your answers to your perspective on wrestling heroes.
?Some people are more comfortable in hell.? (Tony Almeida)
?You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.? (Miller Williams)
?We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t.? (Tyler Durden)
Superman, Wonder Woman, Hercules, Hulk Hogan; these are great heroes in our culture that point to the absolute best that people can be and then some. They are the greatest idea of good in that we could come up with and we put them into characters that showed the greatest that humanity could be. We have even taken some of our own historic figures and added them to the list like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and?Bono. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know we can never truly reach that status. The idea of being god-like and living our own heaven in this life just isn?t possible for some. We instead turn to our heroes whom we truly identify with. We turn to heroes that we can understand and we shun the super-hero types. Superman is too powerful and doesn?t have the dark streak of Batman. John Wayne’s armor could not be chinked but we could see through the cracks of Clint Eastwood. This is true of many people in real life and we manifest it in our culture to express the true confliction even our best and brightest suffer. We identify with the outcasts because that is how we truly feel. Think about it, the fact that you are a wrestling fan right away puts you out of the norm. Only in the arena and in our living rooms do we find our solace.
The best example I can think of is Sting. In the mid 90s, Sting was the blonde dude with the cool face paint that everyone looked up to. He was WCW’s version of Hulk Hogan, until they signed Hogan himself. No wrestler in WCW meant more to the promotion than Sting, and we all understood that. Which is why we understood him so well when he abandoned the organization in late 1996. At that time the NWO was running rampant over the company. People were joining left and right and no one knew who to trust. This band of rebels had caught everyone off guard and the company didn?t know how to fight them off. Then the unthinkable happened: Sting turned on the WCW, or so everyone thought. At that time, the feeling was, if Hogan would turn, anyone could. The impostor posing as Sting who attacked WCW leader Lex Luger made everyone doubt the Stinger’s loyalty. In many ways, we understood why. But more importantly, we understood Sting’s position even more. He would have never turned his back on the company. People looked to Hogan as the great hero and not the man they should have-Sting. Imagine yourself in that position. Here is a guy who had given his life to this company. Everything he had done for the company was pushed aside when Hogan came along and then turned on his fans. Sting, who remained loyal, was being doubted. It was then that he left the WCW side, tuned away from the colorful costumes, and became the outcast who lurked above the arena. He was almost a Phantom of the Opera type character. He had become a freak who wore a long black coat and painted his face in black and white. His face had become expressionless, with his only voice being the baseball bat he carried with him.
And we could all identify with him. We knew the dead expressions were only a physical cover for the war going on inside his soul. If you were the kid who sat in math class having people ignoring you unless they wanted to degrade you in front of their friends, or couldn?t get a date or a friend’s ear, you understood. Maybe you were he underage mom who had everyone calling her a slut behind her back. You may have been the employee who had worked so hard only to see it go unappreciated and be passed up for a promotion. You may have been the parent whose love and support was never appreciated by your child because their friends had cooler parents who bought them beer. We can even go further and be the lone wolf walking down the street with nothing to your name but the clothes on your back and see a rich man in a tie, smoking a cigarette, wasting his health while you are forced to beg for change to buy one simple meal. We all could identify in one way or the other.
When Sting finally came back to the WCW side, he did it his way this time. He refused to wrestle unless it was a championship match against Hulk Hogan. And when he came back, the colors and blonde hair did not return. A part of him had been killed and there was no way to get that back. Eventually he did join a fraction of the NWO when they had splintered off from Hogan’s group. It had nothing to do with taking a stance. For once, the Stinger did something for himself and joined his friends, Lex Luger and Randy Savage in a new beginning. In hindsight, this was a great move for the Sting character because, while not as stale as Hogan was, Sting was beginning to run its course, and here we are in 2009 and Sting still wears the dark paint.
Another contemporary outcast is Kane. Much like the Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Kane was a disfigured individual with some real psychological problems. I remember reading an interview with The Undertaker some years ago in which he said that the surface of the Kane character had not yet been scratched, that it could be really huge if given the chance. I have to say I agree with Taker. While Kane seemed like a lame idea at first, his character brings a dimension to the sport we have not seen from anyone else. We can criticize many of the things WWE has done with Kane, but we are freaks just like him. Kane has been at the center of some bizarre storylines, from being a burn victim to raping dead girls, and then a couple years later, he raped a live girl. But we can?t discount the great storylines he has been a part of. The summer of 2003 was huge for Kane. Hell, the wrestling world belonged to him that summer when he was forced to unmask, began demolishing everyone in sight and had to be escorted to the arena in a police truck. This would lead to him turning Undertaker back into the Dead Man. Kane had to essentially build this program by himself while Taker was off TV and he did it perfectly. Whether he was a heel or a face, I always understood why Kane was doing what he was doing. That may say some sick things about me, but I truly get it. I get why he was so jealous of his brother. I come from a family of four boys and growing up we all felt like we had to prove something to each other (Note: This has passed and Dan, Mike and Dave are not only great brothers, but great friends). I had a friend in high school that was on the heavy side and had to compete for attention with his superstar jock brother. I understood why Kane was demolishing everyone. We sometimes feel like the world has let us down and just want to lash out by giving someone a piledriver or chokeslamming them off a stage through a bunch of tables. Okay, so the rape part, I don?t identify with so much, but it made sense for his character, as sick as many found it. Really, Triple H was the perfect guy to expose it and no one else could have pulled it off. Austin, Rock, Taker, Angle, RVD, nor anyone else could have been a necrophiliac. I do think that Kane has more to offer in the future and I hope that WWE capitalizes on that before he passes his peak.
Whether it is out of resentment, jealousy, or just plain empathy, we identify with outcasts a lot more than we do with the god-like heroes. In some ways, they even vindicate us when they are on-screen, shining the way we wish we could be. It may be disturbing in a sense, but it is nevertheless a realization that many of us have come to.
Come to the Nosebleeds! Email me with your responses to the following questions. I will be posting results in the next column. If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate this when you email me. I?m not asking for a twelve page paper on each question, just a brief response. Send your results to Obrien.email@example.com.
* Have you ever had a hero in wrestling truly inspire you? If so, who was it and how did that person’s actions and/or words affect you?
* What characters in fiction do you compare your heroes to?
* Who is the greatest hero in wrestling history to you and why?
* Who makes the hero, the hero or the villain?
Thanks for reading! Don?t slip on any blood on your way out.
The ?Are you serious?? Moment of the Week: Mick Foley insinuating that TNA’s upcoming Lockdown pay per view will be bigger than Wrestlemania 25. The main attraction of WM 25 is The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in their first big match in over eleven years. Both men may be over forty, but they still a part of some of the best matches each year. Meanwhile, Lockdown’s main attraction will be Mick Foley vs. Sting in their first big match in over’seventeen years. Sting is almost fifty but still kicking and Foley supposedly retired nine years ago and is easily ten years past his prime. Hmm. Let me think which match I?ll watch first. While I understand that Foley is past his prime for what he gave to the business and that he is just trying to plug TNA, I have to ask, Lockdown bigger than Mania? Are you serious?
Quote of the Week: ?I?ll pee in a cup right now.? (Bobby Lashley stating his confidence in passing a drug test).
YouTube Video of the Week: You can watch the video at this link. I know it’s older but I just recently came across it. With this whole hero talk I thought a little Hogan action might be appropriate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcZvSv_fZd0
Note: I have to send my condolences out to the friends and family of Andrew ?Test? Martin. My hope is that people will refrain from speculating on his death and pointing fingers before the autopsy report comes out. It is nothing but disrespectful to the friends and family of this man when we have media, wrestlers, and the fans quickly pointing fingers.