My Threshold for Pain
Since my hiring in February 2009 with Wrestleview I have been a self-sacrificing, for-the-greater-good, insert-hyphenated-adjective-here type of person. Before you read on… no, this is not some self-serving Barry Horowitz-like slapping of my own back for recognition and acknowledgment.
Giving away Ric Flair lottery tickets last October was only the beginning of my ‘financial backing’ of Wrestleview. Since my hiring, I have purchased every single WWE pay-per-event in order to bring my ‘PPV Hangover’ columns to fruition. You read that right; I’ve spent at least $45 a month for not just Wrestleview, but for you the loyal ‘Realist’ and VIP member.
I never would have thought that the complete enjoyment of writing a weekly column for the most credible professional wrestling website on the interwebz would have this effect on me financially.
From weekly column to call-in appearances on Monday night recap shows. From answering your questions every Friday (Friday Fishbowl) to making planned appearances for segments on Raw and Impact recap shows. I never would have thought that my measly little weekly column would blossom into its own radio show every Tuesday flanked by co-hosting Wrestleview Radio every Monday and Thursday with Adam Martin and Hunter Golden.
I promised you this was not some back-slapping, self-masturbatory column. I will be delivering.
$45 a month spent on pay-per-views. 12 hours a week devoted to writing, researching, recording, and broadcasting everything for Wrestleview. Notice I haven’t even counted the numerous hours of pro wrestling programming that I must watch in order to report on them.
So what was one little book going to do to my work ethic and dedication?
How could one meager auto-biography by one of the most polarizing figures in this industry reduce me to nothing and make me question my devotion. My devotion questioned not because of the industry itself… but by the sheer ineptitude of the subject within the pages and the glaring reflection of his own product that I must report and talk about on a weekly basis.
“Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo” stared at me through the shelves of my local bookstore. I was in the need of summer reading, I thought that there would be no better way for me to try and understand the insanity in Orlando and TNA then to get the logic (if there was any) from the man who is responsible for it and many other events in professional wrestling.
Hell, he wrote the book himself. No co-authors.
From what I heard about in his first book “Forgiven”, it was essentially a dissertation on Russo becoming a born-again Christian. God and Christ found on every other page. Higher callings proclaiming a book should be written, Russo was happy to oblige.
It sounded like a letter you would receive from an incarcerated felon in prison 3 years after they were convicted of murdering one of your loved ones. Instead of begging for forgiveness for taking your loved ones’ life, it is for taking away your love of professional wrestling.
But like I’ve said before, I’m an open-minded liberal. I’m willing to listen to any argument or take in any new product/opinion/ideal all for the sake of being informed and prepared. If it weren’t for my liberalism I never would have learned to enjoy different types of women and booze.
I sacrificed $20. I received my copy of Vince Russo’s self-penned second autobiography. That Friday night, I told myself that I would read this entire book and plan on reviewing it for this week’s ‘Reality’ column. Maybe I would be enlightened enough to understand Russo’s thought processes and possibly have the ability to defend him whenever his name or organization comes up in discussion.
It has been 3 days. I have only completed 3 of 52 chapters.
This is not because of my lack of work ethic or absence of dedication to a deadline… I just couldn’t do it.
While reading the forewords by his sons and Russo’s prologue, I could literally feel the right hemisphere of my brain gasping for air. I set the book down, took a deep breath and looked at how long into the journey I had ventured.
8 pages; 8 of 259 read. “Oh God! Were you the one that told me to do this?!” I called out to the higher being that Russo places so much trust in.
After reassessing the situation and the task at hand, I realized I needed to resort to the methods that have helped me survive every TNA broadcast since joining Wrestleview: slight inebriation. For the laymans, that means ‘getting drunk’.
Saturday night after work, the plan was set into motion. There was a case of Miller Lite by my side as I sat down in the recliner. For drastic measures, Johnnie Walker or Jim Beam was on stand-by with the heavy artillery.
As I poured my first glass of brew and returned to where I left off in Russo’s sporadic tell-all, I realized that my plan was futile. I would not have the equilibrium or the cognitive ability to be able to finish this entire book and understand Russo’s mentality while hammered by the gods of pilsner and scotch. Russo would definitely frown upon me worshipping more than one god but he’s the one hearing the callings, not me.
As of Monday morning I have survived forewords, prologue, and the first 3 chapters of Russo’s book. Only 19 of 259 pages.
I sit here typing this week’s column with mixed feelings; the kinds of feelings you would never imagine together: Failure and guilt mixed with clarity and realization. While I was not able to finish Russo’s 259-page thought-vomit and provide you with a thorough review of what kind of toxic diet his brain consumes, I was able to grasp what we question every Thursday: His knack for storytelling and writing.
I have come to terms with two literal and metaphorical similarities between less than 20 pages of his autobiography and TNA’s weekly programming:
There is no time for back-story
TNA always seems to have problems explaining feuds between performers. Battling over a championship belt, that’s understandable. Though, could someone explain to me why Jeff Jarrett was so angry at Sting for the past month? Was it because of something that happened back in March?
Jarrett keeps saying he wants answers, Mike Tenay reverberates those demands. I just want answers to why Jarrett is mad, not why Sting did something that made Jarrett mad… my brain hurts…
In Russo’s first chapter, he talks about the street he lived on and the neighborhood kids he would occasionally play baseball with early in the morning. He also talks about his times at Indiana State University.
You would think that nearly the first 24 years of his life would take up a lot more than just 4 pages; Russo seems to do it effortlessly. No mentions of high school. Only one paragraph devoted to college life. Was I supposed to have read the first book to understand this? If so, why not mention it!
Never assume anything from your audience, whether they are avid readers or frothing professional wrestling fans.
Jump cuts that cause your neck to become perpendicular to your spine
Chapter two begins with Russo remembering his son asking why they couldn’t take the arcade machine from his office at WWE headquarters to his new job with WCW in Atlanta. Before talking about that, he begins to go on a rant about how children no longer play outside and are dependent on electronic devices indoors for leisure. After the tangent, he returns to the point.
This was not my first encounter with Russo’s tangential rhetoric. After finishing this chapter (4 pages), you’re led into chapter three which is about… his 45th birthday. Wait, huh?
How old was Russo when he left WWE? When did it become January 24, 2006? Why is he explaining the impact of Jesus Christ on life as we know it? I thought we were just leaving WWE headquarters and heading to Atlanta? Now my brain and neck hurts…
We experience these jump cuts way too often in TNA. After a riveting match (as rare as that may sound) we are immediately thrust into some kind of backstage quarrel or attack between performers who have nothing to do with what just happened a couple seconds ago.
The match is happening in front of us, but the announcers don’t mention it at all. We’re stuck with trying to figure out what we should be paying attention to. In the case of ‘Rope Opera’, I don’t know if I should be paying attention to Russo’s past or his present.
Thankfully I have Memorial Day off from work. In between smoking/grilling ribs for the neighbors as they prepare the other essentials, I will try my damnedest to read the rest of Russo’s recollection of his years in WCW and beginning times in TNA.
Believe me; I want to understand him and his organization… I just wish I had a neck brace and something to numb my cranial pain as I would learn. My threshold for pain has been realized but I will continue to sacrifice for Wrestleview… wish me luck!
I will not be ‘future endeavored’ by a book!
Until next time, mouth-breathers!
Annoy me with your assumptions and affronts… adore me with your adulations and acknowledgements: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget to check out “Reality from Ringside Radio: 3R” this Tuesday on Wrestleview! It’s only available to Wrestleview VIPs though… so sacrifice a Big Mac value meal! Become a VIP!