Monday, October 29, 2012

Hell in the Cell? Jesse Ventura Explains How Professional Wrestling Prepares You For Politics

This evening's World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view Hell in the Cell featured one of the worst matches in recent professional wrestling history. There were a few good matches on the card. One of the highlights of the evening, Big Show's match with Sheamus, was far better than it deserved to be. It was an old school match that offered some great storytelling and worked around the limitations of both competitors.

At this point, Show vs. Sheamus is a match of the year contender.

Question: for those of you who watch professional wrestling did you ever think that you would hear Big Show's name ever used proximate to the phrase "match of the year?"

By comparison, Ryback's match (Grantland has a great piece on the rise of that very improbable main eventer which is worth reading) with Chicago's own CM Punk was akin to the darkest days of WCW or TNA. Yes, the WWE was put in a horrible position when John Cena had to have surgery and bow out of the planned match. But the ending of the match was inexcusable. It was beyond lazy and disrespectful to the audience in attendance, as well as any other folks who paid money to see the event.

Management must have know how horrible Ryback is in the ring: he has a skill set that consists of five moves plus a Bushwackers inspired 1980s march around the ring spot; the powers that be did not want to waste one of Lesnar's limited appearances on a run-in to provide proper closure to the match; And Cena was not going to be soiled by having anything to do with such a horrible match. Even with his great skills, CM Punk could not carry Ryback to a respectable match.

We are ten days out from election day. This week will be filled with obligatory hand-ringing, obsessing about the poll numbers as though they contain a secret truth to be divined by the holy pundit classes who read tea leaves and chicken bones, and doomsday prophecies about what will occur if Mitt Romney wins--and he will--the White House.

In case you hadn't heard, a "Frankenstorm" is also menacing the East Coast.

The news cycle will be high stress and all drama. The horse race the pundits wanted between Romney and Obama has been ushered into being--by the talking head commentariat class. Now, the spin doctors can add a hurricane as a data point about how weather impacts voter turnout. Hint: bad weather hurts the side whose voters are less enthusiastic and motivated. In addition, bad weather helps the party whose voters tend to have more resources. On both counts, the weather would help Romney.

Do pardon the pun, but all of these events together really are a perfect storm for the 24 hour news cycle.

This week, I have a few serious pieces that I will be sharing here and elsewhere. I will also be on Ring of Fire radio this weekend talking about race, Obama, and the election. Doing a show right before election day is a high honor. I appreciate being asked to sit in with the band before the big dance.

As a fun diversion from all of the chaos and hype you will find elsewhere, I am returning to an earlier discussion about how professional wrestling is like politics.

Jesse Ventura's interview is a nice lead in and prompt for that conversation. Each day this week, I will be sharing a few short examples of how professional wrestling is a powerful lens into the realities of American politics. Professional wrestling is scripted. But, it is a far more honest representation of the realities of race and politics in the post-civil rights era, as well as the Age of Obama, than the mainstream news media (what is a cowardly Fourth Estate that long ago abdicated its responsibilities as the guardians of democracy) could ever dare to be.

In all, this week should be a fun and insightful exploration of how popular culture and politics are deeply intertwined in American politics and beyond. Plus, you get to see sweaty men and women in tights yelling at each other, emoting, cutting promos, and in some cases, beating each other up.

A person really can't ask for more.

No comments: