Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Tea Party People Are Unhappy (Again): The Politics of Pro Wrestling, Jack Swagger, and the Very Necessary Zeb Colter

The WWE is firing on all cylinders right now. They never fail to deliver in the run up to Wrestlemania.

The Elimination Chamber was great fun. The Rock and CM Punk put on a nice show, and the stipulation which indicated the the former could lose by count out or disqualification was a nice touch that enhanced the match. Both men really worked hard and told a great story. True, it would have been nice to see the Undertaker appear to prevent a Lesnar or Shield run-in. But, the championship match delivered nonetheless.

Speaking of The Shield, they were elevated by their victory in the Elimination Chamber PPV. The superhero combo of Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus is so over that there was nothing to be gained by their winning the match. The clean win by The Shield was a great move and a pleasant surprise that helped all parties involved.

I reserve my greatest praise for the writers of the WWE in their having the necessary courage to allow Jack Swagger to win the Elimination Chamber match. I love Mark Henry's King Kong black walking stereotype gimmick--and yes, the politics of pleasure are complicated. But, Swagger was the smart choice, as next to Ziggler, Bryan, and Punk, he is the future of the company.

I have developed a theme here on WARN where I reflect on the relationship between professional wrestling and politics. I love those posts because they allow me to write about two things I care about a great deal.

Swagger is also worthy of special praise, because with his manager Zeb Colter, both are quite literally, money in the bank.

The old is always new for the next generation of professional wrestling fans. I grew up watching great managers in professional wrestling. Zeb Colter (known previously as Dutch Mantel)--a not so subtle dig at Ann Coulter--is a wonderful addition to the WWE roster. While present norms of political correctness may not allow for the blatant racism of Colonel DeBeers, Colter is the closest we have to a weekly reminder of the herrenvolk "real America" racism of the Tea Party GOP.

[The Tea Party people are apparently upset at the WWE for its "unfair" depiction of them as "racists" and "anti-immigrant." What irony! An AstroTurf group funded by the Koch brothers has a case of the sads because they are being accurately depicted by the soap opera that is professional wrestling. Barthes must be smiling as this is all so very post modern.]

Colter's partnership with Jack Swagger works because it is topical, consistent, and relevant. Most importantly, Colter adds another dimension to his "client's" repertoire in the ring.

Zeb does not have to get physical; however, if he chose to do so--saving such an intervention for the right moment--it would be believable if he gave Swagger some brass knucks or otherwise interfered in a match.

The end of the territory system in professional wrestling meant that most talent did not get the seasoning and training that their predecessors received up till the 1970s and early to mid 1980s. Of course, this generation of professional wrestlers has a physical look that the older generation lacked. But, the modern generation of professional wrestlers (generally) lack mic skills. Moreover, those who are weak on the mic do not have a manager to compensate for this shortcoming (and to help train them in this most necessary of skills).

Ultimately, I hope that Zeb Colter--and in a different way Paul Heyman--heralds a return of the great managers of yesteryear. I can think of a number of great workers who could use a capable mouthpiece.

Would the imminently returning Shelton Benjamin fit that mold? And what are your feelings about Wrestlemania? The Rock has to drop the belt. How should that happen? Are you pleased with his short run so far?


Sagor said...

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Dave said...

Thanks, without your piece I would have been scratching my head after hearing bits of this out there in radio land today. Instead, I had a half knowing smile on my face regarding this business and theatre of the absurd.

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Synonymous said...

I find it reprehehsible that the T party is being reduced to stereotypes. Shame WWE. Shame.

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