For the last couple years, the WWE has run an anti-bullying campaign called “Be A Star”. As an avid rasslin’ fan, I see the ads all the time — various wrestlers stand in front of a white background to talk about how they were made fun of as children. The oddest confession is that from Sheamus, a seven-foot-tall, muscular Irishman with shocking red hair and skin the color of Elmer’s glue. He said that kids called him “fat”. You mean they didn’t go with “ginger” or “paleface” or “my god I can see your heart beating through your translucent chest”? Sheamus’s corner of Ireland had some unimaginative name-calling.
I digress. The Be A Star campaign has been going full-force for quite awhile. In addition to the ads, wrestlers make a lot of public appearances to decry the horrors of being called a mean name. They visit schools nationwide to say yes, I know I can dead-lift a yak, but back when I was a kid it wasn’t all roses. People made fun of me at school! Called me skinny! Called me fat! Never mind that on RAW not too long ago, Triple-H called CM Punk a “skinny fat-ass”. I was amazed that Punk didn’t cry and run away, or at least call Vince McMahon to upbraid Triple-H for engaging in such blatant bullying activity.
Why didn’t it happen this way? Not because it’s wrestling, but because these are grown men who understand that insults are about as harmful as you choose to make them. That’s the fundamental lesson I’ve learned from watching wrestling as a kid. When one wrestler insulted another in a promo for a big match, I never thought “Don’t say that, Stone Cold, you might hurt Undertaker’s feelings!” Instead, I thought, “Careful, Stone Cold, if you make him too mad, you’re gonna pay for it at Summerslam!”
Yes, children should be taught not to insult each other. But the WWE taught me through years of Monday Night RAW that no matter how hurtful a person’s words might be, it’s still up to me to decide how to react to it. Do I let the heel “win” by letting him get under my skin and thus put me off my game at Judgment Day? Or do I “rise above” it and use it to fuel my eventual victory? The WWE’s message for decades hasn’t been “don’t be a bully” — it’s been “don’t let bullies bother you”.
The WWE is embodying this message right now — last Monday, RAW General Manager John Laurinaitis decreed that anyone insulting him or making fun of his (raspy, Super-Dave-Osbournesque) voice would suffer “serious consequences”. Predictably, someone (The Big Show, this time around) was caught backstage making fun of Laurinaitis’s voice. Show was subsequently shamed into apologizing. Repeatedly. It was a pointless set of promos, but it makes my argument more salient because Big Show was the good guy in this situation. Laurinaitis was rightly painted as a thin-skinned asshole who uses his perceived power to build his own ego. In other words, he’s a bully — an actual bully — not some jerk who manages to succeed at making you feel bad.
Originally posted on May 11 at zazzumplop.com. You can follow Darrell on Twitter at @zazzumplop and sometimes (when he’s feeling extra witty) at @nostraslammus
Hate is a Four Letter Word
You’re sure they have the right guy?
I just finished watching June 22’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown, and I was thoroughly bothered by the way Baltimore heckled Big Show at the open of the show. Yelling things at heels is normal and to be expected – I have no problem with that. But specifically, they yelled “You Can’t Wrestle!” at him and I was just baffled. Who do these people think they are? That’s a chant that’s usually reserved for Khali or (as a bit of a tongue in cheek reference) to John Cena, and it seemed wholly inappropriate to me.
Does the crowd in Baltimore hate Big Show so much that they can’t stand that he’s on TV? They don’t even want to see him perform? It’s quite possible that a handful of smarks who legitimately hate Show (I know you’re out there) started a chant and the rest of the crowd joined in because that’s what you do when people start chants. I don’t know, it just got me on a Twitter rant and I still felt the need to come here and vent a bit more about it.
A guy like The Big Show has certainly fell victim to uninteresting / boring booking in recent years, until his stint now as a heel – my opinion, of course – you’re welcome to disagree. I can see why the crowd can get tired of seeing a guy if his storylines haven’t been compelling. The thing that bugs me is the blinders that can be turned on with fans when that happens. It takes a lot more effort from the wrestler and from creative to move on from past mistakes in booking.
That all said, it’s possible! On a personal level, my friends can tell you about my hate for Mark Henry. It mostly stems from my brother going on about how he could’ve put in more effort and been a better Olympic weightlifter, and goes on along the lines of fat jokes and #MarkHenryIsFat hashtags on Twitter. But it’s more than that – it’s years upon years of bad booking. From Mae Young to random tag team match ups, he’s been uninteresting. He’s at his peak when he’s booked as the big angry monster – the guy who held the faux-ECW Championship when it was on SyFy a few years back – the guy who had an engaging rivalry with Big Show last year, even. I hated on him for years, but he’s won me over – as long as he’s doing something that works for him and his character.
Batista is another example. I hated Batista to the point where it became a joke. Friends would sneak onto my computer and change my desktop wallpaper to an image of “The Animal” and I’d go off in a blind rage to find out who did it. But then, right as his WWE career was coming to an end, he pulled a sort of Raven-esque “What about me?” angle where he’d whine and complain in the dark with a spotlight on him, and it was the best thing I’ve ever seen him do. Gone were the generic roided up tirades he’d go on, and in were the hilariously awesome segments he’d do on the mic (and then back it up as much as he had to in the ring). He made himself to be interesting, and though I wouldn’t ever make him my desktop wallpaper or get a sun tattooed around my belly button – I kinda woulnd’t mind seeing him back in the ring again one day.
Don’t get me wrong – there are guys I truly hate. Not on a personal level – but I hate that they’re with WWE in the first place and they still get airtime. *cough* The Great Khali *cough* I’m sure they’re good people, but for crying out loud – give someone else a chance to shine. In the end, I do hope that fans come around for Big Show and these chants don’t become a regular occurrence. He’s earned our respect over the years and deserves better.