Tuesday, July 8

Baby Faces and Heels

My brother's friend won some tickets to WWE Smackdown at the Air Canada Centre by calling in to a radio show. He is in need of cash and doesn't like wrestling, so he gave them to my brother, who gave them to me and my youngest brother, if that makes any sense.
So tonight I'm going to go see Smackdown. At one time I would have been really excited about this, hell, two years ago and I'd have been pretty thrilled. But for some reason I just don't care about wrestling any more.
When I was a little kid I was a huge fan of the WWF (which later became WWE after losing a law battle with the World Wildlife Fund over rights to the letters WWF). Wrestling was so entertaining, with high energy flamboyant performers like Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Brutus Beefcake, and George the Animal Steele.
The WWE still has many colourful characters, in fact Hulk Hogan is still actively wrestling, despite the fact that he is probably 50 years old.
But somehow, wrestling has become tiring for me. The moves are better, the characters are funnier, but the story lines aren't nearly as good as they used to be. In the 1980's and early to mid 1990's there was a clear line between good guys and bad guys in pro-wrestling. The baby faces and the heels.
Now, they have bad guys who get more cheers than the good guys, and good guys who would've been called bad guys back in the old days.
I think the thing I liked most about pro-wrestling was the clear distinction between black and white, you knew who the hero was, and you didn't have to worry because you knew, that in the end, good would always defeat evil.
Now wrestling is full of bad asses that are fan favourites, and really bad asses that are hated by most but still cheered on by a few. The matches include more violence and thus there are more injuries. In modern pro wrestling it's not unusual for your favourite character to disappear for a month or two because of an injured knee, back or neck.
There is also a new aspect of sex appeal in pro-wrestling. The WWE Divas are the modern day equivalent of the women of wrestling like Miss Elizabeth, or Scary Sherri. These former female stars were usually managers or part of an entourage. But the WWE Divas, Trish Stratus, Stacey Keebler, Torri Wilson, and others, are basically scantily clad hard bodied, fake breasted, sex objects. Fortunately several of these women are outstanding in-ring competitors, thus lending a bit of credence to their characters.
All in all, wrestling has changed in the same manner of most every form of entertainment, it's added more violence, darker images, complicated story lines, and sex appeal.
So by removing the solid base of good guys versus bad guys, pro-wrestling has simply become another brick in the wall of modern entertainment, and it doesn't really offer anything I can't find at the movies or on the TBS Superstation movie of the week.
It doesn't mean that I won't watch it if it's on, but I don't care anymore if I do happen to miss an episode.
I wonder if this growing trend for television and movies to evolve and add more violence, sex appeal and complicated story telling, is what is causing the feelings of nostalgia and the revival of "vintage" entertainment? Maybe channels like Deja View featuring shows like Knight Rider, the A-Team and Gilligan’s Island, are so popular because those shows from the past offered something we can't find in modern entertainment, a distinction between black and white, good and evil, the baby faces and the heels.


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