Archive for November, 2008

22
Nov
08

John Cena: Heel Turn Imminent

cena-with-belt.jpgIt’s been quite a while since I’ve really been interested in a wrestling angle.  Actually it’s been a few years since I’ve taken an interest in wrestling at all.  I had high hopes that Vince McMahon would let the ECW brand develop itself, but somehow he just can’t suppress the urge to mix the talent up in each show, causing neither of the three brands (Raw, Smackdown and ECW) to have any real identity.)  For me, the real turning point was the poor way that the acquiring of WCW was handled.  Of course it’s easy to play ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ now, but even back then I saw the potential – we could have had two completely independently run organizations – each competing with the other.  And then in March, we’d have the real holy grail – a Wrestlemania where champions from each organization would square off against each other.  It would be some event.

But, of course, this is all just a vision of what could have been.

As bad as the product is now (and I can only speak for WWE – I don’t watch TNA), there is one angle that still interests me.  John Cena has always been an enigma to me.  He’s a good looking guy who still looks a bit stiff and strange when I watch him.  I respect his ability, but his style just doesn’t do it for me.  And I’m speaking specifically of his ring style, but that’s not what has me interested.  When Cena moved up from the WWE’s training leagues to wrestle on Smackdown, he quickly became popular.  But the time he got to Raw, he was a big time favorite.  He always got a pop from the crowd when he showed up.  However, fans aren’t quite the same as they once were.  They’re fickle.  An image that is too squeaky clean will draw heat.  For a champion, Cena has, over time, acquired the most heel heat of any top tier champion that I’ve ever seen.  And that’s not surprising considering the fact that WWE hasn’t really pushed a champion who hasn’t had some sort of in-between-a-face-and-a-heel status like John Cena.  Think about it: HHH – once a heel, The Rock – Once a heel, Austin – big time heel at one time, Randy Orton, Bradshaw, Edge….the list goes on.  Not since Bret Hart has a guy come on the scene and and tried to be such a straight edge.  And as for his marketability, it’s working.  But is this being done at the risk of damaging his character’s long-term viability as a draw with older fans?  I’ve never heard a champion who was in an angle as the face get as much heat as Cena.  Never. It has to be embarrassing at this point.

It’s been a long time coming, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this may be the time that the WWE finally bites the bullet.  While they are in need of more babyfaces, Cena’s injury and subsequent absence could provide the perfect opportunity to make his return memorable.  He’s been hyped up during every Raw for the past 4 weeks or so.  They’re showing his baby pictures and having vignettes with his family – it’s just getting sickening.  But it smells like a swerve.  I’d love to see how a heel Cena would try to get true heat with the fans – when he’s actually trying to get heat.  I don’t know that he can be that obnoxious.  He has to do something drastic.  Like take a dump on the marine hat he wears.  Or change his entrance from including a Marine salute to the one fingered salute.  It would be interesting to see.  This would tell us whether this guy really has any character.  This is something I’m really looking forward to seeing.

Looking ahead to this weekend, I certainly won’t be watching the Pay Per View.  I haven’t ordered a WWE event since Wrestlemania about 4 years ago.  But I will anxiously be refreshing the results pages on wrestling sites to see how they handle this situation.  The business is already on the rocks financially with the rest of the market.  And it doesn’t appear to be getting any better – why would you spend $30-50 on a ticket or $30 on a Pay per view when your finances are bad?  The WWE always plays it safe.  They have to.  They owe it to their stockholders.  However, if they really want to draw the interest of fans and cause people like me who have turned away to suddenly get interested again, then there’s only one thing left to do.

Turn…John…Cena…Heel.  Now.

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03
Nov
08

A Generational Disagreement…

photo Back in February I went downstairs in my apartment building to wash clothes.  Often it’s pretty crowded when I decide to wash (when all of the working crowd is home) but on that day it was one of those fortunate situations where I had my choice of machines.

As I waited for my last cycle of clothes to finish, I noticed an older gentleman of color seated in the bench closest to the door.  He looked to be closing in on 75 or so and upon first glance struck me as if he might be somewhat friendly.  And he was.

“Hi sir.”

”Hello, young man.”

”It’s pretty empty down here today,” he remarked.

“Yeah, I’m trying to get my clothes done so that I can go upstairs to see the rest of the returns.”

“Returns?”

“Yeah – from the primaries.  This is Hillary’s home state, but they say there’s a lot of support of Senator Obama.”

“Oh-bam-uh?  Is that that Black guy?”

“Yes, Senator Obama is the junior Senator from Illinois.”

“I don’t know why people think that guy can ever win,” he declared.

“Well, Senator Obama won the caucuses in Iowa.  He’s got a solid backing from many key Democrats and more support rumored to be on the way.”

“Young fella – I know what you are saying.  But trust me – these eyes have seen things and there ain’t no way that he’s gonna ever get to be no president.”

“I don’t know.  I have a feeling that his campaign comes at a time when the country is looking for a fresh new direction.  Senator Obama is getting a huge amount of support, not only from his constituency here in the States, but abroad as well.  People aren’t too keen on Americans these days and it might help that his backgrou…”

“Listen, I hear all-a what you saying.  But this country is not gonna let that happen.  It just ain’t.  I’ve heard him speak on the TV and Bar.. O-bah…what’s his name?”

“Obama.  Barack Obama.”

“Yeah, Obama.  Well, he speaks like he has sense and he sounds good and all, but it’s gonna take more than that to get even close to the White House.”

“Well, I understand how you feel given the climate in the country – particularly in some areas where people who look like you and I don’t live. People just get an image projected on television and draw this conclusion.  But I work around a lot of people of many different races.  Particularly in New York and New Jersey, it just isn’t quite the way you might think anymore.  The generations have grown up around people of color now.  I think most people realize that there are good and bad people in every nationality.”

“Yes, but what does that have to do with him being elected to the White House?”

“Well it means that attitudes are changing – people are a bit more open to good leadership regardless of race or gender.”

“Listen – back when I was still working… we used to go to a bar after work.  It was me and this guy from my job – White fella.  While we were in this bar, I went to sit down and this other white guy there said the seat was taken.  So we went to sit somewhere else.  And when they brought us the drinks, they didn’t look right.  So I saw the guy at the bar watching us – waiting for us to take a drink.  So we exchanged some words and when I went to complain to the guy who ran the bar, he told me, ‘If you don’t like it, you can get out’.  And I told him you don’t have to worry about me coming back here again.”

“Wow.  That’s unfortunate.  I got stopped one time when I was driving to Jersey City through Bayonne.  This officer pulled me over and asked me where I was going and why I was in that neighborhood and who I was there to see.  It was upsetting.  But don’t you think we can’t let things like that stop us from believing police officers or white bar owners aren’t all racist anymore than you and I aren’t like the guys on Cops who run around with no shirt on, hiding under kiddie pools running from the police?”

“Yeah, but it’s gonna be a long long time before anything that big happens.  You talking about President of the U-nited States.  I’ve been around here awhile.  I know we ain’t gonna see that.”

“Well, I definitely respect your struggle and what you’ve been through.  Lord knows you’ve probably seen more than me.  But I believe in hope and in the fact that way things were isn’t how they will always be.”

“I hear you, young fella, but I still don’t b’lieve he gonna win.”

“Well, I guess it won’t be too long until November.  We’ll find out.”

…and nine months later, if I could see you today, fine sir… I hope you would feel as elated as I do that your doubt wasn’t shared by many.

As I sit with eyes that are way too fatigued from unexpected tears, today all things truly are possible.

03
Nov
08

If You’re Out There….

C6073662 I’ve gone on record before as saying that I’m bothered at the amount of attention that is being given to Senator Obama’s race (or at least one HALF of his race).  I totally understand the significance of race in this country.  Considering the fact that only fifty years ago Senator Obama might not have even been able to sit at the same table to have dinner as Joe Biden, this could indeed be an incredible point of arrival for this country.  However, my pride comes from the fact that he represents so much more.  I am sorta in between Generations X and Y.  And speaking for them, we’ve always had these legends told to us about being able to stand up tall knowing that your Chief Executive in the White House was someone who you could be proud of.  It’s funny to see pictures of relative’s homes and see images of John Kennedy and Martin King on their walls in the background.  And it’s not to say that we don’t identify with those men.  We certainly do.  But the question which has always lurked in the back of our minds is, “Where is OUR John Kennedy?”  Is the best we can aspire to now to sit and dream of images of our leaders of old?

I had a close friend laugh at me when I sent her the YouTube links to the Obama-inspired songs (Yes We Can and We Are the Ones).  She’s kinda reductive anyway (and she admits that she is).  But her comment was, “Do you think that a song or a video will coerce me into voting for a candidate.”  And although I didn’t take the time to properly respond (because you can always tell when someone is tuning you out) but if I did take the time to respond, it would be to suggest this: while I don’t believe that a song done ‘We Are the World’ style can tickle your emotions and cause you to action, the songs are more than just blind faith celebrity driven anthems.  They represent the things that I have been wondering whether or not people cared about anymore (particularly the ‘We Are the Ones’ video.)  After all, these are all pretty much millionaires who are supporting a man who tells them that in order to do the things that we need to do that he’ll raise their taxes (everyone making under 250K lowered taxes, assumption is that the ones over will contribute more.  We’ll see.)

But more than this, I have fears about tomorrow.  (Tuesday November 4, 2008.)  Will this be the day that we can start on the road to disproving everyone who says that the kind of change that has been talked about since January is false hope?  “How does he think he can get all that stuff done?”  Well, here we are again.  Every first Tuesday of November – seemingly every four years since 2000, I literally sit up, in the dark, after having cast my vote earlier and watch Tom Brokaw…and get a headache.  No, not a figurative headache.  A literal headache.  This is before the returns are even in.  It just happens.  Perhaps it’s anxiety.  (Maybe even it’s the fact that I’m watching TV in the dark.)  But it happens.  I am about as nervous as I’ve ever been with this election.  And my anxiety extends even past the election, but that’s another post.

My fears are largely concerning the fact that I wonder if all the shirt-wearing, bumper-sticker wearing folks that I didn’t see when I stood on empty voting lines in 2000 and particularly in 2004, will show up.  I just worry that people aren’t seeing the bigger picture and the potential unity that this might represent.  Everyone was partying when Senator Obama won the nomination – I didn’t quite understand why we were partying during halftime at the Super Bowl where there was no score.

Back during the Democratic Convention, someone told me that John Legend had written a song about the hope that Barack represents.  But more so about the call to action that it requires for this to become a reality.  I was working during the convention, so I only saw the speeches made by each candidate when I got home.  But I did download the song.  And I cried.

Continue reading ‘If You’re Out There….’