Monday, 18 February 2013
Oh. Dear. Where. Is. This. Going. To. Lead?
I have no ideas for a professional wrestling novel but then, I didn't know what to do with tuna for a decade. Apart from anything else, writing about wrestling would almost certainly make me look as if I was trying to be hipsterish in some way. And also, whatever you think, I aspire to be taken seriously as a novelist and this is not a subject which would lead naturally to that, which maybe we can blame the critics for but they're busy so why make their lives even harder. There's something going on, though. It has a huge injury rate, and a massive following, and... Oh, I don't know. There's just something going on.
I don't know how anyone can click on any bit of Wikipedia dedicated to pro-wrestling and not get sucked in. I, for instance, wanted to know more about Ben Muth. He is a brilliant analyst of an underanalysed and very complicated bit of American football. For a brief moment, he nearly became a pro wrestler called Brick Shithouse. This was/is for a new wrestling franchise called Wrestling Retribution, which obviously has to develop its own storylines and weird counterfactual universe.
One of the stars is called Das Nihilist. I had to follow that up.* He turns out to be a Hollander with an MA in media who pops up on reality shows like the Dutch version of Last Man Standing. I'm not entirely sure how I got from him to Giant Bernard, but it was worth the journey.
Giant Bernard, aka A-Train, Baldo, Albert, Prince Albert, Lord Tensai and The Mongolian, is a 6'7" Jewish former pro-footballer called Matt Bloom. His degree was in sign language and after a short career with the San Diego Chargers he taught maths and English to children with behavioral problems. He met a wrestling trainer called Killer Kowalski, and left teaching to do a bit of good. He fought as Baldo, entering with a fur cape, which was a gimmick given him by a referee called Freddy Sparta and for a while he fought tag with Justin Credible.
He became a star in Japan, after a bit. He returned to the big time (WWE). One of his signature moves is Asian Mist, which means spitting a spray of liquid, usually green, into your opponent's face, who then acts like it really stings. Maybe it does sometimes.
The problem is, things have fallen flat for Tensai. The fans know he's called Albert and the storyliners haven't used that - they have sort of ignored it and he isn't really working as a heel. Poor Albert. Tensai. Whatever. Intelligent people write this stuff and try to work out how it operates, and are properly fans. It's not sport, but it's not conventional drama, though it also depends on suspension of disbelief.
Maybe you don't think this stuff is fun.
* Signature move: split-legged moonsault. There's a guy on my hockey team who does something like this.