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Category Archives: sports

I came to pro-wrestling fandom through a rather odd route. Stefan Gagne, one of the best and most respected anime fanfiction writers of all time, started a group fic by the name of Magical Troubleshooting Crossover Fighting Federation Ultra. The premise of the series was to put anime/manga/video game characters into a sports entertainment setting, with all the interpersonal melodrama and character instability that implies. The fic lost a lot of fans due to pro-wrestling’s tendency toward rapid change leading to some characters ending up in a very different place than canon, but I still regard it as one of the best fanfics ever written.

Then one day Gagne himself posted Ultra vs. The WWF parts one and two. Still the high point of the series, scenes included a hilarious in hindsight bit of trash talking in which Mortal Kombat’s Johnny Cage insulted pro-wrestling by calling The Rock an actor, King of Fighter’s eternal student, Yabuki Shingo begging the Rock to train him, and Edge and Christian beating Capcom’s succubus sisters, Morrigan and Lilith, by submission.

About a year before that, I had seen the infamous Insane Clown Posse video, Stranglemania. I was not a wrestling fan at that point, but even then, and even with ICP’s utter mutilation of the matches, I knew there was something fascinating about this guy I was watching, Cactus Jack. When I found out the character Mankind, mentioned in Ultra vs. The WWF, was the same man, I decided to try watching actual WWF programming.

I came for Mick Foley. I stayed for the Hardy Boys, the Dudley Boys (AKA Team 3D,) and Edge and Christian. This seemingly never-ending three-way feud had me glued to the TV, and to smark websites when I was in Korea. Little did I know I would be watching Edge fight one or both of the Hardy brothers for nigh on ten years, both in and out of character.

The Hardys and the Dudleys are now in TNA, and Edge… Edge, this past Monday, retired from the sport as the World Heavyweight Champion. In fact the three-way tag team feud has produced a whopping 18 World Championships: 2 for Christian, 5 for Jeff Hardy, and 11 for Edge.

As wrestlers have come and gone, there are only a small handful of performers whom I have truly and honestly missed: The Rock, Rob Van Dam before he joined TNA, Trish Stratus, Mick Foley before he became a self-parody, Hayabusa. He’s only been gone since Friday, and I can honestly say Edge will be part of that group. Thank you, Mr. Copeland.

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It’s sad that after almost 90 years of existence, the NFL still has no idea who their target audience is. In a poorly received attempt to seem “hip” the Superbowl featured Christina Aguilera singing the national anthem, and the Black Eyed Peas doing the halftime show. Both of these choices proved to be embarrassments.

In fairness, Christina Aguilera can sing her proverbial ass off. Unfortunately for the NFL that’s exactly what she did. Flubbing the lines to The Star Spangled Banner, while a tad unprofessional, can easily be hand-waved away as mere nerves. Unfortunately (I’m using that word a lot) the lyrical gaffe was far from her most egregious error. In fact, I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out to me later because I couldn’t understand the words, because she had completely obliterated the melody with the sort of vocal histrionics which has made modern R&B unlistenable. This was the culmination of a trend in which singers forget that they are supposed to lead the crowd in singing the anthem rather than perform it themselves. Even then, though, most “performers” still sing the song mostly straight, usually restricting their egos to a bit of melisma in the “land of the free” line. Beyonce and the Zac Brown band deserve credit for resisting even that temptation. Aguilera simply embarrassed herself, and arguably disrespected the national anthem.

Now on to the Black Eyed Peas. Really, a funny bit of wikipedia vandalism summed it up better than I ever could: The Black Eyed Peas’ halftime show displayed less professionalism than the average high school musical. Will.I.Am couldn’t resist changing the lyrics to one song to throw in unwanted politics, Fergie barked like an old lady, and those other two guys were… present. The only two high points of their show were the sudden, unexplained appearance by Slash, and the look on my parents’ faces when I informed them that the band hadn’t even played their worst song.

The problem with the show isn’t just that the Black Eyed Peas are bad, it’s that they don’t belong there. The NFL’s audience consists primarily of working class and middle class white males. This isn’t to say that women, minorities, and rich people don’t watch, but when the chips fall we all know who pro-football’s fanbase is. This is why the halftime shows that have worked best have been blue-collar rock acts: Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, U2. Prince was a bit of a stretch, but even he had the good sense to put together a rockin’ set list instead of trying to force his more R&B flavored stuff on the audience. The point is that pro football has a sort of aura of blue collar, “clinging to their guns and religion,” middle America. Petty and Springsteen fit this image, as do U2, the Stones, and to a lesser extent Paul McCartney despite not being American.

Naturally this goes double when the game is Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay. Thank God the game itself was great, because the music could hardly have been worse.