Best: Those suits tho…
Immediate kickstarter to purchase that suit from Spud so I can wear it pretty much everywhere: special occasions, family Christmases, to the store on an emergency tofu run. You know we’re almost the same size. I also happen to know someone who has a really good tailor.
Worst: …oh god, it’s EC3.
I…actually have to worst Ethan Carter III. Spud, too. I…can’t really believe this. Or this entire segment, really. I remain on Team Mr. The Third, but that’s where I have to admit that I am guilty of doing the same thing I criticized on the first page: I am blurring the lines between on-screen character and my real-life internet friend who I know hates things like that and in no way would do that unless he was asked to for his job. On-screen EC3, well, that’s kind of the ultimate betrayal for a fan like me, isn’t it?
Predictably, I’m going to get mad, not at EC3 but at whomever put him up to that. Feelings and friendships aside, this segment makes no sense. In particular, this sudden misogyny out of EC3 who has never done anything to indicate that he hates women as much as [insert literally any wrestler here], and has, in fact, always defended his aunt to the best of his ability. His on-screen persona has no need for a sudden shift in gears, let alone one that doesn’t make any sense. Is..is it because he does make sense? Is it because he has his own thought-out motivations beyond the strict rule of “everyone has to be an asshole at all times always”? This is, of course, a teeny tiny minor problem of the Gojira-sized issue I have with this segment as a whole.
Worst: These awful things that happened didn’t happen because we say so
The reason we suddenly have someone who has always stuck to their character’s logical motivations suddenly acting like a prick is to make him look like the bad guy. Bully Ray is a good guy, and as I’ve said before, we’re supposed to magically forget all of the awful things he’s done in the past. Never has this been more obvious than when Brooke Tessmacher comes out to LITERALLY REWRITE HISTORY before our very eyes.
You would think it would be easy to prove that Bully Ray is a horrible person. You’ve got…years of video to work with, some of the most damning evidence being on Impact Wrestling’s very own YouTube channel. Not much more than six months ago, we all witnessed the break-up of Brooke and Bully Ray. I remember this because a) I pay attention to what I’m watching, and b) it was one of the things that made me the angriest in maybe my entire time watching TNA. And I don’t mean a little disgruntled, or dismayed. I mean it made me so furious and uncomfortable that it left me with that seething, white-hot anger where all you can do is cry because you’re so furious. For those of you who were busy with your winter holidays, let me re-post a snippet from the following week’s Impact column:
If scenarios wherein a woman fights to earn what she should have started out with in the first place are this precarious, angles that either hint at or flat-out flaunt abuse are significantly more dangerous, and hold no value in wrestling, nay, society, today. First impressions are key, and when the first thing someone is told is that a human being is less than, that impression stays. It would be great to live in an entirely progressive fandom where women aren’t referred to as bitches and c-nts by merely existing within their gender, but again – we start out at zero. Whether a wrestler or a fan, it has been ingrained into the minds of most that we are a lesser. Opinions hold no weight, strength is relative, bitches can’t be trusted. Women are dumb sexual props, or conniving plot devices who should never be believed, especially if they dared to be in a relationship with someone. Sluts and bitches and literal trains of hos. A character who shows any amount of genuine empowerment is still brought down by those ideas and angles that came before them. Once a hoeski, forever a hoeski.
Angles like this are a grim reminder of how what some view as over-sensitivity is a very real culture of fear that polices the daily lives of any woman. Before those of you itching to jump right into the comment section to cry that it’s just entertainment get right in it, consider this: Brooke Tessmacher can be a Knockouts champ. She can be physically strong, and in a political position of power. She can be anything she wants to be. One solid grip on her arm causes all of that to come crashing down in an instant, because in that moment of fear and helplessness, everything is reset, and her value, again, is zero. It’s the subtle fear that lingers in the back of any woman’s mind because it’s what we’ve been taught. Always keep an eye on your drink. Don’t shortcut through alleys at night. Be alert when walking by yourself, day or night. Don’t go to that concert/wrestling show/convention by yourself. Don’t even dream of traveling by yourself. All of these things – what’s presented on screen, what we’re told to keep us safe, and what we’re told to put us down – all of these things are connected.
This was, of course, occurring simultaneously with the Velvet Sky-Chris Sabin domestic abuse/lady in a cage angle, so…you know…not a great time.
The problem, besides ignoring this video or this video (which I know EC3 and Spud have access to because we all do they are right there) as a means to prove that Bully Ray is a bad guy is that we have to prove that Bully Ray is a bad guy. We know he’s a bad guy. He’s a bad bad man who does bad bad things, but instead of putting any effort into maintaining continuity but also creating logical reasons for a bad guy to be not so bad anymore, we’re supposed to let Bully Ray and Brooke hug it out and pretend they just drifted apart, and he didn’t ever say “I could stick your head between my legs and piledrive you on your ugly face,” then insist he only kept her around to use her sexually and oh snap guess what Brooke you sucked at that too.
Everything about this in the greater context is shameful. In the immediate context of “it’s just wrestling people turn face and heel all the time whatever,” it’s…still pretty bad. Remember how, for the longest time, you never knew if Alicia Fox was a face or a heel until she showed up with other faces and/or heels and probably a sailor hat? Wrestling fans are expected to have the memory spans of guppies, which should probably make people a lot angrier more often since these rapid heel/face changes, when you think about it, are pretty insulting. We’re forced into accepting these maniacal shifts in personality with little to no explanation time after time to the point we just shrug and say “haha oh well it’s wrestling amirite.” That’s a cop out. Don’t ever let anyone use that as an excuse. That excuse translates to “I am being treated like a moron who doesn’t have the capacity for memory or rational thought, and I am okay with that.” While I don’t believe that Impact is the worst promotion in the world (it’s…getting there, but it’s really not), it certainly is the best at treating its audience like they’re stupid. That should be offensive to everyone.
Worst: Let’s take a breather and check in on the Knockouts!
Where women are treated like real wrestlers, have their own distinct personalities not based on looks, and are never put into a context that would engender any reactions that would be deemed disrespectful…
Worst: MVP vs. Eric Young
Eric Young had to wrestle his way through Bobby Lashley and Kenny King before getting to the shittest final boss ever in MVP. Lashley won, King lost, and if Eric Young could win this match he’d get to choose the stipulation for their Slammiversary showdown. MVP, knowing that King and Lashley tried (emphasis on tried) to work Young’s back, delivered a chair shot to the patiently waiting Young, who at no point thought to equip Ring Escape when setting his attributes prior to entering this match. MVP is disqualified, because of course he doesn’t care what the stipulation is, he’s a real man’s manly man and he can beat down Eric Young under any stipulation at any time. He just wanted to wear him down. That’s…actually good heel logic, so I’ll give him credit there, but these matches still are just not good. Eric Young can be the nicest guy in the world, but he is not getting championship matches, or even memorable matches, out of this feud.
Now that we know MVP injured himself badly enough that he won’t be able to compete, I guess the stipulation will finally be that dick-measuring contest we’ve been ramping up to. But the real question is will it be a Bring Your Own Ruler match, or is a blue IMPACT WRESTLING-emblazoned measuring tape being printed AS WE SPEAK?