Sunday, January 31, 2016

Which Way Books #22: The Champ of TV Wrestling

Exploring an avarice fantasy via the always reliable Twist-a-Plot vehicle apparently left such a bad impression that several months have passed without any of my very good and necessary reviews of something that couldn't be more culturally irrelevant. Fortunately I'm coming back with a good one: Pro Rasslin'! Break down the cockpit doors, Barbara and Scott Siegel! *snort* ASSUME THE CONTROLS. Put this sucker into the nosedive of lazy sarcasm and pretentious elitism toward something intended for eighties children. And right before the crash you'll realize you're not far from PARTS UNKNOWN. And by that, of course, I mean let's get to the page flipping.

And hey, this is a high number Which Way release, so certainly the story-telling and writing quality will have evolved considerably and the creators certainly won't be farming things out to talent poor husband-wife teams. Major spoiler: wrong. 

Before I started owning factories you could find my sexy body dominating in the squared circle.

In fine Which Way tradition I'm galvanized into action and adventure by an issue with the old moron box. At least this time the reception is good, but there's another issue, arguably far worse. The world's worst human being, Carl the Colossus has acquired the ten pounds of gold through nefarious means and is now all up on my tube, calling the fans idiots and bashing the local sports team or whatever. I decide to dedicate my life to overthrowing the usurped reign of this vile rule-breaker.

Yeah, that's the story. I'm an adult who thinks the spandex ballet is real and honestly believe it's my duty as a good citizen to defeat the baddie with the belt. How, you're probably wondering, does this book think one would accomplish this ridiculous modern version of Don Quixote quest? The answer is nothing short of amazing: jogging, jumping rope, swimming and practicing my holds (i.e. putting my puny little brother in "sleepers" and "scorpion deathlocks"). Yes, friends, this is how you do it. No acting classes, no practicing doing the moves in a cooperative fashion in a wrestling school, no needle drugs, just jog a little. Don't even run fast, it's fine.

I got this physique by doing some light cardio and eating vegetables.

After this rigorous preparation for the Testosterone Soap Opera I'll probably have to start small, right? Well, no, it's right in front of 20,000 "marks" to prove my skills in a legitimate, real fight against either future business magnate and kinky lover Vampire Vic or 500 pound Awesome Al. Yes, the new guy even gets to pick his opponent. Man, this whole "TV Wrestling" thing is the easiest, best job in the world.

Not wishing to be battered with floggers and forced to scream out the safe word in the throes of ecstasy that's described with terrible prose by the blood-drinking industrialist I instead opt to take on the quarter-tonner. Honestly, this is America, is five bills really even all that unusual? I guess hyper-obesity was more of a novelty in 1986. Still, considering this guys awful physique and terrible gimmick (I've got an alliterative name!) one would think the fresh face would get the push from good old booker man.

Wrestled after "Interview" and before "Twilight," jobbed to everyone.

My "this guy will break his own ankles or have a cardiac event just from moving around while my excellent light exercise conditioning will carry me to victory" expectation proves to be overly optimistic when A.A. proves surprisingly athletic, dodging my lame amateur wrestling shot attempt. Next thing I know I'm eating a "knee drop." You'd think having that much weight collapsing on your spinal column would quickly spell the end, but I'm not even hurt and quickly bust out some UFC submission holds on this guy, things like poking my chin into the guys shoulder, creating crippling mild discomfort. Got you now, sucker!

At this point Al starts whispering instructions, which in reality would have been going on the entire "match," but in this book's universe kayfabe is alive and well. He wants me to lose on purpose, or in other words put on a professional, excuse me, TV, wrestling match. Oddly enough he insists the need for this cooperation is to catch a criminal in the arena, rather than saying "Hey dumbass, this is supposed to be fake, stop making me look bad and do the j-o-b." 

I'll do some skip rope and then defeat Hulk Hogan in a real fight.

I decide to "smarten up" and go along with the show, probably at least somewhat embarrassed that I was so gullible. Next he'll tell me the champion doesn't really care about local sports and is just calling us poorly educated sharecroppers so we'll buy tickets to see him get comeuppance. Everything was a lie, next those Santa truthers will wreck that. Of course, we all know wrestling is entirely above board, so my corpulent rival promptly "shoots" on me by flinging me into orbit. Yes. At least the book treats this as lighthearted fun and doesn't describe how I literally explode and die a horrific and meaningless high altitude death just because I noticed the two hate-filled enemies in the ring seem to be cooperating with each other to do the moves.

It's still real to me.

One would think the wacky world of "sports entertainment" would lend itself to some goofy fun, but the end result was disappointing. The clear contempt for the subject matter (TV Wrestling? You can't call it by its real name?) and the reader shines through, as if the writers thought they were too good for the topic, but hey, there's money to be made. I'd call this a lost opportunity, insofar as failing to adequately depict "to be the man, you've got to beat the man" fantasies qualify for "That could've been something incredible! If only!"

Got angry at bad guy politicans, did some jogging, jump rope and real estate business.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.    

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