Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's new and different?

Just over a week ago I did my duty as a Dad by doing something pretty much totally out of character. I took my son to Glasgow's Braehead Arena to see the WWE Raw 2008 Survivor Series tour.

When I was a child we used to visit my great-aunt and great-uncle in Otley (West Yorkshire). My Auntie Nell was a great fan of the wrestling so the Saturday afternoons I spent there were played out to a backdrop of Mick McManus et al hurling each other about the ring and over-acting pitifully on the TV. Nell never quite got the idea that it was all faked, however much my Mum reassured her.

Fast forward to a time around six or seven years ago when my son discovered what was then the WWF on some TV channel or other and became hooked. I used to watch it with him sometimes and the formula seemed pretty much the same as in the old days, though in colour, with American accents and a lot more razzmatazz, and a propensity for violent altercations with referees. Oh, and from time to time someone would bash someone else over the head with a chair. I got to know some of the names: Stone Cold Steve Austin (I rather warmed to him, so to speak), Kurt Angle, The Rock.

WWE (as it is now) isn't on any free-to-view channels in Britain any more, but my son has been getting his overacting fixes (and yes, he is aware that it's all highly choreographed) via the Web or DVDs. Well, a year or so back I got an email from a ticket booking service I use, alerting me to a forthcoming WWE event in Glasgow. With the enthusiastic approval of my son, I tried to book...and it was sold out. However, a few iterations later, I got us seats for WWE Raw, so there we were.

I must say I actually rather enjoyed myself. There's no doubt that being accompanied by a wildly enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable teenager adds to one's enjoyment: whenever I had a question ("why are they chanting H..B..K?" "why are they holding up signs with 619 on them?") the answer was instant and definitive. The whole WWE ethos is about entertainment, and that's what they provide, albeit entertainment tha wouldn't have felt out of place in the Coliseum. Of course, when Roman gladiators were smashed to the ground they were really smashed to the ground: if Marcus the retiarius got the chance to kill you with a swift elbow to the larynx he wouldn't have held off so he could use his trademark "finisher" with a special twirl of his trident. Actually that's the most obvious giveaway that the whole business is pre-arranged and choreographed: every single winner dispatched his opponent with his (or her) special finishing move. I suppose the wriggling-out-from-almost-being-pinned-for-a-fall is a bit obvious as well, but beyond that it's fairly easy to forget the fakery. The bodies certainly slam into the floor with genuine power: those guys must ache at the end of the night, even if it's the ache of stunt-men rather than athletes.

So who did we see? I don't have my son here to keep me right, but we began with a women's match. This was a title contest (so I guess one of the women was Beth Phoenix the WWE Women's Champion) but the title didn't change hands. I gather from Ruairidh that the referee and timekeeper were both former champions. They certainly saw off Ms Phoenix when her victory celebrations got out of hand. (Incidentally, I love the touch that whereas male referees are identified by their striped shorts, female referees wear striped basques. Well, duh!)

We had a tag team match in which the winning team was the Jamaican Kofi Kingston and C M Punk (they're the world title holders so this was another title fight in which nothing changed). We had John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) being whupped by Shawn Michaels. And as the grand finale we had Rey Misterio and Dave Batista demolishing Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. (Look them all up on Wikipedia: it's very entertaining.) I can't remember the other matches, but it did strike me that while sometimes (JBL, Chris Jericho) the people who had been winding up the crowd as "bad guys" (by bad-mouthing Scots, or Brits, or Europeans) got their due punishment by being flattened, sometimes (as in one of the matches I can't remember in detail) the loudmouth won the day. So pre-ordained the results may be, but not predictable in an obvious way.

Anyway, now I'm hooked, both as spectator and ace Dad. In January we're going again, this time for a TNA event (a different franchise) featuring Kurt Angle, one of the ones I remembered from those days watching on TV. (Before his WWE career he was an Olympic Graeco-Romen wrestling chanpion.) Then in April I'm taking Ruairidh and his best friend to WWE Smackdown. I'm doomed...... Someone get me a pit-bull and a case of Bud.

Actually, while I was the only one pumping out Shostakovich from the car stereo while in the exit queue, I probably wasn't the only MBA in the audience, at least half of which looked pretty middle-class. Heck, JBL (redneck bad guy) is married to Meredith Evans, a high-profile US investment analyst, so what does that do for stereotyping? (I wonder which of the two earns more....)

Right now I'm at the flat and have minute bandwidth so can't check, but there seem to be video clips online of the night we attended. I'll add them if there's time when I get home: I have an orchestra committee meeting to sort out next year's programme, then I have to be up early on Thursday to fly to Madrid (long, cheap, solo weekend to use up holiday).

OK then. Here is Shawn Michaels making his grand entrance (and shooing JBL out of the ring in the process). Verily I say unto you, this guy is not lacking in self-belief.

Here are the world tag team champions Kofi Kingston and CM Punk doing that voodoo that they do so well.

And finally, here are Rey Misterio demonstrating his "619" finish (the rather neat dropkick using the ropes) and Dave Batista wrapping things up with a "Batista Bomb". Oh, and before any of that Misterio does a "Moonsault". You'll spot it.


At 03 December, 2008 21:57, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Oh, Rob, I never imagined you going for wwf. I attended some of the exhibitions way back, when Hulk Hogan was the hero, along with Andre the Giant and that generation.


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