Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Feelings Dump: Little Guys, Big Punches

Sheamus got his ass handed to him by Hunico for real, so why would it be BS if it weren't?
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I'm sure everyone by now has heard that Sheamus and Hunico/Sin Cara got into a scrap backstage, and that the latter got the better of the Celtic Warrior. The fact that they got into a fight really doesn't titillate me. I couldn't care less about what kinds of beef wrestlers have between them unless the problems point to a bigger, more systemic issue that could impact the company on the whole. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart coming to blows in the mid-'90s interests me. Sheamus getting roughed up by Sin Cara v. 2.0? Not so much.

However, the reaction to the fight gives me a bit of a laugh because of how that result, the smaller wrestler getting the better of the bigger, more muscular guy, confirms the biases that a lot of observers seem to place on Vince McMahon's person. The stereotype over the years is that McMahon thinks that the more muscles you have, the stronger you appear to the crowd, and thus the more popular you'll be. That philosophy has been proven wrong even in the earliest days of the nationally-expanded WWF. Sure, Hulk Hogan and to a lesser extent, the Ultimate Warrior, were musclebound beyond belief in the first giant boom for the company, but Hogan was good at what he did, and Warrior, if not the best wrestler, was at least insanely charismatic (emphasis on the "insane" part). The other stars from that era like the doughy Junkyard Dog, the skinny-fat Roddy Piper, and the proto-high flyer Randy Savage were almost as popular.

In fact, throughout the history after that era, WWE's top stars have run the gamut from ripped, statuesque Adonises like John Cena and Brock Lesnar down to everymen like Steve Austin and CM Punk down through the smallest of the small like Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan. The main factor in their popularity with crowds was not their immense size, nor was it the projection that they could beat everyone up who came across their door. Each and every one of those wrestlers got to where they were because they were or are in the case of Cena, Bryan, and even Lesnar, insanely talented at what they did. Of course, it helped that they all could look like they could legitimately hurt anyone, but pro wrestling is built on the illusion that anyone in a given match could hurt any opponent put in front of them. To perceive brawling ability or efficacy just by looking at someone is to discredit the entire business of professional wrestling.

As fate would have it, size doesn't equal fighting supremacy either. Hunico was not the first to put Sheamus on his ass; Yoshi Tatsu, who gives away three inches and 60 pounds to Sheamus got the best of him in a scrap when NXT was still known as FCW. Arn Anderson famously got one over on Sid in a hotel fight that may have involved scissors. Hell, Joey Styles knocked JBL the fuck out once. The same script has happened over and over again, and yet the overwhelming reaction I've seen towards Sheamus is to laugh at him for being handled by a smaller dude.

I don't know how many people laughing hysterically at Sheamus were the same ones yelling "YES!" at every show and demanding that WWE put aside its size bias (that if it exists at all, is nerfed by saner voices) and push Bryan to the moon, but the juxtaposition of both arguments is hilarious even if just to compare two different, mutually exclusive parts of the fandom. Maybe it's the base part of the human psyche to laugh at anyone who is less fortunate than they are or who doesn't conform to societal norms, but maybe laughing at Sheamus shouldn't be the answer. Maybe the reaction should be to give a virtual fist bump to Hunico? I mean, he just provided another reality-based proof that anything can happen in a fight regardless of which opponent is bigger than the other one.

Then again, positive reinforcement isn't exactly the forte of hardcore wrestling fans. WWE has also seemed to prove that its size bias might not be real after all, and any perceived fan hypocrisy really doesn't matter in the long run for any reason. Maybe this entire post was an exercise in venting and shouting at no one in particular because people are enjoying a newsy item that I think is pointless. It wouldn't be the first time I was practicing for when I become a crotchety old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Still, I find it endearing whenever a smaller dude knocks a bigger guy on his ass in any kind of fight. Maybe some day, everyone will see it my way and stop yelling at ideas for people like Bryan, Evan Bourne, or even AJ Lee to conquer all the meddlesome giants in the industry and take their places along the top of the card like they should.