Tagged: WWE

Marc Alan Fishman and the Rise of the Meninists

Meninist: A (satirical) belief showing the hypocrisy of first world feminism by flipping the sexes and complaining about men’s rights in a similar way to what first world feminists do.

Tip of the hat to ComicMix’s Adriane Nash for introducing me to the term via her always well-observed, vitriolic Facebook posts where she often denotes an active war being fought against stupidity – not just against meninists, but idiots from all genders and persuasions. And a polite nod to my comic book compatriot Danny Limor for the inspiration this week.

Is there something in the water these days? With DC finally enjoying both fan praise and box office dollars with the release of Wonder Woman, there’s been a definitive rise in the empowerment of women – if not in actual practice certainly at least via mentions and discussions on all the social feeds I frequent. And everyone is rightfully justified in the celebration of women. Wonder Woman was a phenomenal accomplishment – not because it is a well-written movie that is helmed stem to stern by a woman, but because it was finally a DC release that didn’t rely solely on gritty destruction and seething angst. It was a celebration of compassion and love – two concepts missing from anything else produced by the studio to date.

In our post-modern world, what is loved must also be reviled by the counter-masses. Hence the coined term at the beginning of this article. My feed has been popped here and there with “WTF” posts linking to articles that complain about Gal Gadot’s minuscule paycheck, screeds that posit Warner Bros installed some kind of glass ceiling to prevent the movie from succeeding, to backlash for having the utter gall to offer a presser of the movie to just women. It’s enough to drive me to carve out my Y chromosome in disgust.

Wonder Woman aside, the meninist agenda even crept its way into professional wrestling. At the Money In the Bank pay-per-view not a week back, a history-making titular ladder match specifically booked with just female performers was won by a man. The goal, clearly, to elicit heel heat – unabashed anger against the villains – but transparent enough to be unaccepted by smart fans. It was evident from the finish of the match that Vince McMahon’s creative team sought to be protective of their female talent, but in doing so missed the very point they celebrated with a video package pre-match! To have specifically called out that this was the first time the Money In the Bank Ladder match would have all female participants… only to cause the victor (The Queen of Staten Island, Carmella) to claim her prize by way of a male manager, reduces history to something fans will pray for retconning.

For those following along, the WWE heard the backlash loud and clear and stripped their superstar of her newly-acquired briefcase of doom. But much like the butthurt bloggers denied access to the all-lady Wonder Woman screening, it comes as too little, too late.

So, what gives? For every victory, there is defeat. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but seemingly everyone these days feels compelled to take a side – creating these now more vocal outliers who decry things that need no opposition. Wonder Woman was fantastic. The WWE’s female divisions – that’s right they have enough talent to field no fewer than three decent rosters full of femmes fatale – have literally never been more capable and captivating. To see a group of men who actively shun these things puts a knot in my stomach right next to the one formed by Trump supporters.

Women writ-large face a tougher time garnering the same riches (be it fame, fortune, or good old-fashioned respect). It’s a proven fact. One so well documented, I need not even provide you with an errant Google link’s worth of response. It doesn’t matter to a select few idiots, who thanks to the internet whose voice now carries louder and larger than ever necessary.

To proclaim the victories of women as an unbalancing is as absurd as electing a four-time bankruptee to the highest position of governing…

Nevermind. This is why we can’t have nice things, my fellow nerds.

Marc Alan Fishman: Yes. Yes. Yes!

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Forgive me, friends. I need to take a break from the comic bookery in order to indulge in my guiltiest of pleasures – pro wrestling. A big to do went down this week, and it behooves me to share my thoughts, feelings, and praise. In case you want to be technical about it: the WWE had some (terrible) comics out in the late 90s. This column doesn’t have anything to do with that, but maybe that will grant me the temporary pass for the week? Yeah… that’s the ticket.

On Monday evening, Brian Danielson – known to WWE fans as Daniel Bryan – retired from professional wrestling. He is 34 years old. As he would explain it to his hometown crowd in Seattle (Brian hails from Aberdeen, WA), he’s simply no longer fit for in-ring competition. “I started wrestling when I was 18”, he began, “… and within the first few years I’d gotten five or six concussions.” Brian explained that over the course of 16 years, he’d suffered from too many concussions, ten of which are documented. After being sidelined a little under a year ago with a final scan that showed swelling and lesion on his brain… it was time to take his bow.

Over the twenty-minute promo, Brian humbly thanked the crowd and the WWE Universe for getting behind him. He used the term “grateful” a lot. He held back tears. He thanked the special kids – like Conner Michalek – who showed him what real grit is. He thanked his family and his wife. He also mentioned that he’s totally down for making a Bella baby, and giggled with glee as 10,000+ fans shouted “That’s what she said!” He ended his speech with a nod to his father, who saw Brian be cheered at so loudly that it stopped the entire live segment shortly before his passing. Brian led the crowd in one last “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant, and went to the locker room, no longer a professional wrestler.

I could regale you all with the tale of how Daniel Bryan restored my faith in the WWE product. I could wax poetic on how he proved that a solid work ethic paired with a fearless attitude helped elevate him from the undercard to main-eventing Wrestlemania in front of 70,000 fans. I could breakdown the entirety of his career for you, in an effort to show that he beat the odds in 16 years far better than the immortal (and racist) Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold Steve Austin. But others well versed in the Internet Wrestling Community have already done this. If you care, I implore you to seek it out. I, as always, am choosing to digress.

Brian Danielson’s retirement brought streams of tears to my face. Here is a man, only eight months my senior, being forced out of the thing that defined his life up until this point. And make no bones about it: he will never wrestle again. For better or worse, stopping now means he has the time to find new passions and new meanings. I’m sure becoming a father may be one of them. He’s also an eco-friendly Earth-hugger… which means he may be saving the planet instead of putting it into a LaBelle Lock or delivering a Shining Wizard to it. And maybe, if he’s willing, perhaps Brian would return to the WWE to train the next generations of superstars. But as the aforementioned Texas Rattlesnake would declare… it takes a long while to get professional wrestling out of one’s system.

More than anything else, Brian Danielson (and his alter ego) was able to make me remember why I loved professional wrestling in the first place. His passion leaked from every pore. When the crowd would shout his name in cheers so loud that he couldn’t finish a sentence… the creeping grin that couldn’t escape his face showed a performer who was clearly in the game to play it, not just to pay the bills. In the ring itself, Danielson could do it all. He put his body on the line in every match, knowing that being a head shorter and 30 pounds less than nearly any opponent left the burden on him to convince fans he was worthy of wins. He proved to me that anything is possible if you put enough effort into it. Call that cheesy if you must, because I agree with you. But it doesn’t take away the truth: Daniel Bryan made me a believer.

I’ve no snark, nor witty way to end this week. I only want to take my little corner of the internet to post loudly to Brian Danielson:

Thank you. Yes. Yes. YES!

The Point Radio: Michael Ian Black Is So Easy

Pop TV says it is THE EASIEST GAME SHOW EVER, and host Michael Ian Black lets us play to prove the point. Plus we talk comedy and guess what Michael’s dream job is? Then we celebrate a new season of El Rey’s LUCIA UNDERGROUND by spending time with wrestling superstar, Johnny Mundo.

Follow us here on Instagram or on Twitter here.

The Point Radio: THE EXPANSE Is Must See In 2016

Over the holidays, SyFy debuted the new series THE EXPANSE, based on he best-selling novel. The show is generating major buzz and just (today) got the green light for a second season. Star Cas Anvar talks about why you should be watching and how a love for comics helped him nab the role. Plus WWE Superstars Paige and The Miz talk about their latest movie role and what they would do if their careers ever ended.

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“Into the Blue (Pants)!” The Weird Wild World of Leva Bates

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First rule of pro wrestling(*) – you NEVER know what’s going to work.

Mick Foley spent years breaking his body in the indies, but he became a superstar when he put a sock on his hand.

Steve Austin barely avoided being called the “Ice Dagger”, made fun of a bible passage at King of the Ring, and people had “Austin 3:16″ signs in the audience the next night.

You can spend weeks pushing someone, but another performer can say something in the ring, or do a move in a weird way, and the fans will pull them to their collective breast and never let go.

So is the tale of Blue Pants.

Leva Bates has been doing journeyman work in the indies for some time, establishing a solid reputation.

So one day the gang from WWE’s developmental brand NXT gave her a call, asking her to come by as do a stint as “Enhancement talent”, better known as “a jobber”, even better known as “the guy paid to lose the match”.

So Leva finished her shift as a costumed character at Universal Studios, grabbed her bag, and went to Full Sail University to play…well, another costumed character.

She was set to face Carmella, a new member of the Women’s Division, newly teamed up with hot tag-team Enzo Amore and Colin “Big Cass” Cassidy, a pair of old school NYC paisan tough guys.  Leva’s character didn’t even have a name, so Cass took a look at her bright blue ring gear (actually a cosplay outfit inspired by X-Men regular Kitty Pryde) and introduced her as “Old Blue Pants”, hailing from “The back of the clearance rack”.  She didn’t have an entrance theme – Cass just hummed the theme to The Price Is Right.

And that’s when things got weird.

Yes, she lost the match. Maybe some of the educated wrestling fans in the audience recognized her, maybe they just felt like being silly.  But they watched her smiling, peppy attitude, the “I’m just happy to be here'” smile plastered across her face, watched her deliver solid moves, and decided she was the one to watch.

So she came back a couple weeks later, to lose again to Carmella…and the cheers were even louder. By the third visit, she DID have an entrance theme – a recording of Cass humming the (no longer quite, for copyright purposes) theme to The Price is Right.

And she won.

And the place exploded.

This day-worker was getting bigger pops than the contracted superstars.  And everybody was loving it.

Leva’s made a few more appearance on NXT over the past few months.  She’s yet to win another match, but there’s a point where you’re so over with the crowd you don’t need to win, they’re just happy you showed up.

So, exactly how big a splash is Blue Pants making?  Would this article in Rolling Stone answer your question?

She’s everything wonderful about wrestling, and more importantly, wrestling fans. We’re an odd crowd – we don’t often engage in the hooliganism you see in other “real” sports. Indeed, sometimes the fans will go to great lengths to make sure a five-year-old fan at her first show gets to meet her favorite wrestler. And we don’t always do what the marketing department want us to.  And the smart company will know when to cut bait and go where the fish are biting.

NewDivasJust this week, WWE elevated three of NXT’s best women wrestlers to the main stage at Monday Night Raw.  Charlotte (daughter of legend Ric Flair), Becky Lynch, and current NXT women’s champion Sasha Banks premiered on RAW with a bang, laying waste to the current stable of WWE “Divas”, as the women are branded.  And true to form, they ripped the place up.

Now, when wrestlers move from the “Farm league” of NXT to the main roster of WWE, two things happen. One, there’s a deep and abiding hope that they won’t get lost in the much larger pool of the main roster.  But it also means a new opportunity for the folks in NXT to move into the limelight. NXT has a great roster of women, including the ever-perky Bayley, the aforementioned “Queen of Staten Island” Carmella, and more in training, ready to make their premiere.

Is this a chance for Leva to make the move to regular talent?

If she does, I’ll cheer till I’m blue in the…

well, you know.

(*) OK, we know what the REAL first rule of pro wrestling is, but work with me here…

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Leva’s youtube channel is home to her show The Geek Soapbox, where she dishes on comics and video games.

The Point Radio: A Different Path For THE FOLLOWING

Season three of THE FOLLOWING has kicked off and everyone wants to know just what’s ahead for Ryan Hardy. The man who can answer that best is Kevin Bacon, and he talks about why this season is so unique for him and the show. Plus former WWE Superstar Alberto DelRio is now Alberto El Patron and heading up the crew of LUCHA UNDERGROUND on ElRey. He talks about the rich history off wrestling in his native land and just why thing went south at The WWE.

The new USA Event Series DIG is about to begin and we take you to the set for an exclusive you’ll only here with us in just a few days.
Be sure to follow us on 
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The Point Radio: Jason Hervey Playing Both Sides Of The Law

By sight, you know Jason Hervey as big brother Wayne from the classic WONDER YEARS, but in the decades since he’s been behind his desk helping create some exciting TV and movies projects. His latest is OUTLAW COUNTRY (premiering this week on WGN America), taking a unique reality look at both sides of the law in a small town. Jason fills us in on the show and more, plus we are on the set of the VH1 series HINDSIGHT. Time travel saga or soap opera? Stars Laura Ramsey and Craig Horner weigh in.

In a few days,we go to the set of the USA Network hit series SIRENS, plus a look at this season of BLACK SAILS from Starz. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Marc Alan Fishman: Just Live Your Dream

I recently passed the one-year mark at my day job – in-house graphic designer for a software company in the higher education sector – and in having my performance review I reached an odd catharsis. I realized that I’d been a graphic designer professionally for over a decade, and had finally crossed the bridge beyond what I deemed pixel pushing. With that in mind, my desire for more was evident. Without a professional filter, I let my boss know exactly what I’d had in mind. In a flash of a few minutes, I’d all but admitted that I was being wasted as an asset… and for the first time, it wasn’t just a load of bull-squat. Just so you know: The first ten years on the job is really you learning to become a productive member of society.

My coworker lamented to me (post review-rant) that I was “so talented” (I swear I didn’t pay her to say it), that it baffled her I wasn’t “actually doing what I love.” That stung, but not for the reasons you might think. She was specifically speaking to my desire to work in comics, professional wrestling, the movies, TV, or just about any medium where scantily clad men and women fight for reasons that make little to no sense. While some might sigh that they’ve not attained their dreamed station in life, my ire was raised more because those aforementioned media are all veritable pipe dreams to me because of the systems built around them.

From the outside looking in, becoming an entity worthy of a title page (or credit roll, etc.) is akin perhaps to getting a city job in Chicago. As my Uncle Howard once lamented on his position: “It’s more about who you know than what you know.” For every year as an indie creator attending comic cons, those ladies and gents working at Marvel and DC (and Boom!, IDW, Dark Horse, etc.) all seemed to carry a collected air amongst them. An unspoken bond, I assume, built through late-night editor notes, insane deadlines, and the knowledge that at the end of the day your name appeared next to Batman, Deadpool, or G.I. Joe. And when pressed for how these lucky ducks got into their positions? Well, it’s been said in my column enough for you to know the joke by now: Getting into comics is like getting out of prison. As soon as you find a way to do it, they seal it up on your way out.

And what of the great and powerful WWE? Well, according to their careers page, you must have 5-10 years experience writing for TV before you can even come knocking on the front gate. So how might one get into writing for TV? Well, step one would be not living in Chicago. The simple truth is tinsel town isn’t looking beyond its borders for the next big thing. Why? Because they don’t have to. The next big thing is serving them a latte, parking their car, or telling them jokes in a dive-bar on a Thursday night.

There’s often that illusion that one might be able to make it in their own town – grow a brand, and fan base, and then let the big boys find you – but that in and of itself is a house of cards. Take it from the indie guy whose been doing it long enough to know; there’s plenty of other great talents working shoulder to shoulder with you right where you are, sharing the exact same hopes and dreams. In short, it’s not always going to be the sweat on your brow, or the meticulously crafted prose you spout that will find you your meal ticket. “It’s more about who you know than what you know.”

You can see the rabbit hole now a bit better, can’t you? The fact is that life gets in the way of our dreams. And even those living the dream might be the first to tell you that it’s not all sunshine and roses. As far as I can tell, even those who are making those DC and Marvel comics aren’t exactly raking in fat salaries with benefits. Aside from what is likely the top 5-10% of the industry (my best guess that could easily be fixed by Mike Gold, or others here on this site), the freelance work-for-hire creators are working in a revolving door system that is built to chew them up and spit them out. Unless you’re topping the charts with that issue of Voodoo this month, you’re likely back in artist alley with that copy of Idiosyncratic Youth you’re hocking next to the Voodoo sketch cover variants. And over in the WWE… well, let’s just say that I actually knew a writer who worked for them, and he was pretty clear that it was a quaint stop for any aspiring writer who wanted to be told “no” from old guard at every corner.

Top that with the fact that I have a wife, an adorable three year-old, a mortgage, and a need for health insurance. Natch.

Now, let me make it clear: beyond any specific employer I may covet a position with, I’m doing what I love. I draw a salary for being creative. It’s something I do not take for granted given that my two studio mates have not shared in that luxury. The fact is that with Unshaven Comics, I’m not banking a living wage (or really enough money to do more than print more books and attend more cons), but I’m still tangentially living the dream. Even if pixel pushing keeps my lights on, I’ve accepted that my creative endeavors outside of 9-5 can remain my forever lotto ticket. Whether my number gets called is really up to chance. But if it does, at least I’ll be ready for it. And when that jackpot runs out, well, I’ll still be well employed elsewhere. And security to me is just as dreamy as those scantily clad heroes and babes.

 

The Point Radio: Reality Smackdown On WRESTLING WITH DEATH

We introduce you to The Latham Family. By day they run a successful mortuary business and by night they enter the squared circle of Mid South Championship Wrestling. This fascinating contrast is part of the new WGN AMERICA series, WRESTLING WITH DEATH and there are some great stories to tell here. Plus, HELIX returns tonight to SyFy with new secrets, new threats and a unique new way to tell the story. Stars Neil Napier and Billy Campbell explain it all.

On Monday, we welcome John C. McGinley who talks about the road from SCRUBS to GROUND FLOOR, plus Megan Boone from THE BLACKLIST previews the big episode that will air after the Super Bowl. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Marc Alan Fishman: WWE, Marvel & Fairness

CM Punk ThorFans of this column (minus my mom, that leaves what, ten of you?) will no doubt recall my dirty love of professional wrestling. Oy, that came out wrong. That’s what she said! Sorry. Over Thanksgiving weekend, C.M. Punk – the Chicago-Made indie wrestling darling turned WWE Superstar turned turncoat whiny quitter (if Twitter is meant to be believed) – took to the airwaves of his friend’s podcast to pontificate over the sordid details of his departure from under the hooks and claws of Vince McMahon.

It broke the Internet (for smark marks like myself), and did exactly what it was meant to do: give an honest recounting of the multiple reasons why Punk made the bold choice to walk away from the only game in town. Amongst the cadre of reasons presented, they all boiled down to fairness.

Punk was hurt physically, burnt out mentally, and denied creativity by the powers-that-be at the WWE. Ultimately, it sounded like Vinnie Mac’s corporate brainchild was operating like… a corporation. Punk was merely a cog in the wheel, and for whatever reasons those above his pay-grade felt, he wasn’t given the opportunities he sought out professionally. With nothing left in his tank, he took his ball and went home.

In the year since his walkout, Punk healed his body and mind. Local Chicagoans saw him at Blackhawks games. Geeks nationwide saw him on the Talking Dead. And Jason Aaron and Marvel Comics saw him when he inked a quick deal to co-write an upcoming Thor annual as well as “some other books in 2015.” Anyone who was on the Internet at any point last week no doubt saw Punk everywhere, as he announced that he’s also now signed a deal with Dana White and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Punk fans like myself were elated over all of these sightings and announcements. But there’s also been a groundswell of haters assembling as well. Why? Because to throw back in his face what he himself complained about… all of these opportunities come across as being unfair.

OK, take away the good seats at Blackhawks games. Punk is no doubt well-off enough that he was able to purchase his tickets like anyone else. And if you listened the podcast, you’d also note he paid United Center prices for hotdogs and beer. This means he’s friggen’ rich. Nothing unfair there. And let’s even dismiss any whining over his Talking Dead appearances. Punk is a friend of Chris Hardwick, and I’m 99% certain that the casting of the panels for that show aren’t earned over merit. That leaves the UFC and Marvel Comics.

C.M. Punk is a great at many things. But professional writer… well, I didn’t see it on his LinkedIn profile. It’s not a secret that he’s an avid reader of comics, and has even dabbled in writing scripts and promos and storylines for himself when he was wrestling. But never over those years did I see bylines in the dirt-sheets declaring “Punk submits new ideas in to Dan DiDio” or “C.M. Punk taking meetings with Axel Alonso”. But to paraphrase the man himself, Punk was clear to denote in one documentary (“The Best in the World” as put out by the WWE, in case you’re interested) that he would “bother the guys in the Marvel booth at every chance” in an effort to score a deal, when he would do signings at Wizard World conventions. Well, consider the perseverance (and the litany of fans outside of mainstream comic book aficionados) noted and accepted. Put a pin in that.

The UFC is by it’s own definition the “world’s leading MMA promoter,” offering bouts “where hybrid athletes are required to know various disciplines in order to compete at an elite level.” C.M. Punk has some experience with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kenpo karate. And while I’d never wish to befoul him in a darkened alleyway… to the best of my googling abilities, Punk isn’t exactly cited anywhere as being elite in either of those forms of combat. Suffice to say, much like his deal to write comics, Punk’s biggest talent (by way solely of available data) is his passion, his commitment, and his fan-base.

This all converges on the point of fairness. Is it fair that a man be given opportunities others are competing for by leveraging popularity over proven talent? Is it fair without a comic book credit to his name otherwise, Punk be given a shingle with one of the most powerful publishers in the industry –while guys like me, and the hundreds (if not thousands) of independent creators who would break our thumbs for the chance – simply because he asked perpetually? Is it fair that he also be given a deal to fight for a promotion that has hundreds of other known fighters with professional experience, when he himself hasn’t even a single bout to his name? Well, no. It’s not fair.

But really, this was never about fairness. Punk’s contract with Marvel and the UFC is about business.

Marvel Comics and Dana White provided C.M. Punk with the writing and fighting gigs because he is a known draw. Jason Aaron is an acclaimed writer on his own, no doubt, but slap Punky Brewster on that Thor annual and you might just move more copies. And the UFC is the premier fight promotion with 181 pay-per-views under it’s belt to date. Adding Punk to a card probably means Dana White and company will be able to fund 181 more of them based on the increase in buys. Haters will purchase it to see Punk turned into an ink stain. Punkateers and first-time MMA fans will too, to see their darling beat the odds. For all parties concerned? It’s win-win.

And for those that will call Punk out for the hypocrisy that he’d complain he was treated unfairly at the WWE where part-time stars were given preferential treatment only to do the same thing now in two new industries? Well, you can cash that check at the bank anytime you’d like. C.M. Punk isn’t a babyface hero, here to live by a honor-bound code of justice. He’s an entrepreneur, a passionate fan, and lucky son-of-a-bitch. It’s not fair…

… and it never had to be.