Posted in Gaming, Thoughts, TV

Pro-Wrestling and SSBM: Same or Identical? Part 1

I’m not leaving much room for your interpretation of the situation.

Hi folks. This post is being written in order to serve a few different purposes. The first is that I am trying to convince you of the fact that this blog will not only be full of lists pertaining to or in some way related to anime and/or music. Second, this blog will be a vessel for all of my interests. This could mean a lot of different things, and I hope that in time you will get to know me better. Third, I am a weird person, and this post is merely the first step in providing you, the reader, with an insight into why that is the case.

And so, without further hubbub, let’s get to it.

I wanted to use this opportunity to give some background into my thoughts regarding the current states of two of my recent wild obsessions: professional wrestling and Super Smash Bros. Melee. First, I think it would be best if I gave my background in each of these interests, so you have a better idea of where I’m coming from in all of this.

SSBM: Super Smash Bros. entered my life when I was very young. I think maybe less than 10. I was playing Smash 64, although the title and what the game was about wasn’t really an issue at the time. I was merely enjoying myself playing, although perhaps “play” is the most apt way to put it. We were goofing around and it wasn’t until very recently actually that I realized that Smash is much deeper than I understood.

Anyways, back to me. After that first encounter, I played it every now and then at the houses of friends, as I never had a Nintendo system (I was a Playstation kid, PS2 4 lyfe!). And I watched as the game changed, 64 to Melee to Brawl. I think I really started to detest the game at Brawl, although detest isn’t quite the word. I was playing and constantly getting frustrated at things like the tripping mechanic and the air-dodging. There was just so much I didn’t like. After that, I didn’t touch Smash in any way, shape or form until college. It was there that, in the student lounge of my faculty, there sat a N64 and the journey began again. Soon, we had a GameCube, and finally a Wii that had Melee. And then I was introduced to the world of competitive Smash Bros. I learned about the history through the spectacular Smash Brothers documentary by Samox, I stayed up to watch EVO2015 live on Twitch, I constantly kept up with the latest news and power rankings. It was, in many ways, like watching a sport. And we are going to come back to that thought very soon.

Pro-wrestling: This story is much, much shorter. Back in 2010, a sad little boy sat on his computer watching Youtube. And then, he had nothing left to watch. Click after click, and nothing. Then, out of nowhere, Machinima showed up. And I was introduced to Ten For the Win, with Steve and Larson. Oh, I’m sorry. Steve Here and And Larson. My mistake.

Anyways, years later, I returned to Steve and Larson and I saw that they had their own channel. And on it? A bunch of stuff about pro-wrestling. I knew next to nothing about pro-wrestling. I still don’t know a terribly great amount, but I know enough to have formed an opinion about several aspects. I have also done my own research, which puts me above SO many people on the internet right now. So ha!

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s actually get started on addressing the titular claim of the post.

Do I actually think that pro-wrestling and the competitive SSBM scene are similar?

Yes, definitely. At the very least, they suffer from a lot of the same problems. And just so that you remember whose website you are on, let’s make a list.

#1. Image Problems

While they are completely different animals, they both have a problem with how they are viewed by the public. If you were to ask a random person what Melee is, you might get someone who says, “Oh yeah, that video game from like 100 years ago right?” And, on the off chance you get someone who is in the e-sports community, you might even get a laugh that says something like, “Yeah, that’s not a real e-sport.” Melee has recently been getting much more viewership, more interest from sponsors, and more fan support, but the e-sports, and more specifically the fighting game community are not all on the same page when it comes to Melee’s place in the world of e-sports and fighting games.  This simply comes down to a certain level of ignorance on the parts of those naysayers, as Melee requires no less skill, time or effort to get good at as, say, Street Fighter, Killer Instinct or Guilty Gear. However, this is still a problem that the Melee community has yet to fully deal with.

Another problem that the Melee community has is actually a problem that the entire e-sports community has, which is being recognized by the public at large as… let’s say “legit”. E-sports have a problem when it comes to convincing people who are unfamiliar with it that it deserves the same type of attention as popular physical sports. It’s avenues of dissemination are different (the internet), its players are not always the most… physically adept people, which results in them being sometimes less marketable, and people are not willing to resolve mental acuity required for professional gaming to a similar plane as physical fortitude. Basically, people just aren’t willing to see e-sports as real sports and there will always be some people who won’t accept it. The Melee community has been vocal about… well, pretty much everything, but especially about having their players in particular be recognized as legitimate mental athletes. It looks to be an uphill battle for sure.

Now as for wrestling… sigh. Where to begin? In it’s early days, it was goofy. Huge sweaty men throwing haymakers at each other and flopping all over the place until, “Hey, we have a winner!” Sure, there were good points, but wrestling hadn’t really developed into a terribly physically demanding activity like it has today. It was more a testament to how well the people in the show could create a convincing character that translated both in and out of the ring. That was what made a good wrestler.

This hasn’t changed in the present, but nowadays there is just so much more to think about. Marketability, merchandising, injuries, characters, story lines. There is just so much. And let’s be honest, while the goofiness isn’t as blatant, it is still indelibly a part of the WWE brand. Some of the story lines… sigh… Total Divas… sigh… it just gets tough to take seriously at times.

However, I have yet to get to the biggest image problem that the WWE has. That is it’s history. Have you ever heard of the Attitude Era? In some of the 80’s and 90’s, the WWE made a decidedly dangerous change in their product. Everything started to get bloodier, more grotesque, more violent and more sexual. This is a far cry from the attempts that they are making now to appeal to a wider and more varied audience, that includes children and women. In order to do that, they are trying desperately to make the present as friendly to those audiences as much as possible, while trying to keep the focus away from the past. That is tough to leverage.

The reason that the WWE has survived through the terrible decisions it’s made in the past 10 years is because of the devoted fans who have stuck with it. Those fans enjoyed the darker aspects and the better wrestling. When the WWE goes the route of PG to satiate the mass audience, they may sacrifice some of the things that kept devoted fans coming back. Just look at Roman Reigns. He was an experiment to see if a guy who was marketable to those untapped demographics could lead the company.

The experiment failed. It failed hard.

That being said, the WWE has made steps in the right direction. They have put focus on wrestlers with a lot of potential to put on great matches and show that professional wrestling can be something really entertaining. People like Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose have had the spotlight and are all vying for similar spots on the card, and it goes to show that while the WWE haven’t been playing all the right cards, they are getting some really great draws. Hopefully they don’t fold before the game is over. (Sick analogies bro!)

#2. The Internet Saves Them

I mentioned earlier that one of the more common methods of producing and delivering content for the Melee community is the internet. It turns out that the internet is the reason that both the WWE and the Melee community are alive today.

With Melee, it really comes down to vods. Vods are basically just gamecaps or footage of the gameplay, typically from tournaments, but also from casuals or exhibitions. One vod in particular, which was shot at a tournament called “Revival of Melee”, is particularly famous. Brawl had come out a year or so prior and the Melee community was petering out. People either got disheartened by how blatantly anti-Melee the game was and gave up, tried to stick with it and lived a sad life, or, as the case was for most player I think, people just grew up. Life happens people, it’s a real thing. This isn’t a john, no excuses. People just grow up and have to decide what they want their priorities to be. If they happen to be an exceptional player, that is a crying shame, but it is their life and they will live it as they choose.

Anyways back to the story. Melee was dying a slow death, but a bunch of die-hard fans organized a tournament that brought together legends from the community in one venue. A small toy store. During “Revival of Melee” or R.O.M. 1, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman faced Bronson “DaShizWiz” Layton in Losers Finals. Game 4 became legendary as one of the greatest comebacks of all time and was, at the time, the most watched Smash Melee vod ever. Take a look:

Today, we see vods in many shapes and sizes. Sites like vods.co are repositories for Smash Brothers videos, and channels on Youtube and Twitch like VGBootCamp, TeamOxy, Showdowngg and MVG League are increasing the volume and exposure of Smash videos. This does a lot to help get more people into the game, and helps people to get better faster, increasing the level of competition and increasing the level of the “product” that you can present to potential sponsors. Basically, vods serve the purpose of cable sports channels, except that they are free (“free”, because people do work to create them, so they have a lot of value).

With WWE, the internet has a different relationship. A much more simple relationship. It’s very simple. I don’t even have to explain it. Two words. “WWE Network”. Make sense? Oh, not yet? Okay, maybe two more words. “Cash cow”. Better? Alrighty.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I will return with a part 2, talking about poor management and generational challenges. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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I’m sorry, what year is it again?

Also, did Lupe just say “free chili”?

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