Short Story of the Week: The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory

The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory
by Dustin M. Weber
April 7, 2017

March 25, 2017

Dear Vices:

It’s over.

At long last, I’ve decided to move on from you all and focus on that which I should have kept at the forefront of my mind this whole entire time. In fact, I’m actually pretty disgusted at the notion that I’ve succumbed to you for as long as I have—disgusted, that is, but not surprised. After all, with my will having been so weak for so long, why would I be surprised that I’ve leaned on you all the way I have? It wasn’t as if I’d had a broken leg, you know. I could have easily stood on my own two feet at the time, and quite frankly, I would have been much better off for doing so. In fact, if I was suffering from anything, it was from a slow, dull mind and a poor sense of self, and looking back nowadays, I’ve come to realize that the more I tuned to you, the worse each of these things got. Well, no more! I’m putting my foot down against it all. Starting today, I’m stepping away from each and every one of you so that I can put my life back together, get myself back on track, and finally earn for myself that which I should have earned years ago.

First off…video games. Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been plenty of times when I’ve drawn inspiration from you. Heck, the idea for this one book I’m working on right now came to me in part after I’d played one of you, and even in recent months, I’ve been laying the groundwork for whole entire franchises based on what I’ve made using whatever character creation mode some of you have offered your players. That being said, don’t expect me to be as into you as I used to be back in the day. Sure, you were a great diversion for me when I was a kid, and even when I was working my way through college, you were one of the best ways I could think of to blow off steam. Sadly, that was then, and now that I’ve got more pressing matters to attend to, I have to set you off to the side from here on out. You’re a hobby, after all—a diversion—and a very expensive one to keep up with as well. Take it from a guy who hasn’t bought a new console since college, save for when I replaced my PlayStation One once upon a time, which I rarely even play these days. Besides, being a full-grown adult who’s long been eager to accept the responsibilities expected of someone my age, I don’t have nearly as much time to spend on you as I did during my younger days. Then again, there have been times when I’ve felt that I should have focused more on my writing even back then, especially considering how much help I needed in that department. I don’t care if I was just a kid at the time, either. The fact remains that I loved to write then, too, and honestly, had I the mind to put more of my focus on my writing and less time piloting some person made of pixels or polygons across my TV screen and making him beat other people up, I could have very well made a prodigy of myself…or, at the very least, something more than what I am now. Ah, but who am I kidding? I am what I am, and I have only myself to blame for letting myself get as wrapped up into you as I have. See you later, then, video games, when I need a break…and only when I need a break.

Oh…and all you flash games? Don’t even get me started with you and all your mindlessly repetitive yet ironically charming and addictive glory. No disrespect, but seriously, consider yourselves dead to me from this point forward.

You’re next, pro wrestling…and no, that wasn’t meant to be a pun on Bill Goldberg’s catchphrase. All unintentional wordplay aside, I’ll be brutally honest with you: I’ve actually been done with you for quite a while. Yes, I still respect you as an art form, no matter how stupid you can be at times in your execution. Sure, there are still morons out there who love to crap all over you for being sports theater as opposed to a full-fledged sport, and as far as I’m concerned, they can all take their infantile, narrow-minded, condescending ignorance and shove it right back down their throats until they choke on it. Truth be told, though, their moronic mentality isn’t why I’ve turned away from you. Rather, it’s your own idiocy as an industry, as you just haven’t been that great since the spring of 2001 when Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt and good ol’ Vinny Mac bought out World Championship Wrestling. Ever since then, the World Wrestling Federation has become World Wrestling Entertainment and hasn’t faced any major competition for the past sixteen-plus years—not even from Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which was once the closest thing WWE had to a serious rival since WCW. Trust me, too, when I say that even I can’t begin to tell you the number of fans who’ve been predicting TNA’s ultimate demise to the point of placing bets on when it’ll at long last go out of business. Then again, my doing so would distract me from telling you about just how many other promotions have risen and fallen over the century as we all have known it so far as well as about those that had promised to launch, yet either a) have failed to do so or b) actually have, yet have turned out to be little more than independent promotions. All this in mind, I hope you can see part of the reason why WWE’s long been struggling to put on a consistently good product, even with the talent they have now and have had over the years on their roster and even when they try to give the fans what they want. Of course, I don’t envy the bookers—or writers, whichever they’d rather be called—one bit, seeing as no matter how many honest-to-goodness fans you as a business still have as a whole since your decline, there’s always going to be that one portion of your fanbase that’s full of nothing but screaming, cursing, fickle malcontents who are never satisfied with what they see from any wrestling show, yet are far too stupid to walk away, no matter how bitter they’ve become towards you. Then there are the mindless fanboys, fangirls, and trolls who constantly cause drama amongst the community for whatever excuse might come to mind who are no doubt making others’ enjoyment of you every bit as much a chore for your fans as the soreheads are. Hell, they’re probably just plain assholes, pure and simple, and nothing more. Whatever the case, pro wrestling, I’m glad I’ve stopped caring about you as a business before I ended up becoming one of these schmucks, as I know well enough at my age that it’s better for a person to leave what he or she loves when it doesn’t love him or her back rather than stick around and let it burn him or her. Come to think of it, I’m even gladder that I never became a pro wrestler myself. Otherwise, I’d have had to put up with a lot of the terrible mismanagement and general ignorance with which today’s wrestlers must cope—not that they’re wholly innocent when it comes to your overall product’s current lackluster state, but really, when even the wrestlers who have been stepping up their game are still struggling to get over with the masses, then honestly, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

Good luck, then, pro wrestling, for I may never come back to you as an industry, even though I still appreciate you as an art form and still hope you survive so that the next generation will get something out of you as I had back in the day when you were arguably much easier for me and so many other people to enjoy.

Finally, there’s you, YouTube, and all the videos I’ve seen on you, which have long been by and far the biggest distraction I’ve ever given myself throughout the course of my writing career. Now, I’ll admit that just like I’ve said about video games, having become familiar with you hasn’t been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. After all, how else would I’ve ever found out about some of the things that have inspired some of my work? I can only begin to tell you, for instance, how nice it’s been listening to some of the videos on your website that have music that I either remember from my younger days or hadn’t heard before but have come to love—both of which have made for some okay background music for when I’ve been working on my writing. I’ve also learned to enjoy some of the old movies and television shows that I’ve managed to watch on your website, thanks to the users who’ve uploaded them. I’ve even seen video game footage that has brightened my day on one occasion or another, both with and without commentary from the person who was recording it. Unfortunately, even with all this in mind, you’re not exactly all peaches and cream, if you know what I mean. For one thing, just looking at some of the videos you’ve hosted since your inception in 2005 has reminded me in the worst way that it “takes all kinds,” as the saying goes, as a good handful of your videos have shown me some of the most discouraging archetypes of humanity I’ve ever seen: fried-brained conspiracy theorists, small-minded political loudmouths, embarrassingly macho e-toughs, perverted dark humor aficionados, oversensitive drama queens and other blatant pot-stirrers, screaming lunatics, narcissistic brats, potty-mouthed troglodytes, droning deadheads, over-the-top “comedy” acts and other desperate wannabe celebrities…you know…the pride and joy of the Internet (sarcasm). Sure, I know better than to stupidly click on these videos myself and give these waking examples of humanity’s grotesque imperfection the benefit of a view, but there have been times when I came across a video that I was hoping to like, only to discover that the person who posted it was more of a fool and/or scumbag than I’d previously assumed. I’m not even talking the blatant click-baiters who use false titles and thumbnail pics to draw in unwitting audience members, either, but rather simple guys and gals who make videos similar to the ones I’ve come to like over the years, only to prove themselves inferior in comparison to the examples with which I’d become familiar. This is especially true when the narrator of a given video happens to present his or her opinion on a given matter in a decidedly snobbish or ill-tempered tone or with information that he or she clearly pulled out of his or her derriere. Seriously, am I really that unreasonable to expect reviews and rants on the Internet to be honest, straightforward, unbiased, and sensible as possible, regardless of the presenter’s disdain towards the topic he or she is discussing? Don’t even get me started, either, with these reviews in which the presenter is attempting to portray himself or herself as a “character” of sorts. I’m sorry, but I listen to reviews to be informed on a given item rather than entertained, and the steeper the precedent that entertainment takes over information, the less worth the review in question has to me.

Needless to say, YouTube, I’ve learned the necessity of being picky when it comes to listening to and watching videos on your website. From now on, then, I’ll be using your music videos as background accompaniment for my writing sessions and saving the TV, film, gameplay, and similarly themed videos for after I’ve completed my daily writing objectives. Not only that, but I’ve promised myself to be especially selective when it comes to videos from the later category, as I’m more or less done with all the negativity that I’ve absorbed from those that I’ve watched already. Trust me…my work will benefit in the end when I adopt a more positive attitude and cut out all the nastiness I’ve taken on in my life at this point.

So that’s the scoop, vices: I’m moving on, and I’m doing so for my own good. Please don’t take it personally, either, for even though I keep calling you my “vices,” I’m the one who’s really at fault here, as I’ve said before. All this time, I should have squared my shoulders, put my nose to the grindstone, and taken care of business like a man rather than bury myself in each of you whenever I would so much as have the slightest bit of writer’s block. Alas, such was not the case, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve finally come to terms with the problems I’ve been causing for myself by wallowing in each you, falling behind in my own deadlines and all. It’ll take me a nice long while before I’ll be able to forgive myself, too, but hey, if Roy Knable can come to terms with his TV addiction in Stay Tuned, then I, too, can come to terms with my overreliance on you three things. Better sooner than later, yes, but better later than never, and from now on, as was the case for me during my schooling days, it’s going to be work before pleasure and not vice-versa. Otherwise, I’ll never get anything done to save my soul, and I’ll only further drown in my own stagnation.

Thank you all for your understanding, and for now…goodbye.

Regards,
Charles Donovan Gregory

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

MoveMeQuotes.com
PlayStation History Collection 1 – Takara Tomy 1/6 Scale Gashapon Video Game Systems! by INVISIGOTH
10 Things Pro Wrestling Fans Hate about Pro Wrestling by Ben Flanagan (AL.com)
YouTube.com
Success.com/Shutterstock.com

The short story above, however, is the author’s own.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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                         Amazon.co.uk

In Relation to My Work: Revitalizing Genres without Rebooting Old IPs, part 1

Time to FINALLY address in full a topic that the media-watching public has been coping with for years on end.

Time to FINALLY address in full a topic that the media-watching public has been coping with for years on end.

Hello, readers!

Sorry it’s taken me so long in coming up with a new article for this blog, especially considering that I honestly have no good excuse for my tardiness aside from writer’s block and getting myself tied up with other goings-on in my life (work, family, my novels, etc.). However, after noticing what’s been going on in the entertainment world over the years, one question has been on my mind that I’ll admit to being painfully slow on the draw in asking, yet have nonetheless wanted to ask all the same for quite some time:

Ever notice just how many old franchises have received—and, in some cases, will be receiving—either full-blown reboots or some other kind of revival?

Lethal Weapon the Series on Fox: Worthwhile revitalization of a classic movie franchise for TV viewers or shameless cash grab? By all means...share your thoughts below.

Lethal Weapon the Series on Fox:
Worthwhile revitalization of a classic movie franchise for TV viewers or shameless cash grab? By all means…share your thoughts below.

I’m sorry, but while I myself have been guilty of adding fuel to the fire from 2012 to 2015 with my reimagining of Bloody Roar, I’ve since become more and more disenchanted by the year with this whole trend in the entertainment industry in which a certain production studio brings back an intellectual property from the past to create a new motion picture, television series, or other form of entertainment for modern audiences. Granted, doing so—when handled with a healthy amount of finesse and respect towards the original property—can be a great way to introduce those who didn’t grow up knowing said franchise to its characters and themes. On a similar note, this whole trend of IP recycling isn’t exactly a brand new one that only started rearing its head at the very beginning of this decade or even the last. Comic books, for instance, have undergone such a treatment over several decades with each new generation of readers, writers, and illustrators that comes along as an effort to keep the characters and, subsequently, the brand alive for that generation’s entertainment. I can say the same for popular video game lines like Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and so forth in that the developers of these games and the franchises that they’ve spearheaded continue to develop new and oftentimes more advanced games as a means of building on the legacies that the original titles had established back in their respective time. Even so, I swear that there have been times in which the people responsible for bringing back these old IPs did so either primarily or, worse yet, solely for the money. Now, to be fair, every intellectual property—regardless of what form it takes or whether it be a stand-alone title or the beginning of an entire brand—exists, has existed, and will exist for the sake of making money for the people behind it. That’s just conventional wisdom talking. Still, I’d at least like to think that it takes more than just monetary desire to produce a good product. After all, some of the most successful IPs ever made, no matter which form they’ve taken—be they literary, cinematic, televised, or interactive—have had plenty of time, effort, and especially love dedicated to them to see to their creation, and even though some of these properties haven’t aged as well as they could have over the years, one can nonetheless see the care that the creators had put into them prior to their ultimate production.

Killer Instinct 2013: A long-awaited sequel/reboot to a much-beloved fighting game franchise that has proven to be even better than the original

Killer Instinct 2013:
A long-awaited sequel/reboot to a much-beloved fighting game franchise that has proven to be even better than the original

That being said, what’s with all these remakes, belated sequels, adaptations of decades-old properties to other forms, and so on? Have these studios really run out of ideas? Is creating a new property really that much of a risk for them? Are they just that desperate for a quick buck? Because look, I get it: Writing a new story is far from easy at times, and not all original properties are as successful as they otherwise could be, including the well-made ones. Nevertheless, how necessary is it for the entertainment industry to rely on the past to make money in the present and ensure a strong future? Let’s especially take into consideration that most remakes, reboots, remasters, reimaginings, retellings—whatever one wants to call them—aren’t even as good as the original version of the same product, much less any better. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when the initial product never lived up to whatever reputation it was trying to make for itself whereas the remake, on the contrary, did. The two Judge Dredd movies are a perfect example of this, what with 1995’s Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone having proven itself to be a critical flop while 2012’s Dredd with Karl Urban—while far from the financial success that critics and movie goers generally felt it deserved to be—nonetheless gained enough of a cult following to maintain the possibility of a sequel, even in the wake of its low theatrical gross. Such exceptions do nothing, however, to refute the notion that human beings like to experience new things, and in this case, that means reading, watching, and even listening to new stories. Plus, if one were to take a closer look at whatever books, movies, TV programs, video games, and so forth that humanity has produced over the course of its very existence, one can easily spot familiar elements in each of these products that one can use as the foundation upon which to create a brand new compelling story of his or her own. What makes each story feel different from the rest, however, is the unique personal spin its creator has put on it to make it stand out from others of its kind. Truth be told, this whole notion of premise establishment is only the start of producing a worthwhile story, and it’s ultimately said story’s execution that makes it memorable when all is said and done. However, if a tale’s idea manages to snag an audience member’s interest from the word go, then there’s at least a chance for it to succeed in captivating people’s minds and hearts for years to come.

Dredd 2012 vs. Judge Dredd 1995: One example of a remake/reboot done right

Dredd 2012 vs. Judge Dredd 1995: One example of a remake/reboot done right

It has become my belief as a writer over the years that every generation deserves its share of fresh new material to captivate their attention and that younger generations shouldn’t have to be cheated out of quality fiction to instead be made to grow up on carelessly rehashed versions of time-honored classics that fail to live up to the legacies that their original versions had established. Yes, there may still be room for readapted work here and there along the way, but such material shouldn’t have to be produced to the point where the masses are led to overlook and pass on new, creative ideas in favor of that which has already been around for some time. That being said, in this article and each of the subsequent entries in this latest intended mini-series of mine, I hope to take a genre or subgenre in modern film, television, literature, or gaming and deconstruct it in a way so as to show how aspiring creators can create their own stories in that specific category. In doing so, I hope to give fellow writers, official and aspiring alike, a method by which they can create their own properties that they in turn can have fleshed out into actual movies, TV programs, novels, and video games that the masses can come to enjoy for years to come. I furthermore intend to produce these articles as a means of teaching myself as an author to produce the kind of work that I believe the public deserves. After all, every writer is a student of the craft, and I’m no different from anyone else in learning it. Needless to say, I hope everyone who chances to read this gets something out of this entry and any and all that I happen to publish afterwards, regardless of whether or not they’ve had the good fortune of having their work translated into something for the eyes and ears of the general public.

All this in mind, let’s examine this whole notion by applying it to one of the most targeted subgenres of this whole reboot frenzy that’s been going on for so many years.

Slasher Flicks

Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers: Who within the years to come will be next to join the likes of them as slasher icons within their neck of the industry?

Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers: Who within the years to come will be next to join the likes of them as slasher icons within their neck of the industry?

One particular type of film that’s been a favorite of movie fans for decades that Hollywood has been desperately trying to revive is the slasher flick, and seriously, why not? This theme amongst the horror genre has given audiences some of the most memorable villains in cinematic history. Be honest, folks…who can forget the likes of the dream-dwelling child killer Freddy Krueger with his signature razor-fingered glove, the supernaturally driven and resilient madman Michael Myers, or the predatory and nearly invincible revenant Jason Voorhees? Certainly nobody who’s seen the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, or Friday the 13th, that’s for sure, and it’s thanks to the massive cult following that each of these films and many others just like them have made their mark in pop culture. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s efforts in the past decade-plus to reinvigorate interest in this select style of film and its signature variety of antagonist has resulted in a number of poorly received reboots and sequels that, according to critics, fail to live up to the original. Many are the criticisms levied against these newer versions, from an overemphasis on blood, gore, and jump scares over suspense and genuinely unsettling atmospheres to the lack of character development and hence sincere sympathy for each of the antagonists’ intended victims. At other times, these movies try desperately to make audiences of their original counterparts invest themselves into them by copying the originals scene per scene and ultimately failing on account of the inevitability of viewers to draw comparisons between these scenes as they’d taken place in each version of the film. Such a direction further proves the futility of trying to reboot the story in the first place if the people behind it are only going to make bare minimal changes in their retelling and as such not put all that unique of a spin on it. This is especially true when said changes have little to no positive effect on the movie in the first place, specifically when it comes to smoothing out whatever flaws the original story may have had to begin with. Even changing the actor who portrays the movie’s villain can damage the reputation of a slasher movie reboot, regardless of how unintentional said damage may be. This is especially true in the instance of a more talkative slasher villain like Freddy Krueger and the first actor to portray him, Robert Englund, whom many a Nightmare on Elm Street fan consider to be—and understandably so—the definitive Springwood Slasher.

All this in mind, it baffles me as to why many movie studios still believe in reviving the slasher subgenre by trying to revive the popular decades-old brands that have made it so beloved to begin with. Sure, the remakes of these classic pictures may have garnered themselves a pretty penny when they first came out, but considering the backlash that each of these later films has received since their theatrical debut, one would think that the infamy connected to slasher film reboots would come to such a head that studios would find themselves pressed to reject the whole idea of remaking the classics and instead create new films to carry the subgenre into the future. Granted, the simplicity of this kind of film can easily be exploited to the point where one can end up creating something that’s so run-of-the-mill that it’ll bore even the most gore-crazed horror fan to tears. Even so, this very simplicity also works to this subgenre’s advantage in that storytellers can easily play around with the formula and put their own unique twists on their respective stories’ plots, protagonists, and especially antagonists.

The Prowler by Joseph Zito (1981): A mostly forgotten slasher film regarded by critics for its strong atmosphere

The Prowler by Joseph Zito (1981): A mostly forgotten slasher film regarded by critics for its strong atmosphere

Before I get ahead of myself, however, I find it only wise to bring up a few noteworthy areas from which a slasher movie can benefit or falter. One of these areas that I’ve already briefly mentioned, for example, is the film’s atmosphere—an aspect of fictional media that has given many a horror movie over the years the power to tingle the spines of audience members and in turn give said movies much staying power. It is within each of these specific films that the story starts out just like any other drama until things take a turn for the worse. Then, once they do, the grim realization that things aren’t what they should be soon settles in with the audience and grows steadily stronger with each new and disturbing sight, sound, and other sensation and occurrence that takes place following the initial turn of events up until the moment when things finally reach a resolution. Lamentably, many more recent films have forsaken the idea of establishing such a palatably grim atmosphere in favor of merely startling their viewers with cheap jump scares. True, the nature in which slasher villains strike their prey practically out of nowhere at times and dispose of them in decidedly brutal, gory, and all-around nightmarish ways more or less makes jump scares a necessary evil at times for the subgenre as a whole, but rarely—if, in fact, ever—has a good slasher film relied solely on the nowadays predictable spontaneity of the common jump scare. Rather, it takes the a dark, grim, and often bleak atmosphere to truly unsettle a movie watcher with its subtle undertones and creepy vibes to get under the subject’s skin and truly remind him or her of the gravity of the situation he or she is watching.

Drowning in an outhouse full of leeches (Ally Burgess in Sleepaway Camp 2): One of the MANY creative deaths that occur to the victims of Angela Baker, the anti-heroine of the Sleepaway Camp series

Drowning in an outhouse full of leeches (Ally Burgess in Sleepaway Camp 2): One of the MANY creative deaths that occur to the victims of Angela Baker, the antiheroine of the Sleepaway Camp series

It’s also important for the writer to demonstrate different ways in which a slasher can murder his or her victims in order to keep the movie fresh and exciting from beginning to end. After all, if the antagonist were to simply kill each and every one of his or her victims in the same exact way time after time after time, he or she would quickly become calculable and dull as a murderer, thus making the movie boring and predictable in turn. Why else, then, would certain slashers rely upon a variety of methods to claim the lives of their prey, from using a different weapon here or there, tricking a hapless sot or two into an ambush, or even relying upon a spell of sorts or his or her own bare hands? They needn’t even be flashy kills necessarily, either, with gobs upon gobs of gore or otherwise rooted in a logic that lies outside the established rules of the story’s setting. Rather, the kills simply need to be different enough from one another to make the villain seem that much more versatile and unpredictable, thereby making him or her come off as more of a threat to those trying to thwart his or her killing spree and as such keeping the audience invested in the narrative at hand.

Nancy Thompson of Nightmare on Elm Street: One of the most time-honored "final girls" in slasher movie history

Nancy Thompson of Nightmare on Elm Street: One of the most time-honored “final girls” in slasher movie history

Something else that creators need to keep in mind when concocting a great slasher story is establishing characters with whom his or her audience can relate—not just the murderer himself or herself, but also his or her potential victims. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s still important for slasher movies to get their viewers to understand why their antagonists are roaming about and ending people’s lives left and right. All the same, it cannot be emphasized enough that without a strong cast of identifiable and relatable characters for the killer to prowl upon with whom the audience can sympathize, a slasher movie’s antagonist in turn suffers in his or her role. Think about it: Slashers, whether they be supernatural or mundane in nature, are essentially monsters—beings whom we, as their stories unfold before us, are supposed to terrify us in one way or another. As such, how are we audience members supposed to fear them in the slightest when the stories they’re in don’t make us feel for or even care about the people the slashers stalk and kill? Worse yet, what if the characters whom the movies’ writers want us to support only come off as annoying, pitiful, or otherwise unappealing? Sure, certain audience members are going to want to root for the villains one way or another based on the “badass” antiheroic mystique that comes with their archetype, and many is the slasher victim who, prior to meeting his or her untimely end, is guilty of some form of morally questionable behavior. Even so, if a slasher’s fanfare comes based off all of his or her victims—potential and actual alike—being amoral, dim-witted, cowardly, irritating, or otherwise just plain repulsive or forgettable rather than the slasher himself or herself simply being charismatically monstrous, then there’s something notably wrong with the script to which the characters are adhering.

Then again, if there’s one definite cornerstone that every great slasher film has built itself upon, that cornerstone would most certainly be its antagonist. It only makes sense, too, seeing as the antagonist in this type of movie is the element that gives the entire subgenre its identity and the fact that slasher films generally follow the exploits of their villains far more so than they do their heroes, especially taking into consideration that many slasher film franchises have experienced a change in protagonist from one installment to the next. That being said, I won’t deny that creating a villain for a brand new slasher story can be a pretty daunting task for fear that one might end up rehashing the same old tired character tropes that audiences have seen over and over. Regardless, the whole process doesn’t have to be as hard as one might make it out to be, assuming that one understand the elements from which the time-honored slashers of yesteryear have been made. Here…let’s take a closer at some of them and find out what makes each of them so legendary.

Norman BatesNorman Bates (Psycho): The openly shy and mild-mannered owner and operator of the Bates Motel who is under the control of his possessive mother on account of artificially reconstructing her personality as an act of guilt after he’d killed her ten years prior to the events of the original film. Known for dressing up as his mother prior to claiming his victims’ lives (often with a kitchen knife), he himself is known for being the original mentally disturbed killer who changed the face of horror movies forever by moving the genre’s focus away from monsters and towards potentially real, mentally disturbed human beings. His story is likewise said to be the earliest example of a slasher film.

LeatherfaceLeatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre): A physically deformed, mentally handicapped, chainsaw-wielding murderer and cannibal who wears a mask made of human flesh (hence his name) and takes orders from his older, abusive/manipulative family members in the name of the family meat business. The creators if his film, Tobe Harper and Kim Henkel, based his character (as well as other details in the movie’s plot) on the crimes of real-life murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein and is also known as the unwitting founder of the “chainsaw dance,” one of the most iconic moments in horror history.

Michael MyersMichael Myers (Halloween): A masked hulk of a man often referred to as “The Shape” and “The Bogeyman” who began claiming victims at the tender age of six when a mysterious force began manipulating him through dreams and voice to kill his older sister Judith. He has since killed one hundred eleven people—the second-highest body count in slasher flick history people—and usually claims his victims’ lives with a simple carving knife, although he has been known to use a variety of weapons in his kills, including his own bare hands. Horror fans also know him for his signature pale-faced mask, his tendency to display the bodies of his slain prey for future victims to see for themselves, and his gifts of possess superhuman strength, stealth, endurance, and durability of an unknown limit, all of which make him the first supernaturally powered murderer in slasher history.

Jason VoorheesJason Voorhees (Friday the Thireenth): A facially deformed and mentally handicapped camper at Camp Crystal Lake who was shoved off a peer by bullies one fateful day and drowned in Crystal Lake while two of the camp’s counselors were off having sex in the woods. His mother Pamela went off on a killing spree to avenge his untimely death, only to die herself at the hands of the sole survivor of her rampage. His mom’s death has since only further fueled his own desire for revenge along with his rage over his drowning as well as the immoral (e.g., sexually promiscuous) actions of his victims, and while he has handled many a weapon in his quest for vengeance and has even killed his victims with his bare hands, his weapon of choice is usually the very machete that Camp Crystal Lake counselor Alice Hardy had used to decapitate his mother. He is also superhumanly strong, quick (both on land and in the water), and durable and can suppress whatever pain is inflicted upon him. Similarly, he can regenerate any lost and damaged body tissue he may have at any given moment at an elevated rate, be resurrected via lightning and supernatural forces (psychic manipulation), and even switch bodies and even switch bodies and souls with certain victims to ensure his own survival. He is further known for his iconic hockey mask, which he only started to wear in Friday the 13th Part III, and having killed a total of 158 victims (including his version from the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th), the most career kills of any slasher villain as of this article’s posting.

Freddy KruegerFreddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street): The son of rape survivor Amanda Krueger (a.k.a. Sister Mary Helena), also known as the “bastard son of a hundred maniacs,” whose history of abuse and dismissal from many a foster home (allegedly on account of his psychopathic tendencies that he displayed even at a young age) eventually led him to become “The Springwood Slasher,” a title he received upon him killing twenty children until his victims’ parents ultimately had him burned to death inside a shack behind the power plant he once worked at. He is known for his ability to enter the dreams of his prey, change both his body and his surroundings as he sees fit, and bring about his victims’ demise in the real world upon killing them in their dreams—all of which were gifts he’d received from the Dream Demons following his initial death. He’s also known for his sadistic sense of humor and the consequential creativity of his kills, the burn scars on his face, and of course, his signature razor-fingered glove.

Pinhead (a.k.a. The Hell Priest)Pinhead (Hellraiser): The leader of the Cenobites, a race of amoral extradimensional beings (sometimes demons, depending upon which lore one follows) who resemble ritually mutilated humans and can only reach our reality via a schism in time and space as controlled by the opening and closing of an innocuous-looking puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration. Though not a slasher villain in the true sense of the term in spite of often being grouped together with the likes of the horror icons previously mentioned in this list, the aptly named Pinhead (also known as The Hell Priest in Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels, the direct sequel to his original novel from which Hellraiser had been derived, The Hellbound Heart) and his “Order of the Gash” perform “experiments” in extreme sexual experiences on the humans whom they bring to Hell under the watchful eye of their leader, The Engineer.

ChuckyChucky (Child’s Play): A “Good Guy” brand doll possessed by on-the-run serial killer and voodoo practitioner Charles Lee Ray (a.k.a. “The Lakeshore Strangler”) who transfers his soul into said doll upon having Chicago homicide detective Mike Norris fatally shoot him in a toy shop. Foul-mouthed and hot-tempered, Chucky prefers using a kitchen knife to dispatch his victims, although he—like Freddy—has been known for his murderous creativity as well as his continuous efforts to transfer his soul from his present and distinctly recognizable doll body into the body of a regular human.

Officer Matt "Maniac Cop" CordellMatt Cordell (Maniac Cop): A cop sent by his superiors to Sing Sing Correctional Facility for closing in on corruption in city hall as well as alleged police brutality who was stabbed in the showers by three fellow inmates, presumed dead, and returned to avenge his unjust incarceration while maiming numerous innocents along the way to make the system seem even more corrupt than it already is. He possesses supernatural strength and endurance and is armed with his trusty regulation sidearm and a billyclub that conceals a thin, straight slashing blade.

Daniel "Candyman" RobitailleCandyman: A slave’s son and prosperous post-Civil War artist named Daniel Robitaille who ended up falling in love with and fathering the child of a white woman, whose wealthy landowner father hired a lynch mob to publicly execute him by cutting off his painting hand, smearing him with honey, and subjecting him to the stings of countless angry bees. His death has since spawned an urban legend in which one can summon him—albeit with fatal consequences—by saying his name aloud five times while looking into a mirror. Driven by a desire to keep his legend alive and claim the lives and souls of his descendants (as well as that of Chicago researcher Helen Lyle, who is implied to be the reincarnation of his late lover Caroline Sullivan) so that they may join him in the afterlife, Daniel is armed with his signature hook prosthetic and a ribcage full of angry bees and is known for killing those closest to his intended targets—which have, according to the original film trilogy, have been exclusively female—and framing said targets for the murders prior to claiming their own lives.

GhostfaceGhostface (Scream): A primarily mute entity portrayed by several characters within the Scream series, all of whom don a similar costume of a black cloak and a rubber mask with the countenance of the figure from painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream and use a voice-cloaking device in an effort to kill protagonist Sidney Prescott on account of a series of events indirectly caused by Sidney’s mother Maureen. Thought he killers’ motives range from revenge to fame-seeking to “peer pressure,” they all operate under the same modus operandi by calling their victims on the phone while equipped with their voice changer, then slay them with a buck knife. Likewise, though all of Ghostace’s alter egos are ultimately human, they all seem to possess superhuman levels of durability and strength and a supernatural propensity for stealth upon donning the Ghostface costume.

John Kramer, the Jigsaw KillerJigsaw (Saw): Alias John Kramer, former civil engineer who suffers the loss of his unborn son Gideon, endures a divorce from his wife Jill Tuck on account of his bereavement, and develops an inoperable frontal lobe tumor that developed from the colon cancer he’s contracted. After a failed suicide attempt, he develops a new lease on life and makes it his mission to teach others life’s value by designing a series of elaborate and gruesome traps within which he lures his victims, each trap designed to reflect a problem in the life of its intended prey in order to test their “survival instinct” and teach them the value of appreciating (rather than squandering) their lives. He also operates through Billy the Puppet, who delivers recorded messages to his victims as well as through a number of accomplices, including Amanda Young, the first survivor of his traps; Mark Hoffman, a police detective whom he kidnaps and blackmails into becoming his apprentice after Hoffman had used an inescapable Jigaw-esque trap to avenge his sister’s death at the hands of her boyfriend; and even his own ex-wife Jill.

As you can see, the finer points to each of these villains are what set them apart from the rest, specifically in the instances of those whom one can describe as hulking, supernaturally gifted brutes (e.g., Jason, Michael, Cordell). Some have different powers (or lack thereof) from the other slashers. Some have signature weapons (e.g., Freddy’s glove) or other features (e.g., Jason’s mask) that not only define them as characters, but have also become iconic with slasher film lore. Some even stand out from the rest according to the way in which they slay their victims (i.e., Jigsaw’s traps). However, when stripped down to their basic components, there are six essential elements that define each of these killers and illustrate their lasting appeal with movie audiences even today. Those essential elements are as follows:

Motivation: What (or who) is behind the murderer’s killing spree? Whom or what is he or she seeking? Is anyone spared from his or her rampage? If so, who and why?

Personality: How does the slasher behave when he or she is out on the prowl and during and between each kill? Are there any people with whom he or she tries to get along/cooperate along the way? If so, to what capacity?

Powers: Does the slasher have any supernatural powers to aid him or her in his or her crimson quest? If so, how similar or different are they from those of other slashers?

Modus Operandi: How does the killer execute his or her prey? Does he or she have a signature weapon? If so, how does it compare or contrast to other killers’ signature weapons? What other additional equipment does he or she employ throughout his or her mission outside of his or her supernatural powers or lack thereof?

Victims: What common thread do the murderer’s victims share with one another (racial/age demographic, deeds/actions, associations to the event that spurned the villain to become a killer, personal deeds, etc.)? Is there anything special about the victims’ mentality prior to or during the course of the movie and their ultimate demise?

Weaknesses and Downfall: What weaknesses does the killer have? Of those weaknesses (in the instance that there are more than just one of them), which one ultimately leads to his or her undoing?

Clock Tower: The First FearTo illustrate each of these elements more clearly, let’s apply them to a slasher villain whom I neglected to mention earlier on in this article: Scissorman from the Clock Tower video game franchise. To put it simply, more than one person has adopted the “Scissorman” identity throughout the course of the Clock Tower story, not unlike Ghostface. However, there is a connection between each of these killers: the fact that they are either descendants of the aristocratic Barrows family of England or—in the case of Ralph and Jemina the Scissor Twins from Clock Tower 3—were once henchmen of a member of the related Burroughs family. According to legend, Theodore Barrows, the first lord of the Barrows family and builder of the Barrows Castle, was a member of a demonic cult who praised a deity known as the “Great Father” and abducted children for use in demonic rituals—many of which included cannibalism and massacre—in an effort to attain immortality. The only thing these rituals accomplished for him, however, was bestowing a curse upon his family that ensured that a demonic child would be born into the family to continue the acts of unnecessary bloodshed that he’d begun. John Barrows was one such product of the curse, a member of the thirteenth generation of the Barrows clan and the first known to adopt the mantle of the Scissorman, abducting and murdering countless local children until his father Quintin, who opposed his son’s killing spree, put and end to his life. Sadly, the Barrows family curse continued on down the line to Bobby and Dan Barrows with the former taking on the Scissorman identity at nine years old in the first installment in the Clock Tower series, Clock Tower: The First Fear.

Now that we’ve established the basic gist behind the Scissorman persona, let’s take a closer look at the six essential elements that make the first Scissorman, Bobby Barrows, such a memorable slasher villain.

Bobby BarrowsMotivation: As a product of such a long-preserved family curse that only the late Quintin Barrows dared to resist (only to have the cult of the Great Father eventually hunt him down and assassinate him for his “treason” in the end), Bobby’s demonic nature is usually enough to justify his murderous streak. Then again, there’s the incident in which his father Simon tried to thwart his cultist mother Mary and her brother from sacrificing a number of innocents for a black magic ritual they’d intended to perform, only to have Mary imprison him in the shed behind the Barrows Mansion for an indeterminate amount of time. As such, poor parental upbringing (i.e., the foul morals into which Mary has instilled into her two sons) could also be cited as a reason behind Bobby’s negligence to the idea of resisting his demonic heritage and hence his bloodlust.

Personality: Not only has Bobby has murdered many innocent people without a shred of remorse or mercy, but he furthermore seems to delight in playing with his victims prior to killing them, as players can see for themselves in Clock Tower: The First Fear when he dances for a short while after having knocked Jennifer to the ground via a failed physical struggle. Further evidence of his love for psychologically tormenting his prey comes from the way he snaps his scissors with each footstep he takes as he chases them, giving his targets the fear of knowing how close behind them he is.

Powers: Bobby is nearly immortal and impervious to all sorts of pain, as heavy objects coming down upon his head and second-story falls only knock him out for a brief while. He is also impressively strong for a nine-year-old boy of such a sickly physique, as he can to hold his own in physical confrontations against The First Fear’s fifteen-year-old protagonist Jennifer Simpson, effortlessly carry his massive scissors while climbing ladders, and dash forth short distances while holding his scissors high above his head.

Modus Operandi: Bobby is quite capable of setting traps for his prey, such as when Jennifer investigates the bathroom and manages to find the corpse of her friend Laura Harrington hanging from the shower and Bobby bursting forth from the bathtub full of water shortly after her grim discovery. Then again, he is far better known for his more straightforward approach of mercilessly stalking his victims (i.e., Jennifer) and, upon catching up with them, stabbing or slicing them with his signature shears. He is still incredibly persistent, too, and carries on chasing his victims with all of the might and patience at his command by simply walking, holding on to the belief all the while that no matter what his victims do, they’ll die all the same. In fact, the only times he stops walking or running after his prey is when they hit him with enough force to thwart him or when they hide from him, for it has been noted that as per the latter situation, he will not inspect the room in which she’s hiding until she continues to reuse the same hiding place time and time again.

Victims: Aside from Jennifer, there are three other victims whom Bobby stalks in Clock Tower: The First Fear—namely, Jennifer’s fellow Granite Orphanage residents Laura, Lotte, and Ann. All teenagers at their adoption by Mr. Barrows, the four girls fit in with all the other victims that the Barrows family had claimed since Theodore first instated the family’s demonic practices in that their young blood could have very well (theoretically) given Theodore the immortality he’d sought upon first swearing allegiance to the Great Father. Bobby’s own father Simon could have very well fit on the list of victims as well in that he tried to interfere with his mother Mary’s plans of bloody sacrifice, save for the fact that it’s Mary herself who contends with her rebellious husband and not Bobby.

Weakness and Ultimate Downfall: The only thing that can kill Bobby is falling from the Clock Tower of the Barrows Mansion as its bell tolls, which disorients him to the point where he plummets to his death. It is also hinted at that the tolling of the bells signifies the restarting of time at the Barrows Mansion, which results in the deformities that scientifically should have killed him at birth finally doing so following his fall.

Dan Barrows as he appears in Clock Tower: The First Fear giving chase to heroine Jennifer Simpson

Dan Barrows as he appears in Clock Tower: The First Fear giving chase to heroine Jennifer Simpson

In addition to Bobby Barrows donning the mantle of Scissorman is his twin brother Dan, who took on the title himself a year later in the following Clock Tower game, which is known as Clock Tower 2 in Japan and simply Clock Tower elsewhere around the world. For the sake of completion, we’ll be analyzing Dan’s role as Scissorman in this second installment in the Clock Tower saga.

Originally a morbidly obese monster of a child with saggy purple skin and a massive body at least twice as long as Jennifer is tall, Dan Barrows initially haunts the Barrows Mansion with psychic powers such as telekinesis (e.g., keeping the elevator doors shut until his death and being able to “warp” Bobby all over the mansion in his attempts to find and murder Jennifer) from the sanctity of the caverns beneath his family home. There he resides within a giant bed that his father Simon (upon his meeting with Jennifer in his cell in the shed) and Jennifer’s late father Walter (via the letter he’d written prior to his ultimate demise) refer to as “the Cradle Beneath the Stars.” Interestingly enough, Dan’s malformed body was created using the blood and corpses of the Barrows’s young victims, which explains why Mary brings her intended sacrifices to the mansion. His resulting body serves him as a cocoon of sorts within which he matures a more perfect (i.e., humanoid) form, which the PlayStation One release of Clock Tower: The First Fear shows. His involvement within the Clock Tower story continues a year after his accidental incineration at Jennifer’s hands when he—after having fully developed his new human body—arrives at Granite Orphanage with apparent amnesia and the name “Edward,” the latter of which he’d received from his guardian Kay Satterwhite. Having come to believe that he’s one of two survivors of the events from the first story, Edward eventually learns the truth about who he is and everything that has happened in the past and decides to adopt the Scissorman persona and finish what his brother Bobby had started a year prior.

Dan Barrows as the second Scissorman battles Helen Maxwell in the second Clock Tower game from 1996.

Dan Barrows as the second Scissorman battles Helen Maxwell in the second Clock Tower game from 1996.

Motivation: Dan’s ultimate goal is simple: to carry out his family’s dark legacy and offer up more sacrifices to the Great Father in the name of his cult. However, upon regaining his memory, Dan learns not only his own identity, but also discovers a hidden truth about Jennifer: the fact that she, too, is actually a long-lost member of his family. As such, part of his master plan involves trying to get Jennifer to realize her true heritage and convince her to join forces with him in carrying out the “family trade.” Should she refuse to join him, however, he is not against spilling her blood in addition to that of anyone even loosely connected to his old family residence and the murders that took place there or the investigation into said murders.

Personality: As Edward, Dan starts off as shy and obedient yet determined, only to become cold and calculating once he discovers his true identity. He is also quite coercive and manipulative, not in the slightest above using others’ hidden secrets to force or otherwise persuade them into serving his agenda. He especially delights in manipulating people of weak moral fiber, as they in particular succumb to his whims rather easily. He is also very resourceful and therefore capable of analyzing and manipulating his environment to better carry out his objective, especially with the assistance of his psychic abilities.

Powers: Dan possesses the same level of strength and durability as Scissorman that Bobby had while retaining the psychic aptitude he’d had during his days living beneath the Barrows Mansion. Not only can he appear anywhere at any time in true slasher villain tradition via psychoportation, but he’s also clairvoyant and as such can read the minds and souls of his prey in order to better manipulate them into a position that would better serve his objective. His clairvoyance likewise grants him the ability to plan out his kills several steps ahead, which one can particularly see upon witnessing the manner in which he kills whomever criminal psychologist Samuel Barton sends the Demon Idol to between Rick and Sullivan in order to better understand its nature and influence over the Barrows family. Additionally, one can safely say in regards to these potential in-game scenarios that Dan also makes the most out of his telekinetic powers to better manipulate his environment and that it’s also possible for him to corrupt the minds of non-human creatures (i.e., Rick’s dog Victor) and have them perform his bidding.

Modus Operandi: Dan can just as easily chase down his victims and slay them directly as Bobby had, save for the limp with which he walks that consequently slows him down quite a bit physically. More importantly, though, he’s more apt than his brother to use his brains to make the most out of whatever situation he’s in, especially when it comes to setting traps and luring his prey into them as his brother had. His killing Baker—a coworker of co-protagonist Helen Maxwell—and use of his corpse to chase her off and discover her other coworker Rose’s dead body either in a stall in the women’s bathroom or on operating table in Professor Barton’s therapy room is one such example, similar to how Bobby used Laura’s corpse in the bathroom in the Barrows Mansion as a lure for Jennifer in the previous game.

Victims: Dan’s victims in Clock Tower/Clock Tower 2 are, as mentioned before, anyone and everyone connected to the Clock Tower murders or their investigation. As the game’s plot progresses, however, one will notice that he prefers to claim the lives of pedophiles, hebephiles, and adulterers rather than children as Bobby had. He specifically targets the likes of Harris Chapman, who secretly holds an infatuation for Jennifer (as his constant questioning in the game’s prologue shows); his own guardian Kay, whose pedophilic tendencies Edward detects and acts out upon with his psychic powers to make her mentally and physically inseparable from him; and Baker and Rose, who have an affair going on between them. Sexual /romantic deviants aren’t the only holders of dark personal secrets to fall prey to Dan’s murderous streak, however, seeing as he also uses Professor Barton’s desire to gain knowledge of the psychology of murderers against him by turning him into an unwitting Scissorman decoy in the Barrows Castle by drawing Barton into his own dark soul and merging Barton’s soul with it, hence the grim transformation.

Weaknesses and Ultimate Downfall: As with Bobby, physical attacks do nothing to stop Dan’s rampage and only slow him down at most, thereby making his ultimate weakness come in the form of a teleportation spell that both of the game’s chief protagonists, Jennifer and Professor Barton’s assistant Helen Maxwell, can learn to banish him from their reality. Sadly, even banishment isn’t enough for him to stop his plans, seeing as how certain endings in the game do show him dragging either Jennifer or Helen to Hell along with him, lest something is done to shake him off them. Regardless, the fact still stands that this spell is the only thing that can spare the reality of Clock Tower from Dan’s continued onslaught.

Dan Barrows as Edward in the second Clock Tower game

Dan Barrows as Edward in the second Clock Tower game

By breaking down the Scissorman persona in this fashion, it should be easy to see just how much he contributes to the success of the first two Clock Tower games and why, thanks in part to his creators, gamers still remember those installments in the series as fondly as they do today. Scissorman isn’t the only slasher villain who can be deconstructed in this fashion, though, and I wholeheartedly encourage every horror enthusiast who might be reading this little editorial to use this model on his or her favorite slasher villain as a fun little exercise to remind himself or herself of why he or she enjoys said killer so much as a character as well as the movies from which said killer hails. More importantly, however, I hope that writers will be able to make use of the template I’ve constructed here as a form of prewriting for their own slasher horror stories in hopes that they each can create an antagonist who can hold a candle to the likes of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and other such horror movie icons. Even if it’s not this specific template I’ve provided, I still hope that the writers of tomorrow will find some way to craft unique, interesting, and memorable villains like Jason, Michael, Freddy, et cetera to serve as the foundations of the next wave of slasher tales for the sake of the subgenre’s survival. After all, while slasher flicks might not be everyone’s cup of tea (and understandably so), their effect upon American pop culture is nonetheless undeniable, and people should be able to enjoy new stories of this nature—and, quite frankly, new stories in general—for years to come.

Once again, readers, I thank you all for being patient between my last article and this one, and again, I hope you’ve been able to get something out of what I’ve written here. Please forgive me for the wait, and if you’re interested in seeing this series of editorials continue, feel free to leave me your suggestions for the next genre of fiction you’d like me to tackle, as I do intend on making it a thing. Also, as always, I invite you to check out my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see what I have available, and please stay tuned for more content in the near future. Until then, happy Holidays and happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: All opinions discussed in the article above are the author’s own. All visuals used, however, belong to the following sources:

Dear Hollywood – Remakes, Reboots, & Sequels by CinemaSins Jeremy

Lethal Weapon the Series: FlickeringMyth.com
Killer Instinct 2013: AllertonAve.com
Dredd vs. Judge Dredd: Entertainment-Break.com
Slasher Villains: MoviePilot.com
The Prowler DVD Cover: IcePoster.com
Sleepaway Camp 2: Angela Drowns Ally: TheBloodyPitofHorror.Blogspot.com)
Nancy Thompson: Heroes.Wikia.com
Norman Bates: Playbuzz.com
Leatherface: Wikipedia.org
Michael Myers: Michael-Myers.net
Jason Voorhees: JStationX.com
Freddy Krueger: Blumhouse.com
Pinhead/The Hell Priest: GeekAlerts.com
Chucky: FanPep.com
Matt Cordell: ScreenFish.com
Candyman: TheRetroSet.com
Ghostface and John Kramer: Villains.Wikia.com
All Clock Tower pics: ClockTower.Wikia.com

Bonus Poem of the Week: Freedom Call of a Former Comic Book Reader

Freedom Call of a Former Comic Book Reader
August 24, 2016

I just don’t care anymore.
It matters not what’s in store.
I chose to walk away,
After all, one day,
On account of things being a bore.

I don’t care about all the buzz.
The industry ain’t what it was
Once upon a time
When things were sublime,
So please don’t waste my time, cuz.

This new stuff you’re showing me
Ain’t what the old stuff used to be—
Not that it’s that bad
Compared to what I had.
It simply isn’t for me.

The characters in this brand
Range from uninspired and bland
To obnoxious and dumb
To where I succumb
Tearing this issue ‘part with my hands.

These plots, too, are plain asinine,
Written by some uncultured swine
With no love for the lore
This brand once had in store,
Which had once made it a fave of mine.

The heroes I used to root for
Have all been killed off by the score,
Dying left and right,
Never again to fight
Which alone sickens me to the core…

‘Til I se they’ve been replaced by geeks,
Losers, morons, hypocrites, and freaks
Whom I’ll never care about
‘Cause this crap’s gone far south
With the likes of such miserable “tweaks.”

The villains also do nothing
To add any kind of zing
To these boring-ass yarns
Of which I’ve been forewarned,
Which makes me more tempted to fling

This issue into my waste bin,
For that’s the mood I’m now in:
Dejected and betrayed
At the mess that’s been made
Of my once-fave franchise. What a sin!

Then again, you seem to take to
What I’m now calling crap, don’t you?
That’s why you’re still standing
Here while I’m demanding
These shenanigans to be through.

You clearly enjoy this stuff
To the point where you can’t get enough.
That’s why you came to me,
Ain’t it, so I can see
In hopes I wouldn’t be so gruff?

You’d hoped I’d catch on to your mirth
And join in, for all it’s worth,
In everything that which
Leaves you in a stitch,
And yet, here I see no such worth.

I hope, then, you can forgive me
For crying ‘bout how things used to be
And how much they’ve changed
And have been rearranged
Since the days I was as young as thee.

Here, then. Take your comic back
So that at night when you hit the sack,
You’ll have something to
Invest yourself into
While I’m left alone resting on my back.

Let’s face it: My days as a fan
Of the industry are gone, young man.
Like I said, ‘twas my choice,
So who’m I to voice
My disdain like some shell of a man?

I’m glad, then, that there’s someone
Who can garner an iota of fun
From something I don’t,
Whether I’ll try or won’t
‘Fore the fading of Heaven’s hot sun.

To each one’s own, after all,
So there’s no sense in bouncing off walls,
‘Specially since I’ve moved on
Like I’ve said in this song,
Which I guess one could call my freedom call.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Bonus Poem of the Week: 1980s Action Hero Tribute

1980s Action Hero Tribute
July 29, 2016

Many were the action heroes back when,
And while many of them still do exist,
They don’t seem as cherished now as back then,
No matter how their memory persists.
Many were the adventures they went on
And the foes they vanquished along the way,
And though their presence isn’t quite as strong
As it was, as they say, “back in the day,”
I can’t help but think there’s still room for them
In the media in this day and age,
Kicking ass just like they did way back when
The small and large screens were their center stage.
Sadly, they seem to be lost in the past,
But if they were to come back…what a blast!

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

In Relation to My Work: Wrestling Society X: What It Was & What It Could Have Been

Wrestling Society X: One of the shortest-lived wrestling shows ever to hit television...but why?

Wrestling Society X: One of the shortest-lived wrestling shows ever to hit television…but why?

How’s it going, readers?

Seeing as how World Wrestling Entertainment has been slowly but surely trying to pull itself back together over the past couple of months following a decidedly disappointing WrestleMania 32, I finally felt the gumption to discuss something that I’ve wanted to ever since I first started talking about wrestling on this blog back on June 12, 2012. This particular topic is important to me in that it relates to a time when I was starting to become a wrestling fan again after several years of having not watched much of it. You see, after the McMahon family had bought out World Championship Wrestling in the March of 2001 and Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt a mere month later, my interest in the art form died down quite a bit. Call it petty, but with all due honesty, one of the great things about the late 1990s and the year 2000 as far as wrestling was concerned was the variety that we fans had right then and there to watch on television. I remember the World Wrestling Federation, first and foremost, for having a wide assortment of larger-than-life personalities for its audience to invest its collective self in, from its main attractions like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, and Triple H to mid-card acts like Too Cool and Rikishi, the Godfather, D’Lo Brown, the Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman, the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and so forth down the line. Essentially, if you were a wrestler in the WWF during the Attitude Era and were somehow not “over” with the crowd in one way or another, either a) you were being woefully misused, which was admittedly true for a small portion of the roster at the time, or b) there was something about you personally that just wasn’t clicking with the fans. On a similar note, ECW had owner Paul Heyman at the helm putting his creative genius to the test as he determined how to make the most out of his employees’ best attributes and presented his audience with a product that, in its own intense and decidedly profound way, deeply affected the industry as we now know it with its own trademark style of wrestling. Even WCW could put on an entertaining show with the likes of such talents as Sting, [Bill] Goldberg, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, “The Total Package” Lex Luger, the Four Horsemen, the many talented high-flyers from its Cruiserweight Division, and (before the angle had grown completely out of proportion) the New World Order prior to the year 2000, when the company’s eventual demise became all too apparent for the masses to bear. There was something for everyone during those days as far as taste in characters, wrestling styles, storylines, and match stipulations were concerned, and though the overall edgier tone of each of these three federations wasn’t quite as safe for kids as the previous era had been, it was nonetheless a breath of fresh air all the same for the rest of us.

Fast forward to the spring of ’01, though, and the landscape changed for the worse, as I’d just mentioned. With WCW and ECW out of business, the WWF/WWE had become the only game in town, as far as mainstream wrestling went, and the past decade-and-a-half or so has seen many wrestling products, shows and full-fledged organizations alike, come and go with varying degrees of fanfare for their arrival and/or departure. I could try to include David B. McLane’s Women of Wrestling to this list as one of them, although WOW had actually hit the scene in the September of 2000 during the waning months of the war between the WWF and its competitors and closed its doors on March 3, 2001—exactly twenty-three days before Vince McMahon’s on-air announcement of his purchase of WCW. I can, however, include the likes of Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Lucha Underground as well as several independent federations such as Shimmer, Shine, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, EVOLVE, Dragon Gate USA, Chick Fight, Women Superstars Uncensored, Chikara Pro, and Kaiju Big Battel, just to name a handful. I can also name the likes of such shows as Lucha Libre USA, the Urban Wrestling Federation, Johnny Cafarella’s two sleazy GLOW knockoffs CRUSH and Wrestlicious, and the topic of this specific editorial, Wrestling Society X. Now, chances are that if you were an active wrestling fan during when this program made its debut on MTV and was subsequently pulled from the network within the midst of its one and only season, you were able to see it for yourself and witness it in all its out-of-control, unrestrained glory, much to either your amazement or your utter dismay. You see, WSX has quite a reputation amongst diehard wrestling fans as being one of the worst wrestling shows ever to hit the airwaves on account of its deliberate tailoring for the MTV crowd (as well as 18- to 24-year-old males in general) by Big Vision Entertainment, the same production firm that served as a parent company for the even more notorious Xtreme Pro Wrestling from 2008 to 2012. All the same, there have been wrestling fans who have openly admitted to liking WSX for its absurd, tongue-in-cheek representation of the art and have managed to enjoy it in spite of its many flaws. Derek Burgan of F4WOnline.com has proven to be one such individual, seeing as he once boldly proclaimed the following:

“WSX will join Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Firefly, and other TV greats in the pantheon of shows Americans were too stupid to ‘get.’”

Prepare to step into the Bunker for a look back at one of the most bizarre wrestling programs you may ever see...

Prepare to step into the Bunker for a look back at one of the most bizarre wrestling programs you may ever see…

As for my own opinion on Wrestling Society X, I think it’d be easier for me to tell you by breaking things down one point at a time. After all, while there have been many things that had gone wrong with the show that even its fans can’t deny, there were also aspects of it that I felt it did well for which many reviewers at the time didn’t give it enough credit, whether such people were blinded by their own arrogance, ignorance, and/or immature disdain at the product or they simply couldn’t see the good because WSX’s faults were just too thick for them to look past. Without further ado, then, let’s take a closer look at this oft-ridiculed project and see what Big Vision did right and wrong with it so that current and future wrestling promoters alike can learn from its example.

1. Theme and Roster

Behind the scenes with the roster and crew of Wrestling Society X

Behind the scenes with the roster and crew of Wrestling Society X

In a manner similar to Lucha Underground, Wrestling Society X took several key players from the independent circuit at the time (as well as its one and only homegrown wrestler, Youth Suicide, and a handful of XPW veterans) and pitted them against one another in a sort of kayfabe underground fight club held within an “abandoned warehouse” known as “the Bunker.” Unlike LU, however, the show had never officially established there to be any particular authority figure commissioning these matches to take place, and before each episode, the audience would be treated to a brief performance by a certain music act such as Black Label Society, Three 6 Mafia, Pitbull, Sparta, and Good Charlotte. If you ask me, I could have done without these mini-concerts, mainly because they took away so much precious time away from the rest of the show, which could (and should) have gone towards the matches and angles for each episode. Besides, not to sound uppity, but as a wrestling fan, I tune in to wrestling shows to see wrestling, not some rock band or rapper trying to work up the crowd with its/his/her latest or greatest track. Then again, the “M” in “MTV” does stand for “music,” so…at least it made the show a little more fitting for the network, I suppose. One thing that I’ll always defend when it comes to WSX, however, would be its roster. Sure, the wrestlers may not have had much in terms of mainstream name recognition at the time, save for the likes of Vampiro, “6-Pac” Sean Waltman, and—even though these two only appeared in the first episode—ECW icons New Jack and Justin Credible. Their talent, however, is something only the most unforgiving (any, more times than not, hypocritical) wrestling fan could deny. Thankfully, then, several of them were able to move on in their careers beyond WSX to gain recognition in other promotions, from Tyler Black of the tag team Doing It for Her and Matt Sydal becoming Seth Rollins and Evan Bourne, respectively, in WWE to Joey Ryan, Matt Cross, El Mesias (a.k.a. Ricky Banderas), and Jack Evans all paying characters in LU. Likewise, Jimmy Jacobs, the other half of D.I.F.H., and Colt Cabana, the man behind the mask of WSX’s resident old school grappler, Matt Classic, have long been considered two of the most well-remembered alumni of Ring of Honor, where Tyler Black also spent a portion of his wrestling career before his Seth Rollins days. Heck, even Vampiro is active in the wrestling world today as Lucha Undergound’s color commentator and the “master” of one of LU’s more beloved personalities, Pentagon, Jr. Good for them, if you ask me, because as far as I’m concerned, they all deserve at least something following this show’s untimely end and shouldn’t be held accountable for WSX’s more negative aspects. Trust me when I say, however, that we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Matt Classic: WSX veteran who's also appeared in Chikara Pro, amongst various other independent wrestling promotions

Matt Classic: WSX veteran who’s also appeared in Chikara Pro, amongst various other independent wrestling promotions

In addition to the wrestlers’ talent was the fact that every single one of them had a character with tag teams—of which there were as few as eight and as many as ten, depending on who’s counting—sharing a common theme between each member, which is one of the biggest issues that professional wrestling has faced for years in recent times. Better yet is how most of these wrestlers were allowed to basically play themselves, save for a few tweaks in their original personas to fit the narrative that Big Vision Entertainment was trying to tell with them. Such “tweaks” include Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs personifying the two extremes of stereotypical emo behavior and Scorpio Sky being an award-carrying braggart convinced of his own greatness who ironically won only one of his matches during WSX’s existence…and against a jobber, no less. In one respect, Big Vision was wise to allow this process in that it helped establish these wrestlers’ identity with viewers who had yet to become familiar with them while encouraging fans who did know who they were to tune in and find out what their stay in the Bunker had in store for them during a given week. Similarly, better-known wrestlers like 6-Pac and Vampiro were allowed to keep whatever identity they once had in whatever major federation (WWF/E, WCW, ECW, etc.) they were once a part of in an effort to draw in lapsed fans from the late ‘90s. Even those characters who were specifically created for the WSX product stood apart from the rest of the pack and had a purpose that wasn’t based solely on comedic appeal. Matt Classic fit this bill to a T in that his mission in WSX was to teach its more acrobatic wrestlers (of which there were many) the values and principles of old school wrestling firsthand and show them that there was more to the sport than just wowing the fans with crazy, oftentimes death-defying aerial maneuvers. On the other hand, some of the exaggerated characters were a little too goofy, off-putting, or otherwise over-the-top for even me to appreciate. Joey “Magnum” Ryan’s shtick with his trusty bottle of baby oil and constant wardrobe malfunctions, in particular, really got old fast, regardless of how well they fit his gimmick. On a similar note was the name of the Bunker’s resident top heel. Seriously…“Ricky Banderas?” I’m sorry, but if there’s a joke behind that name, it’s long escaped me. Regardless, everyone was able to stand out from everyone else on the roster, thus making them all more memorable as participants in this short-lived project.

What exactly is Shimmer alumnus and WSX backstage interviewer Lacey staring at that might have her looking so disturbed?

What exactly is Shimmer alumnus and WSX backstage interviewer Lacey staring at that might have her looking so disturbed?

Also on WSX’s payroll were Shimmer alumnus Lacey as the program’s backstage interviewer and co-host of WSXtra, WSX’s Internet-based recap show, as well as commentators Kris Kloss and Bret Ernst. Of these three, Lacey was undeniably the best at performing her duties in interviewing the members of the active roster and following up on the goings-on they’d been dealing with in the Bunker, from their feuds with certain other wrestlers to winning and losing streaks and even various rumors involving them (i.e., Matt Sydal’s friction-laced relationship with his valet/kayfabe girlfriend Lizzie Valentine). Sure, it was all pretty much standard stuff, and she’s far better known for her wrestling ability in the independent scene, but considering what little time she’d eventually spend in that role, I say she did a good job. As far as Kloss and Ernst as WSX’s commentators are concerned, though…meh…I’ve heard worse, I guess. I know Kloss has a very negative reputation amongst wrestling fans that dates as far back as his days as XPW’s play-by-play guy for more or less being a poor man’s Joey Styles, but truth be told, I’ve never watched nearly as much of that promotion to find that out for myself. As for his work here, I could take him or leave him, although his commentary never commanded my attention the way Jim Ross or good ol’ Joey could back in the day. Cliché for me to say, I know, but it’s the truth, and quite frankly, I don’t know which aspect of his commentary style got to me the most: his apparent inability to pitch his volume at key moments during the matches he called, his occasional tendency to call certain moves by the wrong name (i.e., calling a top-rope clothesline a “high cross body” and a moonsault a shooting star press), his penchant for saying “Oh my goodness!” enough times per match to encourage viewers to partake in a drinking game, or his frequent bickering with his broadcast partner Ernst. Speaking of Bret Ernst, though the guy was far from the worst color commentator I’ve ever heard in pro wrestling history, he nonetheless could have definitely benefitted from a refresher course in pro wrestling history—and from an improvisation course as well—before signing on with WSX. I know MTV wanted Big Vision to recruit a wisecracker for the role and that Ernst was apparently the best guy they could find, what with how successful he’s been in his career as a standup comedian, but trust me when I say that anyone who’d watched WWF Raw Is War back in 1997 could have easily told the guy that the original D-Generation X consisted of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna. X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws wouldn’t have come into the faction until later on, thus making that particular miscall one that I’m sure Ernst will never live down. Of course, I also remember his constant bad habit of contradicting either himself or the in-ring action upon which he and Kloss were commentating. One particular botch I remember him making was during the WSX Championship match between Vampiro and Ricky Banderas from episode eight where he assumed that the barbwire-laced coffin Banderas had brought with him to slam Vampiro into wouldn’t explode, only to take back what he’d said when the coffin did explode upon Banderas putting Vampiro through it and say that he’d meant to say the opposite. Aside from all that, he was…okay, I guess…not terrible by any stretch, but not exactly outstanding, either.

WSX commentators Kris "Oh My Goodness!" Kloss and Bret Ernst

WSX commentators Kris “Oh My Goodness!” Kloss and Bret Ernst

I’ll say this, though: If Kloss and Ernst were the only two commentators for WSX, I could have handled that well enough, flaws and all. Adding the weekly musical guest(s) to the commentary table, however, was murder, seeing as the guests rarely—if ever—said anything worth a damn to whatever story the wrestlers were trying to tell in the ring and more likely than not would distract Kloss and Ernst from doing their job. If anything, their comments usually took away from the matches and in-ring segments, especially moments that were meant to have a crucial effect upon the WSX story. Clipse on commentary during episode four certainly didn’t bring any benefits to the advent of Ricky Banderas, I’ll tell you that much…but I digress. Moving on…

"The Most Hated Man in Professional Wrestling," WSX ring announcer Fabian Kaelin on WSXtra episodes 1 and 10: What could this physical transformation be hinting at?

“The Most Hated Man in Professional Wrestling,” WSX ring announcer Fabian Kaelin on WSXtra episodes 1 and 10: What could this physical transformation be hinting at?

Finally, there was ring announcer Fabian Kaelin, the “Most Hated Man in Professional Wrestling,” according to the WSX DVD set’s own inside cover—named so because of his ring announcing on the show, which was so loud and heavily animated that I’m surprised he was able to keep his voice at all for when he co-hosted WSXtra alongside Lacey. Truly, if there was anyone on the WSX payroll who represented the heart and spirit of the show more than anybody else, it’d have been him based on his bold and unapologetically in-your-face onscreen mannerisms. Such was much to the distaste of most wrestling fans who openly admitted to seeing the program, but not me, believe it or not. In fact, I myself would have found it interesting if things unfolded during the course of the show to reveal that he was actually the onscreen “commissioner”—the ringleader, if you will—of the one-ringed circus known as the WSX Bunker who organized the matches for the sake of his own insane sense of entertainment. That way, he could have been a kind of authority figure similar to what Dario Cueto is in Lucha Underground, thus giving the fans a genuine reason to hate him as a character to coincide with their contempt towards his ring announcing. If nothing else, there had been a couple of instances in which he could have very easily fit that role, the first being his announcement in the final episode of WSXtra of an upcoming tag team tournament in the second season that obviously never came to be. The second and decidedly more indicative incident was his calling for a time limit draw at the ten-minute mark during the Jack Evans-Human Tornado match from episode nine, complete with him nodding and smiling sinisterly at the two competitors as the crowd booed his announcement and protested with a “Let them finish!” chant. He also had this thing going on as the show progressed when he would change his appearance bit by bit until he loosely resembled Alex, the villainous protagonist from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, walking stick and all. This gradual transformation served as an indication that there had to have been more to him than had originally met the eye, which thus makes me even more disappointed that season two had never come to be, else fans would have very well gotten a glimpse at how far the guy’s transformation/evolution would have gone. All that being said, then, Fabian didn’t bother me nearly as much as he did most everybody else, and I honestly believe that he definitely had more purpose being in the Bunker than I think most people have given him credit for.

2. Presentation

A "shocking" turn of events during The Filth and The Fury's tag team match against the Trailer Park Boyz as Teddy Hart electrocutes "Spider" Nate Webb

A “shocking” turn of events during The Filth and The Fury’s tag team match against the Trailer Park Boyz as Teddy Hart “electrocutes” “Spider” Nate Webb

One of the biggest problems plaguing Wrestling Society X was its thirty-minute timeslot opposite the second half of WWE’s reincarnation of ECW on Sci-Fi. For one thing, running directly up against WWE programming in and of itself has proven to cause problems for any alternative brand of wrestling in the past, save for during the oft-reminisced Monday Night Wars, when WCW Nitro had managed to beat WWF Raw for eighty-four consecutive weeks in the ratings. Even worse, in my opinion, was WSX’s paltry weekly runtime, as half an hour is never enough time for any contemporary wrestling show to provide proper development for its characters and angles or to show its audience the kind of quality matches they rightfully expect. Not only that, but viewers could have received even more wrestling matches per week with a properly booked hour-long show than they did with what they’d received at the time. Sure, the company would try to make up for such a deficiency with their Internet show, but considering that WSXtra was more or less WSX’s equivalent to WWF/WWE’s Metal and Jakked from back in the day (i.e., a recap show with bonus wrestling matches to boot), such an effort only offered so much consolation. Even worse was the fact that both the main show and WSXtra would showcase events that would lead into the next episode of the other show, which only made it almost obligatory for viewers to watch both shows in order to get the full scope of the WSX product—assuming, of course, that they wanted to see the product’s angles developed in full—and further begged for an explanation as to why the main show was only thirty minutes long to begin with. After all, what sense did it make for Big Vision to make their intended audience watch one program on television, lead them into tuning in to another program on the Internet, have them watch that program, lead them back to watching the next episode of their televised program, and continue the cycle until the end of the season when simply having them watch one full hour of their product on TV each week would have been much simpler and therefore much more logical? This is particularly true in the instance that their most recent televised episode would later make its way onto MTV’s website later on anyhow, and fans could simply hear recaps of each episode via the Internet (blog posts, 411Mania.com articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.) anyway, thus rendering the whole practice pointless. In fact, the more I think about this whole situation, the more convinced I am of the possibility that WSX was originally meant to be an hour long in the first place, yet MTV—out of obliviousness to the needs of a successful wrestling program—only gave them their half-hour time slot in hopes that that would be enough with which Big Vision could work to put their show together…only to be decidedly wrong in the end.

WSX Championship match between Vampiro and "6-Pac" Sean Waltman: Proof of how things can LITERALLY blow up in your face if you're not prepared to win in the Bunker

WSX Championship match between Vampiro and “6-Pac” Sean Waltman: Proof of how things can LITERALLY blow up in your face if you’re not prepared to win in the Bunker

Then again, if there was another, more distinct reason as to why WSX eventually became one of the most hated wrestling shows of its day, I could sum it up in three simple words: style over substance. To be more specific, I could also use the words “spectacle over psychology,” considering just how many of the matches relied on explosions and electrocutions, among other special effects, in order to give them a shamelessly raucous feel and thus make them more appealing to the minds of the demographic that Big Vision wanted to attract. Sadly, this approach only backfired on them in that these effects were obviously just one big gimmick that actually made the matches in which they occurred come off as hokey and unbelievable as far as kayfabe went. The program’s choppy editing didn’t do the matches much justice, either, seeing as what the producers presented their TV audiences with lacked so much fluidity and was thus so discordant for the average human eyeball to watch that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d read or heard complaints from viewers about whatever headaches or even seizures they’d suffered either while or from watching WSX. It wasn’t as if the editors were trying solely to hide whatever botches had taken place during these matches, either, as I’ve been told was (and, more likely than not, still is) the case for Lucha Underground. After all, as I’d mentioned earlier, MTV only gave Big Vision Entertainment thirty minutes a week to showcase their product—with commercial breaks and musical performances included, by the way—meaning that their televised matches were doomed to be only partially shown within the show’s final format. Just think how great it would have been, though, for instance, to have been able to witness the program’s inaugural match between Matt Sydal and Jack Evans in its entirety as opposed to having it reduced to a fraction of the time and with so many annoying jump cuts occurring the whole while. Whether the match ultimately would have proven to be an amazing show of athleticism that also told a compelling story or little more than the same type of glorified spotfest that many wrestling fans have complained about in not-too-distant times may be one thing. One can only imagine, on the other hand, just what had to have been lying on the cutting room floor as far as WSX’s broadcasted matches went that would have helped makes them even more memorable than they already were…and in a good way at that.

One moment "The Anarchist" Arik Cannon's connecting with us, the next he's not. Protip for filming a wrestling promo: Pick a format/angle and stick with it!

One moment “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon’s connecting with us, the next he’s not. Protip for filming a wrestling promo: Pick a format/angle and stick with it!

Worse yet, this same overdone editing also ruined its fair share of backstage segments and in-ring promos by showing fans only part of what the talents onscreen had said or done. The first episode is most notably indicative of that, seeing as fans were treated to four different promos involving wrestlers who were bound to participate in the WSX Rumble later that evening for a shot at the Wrestling Society X Championship. Justin Credible, Chris Hamrick, New Jack, Teddy Hart, Joey “Kaos” Munos—all were shown backstage either cutting promos or involved in segments with other wrestlers concerning their participation in the match to come, and yet, we only got to see/hear snippets of what they had to say to try and get an idea of who they were and what they were about as far as their respective niches in WSX were concerned. I certainly would have loved to hear the entirety of Justin and Teddy’s pre-match promos, that’s for sure—all the better to find out what they stood for as competitors and what they hoped to receive by winning the battle royal in addition to contendership for the belt. The same goes for Kaos and his very chopped-up segment with his tag team partner, Aaron “Jesus” Aguilera, as viewers were only given the slightest idea that he’d be the one to enter the battle royal, judging from the words that the two halves of Los Pochos Guapos were exchanging. As for Hamrick and New Jack, I can’t help but wonder what the former man had said to have upset the latter? Seriously, the whole matter struck me as being quite vague, and the fact that the segment had been cut down to a mere few seconds only made me wonder just what Big Vision had cut out to make it fit into the episode’s final draft. Such is probably the biggest example of this nuisance, but if I had to choose one more to illustrate my point, I’d direct people’s attention towards “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon’s promo from WSXtra episode six concerning his intent to avenge himself against the Cartel for interfering in his debut match against Delikado, beating him down, and humiliating him by giving his head a “cement” bath. Arik’s unconvincing promo-cutting at the time aside, I couldn’t help but feel annoyed at the constant shift of viewpoint from the front to the side of his clearly unaffected face, seeing as I felt that the editing was keeping him from connecting with me as a viewer. Honestly, it felt to me as though he were trying to tell me directly one moment about his disappointment with himself for not being prepared for the Cartel to assault him, only for the POV to shift and make me feel as though he was sharing his story with someone off screen—even though it was obvious he was still talking directly into the first camera. Now, granted, this hasn’t been the only time in which TV shows have used this tactic for one reason or another, including programs on PBS, of all things. Regardless, such a shift of focus has always proven to me to be rather jarring and, in a way, insulting—almost as if the editor doesn’t trust the people at home watching to have a long enough collective attention span to pay attention to the host or other presenter as he/she is trying to connect with them. Heck, there have even been commercials that have pulled this stunt, and it hasn’t proven to be any less irritating with them as it has with full-fledged programs. For Big Vision to apply this kind of formatting to their own show, therefore, was inexcusable, regardless of which network was broadcasting WSX at the time.

Hey, at least SOME of them look excited to see things go down in the squared circle.

Hey, at least SOME of them look excited to see things go down in the squared circle.

To further detract from the authenticity of the show’s presentation were the piped-in crowd effects that would play throughout every match and in-ring segment. Sure, I could tell that Big Vision was trying to elevate the excitement surrounding these segments, but really, these effects—just like the electrocutions and explosions—only made matters come off as campy and unrealistic, specifically considering just how few audience members actually were in attendance at each of WSX’s TV tapings. Sure, WWE and TNA both have been guilty of doing similar garbage on their television shows, such as piping in cheers and turning off microphones on booing crowds for the sake of wrestlers whom they want to get over with the fans yet aren’t. Then again, WSX’s crowd effects were so much harder to ignore not only because of how they played constantly throughout the course of the show, but also because of how apparent neither the original set for the WSX Bunker from the show’s premiere (taped February 10, 2006) nor the set that Big Vision used for the rest of the season (taped November 11-16, 2006) were exactly fashioned to house enough fans to make such noise begin with. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not necessarily trashing either design in this regard. If nothing else, at least they both did what they could to emulate the interior of the abandoned warehouse within which the program was supposed to take place. Truth be told, if I had to choose which design I preferred, I would have to say the second one, only because I think the red ring ropes showed up much better on screen than the first ring’s dull blue ropes did—especially within the second setup’s dimmed lighting, which added more to the program’s overall atmosphere than I think certain viewers realized. Of course, one thing that I question wholeheartedly about the crowd was the fact that they were all plants rather than paying customers. Granted, I understand the idea that MTV and Big Vision would want its live studio audience to come to the Bunker and show some enthusiasm in support of the wrestlers and the product as a whole, but…really? Paying people to come see their show? I’m sorry, but I just think it would have made far more sense for them as a business to have their audience in attendance pay to see them live. At least that way, they would have had a decent word-of-mouth source of support for their product and would have been making money rather than spending even more of it, thus making the show that much less expensive to broadcast on a regular basis. I mean, what was the purpose of them literally hiring their crowd in attendance? Damage control in case real fans would somehow defecate all over their product the same way so many wrestling fans did (and still do, believe it or not) on the Internet via their podcasts, forum posts, YouTube videos, and blog entries? Because if that was the case, then maybe—just maybe—I could see Big Vision’s point. However, I think that if WSX’s overall production didn’t leave quite as much to be desired, such a problem wouldn’t have been as serious to deal with as it had turned out to be. Having said just that, I’m pretty sure you all can guess how I also feel about the program’s occasionally faulty (i.e., wavering) sound quality, especially in conjunction with the wrestlers’ entrance themes and Fabian’s ring announcing, and the unnecessary use of shaky cam during an on-screen explosion or electrocution or during the performance of an particularly impactful maneuver by one wrestler against another. I’m pretty sure “Vicious” Vic Grimes didn’t find it necessary flattering when the camera would shake whenever he would collide with an opponent who was lying in the turnbuckle, dive onto them with an aerial maneuver, or have a foe slam him into the canvas.

To think, too, that Kevin Dunn would eventually start using shaky cam as a great way to spice up the action on WWE Raw in recent years, albeit with a little less frequency as here on WSX. Note to WWE production staff: If such a trick didn’t help this short-lived wrestling brand as far as in-ring storytelling went, what made you think that it was a good idea for you to add it to your own company’s production?

Lucha Libre USA Masked Warriors: An MTV2 wrestling presentation that succeeded in quite a few ways that WSX didn't--including an televised introductory special

Lucha Libre USA Masked Warriors: An MTV2 wrestling presentation that succeeded in quite a few ways that WSX didn’t–including an televised introductory special

One final thing that I would like to mention about Wrestling Society X’s presentation concerns something that I wish they would have done before they even aired their first episode, regardless of how minor it may have seemed at the time. You see, three years and some months later in the summer of 2010, Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors debuted on MTV2 with a brief documentary called Behind the Mask that gave viewers a look into the promotion’s content. Having aired on MTV2 and once available for viewing on MTV’s website, this special briefly explained lucha libre’s history in Mexico to prospective fans as well as introduced to them a handful of the wrestlers who were scheduled to participate in the show, such as Marco Corleone, Lizmark, Jr., LA Park, and R.J. Brewer. From what I remember, reviewers received this short special pretty well and found it that much easier to invest themselves into the overall product than they ever could have with WSX the way MTV had shown it. The fact that MTV actually allowed LLUSA to put on the show they themselves wanted to put on rather than make them cater things specifically to “their” audience only made the matter sweeter for that promotion, too, and allowed them to enjoy two seasons on MTV2 rather than just one. I seriously doubt, though, that they would have even garnered that second season, had the network not allowed them to establish trust with their fans via BtM first—particularly considering what had gone down with WSX three-and-a-half years earlier. Now, granted, such a warm-up special wouldn’t have magically improved the WSX brand by itself, as the bookers, production crew, and onscreen talent would still have had to do their part in making the show itself amazing. However, for the sake of setting the scene in the name of good storytelling, I think an “Episode Zero” would have been very interesting, even if the show itself had indeed been allowed to air for a full hour each week and could thus flesh out angles and characters more thoroughly than it actually did. If nothing else, it more likely than not would have explained to fans what Wrestling Society X was all about, who all the wrestlers (or even just the main ones) were, what the rules were for both standard matches and whatever stipulation matches there would be in future episodes, and so forth, and all in the name of drawing potential fans to the product. This could have especially worked considering the notion that Big Vision Entertainment recognized each performer’s accomplishments in other federations, both on their original, now defunct website (WSX.mtv.com) and on the air, as they could take their time to explain what competing inside the Bunker meant to each wrestler. I myself could definitely see such an episode work in the instance that WSX were at all to deviate from the standard wrestling show format and instead be a televised docudrama of sorts that revolved around a fictitious wrestling promotion…you know, kind of what like Lucha Underground is nowadays.

3. Wrestling and Booking Issues

WSXtra Episode 7, Scorpio Sky vs. Youth Suicide: One of the few WSX matches where psychology actually came into play

WSXtra Episode 7, Scorpio Sky vs. Youth Suicide: One of the few WSX matches where psychology actually came into play

After having pointed out as many flaws in Wrestling Society X’s final product as I have, I’m pretty sure some of you are wondering if the wrestling was at least any good, to which I say…sure…as far as athleticism was concerned. After all, as I’ve mentioned earlier, the one aspect of the product that I’ll always defend no matter what is the talent of the wrestlers, and I can say with confidence that if there was anyone responsible for making this heavily loathed product at all tolerable to anyone, they’d be the ones. Without question, these participants made the most out of what material the bookers had given them for the sake of putting on matches that were meant to be fun and exciting. Sadly, the bookers could only give ten minutes at most to each of these exhibitions, save for certain gimmick matches (which I’ll explain soon enough) or bouts in which the WSX Championship was on the line. Even the matches that were filmed for WSXtra weren’t booked to last any longer than this time limit, although considering that these particular exhibitions at least didn’t involve any unnecessary pyro or electrocutions, one could still say that they were better than most of the televised matches on account of this virtue alone. Viewers still had to put up with those pain-in-the-neck crowd effects, unfortunately, and while there may not have been as much material cut out of these matches as there had been the televised bouts, even they still had their fair share of those annoying-as-all-hell jump cuts. Also, remember what I’d said about the WSX philosophy being “spectacle over psychology?” Well, aside from the special effects that I’d mentioned earlier, many of the show’s matches also revolved around the insane high-flying prowess of many of its performers. Sure, this whole premise may sound fast-paced and as such an absolute thrill to witness, but in reality, the bookers merely spoiled the fans with such flash and did little to balance things out by steadily building these matches up towards these high spots. Such storytelling would have helped to make these high spots feel special and thus worthy of the fans’ praise, which—as even the most casual amongst wrestling fans knows—has long been the thing that makes wrestling so compelling. To be fair, there was the occasional match or two that involved this kind of psychology, such as the WSXtra match between Youth Suicide and Scorpio Sky in which Scorpio took advantage of a particularly nasty fall Youth had taken two weeks prior on television by focusing his attacks on Youth’s back. Sadly, matches like these were few and far between, and most of the storytelling that took place during WSX’s exhibitions came in obviously booked spots (e.g., various “hardcore” “stunts” that I intend to talk about later on) and in individual instances in character portrayal. The miscommunication between the easily distracted lady lover Aaron Aguilera and the hapless Kaos, the polar personality clash between the gentle Jimmy Jacobs and the furious Tyler Black, the groove-happy stud Human Tornado being fazed but never damaged after taking a shot to his “Balls of Steel,” stereotypically snotty debutante Lizzy Valentine being the key to both her cocky “preppy” boyfriend Matt Sydal’s success and his failure as a competitor in the Bunker—all of these are examples of the kind of storytelling that WSX leaned more towards. Personally, as much as the lack of in-ring psychology disappointed me, I can respect this kind of dedication towards characterization, even if such character development nevertheless wasn’t as calculated and conscientious as it otherwise could have been, had the bookers taken greater and more careful strides with it. Similarly, I can just as easily see where one can hate this kind of thing, judging from the kind of characterization each performer received on the show, regardless of how closely each gimmick matched whatever gimmick(s) he/she had prior to signing up with the WSX brand.

The most anyone ever saw of T.J. Perkins as Puma on television as a wrestler for Wrestling Society X. To think, too, that this spot was meant for Delirious of ROH fame!

The most anyone ever saw of T.J. Perkins as Puma on television as a wrestler for Wrestling Society X. To think, too, that this spot was meant for ROH’s very own Delirious!

Additionally, Wrestling Society X had a number of stipulation matches that either came onto the scene simply for the sake of a cheap thrill or were simply too ridiculous for their own good—oftentimes both. For one thing, just as TNA had been guilty of having gimmick matches on iMPACT! for the sole sake of an easy ratings pop during the late 2000s, WSX was guilty of having certain stipulation matches take place for the sole sake of having them. The WSX Rumble is most definitely one such match, especially considering the fact that it took place as the second match and main event of the very first episode. Quite frankly, I didn’t mind the idea or purpose of the match itself or even the specific rules that the participants had to follow during it. After all, if one can understand how a King of the Mountain match goes in TNA, then one can definitely follow the principles of a WSX Rumble, as it simply starts off like a standard ten-person version of WWE’s own Royal Rumble. Then, when the tenth competitor enters the fray, the bout becomes a ladder match, and whoever climbs a ladder to the top and grabs either of the two contracts that have been suspended beforehand above the ring earns himself/herself a shot at the WSX Championship. Fair enough, in my opinion…if only the participants had been built up beforehand as credible contenders for the belt. As I’ve mentioned earlier, however, the ten men in this match were hardly even built up as characters, period—most notably considering that this match was on the show’s debut episode. Never mind New Jack, Chris Hamrick, Kaos, Teddy Hart, and Justin Credible, either, as Alkatrazz, Puma (a.k.a. T.J. “Manik” Perkins from Lucha Libre USA and TNA), Youth Suicide, and even Vampiro and 6-Pac hadn’t even been introduced on the show until they’d come out to take part in this event. Worse yet for Puma was how he didn’t even get a chance to show off his talents on television, seeing as Vampiro had eliminated him from the match almost as soon as he’d entered the ring, and the whole spot had been edited in such a way so that it looked as if it’d taken place during a commercial break. On a similar note, as if battle royals as a general rule aren’t chaotic enough as a match type, the inclusion of foreign objects only made this event even more of a car crash. In one respect were the props that the ring crew had set up just outside the ring through/into which competitors could throw their opponents, from the standard-issue table to an electric box full of “live” wires and a small steel cage rigged with explosives—all the more to, predictably enough, heighten the spectacle of the whole affair, regardless of whether or not the match really needed it. On the other hand, though, were the weapons that were used in this match, from the guitar that New Jack ended up smashing over the head of referee Danny “Monchichi” Ramirez a la Jeff Jarrett and “Honky Tonk Man” Wade Farris to the bucket of thumbtacks that Youth Suicide had brought down to the ring, only to have Vampiro powerbomb him onto the very same thumbtacks he’d deliberately spilled in the middle of the ring. Throw in WSX’s trademark over-the-top editing, and you have one of the most downright anarchic matches ever to be broadcasted on national television…for better and for worse, depending on how you choose to look at it.

Lil' Cholo of the Cartel tries to submerge Aaron "Jesus" Aguilera into a tank of "vicious" piranhas in WSX's Piranha Tank Death Match from the unaired series finale.

Lil’ Cholo of the Cartel tries to submerge Aaron “Jesus” Aguilera into a tank of “vicious” piranhas in WSX’s Piranha Tank Death Match from the unaired series finale.

Then again, the WSX Rumble was only the first of a solid handful of gimmick matches that Wrestling Society X had showcased, for later on in episode three would come a TLC (Tables, Ladders, and Cervezas) match in which Los Pochos Guapos would unite and try to avenge the abuse that Kaos had been suffering at the hands of Luke Hawx and Alkatrazz. The bout was what anyone would expect: a death match in which tables, ladders, and beer bottles were available as weapons. However, it was the only one the two tag teams had ever had against each other, and just as with the WSX Rumble, this bout received very little buildup prior to when it took place. On a like note was the double main event of WSX’s season (and series) finale: a Piranha Tank Death Match between LPG and Delikado and Lil’ Cholo of the Cartel and an Exploding Cage Time Bomb death match between The Filth and The Fury and Team Dragon Gate—both booked to mark the end of the program’s only season and provide a logical yet premature conclusion to each angle, both of which only lasted two matches total. Yes, the Cartel had a thing for marking beaten-down opponents of theirs with dead fish, and Team Dragon Gate’s chances of becoming the top tag team in the Bunker figuratively “blew up” in their faces prior to the arrival of their new manager Sakoda. Even so, both LPG’s feud with the Cartel and Team Dragon Gate’s vengeful retribution against all to whom they’d lost could have carried on for at least one more match each before coming to a decisive close. Alas, episode ten of WSX apparently had to end with these two gimmick matches to ensure that Wrestling Society X went out with a bang instead of a whimper. Thankfully, at least the Exploding Cage Time Bomb Death Match was fun and very well performed by Teddy Hart, “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross, Genki Horiguchi, and Masato Yoshino…up until Sakoda just had to force his way into the cage and interfere on Team Dragon Gate’s part with the help of his trusty flare gun. To think, too, that the whole purpose of Sakoda “reprogramming” Horiguchi and Yoshino was to make them unstoppable on their own rather than to help them win on account of him lending them an unfair advantage! As for the Piranha Tank Death Match…well…if nothing else, at least the bookers get points for originality for coming up with it. I mean, outside of WSX, the only wrestling promotion I know of to have something remotely close to this kind of match would be Big Japan Pro Wrestling (BJW). Unfortunately, because the Cartel always traveled as a full pack, for the most part, one could pretty much see Kaos and Aguilera’s loss to Delikado and Lil’ Cholo coming from a mile away, what with faction manager El Jefe and team muscle Mongol being right there to help the two workhorses earn yet another cheap win for the record—and without the referee even trying to ban them from ringside on top of that! Besides, even if the odds were completely even, the very premise of the match is actually quite tedious in that in order to win, one team must completely submerge a member of the opposing team into the piranhas’ tank and cover the tank with a lid for a three count. I’m sorry, but in order to accomplish such a goal, one would have to rely on a reliable tag team partner or otherwise be really, really quick in shoving one’s opponent into the tank, finding the tank’s lid, and covering the doggone thing for three whole seconds. Plus, considering just how infamously dangerous piranhas are, what with their strong jaws, finely serrated teeth, and notorious aggression, why would anyone want to participate in or even be a spectator for such a potentially lethal match for real? Come to think of it, even if the piranhas were fake (the only way to ensure the safety of such a match), such fakeness would only draw further ridicule from those who dislike professional wrestling on account of its scripted nature, thus proving the ridiculousness of such a gimmick beyond the shadow of a doubt.

"M-Dogg 20" Matt Cross ends up taking it in the backside during the Exploding Cage Timebomb Death Match between The Filth and The Fury and Team Dragon Gate.

“M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross ends up taking it in the backside during the Exploding Cage Time Bomb Death Match between The Filth and The Fury and Team Dragon Gate.

Come to think of it, Wrestling Society X didn’t even need special gimmick matches to find a way to work in a few “hardcore” spots into its in-ring product, as there were plenty of times in which the action went out of the ring and/or foreign objects came into play. The WSX Rumble, after all, was far from the only time in which tables came onto the scene, as I do remember The Filth and The Fury’s televised match against the Trailer Park Boyz in which Teddy Hart electrocuted “Spider” Nate Webb, set him up on a table, and sent him through it with his signature corkscrew senton bomb, the Open Hart Surgery. I also remember a WSXtra match between Keepin’ It Gangsta and Luke Hawx & Alkatrazz in which Ruckus set up KIG’s “diamond”-encrusted ladder in the middle of the ring, climbed to the top, and came crashing down upon Hawx, who’d been set up on a table that was every bit as “blinged out” as KIG’s ladder. There were also the use of exploding lightbulbs, shattered disco balls, and of course, Sakoda’s trusty flare gun. Then…there was the fireball that Ricky Banderas threw into Vampiro’s face when he made his debut on episode four. Now, granted, fireballs weren’t anything new to pro wrestling, even back then. Just look at what went on during the Undertaker’s 1996 feud with Mankind in the WWF, various instances in Jerry “The King” Lawler’s USWA career, and even Hollywood Hogan’s match against The Warrior at WCW’s Halloween Havoc 1998 for some examples in which fireballs came (or almost came) into play. Even so, this particular incident has gone down in the books as being the event that sealed WSX’s fate, as MTV officials saw the spot as being unfit to air on the network. I can’t really say that I blame them, to be honest, especially seeing as the thing singed Vampiro’s hair. Furthermore, we can all discuss parental responsibility regarding kids and the media here all we want to, but to put it quite bluntly, if I myself were running a major television network, cable or otherwise, I wouldn’t want to suffer any backlash from angry parents whose kids were wowed at the sight of one man setting another on fire and felt the need to replicate the act themselves. Kind of makes me wonder just how necessary it was for Sakoda to have carried around that stupid flare gun shortly afterwards, I must say. On the other hand, I do think that with the existence of a proper line of communication between Big Vision and MTV, the whole crisis could have easily been averted in the first place. To think, too, that there still were other mistakes that the booking team had made, such as wrestlers who were supposed to be babyfaces performing heelish actions like nailing opponents in the groin and ambushing heels either post-match or during the heels’ matches against other babyfaces, illegal men entering the ring during tag team matches and being open to eat a pinfall from the opposing team, and people who weren’t even supposed to be in the match at all entering the ring right in front of the ref’s eyes to help out their man without causing a DQ! After this whole fireball debacle, however, talking about any further booking backfires is practically pointless—especially considering that MTV had pulled WSX episode four from its scheduled air date on February 20, 2007 and aired an edited version of it a week later on February 27. Afterwards came Big Vision’s March 2 announcement that MTV had cancelled the program and that episodes five through nine would be aired on March 13 as a two-and-a-half-hour-long season finale of sorts, leaving the true season finale, episode ten, to be a DVD exclusive. From there, the rest, as they say, is history.

Ricky Banderas prepares to throw a fireball into the face of Vampiro and unwittingly bring about the death of Wrestling Society X as it has been recorded.

Ricky Banderas prepares to throw a fireball into the face of Vampiro and unwittingly bring about the death of Wrestling Society X as it has been recorded.

Finally, if there was one thing that honestly disappointed me about Wrestling Society X’s in-ring product, it’d be the lack of variation in wrestling styles that the show put on display. After all, in spite of the talent of the wrestlers Big Vision had already acquired for the show, it seemed to me even then that they could have done something to mix things up and not rely as much on high flyers as they did. I know this may sound quite minor, if not outright petty, but inasmuch as every single one of their tag teams had at least one high flyer in it and how its “X-Division”-esque division was easily one of the more heavily featured acts on the show, it would have been nice to see a little something different thrown in every now and then for a change of pace. Some solid chain wrestling would have definitely given viewers just that, for one thing, as even ECW had been a place for the likes of Joe and Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Perry Saturn, Lance Storm, Peter “Taz” Senerchia, and the nowadays infamous Chris Benoit to showcase their technical mastery. Yes, a good number of the high flyers could very well have proven to be as good on the mat as they were in the acrobatics department, and I sincerely believe that it would have benefitted the product as a whole if the bookers would have allowed them to showcase their mat skills to an equal degree as their high-flying abilities for the sake of proving that there was more to them than simply being high spot artists. That being said, for WSX to have had such wrestlers as Nigel McGuinness, Bryan Danielson, Chris Hero, Austin Aries, and Kevin Steen—men who were not only relevant at the time and working outside of WWE and TNA, but who were likewise known for their solid technical wrestling skills—could have really benefitted them. Not only that, but these five men in particular could have also held their own when it came to developing strong characters for themselves. Just ask anyone who has seen their work in Ring of Honor or, in the case of Danielson as Daniel Bryan and Steen as Kevin Owens, as active members of WWE’s roster. Aries, too, had made quite a name for himself in TNA before he left as both a wrestler and a character, and even in spite of the terrible booking that went into his TNA persona Desmond Wolfe, McGuinness had earned for himself the respect of the company’s fan base during his tenure. Of course, as much as I can go on and on about this particular topic, I also can’t help but wonder as to just how the larger wrestlers who were already on the WSX roster would have been used outside of tag team action. Seriously, what would have happened if, say, Keepin’ It Gangsta, Luke Hawx and Alkatrazz, or Los Pochos Guapos would have broken up and their respective members would have gone on to become singles stars? Ruckus, Hawx, and Kaos would have very well joined the high flyers’ division, no doubt, but what about Babi Slymm, Alkatrazz, and Aaron Aguilera? How long would it have taken the bookers to have built any of them up to become credible contenders for the WSX Championship? What about Vic Grimes, Arik Cannon, Youth Suicide, and even Matt Classic and Mongol? Would there have been a midcard title for the likes of them to earn later on during WSX’s existence in the same vein as WCW’s U.S. Championship or TNA’s Legends/Global/Television Championship? That, for what it’s worth, I would like to know.

What Irritated Me Most about Wrestling Society X

Random Guy as Furious WSX Detractor: GRRRRR!!!!! IhatethisWrestling SocietyXIt'ssostupidIt'scrapIt'skillingmybraincellsaswespeakRRRRRAAAAARRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!! Leonardo DiCaprio as Me: Ugh...bitch, puh-LEASE...shut! UP!

Random Guy as Furious WSX Detractor: “GRRRRR!!!!! I hate this Wrestling Society X! It’s so stupid! It’s crap! It’s killing my brain cells as we speak! Who would DARE bring this unholy spawn of all that is wrong with the world upon us wrestling fans!? WHO?! TELL ME!!!RRRRRAAAAARRRRGH!!!!!!!!!”
Leonardo DiCaprio as Me: “Ugh…bitch, puh-LEASE! Shut! UP!”

Having said all I have about Wrestling Society X, I know that I’ve painted myself out to be one of those wrestling fans whom Derek Burgan claimed once upon a time to be “too stupid to ‘get’” the show. The reality is, though, that that’s not the case at all, as I do recognize what Big Vision Entertainment was trying to offer folks: a badass yet light-hearted and all-around insanely fun wrestling program that didn’t take itself very seriously and tried its damnedest to stand out from the competition. To be quite honest, I definitely wanted WSX to succeed, even if only for there to be an alternative to WWE and TNA on the mainstream scene and as such another place where up-and-coming stars in the industry could get a chance to shine. Sadly, though, it clearly didn’t, and on account of its own many faults at that, which ultimately made it come off as something that its creators had slapped together haphazardly with the volume turned up several hundred decibels on the consequential insanity. We’ll never know, either, what would have become of this production, had the two parties in charge had a better idea of what they both wanted to achieve and would have cooperated more closely with each other in hopes of making their goal both mutual and a reality. After all, while a lot of WSX fans understandably blame MTV for not showing Big Vision Entertainment the support they deserved in order to produce a program that wrestling fans—and, for that matter, even non-wrestling fans—would have found far easier to watch and support week after week, the truth remains that Big Vision has itself to blame as well for not keeping its head on straight, in the game, and out from between MTV’s corporate posterior. Not only that, but let’s face it: The company tried so hard to appeal to its target audience with WSX that it unwittingly yet ultimately alienated many a wrestling fan and as such cheated themselves out of what could have been some reliable word-of-mouth support via message boards, podcasts, blogs, video forums, and possibly even various sources outside of the Internet. Simply reviewing the ratings that the show received from its MTV debut on can show just that, seeing as their January 30, 2007 premiere netted them a solid 1.0 rating, which eventually dropped off to 0.7 the next week and never elevated beyond that point. This rating eventually sank to a 0.3 on their ninth and final broadcasted episode during the tail end of the show’s five-episode “season finale” on March 13. Needless to say, Big Vision itself ended up calling this entire run WSX’s “First (and Last) Season” and has vowed to never renew the brand, which is a promise that the company has kept to this very day. Even if wrestling fans had a collective change of heart regarding this absolutely off-the-wall take on their beloved art, bought the WSX DVD set in droves upon its initial release, petitioned Big Vision to bring the series back (albeit on a different network, more likely than not), and otherwise set out on a campaign to revive this much-maligned program, I’m convinced that Kevin Kleinrock and company would have stood their ground and left the brand buried six feet underground within the secure confines of Vampiro’s exploding coffin. Perhaps it’s all for the better, as one would argue, although I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who still speculate as to what would have happened to WSX, had Big Vision and MTV actually cooperated to present us with it in a different light. What if the show had aired for a full hour rather than a measly half-hour? What if they’d actually built their wrestlers up properly throughout the course of the show and relied on actual in-ring psychology instead of straight-up, nonstop, in-your-face strings of high spots? What if they’d eased up with all the unnecessary special effects and actually let their wrestlers do their thing with paying fans cheering them on instead of paid plants and a sound machine? I could go on and on with these questions, but I think you all get my point.

Independent Wrestling Matters (Pinterest.com)In fact, the only thing that really got under my skin when it came to Wrestling Society X had nothing to do with the brand itself, but rather with the backlash—no, scratch that…the hatred—it received. After all, disliking anything and being able to talk rationally about what makes you dislike it is one thing. Flat-out going off on a rage-induced tirade over it, on the other hand, is something else altogether, and much to my exasperation, I’d heard and read so much of the latter upon becoming familiar with WSX that it quite frankly made me feel mortified to be a wrestling fan myself on account of sharing a label with such indignant, melodramatic, ill-tempered brats. Now, look…we all come across things in life that upset us, especially when those things involve the hobbies and interests we love. Even so, is losing our cool over these things—specifically things as minor as television shows—really the best way to handle our disgruntlement? Was WSX in particular that personally offensive to certain wrestling fans that they had to curse and scream about it on their weekly podcasts like out-of-control kindergarteners? Were the show’s flaws really so severe that they merited once-prominent adult members of the so-called “YouTube Wrestling Community” to post videos of themselves going on nearly six-minute-long tantrums about how “ugh…disgusting” they felt the show was, failing to elaborate on certain points that they brought up (e.g., why the commentary was subpar), pounding the desks in front of them like rabid apes, hyperventilating over minor nuances like tag team names and wrestler-valet pairings as if even they were serious defects, and ending it all by whining about the headaches they just gave themselves and how they wanted their “mommies” to make the pain stop? I personally don’t think so, but that’s what I heard and saw shortly after WSX made it to air, and even then, I found myself wondering just how seriously I was supposed to take these jackasses and how they were ever able to garner any subscription base at all from anyone if the behavior they’d displayed was the norm that their audiences had come to expect from them. However, the detractors who annoyed me the most were those who went as far as to insult the talent, especially those who acted as if the wrestlers themselves were the ones responsible for making the product lackluster simply on account of their “indie wrestler” status. Sure, some wrestlers with indie circuit experience may have trouble with cutting promos, portraying characters, and even telling a story in the ring, but that criticism doesn’t apply to all of them and thus shouldn’t be used as a blanket judgment against everyone from the independent scene. Besides, homegrown talent from the major promotions can be just as prone to these three faults, even after undergoing developmental training, and for the record, WWE and especially TNA have used indie talent in the past and continue to do so today with said talent more often than not managing to get themselves over with the crowd to some extent in some way. The same can be said about Ring of Honor, which still mostly uses names from the independent circuit and has pretty much been an independent federation itself for the first six to seven years of its existence, and while they aren’t by any means the biggest wrestling promotion on the planet, even outside of WWE, they’ve still maintained some buzz around them for quite some time. The whole notion, therefore, that independent wrestlers “can’t draw flies” isn’t always true. If anything, it’s more of a matter of a) the platform upon which a given talent can prove his/her worth in the industry and b) the talent and the promotion’s management and bookers meeting each other halfway so that the talent is able to get over with the crowd and in turn draw eyes to and make money for the promotion. Regardless, in WSX’s case, the material that the bookers had given their wrestlers to work with wasn’t necessarily as tidy, polished, or meaningful as it could or should have been, and the show’s production was every bit as rough, thus making matters worse for it and its wrestlers. That being said, even if the performers were at all accountable for WSX’s failure, they were at most the least likely to blame and didn’t do anything wrong aside from what most other wrestlers would have been able to do with Kleinrock and crew’s booking.

"You wanna talk? Fine. Let's talk...but CHECK YOUR TEMPER AT THE DOOR, you little twerp!"

“You wanna talk? Fine. Let’s talk…but check your temper at the door, you little twerp! GOT THAT!?”

To sum things up, I have no qualms with people disliking Wrestling Society X per say. We all have our opinions, after all, and no wrestling promotion is for everyone. Heck, most of this editorial has been me basically listing the program’s issues, according to my own point of view, and quite frankly, I doubt I’ve covered every single last one of them. Basically, my beef is with just how vehement and even mindless WSX’s detractors have been in terms of criticizing it because at the end of the day, it was still a wrestling show that thankfully remains in DVD form as well as online in various video forum uploads for others to observe and even enjoy at their discretion. Besides, believe it or not, this program was able to attract favorable attention from other wrestling fans for daring to be different and fun with what little it had as a TV production and with a roster that most full-fledged wrestling promotions would kill for and an idea that, at its core, wasn’t theoretically bad (i.e., the whole underground fight club theme). If anything, it was the execution of said idea that left much to be desired, and I’m sure that if wrestling fans could find it in them to approach the issue calmly and collectively, they could not only discover the program’s true mistakes, but also figure out how to present WSX in such a way so that it would appeal to an even greater audience than it ultimately did. Trust me. I’ve actually seen worse wrestling shows in my day than WSX—shows that I’m sure others would not shy away from showering with every bit as much derision as this program has received in the past nine-plus years. I’ve certainly given Wrestlicious a tongue-lashing back in the day, that’s for sure. Guess what, though: Even Wrestlicious I can critique candidly and honestly without caving in to my disdain, going off the deep end, and pointing my “finger of blame” at the wrong people. All that in consideration, everybody, feel free to like what you like and dislike what you dislike. Just be sure to point out the actual issues of what you dislike, though, should you feel the need to openly talk about it, and don’t scream out about how much of a “disgrace” it would be if, say, WWE or some other major promotion was to extend an invitation to the talents from the show you’re not fond of and give them a chance to earn a spot on its own roster. Trust me…if the WSX detractors who were knocking the show’s talent saw these people perform in a promotion that they actually approved of, they wouldn’t have been so quick to verbally urinate on them as they had. Remember…it’s not always where you’ve been prior to making it to the big leagues, but what you do once you’ve made it and where you go soon afterwards.

Final Thoughts

Wrestling Society X: Wasted Opportunity (AminoApps.com)All things considered, I don’t look back at Wrestling Society X as being the unholy atrocity that so many “smarks” claim it to be. If anything, I see it as simply a heaping mass of wasted potential that died almost as quickly as it had been born, which I find to be a crying shame more than anything else. Heaven knows just how much I, like so many others, ponder over where it would have gone and how it would have evolved, had it only aimed to attract an audience that would have done it more justice than whom its parent company and the network it was on were hoping to win over. Yes, I know that wrestling fans in the 21st century have proven many a time to be fickle, immature, impatient, and disgustingly demanding, and it may seem impossible to please them, what with how often and how loudly they’ve complained about the wrestling industry over the past fifteen years and how much they keep doing so today. Not only that, but if ever the legendary words of John Lydgate about being able to please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time ever rung true, they certainly have never rung any truer than with today’s wrestling audience. Trust me, though, when I say that if you manage to produce a wrestling show that pleases most of them on a consistent basis, then you’re definitely doing something right, as their endorsement of your product will surely bring you even more fans over time. Unfortunately, while WSX was still a fun show to watch for those who approached it with a sense of humor, its numerous flaws still prevented it from truly being the great—if not, in fact, amazing—product that it could have been. The thing, too, is that some wrestling enthusiasts speculate that it would have been much better off debuting during the late 1990s to early 2000s when professional wrestling was at its peak. One could even argue that if MTV really wanted to capitalize on the pro wrestling craze, they were much better off giving ECW a home when TNN (nowadays known as Spike) took their program off the air on October 6, 2000. Heck, one can even speculate as to whether or not it would have benefitted WWF/E if good ol’ Vinny Mac would have founded a promotion similar to WSX in 2000 (minus the obvious MTV “flair,” of course) instead of dumping millions into the XFL, given this new brand over to his son Shane, and have him run it independently from the main WWF/E brand. I, however, am of the opinion that Big Vision Entertainment simply should have been smarter when it came to developing and producing WSX. The show could still have had the same swagger and jocosity that had set it apart from the other wrestling programs on TV at the time, but toned down some so as to not seem quite as desperate and pandering as it did and so as to make room for more thought to be put towards in-ring psychology, character building, and plot/angle development. There was no need for excessive pyrotechnics, dubbed-in sound effects, insane gimmick matches brought in for a cheap ratings boost, or even plants when it came to this brand making a name for itself. All it needed was better, more consistent production values and a solid to fantastic in-ring product to support the whole “underground” theme for which they were going. They had the talent to pull off the latter part of this equation, too, had they just let said talent step on out to the ring and do what they did best. It also would have helped, as I’ve said before, if MTV worked more closely with them and gave them the support they needed to put on the high-quality wrestling show that WSX deserved to be. After all, as any fan knows, the pro wrestling industry is at its best when there’s competition, and believe me when I say that even today, WWE could use some strong competition to keep it on its toes, what with TNA reportedly being in dire financial straits, Ring of Honor not having shown as much growth in recent years as it could have, Global Force Wrestling not having lived up to their promise over the past couple of years, and even Lucha Underground—the closest thing to what WSX could have been, had it survived at least up until 2008—is only in its second year on the El Rey Network. Alas, WSX never became anything of the sort and instead is just one of countless wrestling productions to have risen and fallen between the spring of ’01 to now in hopes of becoming the alternative for which fans of the art have been craving.

Rest in peace, Wrestling Society X, and on behalf of those who wanted to see you live up to your potential, thank you for the memories.

*****

On an unrelated note, I also want to take this moment to commemorate yesterday, May 23, 2016 being the seventeenth anniversary of the untimely passing of Owen James Hart, one of the most talented and beloved pro wrestlers of his day. Rest in peace, Owen. Fans worldwide will forever miss you.

Owen James Hart (May 7, 1965-May 23, 1999): Thanks for the memories, Owen. We'll never forget you.

RIP Owen James Hart (May 7, 1965-May 23, 1999): Thank you for the memories, Owen. May your legacy live on for all time.

*****

Such are my thoughts and Wrestling Society X—a topic that I’d been meaning to cover on this blog of mine for some time now. I know it’s been a long read, but that you all for taking the time to stop by and give it a look. Feel free to stop by next time I post something new, and in the meantime, don’t be afraid to check out my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk if you haven’t already. Until then, thanks again for your support, and happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

Wrestling Society X (c) 2007 Big Vision Entertainment. Additional materials used in this article are as follows:

WSX Bunker w/Pyro, WSX Fireball Incident, and WSX Wasted logo: Wrestling Society X: A Wasted Opportunity by Jason at AminoApps.com
Matt Classic: ChikaraPro.com
Lucha Libre USA logo: (c) 2010-2014 Lucha Libre USA, LTD
Angry Man image: CBSNews.com
Leonardo DiCaprio Wolf of Wall Street: (c) 2013 Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures
Indie Wrestling Matters pic: Pinterest.com
Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?): (c) 2013-2016 Hat Trick Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Angst Productions, and Warner Horizon Television
Owen Hart pic: OnlineWorldofWrestling.com

All opinions expressed within the above document, however, are solely those of the author himself.

In Relation to My Work: Stuff I’d Like to Read about in (What’s Left of) the 2010s

How’s it going, readers?

For the longest time, I’ve been trying to find the perfect topic to discuss on this blog in between poems, and after giving it much thought, I finally…finally…decided to discuss the kind of themes and other traits that I myself would like to discover in whatever books become published in whatever’s left of 2016—and, quite frankly, this entire decade. I’m sorry, but I simply can’t buy into the whole idea of originality being “dead,” even now. Rather, I believe that there are some ideas out there that can translate well into good novels, should the right author come around and craft his or her next book with at least one of them in mind. As a matter of fact, I’ve been able to come up with eight such ideas that would make for a novel that I myself would like to read—not even as an author myself, either, but as a fan of good literature. Who knows? Maybe by the chance you folks read this blog post, at least one of these ideas will have been made into such a publication.

Keep in mind, of course, that the following list simply reflects my own preferences. If there’s any kind of idea you have in mind that would also make for a good book, feel free to share it in the comments section below. Also keep in mind that each of these ideas need not be limited to material for novels, either, but also materials for other works of fiction like movies, television shows, video games, comic books…whatever medium might suit the premise at hand. After all, with the way various forms of entertainment often receive adaptations into other forms of media (e.g., books receiving movie adaptations) and the way people have become disenchanted with entertainment as a whole these days, trying these ideas out might be worth a shot to revitalize things somewhat. That considered, then, I hope you enjoy my list.

When the traditional werewolf story just isn't enough to whet your appetite...

When the traditional werewolf story just isn’t enough to whet your appetite…

1. A story involving the scientific explanation of popular supernatural creatures.

In an age where one can argue that vampires, zombies, werewolves, and other such monsters have been done to death, it can be pretty hard for readers to find a unique, compelling story involving these creatures. However, even seemingly tired characters can be revitalized with the proper twist, and in this case, rather than stage the usual supernatural romance, interspecies war, or monster apocalypse, why can’t someone create a story with a premise that mirrors that of X-Men or Bloody Roar? In this example, monsters like the ones I’ve just described live amongst baseline humanity and use their inherent abilities either for the good of all humankind or for their own selfish and oftentimes destructive desires. However, scientific breakthroughs within the reality in which this setting takes place have revealed that the abilities of such individuals aren’t strictly supernatural per se, but actually the result of previously undiscovered advances in human genetics. According to this model, humans are either born with regular DNA or with a strain of genetic material that grants them one of a number of unique supernatural conditions such as vampirism, lycanthropy, and the like. These conditions grant their possessors the abilities and even relevant weaknesses of the monsters with which we are familiar.

Porphyria and rabies: Two diseases that scientists have, in not-too-distant times, associated with vampirism

Porphyria and rabies: Two diseases that scientists have, in not-too-distant times, associated with vampirism

For example, humans with vampirism are generally nimbler than baseline human; have keen nocturnal vision; are more resistant to toxins, pathogens, aging effects, and physical damage; and can (and must) subsist upon the blood of their prey—or, at the very least, artificial blood plasma. On the other hand, they likewise must subsist on foods with a low sulfur content to survive, hence their aversion to garlic, and are incredibly allergic to solar radiation and running water, among other classic weaknesses. What further makes this model interesting is just how real life science ties into the myths revolving around creatures of this nature, particularly specific ailments from the real world that sparked the myths behind such monsters. Porphyrias, for instance, are rare inherited or acquired disorders of particular enzymes that normally help to produce heme (a component of hemoglobin, a.k.a. the red pigment of blood cells, and various other hemo-proteins) that are also cited as a collective explanation for the origin stories behind vampires based upon given similarities between the ailments and vampire fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. Some forms of this condition, according to The Brain Bank at ScienceBlog.com, lead to the deposition of toxins in the flesh that activate via exposure to sunlight and eat away at the skin, most notably the lips and gums. Such a condition would account for the dislike of sunlight that we associate these days with vampires, and the lattermost part in particular would explain vampires’ fanged, corpse-like appearance. Rabies have also been linked with vampire folklore, according to the research of Spanish neurologist Dr. Juan Gómez-Alonso. Usually transmitted through the bite of an animalspecifically that of a bat or a wolf, both of which recorded history has associated with vampiresthe rabies virus affects the brain of such animals (as well as the brains of dogs and humans) through the peripheral nervous system and has been known to produce traits in its sufferers that are similar to the traits we’ve long associated with vampires. One symptom of rabies, for example, is hypersensitivity, which could very well be the cause of vampire’s susceptibility to light (including sunlight), water, strong odors such as that of garlic, and similar stimuli that cause spasms in the facial and vocal muscles that can in turn result in the baring of teeth, the utterance of hoarse sounds, and especially the bloody fluid frothing at the mouth for which people have most frequently associated with rabies. The disease also attacks the brain’s limbic system, which regulates emotions and behavior, and as such results in disturbances in regular sleeping patterns (thus explaining vampires’ nocturnal nature), hypersexuality, and the tendency to bite people. There’s even the legend of how a person who was not rabid could look upon his or her reflection, which harkens back to rabies sufferers’ aversion to stimuliin this case, mirrors and other reflective surfacesas well as to the myth that vampires have no reflection. On that note, both porphyria and rabies could very well be precursors to vampirism in the reality of this setting, and sufferers of either of these two diseases could either be mistaken for vampires or possibly even become vampires themselves at some time during their illness. Such is how other genetic mutations would work in this story as well, which could very well keep the baseline human characters (and even some of the genetically enhanced characters) of the setting on their toes and wondering who’s who, what’s what, and how to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Another aspect about this storytelling model would be the idea that the protagonists need not be genetically gifted. Unlike X-Men and Bloody Roar, which follows a specific handful of characters who happen to be of the “alternative breed” of their reality (i.e., the X-Men themselves being “Homo superior” and the heroes of BR being zoanthropes), one can still have the heroes of this franchise be baseline humans and be able to tell a compelling story. In fact, said story might be better off having regular humans as the leads so as to better illustrate the masses’ fear of the unknown and thus give the setting a feel that is more akin to the standard horror genre. For a better idea of how this setup would work, one needn’t look much further than the likes of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments book series; television shows like Supernatural, Grimm, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; or Aegis Studios’ table top RPG Contagion. In each of these franchises, the heroes are, for the most part, ordinary human beings who find out that the world around them isn’t exactly as mundane as they think, but rather filled with many a creature that most other people would expect to find in myths and fairy tales. Then again, rather than take the approach that these franchises take in investigating the bizarre and macabre, this particular setting would handle the existence of these beings in a manner more reminiscent of The X-Files and examine these creatures’ existences, capabilities, weaknesses, and such from a scientific point of view. This approach would also help to nullify the obligation of having the chief protagonist possess a legacy of some sort that he or she must fulfill throughout the course of the story (i.e., Buffy’s calling as a Slayer and Nicholas Burkhardt’s legacy as a Grimm) as well as a set of metaphysical powers with which he battles the forces of evil. Sure, such a hero can still exist, but even in said character’s absence, the writer can get away with having his or her focal characters simply be commonplace folks with, at most, exceptional skills in monster hunting. This model also leaves open the possibility for genetically gifted characters to become members of the party without any pressing necessity, allowing such protagonists to exist as they learn about their strange conditions and those with whom they share their extraordinary nature while accompanying their fellow heroes to achieve a greater good for the ever-evolving society around them. As a whole, then, this model would provide a wide berth for whatever direction the author wishes to take his or her story.

Speaking of supernaturally endowed humans, however…

An example of a ríastrad as shown in the British comic book Sláine

An example of a ríastrad as shown in the British comic book Sláine

2. Any story that focuses on (or at least involves) ríastrads

In Celtic folklore, a ríastrad is a state of body-distorting battle frenzy in which the subject’s muscles twitch violently and undergo a warp spasm that transforms him or her into a mighty and terrifyingly grotesque monster that fights with reckless abandon. Such a condition is known to be the supernatural gift of both Cú Chulainn of the Ulster Cycle of Irish folklore and Sláine, the titular hero of his own Celtic-themed barbarian fantasy adventure series as created in 1983 by the “godfather of British comics” himself, Pat Mills. To my knowledge, however, these are the only two documented characters to possess such a talent, although Marvel Comics’ very own Dr. Bruce Banner’s ability to transform into the legendary Incredible Hulk can be compared to it, regardless of its origin (i.e., gamma radiation vs. supernatural endowment). This thereby makes ríastrads quite unique in comparison to episodes of similar blessings/curses such as lycanthropy, and it’s because of this that I’d love to one day read any story in which they play a part. Imagine, if you will, a protagonist who happens to be a distant descendant of Cú Chulainn and, as such, an inheritor of the hero’s gift who must learn to cope with her birthright and keep it under wraps as she tries to live an ordinary life among the rest of humanity. Unfortunately, her secret leaks out, and she soon finds herself on the run from both those who come to fear and hate the monster that lies beneath her skin and those who want to exploit her inheritance for their own selfish goals. Then again, perhaps one could also write a story in which it isn’t the protagonist who undergoes warp spasms, but the antagonist, who could either be a straight-up villain who revels in his strange power or—if one would rather—a sympathetic character like Dr. Henry Jekyll doing everything he can to suppress the evil Mr. Edward Hyde within him. The possibilities are practically countless, especially with a broad array of subgenres of fantasy, horror, and even science fiction from which to choose. No matter what, though, one cannot deny that ríastrads make for a rather underused plot device as far as monster stories are concerned these days and would certainly help to breathe new life into the whole supernatural scene with which today’s audiences have become at times a little too familiar.

Words of wisdom from Michael Hyatt on one aspect on how to leave a positive mark on the entertainment industry

Words of wisdom from Michael Hyatt on one aspect on how to leave a positive mark on the entertainment industry

3. A literary work that investigates the morals and values of the entertainment industry and how things can change for the better.

Many people these days have complained left, right, and center that movies, music, television, video games, and books aren’t what they used to be, and for good reason. Sure, one might chalk things up to such people simply being “bitter old fogeys” longing for the “good old days” and resistant to the changes that the world has undergone since then. I can’t say I blame anyone for saying such a thing, either, considering that not everything from the 21st century has been trash, nor has everything from yesteryear been as golden as I myself would like to think it’s been. Trust me, though, folks: Simple, attentive, straightforward observation is often enough to show anyone that things can indeed be—and, in some regards, have been—better than what they’ve presently become. In one regard, one could equate matters to how overtly cautious society has become in recent years and how certain people’s oversensitivity has actually held certain forms of entertainment back from being as gutsy and, in turn, as wide-reaching and appealing as they once were. Comedy is one particular genre that a good number of individuals have claimed has suffered over the years, which I myself can’t help but agree with, and for reasons that I’ll explain later on in this article. In contrast, there are those people who have become convinced that the masses have settled for mediocrity, period, regardless of how politically correct or incorrect such material may be in the long run. Again, I agree, as I myself have seen one form after another of unfiltered smut and vulgarity smeared across the American landscape, promoted to be the next best thing in its particular neck of American (and sometimes world) culture, and go on to make millions upon millions of dollars for its creator(s). Meanwhile, countless individuals have created other forms of media with all the tender loving care in the world and have ensured that such creations possessed at least some substance to them, and yet, such creations have by and large been ignored and rejected in one way or another, never to be elevated by the masses as the genuine forms of entertainment that they truly are. It’s a sad thing, in my opinion, and I’m sure that there is at least one person out there who has made note of this fact and even written an essay on the matter that, if read, would surely drive the matter home into all but the hardest, greediest hearts in the entertainment industry. To read about this phenomenon in novel form, however, would really hit home with countless readers by presenting the issue in a way that would make them feel as well as think and as such get them talking about the state of modern entertainment to want to change it for the better. It might not immediately change the way people are entertained, but at least it will get the idea out there and encourage people to think outside the box to where they can identify genuine, quality entertainment and distinguish it from the crap with which we’ve been bombarded for so long.

The cast of The Carol Burnett Show, Jonathan Winters, Victor Borge, and Foster Brooks: All classic examples of timeless, beloved comedy that today's comedians can (and, in some cases, SHOULD) learn from today

The cast of The Carol Burnett Show, Jonathan Winters, Victor Borge, and Foster Brooks:
All classic examples of timeless, beloved comedy that today’s comedians can (and, in some cases, SHOULD) learn from today

4. Any story that involves good old-fashioned humor that will actually encourage people to laugh.

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, and from what I’ve seen, too much of what has passed for comedy in the 21st century thus far has left the masses in a rather sickened state of affairs. On one hand, we have humor that plays it so safe that it’s practically flat, sterile, and devoid of personality and therefore can hardly be called humor at all. On the other hand, sadly enough, is the most mean-spirited and obnoxious sleaze that anyone with an ounce of self-respect could ever stand to sit through—the kind of “comedy” that takes the laziest, cheapest, most thoughtless route possible to appeal to its intended audience’s funny bone. You know what I’m talking about, right? The kind of drivel that patronizes its intended audience by flagrantly clobbering it over its collective head with as much excessive profanity, sexual content, toilet bowl humor, flippant and unabashed bigotry, exploitation of real-life tragedies, and other tacky and insulting subject matter it can to get a cheap laugh. Thankfully, we still have our fair share of talented comedians on the scene today who don’t have to resort to such cheap tactics—or, for that matter, steal other comics’ material—to get a laugh from an audience. All these people have to do, really, is tell a funny story or a series of amusing jokes, one right after another, to put people in a good mood and subsequently earn their respect.

Such is the comedy I want in a book these days: simple, honest, and good-natured without being too timid to be a little “out there” at times or going out of its way to shock and disturb people. Granted, it’s the kind of comedy I expect from the entertainment world in general, but believe me when I say that if books that had this kind of humor were promoted more, then maybe—just maybe—the literary industry would benefit in the long run, and we would be able to see more books that are simply fun become best sellers. Then, if that were to happen, it could even be that the television and movie industries would follow in suit. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

The Justice League, the Avengers, the Power Rangers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: All popular action heroes, even today...but why should they (and others of their era) be the only ones going strong today?

The Justice League, the Avengers, the Power Rangers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
All popular action heroes, even today…but why should they (and others of their era) be the only ones going strong today?

5. A brand new action adventure.

Nostalgia has become quite the thing in the 21st century, which even I can understand. I mean, come on! Who doesn’t want to go back in time and relive the days when tough-as-nails heroes battled evil masterminds who wanted to either take over or destroy the world in one way or another? Sure, the formula can be pretty cut-and-dry at times, but the very basic nature of this premise was what made it work back in the day. Not only that, but there still are several—if not, in fact, hundreds of—different ways in which authors can tweak the formula to suit whatever story they may want to tell. However, I specifically would like to see some new superheroes and other action heroes come forth in American media following 2016, even if only for the reason that today’s youth deserves such icons of their own. Don’t get me wrong, however, for I’ve got nothing against any of the superheroes from the Marvel or DC Comics universes, nor do I resent motion pictures, TV shows, and the like reintroducing today’s kids to G.I. Joe, the Transformers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the ThunderCats, or any other franchise from the 1980s and ‘90s that has experienced a revival in the past couple decades or so. Nonetheless, I’m sure there are some aspiring artists out there who’ve drawn inspiration from these figures to create heroes of their own who could help carry the torch for the next generation to enjoy. After all, we can only go to the well of yesteryear so many times before things dry up and we either have to move on to the next big thing or risk rendering the beloved brands from our childhood stale. Furthermore, despite this particular genre arguably being more suited for comic books, motion pictures, and television shows than it would novels, I’m convinced that taking a more literary approach to this genre just might offer something fresh and fetching for fans of this particular subgenre. Never mind the notion that the hero or heroes in question would stand out from the competition on account of their literary beginning, either. Rather, the story itself would stand out against other middle grade and young adult novels and offer readers and alternative from the usual supernatural, sword and sorcery, and post-apocalyptic adventure that’s been on the market for so many years by this point. Additionally, I myself wouldn’t object to seeing the usual action tropes translated in novel form. If nothing else, I’ve seen them presented many a time in such novels as First Blood by David Morrell and the Failstate series by John W. Otte, so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t work well again for whatever new action heroes could be in store for readers in the future. If nothing else, it’s worth a shot.

Moving Forward Motivational Poster Kid (MoveMeQuotes.com)6. Any story revolving around the theme of moving forward.

I will freely admit that even here on my blog, I am guilty as sin for showcasing a lot of negativity in the poems that I post, no matter how much of a spin I try to put on them otherwise. Even so, I myself know that when it comes to reality, there is only one direction in which time flows: forward. Sadly, in this day and age when the economy’s still not in all that great of shape and news stories of violence and political turmoil seem to come one right after another, we all must remind ourselves that this era isn’t going to last forever and that each of us must do everything he or she can to not only keep our spirits up, but also to ensure that the years to come are a relief from all that we’re having to endure now. Many is the story, too, that has taken this concept and crafted it into a narrative that has touched the heart of many an audience member and stuck with him and her throughout time to remind him or her that no matter how great a loss one has suffered or how imposing another kind of obstacle one might face in life, all one needs to do to succeed in the end is take a deep breath, screw one’s heels in, take action, and never give up until one finally conquers said obstacle. However, no matter how many writers have created stories with this theme in mind, I doubt that there could ever be enough, and quite frankly, I’d love to see one such novel top the best sellers list this year based on general principle alone. After all, it’s a lesson that—even if only in my own opinion—we all must remember as we carry on through life.

The Shēngxiào according to the 2005 cartoon Legend of the Dragon

The Shēngxiào according to the 2005 cartoon Legend of the Dragon

7. Any story based on folklore.

If there’s one thing I always enjoy, it’s learning about another culture’s mythology—heroes, deities, monsters, artifacts…you name it. I’m quite thankful to know, too, that such a series as Rick Riordin’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians has garnered as much success as it has since its inception, and I wish for Mr. Riordin nothing less than the same amount of success with Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. That being said, I look every bit as forward to the next literary adventure involving one kind of folklore or the other simply because of how fun it is for me to learn about the tales of old that influence a given people’s history. Even when writers only give their readers bits and pieces of mythology in the stories they write, it’s enough to encourage said readers to delve deeper into the mythos they’re learning about and find out more about it. On that note, why can’t writers and publishers encourage these people to explore these tales even further by writing more novels involving the folklore of civilizations past and present and allowing such tales to be published for the masses to enjoy? One doesn’t even have to retell the legends themselves, even though that in and of itself would still be very compelling—especially for lesser-explored tales like the Lament for Ur (a.k.a. the Lamentation over the City of Ur) from Sumerian legend or the Raven Tales of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Instead, simply including elements of these myths can help a writer tell a story that would appeal to readers who want to escape modern reality for a good hour or two. I’ve already mentioned Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase as two solid examples of stories that use bits of mythology to help direct the plot, but television’s own Hercules: The Legendary Journeys based itself on ancient Greek lore—even if only superficially—to illustrate the fictitious adventures of the legendary Greek hero and his loyal friend Iolaus. Granted, the show has been known to confuse its timeline from time to time, according to Wikipedia, as well as mix in elements of Far Eastern, Egyptian, and Medieval culture as well as the occasional 1990s reference for an occasional gag here or there, but even then, the show was popular enough to run for five seasons from the January of 1995 to the November of 1999. Heck, I could even throw the 2005 BKN International cartoon Legend of the Dragon onto this list on account of how its premise revolved around many elements from Chinese mythology, particularly the twelve animals of the Shēngxiào (Chinese zodiac) and the principles of Yin and Yang, and managed to gain a loyal fanbase in spite of lasting a mere two seasons. Such just goes to show that franchises with this specific theme do have their place in today’s society and can be adaptable enough to tell whatever story the writer has in mind. The only real limit to consider is one’s own imagination.

Will any book series of the 21st century garner a legacy for itself the way Harry Potter has since 1997?

Will any book series of the 21st century garner a legacy for itself the way Harry Potter has since 1997?

8. The “Next Big Thing” in middle grade and/or young adult fantasy.

Many has been the franchise that has captivated younger readers and shown them that reading can be every bit as exciting as watching a TV show or a movie. Then again, when it comes to more recent times, no other literary endeavor has proven this to be true to the extent that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has. Dating as far back as its UK release on June 26, 1997, the saga of this orphaned boy wizard has enjoyed a decade-plus-long lifecycle on bookstore shelves in original releases alone with the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, hitting the market initially on July 21, 2007 and having an estimated worldwide sales record of forty-four million copies. Not since have the masses received a new Harry Potter book, and yet, the titular hero’s legacy continues to touch readers, even with so many franchises—including Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, James Dashner’s Maze Runner quintet, and even Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series—coming to light since its inception. Many of these literary franchises are quite beloved, too, but only a handful of them have even come close to garnering the same level of celebration that Harry Potter has gotten since day one.

All this achievement in mind, that’s still no reason for authors to not try to produce something of equal prestige to Ms. Rowling’s signature series, especially with Writer’s Digest’s Writer’s Handbook 2016 reporting the rise in popularity of juvenile (picture book, middle grade, and young adult) literature (p. 8). According to their reports, Nielsen data shows that juvenile e-book sales since 2004 have grown from twenty-three percent to thirty-seven percent of the total book market with 2014 having the highest reported sales since records began. Juvenile fiction overall, furthermore, grew eight percent since 2009, which further indicates a growing trend towards the popularity of books aimed towards a younger demographic. Hopefully, then, that should make enough room for the next breakout series to emerge in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps that very series from book one onward will garner every bit as much good fortune as Harry Potter did in terms of movies, merchandising, and all-out fan support and become as iconic for our times as Harry has for his.

*****

Well, that should do it for this entry. Sorry it’s been a while since my last article and that I’m particularly late in writing up this one, considering how far into the “new” year we’ve already gotten. I still hope you’ve enjoyed this article nonetheless, and believe me when I say that I do look forward to some new, talented authors come to the forefront of the literary industry so that they can offer today’s readers some excellent stories that can hold their own with the timeless classics that the masses have come to love and help cleanse our memories of the garbage that has tainted the literary scene. Chances are, too, that by now—as I’ve said before—there’s already at least one story that has used one of the eight ideas I’ve presented here as its basis, and if there is, I’d definitely check it out. If there isn’t…well, then, maybe it’ll be up to me to provide such a work for someone to read. Stranger things have happened, after all.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. I’d like to thank you all for reading this, and as always, be sure to visit my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see what I have available, and please stay tuned for more content in the near future. Until then, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

After Sunset: Werewolves
https://Rare-Diseases-Conditions.Knoji.com
Imgur.com
IrishComics.Wikia.com
MichaelHyatt.com
CrazyAboutTV.com
PasteMagazine.com
IMDB.com
RetroVideo.com
ComicsBlend.com
Marvel-Movies.Wikia.com
TheComicBookCast.com
BeAGameCharacter.com
ClipArtBest.com
MoveMeQuotes.com
LegendoftheDragon.Wikia.com
Infinite-Loops.Wikia.com

Additionally, cited fact in Section 8 belong to the following source:

Friedman, Jane. “Juvenile Remains Strong Growth Area.” Writer’s Digest Writer’s Yearbook 2016: 8. Print.

The opinions discussed within, however, are the author’s own.

In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 5

Finally...we tackle the most controversial game in the Bloody Roar franchise.

Finally…we tackle the most controversial game in the Bloody Roar franchise.

Welcome back, readers!

This has been a long time coming, but I’m now at long last here to discuss the fifth and [possibly] final installment of my reboot of the Bloody Roar franchise. As you can probably guess, this last installment shall be discussing the reboot of Bloody Roar 4, the final and most hated installment of the original BR video game series. Why such a nasty reputation? Well, to begin with, there was the whole game mechanic that gave each character’s beast form its own distinct health bar that replaced each fighter’s beast gauge, which had been a well-established staple within the rest of the series that owed a lot to each previous game’s sense of strategy. On a similar note were BR 4’s numerous glitches, from graphical slowdown to disappearing timers and health bars during gameplay. The game also had unaltered character costumes from BR Extreme/Primal Fury (which went against another long-standing BR tradition by that point), several unaltered arenas (save for being tinted darker to reflect the game’s overall tone) also from BR E/PF, force fields that prevented players from truly interacting with the environments, ill-fitting music (as opposed to the well-established instrumental rock of previous games), and—for the sake of this blog entry—a sloppily executed and logically devoid story that diverged so much from the original BR narrative that it didn’t even feel like it belonged to the series. Remember how the first couple of BR games had a contemporary sci-fi vibe going for them a la Resident Evil and X-Men? Well, the same can’t be said for BR 4, which follows the story of BR 3 with a tale so rooted in the supernatural that it’s more reminiscent of a fantasy tale than anything else…a high fantasy tale at that, too. Worse yet, one could even go as far as to claim that the story centered itself so much around three of the four new characters whom Hudson Soft had introduced into the plot that it rendered most of the rest of the cast completely inconsequential. Sure, Yugo has been able to remain somewhat of a protagonist, but to what degree? Also, how important has Alice become come BR 4? What about Bakuryu? Long? Shina? Uriko? I could go on. Heck, things were so bad in this respect that if one didn’t know any better, one could have sworn that Hudson was trying to promote Nagi as the new lead for the series, which would have been a disastrous indeed if they’d followed through with it in later installments, and not just because Nagi’s beast form didn’t look anything like an actual animal, either. Honestly, that’s like a wrestling promotion making its marquee star take a backseat to its latest rookie and pushing the latter as its new feature attraction without giving the sot a chance to prove himself or herself against even the lowliest jobber, much less the company’s (former) main player.

All things considered, though, I still believe that just like the story of Bloody Roar 3 (and Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, for that matter), the whole thing could have worked for Bloody Roar 4 if only Hudson Soft had taken their time and crafted their narrative with a little bit more finesse. Alas, they didn’t, which already hurt the credibility of a game that was already destined to peeve off a good chunk of the BR fanbase. Needless to say, I hope to explain in this article how I personally would rewrite BR 4’s and make it more compatible with the rest of the series. In doing so, I intend to make the new characters from this game fit in more tightly with the rest of the BR cast, all the while trying to stay true to each new character’s role within the BR universe and eliminate only those elements that work against the series’ overall plot as it had been previously established. Without further ado, then, let the reboot begin!

Things in a Nutshell

To sum things up, a year has passed since the events of Bloody Roar 3, and though the crisis surrounding the X-Genome Code and the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts has mostly come to a close, the Unborn is still running amok, using Xion as its host as it continues down its path of destruction. Outraged with the Unborn’s presence, Gaia, the spirit of the earth herself, has brought it upon herself to summon forth a great dragon to help dispose of the foul aberration. In doing so, a stone seal happens to break within the confines of a remote temple hidden somewhere in Japan, and a thirty-seven-year-old Buddhist monk named Rao “Ryoho” Mamurasaki finds himself transforming into the very dragon Gaia had created to help protect the world from creatures such as the Unborn that would threaten the planet’s natural cycle of life and death. The dragon proves to be too powerful a creature for Ryoho to keep in check, however, and sure enough, it’s up to his nine-year-old daughter figure Mana—a young miko with the power of the nine-tailed fox of Japanese lore—to reseal the great beast, although she cannot do it alone and must summon forth strong zoanthropes to her and Ryoho’s temple and have them help her complete such a task.

The Unborn revealed!

The Unborn revealed!

Such is how the original BR 4 begins, and yes, it initially comes off as kind of an awkward plot to follow up those that involved underground scientific experimentation and violent conflict between zoanthropes and baseline humanity. Even so, I can at least credit Hudson Soft with trying to blend the paranormal nature of lycanthropes with the preexisting light science fiction theme that the first two games had already established in an attempt to flesh out a sort of mythology that would explain why zoanthropes exist in the world of BR. However, as I’d mentioned earlier, the whole thing more or less backfired on them, and what fans received instead was something that sounded far more fitting for a traditional RPG than a hard-hitting fighting game involving werebeasts. I also personally dislike how this narrative nullifies the relevance of both the Tylon Corporation and the ZLF, thus stunting the continuity of two of the most influential antagonist organizations in the entire franchise. This especially holds true for Tylon, whose ill-intentioned experiments have played a significant part of BR’s story collective for at least the first two games, and even BR E/PF had shades of Tylon spattered throughout it, what with the experiments that were going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes’ Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament. Then again, this plot doesn’t even do that great a follow-up to the plots of either BR 3 or BR E/PF, either. Sure, it mentions the X-Genome Code debacle from Bloody Roar 3, but it does so incorrectly by referencing XGC-free zoanthropes rioting across the globe rather than those who were carrying the Code—not that the latter were necessarily “rioting,” either, so much as panicking on account of there being such a high number of fatalities amongst their kind for reasons they could only begin to fathom. There is also the mention of earthquakes during the XGC incident, which have apparently only worsened presently, although the only true earthquake to take place at all happens around Ryoho and Mana’s temple, which is where Alice starts off in the game aiding those whose homes have been devastated. As for Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, there’s no mention of it at all, which makes me almost wonder just how cannon BR E/PF’s story is at all within the series. Sure, BR 4 borrows a lot of the models from previously existing characters as well as several of the arenas—most notably the aquarium and alongside the highway—from Extreme/Primal Fury, but as far as storylines go, there’s no connection at all between the two games.

Personally, I’d have the events of Bloody Roar 4 directly follow those of BR Extreme/Primal Fury. To put matters simply, Yugo Ogami and the rest of the World of Coexistence have finally exposed and put an end to the clandestine experiments that the renegade Tylon scientists who had founded the Kingdom of Zoanthropes had been conducting at the behest of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front (See Part 4 of my reboot for more details on this particular arc.). Once that happens, order returns to the KoZ, which the United Nations officially recognizes as a self-governing political entity, and the founders are at long last allowed to return to their own homelands after spending years in isolation following their escape from Tylon’s infamous South American laboratory. As they all come home, many of them—including Hiroshi Nonomura, Mitsuko’s long-estranged husband and Uriko’s father—share with the world the medical findings from the studies they had conducted on zoanthropy and its many unique medical conditions. Among such information are the scientists’ findings of the X-Genome Code and even the possibility of hybrid zoanthropes such as Uranus, whose endocrine systems produce twice the amount of Factor B during the “beastorization” process than those of ordinary, single-species zoanthropes (i.e., most everybody else in the BR saga), making them more powerful and dangerous fighters as a result. Such research gives other scientists worldwide a better understanding of how zoanthropy works and as such a better understanding of how to treat the various medical and psychological conditions that zoanthropes suffer in addition to those that plague regular humans.

Xion the Unborn is still on the loose, and all the while spewing the most poorly translated dialogue imaginable...even by Bloody Roar standards.

Xion the Unborn is still on the loose, and all the while spewing the most poorly translated dialogue imaginable…even by Bloody Roar standards.

Unfortunately, old sensitivities more often than not take quite a while to die, particularly when it comes to the friction between baseline humans and their zoanthropic compatriots. As such, it’s no surprise that with much of this new information—especially that concerning hybrid zoanthropes—many humans begin to distrust zoanthropes as a whole, hence the reformation of several beast hunter parties as per the days of Bloody Roar 2. Violence begins to resurge across the globe at the hands of these groups, and the WOC once again has its own hands full as they try to put these radicals in their place and restore global order. Worse yet, however, is how the stage has been set for the ZLF’s return to prominence, and despite the Front’s infamy from previous years, many zoanthropes feel pressured to align themselves with them in hopes of seeking salvation from their increasingly brutal beast hunter assailants. Even highly esteemed public figures amongst zoanthropekind seem to be jumping on the ZLF bandwagon with the claim that human prejudice has grown too strong to tolerate and that violence is no longer avoidable. The WOC feels the effects of this firsthand, too, when a hefty percentage of their own kind resign from the organization to support the ZLF and their promise of a safer world from beast hunters and their ilk.

The Who’s Who of MY Bloody Roar 4

Yugo, Alice, and Bakuryu: The three staple protagonists of the Bloody Roar series and all back for more action in BR 4

Yugo, Alice, and Bakuryu: The three staple protagonists of the Bloody Roar series and all back for more action in BR 4

Now that we’ve set the scene, it should be pretty easy to determine who’ll be in it. To begin with, it’d be a sin to exclude the likes of Yugo, Alice, and Kenji (a.k.a. Bakuryu), seeing as all three of them have been staple characters since the first Bloody Roar game (or, in Bakuryu’s case, BR 2) as well as the three members of the World of Coexistence around whom the BR saga has revolved. I could very easily have them all act as one unit, too, and work together to see to the ZLF’s defeat, but that wouldn’t do much at all to firmly establish each character’s role within the overall saga, and believe me when I say that if there was one thing that hurt at least most of the returning characters in the original BR 4, it was, as I’d mentioned earlier, their reduced importance in the game’s story. That being said, I’d have Yugo enter the fray out of responsibility as the WOC’s leader, concerned for the safety of zoanthropes and regular humans alike in the face of the ZLF’s return to world dominance. On his mind in particular is the safety of his close friend and fellow WOC member Nagi, who has just started to recuperate from the ordeal she’d endured from my reboot of BR 3. I plan to go into greater detail when I discuss Nagi’s role in the story, but to sum it up briefly, let’s just say that Yugo notices that something’s simply not right with her and makes it a secondary priority of his to discover the truth about her during his investigation of the ZLF’s schemes. Alice, meanwhile, has officially decided to work for the WOC fulltime following the events of BR E/PF and, upon doing so, has been fulfilling her duties to the organization by taking care of a Buddhist monk and his foster daughter who have been recovering from their own respective complications from the X-Genome Code. Upon making a routine visit to the duo’s temple, though, she arrives to see that the place has been ransacked and that the monk and his foster daughter are missing. Fearing the worst, she comes to suspect that they have been abducted—allegedly by beast hunters at first, but sure enough, she crosses paths with the monk’s daughter, who tells her that the ZLF are behind her father’s disappearance. Upon learning this, Alice feels her inner avenger get the better of her and sets off with the young girl in tow (against her better judgment) to rescue the monk at all costs. Finally, Kenji/Bakuryu may start off this whole adventure strictly out of his duties as his big brother’s second-in-command, but as the plot thickens, he finds himself engaging in a rivalry that I’d established in my BR 3 reboot with Reiji. Could this be the final showdown between these two combatants and, by extension, their respective clans? Who knows? All I can really say is that the battle between these two is bound to be fierce.

Nagi and Reiji, Hudson Soft's female lead elect and newest antagonist for BR 4

Nagi and Reiji, Hudson Soft’s female lead elect and newest antagonist for BR 4

Nagi and Reiji will be appearing in this reboot as well, although I promise that neither of them will be quite as “front and center” as they were in the original Bloody Roar 4. Nagi’s story I’ve already briefly covered, but to elaborate, she’s almost fully recovered from the events she’s endured during the course of my version of BR 3. I say “almost” because following her defeat while under the control of my reboot’s chief antagonist Andreas Drakos, Nagi’s been spending time in the hospital having the effects of not only her brainwashing reversed, but also her contraction of the X-Genome Code via Drakos’s victims’ blood samples. She hasn’t fully been purged of her then-acquired zoanthropy just yet, though, of which he doctors have made her aware. She refuses to sit back any longer than she already has, however, and against her physicians’ orders, she springs back into action, using what’s left of her chimeric beast form and the Factor B that her brain has been producing since her becoming a zoanthrope to help thwart the ZLF’s menace and hopefully avenge herself against the man who was responsible for her transformation in the first place. Reiji, on the other hand, has become a full-fledged member of the Front and has been serving them as a hitman of sorts, taking out potential threats to the ZLF’s rise to power. He’s especially focused on eliminating Kenji as per their respective clans’ generations-old rivalry. Only time will tell, sadly, if Reiji will be able to quench his blood thirst or if the present Bakuryu will put an end to the former Yatagarasu’s rampage.

Ryoho and Mana

Ryoho and Mana

Additionally, my reboot will indeed include Rao “Ryoho” Mamurasaki and his adopted daughter Mana, two ecclesiastics who—according to their original backstory—operate out of a hidden temple somewhere in Japan that is dedicated to the practice of both Buddhism and Shinto and has managed to escape the Meiji Restoration law that separated Buddhist and Shinto religious activities. In my reboot, however, Ryoho and Mana’s temple, though it is located a bit off the beaten path, isn’t exactly quite so “underground” for reasons that SCXCR explains in his sixth and final installment of the Bloody Roar video game series when discussing the duo as in-game characters (See minute mark 18:58.). In fact, the way I would have it, Ryoho is actually a relatively well-known and highly respected figure amongst zoanthrope kind who preaches unto his followers and anyone else who visits his temple the virtues of patience and tolerance, encouraging his fellow zoanthropes to work and live in harmony both with each other and with baseline humanity so as to ensure the wellbeing of the world at large. Likewise, Ryoho and Mana are both natural born hybrid zoanthropes, each the offspring of two zoanthropic parents as per Uriko’s case (See my reboot of the original Bloody Roar for more information.) and very powerful individually at that. So powerful are they, in fact, that when the ZLF become aware of them, they immediately set out to ransack the temple and abduct Ryoho. Mana thankfully escapes and manages to reach Alice, whom she tells everything and whom she inststantly accompanies as the two venture forth to rescue Mana’s foster father. Now, I’ll admit that this refreshed story does indeed break up the duo as a playable tag team, but rest assured, BR gamers, that Ryoho’s gameplay as a single solitary fighter would remain unchanged from how it was originally…give or take a few balancing issues, of course. Similarly, this story would allow Mana to become a playable character in her own right with karate being both her and Ryoho’s chosen fighting style with notable variations in attacks as appropriate for their differentiations in size and beast form (Dragon versus Ninetail).

Just when you thought the Nonomura family could live happily ever after following their reunification following Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury...

Just when you thought the Nonomura family could live happily ever after following their reunification following Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury…

Speaking of abductions, I’ll also be bringing back all three members of the Nonomura family as playable characters: Hiroshi as a captive of the ZLF, who want to milk him of his most recently attained research so that they can use it to create new super soldiers, and Uriko and Mitsuko as a mother-daughter team who set out together to once more rescue the beloved patriarch of their family. Additionally, I’d throw in element to Uriko’s story where she ends up proving to her mother along their journey that she is indeed growing up and able to take care of herself whenever the situation calls for it. No doubt this would be a double-edged sword for Mitsuko, who would be proud to know that her biological daughter is coming into her own and able to make it into the world, yet sad al the same of having lost the opportunity to bond with her the way moist other mothers do with their children. I would also be sure to have Uriko show continued and consistent interest in her father’s research on account of her experiences from earlier installments in the series in an effort to fully understand the nature of her zoanthropy. Is the possibility still there for her to become the big, ghastly chimera she’d once been able to become in the first BR? If so, how well would she be able to handle her fully realized power? Such are the questions she asks herself as she ponders her dad’s research and further steps away from the over-the-top childlike demeanor that Hudson Soft had given her in the original BR.

Xion, Stun, and Busuzima

Xion, Stun, and Busuzima

I’d be downright foolish to exclude Xion from this reboot, considering that he was the one responsible—at least in part—for Nagi’s zoanthropy. Still troubled by the crimes he’s committed on account of his strand of the X-Genome Code and its effects upon his mind, Xion seeks out the aid of a medical expert who can revert him back to a regular human. Unfortunately, the expert he seeks is Dr. Hiroshi Nonomura, whom the ZLF have abducted. Seeing this as an opportunity to practice compassion as Long had advised him at the end of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury as well as a chance to seek redemption for all that he’s done as the Unborn, Xion sets out to rescue Hiroshi, all the while coping with many a foul memory of his being a puppet for Andreas Drakos back in the BR 3 days as well as the distrust he has earned from each and every potential ally with whom he crosses paths, including Yugo, Mitsuko, and Uriko. He won’t be the only one fighting for his piece of mind, though, as Stun will be out and about trying to piece his memory back together following the experiments from BR E/PF that brought him back to life. Piecing his life back together shouldn’t be too hard, either, what with all the familiar faces he’ll surely run into, the least of which not being Busuzima, who’s recently become depressed on account of his continually incomplete research concerning the Ultimate Life Object. At a loss for what to do next, Busuzima comes to learn about the discoveries that Hiroshi and his fellow KoZ founders had made concerning hybrid zoanthropes and wonders if such is the direction in which he needs to take his experiment. With his ambition suddenly reignited, he is convinced that the perfect test subject is out there unwittingly waiting for him to begin his latest string of tests on, from Xion with his bizarre Unborn form and the half-Unborn Nagi to the likes of Ryoho and Mana to even Hiroshi’s own daughter Uriko, who used to be a hybrid zoanthrope herself once upon a time. The options are endless for the good doctor, as are the extremes to which he’ll go to fulfill his destiny.

Alan and Jane "Shina" Gado, back together for one more battle

Alan and Jane “Shina” Gado, back together for one more battle

Next, with the ZLF at large once more, I find it only fitting to reintroduce Gado and Shina into the mix. On one hand is Shina, whom Gado initially calls upon to rescue Ryoho and Mana from the Front when the news breaks about their abduction. As she sets off to fulfill her duty as a peacekeeper and sworn enemy of the very terrorist cabal who’d tricked her into training recruits for them back in my reboot of BR E/PF, Gado sits back behind his desk and becomes frustrated with the notion that he, as a United Nations commissioner, is forbidden to directly involve himself with the Front’s resurgence. Risking his removal from office within the UN, he sets foot onto the battlefield once more to put an end to the coalition of radicals that he’d once been suspected of founding back in the days of Bloody Roar 2. This thus leads to a heated confrontation between father and daughter later on in the game in which Shina accuses Gado of not trusting her as a mercenary to fulfill the very mission he’d hired her to complete in the first place—a situation that should offer a dose of comforting familiarity to BR fans without fully resetting the pair’s narrative.

Long, Lanfa, and Shenlong

Long, Lanfa, and Shenlong

Meanwhile, Long’s foster sister Lanfa has recently been abducted by the ZLF, and in a manner similar to Bakuryu’s situation in Bloody Roar 2, they brainwash her into becoming their latest recruit. It is therefore up to Long to find her and help bring her back to her senses so that the two can work together to thwart the Front once and for all…assuming, of course, that neither of them end up crossing paths with and end up getting beaten up by Shenlong, who has been keeping a long profile since the events of BR E/PF until the Front once again “invites” him to partake in their conquest over humanity. Tired of all the grossly inconvenient “adventures” he’s been on along the way, he refuses the Front’s offer to reunite with them, only to be brainwashed as well to become the same arrogant, ruthless, bloodthirsty antagonist he used to be back in BR 2. Only time will tell, sadly, if he can snap out of his delusional mental state or if his brainwashing ends up being permanent, thereby returning him to his proud, violent, and pitiless way of life as ZLF puppet leader until his ultimate demise.

Hans, Jenny, and Greg

Hans, Jenny, and Greg

Also investigating the ZLF’s activities are Hans, Jenny, and Greg, all of whom hope to discover the identity of the Front’s true leader and either bring him or her to justice or an end to said leader’s life. Hans most certainly could go either way, although he would no doubt try to keep his bloodthirsty proclivities in check and apprehend the ZLF’s head honcho on behalf of his employers within the UN. Sadly, he has yet to fully overcome the shellshock he has endured over his many years adventuring within this reboot as well as the psychological complications he has endured from his strand of the XGC. Then again, the possibility of this mission being the one to help him cope once and for all is there, seeing as the man who originally discovered the Code just might be able to help him put an end to his mental suffering…assuming, of course, that he can rescue Dr. Nonomura to begin with. Jenny’s mission is similar, although the spy agency for which she works has given her strict instructions to assassinate the ZLF’s ringleader at all costs. Then again, who’s to say that she won’t be able to dig up some information on her own origin and zoanthropic condition along the way (See Part 2 of my reboot for more information.) and even run into the man from whom she’d been cloned for one definitive battle between the two of them? Greg, in contrast, is simply out to detain the Front’s head cheese, pure and simple, having finally come to grips with his strand of the X-Genome Code and returning to action for the first time since the events of BR 2. Seeing as it is his first time back on the field, he finds himself followed by son Nathan, who wants him to return home and rest some more while he carries out his mission and collar the ZLF’s head cheese. This thus sets up some contention between father and son, with the former being too stubborn to let the latter deprive him of his professional responsibilities while also posing the question of whether or not the duo can set their differences aside and work together in smashing the Front once and for all.

Obviously, there’s no point in having a storyline revolve around the ZLF without having members of the Front itself as playable characters. As such, Lance and Gayle from my versions of BR 2 and BR E/PF will definitely return. Lance, for starters, is still the leader of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front and is more determined than ever to avenge his family’s death at human hands by employing his latest “recruits” against anyone who should oppose the front’s quest for zoanthrope superiority, including such hybrid zoanthropes as Ryoho. Gayle will be back as well as a reluctant member of the Front whom Lance has more or less blackmailed to remain in service by denying her the right to reverse the effects of the experiments that she’d undergone in my BR 2 reboot and becoming “the enemy” as a result. She therefore has to keep her motives to herself as she progresses through the course of the game, brooding all the while about the fate she’s brought upon herself and her apparent inability to put an end to her situation one way or another. These two won’t be alone, however, for I also plan on introducing two of Lance’s top operatives, Iwao Otami and Funani Tshabalala. To begin with, Iwao is a dock hand from Japan who’s been down on his luck in recent times on account of his strand of the X-Genome Code and the complications it has had on his body and mind. Worse yet is how his income was low enough as it was before his complications set in, and because he’s had to take so many days off from work to recuperate, such expenses are only hitting him and his family harder. Needless to say, when Lance hears of his plight, he immediately enlists him onto the ZLF with the promise of not only making the money he needs to pay off his medical aid, but also earning a more affluent way of life for him and his family as a whole. Iwao is thus quite loyal to Lance and fights alongside him with his puroresu fighting style. Funani, on the other hand, hails from South Africa—a nation with a long history of racial tension (no thanks, in part, to apartheid) and limited healthcare (no thanks to, of all things, HIV/AIDS). Needless to say, she’s faced quite a bit of prejudice in her life as well as very limited aid for the complications she’s suffered in the past from her strand of the XGC. She’s since understandably grown fed up with her old way of life and has joined the ZLF in hopes of scoring some serious comeuppance against those who’ve held her down in the past. Her beast form is that of a parrot, and her chosen martial art happens to be Engolo, a martial art from southern Angola and an alleged precursor to the more readily recognized Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.

Golan "Ganesha" Draphan, exiled from the Kingdom of Zoanthropes until he can prove his loyalty to the royal family

Golan “Ganesha” Draphan, exiled from the Kingdom of Zoanthropes until he can prove his loyalty to the royal family

Finally, we have Ganesha, who had only been incapacitated at the end of my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury after having avenged his village at the hands of a Tylon-controlled Cronos. Regardless of whether or not the KoZ’s kind-hearted yet naïve prince and his burly and [at first] loyal bodyguard actually make it to the finals of the first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament, I’d still have the pair of them face off against one another with Cronos not taking too kindly to either his defeat at the hands of the former Golan Draphan or the big man’s motives for taking him down in the first place. Still, Ganesha’s apparent act of treason isn’t enough for the young prince to see to the guy’s execution or even imprisonment, but rather to send him out into the world to find out about and thwart the ZLF’s plans of conquest as an act of loyalty to the kingdom. This situation could make room for an interesting twist, too. After all, even though Ganesha would definitely start out wanting to squash the former infiltrators of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and prove his commitment to serving the KoZ and its ruling family, he still remains a prime enough subject for the ZLF to target and turn against his own nation and ultimately make into yet another one of their soldiers, thus widening the rift between him and Cronos even more.

Bloody Roar Beast Corps 4

Last but not least is the possibility for the official last chapter in my reboot of the original Bloody Roar franchise, Bloody Roar Beast Corps 4. It is in this fourth installment of the BRBC saga that Paul, Sonja, Mireille, and Yao unite for one last run in an attempt to bring the Zoanthrope Liberation Front down for good. The whole premise isn’t too different from BRBC 3, either (See my fourth installment of this reboot for more info on that game.). Basically, the player takes on the role of one of the four members of the Beast Corps and ventures across the globe beating up ZLF operatives as his or her chosen zoanthrope hunts down the cabal’s elusive leader and tries to bring him to justice. Fang and Mashiro will come back to lend the Corps a hand this time around, too, as will the Create-a-Hero mode for those gamers who prefer to create a new ally or two to aid the Beast Corps in their mission. I’ve also pretty much given away whom the bosses in this game would be earlier in this article: Lance, Gayle, Iwao, Funani, Shenlong, Reiji, Lanfa, and Ryoho—ZLF loyalists and brainwashed servitors alike joining forces in order to keep the Beast Corps at bay so that they may ultimately take over the world and establish their pro-zoanthrope dominion over humanity. Whether or not this battle will result in the closure of the Bloody Roar franchise as a whole is still very much up in the air, however, as the deciding factor will ultimately be where the story can go from here once things come to a close. Is there a force out there that’s even more powerful and organized waiting in the wings of this years-long conflict waiting to spring out of the woodwork and possibly succeed where the ZLF had failed? Will the Beast Corps—or, for that matter, the World of Coexistence—be ready for such opposition in the instance that it does rear its ugly head? We’ll just have to wait and see.

BR4 Nagi, Reiji, and RyohoThis hereby concludes my fifth installment to my Bloody Roar reboot series. Thank you all who have been following this topic since I started way back in the July of 2012, and I wholeheartedly apologize for the wait. As of right now, I have only a vague idea of whether or not I’ll introduce a sixth installment, much less when I’ll post it in the instance that I am. I will say this, however: I think it’s a shame that the Bloody Roar game series hasn’t carried on beyond BR 4 and that it more or less died when and how it did. Sure, I know these games get a lot of criticism today for being “button mashers,” amongst other things, but I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to say that I didn’t have fun playing them—BR 4 included, in spite of its numerous flaws—when I had the chance. Needless to say, I, too, had been looking forward to the day when BR 5 would bring the series out of the ashes, but alas, it’s been nearly twelve years since BR 4’s release for the PlayStation 2 (November 11, 2003) and nearly three-and-a-half years since Konami Digital Entertainment had absorbed Hudson Soft, the original publishers of the BR games and the owners of the BR IP, into their own stock (March 1, 2012). Worse yet, with the way Konami has fallen from grace over the past several months with the way it has reportedly been treating its own employees (including its former vice president and top game designer, Hideo Kojima) and with numerous business decisions that have understandably upset its core supporting audience, my own hopes for any of Hudson Softs IP’s returning to the video game market are quite low. Then again, in an industry when Rare Ltd. can release a new Killer Instinct game seventeen years after its second (and, at the time, presumably last) installment in the KI franchise, maybe there’s hope yet. Until then, though, I’ll believe the news of a new Bloody Roar game when I see it and issue the now-defunct Hudson Soft one last thank you for creating one heck of an imperfect yet nonetheless fun fighting game series.

Bloody Roar promo poster featuring Japanese model Yuko Ogura: Proof that the original Bloody Roar 4 fell short not only critically, but also promotionally

Bloody Roar promo poster featuring Japanese model Yuko Ogura: Proof that the original Bloody Roar 4 fell short not only critically, but also promotionally

Until next time, then, readers, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and feel free to subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t done so already. Otherwise, thanks again for the support, and as always, happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 2: December 12, 2012

Part 3: February 2, 2013

Part 4: February 7, 2015

*****

Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. All visual materials used in this article are as follows:

Bloody Roar 4 cover: GameFAQs.com

Bloody 4 Unborn; Bloody Roar 4 Nagi, Reiji & Ryoho; and Bloody Roar 4 Yuko Ogura Promo Poster: The Bloody Roar Retrospective: Bloody Roar 4 (Full Version) by SCXCR

Bloody Roar 4 Xion Defeats Nagi: Bloody Roar 4 Stories – Xion by xTimelessGaming

Bloody Roar character models: BloodyRoar.Wikia.com

All opinions expressed and ideas shared within the above article, however, are solely those of the author himself and no other party.

Poem of the Week: Growing Up, Giving Up

Growing Up, Giving Up
June 29, 2015

Growing up means giving up, for there’s work to be done.
From childhood to adulthood, each year means less time for fun,
So enjoy your cartoons while you can with your books and video games,
For when you reach my age, children, your world won’t be the same.

No more time for daydreaming, save for sadly looking back
While slaving away to earn the cash to keep the clothes on your back,
Not to mention food on your table and your humble, sturdy shack
And coverage you need for when you endure that ulcer or heart attack.

Meanwhile, the time you once had for what you once enjoyed
Will be severed severely, thanks to daily chores, girls and boys—
Lest you long to live in swill, which really, I don’t see why
Anyone would want to, for if I had to, I’d die.

Anyway, the time you had for hobbies won’t be as great,
Which means having to give some up, leaving you to debate
Which ones you want to take with you and which to give the boot,
And by the time you’ve made up your mind, you can’t help but say, “Shoot!

I’m down to one or two interests. Now what shall I do—
Especially if I suddenly gain a new one out of the blue?”
Then the cycle starts over again, much to your chagrin,
Putting you in the same position you had just been in.

Who knows, though? Maybe by the, you’ll have things straightened out,
And you’ll know exactly just what you adult free time’s all about,
And you’ll have a pastime or two to carry on with and enjoy,
But should you come to pine for what you’ve lost…oh, boy!

Well, let’s just say I’ve warned you, for there’s no turning back.
Then again, you might find your love again down the track.
That’s no guarantee, of course, so keep your fingers crossed
In your efforts to show Father Time who’s really the boss.

Good luck to you, for you might need it. That’s all I can say,
Save for but this one last thing as you carry on living each day:
Life is indeed worth living—just challenging at times,
But you can make the most of it, should you keep sharp your mind.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com

                          Amazon.com

                          Amazon.co.uk

In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 4

Bloody Roar Extreme Primal Fury

Bloody Roar Extreme for the Microsoft X-Box or Bloody Roar Primal Fury for the Nintendo Game Cube…take your pick.

How’s it going, readers?

Today, I’m finally going to get back to work on my Bloody Roar reboot series that I’d started all the way back on July 23, 2012. I know it’s been a while, and I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone who’d been looking forward to the next installment of this miniseries. That aside, now is just as good a time as any for me to discuss the fourth installment in the BR video game franchise, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury and how I would reboot it according to my initial revision of the entire saga from game one on. Taking place between BRs 3 & 4, this particular game, on one hand, returned the BR story to its sci-fi lite roots with allusions to the conflict between baseline humanity and zoanthropekind was well as with references to the apparently ongoing experimentation on certain zoanthrope subjects to create the ultimate fighting machine. On the other hand, BR E/PF also made room for Xion to continue his story within the Bloody Roar universe by having him search for answers regarding his being the host of the Unborn. The game likewise kept BR 3’s Hyper Beast Mode mechanic for particular implementation with Prince Cronos, one of the game’s two new characters (three in the case of Bloody Roar Extreme), thus making an effort to tie it in closely with BR 3. In short, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury does its best to find its niche within the rest of the franchise, even at the expense of being less well-received as an installment in comparison to BRs 2 & 3 and at the expense of offering more of a side story than an actual installment in the BR saga’s primary plot.

As an installment of my reboot to the Bloody Roar series, this article will be an attempt to help BR E/PF retain its niche within the BR saga as I’ve retooled it in the past so as to maintain the overall flow of the narrative between each game. I will also attempt to find a place for preexisting BR characters within this specific title, including those who have never before been made playable, as well as characters I’d created for previous installments within my reboot. Previously existing plot points from earlier BR games will also find their way into this reboot as I see fit. All that being said, let’s dive in!

The Story

Welcome to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes.

To begin with, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury centers itself upon the emergence of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, an infant nation founded upon the dream of equality between common humanity and zoanthropekind and introduced as a safe haven for zoanthrope immigrants across the globe. The KoZ, though, new as it is, still relies heavily upon its zoanthrope military for security and its special mercenary brigade for income. Not only that, but there have been rumors of clandestine, Tylon-esque experiments going on behind the scenes with the apparent attempt to discover the secrets of zoanthropy. However, as much as everyone—human and zoanthrope alike—who has heard these rumors is opposed to such experiments taking place, all have yet to discover proof of their existence, much less the identity of the party responsible for them. Needless to say, the nation’s leader, King Orion, feels that the time is right to bring the nation together by hosting the Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament and provide a cash prize to he or she who wins it all to become the first ever “Zoanthrope Champion.” It is this very competition that draws the interest of many of the playable characters in this installment for a multitude of reasons, including the hope of discovering the truth behind the experiments that have allegedly been taking place.

Such is how the story for the official BR E/PF story goes, and while it works fine in and of itself, I am of the opinion that with some stronger ties to earlier games in the Bloody Roar series, it could be even more compelling and engrossing than what it already is. I especially hold this true in conjunction to some of the characters’ individual backstories, especially those whose importance in the BR saga has dwindled on account of the BR creative team’s strict focus on newer characters’ involvement in the overall plot. Therefore, in an effort to incorporate everyone and everything presented in my reboot thus far, the first question I would ask myself would be this:

How did the Kingdom of Zoanthropes come to be?

Find out just what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes' first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament.

Find out just what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes’ first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament.

My answer: Simple. Following the destruction of Tylon’s main laboratory in my reboot of the first Bloody Roar, a number of renegade Tylon scientists unite with one another and scrap together what little remains of the destroyed lab and relocate to a remote location where they can carry on whatever research they’d been conducting earlier without Tylon’s instruction. The scientists’ secret base eventually becomes the underground hub for the safe haven for zoanthropes that later evolves over time into the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, which is governed by the handful of test subjects whom the scientists were able to rescue from Tylon’s lab. Among these refugees is Prince Cronos Orma, a Romani boy who had been abducted from his village in France (which, at last note, has an estimated Romani population of 400,000 people) by Tylon operatives and experimented on by the corporation’s scientists to become a zoanthropic engine of destruction. Though usually a compassionate young man who dedicates himself to bringing peace and prosperity to the people over whom he presides, he is also the host of the X-Genome Code, which, when stimulated within his body, produces the same kind of mental conditioning that once plagued Long during his youth and helped result in him absentmindedly killing his sister Lin Li and his mother upon beastorizing (Read Part 3 of my Bloody Roar reboot for more information.). Sadly, though Long has long been able to gain control over his strand of the XGC and henceforth his ability to transform without falling prey to the code’s mind-debilitating effects, Cronos has yet to do the same, more likely than not on account of some psychological experimentation he’d undergone following his initial abduction. Such experiments had thus made it easy for Tylon to manipulate the otherwise gentle prince into utilizing his abilities as a raging phoenix zoanthrope against innocent human victims, razing villages such as the one from which his own bodyguard Ganesha hailed prior to the events of BR 1. Cronos only vaguely remembers such instances, however, thus leaving him with many a question about himself and the experiments that are going on secretly within his own kingdom. He thus enters the tournament in hopes of coming closer to the truth and discovering a way for his people to live in peace once and for all.

Prince Cronos of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes: An innocent face with a dark secret

Prince Cronos of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes: An innocent face with a dark secret

As the Kingdom of Zoanthropes continues to rise to power, news of its growth attracts the attention of another remnant faction from Bloody Roar history, the Zoanthrope Liberation Front. Now led by Lance Underwood, who has risen through the cabal’s ranks to take over the position that used to belong to Shenlong (See Part 2 of my reboot.), the ZLF plot to take control of the Kingdom and make it their base of operations in their campaign against regular humans and their persecution of zoanthropekind. Upon doing so, the Front threatens to become even more of a force to be reckoned with than it had been during BR 2’s story by using the advanced research that the kingdom’s scientists have developed over its six years of secrecy and employing the Kingdom’s own army—whether by threat or out of genuine adherence to the organization’s dogma—in their bloody crusade. They even convince King Orion, Prince Cronos’s father, that the experiments that they commission the original scientists to perform on their behalf are for the Kingdom’s benefit and for the benefit of the world as a whole and encourage him to host the Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament as an act of good will towards all who wish to test their might against the Kingdom’s soldiers. As the tournament takes place, Underwood and his minions plan on using it as an opportunity to discover and weed out anyone who might be a threat to their scheme, whether by eliminating such adversaries altogether or brainwashing them into serving their cause.

The Players

Next up, I’ll discuss who from the Bloody Roar universe would fit within the context of this story. So far, I’ve already given Prince Cronos his role in the plot, which is the only reason why I won’t be going into too much more detail about him here. As for everyone else…well, read on to find out.

Yugo Ogami, WOC leader, ready for action

Yugo Ogami, WOC leader, ready for action

As the leader of the World of Coexistence, Yugo finds it his obligation to investigate the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and the experiments that have allegedly taken place within it. He garners just the opportunity to do so, too, following a series of events in which an alleged representative of the Kingdom (who is actually a front man for the ZLF) invite him to participate in the UZFT after seeing Yugo’s fighting skills in action against a pack of thugs whom he himself deploys against him. Needless to say, Yugo’s story doesn’t change much at all in my reboot.

The United Nations, meanwhile, elects Gado to represent them in their dealings with the Kingdom, thus giving him a chance to investigate the alleged experiments himself. Aside from Jenny’s involvement, his storyline remains the same as it did in the original BR E/PF.

Alice Tsukigami, destined to receive more backstory in this reboot than in the original BR E/PF

Alice Tsukigami, destined to receive more backstory in this reboot than in the original BR E/PF

Still an operative for the WOC, Alice initially feels overwhelmed with the rate at which the organization has grown over the past year or so and as such feels concerned about her place within it. She is also concerned for Yugo’s safety upon hearing that King Orion has allegedly invited him to partake in the UZFT. Her interest in the Kingdom grows, however, when Kenji/Bakuryu reports to her that he may have discovered some information on the whereabouts of her father, whom she has otherwise been lead to believe has been dead since before the events of BR 1. It is with this information in hand that she attends the tournament as well in hopes of proving the validity behind such tidings. Though the inclusion of Alice’s father and his whereabouts is a diversion from Alice’s backstory in the original Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, I’ve included it nonetheless to add more depth to her character than simply being Yugo’s love interest and as such enhance her involvement in the BR story as a whole.

Uriko Nonomura, destined for greatness as a participant in the UZFT

Uriko Nonomura, destined for greatness as a participant in the UZFT

Uriko, meanwhile, has been invited to the UZFT by a representative of the ZLF in the same manner that Yugo has. Her story, therefore, remains unchanged for the most part, save for whatever over-the-top childlike behaviors she demonstrates in the original game. Mitsuko, on the other hand, will be available as an actual character in the story on account of Kenji coming across some information concerning Mitsuko’s estranged husband/Uriko’s missing father, thus spurring her to check out such information herself in the same vein as Alice with the info regarding her own father. Likewise, Mitsuko could also be a playable character on account of her concern for Uriko partaking in something as serious as a global fighting tournament for zoanthropes that’s being hosted in a foreign land with a questionable reputation. The tournament itself, on a similar note, could prove to be the ultimate means for Uriko to prove to her mother that she is indeed growing up and learning how to handle herself and her zoanthropy as a fledgling adult.

Kenji "Bakuryu" Ogami, getting into the thick of things once more

Kenji “Bakuryu” Ogami, getting into the thick of things once more

Speaking of Kenji (a.k.a. Bakuryu), his story isn’t too much different from what it is in the original BR E/PF, save for his investigations into the whereabouts of Dr. Tsukigami and Dr. Nonomura, Alice and Uriko’s respective fathers. The only difference here, however, is that Kenji must learn to balance his work as an investigator for the WOC along with being a willing participant in the UZFT and not only prove to his foster brother Yugo that he is a capable operative for the WOC, but also thank Yugo in a way for the sacrifices he’d made upon adopting him in the first place.

Long’s original story in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury never made much sense to me in that it was a complete diversion from what it had been in previous installments in the BR saga as a whole. Ever since BR 1, Long has been known as more or less a loner—first as a former Tylon assassin on the run for the very corporation that took him into their fold, then as a solitary monk who later became Uriko’s kenpo instructor, and finally as a drifter who moved in with his newest mentor and said master’s daughter. In BR E/PF, however, he’s apparently in charge of a laboratory conducting research similar to the KoZ’s own experiments. Even his ending in arcade mode, which depicts him envisioning his life flashing in his mind as he carries Cronos’s unconscious body, doesn’t help make the transition from roaming martial arts instructor to scientific researcher flow as smoothly as I would like. Thus, my reboot of Long’s story for BR E/PF would be as follows:

Long Shin, bound for a change in story in this reboot

Long Shin, bound for a change in story in this reboot

Following Lanfa’s recovery from the complications she’d suffered from her strand of the X-Genome Code, Long does everything in his power to help her grow stronger, including training her in the martial arts. Following his instructions to the letter, Lanfa becomes a capable fighter in her own right and decides to participate in the UZFT to prove her mettle in the martial arts with Long accompanying her to provide moral support. His presence proves to be quite the convenience, unfortunately, for the ZLF, who soon enough target him and try to remove him as a threat to their plans—even going as far as to arrange a fight between him and his clone Shenlong.

The battle never ends for Jane "Shina" Gado the Fighting Marvel.

The battle never ends for Jane “Shina” Gado the Fighting Marvel.

Next up is Shina, whose story from the original BR E/PF basically plays upon the idea that during her childhood, she lived in the same village as Prince Cronos and was subsequently friends with him before their village had been burned to the ground. Assumed by Cronos himself to have died in the blaze, Shina admits that the disaster still gives her nightmares with which she tries to cope (i.e., distract herself from) with all the time she spends on the battlefield. However, she learns from Yugo that Cronos is still alive and well and decides that by meeting him, she’ll be able to overcome her post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, as I’d detailed in my second installation of my miniseries, I would have written things so that Shina was Gado’s biological daughter rather than his adoptive one. That being said, I would have to throw this story out in favor of this one:

Alan Gado, representing the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Alan Gado, representing the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

According to her ending from BR 3, Shina had disappeared without a trace to lead a more peaceful life following her desertion of the “Eye and Claw”/”Klaw and Fang” coalition. Unfortunately for her in my reboot, she doesn’t happen to receive such a break, as she is soon discovered by legitimate KoZ ambassadors, who invite her to train the latest recruits to their army. At first, she is skeptical, seeing as such a job will result in her being a “government lackey”—the very thing she resented turning out to be at the end of BR 3. However, seeing as her father has been assigned to represent the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom, she feels a sense of familial responsibility to see to the drilling of the KoZ’s soldiers, hoping that her instructing them will see to their reliability as their nation’s number one line of defense and not into the next Zoanthrope Liberation Front. Much to her dismay, though, the real ZLF will be watching and waiting behind the scenes to undermine her work and start recruiting the more gullible and/or idealistic members of the military into joining their cause. This includes General Sobek, a former Tylon test subject-turned-soldier whose past oppression by Tylon’s scientists prior to BR 1’s story prompt him to become a ZLF sympathizer and persuade him and several of the soldiers under his command to support the Front, thus driving Shina to target him in an attempt to set him straight and put a cramp on the ZLF’s plans for world domination. Plus, the whole “love connection” that certain BR fans assume exists between Shina and Cronos (according to TVWiki.tv) can very easily be played upon here, even without the whole assumption of them being old friends from the same village.

Busuzima and Stun return for more fun and fisticuffs in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

Busuzima and Stun return for more fun and fisticuffs in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

The stories for Stun and Busuzima pretty much stay the same in comparison to the original game. In Stun’s case, he is basically a clone of his original self, the post-experimental version of Dr. Steven Goldberg, albeit without Steven’s genetic instability and with only a fraction of the memory he used to have when his original self was alive. The ZLF, however, have instructed the scientists responsible for his resurrection to remove certain tissues within his brain to eliminate his memory recall completely and from there begin mass production of zoanthrope soldiers based on his DNA…unless, of course, he can fight his way back to freedom so that he can try to live as normal a life as he can, given his biological circumstances. Busuzima, on the other hand, will still be carrying on with his research in hopes of developing the “Ultimate Life Object” until he hears rumors about the secret experiments going on within the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and wonders to himself not only if the rumors are true, but also—if so—the research that the scientists responsible for the experiments have discovered the secret he needs to complete his own work.

No secret within the KoZ is safe from international superspy Jenny Burtory.

No secret within the KoZ is safe from international superspy Jenny Burtory.

Jenny, meanwhile, has been coping with the disappointment she’s been feeling upon not discovering the secret behind the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts at the end of BR 3 by leading her near-endless life the best she can. Suddenly, she receives word from her superiors to investigate the goings-on behind the UZFT and discover the truth behind the rumors of the KoZ’s experiments. She makes no hesitation in accepting this mission, either, especially when she hears that Gado will more likely than not be caught up in the thick of things one way or another.

As for Shenlong, he’s been in hiding since the events of my Bloody Roar 3 reboot—a bitter rogue with a bloody past who can’t help but resent having been manipulated to serve the whims of a man who sought power and dominion over those whom he saw as “inferior” to him. However, a mysterious invitation from the KoZ prompts him to participate in the UZFT, unaware of the fact that it was the ZLF who sent him the invitation in the first place and who plan to recruit him back into their fold as their puppet leader. The twist this time around, however, will be that Lance Underwood rather than Busuzima would end up being in control of Shenlong’s every move and action up until things go awry. That way, when things eventually do turn for the worse, Lance can simply expose Shenlong as yet another Tylon experiment, thus further sullying the legacy of the already corrupt (albeit long-dead) corporation.

Prepare for more brutality and bloodshed as Shenlong and Xion make their mark in this reboot of BR E/PF.

Prepare for more brutality and bloodshed as Shenlong and Xion make their mark in this reboot of BR E/PF.

Xion also gets to continue his story from BR 3 by seeking redemption for the misdeeds he’d caused during the course of the previous game and discovering the secret behind his zoanthropy and mental lapses. According to the official BR cannon, however, Xion was somehow involved with the KoZ’s experiments to find out just that. How, unfortunately, was never really explained. In my version, though, I would make a point of illustrating him infiltrating the laboratories beneath the Kingdom’s palace and discovering the research going on there. He would then try to persuade the scientists to “cure” him of his zoanthropy—or, at the very least, the “Jekyll and Hyde” complex from which he’d been suffering during the course of BR 3—only to end up being abducted and used as a pawn in the ZLF’s game of chess against anyone who would dare to root them out. This thus leaves the question of whether or not Xion, as per Long’s advice at the end of his original BR E/PF ending, learns compassion and as such evolves beyond the monster he’d become in BR 3.

Golan Draphan, a.k.a. Ganesha of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Golan Draphan, a.k.a. Ganesha of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

As was the case with Prince Cronos, Ganesha made his debut in BR E/PF, which was sadly also the only BR game he’d appeared in. Originally hailing from Israel, Golan Draphan (whose name is Hebrew for “Refuge” according to BabyNamespedia.com and “Passage/Revolution” according to SheKnows.com) had witnessed firsthand the destruction of his village once upon a time by Cronos and as such has vowed to avenge his fellow villagers for the prince’s misdeed. In order to exact such vengeance, he has immigrated to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and arranged things so that he becomes Cronos’s bodyguard. From there, he defends the prince against all would-be assassins, thereby enabling him that he alone would be the one to punish him for the decimation of his village…only to [allegedly] meet his own demise in the end at Cronos’s hands. Overall, his original story stays intact with little to no variation with the question remaining as to whether or not he survives Cronos’s “killing blow” on him following his victory over the naïve, puppet-like prince.

Uranus finally makes her debut in my version of the Bloody Roar saga.

Uranus finally makes her debut in my version of the Bloody Roar saga.

Finally, though Kohryu from BR 3 shan’t be making a comeback to the BR E/PF stage, Uranus will—and with a full-fledged story to illustrate her place in the BR universe, too. Though her origins will be shrouded in mystery in the beginning of the story for the most part, the truth of the matter is she has been cloned from Uriko’s DNA following the experiments that had turned her into the were chimera from BR 1. One key difference between her and Uriko’s werechimera form, however, is that like the present incarnation of Stun, Uranus’s body is much more stable than Uriko’s synthetic form from the first BR, thus allowing her more control over the power that flows through her veins. Likewise, her personality is very sullen and dark, and though she secretly enjoys the sensations of fire and destruction, deep down inside, she questions her purpose on the planet and wonders who she really is. In reality, she is the ultimate zoanthrope weapon recreated by the scientists responsible for creating the KoZ as per the orders of the ZLF and is more or less used as their trump card in the war against humanity. Her purpose in the game is simple: to wipe out anyone who should discover and dare stand against the ZLF’s plans, so long as the ZLF has her under their control. Then again, there is no guarantee that she will stay obedient to her masters, meaning that someone will eventually have to take her out, lest she have her way and use her power to vanquish anyone and everyone whom she sees as an enemy.

New Characters

King Orion, the well-meaning yet horribly misguided ruler of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

King Orion, the well-meaning yet horribly misguided ruler of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Amongst the new characters in my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, the one whom I’ll bring over directly from the original to make a playable character would be King Orion himself. Being the monarch of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, Orion is naturally very much preoccupied with the idea of helping his people prosper and his nation grow stronger. On that note, he has been persuaded by the ZLF to believe that the experiments they have forced the KoZ’s founders to perform will provide the Kingdom with more powerful and reliable soldiers than what he already has in his employment. This can be likened to how he would feel in the story of the original BR E/PF, where he was convinced that an army of more physically empowered zoanthropes would be the boon that his nation needed and as such insisted that the experiments that were happening behind the scenes of the UZFT commenced. I’m therefore pretty surprised that nobody in the original game dared to confront him directly for his decision aside from his own son and that he wasn’t made a playable character on account of it. Even then, he could have made his decisions on account of the advice he’d receive from an advisor of sorts—perhaps the very man/woman who was standing behind that one pillar and smiling evilly in Gado’s ending after His Majesty and Gado had signed that peace treaty. At any rate, leaving out King Orion as a playable character in the official BR E/PF was a lost opportunity for some great storytelling, and I think throwing him into the mix would do wonders not only for the story as a whole, but for him specifically as a character. As for his beast form and martial art…hmm…I’d say Salamander/Wyrm with in-game mechanics similar to his son’s Penguin/Phoenix beast form and a martial art like Shaolin Quan that compliments the aerial prowess of a dragon without directly ripping off Cronos’s ballet-inspired fighting style.

As for veterans of the first BR, I’ve already briefly mentioned Mitsuko’s role in this story, and Greg will still be out of commission on account of having to cope yet with his XGC complications. Hans, on the other hand, will indeed be around to mix it up with the rest of the gang as a UN operative whose mission parallels Jenny’s in that he is expected to find out who’s behind the alleged experiments that have been going on within the KoZ and bring the perpetrator to justice. That’s assuming, of course, that his days as a Tylon assassin don’t come back to haunt him and trigger the same psychoses he’d suffered while under their control upon being reminded of the experiments the corporation had put him through.

Lanfa, Long's foster sister, at long last gets' her chance to shine in this telling of the Bloody Roar tale.

Lanfa, Long’s foster sister, at long last gets her chance to shine in this telling of the Bloody Roar tale.

Annette from Bloody Roar Beast Corps and my reboot of BR 3 will be making a comeback, too, as will Nathan from BRBC 2 (See the second and third part of this series for more on each of them.) as participants of the UZFT who hope to raise the money they need to cover their respective loved ones’ medical bills following their respective recoveries from their XGC complications. Fang and Mashiro will be available to play as well, seeing as they’d both appeared in the Bloody Roar Extreme V-Jump Book, also known as the bonus thirteenth chapter of Bloody Roar: The Fang. Fang’s appearance as an Easter egg character/third costume for Yugo in Bloody Roar Extreme further validates his presence in the game, and for fans of the manga to see Mashiro available as another Easter egg character/a third costume choice for Alice would only add icing to the cake. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Long’s “foster sister” Lanfa will finally get a chance to shine as a playable character as she puts her newly acquired skills in Bai He Quan (a.k.a. Fujian White Crane kung fu) to the test against the other participants in the UZFT. Naturally, as her fighting style suggests, her beast form would be that of a crane.

Reiji would be in my version of BR E/PF as well, having lost his way in the world once Andreas Drakos’s assassin cabal disbanded following the events of Bloody Roar Beast Corps 2 and my version of BR 3. Hot-blooded as ever, Reiji continues to seek strong opponents against whom he can test his mastery of both the martial arts and his own zoanthropy and sees the UZFT as his chance to do just that—especially since it just so happens that his old rival Kenji “Bakuryu” Ogami will be there for him to at least try to destroy. Who knows? There might even be a subplot involving Reiji and the Zoanthrope Liberation Front in which the ZLF recognizes his bloodlust, fighting prowess, and zoanthropic pride and decide to recruit him into their fold.

Reiji Takigawa, bloodthirsty rogue and potential ZLF recruit

Reiji Takigawa, bloodthirsty rogue and potential ZLF recruit

Speaking of the ZLF, their representatives in this game will be none other than Lance and Gayle, both of whom I’d introduced in the second installment of this miniseries. Lance, naturally, is the new leader of the ZLF and is thus the one responsible for holding the founders of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes hostage and forcing them to conduct the nefarious experiments they have been for the sake of bolstering the Front’s numbers. I need not explain the purpose, either, for such an increase in the organization’s militaristic might. Gayle, on the other hand, is a reluctant member of the ZLF who would like nothing more than to purge herself of the zoanthropy she’d once stolen money from her former fellow animal rights activists to attain in the first place on account of the complications it has made on her way of life. Granted, doing so would also mean having to abandon the cause she’d once chosen to support during the events of my version of Bloody Roar 2, but the way she sees it, such is a small price to pay on her part. As such, her reason for wanting the scientists’ experiments to continue is simple: She wants them to discover a way to safely revert her back to a baseline human, after which she can go back home, report the Front to the authorities, and try to live as normal a life as she can from thereon out. Sadly, it seems like she’ll have to fight for such a right via the UZFT, but at this stage of her zoanthropic life, she’ll do whatever it takes to regain the humanity she’d sacrificed a mere year to year-and-a-half prior.

Will the Nonomura family reunite once and for all after the dust has settled in this retelling of the BR E/PF story?

Will the Nonomura family reunite once and for all after the dust has settled in this retelling of the BR E/PF story?

As for the scientists responsible for the birth of the KoZ, there are two amongst them who stand out the most: Dr. Hiroshi Nonomura and Dr. Matabei Tsukigami. Both having been missing for several years, these two men were the leaders behind the movement to construct the Kingdom of Zoanthropes following the collapse of Tylon’s corporate headquarters in South America, and they’d been in charge since up until the moment the ZLF had taken over their operation. It was they who’d salvaged as many experimental subjects of Tylon as they could and made them the members of the Kingdom’s royal family, heads of government, et cetera. On one hand is Hiroshi, Uriko’s estranged father and Mitsuko’s lost husband, who had been abducted by Tylon before the events of BR 1 and made to use his pharmaceutical knowledge to create not only the brainwashing formula that the corporation used to “recruit” subjects into servitude, but also the synthetic Factor B used to empower his own daughter into become the werechimera and also Uriko’s synthetic body. Needless to say, he is extremely repentant for his involvement in Tylon’s scientific progress and wishes for nothing more than to redeem himself for allowing his research to fall into the wrong hands once already…that and reuniting with his family, of course. Unfortunately, though his and his fellow scientists’ foundation of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes had promised to be the first step in paying zoanthropekind back for all the evil for which their work had been used, the ZLF’s hostile takeover of their hidden laboratory has certainly put an end to that act of good will, specifically in terms of the experiments that the Front have been having them perform. This angers Hiroshi greatly, and though he is loathe to put his colleagues in danger, it may only be a matter of time before he beastorizes into a monkey and lets loose on his captors with his mastery of Hou Quan (monkey fist kung fu).

On the other hand is Matabei, Alice’s biological father, who had been working for Tylon before the events of the first Bloody Roar. Having lost his wife/Alice’s mother to the X-Genome Code, Matabei once had his daughter tested to make sure that she, too, wasn’t a carrier of the XGC herself. However, after his superiors’ tests had proven that she was indeed XGC-free, they insisted on conducting further tests on her (i.e., brainwashing her into becoming one of their soldiers), which Matabei adamantly protested against. Much to his dismay, however, his employers separated him from Alice and began experimenting on him as well in a manner not too unlike the way Busuzima had experimented on his colleague Steven Goldberg and turned him into the original Stun. The result of such experiments resulted in the first amoeba zoanthrope and, in Matabei’s cae, a body so unstable that he must live on a special life support system constructed by his fellow ex-Tylon scientists in order to survive. Then again, despite his fragile state, he can still fend for himself when need be, dispatching assailants with his mastery in aikido when the going gets rough.

Sobek, the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile River and inspiration behind one of my new characters to this reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury

Sobek, the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile River and inspiration behind one of my new characters to this reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury

General Sobek is next on this list, and though I’ve briefly mentioned him before, I will say that just as is true with the royal family of the KoZ, the general of the Kingdom’s military also happens to be a former test subject that the renegade scientists had rescued from Tylon’s corporate HQ. Formerly from Egypt, Hru-Amen Mansour used to be an excellent soldier prior to his abduction by the corporation and very proud of his success as a field commander and tactician for the troops under his command. Unfortunately, his falling prey to an ambush by Tylon zoanthropes changed all that for him, as did the decimation of his platoon in the ambush. Still suffering the memory of such a humiliating defeat, Sobek naturally wants to redeem himself for what he sees to be a tragic fault of his and is thus easily persuaded by the ZLF that the experiments they have the KoZ’s scientists conduct will only bolster the soldiers of whom he is in charge and thus ensure them to become an army of no equal. It is thus up to Shina—whom he doesn’t trust on account of her reputation as a mercenary and as the hired co-trainer of his troops—to teach him that the best way to ensure the reliability of his soldiers is to have them develop their talents organically rather than through whatever artificial enhancements they might receive from the ZLF’s cruel and untrustworthy scientific tampering. his beast form is that of a crocodile, and his choice of martial art is submission wrestling with bare knuckle boxing thrown in for the sake of striking.

Finally, we have Daedalus, a robotic bull zoanthrope who bears a lot in common with Kohryu from BR 3. Basically the mechanized version of Hogarth Howards from my BR 1 reboot, Daedalus was created by the engineers of the KoZ’s founders and originally meant to serve as a police droid of sorts before the ZLF infiltrated their labs and had him reprogrammed into a shock troop for their little scheme. Little did both parties know, though, that just like with Kohryu, Daedalus has a hidden agenda that others’ programming of him can only temporarily override. That agenda: the destruction of pretty much any zoanthrope with whom he crosses paths, using the same fierce fighting style he’d used when he was alive to cripple his adversaries.

To imagine the concept behind Daedalus, just combine the likes of Battle Arena Toshinden 3's Adam with Minatek from Midway's BioF.R.E.A.K.S. from 1998.

To imagine the concept behind Daedalus, just combine the likes of Battle Arena Toshinden 3’s Adam with Minatek from Midway’s BioF.R.E.A.K.S. from 1998.

Bloody Roar Beast Corps 3

To sign off on this article, one final way in which I would reboot Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury is to have a Bloody Roar Beast Corps game accompany it as I had done from BRs 2 and 3. This particular mission for the heroes of BRBC would be the simplest yet, too, in that all they need to do is to infiltrate the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and get to the bottom of what’s going on behind the scenes with the experiments that have allegedly been taking place within the young nation. Doing so won’t be an easy task, unfortunately, for the ZLF have remained on top of things and as such have arranged a number of operatives from the various chapters they’ve established globally to obstruct Paul, Sonja, Mireille, and Yao as they make their way towards the KoZ and root out the evil that’s infesting it. Thankfully, our fearsome foursome are bound to come across some allies to aid them in their mission, although said allies won’t be appearing in the game in the same way Annette and Rupert has appeared in the first BRBC game or the way Nathan, Fang, and Mashiro had in BRBC 2. Rather, I would allow the player to create his or her own zoanthrope to assist the four primary heroes in eradicating the Front. Gender, height and weight, outfit, nationality, fighting style, beast form—I would include it all in BRBC 3’s Create-a-Hero mode along with a score of ZLF mooks and bosses for the Beast Corps to wage war against as well as a number of villains from my BR E/PF reboot. Lance, Gayle, General Sobek, Reiji, Daedalus, and even Shenlong would all be welcome additions in this game, to be sure. I’d even throw a few original Front members into the mix as well, plus some branching paths to help lead the BRBC and their allies down different trails toward the KoZ and end up facing off against different chapters of the ZLF with each unique path they take.

Well, that pretty much sums up my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury. Thanks to all who took the time out of their day to read this, and I apologize for introducing this installment to my miniseries as late as I have. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I introduce the fifth and final part of this reboot, where I’ll tackle the “black sheep” (no pun intended) of the BR franchise, Bloody Roar 4. In the meantime, though, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and feel free to subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t done so already. Otherwise, thanks again for the support, and as always, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 2: December 12, 2012

Part 3: February 2, 2013

Part 5: August 23, 2015

*****

Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. All visual materials used in this article are as follows:

Bloody Roar Extreme & Primal Fury covers: GameFAQs.com

Bloody Roar Primal Fury Story Intro: PFTMClubcomuv.com

Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury character models: BloodyRoar.Wikia.com

King Orion: Bloody Roar Primal Fury [GC] Stun the Insect’s Ending by zedk8

Daedalus: Toshinden 3 BAT 3 PSXRip OST Rungo & Adam BGM by greenshun GABO (Battle Arena Toshinden 3 Adam) & Mobygames.com (BioF.R.E.A.K.S. Minatek)

Sobek hieroglyoph: Egyking.info

All opinions expressed and ideas shared within the above article, however, are solely those of the author himself and no other party.

In Relation to My Work: Creating a Compelling Professional Wrestling Persona

Pro wrestling history has experienced many a character over the years that fans still remember fondly today…

Welcome back, readers!

Well, it’s back…my little segment entitled “In Relation to My Work,” and in this particular installment, I will be discussing something that I’ve actually been wanting to talk about for over a year at this point following my publication of UWWX: The Underground Women’s Wrestling Xperiment back in the December of 2012. In fact, this particular topic has actually been back on my mind quite a bit on account of my recent dillydallying around with WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role for the Sony PSX. As I’ve made allusions to before on February 9, 2013 on this blog, if there’s one feature of any wrestling game that catches my attention the most, it’d be its Create-a-Wrestler feature. Without a doubt, whenever a particular video game contains a feature that allows me to interact with the game itself on a deeper level than simply taking what the programmers have already given me and being satisfied with it, more times than not, I learn to love said feature, and the CAW mode in most wrestling games from 1998 onward is certainly no exception to this rule. As a matter of fact, such modes often prove to be the most fun for me in that they help me learn about professional wrestling on a level that, in its own way, is more personal and interactive than simply selecting one of several already established wrestlers and helping my chosen grappler grab the gold in Season Mode. You see, CAW features in wrestling games teach me both as a gamer and as a wrestling fan the importance of having a large, varied arsenal and knowing not only how, but also when to use such maneuvers. For example, it makes more sense to start off with simple weardown holds such as headlocks and leg grapevines earlier on in the match than to slap on more devastating submission holds such as guillotine chokes and anklelocks for the simple fact that the fresher an opponent is, the more likely he or she will be likely to shrug off and escape such holds, thus making them seem less effective in the long run. Not only that, but what makes a wrestling match more exciting after all is said and done—executing one’s most high-impact slams and crippling holds against an opponent right off the bat or slowly but surely working one’s way up to such moves towards the end of the match, all the while exchanging takedowns, weardown holds, and simple punches and kicks in a competitive toe-to-toe bout?

Of course, all of that constitutes only the mechanics of professional wrestling. On the other hand is something that is of arguably equal importance in terms of making one’s mark in the pro wrestling world, and that something is the development and presentation of one’s in-ring persona. After all, how many times have you visited certain message boards or forums dedicated to pro wrestling and have either read or heard someone complain about a certain wrestler for having essentially no personality or character to speak of and as such not really standing out from the rest of the roster of whatever company he or she belongs to? Chances are that if you identify yourself as a member of what has long been known as the Internet Wrestling Community, you’ve probably read and/or heard your fair share of arguments like this. Heck, even if you only check out such forums or message boards on an occasional basis, you’ve become at least vaguely familiar with the term “vanilla midget,” which is basically what less forgiving wrestling enthusiasts call those wrestlers who lack the definitive character development of their more defined brethren, even if only in said fans’ eyes. This very term is a particularly unfortunate one for a wrestler to be called in that it defines him or her—either rightly or wrongly—as being bland, boring, and completely devoid of personality and therefore not worth paying any attention to. Needless to say, no wrestler wants to be labeled such a thing, especially considering the fact that unlike boxing, mixed martial arts, Olympic wrestling, and various other full-fledged sports, pro wrestling is an entirely different breed of venue—a type of sports-theater hybrid, if one will, that relies just as much on storytelling and larger-than-life personalities as it does raw athleticism. Now, don’t get me wrong, people. I myself enjoy a great wrestling match just as much as the next person, be it a smooth-flowing technical wrestling clinic or an acrobatic display of high-flying prowess or even a good old-fashioned, hard-hitting brawl. However, while any given wrestling match might be considered great or even a classic based solely on the work rate of the wrestlers involved, such a match often enough ends up meaning so much more with the help of not only mindful, logical booking, but also (and moreover) keen, distinct character portrayal and the evolution of such personas both inside and outside the ring.

...as well as those that they'd surely love to forget.

…as well as those that they’d surely love to forget.

Unfortunately, over the course of history, wrestling fans have witnessed many a pro wrestling character that has failed to work—many an in-ring persona that has become more infamous than famous within the eyes of fans and pundits alike on at least one level or another. Worse yet is how there has even been at least one entire wrestling promotion that has, in all its existence, been carried upon the backs of such poorly developed characters. However, no matter how many personas have been developed throughout the entirety of professional wrestling’s existence, it always seems as though certain wrestling promotions have yet to learn and remember what separates the cherished characters from the reviled ones and keep such a vital piece of information in mind when presenting new personalities to their audience, be they ones that they themselves have forged for their performers to portray or ones that the performers have created for themselves. I sure know that in all my years of being a wrestling fan, I’ve come to know many an in-ring persona that I’ve come to hate for X, Y, and Z reasons as well as those I’ve come to enjoy, and it is out of my personal desire to continue seeing more of the latter and less of the former that I write this particular article. Will the eyes of any major wrestling promotion ever fall upon it? Not likely, but hey—if nothing else, at least it makes for a good exercise in catharsis. Therefore, without any further ado, allow me to draw upon my years of being a fan and, in a ways, student of this oft-misunderstood form of entertainment and share with you all three important points necessary to keep in mind when creating a timeless in-ring pro wrestling persona.

The Ringmaster vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Two characters portrayed by WWE legend Steve Williams

The Ringmaster vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin:
Two characters portrayed by WWE legend Steve Williams

Point 1: The wrestler must have it in him or her to portray the persona in question.

This first step should more or less go without saying. After all, if an actor or actress in a movie, television program, or stage performance falls short in portraying the role he or she is supposed to be playing, then his or her performance is bound to suffer. Sure, it never hurts such professionals to broaden their range and learn to adapt themselves to a wider range of genres and/or character archetypes in hopes of providing themselves with a more stable acting career. Even so, not every professional in this field can do so, be it on account of their choice industry’s tendencies to typecast them based on earlier successes or some sort of insufficiency on their own part. Sadly, the same holds true for professional wrestlers, for not every wrestler has the same kind of flexibility that Christopher Daniels had when he played Curry Man in 2008 TNA or that Cody Rhodes had in 2011 WWE with his “Undashing” gimmick or, for that matter, the way Mick Foley or Dustin Rhodes had with any of the characters they’d played over the course of their respective careers. Then again, even when a wrestler does end up playing a persona well, there are instances in which it’s the character that’s holding the wrestler back by not allowing him or her to make the most out of his or her talents as a performer. One such example that readily comes to mind for me in terms of the performer and the character not meshing as well together as they otherwise could have is the Ringmaster, a character that was portrayed in 1995 by none other than the man whom fans refer to today as “The Texas Rattlesnake” and “The Bionic Redneck” (amongst various other nicknames), WWF/WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin. To get a glimpse of how Austin operated under this gimmick, please click on the link below to check out his match against Scott Taylor as archived on WWE: The Stone Cold Truth from 2004 from WWE’s very own DVD library.

The Ringmaster vs. Scott Taylor

Now, some of you might be wondering, “What’s wrong with this gimmick, exactly, aside from his [admittedly] dopey name? If nothing else, it at least showed how great of an in-ring technician the guy was as well as how well he could play a cocky heel through his ring work. Not only that, Austin was allowed to do what he did best aside from wrestle, and that is cut a decent promo.” That may be true, but here’s the thing: The Ringmaster character didn’t allow Austin to shine the way he did when he became Stone Cold. After all, as wrestling fans who are keen on their history of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling would remind us, ECW founder Paul Heyman gave Steve the opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of the mic as soon as he stepped into the company in 1995 after having Eric Bischoff fire him from World Championship Wrestling. Still recovering from a triceps injury at the time, Steve was clearly in no condition to wrestle. However, that did nothing to keep him from cutting promo after promo on WCW and particularly Bischoff (Click here for his most famous of them all.), and from that point forward, Steve had already begun to forge his “Stone Cold” Steve Austin persona despite him taking on the name of “Superstar” Steve Austin at the time. It was by feeding upon the anger, resentment, and bitterness that he’d felt concerning his termination from WCW that his promos helped him to explore and present an edgy, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners side of him that wrestling fans continue to remember fondly to this day. In short, regardless of how well Steve had played the Ringmaster during his rookie year in the WWF, that same character did little to make the most out of his ability to present himself as a true pro wrestling superstar. The Stone Cold character, on the other hand, was a much more natural fit for him.

As Adam "Edge" Copeland himself will tell prospective wrestlers, even if you are given a character to portray by a promotion's bookers, it's ultimately you who brings that character to life and allows it to evolve over time.

As Adam “Edge” Copeland himself will tell prospective wrestlers, even if you are given a character to portray by a promotion’s bookers, it’s ultimately you who brings that character to life and allows it to evolve over time.

“But what if the promoter I’m working for gives me a character to play that I just can’t portray for (Insert reason here.)?” Well, one of the key pieces of advice that any successful wrestler from over the years can tell you is this: Never be afraid to approach your employer and make a suggestion on how to adapt the character so that he/she is easier for you to portray. Such was how WWE Hall of Famer Adam Copeland adapted Edge—a street-roaming loner who later evolved into the “Rated R Superstar”—to be his WWF/WWE character from debut to retirement. The same can be said for how Mick Foley was able to step into undoubtedly his most beloved wrestling persona of all time, Mankind, who was originally going to be named “Mason the Mutilator” and whom Mick has presented in two distinct manners as both a heel and a babyface. In fact, it has often been suggested that the best way a wrestling promoter can promote any performer on his or her roster is to assess the performer’s qualities (wrestling style, wrestling skill, promo skills, acting mannerisms, etc.) and either forge a marketable persona for that talent to portray or take whatever preexisting persona said talent might have and tweak it ever so gingerly to make it presentable to the promoter’s intended audience. It seems as though the WWE has been taking this approach, too, this past year by giving its fans such memorable characters as the Shield, the Wyatt Family, and the Real Americans. Even Fandango, the 2013 incarnation of WWE wrestler Johnny Curtis, and his valet Summer Rae have been given characters that have gotten over with the crowd to some degree, and as of the December of 2013, certain episodes of WWE television have shown Brodus Clay—formerly known in 2012 as the Funkasaurus—returning to his monster heel roots. Unfortunately, there are still some products of WWE’s current (at least as of this article) creative process that have left a sour taste in certain fans’ mouths. On one hand is Xavier Woods as a stereotypical “shuckin’ and jivin’” black babyface rather than as a more intelligent, educated African American character. The same could be said for Wade Barrett’s most recent persona, “Bad News” Barrett, no thanks to the questionable writing that had gone into him for the first month or two of Barrett taking on this persona. Also, many of Drew McIntyre’s fans would love to see him regain the midcard prestige that he once had prior to his fallout with his ex-wife Taryn Terrell and perhaps reach even greater heights within the company. Unfortunately, WWE management has made no open attempt to move him out of the Three Man Band, last time I’ve checked, and it may take them a while to respond to such fans’ requests. Regardless, though the company’s creative direction may not be flawless, they’ve nonetheless shown that they can produce solid, distinct characters for their wrestlers to portray, and only time will tell if such personas will stand the test of time in a fashion similar to the way that characters of earlier eras (i.e., the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and Attitude eras) have. For further explanation on how the WWE can make the most out of their characters, please check out this video by YouTube wrestling examiner Alex “Dalyxman” Hicks from December 19, 2013.

Hornswoggle vs. Chavo Guerrero: One of the most hated feuds in pro wrestling, not just because of the matches they had, but because of the ever-so-predictable outcome of each of those matches

Hornswoggle vs. Chavo Guerrero:
One of the most hated feuds in pro wrestling, not just because of the matches they had, but because of the ever-so-predictable outcome of each of those matches

Point 2: The persona must have a solid level of depth and development.

To put it simply, if the crowd can’t buy into your persona, then what’s the point in even portraying it? Such is the responsibility of both the performer and the promoter—the performer for being able to play the role at least reasonably well and the promoter for crafting the persona adeptly enough in the first place to take full advantage of the performer’s physical and personal capabilities. With all due honesty, then, this point does indeed draw upon the first point I’ve made. Moreover, however, it enforces the responsibility of the promoter to forge a decent character in the first place for the given talent to portray. After all, nothing can kill the career of a gifted in-ring performer like a gimmick that completely reduces him or her to a glorified comedy act. For example, one of the worst ways to create a wrestling character is to simply slap a gimmick onto a wrestler—especially a gimmick that had been done before in a pre-existing, more successful and beloved wrestling promotion—give said wrestler a bizarre and often pun-based ring name, and say, “Boom! There’s your character.” This process is nothing short of lazy and superficial, for most such gimmicks have only a bare minimum effect on separating the wrestler from the rest of the roster in that most such gimmicks are so transparent that even people who are not wrestling fans can see right through them. Similarly, rarely—if, in fact, ever—do such gimmicks do anything significant in terms of meshing well with their performers’ best traits or otherwise bringing out the best in them. Such is the problem with every wrestling promotion as yet that has followed the same model as Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, GLOW had its time back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when people were so used to seeing wrestlers playing cartoony, over-the-top characters in very vivid and colorful (almost garish) costumes. However, time change, and as they change, so do people’s tastes. As such, though there is still room even today in most wrestling promotions for the occasional goofball personality, people’s attitudes since the Attitude Era have started to gravitate more towards those wrestlers with personas that are more realistic and reflective of certain attitudes and beliefs and away from the more overblown archetypes and stereotypes of years past. Such is part of the reason why David B. McLane’s Women of Wrestling failed to hold the interest of many a wrestling fan back in 2000-01, as I’ve mentioned on June 12, 2012, on this blog. Sure, the characters were, as I’d said then, more like girls’ action comic book heroines and villainesses than the burlesque comedy characters that GLOW had had, but even so, with many of these characters receiving little to no storylines involving them and as such little to no character development over the course of WOW’s initial run (e.g., Boom Boom the Volcano; Caliente; Jane Blonde; and Tanja, Warrior Princess), how easy could it be for people who saw the show to look beyond these personas’ gimmicks and see them as anything more? Even those characters who were involved in prominent angles in WOW (e.g., Terri Gold, Lana Star, Danger, Riot, Patti Pep/Patti Pizzazz, Ice Cold, and even Thug and Selina Majors) failed to attain the whole larger-than-life status that they otherwise could have received, had it not been for just how lazy the booking was for that promotion, thus killing whatever chance they would have otherwise had to develop properly. Don’t even get me started again, either, with Johnny Cafarella’s Wrestlicious from 2010, which more or less copied GLOW’s formula in full and tweaked it to make its own product even sleazier and cheesier than even GLOW’s second through fourth seasons could ever hope to be. Even if there was any character development during that promotion’s existence, the show’s sloppy and poorly booked wrestling and uninspired and outright tacky humor left such a bad taste in the mouths of many a wrestling enthusiast at the time (myself included, for the record) that it failed miserably to shine through, and the characters came off as being little more than empty fetishes that Cafarella and his sidekick Steve Blance had slapped on to their women in order to make them fit in with the theme they were aiming for.

Matt Cimber's Femme D'Action: All I can say is this: Mr. Cimber, please...do NOT make this as bad as Johnny Cafarella had made Wrestlicious.

Matt Cimber’s Femme D’Action:
All I can say is this: Mr. Cimber, please…do NOT make this as bad as Johnny Cafarella had made Wrestlicious.

Luckily, there is a way to help make sure that even the most far-fetched and unconventional personas work in pro wresting, and that is to actually flesh each character out. Basically, what a promoter needs to do here is ask himself the following questions:

“Who is [Wrestling Character X]?”

“Why is he/she in this promotion?”

“How does he/she plan to accomplish his/her goal?”

“What does he/she stand for or against?”

“How does he/she get along with everyone else on the roster?”

“How does he/she get along with the fans?”

The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the point. After all, without a fitting backstory and personality to accompany his or her gimmick, the character is nothing more than an empty shell, and as such, why would any fan want to support such a bland, lifeless fabrication of a persona? Thankfully, from what I’ve seen of former GLOW director Matt Cimber’s 2013-14 project, Femme D’Action, he seems to understand this philosophy and has given readily discernable backstories to each of the characters he has created for his show. Who are they? What are their respective outlooks on life and the world? What are their goals as competitors in this promotion? These are questions that Cimber has apparently asked himself when creating them for his show, especially judging from the auditions he has featured on his website in which various women have competed to take on these roles. Granted, I still have my reservations about the whole project at this moment, seeing as how much GLOW flavor Femme D’Action still has, from the campy and sometimes ill-fitting humor—which Cimber has embellished with a laugh track, of all things, a la Wrestlicious/GLOW—and the ethnically stereotypical nature and pun-based names (e.g., Su Nami and Kim Chi) of many of these characters. Even so, at least like Mr. McLane before him, Cimber has tweaked the original GLOW formula and moved forward with it, which is still a far cry from what Cafarella did back in 2008-2010 with Wrestlicious. Not only that, but I personally find it to be ironic in a way, considering that it has been well recorded that McLane had left Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling back in 1987 after its first season had run its course on account of a disagreement he and Cimber had had concerning the nature of the show. What makes the irony even more palatable, however, is the fact that McLane was the one who wanted an actual wrestling promotion whereas Cimber felt that there was no need to change the whole “action comedy” formula that GLOW had had at the time, seeing as how it was working for them then. All this in mind, then, I hope I’m not all that out of line in cracking wise and saying that one can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Regardless, though I’ll have to actually see Femme D’Action in full before passing final judgment upon it, at least it seems as though Matt Cimber has realized with this new work of his something that Steve Blance and Johnny Cafarella never could: that it takes more than just an empty gimmick to make a captivating and ultimately memorable pro wrestling persona; it’s also what goes into the gimmick—namely, personality and backstory—that matter as well.

Fatima, Kenyata, The Patriot, Tattoo, Ravae, Su Nami, Kim Chi, and Ultra: Eight character concepts for Matt Cimber's Femme D'Action, all of which you can read about on the show's official website

Fatima, Kenyata, The Patriot, Tattoo, Ravae, Su Nami, Kim Chi, and Ultra:
Eight character concepts for Matt Cimber’s Femme D’Action, all of which you can read about on the show’s official website

Of course, as I may have said before on this blog, the best characters in pro wrestling are those that are organic—products of the wrestler’s own imagination that they have fleshed out themselves and can play the most naturally with bare minimum, if any, modifications made to them by the promoter to suit the promotion’s needs. Yes, there have been many characters over the years that have been successful in the pro wrestling business—Undertaker, Mankind, and to a degree, Kane, just to name a few—that, despite being complete fabrications of the promotion’s creative team, have nonetheless become immortalized in pro wrestling history and beloved by the fans who were fortunate enough to see said characters in action, whether they grew up watching those very personas on their TV sets back in the day or even if they simply saw a video posted on the Internet featuring them. However, sometimes the most popular characters in any given wrestling promotion are those that feel the most real—that seem the most likely to exist in real life—that are, in many ways, extensions of the wrestler’s own personality. Arguably, these characters are the ones whom wrestling fans find the easiest to invest time, energy, and money into based on the simple notion that they represent ideals that they themselves can identify with one way or another, such as the rebellious Stone Cold Steve Austin and his violent resentment towards a boss who tries to cheat him out of every opportunity he strives for or the loveable underdog Daniel Bryan who, despite his small size, puts his superior mat skills and ferocious fighting spirit to the test night in, night out to prove that he belongs in the same ring as any muscle-bound giant whom the Authority also has on their payroll. Both of these examples represent aspects of life that people can identify with and say, “Hey, I’ve got to put up with crap like that at work/school, too. You know what? I’m going to root for this guy.” The same can be said for A.J. Lee, a woman whom we’re all supposed to hate because of her arrogance and how she apparently made her way to the top by making out with the right guys in the company, yet we end up loving anyway because she has the guts to distinguish herself from every other woman in the promotion and speak out against something that we ourselves find to be utterly ridiculous the way most IWC fans despise WWE’s Total Divas (Please watch the following promo to see what I’m talking about.). Furthermore, the characters with whom these personas clash are often enough equally relatable to identify as aspects of life that we ourselves find ourselves forced to overcome, such as Vince McMahon as the belligerent, condescending boss who cheats us out of everything we deserve or Randy Orton as the “chosen one” who receives all the awards and merits in the company when even the company’s customer base insists—nay, demands—that we receive those merits instead. Such foils further add to the story we’re watching and, in turn, the personalities we’re expected to root for, further proving how organic characters are the ones that prove most effective for any wrestling show and, in turn, further proving that a wrestler needn’t a ridiculous, overblown gimmick in order to get over with the crowd; he or she simply needs to be himself or herself.

Organic Babyfaces vs. Organic Heels: The kind of feud that wrestling fans have become more and more invested in over the years

Organic Babyfaces vs. Organic Heels:
The kind of feud that wrestling fans have become more and more invested in over the years

Point 3: The character must fill in some sort of niche within the wrestling product within which he or she belongs.

To put it bluntly, it’s impossible for everyone to be a main eventer in any wrestling promotion, whether or not he or she deserves it. Every promotion needs a pecking order of some sort: main eventers, upper to lower midcarders, undercard players, and scrubs/jobbers. There thus has to be a niche for every wrestler and, in turn, a niche for every character. On a similar note, a promotion’s got to have a little bit of something for everyone: noble do-gooder babyfaces, monsters who win their matches by flat-out obliterating the competition, loveable but luckless underdogs, dastardly heels who triumph over the forces of good with underhanded tactics, and yes, even the occasional comic relief character. What matters, therefore, with all this in mind, is whether or not a promoter can answer the following question: “Where does this wrestler with this character belong on my roster?”

Mick Foley as Mankind: One of the few comedic characters in pro wrestling history ever to be openly accepted as a main event player, thanks to the serious side that the performer put on display while portraying him

Mick Foley as Mankind:
One of the few comedic characters in pro wrestling history ever to be openly accepted as a main event player, thanks to the serious side that the performer put on display while portraying him

One common rule of thumb is to keep comedic characters out of the main event and relegate them instead to the midcard at the very most. Granted, there are exceptions to the rule, specifically if said comedy character has a serious side that the wrestler portraying him or her can play up. Such is the case with Mankind—a character that was initially introduced as a disturbed, self-mutilating creature of mayhem who eventually came to develop a softer, more benevolent side once he turned babyface and—though still a bit deranged in his own way—nevertheless developed an offbeat sense of humor (i.e., using a sock named “Mr. Socko” as opposed to his original two-finger glove when applying his signature Mandible Claw) that not only distinguished him from the other wrestlers in the WWF at the time, but also resonated a lot with the fans. Even then, however, it still took careful booking and Mick Foley’s brilliant portrayal of the Mankind persona (i.e., the following promo) to ensure his credibility as a top player in the company and make for certain that he would receive the huge pop that he did on the evening of January 4, 1999, when he won his first ever WWF Championship from The Rock in the main event of Raw Is War. Otherwise, would Mankind have been as over as he was with the crowd had it not been for the development that went into him on both Foley’s behalf and the behalf of the WWF booking committee at the time? Would other comic characters within the WWF during the day (e.g., the Godfather, the Headbangers, or any of the Oddities) have been as believable in that same role as Mankind was? Not likely, according to most wrestling fans. After all, unless you’re running a promotion like Nickelodeon’s W.A.C.K. from 2006 or the Studio Kaiju production Kaiju Big Battel (misspelling of the word “Battle” being intentional)—both of which are aimed towards a specific audience (i.e., W.A.C.K. towards young kids and KBB towards fans of superhero comic books and Japanese pop culture)—chances are that you’re trying to present your product as a more serious and at least semi-realistic product. In such a promotion as this, where the goal of the promoter is to provide the illusion that whatever competition is going on in the ring as being real, chances are that said promoter isn’t going to bill someone with a comedic gimmick as a main eventer in the first place, much less award the wrestler portraying that persona as the possessor of the company’s top championship—midcard championship, perhaps, but that’s about it. Therefore, one shouldn’t expect to see the likes of any character in the same vein as Doink the Clown (babyface incarnation, leastways), the Repo Man, Terry Taylor as the Red Rooster, Kerwin White, Eugene, Simon Dean, or Hornswoggle being the center of attention for such a product.

Awesome Kong and Alpha Female: Two big, powerful, skillful women who could very well coexist in the same wrestling federation, so long as their characters weren't identical

Awesome Kong and Alpha Female:
Two big, powerful, skillful women who could very well coexist in the same wrestling federation, so long as their characters weren’t identical

Another thing to keep in mind is that pro wrestling characters are best presented in a snowflake fashion, meaning that—to paraphrase the old cliché—no two should be identical. In other words, if you’re running a wrestling promotion that has two big, powerful, dominating women on the roster—say, for example, Awesome Kong and the Alpha Female—what is the one definitive trait that sets these two women apart? I’m not talking something as minor as skin color, either; rather, I’m talking about something deeper and more intrinsic. Obviously, it’s be a little absurd to have both of these women as heels, seeing as having two monstrous, bone-crushing “she-beasts” (for lack of a more flattering term) would only tilt the balance of literal power to favor the heels in the company. That in mind, it would only make sense to feature one of these women as a babyface, particularly in the instance that one of these two women has any amount of seniority in the company over the other. In this instance, the promoter can book one of the women—Awesome Kong, for instance—as an unstoppable force of nature for a long while, smashing the competition match after match until she finds her reign of terror brought to a screeching halt by one of the other women on the roster, who picks up a clean upset victory over her in their match against one another for the championship. Then, you can feature Kong trying to attain revenge against this other woman—be she Nikki Roxx, Gail Kim, Cheerleader Melissa/Alyssa Flash, Natalya Neidhart, or anyone else like these women—and end up losing time and again simply because this other woman just has her number. You can even have her pick up her one definitive victory over this adversary of hers to end their rivalry once and for all and even win back the championship she’d lost to her initially. Then, later on down the line, you can introduce the other dominant woman—the Alpha Female, in our example—and have her simply destroy every single woman who dares to step into the ring with her, including Kong’s old rival, which thus catches Kong’s attention and stirs up within her bad memories of the feud she’d had with that third woman and how hard it’d been for her to finally defeat her simply because “Rival X” was that much of a thorn in her side. From there, you can allow the contention between Kong and the Alpha Female fly as the two contend against one another bout after bout, making each fight a contest of skill, will, cunning, fortitude, and even morals and ideals, using promo packages along the way as well to further heighten the animosity between these two women until their final match. During this time, the fans should be able to see for themselves each woman develop her own distinct persona from her opponent, and not only in terms of personality, either, but also—at least quite possibly—in terms of wrestling style as well, especially with one woman being the definite heel in the program and the other being the definite face. On one hand, one of these women could put her technical skills on display as she tries to whittle her adversary’s strength down to nothing with weardown and submission holds while the other can rely more on sheer strength and hard-hitting brawling tactics to try and maintain the upper hand against the first gal. Finally, after that last match when the dust clears and one of these two queens of devastation raises her arms in triumph, the fans will finally know who the ultimate destructive force amongst all the women in the company, and from there, the bookers can find a way to further distinguish one woman as a babyface and the other as a heel throughout the course of each woman’s tenure with the company. Granted, this is a rather crude way to feature two very similar wrestlers and demonstrate how they can create their own divergent in-ring personas, but hopefully, it illustrates my point on how differentiation can benefit two very similar wrestlers who just happen to be in the same company.

Bret "The Hitman" Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be...both as a wrestler and as a pro wrestling persona

Bret “The Hitman” Hart:
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be…both as a wrestler and as a pro wrestling persona

Lastly, there is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to making a niche for certain characters in a pro wrestling product, and that is when it comes to assigning a given persona’s alignment. Here’s the reason why this aspect is important: Wrestlers end up changing alignment from face to heel (or vice versa) and back again quite frequently—sometimes more frequently than necessary, but that’s a matter of opinion that can be discussed some other time. In fact, some of the greatest wrestlers of all time from Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant to Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock to Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Randy Orton have been both heel and face throughout the course of their careers, and though one can argue that this wrestler or that was or is better as one of the two alignments than the other, the fact of the matter remains that alignment shifts—for right or wrong—still happen. Therefore, when it comes to a given wrestler’s in-ring persona, the question remains as to how said persona behaves when as a face and when as a heel. Take the character of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, for example—a proud mat technician from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and a member of one of the most time-honored pro wrestling dynasties of all time, the Hart family. For the most part, the Hitman character is remembered as a man of honor who takes pride in his craft and is always out to prove that he’s “The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be.” However, there was a time prior to that when he and his brother-in-law Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart were tag-teaming together as the original Hart Foundation with “The Mouth from the South” Jimmy Hart as their manager. During this time, they proved to be one of the most dangerous and despicable tag teams in all of the WWF. Sure, they were great wrestlers who had fantastic teamwork, but it wasn’t just their skill that made them such a memorable heel tag team; they had their fair share of dirty tricks up their sleeve as well, including the aid of Jimmy Hart and his trusty bullhorn—aid that, unfortunately, would turn around and bite them in the seat of their pink-and-black tights when the two became a babyface tag team and ended up losing their WWF Tag Team Championship to Jimmy’s charges at the time, the Nasty Boys. During their heel run, however, Bret’s cool, clam, calculating demeanor played off nicely with Jim’s often wild and manic mannerisms to illustrate a clever contrast between their two personalities that was as great as the contrast between their two individual wrestling styles. This further illustrated not only who they were as a tag team, but also who they were as members of that tag team, and by illustrating who he was as a member of the Hart Foundation, Bret later found his identity as a singles wrestler—a master of the mat whose relatively small size made him stand out from the giants before him and the man-mountains he often faced inside the ring, from Diesel to Psycho Sid to the Undertaker. There was one more heel run for Bret in the WWF, however, prior to the initiation of the WWF/WWE’s Attitude Era when the Hitman’s pride turned into disdain towards the American people and he became the self-righteous, condescending leader of the pro-Canadian, anti-American Hart Foundation. It was at this time that he faced two of the greatest foils he’d ever had in the WWF and, quite possibly, his entire wrestling career. On one hand was Mr. “Oh Hell Yeah” himself, the foul-mouthed, finger-flipping rebel named Stone Cold Steve Austin, formerly a heel himself and the instrument of this very heel turn of Bret’s when the two of them switched alignments at Wrestlemania XIII in a legendary submission match. On the other hand was another less-than-wholesome character, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, the leader of the original D-Generation X—a stable that immortalized itself by disrespecting wrestling tradition, chopping their crotches in the face of authority, and telling their detractors to “S*ck it!” any which way they could. Without a doubt, one can easily see how two such nemeses could get under the skin of a man who fought for what was wholesome, honorable, and right in the world and make him snap, turning him into such a jaded, bitter shell of his former self as the industry he knew began to change into something that he loathed and failed to recognize.

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To wrap things up, ladies and gentlemen, developing one’s persona in professional wrestling is every bit as important as—if you’ll pardon yet another cliché—knowing the difference between a wristlock and a wristwatch. Yes, match quality is an important element to keep in mind when putting together the ultimate wrestling show, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of the business. After all, this is sports-theater we’re talking about rather than a full-fledged sport, and while the athletic competition of a solid wrestling match may be enough to reel in an audience, it’ll be the characters inside the ring who’ll be giving the audience to come on back for more—compelling, memorable, intelligently booked characters who will forever live on in pro wrestling history for inspiring future generations to partake in this unique industry. Such is the lesson that not only wrestlers need to learn, but also promoters, and should this lesson be applied not only in the WWE but in any other wrestling promotion, be it in mainstream culture or in the independent scene, then who knows? Maybe this business—which has been in a slump since the spring of 2001—will at long last achieve the greatness it once had. In the meantime, wrestling fans shouldn’t give up hope, for while character development may not be the only problem wrong in pro wrestling today, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to look into it.

RIP Johnnie Mae Young (March 3, 1923 to January 14, 2014):
Thank you for the memories, Mae. You will never be forgotten.

Thank you all for your time, and before I sign off, I’d like to take this moment to express my condolences to the friends and family of women’s wrestling pioneer and Professional Wrestling Hall of Famer and WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young, who had passed away yesterday on account of an illness that has yet to be disclosed to the general public. Having started her wrestling career in the 1940s, Mae has been recorded as being the first ever NWA Florida Women’s Champion and United States Women’s Champion as well as the trainer of her own best friend and fellow women’s wrestling legend, The Fabulous Moolah. Even in her later years, Mae continued to demonstrate a longevity in the pro wrestling industry that remains unmatched by any other woman in the history of the business, and without a doubt, I myself—along with many other wrestling fans around the world—will miss her.

Thank you for all your contributions, Ms. Young. You will not be forgotten.

In the meantime, if the initial topic of this article has interested you, feel free to visit the following videos for further information.

Top 10 Wrestling Characters that Could Have Worked by NYG4LIFE123

WWE Character Gimmicks that Attract a Wrestling Fan by TheWrestlingGurus

Aside from that, though, until we meet again, take care, everyone, and thanks again for stopping by.

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

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Author Pages: Smashwords.com

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PS: All credit for the photographs used in this blog entry go to the following sources:

Hulk Hogan: Blogs.VillageVoice.com

Andre the Giant: OnlineWorldofWrestling.com

Ultimate Warrior: TravisSttoetzel.com

Stone Cold Steve Austin: MemeCrunch.com, wrestling-match.com

The Undertaker: WayneWilkins.hubpages.com

The Rock: NotIntheHallofFame.com

Beaver Cleavage: Custom Beaver Cleavage Titantron by NotRicoRidriguez

Simon Dean: en.wikipedia.org

The Zombie (ECW 2006), Johnny B. Badd: Wrestlingforum.com

Mantaur: Blip.tv

Gobbledy Gooker: Catch-AmericanWifeo.com

WWE’s Ringmaster: ECWFrenchTribute.free.fr

Edge: AllWrestlingSuperstars.com, WallSave.com/Unchained-WWE.com

Hornswoggle vs. Chavo Guerrero: Metacafe.com

Femme D’Action Title Card and Character Concepts: FemmeDAction.com

Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon: BleacherReport.com

Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton: WrestleEnigma.com

Mankind as WWF Champion: WWEOutsider.Tumblr.com

Awesome Kong: WrestlingLove.com

Alpha Female: RingBellesOnline.com

Bret “The Hitman” Hart: HWWPapers.com

Mae Young (RIP): UGO.com

All opinions expressed in this article, however, are the author’s own.