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Once upon a time, during the imaginatively fertile period known as the Monday Night Wars, my sister described pro wrestling to me as superheroes … except in real life! Truly, she knew where my passions lay.
Yet, I was skeptical. What was the appeal of a sport that everyone already knew was (SPOILER ALERT!) totally fake. I decided to take her up on her ostentatious claim and caught an episode of WCW Thunder. While I can’t say she was 100 percent correct, she got me hooked on wrestling for life. There was a lot of elements that did cross over: the colorful costumes, the larger-than-life gimmicks, and the bombastic hero and villain speeches. Comics may have gravitated away from the era in which every speech bubble ended in an exclamation point, but wrestling never grew up.
Historically, the backstage realities (called “shoots”) and the scripted stories (called “kayfabe”) have been kept separate, with the former only made known through sketchy publications nicknamed “dirtsheets.” You’d think that, with the rise of the Internet and the availability of information, wrestling would become a relic of the past. Instead, it remains popular. It may actually be a better fit in this decade, as almost all of reality television now treads the same blurry line between “fact” and fiction. When Lina approaches the Rana King on NBC’s The Quest, for example, is it a shoot or a kayfabe? Even more insidiously, wrestling has found a way to fake viewer participation, aka the kayfabe of the digital age.
Taker or Lesner? Bryan or Hunter? Wyatt or Cena? Yes, it’s once again Wrestlemania weekend, and like last year I reached out to several folks in the comic community to get their take on the WWE’s signature event. Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big card, which for the first time will be available via the WWE Network. So let’s just cross our fingers that we get to see the entire card.
Let’s meet our panel:
James Hornsby is the cartoonist behind Botched Spot, the webcomic that satirizes pro-wrestling culture, be it televised products, dirt sheets or fandom. He also makes “Over Like Olav,” a comic that focuses on his own characters, Olav and Rad Bad DeBone, as they make their way through the wrestling world. Check out his work at www.jameshornsby.com or www.botchedspot.com, follow him on Twitter @BotchedSpot, and see him on Facebook at facebook.com/botchedspot.
To see what James and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …
A few years back, to celebrate the WWE’s annual Wrestlemania event, I reached out to several comic folks who I knew were wrestling fans to get their predictions on how the matches would go. It was a lot of fun; so much fun that apparently I let three years go by before doing it again (in my defense, I had a baby somewhere in those three years, so … yeah).
In any event, this year I got my act together enough to reach out to some of my Robot 6 colleagues, as well as several members of the comics community, to once against ask: Rock or Cena? Brock or Triple H? Undertaker or Punk? Scholars or Funk? Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big pay-per-view event.