Banzai Drops

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This is important

Max is a toddler now. He claims to no longer be a baby, and that he is now a ‘big boy’.

He’s right: he is, in fact, a big boy. He’s bigger than many his age, and he’s strong, and he’s forceful. And he’s a boy in the most stereotypically predictable ways—he’s rambunctious, he’s feisty, and he’s a little bit naughty.

But he’s also very wrong, because he is absolutely still a baby. He’s gentle, and sweet, and he cries when he gets a boo-boo.

Sometimes I don’t know how to deal with him being all of those things at the same time.

Recently, Max has taken a liking to the things I loved in my own boyhood. He loves the Avengers. He delights in Iron Man and Spider-Man and Captain America and the Hulk. He also seems to take a liking to professional wrestling—at least to his Brock Lesnar toy and his championship belt replica. But with all of these burgeoning fandoms comes an affinity for violence. He loves whacking objects with his foam Mjolnir. He giggles when he lines up all of his action figures and then kicks them away, one by one. And he utterly comes alive when he climbs on my shoulders, or neck, or face, and repeatedly lands Yokozuna Banzai Drops on my chest. I find all of this to be such a great delight because, well, I see myself. And it’s easier for me to share in things that make him happy.

To some, it may seem like these instances are a matter of excess energy that just needs to be spent. This could be true, on some days. But I also believe that this is a matter of his spirit.

(This is where I acknowledge that this could totally just be me projecting my wishes onto my son. Yes, yes. Bear with me.)

(And this is where I acknowledge that having a warrior spirit has nothing to do with gender. I also need to say that I think Carol Danvers can kick Son Goku’s ass. And that Becky Lynch is The Man.)

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Moments before kicking them all

It seems like Max has a violent, warrior-y, fighter-y spirit. Like his namesake. And his other namesake. And, I think—I hope—like me. Proof of this is how he loves playing with other babies. After excitedly running around with them, he would eventually try to hug them. And then, inevitably, he’ll use his weight to drag them to the ground. He thinks it’s sweet. His friends don’t. I think it looks like a suplex.

Further proof of this is how he sometimes asks me permission to chase other toddlers walking with their families. “Maxie run baby,” he would ask.

“Why,” I would ask him. “What do you want to with them?”

“Maxie push baby? Please?”

Of course, I say no. He’ll then happily pretend to shoot repulsor rays from his palms like Iron Man. Zing zing. I put on a firm face, but inside, I’m just delighted.

These experiences aren’t so delightful when he attempts to have them with his Mama, and when he sometimes succeeds in having them with his playmates. There is a simple reason for this: violence often causes pain. And I’m not sure if you know this, but pain hurts.

This is a tricky parenting phase for me. While I believe in fostering kindness and love and empathy and gentleness, I also believe in cultivating what makes one come alive. Physically hurting others is a non-negotiable—he simply must not do that, ever. It seems simple to correct my son’s behavior by setting-up a reward/punishment framework for seemingly harmful actions, but at what point is the line crossed towards actually stifling his spirit? And how do I navigate these questions while remaining a consistent and credible parent, and maintaining this consistency and credibility with my partner?

Thankfully, my wife is amazing, and level-headed, and wise. We have discussed these issues repeatedly, and we agreed that these are what we should try:

  • We try to teach that context is important. Play-wrestling with me is fine, because I love it, and I can handle it. And sometimes he’s lucky to meet friends who can take everything my son can dish out. But I consistently remind him now that roughhousing at home is with Papa only—not with Mama.
  • We try to teach that sensitivity and empathy are of utmost importance. If he hurts me, or his Mama, or his friends, we try to highlight it and how we feel because of the pain. He’s lucky to have friends like his pal “M”, a hilariously honest and expressive three-year-old boy. Last night Max accidentally hurt M, so, after tearily recovering, he turned around, sat down, and said “I don’t want to play with Max anymore!” I was lucky enough to use this as a teaching opportunity to Max. Max went over, apologized, and meekly asked if they can play again. M performed the universal “I’m thinking about it” finger-on-chin gesture, and then said “OK!”
  • We try to consistently value and highlight integrity, and being true to yourself. This is the backbone behind the two points stated above. Max’s Mama does not need to pretend that she enjoys roughhousing or that she doesn’t experience the pain of a Mjolnir smash. She absolutely, totally can—and should. And Max should totally be sensitive to that, and adjust accordingly. But it’s important to us that he be given the context to feel his feelings and think his thoughts and live his truth in a way that does not harm others. I’m immensely grateful that our home can provide this for him, and our friends (and friends’ children) who can do this with him. And for as long as I can, I’m the one who will take the violent warrior spirit Banzai Drops.

Growing up, I don’t think I was anywhere near the level of rambunctiousness and feistiness as Max, but I was a big, strong, boy. My Dad was incredibly loving and kind, but, bless his heart, he could never actually keep up with me physically. When I would accidentally hurt him, he kept telling me that I didn’t know my own strength, implicitly relating displays of strength with potentially harming others. My Dad never, ever intended to stifle me in any way, but it took me a long time to get over these wrong ideas. This is why celebrating Max’s spirit is very important to me.

For now, it’s turning out fine. It looks like he’s already a boy that we (and even my Dad) can be proud of. And it also looks like he’s growing up that way too. I just hope I survive all the giggle kicks and Mjolnir smashes and Banzai Drops to see him do it.

Roman Reigns defeats leukemia and jerks

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Welcome back, you handsome prince.

Four months ago, Roman Reigns relinquished the WWE Universal Title after announcing that he had leukemia, and it was back. The world basically freaked out. I know I did, so I wrote about on Smark Henry:

What happens to the Universal Championship now? What happens to WWE Crown Jewel now? …Who even cares?

This past week on Monday Night Raw, Roman Reigns announced that he was back, and, more importantly, in “remission, y’all.”

The world basically freaked out again. Many, like me, are just utterly delighted. Some people—some smart people—did it in really dumb ways, spouting off conspiracy theories. As in, maybe the leukemia was a work because he’s not bald and frail and it’s way too soon.

Brandon Stroud, of Best and Worst of, like, all wrestling fame, has the best and most all-encompassing thing to say about this:

…if this is how you process grief, do what you’ve got to do … but remember that on the other end of these dumb stories and wacky characters and horrible, horrible creative decisions are a bunch of human beings who are not the characters they play, and they deserve your common human decency even when they aren’t performing for you. If that’s too much to understand, here’s the quick version; learn to be kind, and if you’re struggling with it, consider shutting the fuck up.

Yeah, you dorks.

If you’re genuinely confused, here’s a thread from Leukaemia Care addressing leukemia, relapse, and perceptions of cancer.

Welcome back, Big Dog. I’m so very happy you’re okay. You are unabashedly my favorite now, but I can’t wait to hate you again.

Well…

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(Nothing to do with anything, but I love the black Woven Nylon Apple Watch Sport band!)

I met the Big Show last week. He was large. The experience was also large—too large for my brain to grasp as it was happening. The Big Show, for all that everyone says about his slowness and corniness and lack of fictional1 moral alignment, is still a gosh darned professional wrestler in the WWE, and one with a storied career, at that.

This is the guy who threw Stone Cold Steve Austin through a steel cage, who impersonated the Hulkster, who surfed on his father’s casket.

This is the guy who wore a diaper once (no, twice).

He sumo wrestled Akebono, fought “Money” Mayweather, and tag-teamed with 2009 Chris Jericho (a.k.a. The Best Jericho).

He’s the guy who did all of those things, and he’s the guy I met last week.

Everyone always says that Big Show is a Really Nice Guy™, but I can confirm that he’s a really nice guy even when he’s dead tired. The poor giant flew in to Manila that morning, posed with jeepneys in the 9 AM Manila Humidity of Death, gave a slew of media scrums before lunch, and was in the process of doing a whole afternoon of one-on-ones. My interview was at 3:45 PM. When I entered the room, he was seated next to a tableful of empty Red Bull cans, with giant eye bags on his face, and as warm and honest a smile as he can muster.

(Now, when I say “my” interview, I really mean CNN Philippines’ interview. CNN correspondent Paolo Del Rosario called me up the week before and asked me to tag along with him for the interview because, like most humans, he no longer keeps up with the wrestling product, and he needed my help to ask the heavy-hitting Sportz Entertainment questions. Also, I think he felt sorry for me because he knew I’d be missing the live event that Big Show was here to promote. Thanks again, Pao.)

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The Big Show with CNN Philippines’ Paolo del Rosario

When it was my turn to speak, I congratulated him on the previous week’s (fictional) WWE Draft. “I was sitting at home watching when I saw it,” he said. “Number 13? I thought Vince was ribbing me! I didn’t even think I was gonna get drafted!”

That was surreal for me—a professional wrestler answering my question and referring (ever so subtly) to the backstage machinations of the art.

I followed up:

Mikey: When Mauro Ranallo announced the draft pick, he said “The Big Show still has a lot to prove when he comes to Monday Night Raw.”

Big Show: (interrupting) A lot to prove? That’s optimistic!

Mikey: Yeah, I’m thinking, you’ve done everything there is to do in the business! Is there anything else you actually want to prove?

I expected him to go back to the fiction and start talking about winning championships or competing with the young guys. Instead, he very graciously continued to open up the curtain. He talked about how much he loves what he does—whether he’s performing in silly angles (“and you’ve seen me on the short end of really some really strange stories”), wrestling in dark matches, or dancing on the grandest stage with the biggest stars in the world. What Big Show wants to prove is that he is willing to do whatever the program requires, because he loves it. (My theater teacher brain geeked out and whispered: there are no small roles, only small actors.)

At that point, Paolo nudged me to hand him back the microphone because we had run out of time. Big Show ended his spiel, Paolo thanked him for his time, Show thanked us and said it was a great interview.

When Paolo introduced me to him earlier, he mentioned that I actually carried my World Heavyweight Championship belt replica during my wedding. After the interview, I asked Show to sign it. He asked if I wore it while I consummated the marriage, and I said no, of course not, but I didn’t tell him that the belt actually doesn’t fit me if I relax my belly.

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Stomach in! (Photo: Ana del Castillo, 2009)

While he was opening up my silver Sharpie, he told me that the original version of that belt was his favorite—the WCW title that he won from Ric Flair on his very first show. “Yeah,” I said, dorky wrestling fan that I am, “and you had to go around the airport wearing it that night,” referring to the story he told on the Stone Cold Podcast earlier this year. He laughed, signed the belt, wished me and my wife and my future child well, and posed2 for a picture.

Then I shook his colossal hand, and left.

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“Big Show 2016”
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The World’s Largest Athlete and the World’s Biggest Dork
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The camera really does add ten pounds (there were two cameras pointed at us)

I felt buzzed after the experience—that awesome fan experience feeling that I hope every person gets to experience a few times in his or her life.

On the way home, I realized that I only got to ask one question, and that I didn’t get to tell him about how I wanted to be like him when I was growing up, and how older kids would make fun of me by calling me “Big Show”, and how I looked up to him because he was a big guy and he embraced his bigness even if people around him are almost always apprehensive, and how my wife was 30 weeks pregnant but my baby’s size appeared more like 32 weeks because I’m about to have a large baby, and does he have any parenting advice for raising a large child?, because growing up as a large child must have had its challenges, and he was a large child, and I was a large child, and my baby will be a large child.

I also realized that it’s still true: I still do want to be like Big Show. Like him, I want to bust my ass off loving what I do, with a smile on my face, knowing in my bones that there are no small roles, only small actors. In this way—this way that I fight every day to be—the World’s Largest Athlete is simply the largest of them all.


  1. “kayfabe” ↩︎
  2. pose = sat there ↩︎

Squishy Days predicts the Hurry up the Cakes WrestleMania experience

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“Dear Jesus, please bless the Internet and WWE Network. Amen.”

I asked my very pregnant wife to send in her WrestleMania predictions a few days before the big event. Instead, she decided to send in something a little wackier. Ladies and gentlemen, I present: Char’s predictions of me and my behavior during WrestleMania weekend. (My own comments are bold. Also, they’re in boldface.)

WrestleMania isn’t my thing. I’m a Royal Rumble girl (I like the nostalgia and the organized chaos).

To be honest, whenever I watch anything with Mikey, I spend half the time watching him and his reactions. More often than not, his reactions are far more entertaining than whatever is on the television—more so for WrestleMania.

Yeah, especially if Roman Reigns is in the main event.

My predictions start on Sunday morning. WrestleMania will air Monday morning for us, so the excitement will begin on Sunday morning in our humble home.

Unfortunately, my wife forgot that WrestleMania weekend this year started on Saturday morning, with NXT Takeover: Dallas. I forgot too, and ended up scheduling a lunch with a few friends. Thankfully I was able to watch it live all the way to the end of the undisputed match of the year: Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. I mean, holy cow, right?

Sunday morning:

  • I wake up first. I check to see if Mikey is awake. He’s not. I go through my my repertoire of please-wake-up tactics (usually arranged from cute to annoying). Lately though, “I’m hungry” has been the most effective way to get him to wake up.
  • He wakes up, grabs his phone, checks twitter, looks at me, and smiles with his mouth open and teeth showing. He bounces up and down. His cheeks jiggle. He will say: “Can you smell that? It’s WrestleMania.”
  • He will use words/phrases like “palpable” or “my body is ready”, and he will refer to himself as the “boy”.
  • Our day will go on as planned, but during the quiet moments, he will bounce up and down on his seat to express excitement

She also forgot that the Hall of Fame ceremony aired live Sunday morning on the WWE Network, which means that I woke up first. I turned on our little bedroom TV set and let old-time speeches and tributes act as the white noise beneath our early morning stupor.

The cobwebs cleared up by the time The New Day went onstage. I switched over to the WWE app on my iPad Pro so that I could watch and prepare breakfast at the same time. By the time Michael Hayes overstayed his welcome sang Badstreet, the table was set. Delimondo brand chili-and-garlic flavored corned beef, sautéed pork and beans, and hot white rice.

We were back in bed for Sting’s induction speech. I did not expect him to retire, which means I was thoroughly worked by his appearances in which he teased a match with the Undertaker. I was saddened by the announcement, but I took this as a good sign—after repeatedly increasing my jadedness for years, WrestleMania can still surprise me.

Throughout the day, I bounced up and down several times. My cheeks may or may not have jiggled. I did not say “Can you smell that?” because that questions is too associated with The Rock, and his WrestleMania appearance did not really excite me, even if he was my childhood hero.

Monday morning/afternoon:

  • Mikey will wake up first because his schedule dictates our departure time (an unspoken rule at home–whoever has to leave earlier is in charge of wake-up duties).
  • He turns off internet access on his iPad and phone. “I don’t want to be spoilered. If you get spoilered, don’t tell me.”
  • Our day will go on as planned. Mikey will be quieter than usual because he won’t be connected to the internet in any way (no tweets, no FB messages, no iMessages). Unless of course he does get spoliered—in which case I will receive a very angry call. He will vent and he will use profanity.

All accurate. I did call her in the middle of the day to tell her about something important that happened at work. She picked up the phone and continued giggling the whole time I told the story. When I asked why, she said was fully expecting me to use profanity because I had been spoliered.

My wife forgets that I am a gentle soul. I would not rage—I would weep.

  • He will pick me up at 4:30 PM (work on Monday ends at 3:30PM). I will joke about wanting to go somewhere before we head home. He will begrudgingly agree (because I am carrying his child), I will take it back and watch the joy unfold in his face.

I picked up my wife in record time. I pulled up to the gate at 4:15 PM! 

She did, in fact, joke that she was craving S&R Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. Since I was fully prepared for the ribbing, I snapped back: “Nope, we are going home and ordering a pizza.” Then she said that she was serious, and pretended to sadly agree to go home instead.

Then I felt guilty. And then she laughed.

My wife is evil, I tell you.

  • When we get home, he will turn off the wifi on all of our devices (Mac Mini, laptops, phones, and iPads). Only the PS4 that’s connected to the television will have access to the internet.
  • He will order pizza and chicken because he has no time/desire to cook and clean up.

This is exactly what happened. Thankfully, the WWE Network PS4 worked perfectly—no lag, no skips, no buffering.

We ordered Yellow Cab Pizza. Large Four Seasons pizza and a Charlie Chan Chicken pasta. Char offered one can of her coveted San Pellegrino Arranciata, presumably to make up for her evilness earlier that afternoon.

WrestleMania Proper:

  • He will load WrestleMania on the very legal WWE Network and he will say: “oh myyyyyyy! This is it!” He will quickly hug me, kiss me, and tell me that he loves me. I will be playing non-internet based games on my iPad.

This ended up being wrong. She played non-internet games during “America the Beautiful” and the wonderful Sideshow Bob voiceover intro, and then she became fully engaged when the Ladder Match started, yelling and cheering and jeering alongside me for the entire four-hour and fifty-one minute show.

WrestleMania is a special time of the year for wrestling fans the world over. My life was never the same after I watched that VHS tape which featured all the main events from WrestleManias 1 through VII twenty-six years ago, and I make sure to try very hard to mark the occasion every year. I’m a very lucky boy to be able to share this with the craziest woman I know—and that she actually enjoys it!

(And apparently, someone else was enjoying it with us, too. ❤️)

WWE Network now available where I live

WWE.com:

Beginning today, fans in Thailand and Philippines can order WWE Network online by going to WWENetwork.com and receive their first month of service free. WWE Network in Thailand and Philippines will cost $9.99 USD per month, with no commitment and the ability to cancel any time.

Sawyer:

I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions a couple hundred VPN subscriptions cried out in terror, and were suddenly cancelled.

One of the reasons I detest International Object is how cleverly and succinctly the author expresses what I want to express before I even get sit in front of my computer and blog about it.

(Another reason is how well Sawyer Paul lives up to his reputation as being the Terry Funk of wrestling writer hiatuses.)

Bryan retires > Vince is evil

Sean Rueter, for Cageside Seats, on Bryan’s plans to wrestle outside the WWE prior to the tests which led to his retirement :

Now that we know the outcome of Daniel Bryan and WWE’s concussion drama, more details are coming out concerning the lengths Bryan was willing to go to to keep wrestling, as well as the what Vince McMahon planned to keep him from doing so – at least for any company he didn’t run

Nope. Vince and co. planned to keep Daniel Bryan from wrestling completely, whether he ran those companies or not. And in so doing, probably saved Bryan’s life.

Whatever your thoughts on Vince McMahon, no one can argue that “Vince is evil” is a more important narrative than “Daniel Bryan has retired because his health and happiness are important”. Shame on all the wrestling pundits and jolly internet folks who insist on doing so.