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 ↩︎
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That accolade is fresh

KSP on Punk vs. Taker:

CM Punk is the first legitimate candidate to challenge Undertaker’s winning streak since Randy Orton in 2005. In retrospect, Henry, Batista, Edge, Michaels, and HHH were all obvious in how they would play out. Henry wasn’t worthy; Batista and Edge couldn’t beat Taker and hold onto their championships; and Michaels’ pair was really all about defining what it means to be a great wrestler. HHH also lost twice.

I laughed out loud at this, but I would propose that HHH’s pair was about defining what it meant to be a great wrestling performer, without necessarily being a great wrestler.

Also, welcome back, Sawyer.

Royal Rumble Depression 2013

I’m over it.

The Royal Rumble was an emotional roller-coaster, just as any wrestling show should be. But damn if Cena’s win didn’t depress me.

Quick thoughts:

+ Zigger is the man right now. Current in-ring MVP.
+ John Cena the human being is admirable, and worthy of respect. John Cena the character sucks balls and I hate him please go away
+ I love The Rock, but Punk has my current grown-up WWE fan heart. The false finish and Rock’s win made me look like this:

+ The Royal Rumble match itself wasn’t the best, but the surprises (JERICHO!!!) made it fun.
+ I like that Kofi Kingston was the only one dumb enough to get hit by the Cobra
+ Where does Punk go from here? Who is he facing at Mania? Taker? Austin? Brock? He’s been so good this past year, and I can’t wait to find out what’s in store.
+ I guess that means it wasn’t so bad after all?
+ Cena sucks. Because of you, I have to quit meat for a week. (Char and I have strange bets.)

In other news, Hurry up the Cakes is a year old today! Thanks to all who drop by here, the regulars and the Google-Searchers. God bless your kind hearts.

I’m exhausted. My grown-up heart can’t take roller-coasters like it used to. I’m going to bed now. See you soon, Cakers.

Jerry Lawler suffers heart attack ringside in Montreal

KSP, a friend and most trusted wrestling/liberal arts critic, on Jerry Lawler:

What I’m trying to say is Jerry Lawler is really fucking important and good and necessary and a treasure, and I want him to be okay, and if I ever made it seem like I didn’t respect his day job I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention.

He continues, on his being a critic:

I dig deep and think really hard because I respect the people who put on this show, who wake up every day and do a phenomenal job doing a thing that doesn’t get nearly enough respect. I don’t say that enough. None of us do.

Guilty as charged. I am much less a critic than I am merely a fan, and I have my opinions on the in-ring action, the mic work, the commentary. But regardless of any of any of that, I do respect any and all performers involved with the product that I love so dearly.

Jerry Lawler, our thoughts and prayers are with you over here on Hurry up the Cakes. Beat this, King.

Jerry Lawler is a hypocrite

The following are two pieces of evidence that support this. And I quote:

On the 1001st episode of Raw, during the Miz/Ziggler vs. Jericho/Christian match, after Christian blatantly eye-gouges Ziggler, Michael Cole rightfully calls it out as illegal. Lawler responded:

I wouldn’t call that cheating!

On the 1002nd episode, Sheamus taunts Alberto Del Rio by breaking into his Ferrari and driving it all over San Antonio. Michael Cole, again, rightfully exclaims that Sheamus stole his car. Lawler responded:

I wouldn’t say he was stealing it.

There are countless more examples of his hypocrisy in the thousand episodes of Raw that have aired.

The reason this is problematic is that Lawler is supposed to be the good guy commentator. He’s supposed to play it straight. He’s supposed to be the voice of reason. He’s supposed to have the mindset that the WWE’s core audience subscribes to, and abides by. And since WWE’s current core audience is CHILDREN, Jerry Lawler might just be subconsciously creating legions and legions of future flip-floppy hypocrites.

Jerry Lawler, you are your character is a two-faced, spineless hypocrite. Shame on you. I hope Christian pokes your eyes and Sheamus steals your car.

Discussion: Commentary and Commercial Breaks

K Sawyer Paul, responding to my response to his response to Matt Saye:

That’s only a problem if you listen to commentary, and it’s subjective. If you don’t like Michael Cole, then this exacerbates the issue. But if you have no problem with Cole (he’s been employed long enough to suggest some people quite like him) then this doesn’t hold ground.

The commentary being a (or greatly adding to the) problem isn’t necessarily due to Cole being Cole; it’s because the announcing itself is very rarely commentary on the wrestling match (the technical aspect, the in-ring narrative, or the illusion of competition), but on tangential matters outside the ring. The pre-break spiel directly pertains to the in-ring action, so shifting from Lauranaitis is a better GM to Will Kofi keep his momentum? We’ll find out when Raw rolls on makes the commercial break all the more jarring.

I must admit that Jim Ross was guilty of the same thing back in the days when they were transitioning from play-by-play commentary to the current “WWE storytelling” announcing style.

Sawyer continues:

…with other scripted TV shows, we’re not actually missing any of the content when they go to commercial. With wrestling matches, we, the TV audience, is actually being robbed of part of the match.

You can suggest that not much happens during the break, that we’re actually saved from watching rest holds or whatever. But to a wrestling fan, the kind of person who likes the technical aspects of the art, we don’t care if we’re missing something bad or good; the fact that a piece of the match is missing is grating.

He goes on to suggest that it would be best to avoid cutting content altogether whenever possible, such as on taped shows like SmackDown. I totally agree. No one believes that show is live, anyway.

I would theorize that WWE believes that full, uninterrupted matches should only be seen by paying audiences, whether at a live show, a pay-per-view showing, or on a DVD set. But many matches featured on sets that were originally shown on free TV still don’t include the section of the match cut by a commercial break.

I guess all we’re left with is that WWE just doesn’t “get” wrestling fans, or Vince McMahon personally likes screwing with them. Both of which aren’t new theories at all, but each has as much weight as any wrestling-related theory I’ve ever heard.

On mid-match commercial breaks

K Sawyer Paul responds to Matt at the Wrestling Journal, about the annoyance of commercial breaks during long TV matches:

Other sports don’t have this problem. No sport with any popularity can play an entire game between commercials, and fans understand that. Other sports also have believable lull periods: time-outs, half-times, infield-outfield changes, etc., where it makes sense to place a commercial. But wrestling matches can last anywhere from 18 seconds to over an hour.

Airing commercials during matches is really only a problem if wrestling is still viewed through the lens of sports and competition.

Seeing wrestling an art in the medium of television, I see no other alternative to having commercial breaks in the middle of a match. On any given episode of Raw, the narrative progresses more so out of the ring than in it, and the important parts of the matches we missed are replayed anyway.

I’ve gotten used to the timing of the commercial break during the first featured match on any Monday Night Raw: always on the first “act” of the match, one of the wrestlers (usually the heel) gets thrown outside the ring, presenting the image of the other being the dominant competitor in the match. Once the show returns from commercials, the previously dominant wrestler is trapped in a submission hold (usually a chinlock), with the tide having turned during the break. The move that caused the shift is then shown to us in a “double-action” replay.

I have a theory: mid-match commercial breaks are much more grating now because of the commentary. Michael Cole (or, his character) has always placed more value in WWE storytelling and corporate line-toeing than in the importance of whatever match is taking place, so when he throws us to commercial break by emphasizing the uncertainty of wrestling competition, it feels like he’s insulting our intelligence.

As lovers of wrestling matches, we’ve probably gotten used to tuning out the asinine commentary on Monday Night Raw, so it can get quite jarring when commercial breaks take place–we get forced to “un-tune-out”.

When it was Jim Ross (or Joey Styles, or anyone who places more value in in-ring action than stupid things like Twitter Trending Topics) on lead announcing duties, the commentary added a narrative layer to the action, which we, as wrestling fans, accepted. So when he threw us to the commercials, we accepted the suspense they were portraying on-screen. It didn’t feel insulting.