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WWE Smackdown, deconstructed

August 21, 2012

I am not a professional wrestling fan. However, my three middle boys and their nanny, Sammy, just love it, so I took them to see WWE Smackdown tonight at the Rabobank Center in Bakersfield.

The kids and Sammy loved every minute of it, and I found it very entertaining as well. The show lasted three and a half hours. It was surprisingly family-friendly. I had an impression of the audience at professional wrestling shows as being drunk and out of hand, but the audience tonight, at least, was very well behaved. I saw one guy get in a scuffle with security and get thrown out, but in Bakersfield that literally can happen anywhere from the public library to a ballet performance. (I once saw a huge dude yelling into his cell phone right in the very front of a children’s ballet performance, during the music and dancing. This went on for minutes. The entire place, including the audience and dancers, could hear his voice shouting above the music. “Yeah, I’m at my kid’s ballet. It’s boring as fuck! Yeah, I have no idea how much longer this shit is going to last…” This went on for at least ten minutes before someone got up the courage to ask him to shut it off, please. He glared mad angry looks at the scared old ladies in the audience.)

The arena was about 80% full, which is pretty impressive in our economy. It was about 70% white, with most of the rest Hispanic. It was almost 100% working class.

In professional wrestling, the bad guys, or “heels”, usually epitomize some hated/feared group of people. During the Iranian Crisis of the ’80s, the Iron Sheik was the big heel, for instance.

So, who are the heels today? Trot out the usual suspects for the white working class: an intellectual, arrogant foreigners, a gay guy, and the rich. Perfect for this audience. Obviously, WWE knows exactly what type of people follow them.

The intellectual was hysterical: He entered to the hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. He lectured the audience on their ignorance. His catchphrase, uttered in a slow, carefully enunciated baritone in the face of hysterical boos, is “You’re welcome.” Simple, yet clever.

Next up: Scary foreigners, in this case an East Indian and a Swiss. The Indian called Bakersfield “filled with stupid swine”. Hey, that hurts. Stop it. The Swiss showed off his five languages. Shut up, foreign smarty pants.

The next big heel was really well done. You see, WWE came under a lot of fire a few years back for having openly gay heels. Homophobia, and all of that. So this guy walks right up to the gay line without crossing an inch over it.

He walks in holding his mother’s hand. He is wearing a bright pink top and spangly booty shorts with his nickname “The Show Off” on the butt. His long hair is dyed a bright platinum. He cries to his mother when he gets hit in the ring. But no limpwristing, no lisp, no effeminate walk. Who, us make fun of homosexuals? What are you talking about?

Last but not least, the piece de resistance of heels, “El Patron” (The Boss). This arrogant guy is from Mexico City, but claims he is “Spanish”, not “Mexican”. He is shown with his Rolls Royce and opulent mansion. He has a flunky side kick kissing his butt at all times. And, just to fire up the crowd, he calls his opponents “peasants” in Spanish, insuring the roars of hatred from the Hispanics in the crowd.

The heros are perfect for the audience too. The biggest is John Cena, a muscular young guy with short hair whose signature gesture is a salute and is shown with the troops in numerous videos played for the audience. In case anybody misses it, the troops are repeatedly thanked and shown in connection with the WWE in general.

I think the kids loved it for another reason as well. Where else can they get away with screaming at the top of their lungs for hours, right in front of their dad, “You suck! You’re an idiot! HEY, YOU SUUUUCK!” What a great release for little boys under the strict thumbs of their parents, nannies and teachers at all times.

Even for a guy who is not a fan of the genre, it was a great night, like an evening at the melodrama brought to modern times.

  1. So glad u guys all enjoyed yourself. It\’s a big deal to go see your action figured in real life when your that age. Little excited puppies when they got home re telling everything that had happened. They know far more than I could even about all the \”heels\” thank you baby for showing them some puppy love. They need daddy time to. Before u know it they will be teenagers to. And right now they are being molded and guided to who those teenagers will be. Just a thought…

  2. Lynn permalink

    LOL GREAT COMMENTARY… Have you ever thought about writing a book?? I think you would be great!

    • Ha! Thank you so much for the compliment. I had a lot of time to consider the broader ramifications of the WWE while I was watching the performance. And I have considered writing a book, but then I lay down until the feeling goes away.

  3. Tyler greene permalink

    I love that night

  4. Tayler greene permalink

    I had a great time take me next year

  5. Jacob Greene permalink


  6. Donald Greene permalink

    No surprises there.

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