El Pasco Texas: Of Popstars,Pro wrestling, and Poor adolescence.

When I was 13 years old, I lived and died by the words of Frederick Durst. Fact of the matter is, I was an adolescent prick who wanted to break stuff and get nookie…whatever that was (I’ve never forgiven Weird Al Yankovic for doing a song about “doing it all for a cookie”).  If it had a loud guitar and feelings involved, then I loved it. I was a nu-metal maniac (Fuck you Jimmy Snuka). My world changed for the better one day when I was in my Music of 20thCentury class.

2002: I will defend none of this.

My teacher informed us that our final project was going to be a five page paper detailing the history and biography of a band. Well, in my trenchcoated (I was one of those kids. I wore it for a Halloween costume and then in my complete desire to separate myself from my peers decided to become an outcast. I was the worst) wisdom, I realized that while Kid Rock was a musical genius, his career didn’t have enough research to last five pages. I needed a band, and I needed it fast, so I could procrastinate until the night before. Like most things in life, the answer came from television.

It was the early 2000s and therefore, VH1 was legally required to air Rock and Rolls 100 Most Shocking Moments, hosted by Mark McGrath, every hour for the entire year. I happened to catch an episode, and there I found my solution. This particular segment focused on Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungen, and The Sex Pistols. I wrote my five-page paper on the Sex Pistols and got an A-plus on it (later to be topped by receiving an A for a paper on GG Allin during my freshmen year of college).

G.G. A(paper)llin

After listening to “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, I turned into this obnoxious little shit determined to DIY, but lacking any effort to do so. Finding SLC Punk on VHS made this situation worse and also led to me declaring any and all people I disagreed with as posers. Luckily, little photographic evidence exists of my brief foray into rebellion, but I would have never changed that experience for the world. I fully believe that my fascination with punk rock is what led to my love of independent wrestling.

The only punk I could find easily when I was a teenager was New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, and other bands that made my external genitals crawl inside themselves.  The internet wasn’t as powerful back then and there was nobody to guide me to bands like Rancid or The Bouncing Souls, so I stagnated on the 70s/80s bands. While I couldn’t find new music, I could find new wrestling a hell of a lot easier.  I saw Ring of Honor as the punk rock equivalent of pro wrestling that I so desperately craved. Ring of Honor was punk rock, WWE was mainstream, CM Punk was John Lydon, Samoa Joe was Joey Ramone and Jimmy Jacobs was my Glenn Danzig. (Allow me to explain this metaphor. Lydon and Punk were both vocal centerpieces of the movement as well as the most controversial. Samoa Joe was like Joey Ramone in the sense that I enjoyed him, but always felt he was second to Lydon.  Jacobs and Danzig has to deal with my complete fascination and admiration of both of them when I was a teenager.  I defend Jimmy viciously to people who say he can’t work and I still think Glenn Danzig could have totally kicked the ass of that guy from NorthSide Kings. There’s a whole article waiting to be written about my High School years and how Jimmy Jacobs played into it, but that will have to wait.)

Nearly a decade later, I still see musical connections with the wrestlers I enjoy. In the years since, I finally decided to broaden my horizons and have learned to love everything from David Allan Coe’s country riffs to the ska stylings of Streetlight Manifesto to classic soul of Wilson Pickett. The strangest thing is that in my growing years I’ve become a bigger and bigger fan of female pop music.  I couldn’t name three female artists I enjoyed when I was a teenager and now it’s like a potpourri of pop starlets. I spend sleepless nights wondering what 14 year old Ben Pasco would say to me (he’d probably forgive me when he noticed I could grown sideburns like Lash Leroux) and how this could have happened. I need a justification for this and a reason to allow myself to listen to all these vaginal voices on a consistent loop. Then, it came to me… if I used punk rock as a metaphor for independent wrestling, then why not use the singers as a representation as pro wrestlers? Who is who in the world of pro-wres and pop music? It’s time to find out just that.

The Taylor Swift of Pro-Wres: Adam Cole

Very few things in life depress me as much as realizing people my age or younger have passed me by. It basically comes down to dying small animals or the final scenes from Pretty in Pink (Fuck you Molly Ringwald, I worship Ducky now). However, no matter how much I may resent the younger stars in pop culture, I cannot hate Taylor Swift or her pro-wres equivalent Adam Cole. Both of them are young and absolutely remarkably talented at their chosen profession. Adam Cole is the hottest young star on the Indies and Taylor Swift has slowly but surely begun claiming her name as the crown princess of pop music. For both of them, the future is so bright that they have to wear shades which will be made out of the millions of dollars they could make.  Not only that, but man, they’d have cute babies.

The Britney Spears of Pro Wres: Ric Flair

Ric Flair looks like shit

“Hit Me Baby One More Time” has turned into “Bastardize Your Retirement One More Time”. Britney was the crown princess of pop music only a decade ago and sent young men running into the bathrooms to explore their bodies, and young women running into the bathroom to expel them (Bulimia joke).  It’s hard to argue that any pop superstar does not list Britney among their immediate influences, just like it’s hard to argue wrestlers don’t do the same for Ric Flair.   I’m not taking anything away from them, because both of them defined what it means to be a pop star/pro wrestler. There was always somebody before them who was their influence (Madonna/Buddy Rogers), but in the modern era, they reign above all. The problem is that both have fallen, and fallen hard, since their heyday. It’s been brutal to watch these two try to keep up with the current pack. Both of them still have potential and moments of greatness, such as when Britney released Womanizer, or when Ric Flair cut promos on Jay Lethal. When the time is right, both of them can still deliver like very few can, but their glory days have passed them by. These two were royalty, and now they’re been reduced to court jesters. The worst part is… I don’t think they realize it yet.

The Jessica Simpson of Pro Wres: Matt Hardy

Oh yeah, tons of fat jokes coming in a minute.  However, aside from the weight gain (is she still fat? I’m going based off of when I gave kind of a shit for ten seconds in 2010), the similarities are a bit eerie. Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson dominated the public consciousness in the mid 2000s. Their show Newlyweds was the Jersey Shore of its time, completely stupid but fascinatingly watchable. At the same time, Matt Hardy was really coming to his own as a singles competitor. Before Zack Ryder or Colt Cabana ruled over the internet, Matt Hardy was king.  Version 1 was running wild and Matt Hardy was the internet’s favorite wrestler.  Jessica Simpson had become America’s Sweetheart and Matt Hardy had become the IWC’s workhorse. There’s an old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men, and well, Matt and Jessica look like they eat both frequently. Their falls from grace haven’t been as hard as Flair’s or Britney’s, but are still pretty legendary. Jessica Simpson stooped so low as to fuck Bam Margera and Matt Hardy stooped so low as to fucking talk for hours about nothing. Not only that, but each of them have respective siblings who completely screwed over fans.  Ashlee Simpsons had her botched SNL performance and Jeff Hardy had his botched TNA Match against Sting (or all of his botches in general). To make situations even freakier, both of their respective significant others (Nick Lachey, Lita) have totally disappeared from the landscape of pop culture. I cannot confirm if Nick Lachey was ever pissed on by the OMEGA locker room, though. It’s crazy that it took less than a decade for Simpson and Hardy to lose the love of the people, and gain a love of calories. Both of them once sat on top of the world in the mid 2000s, and now they’re not even an afterthought. Let me tell you though, I can’t wait for the video of Ashlee tazering Eric Johnson.

The Miley Cyrus of Pro-Wres: Ken Doane

Shortly after she violated the Disney Channel Wellness Policy

Does anybody else long for the days when it looked like Miley Cyrus was destined to take over pop music? She was a young, attractive girl with a lot of talent and a lot more of the Disney machine behind her. Hannah Montana was a cultural sensation, and I don’t care what anybody says, that show was actually kind of funny. Does anybody else long for the days when Ken Doane was destined for WWE superstardom.  He was a young, athletic wrestler with a lot of talent and a lot more of the WWE machine behind him. He was tearing it up in OVW with Brent Albright and CM Punk. He was the member of The Spirit Squad who went toe to toe with the likes of Triple H.  Both of them seemed like sure things, but something just didn’t click.  Miley’s issues can be traced to problems with her role in Disney, while Doane’s can be traced to his role in WWE. Both of them are victims of the systems they found themselves in, and it may have sabotaged their success. Miley Cyrus had behavior that may fit a teenage girl, but will not fit a Disney icon. On the other hand, Doane was a victim of the WWE calling him up and putting him on television before he was ready or before they could properly use him. On the bright side, they’re both young enough to recover, which is why I chose Ken Doane because at only 25, he’s still a baby in pro-wres years.  Since their scrapes, both have tried to recover from their initial issues with limited success. Miley’s SNL hosting gig was received as poorly as was Ken Doane’s Evolve/DGUSA run (which I liked).  The sun has not set on their careers, but they better make a move soon.

The Lady Gaga of Pro Wres: Jimmy Jacobs

The Fame Monster’s Ball Match

People love Lady Gaga with all their heart or hate her with all their soul.  People consider Jimmy Jacobs either underrated or overvalued. Here are two people with seeming admiration and disgust lobbed in their direction constantly. The main similarity with the two involves the visual element and the appearance of themselves. Gaga and Jimmy have evolved their wrestling and musical styles since their arrival, but it isn’t a dramatic change of pace like a Chris Hero or a Sugar Ray ( Weird example I know, but check this song out and learn the definition of selling out). They’ve become different artists in their respective fields, but not at the expense of what got them there. Gaga is less poppy than when she debuted and Jimmy has become a great brawler.  But I wouldn’t consider either one of them as completely radicalizing themselves. You can see their evolutions clearly without destroying what got them to the dance. Jimmy Jacobs didn’t decide to be part of the Age of the Fall without logic, and Lady Gaga didn’t musically shift in another direction. It’s been a slow build for both of them, but its common knowledge that as soon as they get stale, that’s when the real fun will start. JudHuss

The Pitbull of Pro Wres: El Generico

I’m fucking with my own formula here, but this is going somewhere.  I swear.  Pop stars often rely on a rapper of sorts to come onto their track and push it over the limit to make it great.  Every year, it seems as though a different rapper is asked to take a year out of his life to enhance all of these pop music tracks. Kanye West, and T-Pain are just a couple that had their turn, but lately, Pitbull has been making the rounds. All of those rappers came on to push the song over the edge and make it something great. Who else but El Generico has consistently and constantly appeared in matches and made people look like superstars? On the independent circuit, there is nobody like El Generico who can be a hero to both children and fans. The kids love him because he’s a goofy fun-loving baby face, and the adult fans love him because he is the best wrestler on Planet Earth (not sure about Neptune). The man’s gimmick is already over enough with people, but when he steps in that ring, I don’t think there is anybody who can outshine The Generic Luchador. Like Pitbull, Generico is a Latin force that sets out to make everybody else look like a million dollars. El Generico must be Spanish for Killin’ It.

The Rhianna of Pro-Wres: Randy Orton

Rhianna is definitely a force to be reckoned with musically, but I feel as though she’s always left out of the conversations when it comes to best artists. She’s very consistent, but if you aren’t already listening to a song of hers then you aren’t thinking about her.  Rhianna used to be only talked about for the external forces that surrounded her, such as her weird accent, or her first round loss to Chris Brown (ref stoppage).  Lately it seems like she’s finally shedding the stigma of the incidents that occurred to her outside the industry. I still don’t find her to be an overwhelming talent, but a lot of people really enjoy her. While he wasn’t beaten up by the dude who sang “Forever”, Randy Orton’s outside-the-ring exploits also used to overshadow his talents. Gone are the days of the man whose voice told him to shit in divas’ bags. Those days are replaced by the man who has delivered constant killer matches with Christian to mild fanfare.  Orton seems to get neither constant praise nor scorn from the IWC. He has his detractors, but everybody seems to keep Randy in some level of decent-to-good and never overreacts in a manner befitting a John Cena (negatively), CM Punk (positively), or Chris Masters (fellatioly EDITOR’S NOTE: I DON’T WANT TO EVEN FIND OUT IF THAT’S A WORD.).  Both of them have reached a career plateau, but I wouldn’t expect any falls from grace for either.

The Katy Perry of Pro-Wres: CM Punk

I just love this picture, despite the addition of Newfound Glory

When it comes to pop music, has anyone been has consistently fantastic as Katy Perry?  “I Kissed a Girl” was a little shaky, but after that, she’s been on fire with songs like “Hot n Cold”, “Firework” and “Waking up in Vegas”.  All of them were good songs, but she lacked that one anthem. CM Punk has also been on fire and consistently entertaining in the WWE since he signed, but never really quite hit the level we knew he could.  After a rough spot in the first year of ECW, Punk has been delivering some great moments, but how many have transcended pop culture? Luckily for fans of dudes in tights or babes in cleavage, both hit their apex this summer.  Katy Perry came out with the definitive hit of the summer in “Last Friday Night”, along with a genuinely funny video proving how self-aware she is. CM Punk’s summer proved that he was not only self-aware, but the undisputed greatest interview in pro wrestling. Yes folks, I’m comparing “Last Friday Night” to the Summer of Punk, because quite frankly, both are masterpieces. Nobody can touch either one of them right now when it comes to their field. Hey Kathy Beth Terry, how you doing?

You know, I thought that all of these comparisons would make me feel better, yet I seem to feel somewhat worse. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to accept the part of me that’s metrosexual-American.

As always, keep your stick on the ice.

-Ben Pasco

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