Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wrestling's Ultimate (Social Justice) Warriors

Honestly, I think the "not my president" t-shirt would have work-
ed even better as a "#notmypresident" shirt but that's nitpicking.
I've been a fan of pro wrestling ever since I was a little kid. And ever since I was a teen, the smaller and indie-er the pro wrestling, the better. While I've posted about pro-wrestling before, Kentucky-based Appalachian Mountain Wrestling seems to have created one of the best heel (that's a "bad guy" character for you non-wrestling fans) characters in ages: The Progressive Liberal.

Deadspin has a little bit about him, including a recap of some of his pre-match promo speech:
“You know what, I think Bernie Sanders would make a great Secretary of State,” Richards said before being jeered. Later on, he tried to persuade the crowd. “I want to exchange your bullets for bullet points. Bullet points of knowledge.”
In another article that goes deeper into the genesis of the character, Deadspin points out that while it's a gimmick that might have a limited shelf life, it is a perfectly-tailor-made hell gimmick that can work to make you want to boo him no matter what side of the aisle you're on politically:
The details really make the gimmick, and they’re not as obvious as the “Not My President” shirt. It’s the way the Progressive Liberal says “Appalachia,” pronouncing the third syllable with a hard A as in “ate,” instead of the flat A preferred by locals. The audience immediately understands that he’s not from here. Richards was originally billed out of Richmond, Virginia, his actual hometown. But he and James realized that when performing in Kentucky, which has a Richmond of its own, the crowd would become confused. So his origin became Washington, D.C. 
The [pro wrestling] industry has always been replete with guys working effete liberal gimmicks, but this is the perfect place and time, and Dan Richards has built a sustainable meal ticket, at least within the limited scope of the indie circuit. Test your mental constitution and imagine for a minute if Hillary had won; this character would still be popular and paying customers would still project their frustrations onto him, for a different reason. 

Commenter semangeloph1 points out that he hasn't even scratched the surface of what sort of heelish things the character could do:
This schtick could be milked for so much. He could challenge the women’s champion to a match because he doesn’t see gender. He could steal the belt and give it to some other heel loser to “redistribute” the wealth. Every time he loses a match, he could appeal it to some fake wrestling governing body and get the match turned over to him... When he wins, he could give the loser gift-certificates to Whole Foods and yoga sessions. He could refuse to fight championship matches unless assured that the ring is carbon neutral. I think if done right, this character could be one of the all-time great heels.
I haven't enjoyed stuff like this since Daniel Bryan cut a hell of a heel promo about how much he loved being vegan:
Of course, if that's not on-the-nose enough for you, there's also a wrestler literally billing himself as a Social Justice Warrior. Meet Leon Scott, the Social Justice Warrior, who wrestles in leagues in Central Florida. I've never wanted to have so much in common with a wrestler before: patches include Eat the Rich and Black Lives Matter, as well as anti-fascist and pro-trans messages. His Twitter account even re-tweets anti-fascist/anti-racist memes of the current administration. 

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