The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

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NWK2000
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The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by NWK2000 » Apr 6th, '20, 17:57

So, the Funhouse Match at Wrestlemania is a harbinger of controversy, as many expected. However, after stepping away and taking a look at it, I've decided there's some good and some bad, and that combined says something about how characters are developed in a WWE framework. For the sake of clarity, let's state with.

The Nonsense: First of all, I think what fueled the ire of its detractors was that it was a montage of seemingly nonsensical wrestling scenes throughout history. From Cena's debut, to a Saturday Night's Main Event backdrop, to Basic Thuganomics (arguably the weakest part of the piece overall, but we'll get there when we get there), to Hollywood Hulk Cena, to the return of 2013 Bray Wyatt, it all just a mishmash of logos and brands that didn't work when presented alongside each other. But let's look a little deeper. Before I get to my overall point here, let's first examine...

The Awesome: Each of these segments represent a negative view of John Cena that's mutated over the years. That he's gotten by on the vague ass hell WWE branding literally since day one (RUTHLESS AGGRESSION), that he's a generic 80s muscle man (SMNE), that once you strip away the muscle, what do you have (SMNE, once his arms go all floppy), that he's a...bad rapper? (Basic Thuganomic, like I said, the weakest part of the proceedings), and that he's someone who's openly beloved by the person running the company (Hollywood Hulk Cena and Bray Bischoff), to someone who abhors being violent when it would actually make his life easier to be an aggressive Austin-esque Bray babyface (not "finishing" Bray at Mania 30) . What made this all the more beautiful was a lack of an Iron Giant "I am Superman" moment, in which he casts aside the aspersions of what people think he is, and becomes what he knows he is, a great wrestler who's won the hearts of millions of people across the world, and instead falling victim to those insecurities and losing. Now, I know some of you anti-Fiend folks are furiously typing your count-arguments, but what if I said you and I probably agree?

What this says about character development in WWE

A critical question I anticipated answering when I weighed the above pros of the match was, "Yeah, but has any of this been mentioned on TV, or ever, about John, all the insecurities you mentioned?" And the answer is no. If you weren't part of the anti-Cena hivemind on the internet, all those insecurities would be news to you. And that's the problem.

The Funhouse match, and The Fiend overall, is an unhealthy marriage of two places wrestling as a performance art can go Wrestling needs to be long term, storytelling with three dimensional characters for something like The Fiend to work, so that when the time does come to get existential and examine character flaws and insecurities, those have been there all along, those are things that long term fans of a babyface like John Cena can point to and understand without having to have broke the fourth wall. Or it can go in a very Iron Shiek vs Hulk Hogan, one dimensional action figures where you can infer their basic motivations just by looking at them, with no further analysis needed. Both styles of storytelling can be entertaining. I enjoy both 1980s southern rasslin storytelling, and something as utterly fantastical as Impact's Undead Realm. But here's the thing, they can't exist together. It would be like if you took a lovingly crafted sandwich from an artisan restaurant...and put peanut butter and jelly on it. Individually those things can be delicious, but not together. What I'm saying is, go one direction or the other. Go three dimensional, articulate storytelling, or "Good guy good bad guy bad" those are WWE's choices if it wants to survive as an entertainment act in the long run.
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Big Red Machine
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by Big Red Machine » Apr 6th, '20, 23:08

I think your analysis of most of the individual points of the match is correct. I read the Hogan/Bischoff bit as more of an accusation that others were kept down for Cena, but the only one I think you really got wrong was the WM 30 callback, and that's because your interpretation of it doesn't match up with the facts on the ground at the time. You're right that that spot in that match was about Bray trying to defeat Cena by making him give in to violence, but I don't think Steven Austin would take a chair that was handed to him and hit opponent in the head with it, right in front of the referee in a normal match without extreme provocation first. Maybe he'd have done it to Hunter during their 2000-2001 feud, but babyface Austin wouldn't throw a match away just to do a chairshot unless there was real, true hatred and provocation there.

There is one big problem with your defense of the match on the grounds you chose to defend it on, and that is as follows: What you are describing is not character development. Character development, by definition, requires there to be a change in the character. Cena has not changed over the course of this feud (or the past thirteen years, which was one of the big knocks on him), and Bray/The Fiend has not changed since this incarnation of Bray debuted, either, and I doubt either of them will change as a result of this match, either.

I also think that you're not understanding the grounds that people objected to the match on. The issue wasn't "this is silly magical Undead Realms stuff, therefore it's bad." I didn't like the Undead Realms stuff at all, but I'm not going to tell you that there wasn't a progressing story being told there, and when I watched the Undead Realms, I understood what it was I was being presented with. Allie is going on down into hell to fight and otherwise interact with demons and monsters.
Here, I had no idea what the f*ck I was even supposed to think was going on. Half of the time Cena was antagonistic towards Bray, but in all of the skits he appeared to be fully cooperating with him. One minute he was trying to punch Bray, then the next minute he was standing there smiling and playing meathead while Bray insulted him, playing along with whatever Bray was doing. Was he being mind controlled? Was this an illusion of Cena that Bray created with his magic to help illustrate whatever point he was trying to make? I had no idea, and still don't have any idea, even after hearing takes on it from half of the internet.

You say that Cena lost because of his insecurities which Bray brought up, but I didn't see that at all. I saw them alternating between Cena happily playing along with Bray's silliness and Cena trying to fight Bray but always coming out the worse because Bray used magical powers. At no point did I ever see John Cena appear to be insecure. I understood the points that the vignettes were trying to make, but at no point did John Cena ever appear to be internalizing these criticisms.

You can have good storytelling in a pre-taped, "cinematic" setting (I think the Final Deletion has been the best of these so far), but this absolutely not was not good storytelling. I didn't think the Boneyard match was very entertaining, but at least that was recognizable as a fight. This was billed as a fight, but I STILL don't know what the f*ck it was. There wasn't even a referee, and the participants appeared to be horsing around together half of the time. If you had told me that this was a video Bray Wyatt created where he hired a look-alike to play the part of John Cena, I would have said it was great, but that's not what they told me this was. WWE told me that this was going to be a wrestling match, and we got... whatever the hell this was.
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by KILLdozer » Apr 7th, '20, 20:51

Wwe sucks. I instantly won both sides of the argument. Topic finished.
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by cero2k » Apr 8th, '20, 09:00

KILLdozer wrote:
Apr 7th, '20, 20:51
Wwe sucks. I instantly won both sides of the argument. Topic finished.
THIS

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NWK2000
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by NWK2000 » Apr 9th, '20, 09:53

cero2k wrote:
Apr 8th, '20, 09:00
KILLdozer wrote:
Apr 7th, '20, 20:51
Wwe sucks. I instantly won both sides of the argument. Topic finished.
THIS
Thanks a lot guys. If I wanted this kind of scholarly input I'd go any other place on the Internet. Jesus.
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KILLdozer
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by KILLdozer » Apr 9th, '20, 14:35

NWK2000 wrote:
Apr 9th, '20, 09:53
cero2k wrote:
Apr 8th, '20, 09:00
KILLdozer wrote:
Apr 7th, '20, 20:51
Wwe sucks. I instantly won both sides of the argument. Topic finished.
THIS
Thanks a lot guys. If I wanted this kind of scholarly input I'd go any other place on the Internet. Jesus.

Honestly, and I'm gonn go off in a whole othdr direction here. WWE is like Pokemon, who is put out by Gamefreak:

For all the enjoyment one can take out of their products- there is CONSTANTLY, HAS TO BE, some kinds of ridiculous, wtf is the reason for that, type of problems and just absolute crock of shit that's literally becoming the trademark that you can always count on.

No matter what, there's always gonna be ridiculous crap that people hate, and it's there just because the people suck at what they do so horribly. We keep watching and debating everything, but the answer always draws back to the same simple, cut and drying motive-things just flat out suck and it's constantly the same issue.

They're not up to par because they're just not competent enough to excel flawlessly at said task endlessly, and we the people can't stop that because direction doesn't change and the staff doesn't change vastly enough either.

Again, both are DECADES old and people have loved them for DAYS AND MONTHS AND YEARS ON END, but there's always the bullshit "why the fuck would they do that?!!?"

Simply put, because they're just garbage. Only so much you can say by running around that core issue.

I'm the biggest pure WWE fan here, none of you can hold a candle against that and you know it- I've never even seen a show from AJPW, NJPW, AEW, CZW, ROH, PWG, CHIKARA, and I wont. Just because I'm not gonna go out of my way to search for it because I've always been fulfilled and satisfied enough with one wrestling. TNA was cool, but come on, it was WWE alternative with WWE guys. Chances are, if not for that, I would've called them all fat boys and not cared. Even I can't defend or enjoy all their weekly crap and dropped balls, burials, assassinations of rising characters, and endless ABOMINATIONS of failure to shape and create the next GUY.

Wrestling is arguably at an all time low and there isn't much point in arguing and having a great fun time, big debate, about why the same garbage, fart and get an idea, booking, is garbage.

They do stupid shit because they don't know how to not do stupid shit.

To really put that in a gleaming light- they SIMPLY CAN'T get behind the right person and catch that unmistakable fire that comes every 10 to 15 years and say "that's the new Hogan. That's the guy that the shows revolve around one way or another. That's the Steve Austin new guy. We have found him and the people love him and we're not gonna stop pushing him because he's right for us and everything we need from him. "

BUT THEIR ROSTER IS BIGGER THAN IT EVER WAS! Inept, absurd, deaf and blind, to all that goes on around them. We can't just say "Awh old Vince Mcmahon ain't we used to be and it's all on him and all about his decision making and nothing can stop that."

Vince Mcmahon is not defiant to all other ideas and I guarantee you there's people he'd listen to if they actually try to back the right ideas, because he doesn't write everything himself so it's on them as well.

If anything he's the intellectual genius and madman that created and gave us all this entertainment for our entire lives but people love to say he's an idiot and has no idea what he's doing and never has.

I mean, I'm not here to kill got dang ol' debates, by any means, but you can only grasp the same straws so many times, when the answer is very smooth and simple.

Quite and an off the wall and jumping around post, but enjoy!
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Re: The Funhouse Match: Why it was awesome, why it was nonsense, and what it says about WWE character development

Post by KILLdozer » Apr 10th, '20, 13:27

Got dang it! Now he's gone!
When they come, they'll come at what you love.

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