Sunday, June 24, 2012
It's been over eleven days since I've contributed anything to this blogging project that I, at one time, enjoyed immensely. The timing of this set of circumstances is far from coincidental, mind you. Some of you may know by now, simply from following my Facebook updates, that I've been battling mononucleosis since early June, and the worst of the condition (swollen, pus-filled tonsils, no appetite, no energy) took place over a ten day span that largely ended yesterday. While I'm still not 100%, as I need to get my nutritional routine up and going again, and I have to wait for my spleen to fully heal, I'm also no longer laying in my bed or on my couch for 16 hours a day, keeping a spit cup nearby to hack up brown phlegm into.
I've found out that when you're sick with mono, you begin to rationalize what's truly important and worthwhile. Things like having to get up and take an oral steroid to deal with the tonsil swelling, that's important to my health. Rushing out of bed to answer the phone isn't, as I could trip, land on my stomach, and rupture my spleen, which could be fatal in my current state.
I suppose that even in a severely incapacitated hold, you begin to even question your hobbies a bit. See, laying in bed, out of work for the foreseeable future, I found myself more prone to watching NFL Network for hours at a time, as well as texting friends and co-workers to stay in the loop, as opposed to rushing online to check wrestling websites for the latest "newz" that I can link, or draw inspiration from in order to come up with a column. In fact, there were days in which I didn't even check my usual wrestling sites to stay in the loop, all during the build to No Way Out, which was an event I had zero interest in seeing (especially after the horrid June 11 Raw).
I used to be a junkie for checking the stats of Blue Bar Cage, trying to reach a personal quota each day, and then expanding on it as time and interest grew. It was a game to me, one that made me ad revenue for something simple and trivial as being a hub of sarcasm, satirical, and unique view for a unique form of entertainment.
Blue Bar Cage was designed to be my personal wrestling snapshot. As someone still picking up writing nuances and learning to fuse different concepts and styles together, my goal was to make the wrestling equivalent of the popular NFL site "Kissing Suzy Kolber", which is an endless source of entertainment to me, and millions of others. As the sole writer of BBC, sometimes pressed for ideas to keep the flow of traffic coming, I didn't always put forth my best work. At times, I think I hit the bullseye, but other times, I posted something that I merely viewed as "it'll get me through", at the expense of my vision.
And really, let's be honest, what a blight wrestling has become on my "vision"
My big rationale was that, no matter how shitty the product was, I could always spin it into something properly mocked, to be enjoyed by others with my caustic sense of humor. But the problem became the repeating loop, the infinite revolving door, of utter inanity, triviality, and refuse that one of my favorite forms of entertainment has truly become.
By running Blue Bar Cage, I had to delve deeper into my hobby in the hopes of mining nuggets of humor and enlightenment for which to write about. That meant, instead of sitting at the edge of a metaphorical beach with my feet in the surf as an invested, albeit latently casual, partaker, I would have to don a wet suit with oxygen tank and snorkel, and plunge into the depths Jacques Cousteau-style. And if I wanted a successful site, I'd have to do this often.
In 2009, I joined the legion of wrestling writers, both wannabe and legitimate, as a satire writer for Sean Carless' The Wrestling Fan website. I wrote a weekly diatribe entitled "Letters From My Mom's Basement" as the rotund and miserable Marx Rayner, in which Marx would write an angry, Lewis Black-esque letter to a wrestling personality, inadvertently exposing his own hypocrisy and deficiencies. I wrote this for about five months or so before going "legit" as myself for Eric Gargiulo's Camel Clutch Blog.
It was at CCB that I've had my greatest success. Not only has Eric been an encouraging, forward-thinking, and fair boss, but he's one of the few I've had (not that this is a criticism against others, because it's rare to come by) to compensate me for my work. For him, I've done columns, NFL picks, NFL season previews, WrestleMania previews (the portraits that I reposted this year), entertainment editorials, and my favorite: the fifty greatest Metallica songs ever. For nearly three years, he and I have made a great team. He values traffic and growth, as well as quality content, and I provided both content, and the means of promoting my work to get him his traffic.
On June 13 of last year, I began doing weekly reviews of Monday Night Raw for an agreed-upon fee. While I tended to skip Raw once in a while prior to this, as has been the case since, oh about 2005 or so, I could certainly transcribe two hours of thoughts a week for a reasonable payout.
The first two weeks were a bit bland, but I stuck on through. June 27, the third week, featured the image atop this tome. CM Punk shot, and shot hard (worked, of course), and opened the floodgates of interest for fans everywhere, myself included. It was Austin 3:16, the sequel. It's among the ten greatest moments in Raw history. And suddenly, I'm getting paid to cover what is a renaissance; a rebirth, a sweeping change of a "blandscape" that had made wrestling more of a chore for me than a beloved hobby.
CM Punk was a radical, and there's nothing quite like covering a radical.
Until you watch week by week as the radical is painted into the backdrop.
CM Punk as we see him today isn't special. He's a great wrestler, sure, and his free thought on Twitter remains viable for a quick chuckle, but Punk as he's portrayed resembles nothing of the modern day anti-hero many were hoping he'd be. Now he's a World Champion who isn't allowed to main event or headline, and is stuck making lame, pre-written, trend-designed insults like "Goat Face", all to fit the creative dictum of an out-of-touch company.
What's most disheartening to me is, in my "forced" viewership of a product that angers me with its self-congratulation, rewritten backstories, ignorance of their hard-working locker room, and inability to nurture fresh new ideas into the ionosphere, is that I really do write for nothing. Not just the Raw reviews, but my BBC content that is fortified by what I take from Raw.
The change I write about wanting to see will never be followed through on, so long as WWE changes direction and placates their hackneyed stars and style. Any optimism I have becomes squashed with same-old-endings and cutesy, masturbatory booking.
There's a phrase that if you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life.
Well, Raw is work.
The clincher was Brock Lesnar. With so much hype, as well as a big fight atmosphere, for his match with John Cena, myself and so many others were looking forward to the clash. I merely showed the Lesnar sitdown vignette to one friend, and he said if I was ordering Extreme Rules, he'd chip in if he could watch. The hype was masterful, and it felt like a match really worth watching. This after weeks of Cena and Rock singing insults at each other before "the biggest match of all time".
When Cena won, cut his "I may be leaving" promo, didn't leave, and then entered a main event feud with Johnny Ace while Lesnar got sidetracked with the Triple H/law bullshit, I wondered why I even got my hopes up.
And after that, I still spent six weeks frequently updating this site as essentially the sole contributor. I burned myself out on a proposition that required me to watch something that would make me miserable, frustrated, and annoyed, and I made the decision to devote much of my free time to tossing logs onto BBC's fire.
I will continue to review Raw for Camel Clutch Blog, because I'd have to be an idiot to turn down a paid job that's easy to do, even if the content does annoy my innermost nerves. But as of right now, I am finished with perpetuating and building on Blue Bar Cage. There is nothing for me to gain anymore in foraging through wrestling news for stories that are downright miserable, writing about how the corporate halfwits in charge are idiots, and just writing so much hate about so much stupidity and short-sightedness.
On Saturday, on a lark, I researched and wrote a piece for Eric, which will probably run tomorrow on CCB. It has nothing to do with wrestling, but rather Plaxico Burress and his inability to find a team to sign him in the NFL. I had forgotten what it was like to write a fairly objective piece, where facts are readily available, and sculpt that into speculation and commentary. I wrote it in four hours, loved it, and sent it in. I think I'll do more.
Laying around these last couple of weeks, like I said, it taught me about importance. Life's too short to waste on 100% satire, especially if your target has no intention of changing. I'll still follow it here and there, and as I said, I'll still review Raw as a job, nothing more.
Blue Bar Cage will remain up for you to pore through the archives and have some laughs. For the foreseeable future, there will be no new content. Instead, I intend to focus on happier, more agreeable journalistic endeavors, and I won't make the mistake again of getting wrapped up in this bile.
To everyone that's taken the time to read, contribute to, or comment on the site, thank you.
The cage is locked; if it collects dust, you can consider it a monument.