Saturday, September 29, 2012

Television Conversion

This blog was done in real-time, to give you an idea of how my Saturday went.

So after the umpteenth time that DirecTV decided to jack up the price for HALF the channels, my family decided that officially, enough was enough. It was time for a change.

Now at the moment, I can't afford my own Roku box, so while there is one working perfectly in the living room, my personal TV was without a box. 

Of course the first step was the easiest one. I had to completely remove the DirecTV box from the TV area, and check to make sure I didn't leave in any extra A/V or RF cables.

The next step was figuring out which one of these cords was the TV and which was the DirecTV box. For the sake of safety, I turned everything plugged into the strip OFF.



Once the box was done spewing dust everywhere, it was time to tend to the TV set.


I tried hooking the house cable feed directly through the television set, and set the TV to Channel 3:
Nothing.

So I tried setting the TV to different channels, using the menu to add channels, setting through the VCR/DVD combo, aaaaand I still got static. 

So it was time to get a digital converter.



The lightweight box came out with a booklet and a start-guide. The instructions are simple. just use the RF cables to hook the box to the TV set, and away you go.


What the hell? 

So I take a look at the start guide.


.... So wait a second. In order to work an HD receiver... that picks up digital television.... I need the Bunny ears??? In 2012. 

Ah....

Fortunately my mother has one.

And we open the box and WTF??



Ok..

So out come the bunny ears, and I have to say this model is smaller and lighter than the set that we used to have in the living room when I was a baby.



Nothing says "upgraded" like UHF.

So before testing it with the converter box, I tried hooking the ears just to the TV, to see if it would work.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA WTF is this???


Ok I blew up this picture, because I want to talk about screw-on RF cords. Can you see the long strand thing in the middle on the top? That is the bane of every 80's kid's existence. See, the strand goes into the TV's RF feed, and the outer, metal casing is supposed to hold it it. Now modern RF cables have the casing in a simple, plastic plug form, so you can just plug it in as easily as you can an A/V cord.

This thing has a screw-head, and it's a pain in the ass to attach. But that's not the worst part. MOST RF cables have a very thin stem, so it can slide right in. This one is thick.

When it's thick, you need to put more effort into attaching it to the TV set, or in this case, a converter box. You can't just shove it in, or it will bend and become useless. This requires another person, a careful twisting, and a good 10 minutes out of my afternoon.

I believe that screw-head RF feeds, RF feed stems that are thick and AC adapters with large plugs, should all be BANNED. 

Ok so now we have the cord firmly in place. The bunny ears are attached to the converter, and the converter is attached to the TV set. 



And the set up is complete. I hook the VCR/DVD combo to the converter, and everything is fine....


for five whole minutes.


WHAT THE HELL??

Ah wait, I forgot the basic thing.

See, with bunny ears, you can't just set it and forget it. For each channel you have to adjust them.


This is a trial and error process, and it does take a bit of creativity to get the picture to stay put. Plus if it rains, if the weather is bad... or in my case (true story) if the next door neighbor slams his car door just a tad too hard, the picture goes the hell out.

So after cussing out the window, I find a solution to the ears issue.



My LJN Piper seems to work quite nicely.


Total installation time: 1 hour.

Total channels this gives me: 18

Total channels NOT in Spanish: 10

Also, there is NO guide button. If you want to know what's on, you need to consult each channel's website, and hope that the monkeys coding the websites have the program order correct.

Happy surfing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

An ode to Helen Hild

There is one woman who was instrumental in both of the worlds I fell into, and yet so little is actually known about her. I’d like to change that, even with this entirely too short entry.

In Tex Avery’s 1949 classic “The House of Tomorrow” audiences were treated to the image of a beautiful model. A lovely, blonde figure, posing politely of the TV marked for the father of the house.
And so stunning was she that at the end of the cartoon, a note from “The Management” appears, telling the audience that they will have one more glimpse of this young lady. But she is much more than meets the eye. For she is not your typical model at all.

She is Helen Hild. And she is someone no cartoon or wrestling historian should ever forget.


Born in 1927 as Gladys Helen Nevins, a native of Grand Isle, Nebraska, Helen was once a glamorous model, often contracted for work with the MGM studio. Helen appeared in all kinds of promotional material, all kinds of ads and the like, but the modeling industry then (as it is now) was rather cutthroat. As soon as Ms. Hild was of a certain age, she was unceremoniously ousted from this line of work.

Did that end her career? Of course not. Helen was a strong woman. This was just the beginning.

Back in the 40’s and 50’s, a model who was ousted from modeling, often found a home in professional wrestling. There, a still relatively young lady could find work as a valet, and many a former model back then found herself as a “Slave Girl” to a random wild man in the ring.

Helen was much more than a “Slave Girl” and she was eager to show it.
The world's first model to have gone from cartoon star to full time wrestler, the 5’6, 125 lbs. Helen took her training seriously, and began what was a lucrative career as a professional wrestler, and a groundbreaking one at that!

Here’s a scene taken from an Owensboro, KY newspaper, the scene is from a match held on August 9th, 1957, the first women’s match held in Seattle in 11 years at that time. Her opponent? WWE Hall of Famer and future 28 year Women’s Champion ~ The Fabulous Moolah:

Helen was a force to be reckoned with. The dynamic mixture of beauty and strength, she never cried or screamed her way through a match, she instead used the best of her abilities to take down her opponents as quickly as possible. In a world dominated by looks and feminine stereotypes, Helen was on par with the men, and thrived in brawling and technical matches.

Audiences loved the feisty Helen, who on occasion let her sons sit somewhere in the crowd. And the fans weren’t the only people to love Helen. A young wrestler by the name of Iron Mike Dibiase later married the beauty, and adopted her children as his own.
Helen’s short life was often defined by the difficulties she faced in life, and not too much of her private life was ever really shared with the public, outside of the tragedies that befell her, such as the sudden loss of her husband to a heart attack suffered in the ring, and the substance issues she faced. But one thing she is best known for now, is raising a legend herself. A wrestler named Ted Dibiase:
Who himself has raised three sons who are now wrestlers. The best known being middle child Ted Jr:
But Helen is a legend in her own right that should be remembered. In a world that once demanded that a woman’s place remain in the kitchen, from the silver screen to the wrestling ring, Helen proved that the will of a woman was anywhere she pleased.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thank you Rhino!

As I write this, it's only a few hours removed from Ring of Honor's Death Before Dishonor iPPV. My hair is completely frizzed out, since Charlie Haas thought it would be funny to drench everybody on the ramp while I was going for a photo of Shelton Benjamin. But there's one outstanding memory I have, that has prompted me to write this blog.

Shaking the hand of Rhino.

Now when I opened this Blogger/Blogspot account in July of 2010, my first article was about why I became a cartoonist: http://codenamesailorearth.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-did-i-aim-to-be-cartoonist.html I'd like to elaborate a little on what caused me to draw wrestlers, specifically.

From the time I was 9 until I was16, I would draw constantly. After giving up on my first dream of going into politics, I found huge enjoyment from drawing cartoons. Originally, I would just draw my family or things I saw on TV, but wrestling of course being in my heart already, had a different hold on me with drawing.

See, I would study wrestling to better understand the human form. Unlike ballet, which shows how far the body can go, wrestling gives me an understanding of physics. For example, you wouldn't expect to see Spike Dudley lift the Big Show with one hand, would you? I'd spend hours either watching wrestling, or holding my figures to a flashlight, so I could understand drawing with a light source. How would the light bounce from The Honky Tonk Man's shoulders if the light was coming from above? How about from the ramp? I'd ask myself this all the time.

Being a lifelong fan of wrestling (having started at just 4 days old) I would draw wrestlers on occasion, usually to make my mom laugh by sketching something The Rock would say, but I don't think I was nearly as serious about drawing wrestlers as I am right now.

That all changed February 27, 2003.

Rhino (then spelled Rhyno) had been off of television since October of 2001. There had been an accident, and he needed to undergo neck fusion surgery. But unlike the other wrestlers that came back from the same thing in those early years of the 2000's, Rhyno stayed out a bit longer. The only thing we had seen of him, was a lone episode of WWE Confidential, where he confessed that he worried the fans would forget him while he was gone.

I could never imagine that! How could anybody forget this man? I had watched him become a star in ECW just before we lost them forever, and he was after all, their final champion. You can't forget the man-beast, it's not possible. What this man has done in the ring is nothing short of ground breaking.

But echoing his fears were several, snarky "dirt sheets" and early radio shows (we call them podcasts now) that scoffed at the idea that a wrestling fan could remember anything past last week.

But these fears were unfounded. And a hungry world of wrestling fans were waiting to quell those fears for good.

February 27th, 2003 he appeared on the ramp. In my area (Chicago) there had been little rumbling of his return, not even a graphic telling us when he'd be back. Nobody knew he was even in attendance, but there he was on the SmackDown ramp.

And the fans erupted.

The arena was booming with chants of E-C-DUB E-C-DUB E-C-DUB as signs went up everywhere "We miss you Rhyno" "Come back Rhino" "GORE GORE GORE!!!"

I don't think he realizes it, but he had such a serene, beautiful look on his face. His eyes were wide, and he had such a grin. A light mist went over his eyes and all at once, he seemed at peace.

Right then, I cracked open my box of colored pencils, and drew this:


Yes, I did draw this in Chibi style, but it was the best way I could come up with to capture the sweetness of this moment. A wrestler united with his fans, this is something that needed to be drawn.

From that moment on, that's what I wanted to do. I had heard my calling. I wanted to get better at drawing, and capture the beauty of wrestling in cartoon format.

Most cartoonists add extra lines to a wrestler's face, to emphasize emotion. The more lines you see, the more expression in the character, but sometimes (as the late Joe Kubert pointed out) it ages the character a little more than needed. I on the other hand take a cue from Chuck Jones, in that I try to tell the story in the eyes. I sort of hybrid anime style with what I learned from his cartoons, to capture that emotion. It's not a conventional means of drawing, but it's a style I feel best shows the life of the scene.

I didn't start posting my cartoons online until 2009. I really wanted to be at a higher level before letting the world see what I could do. I started by posting them on MySpace, and then sharing them on Facebook and bringing copies to different shows, so I could in person thank the wrestlers in said cartoons for their work. I can't always offer much, but I want these guys to know how special they are, and how every match they've had, from the pre-show dark matches to the main event, helps to make my world brighter.

But I hadn't yet told Rhino. I had only seen him once in person, at a Resistance show in January, right as he was on his way through my area to the ring, to speak with Harry Smith. I had no clue he was behind me, until a polite push on my shoulder led my face up to his soft, green eyes. My own eyes grew HUGE in an "I didn't realize Rhino was behind me" moment, as he made his way past my mom. A brief moment with a childhood favorite, one I wouldn't forget. One that inspired me to draw again.

And that takes me to last night.

At the ROH afterparty (which was entirely too short) I got the chance to talk to Truth Martini, who is not only a great manager, he's also one of the best known teachers in wrestling today. He's always been supportive of me and of my cartoons, himself being in several of them:
He asked how the cartooning was going, and I told him which projects I'm working on, and then I produced a cartoon for Rhino. I asked Truth if he thought Rhino might like it.

"Is that for ME????" I hear from behind.

I whip up to see Rhino, his eyes wide as he takes the cartoon from Truth's hand. This is now my second "I didn't realize Rhino was behind me" moment.

I got the chance to shake his hand and thank him, not only for the show, but for what he does as a wrestler. To thank him for inspiring me to take this journey as a cartoonist. I got that chance I had been waiting for since I was 16, to thank him for being him.

I was treated to a beaming smile, and a chance to take a photo with a humble wrestler, just before he had to leave again. But here is the cartoon he took with him:

Thank you Rhino! ^_^

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yo Gabba Gripes

Someday when I have children, I’m going to let them watch nothing but my old VHS and DVD collection. That’s right. My future children will be more accustomed to Ghostbusters and Power Rangers than anything on a Viacom station.

On occasion, I’ve left on a pre-school program called Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s a mindless show that isn’t so bad when you’re selecting a DVD. They routinely hold live shows, but most of their fans are in my age group. After reading this, you might understand why. The show has been featured on E! Network’s “The Soup” and the characters have been popular enough to find their way into adult commercials for cars and credit cards.

On paper, it’s a simple show. It’s about a man (DJ Lance Rock) who daily brings his action figures to life, in a diagram of the seasons. This is one of Nick Jr’s educational shows. I want you to hang onto that word, we’ll be visiting it again shortly. The Gabba gang have to learn valuable life lessons amid playtime, exercising and dancing.

And while the concept of staying active is shoved down Junior’s throat faster and with more fury than a PMSing Jillian Michaels DVD, this is the first program I’ve seen that tells kids it’s ok to eat food once in a while. I applaud them for that. I’m so sick of seeing parents starving their kids into an early grave, just to make them look runway ready. News flash moms and dads, lunch for a growing child is NOT a carrot stick, dry toast and a glass of water. Carbohydrates and a full piece of chicken won’t make your little Tammy or Chris morbidly obese. So it’s nice that Muno and Brobee are able to enjoy a chicken leg without dealing with any teasing. And that’s food for thought that puts a yummy in my tummy.

But there are a few issues I have with some of it, and I’m curious to see if there are any parents out there that might have the same questions I do.

For starters, in this internet heavy age, where the average parent is letting his or her kid play with tablets, laptops and smart phones before they’re old enough for pre-school, is it okay to have more (let’s say) mature acts make guest appearances?

Maybe it’s silly, but I just don’t think that most of these celebrities need to be on children’s programming. I’m sure you all got sick of it quick a while back, when there was controversy over Katy Perry being on Sesame Street. And while it’s not fair to blame her for what happened (I actually point a finger at the costume designer, script team and director, who thought that a kiddy version of Hot & Cold was somehow appropriate) it does make me question who keeps deciding to add these people to the shows.

Think about it. Think really hard. It’s Friday afternoon and Yo Gabba Gabba is on. You’ve just finished shoving the latest “Your Baby can READ” book down Junior’s throat and now it’s time to DANCE. Plex introduces us to our new Dancey-Dance friend, who shyly appears out from behind a motorcycle. It’s Jack Black, and you have already handed Junior a tablet with internet access. If Junior can figure out how to spell “Google” then it’s likely he can find Jack Black’s Master Exploder, which while is an epic song, is not Gabba friendly. And if you think those parental locks are worth the time and frustration of setting up, think again. YouTube and Google are just two out of thousands of websites that have blasted right through every parental lock imaginable. Now if Junior is “baby can read” smart enough to Google Jack Black, then he’s also smart enough to start asking a ton of questions while blasting Tenacious D’s Beelzeboss. I highly recommend that you listen to that one before you have to explain to Junior how this guy wound up with the Gabba Gang.

Another celebrity that has been seen on Yo Gabba Gabba is Paul Williams. Now for those who don’t know, Williams wrote a ton of songs in the 1970’s and has even been featured in an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory. I’ll just let the video speak for itself:

Trippy enough?? Yeah it’s no wonder most of the viewers are above the age of 20.

Aiding this idea are the main characters themselves.

Foofa is a disarmingly nice bubble monster, but some people have called her some less than charming names. I once heard a teenager at a store calling her “pink turd with a flower”.

Plex is a robot, who serves as a semi-educational, parental figure to the monsters. (Keep hanging onto that E word for me.)

Toodee is a hyper active half cat, half dragon monster who is supremely aggressive. In some episodes she can be seen pushing Brobee into doing things he doesn’t want to.

Brobee is manic depressive. Everything hurts his feelings and many episodes revolve around making him feel like the world isn’t out to get him. He’s so negative! I’m not really sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of kids seeing this character go from happy to sobbing over the slightest things.

… And then there’s Muno.

If you’re a fan of Mike Mozart, you already know about Muno. Even if you see the above picture, you can see what all the fuss is about. And no, it isn’t because Muno has a nasty habit of biting people, knocking things over and being a more manic cross between Toodee and Brobee:

It’s about his design.

Muno… looks like… an adult toy.

And he gets it honestly. Take a look at Muno’s mom, dad, sister and brother.

Generally, you expect to see characters like these on one of those late-night “Shop Erotic” programs. Not on Nick Jr.

And Muno isn’t alone. You see, like most television shows, the Gabba Gang often find recurring characters in the form of distant friends. Muno has one such friend, a bizarre monster named Gooble:

Now, I understand that Gooble’s creator swears that he is based on an earlier drawing for The Aquabats, and the charming story of his accidental birth can be read here: http://brobee.blogspot.com/2008/10/goobles-origin.html but speaking aesthetically as an artist myself, I’m afraid I must be blunt. There’s no nice, PC way to say this either.

Gooble is a leaking prophylactic.

Gooble occasionally appears on Yo Gabba Gabba, sobbing uncontrollably. Plex stated in one episode that nobody ever knows why Gooble cries, just that he does. All the time. He is always sad. It may be because his character was originally a ghost named Obakemon, (Ghost man, by the way, this is one letter off from a Digimon name) who was sad because well… he’s dead. Nothing quite says “kid friendly” like the wandering corpse of a leaking condom. And just where are standards and practices??

Yo Gabba Gabba is an “educational” program that teaches kids to accept people for their differences. It teaches about staying healthy and active and it’s supposed to be educational in other areas too. Skip ahead to 1:36 of this video, for an educational scene:

…. WHAT??

Now here is where I’m flustered. This is supposed to be an educational show, and yet Plex has just said something that the common school book would disagree with.

“All the stars are really just planets and suns”

REALLY??

For those of you without a kindergarten education, suns and stars are THE SAME THING. Our sun is a star. It’s a great, big, honkin’ ball of gas on fire. When planets surround a certain star, we call it a sun, but nothing actually changes about it. It’s still a STAR. To tell kids that there are no actual stars is scientifically unsound. Again, who is watching this? When you have an educational program, you’re supposed to check your facts before the episode goes to air. It’s a fairly simple practice that for a pre-school show, should take no time at all. And this should have been an easy episode to write.

With all of the ideas that the writing team has, it might not be a good idea to make this an educational show for toddlers anymore. Instead, it might be a wise idea for Nickelodeon to capitalize on the 20+ year old audience they already have by making another series of Yo Gabba Gabba, just for adults.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Is another CPS strike worth it?

I expected this for a long time.

As I type this, my usual Twitter feed about wrestling shows has been rudely interrupted with the word that Chicago Public School teachers are once again on strike, this time choosing to strike close to two months after the little ankle-biters have gone back to class. And to be honest, I have some mixed feelings on this that I'd like to share with you. I'm curious to see what kind of responses I might get.

As I've blogged before, I used to work at a school supply store. As per my job, I had to help teachers find the right book or gadget they needed, that included reading all the books your children have to read, and doing demonstrations. (Among way too many other tasks.) Even helped out with setting up projects, so if you ask the nice tax people, I have been a teacher's aide.

With that said, I can understand both sides.

On the one side of the issue, I can understand the teachers' complaints. They are grossly underpaid babysitters.

Not only are they babysitting Chicago's youth, they have to put up with spoiled parents, complaining about how their precious Lil' Jimmies are being treated, and then the teachers have to sit quietly and listen to the temper tantrums of the principal, the school faculty, the school board and on rare occasion, put up with workplace teasing from other teachers. That's an awful lot of babysitting for one person to handle, and often the most poised, mature people they deal with are under the age of 18. (In this case, under age 8.)

Another problem is again, pay. The average teacher would better off financially working at McDonald's. While working at the school store, I often watched the teachers having to make major decisions with their budget. Most of the time, the books aren't covered by the schools, neither are the scissors, paste, paper, flash cards and other goods the teachers need to help your child to learn. On the rare chance that a teacher does gain some form of compensation, it's usually in the form of half what he or she paid for the books to begin with. Now imagine that the average teacher makes less than $32,000 a year. Yeah, that's not fair.

Another issue are that the buildings ~ while they look pretty on the inside ~ are riddled with bacteria. About four years ago, there was a study done on cleanest places in the Chicagoland area. The schools ranked the lowest.

We hand teachers a can of Lysol, and act like it's enough to make his/her working environment squeaky clean. While LySol isn't a "bad" can of chemicals to own, it does virtually nothing to stop the spread of whooping cough, chicken pox, hoof & mouth disease, mumps, measles or even the common cold, all of which have been on the rise among school children and faculty out this way. And even the "rich" schools are riddled with mold. Suddenly, that $20-32,000 doesn't seem worth it.

So yeah, I can see the teachers' concerns and I can understand why they strike every school year. I feel they have every reason to.

On the other hand though, I wonder if it's worth it.

We've established that the school boards want to fatten up their own pockets by slashing funding for education and for these teachers. The last several protests only resulted in massive layoffs, so at this point, the embarrassment caused by a well deserved protest may not be enough.

Most of the teachers I used to see from this area didn't even become teachers because they liked teaching. They did it for the money, of which there is none. Many of them took out their frustrations on the students and on the parents, specifically the pre-school set. Even when interviewed the last four times they protested, the average teacher focused more on what they weren't making, and less on how this effected the children.

And the children are the ones who have to deal with this first.

The kids have to put up with the teachers' complaining, the kids have to put up with an ever changing school system, the kids have to put up with a twisted curriculum ~ edited and sanitized with key notes missing to appease non-helping coalitions, and it's the kids ultimately who end up suffering.

And it's because of this that many parents in the area are now looking into alternative methods.

It's the 21st century. The system that barely carried us through the 20th century is outdated and useless. Most of what you learn in regular school, you have to un-learn once you get to college, and now both teacher and school board alike have to contend with libraries and the internet, both of which can supply a child with much more than what their "approved" curriculum can afford.

Parents are turning to homeschooling more and more. It's cost effective, and the child is guaranteed access to an unabridged education. There are now new internet based schools that are fully and legally accredited, ensuring kids an easier to access road to college. (Or at the very least, an education sound enough to get them onto Jeopardy.)

We're at a point now, where the only purpose a traditional school building can serve, is to be used as an empty building to drop the kids off at while mom and dad are at work. And even then, a well placed community center can take that place and their counselors provide kids with a stronger sense of self-worth. Think about it. In school, you have deal with coaches and teachers telling you how badly you've screwed up, while the counselors at most YMCA buildings are trained to listen to you. That's a very big difference.

Ultimately, the school system as we've known it is fighting an uphill battle. Their best allies (the teachers) are not only striking, they've made it clear that they have zero interest in keeping the old ways afloat.

It may not be worth it to hold an umpteenth strike to fix a broken establishment. This might be a good time for these teachers to walk out entirely on these low-paying jobs, and let the system go.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Young wrestler, invest in yourself: The story of Punishing Pete

This is a public service announcement.

Please share this with someone you know, it may save a life... or at least someone's sanity.

I hereby dedicate this story to the many people in wrestling who I am blessed to say are in my life, and are NOT "Pete".

Some time ago, I was told that in order to make it in life, you have to make an investment in yourself. It’s okay once in a while to purchase things that will make your working life easier, even if it means going against the “traditional” methods. I was told this first by my mother, as she was telling me I don’t need to feel guilty over the price of a tablet I now use every week, and again by a friend who was cursing about another friend, whose career has pretty much stalled due to some ill choices he has made. I didn’t quite understand the importance of investing in yourself, until recently.

Part of the web work I now do includes cropping and editing photos of wrestlers. Usually, this is extremely easy work that takes no time at all. Just crop the photo down to a good size, and up it goes. There are plenty of wrestlers on the Indy scene who take pride in their work, and are a joy to watch.

… And then… There are some who really need more schooling.

There’s a man who I’ve known for several years. I’m withholding his actual ring name, because I don’t feel like dealing with the drama. So for the sake of this story, I’m re-naming him “Punishing Pete”. It’s nowhere near his real or ring name, but it is similar in some ways to what he named himself. (Actually this might be a better name overall.)

Now Punishing Pete used to be just “Peter”, a WWE fanboy who spent five years sitting next to me or on me at every single ROH show I ever went to, and would bitch and moan and complain that ROH will never be WWE. He’d go on about it for hours, and if I moved to another seat, he’d follow. It got to the point where other wrestlers would have to step in and ask him to leave me alone and let me watch the fights.

I travelled up to Milwaukee in 2010 for another show (I have another blog about this half written on the PC. It’s an excellent and fun tale I will tell one day) and while I was there, I spotted Pete.

“What are YOU doing here?? ME??! What are YOOOUUUU doing here!?!?!” is how the conversation started.

“I’M here because I was asked to be. What the HELL are YOU doing here??” I snapped at Pete.

“I’M a WRESTLER. Duuuuuu~uuuh!!” Snapped Pete back at me.

“WHAT?? Since when??”

Right away I started flagging down every wrestler I could, asking where he came from and who told him he could wrestle. And while Pete did not wrestle on this card, I was told that he had been in training for five whole years, and that his trainer was listed as “I dunno, some guy down the road who works at Wal*Mart, who was once a high school legit wrestler, but quit back in the 70’s because of a knee injury or something like that”. Note how this story lacks a name? Yeah, it’s always a great start to an epic career when the wrestler’s origins begin with training in “some guy’s” basement. That is also NOT a joke.

The next time I saw Pete was a month later. He was allowed an opening card match against a veteran who was much smaller, had fantastic charisma, and openly JOBBED Pete. Pete did not realize that the older wrestler was throwing the match on purpose, just to get a rise out of the crowd. Pete would smack him, and the elder wrestler would cross his eyes, stick out his tongue and yell “Oooooh OWCH that TOTALLY smarts!!” like a dad playing victim to a toddler’s punches. There was even a spot where Pete was losing a fight to himself, and the elder just stood to the side of Pete, yelling “Oh ouch oof ow take it easy, no stop ouch.” Pete never realized that he was indeed wrestling a t-shirt.

After the show, there was an after party. Pete flexed his girth at me. I say girth because he’s at a level where I can’t say he’s muscular, but I can’t say he’s chubby either. Anyway. Pete flexes his girth at me, and says “HA! I bet you think I’m real hot now, huh? Bet you think I look sexy. I’m a reeeeal wrestler now, I bet you’re pretty impressed. Bet you respect me NOW, huh?”

Have you ever seen one of those cartoons, where there’s a school bully who’s been left back a year, and once people find out he’s actually done something alright, he starts boasting about how big he is, but everyone still treats him like the pink elephant in the room? Yeah, let’s imagine that cartoon character, as (true story) The Iron Sheik is two chairs behind him, laughing loudly “what FAKING BOOLSHEET” as Pete is talking. Did I mention that I adore the Iron Sheik? I do.

This past winter, I saw Pete and the elder in a series of photos. The elder wrestler has long since given up on Pete, and has spent the last two years beating the ever loving hell out of him every chance he gets. This amuses me, since the elder wrestler is about 5’4. Punishing Pete is 6’2 and double the elder’s weight.

I recently saw a few more photos of Pete, and I had to crop them for a site I work on. If you see the photo I’ve posted, you’ll only see Pete from the neck up, and I’ve Photoshopped him so he looks as menacing as his bio says he is. I recently got praise for the photo from another wrestler, who told me this looks professional. I can’t begin to tell you how much that means to me… since this was a several hour job.

Remember earlier when I said that you need to invest in yourself? Well Pete never got that memo.

You see, Punishing Pete… does not have ring gear. Like, at all.

In the (now) 7 years he’s been a wrestler, Pete has never once purchased ring gear. Ever. His persona is that he’s a menacing punisher. A perpetrator of pain, at least that’s the tagline his new promoter has given him. So imagine Judge Dredd, minus the helmet, and that’s Pete’s persona.

Pete does not dress like Judge Dredd.

Pete does not dress like The Punisher.

Wanna know what Pete wears to the ring?

It ain’t ring gear.

It ain’t a singlet.

And it damn sure ain’t spandex.

Nope!

Punishing Pete comes to the ring in a Slayer wife-beater, khaki shorts and flip flops.

… THAT’S RIGHT!! I said FLIP-FLOPS!!!

It has come to my attention that Pete refuses to take pride in what he does. He does not invest in himself, so how can he expect other people to invest in him??

Let me ask you, if you were a wrestling fan, sitting front row at a show, and a man named Punishing Pete came down the ring in dirty, used flip-flops, would YOU take him seriously?

This is not even a comedic heel. This is no Repo Man or Santino Marella. This guy is supposed to be one of those serious, Razor Ramon types… and he’s out in flip-flops!

What’s sadder? He’s one of the main event heels. Pete was in a four way for a title. He went up against one cowboy wrestler (name withheld out of respect), one dude who was wearing a lime green singlet (400 lbs. and no cup or underwear) and another wrestler, who was 4’10 and about 250 lbs.

Of the four, the cowboy wrestler took pride in himself and invested in his gimmick. A sight for sore eyes, he had a gimmick that made sense, hair that had been freshly washed, and a body that screams “I see the gym no less than two times a week”. He reminded me of Bob Orton Jr in Shawn Michaels’s body, and he wrestles like a champion. I’ll be blogging about this dude and his lady another time, and I won’t be shocked at all should he wind up on your televisions screens one of these days. Again, he invested in himself.

The other three??

Now I don’t ever want to be one of those shallow types, so for three weeks, I tried really hard to put this out of my mind, and convince myself that there was nothing wrong with the match. I tried to tell myself that there was nothing wrong with the way the other two looked. And I tried super hard to keep this up…

Until I saw another wrestler post that he was tired of seeing people climb into the ring and take absolutely zero pride in how they look. The sentiment being “for the love of humanity PLEASE buy some ring gear and hit the gym” which let me know who he was probably talking about.

Like I said, Pete never invested in himself, though he’ll gladly bitch and complain for an hour about how the business has treated him, and how to make it in the business, and how WWE is business, and all anybody cares about is business, and business business business. Guess what his favorite word is?

So he’s invested in what he thinks is “the business”.

Guess who hasn’t invested in Pete?

The WWE business.

You know, the company Pete is all about joining someday. “THE” business, if you ask him.

And that doesn’t surprise me at all. Punishing Pete you see has NEVER even sent them a tape. Like at all.

The last time I saw him (hanging around a bar at an after party, bitching about how this guy and that dude will never make it to WWE) I asked him point blank:

“Alright wise-ass. Since you’re all about WWE, why don’t ‘cha send them a tape, head out to developmental and JOIN them? WHY are you even here?”

The Iron Sheik was still sitting two chairs behind him. I’m wondering if he heard Pete, because I do remember hearing his loud, bellowing laughter, and I remember a few people sitting with him pointing in my direction and looking for Adam Pearce.

Pete looks at me like I’m an idiot, and says “DUH! I don’t NEED to send THEM a tape. They’re the WWE! They watch everybody. All I need to do is keep hanging around some of these areas, and wait. Just wait, princess. In another year or so, I’ll definitely be in developmental.”

This was in 2010. Guess who’s not in developmental?

Now I’m sad to say that Punishing Pete’s story isn’t new. There are a few other people, who do not want to take pride in themselves. I wouldn’t know that, except I’ve seen many a Facebook post from actual wrestlers, begging a few of their own Punishing Petes to either see a gym or seek employment outside the squared circle.

So many people do not want to set foot inside of a gym, lift weights, develop a persona, purchase ring gear or even do something with their hair. And yet these are the SAME Punishing Petes who so desperately want to wind up high on the PWI 500. (As they post on their Facebooks.)

So for the other Punishing Pete’s in the world, here’s a diagram I’ve made up of starter looks, totally suitable for the ring.

Try them out for yourself!

Please click on the photo to see all of the details.