AS I SEE IT 1/23: The Boogeyman's comin' to get me?
AS I SEE IT
Forget about columns on issues like steroids and drug abuse in wrestling.
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Forget about columns on the deaths of wrestlers too numerous to name.
Forget the campaign of the Parents Television Council against wrestling in general and the then-WWF in particular.
The most letters I have ever received in response to one column, have come over the last week, when I asked readers to write me about the Boogeyman.
From Luke Storts in Guam:
"I live in Guam and out here everything is tape delayed and I was watching Smackdown last Friday night and was actually sitting down to eat something when the Boogeyman was eating the worms and It almost made me want to throw up... Thanks for the warning about the 'mole' incident, I'll be sure to eat dinner before 8 this week."
That's kind of the way I felt when seeing it live in Philadelphia. I made a point of watching a hockey game when that portion of the Philadelphia show aired days later.
From Rahul Kudva of India:
"About the Boogeyman... I'm sick and tired of all these super-natural-themed wrestlers (The Undertaker, Kane, Boogeyman) trying to show their "mysterious powers" and scare their opponents. I loved the Undertaker as the Red Devil (or American Bad-Ass or Big Evil), but I seriously hate his present persona. OK, so he can roll his eyes to the "back of his head", big deal! My friends and I roll our eyes as well, everytime we see it, just not to the "backs of our heads".
I remember seeing the wrestler (who knows plays The Boogeyman) during Tough Enough tapings. He seemed confused about his actual age (30... 30... 30....oops, 40, heh-heh-heh!). Ok, so maybe he could be a good wrestler given time, but this persona sucks. Eating worms, "moles" - seems like he should be on Fear Factor, not WWE. "
Problem is....while some people enjoy old-style gimmicks (see below), others get turned off by them, and it becomes harder to explain to some non-wrestling friends "why you're watching that stuff" when someone's shoving worms down a woman's panties, or biting her in the face.
From Danny Crane:
"You called it EXACTLY RIGHT. What sane person wants to see someone eat worms for goodness sakes? The trick this past week with him eating the so-called 'mole' off what's her name's face wasn't even as bad as the worms and it's all ridiculous. I turn the tv off when he comes on, or at least I did for the first few times because of him eating the worms. Too disgusting by far, worst gimmick I have ever seen (and could well be one of the nastiest, the idiot should get some kind of infection just for being stupid). I hope he has gotten away from that--btw, where is PETA with all that foolishness going on? Anyway, if you couldn't tell I am not a fan of the 'boogeyman' either. His gimmick sucks. Don't know if he has any wrestling ability because I have yet to see him wrestle."
I can easily see someone telling PETA about this, if they haven't already done so. Problem is, if they protested, the next week, there would be live simulated(?) animal sacrifices. After all, we're getting simulated Tim White suicide attempts on the WWE.com website (UPN apparently has SOME standards, so the Tim White sketches haven't appeared there yet).
From Mark Thiele:
"Worst Gimmick EVER!
I cannot recall what Vince or his "creative" team have come up with in the past that is this stupid.
If you got hate mail, its their problem, not yours. I could not agree more with you. I saw Boogeyman a few months ago (Halloween time I think) when he first showed up on Smackdown, and I was hoping it was a one night gig for him. Maybe Vince is catering to idiots, instead of trying to develop some of the more talented characters he already has."
And with a roster featuring Chris Benoit, Rey Misterio, Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy, Paul Burchill, Randy Orton, Brian (Spanky) Kendrick, and Paul London yet...
From Ian Moss:
"People like the Boogeyman for the same reason people liked Doink the Clown. "So bad, it's good", to put it bluntly..."
So bad, it's good.... If I want that kind of programming, I can watch reruns of Jackass or Punk'd.
From Jeremy Lawlis:
"Hello Bob, I am a constant reader of your articles, and I usually agree with your opinions in all things wrestling....INCLUDING the Boogeyman.
When they showed the teaser vignettes I groaned....but I admit that when he first started coming out I kinda liked the character (mainly thanks to Tazz and his comments), although Boogey can barely wrestle (when he actually *does* wrestle).
When he started eating worms, I went back to hating him. It is a disgusting gimmick, and the jobbers have to deal with it, too.
So, I for one totally agree with you."
Problem is...when it's all done...he DOES have to wrestle.
From Jeff Merkin:
The Boogeyman character reminds me of Papa Shango a dozen other stupid characters that Vince has created. He is popular because it is bizarre and people like bizarre things. I would rather see good solid storie and great wrestling then this stupid character. The guy portraying him actually looks like he might have some talent or at least some charizma if given a better role. I'm sure Paul Heyman is happy that he doesn't have this guy around all of the time in OVW.
I've been watching wrestling since the early 70's and what Vince has done to the product lately is just horrible why can't we get OVW or Ring of Honor on TV instead."
Ohio Valley Wrestling and Ring of Honor sell their tapes online (and ROH is a PWBTS sponsor), so it might be worth spending a few dollars to see a product that doesn't insult your intelligence or upset your stomach.
From Christopher Gilmartin:
I personally was sickened last week by the Boogeyman when he ate Julian Hall's mole. I am an avid fan of wrestling and I look at a guy like The Boogeyman and it throws me back into the World Class Championship Wrestling days.
When I was a child and WCCW was in its heydays, we were blessed with gruesome figures like The Missing Link and The Great Kabuki. Those guys scared me so bad I almost couldn't watch wrestling. Now in my mid 20's, half-burned cigarette in my hand, I'm on the Internet looking for old Link or Kabuki matches.
Maybe these people see him as a throw back from their childhood, maybe they see him as a good worker willing to do that for his career.
The only good thing out of the petri dish of "McMahon Labs" is the fact that in the cesspool of bad story lines with cheesy and bad gimmicks is one thing seems to thrive right now and its technical wrestling."
Problem is...that there is very little technical wrestling being aired on the free TV shows, which is supposed to serve as advertising for what's going to appear on the PPV. While you don't give away the best for free...you should give people a sample of it to whet their appetite for the PPVs where they give you money.
Then there's the other side:
First Marcus Larsson from Sweden:
I'm Marcus from Sweden and I have been watching wrestling since late '91. Im 28 years old and I just LOVE The Boogeyman.
Because I'm sick and tired of these Playboy wannabes and wrestlers with only one name, doing the same things in the ring all over the time, flexing their muscles, looking angry, and having attitude problems. I'm tired of seeing them week after week.
The Boogeyman gives something “new” to the show, something I hadn't expected from WWE in the late 2005 and early 2006. Kayfabe is dead for sure, but then introduce a character like his…..that's….cool!!
That’s why I love the Boogeyman!"
We agree on all the Playboy wannabes. Vince McMahon is treating these women like disposable pieces of ass that can be easily interchanged for a younger and cheaper model, as witnessed by the treatment of Christy Hemme.
We agree on the Chernobyl-mutant steroid freaks from hell.
But give me something I can suspend my disbelief in. When Chris Benoit beat HHH for the Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania, we all pretty much knew that was the finish. But the match was performed so well by both Benoit and HHH that the live crowd and TV crowd weren't really sure if that was really the case. That's how I want to have my disbelief suspended...not by characters coming out of the 1970s.
From Sandra Baum:
Lighten up on the Boogeyman, a cartoon character, biting the obviously fake mole off Jillian's face. She didn't even bleed, and the "mole" was smooth on one side. How could anyone take such antics seriously? (On the other hand, "The Devil's Rejects" was seriously scary and believable.)
The reason people like Boogeyman is that he is funny, and plenty of people remember his as the the charismatic 40-year old from Tough Enough 3. He's ballsy enough to eat worms to get over, what the hell, I say give him a chance. And if Vince can give us something as foolish as a woman with a hideous growth on her face, how can we complain about a freaky guy biting it off?
I've been into wrestling since the late 50s and you know as well as I do, we have seen worse. "
The point is that some of it IS so obviously fake. Are any readers old enough to read about Gene LaBelle claiming he had a Frankenstein monster that was REALLY built in a lab in Transylvania back in 1981? How about the Gobbledygooker or Papa Shango?
Characters are fine. But don't give me characters that insult the intelligence of an eight year old.
From Ken Theissen:
When it comes down to it professional wrestling has always been and will always be entertainment. Today some guys (X division) are doing 2-3 DDTs in the first five minutes of a match without even the slightest story being told and you're writing negative about the Boogeyman?
C'mon, the Boogeyman is at least incredibly entertaining. I think the negative articles should be about the guys that should've taken up high diving and NOT wrestling because that is all they know how to do. The Boogeyman is fun, very talented at what he does and is more like a George "Animal" Steele type of character then a Kurt Angle. He is the entertaining part of wrestling and I think it works."
Sounds like this one was written from the X Division Gospel according to Batista. TNA's X Division matches aren't simply "car crash matches" as Batista suggested (likely with some prompting by members of the McMahon family) on a Byte This episode.
To repeat the phrase first used (as far as I know) by former independent promoter Joel Goodhart, I find Boogeyman and his kind of character to be neither "sports" or "entertaining".
"...He is just a fun character. A real flashback to the '80s and early '90s gimmicks. Other than that, he is a 40 year old that recently got his teeth knocked out in OVW that is performing a very odd gimmick where he eat worms. I commend him for doing that. And he's probably doing it for mid-card pay too. He's creepy and slimey looking. Kids were scared of him at the Smackdown Tapings and women were weirded out.. So obviously his gimmick is selling. His gimmick is laughable, fun, and weird. "
A character has to be a vehicle to get a person over. But when all that's done...he (or she) has to WRESTLE. Case in point: Nick (Eugene) Dinsmore has his Forrest Gump style character...but in the end he got in the ring and worked...even if it was within his character, and not remotely on the level Dinsmore is capable of working. A wrestler's character should be the sizzle to the steak...not the other way around.
From Anthony Bondi:
" Hey Bob,
I read your column on PWBTS, and every time it comes on Wrestleview.com and just saw you wanted an explanation for the Boogeyman.
The best way I can put it is this: The character although flawed in many aspects, is a personification of what we were scared of as children and now looking at it as adults is completely hilarious. It is a bad gimmick that is so awful people enjoy it. Mr. Marty Wright brings the most over-the-top antics to drive critics to criticize and the marks to pop. I kind of like the guy because he brings out the worst overacting from everyone he comes in contact with making all his spots if not memorable for all the wrong reasons, at least viewable for a gross-out factor or laugh."
Again, I don't always get the "so bad, it's good" concept. It's telling that there are two e-mails I printed here with the same thought...and others I didn't have room for this week.
It seems to be a pattern, alongside the Tim White "suicide" skits. These are also so deliberately overdone and hammy, but they unfortunately also have the added possibility of imitation by kids too young to know any better with access to the Internet. I doubt too many people are planning to paint their faces red, get all gassed up, bust clocks on their head, and eat worms and moles.
From Eric Lewis:
As a guy who normally can’t stand silly or stupid gimmicks, I totally understand your thoughts on the character. But for some reason, this one is an exception for me. Eating a “growth” off someone’s face, eating worms, etc… it’s ridiculous. Too ridiculous, and I think that’s the key.
At the risk of being beaten by wrestling fans around the world, I’ll tell you exactly what this gimmick reminds me of. Not in terms of the actual character, but in terms of why it works and why I like it.
The Boogeyman reminds me of The Undertaker. A big man with a weird gimmick that has more potential to be laughed at and bomb in this day and age than anything else. But, like The Undertaker, the guy who plays the Boogeyman plays it completely over the top. His expressions, the dance, the fact that he’s able to sell the worm eating without throwing up, the whole thing. He comes to the ring and it legitimately makes me feel sick and kind of scared, much like the Undertaker can have a similar effect on people. Remember when the “Deadman” character returned and how eerie his entrance was (and still is)? That’s what this is like. It sends chills.
The Boogeyman went after JBL twice on Smackdown! recently and both times I was thinking, “Jesus JBL, get the hell out of there!!!” I felt scared for JBL and anyone else near the freaky guy. The Jillian Hall growth-eating thing had me turning away, but loving it at the same time. It was shocking, but in a cheap horror movie sort of way.
I guess The Boogeyman almost has the kid in me believing in this stuff again. The whole kayfabe thing, you know? Unlike so many of the same-old, same-old gimmicks of today, this guy has something different, and it’s not offensive in the Muhammad Hussan sort of way. It’s so over the top and unbelievable that I can’t be offended by it.
That all being said, I completely expect the WWE to screw this up sometime and kill this guy’s momentum, like they did with Kane. Kane is about as much a monster now as Simon Dean is. But they’ll keep selling Kane as a monster, so we’ll all keep half-believing it and almost forget that he got his ass handed to them in the Elimination Chamber.
But for now, I’m loving this. Just like The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, and others… it’s a weird gimmick played completely over the top. And it has to be, or we would all hate it.
Sorry if this is a little all over the place… I’m at work, and even I am trying to figure out why I like this guy. But he’s one of my favourite things about Smackdown right now."
To get someone to suspend their disbelief through a performance is a good thing. I'm happy that Boogeyman did it for this reader. I just have to wonder if there aren't better ways to get people to suspend disbelief...like creating interesting storylines, great work in the ring, or a legend that I can respect when s/he gets into the ring.
And somewhere in the middle, from Ricky Dawg:
"I agree with you, Bob. At the core, even if the gimmick is that he believes that he is the Boogeyman (we are not to believe this), it is a bad gimmick.
But Marty Wright has done a great job with the character and it's been booked to a T.
It annoys me. People are biiiiiiiiig fans of Taker, then spit on Boogeyman for being too unrealistic. They are the same concept. They are in the state of mind that they are dead or the Boogeyman. Boogeyman and Undertaker are essentially the same thing, except one's a little funnier."
The thing is, these days, many of the same people think Undertaker is played out, too. I'll be the first to admit that there's no ring entrance in WWE that gets a bigger reaction than the old school Undertaker music and the light show. So it isn't as big a difference as you'd think for some fans. But there are a lot of fans that aren't into either character because they come off as so unreal.
Like it or not, Undertaker's drawn money through live gates and merchandise for WWF/E over a period of years. However, I don't know anyone outside of Stamford who thinks Boogeyman-mania is about to exactly run wild and duplicate the feat.
And some hate mail to boot...from "Timo Wild":
"Just so you know, that mole had to go and Boogeyman eating it is exactly the kind of 'shock' TV that WWE needs right now (notice the ratings going up). As for Rey winning the title....
I'll shoot myself if he ever does, so keep your fanboy comments out of the site, nobody cares "How you see it", the bottom line is that wrestling is entertaining again, and you people still need something to bitch about."
Seems you cared enough about "how I saw it" to write.
If you think the ratings are up from the peak period of WWF/E, you're mistaken. Feel free to check out the information for yourself at this link.
Personally, I think we had enough of "shock TV" with Vince Russo. As for entertaining wrestling, give me Kurt Angle work Shawn Michaels; or watching Samoa Joe work Kenta Kobashi. It was also watching Eddie Guerrero mixing humor and an entertaining character with actual wrestling.
As for shooting yourself if Rey Misterio wins the title, take hints from Tim White as to how you can remove yourself from this world. That is, if you're not busy being entertained by it.
Thanks to all of you who wrote in.
Until next time...
If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT
column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)