Teach Children To Worship Fakeness: A Review of Feel the Sting

This was originally written for theddt.com.  It appears now on a site that, as of late, has actually been updated.  Since theddt.com has been dead for several years and theddt.co.uk…well, clinically dead, I thought I’d save this article from a fate worse than death.  “Enjoy!”

Anyone who knows what CD title I parodied for this article wins this beautiful jar of air.  I’ll give you a hint: it’s the title of a 2000 album by an overrated black metal band.  The members of this band are evidently DARK and no doubt go to FUNERALs in black-and-white makeup.  Do you know who this DARK, FUNERAListic band are?  Well, I already gave the answer, so you’re S.O.L.  Or S.O.D., same thing.  METAL!

Recently, I went to Campbellford, Ontario for a day of shopping at some of the world’s murphiest discount store chains.  For those who don’t know, i.e., anyone still reading me after all this time, Campbellford is a small town of about 10,000 or so people with at least two competing discount stores (Giant Tiger and Liquidation World), a few dollar stores and a thrift shop.  Somehow, Campbellford manages to contain more quality discount items per capita than most places in Eastern Ontario, and a generic dollar store on the same strip as Liquidation World somehow manages to sell titles like Going Nucular – a book that came out last year and has had some mainstream press lavished on it as of late – for a dollar.  It’s a schizophrenic place, that no-name dollar store.  It will sell cheap dollar DVDs with thirty minutes worth of material on them – honestly, if you love Film! Film! Film!, that dollar store is a godsend to you – for $2.00 because the DVDs are located in the “gift shop” portion of the store, but $24.95 hardcovers retail for a dollar and VHS copies of Timmy the Tooth sell for $4.95.  Uncanny.

Anyway, to show you what a sad sod I am, I bought this book for primary-school kids about Sting.

At first glance, there’s really nothing wrong with what Feel The Sting‘s trying to accomplish.  Kids like wrestling, teaching a six-or-seven-year-old words like “dominated” and “cardiovascular” might make them smarter than some of the people reading TheDDT now and WCW at this point (note the rejigged fat bastard logo circa 2000, when the book was published) needed new fans.  In other words, I might look like an infantile, unfunny hack for making fun of a children’s book, dragging myself down to the level of Wrestlecrap’s “Somebody Bought THIS!” picture with smart-ass remark (I refuse to call it a “column.”)  Some people, of course, think Randy Baer’s right testicle is funnier than me on my absolute best day.  I’m an insensitive clod, but that’s why you secretly admire me, you jealous teases.  You want me.

After glancing through the book more than once, though, I realized what the book’s intentions really are: to indoctrinate children into believing the “official” history of WCW, a history of course fraught with inaccuracies and seven shades of “realness.”  Not that it did a good job, of course, if the book dissipated into dollar-store tedium alongside hundreds of copies of the same issue of some crappy Image miniseries and Muppet Babies’ I Can Go Potty.  Well, that and Feel The Sting is rather sloppily put together.  This is WCW 2000, where things go into a black hole of quality quite easily.  Let us traipse through this book now and discover the joys of typos and irrelevancy!  WHEEE!

MORE LIKE NUDIE BOARD GAMES!  Sorry, I know Young Ones references are dated by this point, but are kids really interested in knowing that Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Sting like to play Crazy Eights before Duggan’s inevitable loss to Meng?  More to the point, why would kids give a shit about Hacksaw Jim Duggan in the first place?  I know his “big dumb patriot with lumber” gimmick has its appeal, but seven-year-olds don’t as a rule don’t stay up to watch B-shows like WCW Saturday Night just to watch Duggan eke out a half-star classic against Air Paris.  If they did, I’d send them to a remedial English class just out of spite – even if I wasn’t a teacher.

Not that I’m intelligent myself, since I admitted earlier to having listened to Dark Funeral at one point in time.  I shouldn’t talk.

Gene Okerlund is a “journalist” like pro wrestling is “a real sport.”  Gene Okerlund is a “journalist” like Simple Plan “aren’t annoying.”  Gene Okerlund is a “journalist” like calling a wrestling fan a smark “isn’t retarded.”  How long can I stretch this extended simile out?  PRETTY DAMN FAR, LET ME TELL YOU…BROTHER!

Honestly, kids aren’t that stupid.  I know wrestling has always blurred the line between fantasy and reality, but how an interviewer and longtime company man like Gene Okerlund could ever be a “journalist” strains credulity.  Even in the world of “kayfabe,” it’s a stretch to call Mene Gene a journalist as he’s not going to do anything other than promote WCW and pretend Billy Kidman has said something profound.  Even at a young age, it’s pretty obvious that interviewing men with gimmicks like “angry Polynesian with afro” and “man everyone knows is Ed Leslie with a bondage mask on” exclude company announcers from calling themselves journalists.  Not that Dave Scherer is any more legitimate a journalist by comparison, of course, but I heard he can bench two cruiserweights!  NOW THAT’S BELIEVABLE!

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?  To seven-year-old kids unfamiliar with the fixed nature of wrestling, it does.  Well, maybe not, as it’s Sid Vicious the book is talking about here.  Anyone booked to win more than fifty consecutive matches (forty-five of them against The Renegade, Pat Tanaka and Jim Powers alone) is going to look impressive even if Disco Inferno is the one with the incredible winning streak.  Still…it’s Sid.

Look at the picture up there!  He can’t even look convincingly angry, for God’s sake!  He looks constipated, but his name isn’t Sid Bollocks.  THOUGH HE WRESTLES LIKE THAT!  HYOOO!

What all this has to do with Sting, of course, is up for debate.  Not like the company was ever going to exist past 2001 anyway.

We come now to the section about Sting’s title defenses.  Right away, you can tell the book is professional as the picture of Sting holding a recently claimed title is shown backwards.  How can I tell?  Well, RIALF CIR isn’t exactly a household name in wrestling, is he?  Maybe he’s one of those one-day not-really-champions, I don’t know.  Perhaps he’s Irish?

Solid gold, eh?  If it was really solid gold the belt wouldn’t have a leather backing.  I just quashed a rumour, isn’t that amazing?

What I love about Feel The Sting is the fact that it merges Sting’s runs with the WCW World Title and the “WCW International World Title.”  I know the two belts were supposed to be equal to each other in terms of importance, but the fact remains that having two world champions in one company without two contrived divisions was a terrible idea in the first place.  If the NWA didn’t want to have anything to do with WCW anymore, WCW should have just came clean and slagged off the NWA as beneath them.  WCW didn’t, so it had two world titles at one point.  It’s great to teach the kids that the two world titles were actually one and the same.  That isn’t lying to them by any means.

Imagine some seven-year-old reading this, announcing Rick Rude as a World Champion and being beaten up by all and sundry because, after all, Rick Rude fans are gay.  It’s much more heterosexual to follow some guy who’d painted his face since 1985 and acted like a goth for five years.  STING WOULD BEAT YOU OFF WITH A BASEBALL BAT, HE WOULD!

Aren’t segues neat?

Honestly, how does having a baseball bat add to the character’s mystery in any way?  OOOH, I’M NOT GOING TO PUNCH YOU!  I’LL JUST SWING A BAT LIKE A COWARD BUT IT’S OKAY BECAUSE I’M A GOOD GUY!  I’M COMPLEX!  What the hell is “dark mystery,” anyway?  What other moods could mystery invoke?  This is a horribly written factoid, never mind that it’s written for children.  Anyway, at this point in his career Sting was regularly facing Vampiro because…um…they both had black-and-white facepaint.  What good was his mysterious brooding nature doing him then?  How much more mystery and brooding could you put into that feud when the only reason for the feud was due to Sting not being much more than midcard bait at this point?  Of course, if his career is languishing the time is OBVIOUSLY ripe for a book promoting Sting as one of the greatest superstars in WCW history.  I’m surprised WCW lost $80 million in 2000, I really am.

Finally, note how Feel The Sting switches from “old Sting” to “new Sting” quite frequently.  In one picture, Sting’s wearing a Harley-Davidson T-shirt.  The next page, Sting has switched allegiances to this unknown company called Yelrah.

Oh, wait, the sodding publisher didn’t notice a reversed picture before going to press with this book.  It’s one thing to call Japanese pro wrestling “puroesu,” but is it that hard to launch Photoshop and go through the Image and Rotate Canvas menus before clicking on Flip Horizontal?  Then again, anyone expecting quality control from a company with a “Publishimg Manager” should not claim to feel ripped off when Dorling Kindersley breaks your heart for the fifteenth time.

What did the book manage to teach us, then, in the end?  Well, it taught me that no matter how run-down the license, there will be someone who will take a chance on it no matter how terrible the product.  It also taught me that Sting very rarely enjoys cookies, pizza, or pralines-and-cream ice cream.  I hope this rundown of Feel The Sting has all helped us, in some way, to grow.  I guess this article has a happy ending after all.

I’m sorry.  I couldn’t think of a non-crap ending.  Uhh…trousers.

C. Archer
Le Social