Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: NASCAR edition

NASCAR_On_FOX_Logo
The first thought that comes to mind when most Americans outside of the South think about NASCAR is not moon shining. Over the years the media has portrayed NASCAR as the Redneck’s sport of choice. Excuse me…they wouldn’t use the word sport. Even though I am not an avid NASCAR fan, NASCAR is a celebrated competition that is as American as apple pie. So grab your smoked turkey leg, crack your Bud Light and let’s drive down pit row to investigate this misunderstood ‘sport’.

Nascar_race_from_the_1950sEver since the invent of the automobile, we have tried to make them better and faster. Making them faster means that someone has to be the fastest. From the first automobie race held in the United States that was sponsored by a Chicago newspaper in 1895 to the 20s and 30s when the United States became the place to race. After Daytona Beach, FL 1963_Ford_Galaxie_NASCARbecame the go to place for fast-round track style racing while the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah had become synonymous as locations to break speed records. Years after Bill France Sr. moved to Florida to better himself during the Great Depression; he founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing after racers needed a legitimate promotion since a lot of charlatans were promoting racing events and skipping town before ever paying the racers their winnings. France sat down with other influential racers and promoters in late 1947 to iron out sanctions, standardize rules, create a schedule, and a ‘final championship’. This led to rules being scribbled down on a bar room napkin and the creation of the “NASCAR” league in early 1948.

NASCAR_43From 1948 on, NASCAR grew in popularity. With greats like Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr, to current champions like Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhart Jr, Jimmie Johnson and even the recently retired Jeff Gordon; racers have immense fan bases while merchandise sales (hats, shirts, jackets, replica cars) are a multi-million dollar asset to the NASCAR brand. So how can a sport that has been around since the invent of the automobile and having been organized since 1948 get such a bad rap? How does a sport with a yearly revenue of over $3 billion with an estimated 75 million fans world wide over 3.6 million individual attendants of races worldwide still get a bad rap?

People outside of the set demographic just don’t understand NASCAR. I myself am not a huge fan because I would rather watch drag racing (which is a completely different and misunderstood entity) or football for that matter; but NASCAR has not been targeted to all Americans. In the 1970s, the demographic was the blue collar Americans (specifically
Dale_Earnhardt_Jr_carSoutherners) who enjoyed the cold Budweiser and Winston cigarettes who proudly sponsored the events. Maybe the negative views came from the fact that stock car racing in the United States can trace its origins back to these Southern ‘shine runners’ who boasted about having the fastest car after prohibition. The possibilities are endless as to why you wouldn’t like NASCAR and maybe you’ll just end up being one of those cynical people that makes jokes about going fast and turning left; but, if you attend a race then you’ll be on your feet with a drink in one hand and a smoked turkey leg in the other…screaming for your favorite driver to wheel his numbered car to the finish line before all of the other numbered cars.

NASCAR-LasVegas-2008


NASCAR on Fox logo by and accredited to Thenascarguide – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47924513
1958 NASCAR race image by and accredited to Notch8864 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46437509
1963 Ford Galaxie NASCAR image by-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=131516By Eagle Shooter at flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/waynew/119439841/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=767012
Richard Petty’s 1973 Dodge Charger image by and accredited to dodge challenger1 – originally posted to Flickr as challenger run 527, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5847784
Dale Earnhardt Jr Car on racetrack image by and accredited to USCG photo by PA3 Kimberly Wilder – United States Coast Guard https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=682594
2013 NASCAR Toyota Camry image by and accredited to Alf van Beem – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55156882
(Featured Image) Las Vegas NASCAR image by https://pixabay.com/en/users/WikiImages-1897/https://pixabay.com/en/car-racing-nascar-race-track-67525/, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24974861

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: WrestleMania 33 letdowns

Wrestlemania_33_Stage
Another WrestleMania has come and gone but this WrestleMania did not leave many wrestling fans unscathed despite many positive moments. The wrestling fan has gotten used to not having the results that we had planned out in our heads (or written about in our blogs or spent hours talking about on podcasts for that matter) but we are used to being left with a feeling of regret (again despite any good things that might have happened.

Less than 48 hours ago, we were all hanging in suspense, waiting for the beginning of what would become (in my opinion) a lackluster WrestleMania.  As I stated earlier, fans will never get exactly what they wanted because the diverse fan base would never agree to one specific story line but there were many letdowns at WrestleMania 33. Does this mean that I didn’t enjoy it? Most definitely not. Does this mean that there could have been things to improve?

Before I rip into how the WWE failed me as a wrestling fan during this year’s WrestleMania…I will tell you what they did right.

Shane_McMahon_performing_a_shooting_star_press_at_WrestleMania_33

  • Shane-o-Mac. That’s all I have to say. He took one of my favorite wrestlers, AJ Styles, to the limit and actually wrestled. He proved that he isn’t just the boss’s son. He proved that he has the skills to not only pay but to make some bills.
  • The Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt  for the WWE championship was an impeccable match. The two top stars proved that they were not only top caliber athletes but truly knew how to tell a story inside and outside the ring.
  • The Triple Threat Ladder Match was going to be amazing to begin with (as I am a fan of Enzo Amore and Big Cass) but when the camera panned to the top of the entrance ramp…I knew that my prayers had been answered. Then hits the Hardy Boyz music and despite having almost lost my voice due to allergies, I screamed as The_Hardy_Boys_at_WrestleMania_33_(33779867716)loud as my crackled voice could amplify. To see the Hardy Boyz finally grace the WWE ring with their combined presence thrilled me and filled me with fear. I hope that Vince utilizes their talents and allows their “broken” personas to shine. My fear is that he will just ‘delete’ them after he has milked them for what they are worth due to their recent skyrocketing popularity shift. He’s good for that you know. My hope is that the Brothers Hardy will continue to prove that they are, Ha Ha, the greatest tag team in all of space and time. 😉

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  • Despite my hatred for Seth Rollins and my distaste for HHH’s new persona in the company, the two of them put on a heck of a show. Besides all of that…when HHH picked up that Sledgehammer; I admit that I got goosebumps.

Now that I’ve said the positives….let me tell you what let me down. Here are Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: WrestleMania 33 letdowns:

WrestleMania_33_(33761042576)10. The ramp – Yes its cool that you had the longest entrance ramp in WWE history but there is a negative to having the longest entrance ramp in WWE history. THE NEGATIVE IS THAT IT TAKES FOREVER FOR THEM TO GET FROM THE CURTAIN TO THE RING! HHH had to ride a motorcycle just not be exhausted by the time he reached the ring. Sometimes Vince needs to realize that the spectacle’s massive scale doesn’t always guarantee reward.

9. John Cena’s proposal – I love John Cena. I really do. I love the Miz. I really do. But the match between Cena (plus one) and Miz (plus one) felt forced. It felt forced by the WWE to make us want to love the Bella’s again. John Cena is the shining star of the WWE; and he and the Miz have had some amazing matches in the past (even at WrestleManias in the past) but this was not a WrestleMania caliber match. This was a primetime Raw or Smackdown match at best. Good job at the string pulling John. You won those brownie points.

Charlotte_Flair_entrance_at_WrestleMania_33_(33779948166)Charlotte_with_belt
8. Card placement
– The card felt jumbled. Something didn’t feel right but having the Smackdown Diva’s Championship match to be the Top 3 matches of the night? WASTE OF TIME SLOT! The Raw Women’s Championship match was a formidable replacement. The athleticism of Charlotte Flair, the Boss-ness of Sasha Banks, the strength and power of Nia Jax taking on the huggable Bayley would have been a better option for that time slot.

Big_Show_(4872080412)7. Waste of Big Show’s Last WrestleMania – The Big Show has slimmed down a lot. He has gotten a hold on his health and looked amazing. He is still a Monster in my opinion but the WWE dropped the ball in honoring the veteran on his last WrestleMania. The Big Show has been a feather in the hat of wrestling for years, and deserved one last push before he exited.

6. The Andre the Giant Battle Royal – Speaking of The Big Show. Though Vince usually loves the Monsters and Big Men, big men like Braun Strowman, Mark Henry and even The Big Show got booted from the Royal Rumble match early on. Instead of allowing The Big Show to win the match in his last WrestleMania appearance or utilize the amazing talent that is Braun Strowman, the WWE liked the story line and star power appeal that Mojo Rawley’s best friend (New England Patriots party-boy tight end Rob Gronkowski) brought to the ring. They knew that it would cause headlines to pop up all over the place and from a marketing standpoint, I understand. From a fan of Rumble style matches…I disapprove.

5. Bray Wyatt’s Bugging-out gifs – Would was slated as a gross out or fear inducing Bray_Wyatt_entrance_at_WrestleMania_33_(32977442834)moment from one of the most talented wrestlers in the WWE ended up as a corny deterrent. The distraction technique did not deter Bray Wyatt’s neck from finding an RKO right out of nowhere. So the childish bug gifs were a slap in the face to the brutality and heartbrokenness that we saw leading up to the WrestleMania.

Brock_Lesar_at_WresleMania33_WWE_Universal_Champion
4. Goldberg/Brock Lesnar – Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge Goldberg fan back in the
WCW days and even in his WWF/WWE days BUT this time a title reign felt pushed. I loved the fact that he easily defeated the Beast-incarnate Brock Lesnar. It had me hyped up! He had Brock’s number and that was how it should have stayed. I’m tired of Brock. It’s that simple.

3. Former BFF Fight: Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho – I have never been a fan of Y2J Chris Jericho and his annoying antics with his then bff Kevin Owens just extended my hatred of his pompous character. The fact that the WWE placed a ‘former bff’ “you were never my best friend” fight on a WrestleMania card is preposterous! It could have culminated at a PPV sure but it was by no means WrestleMania worthy.

2. AJ Styles – When AJ Styles came to the WWE, I was truly excited. He was my favorite wrestler in TNA and as he went from ROH to Japan where he expanded the already huge popularity of the Bullet Club. He rode that success wave to America where he joined the biggest wrestling organization in the world: the WWE. Here he has won the Heavyweight title and feuded with top stars. SO….why make him turn and be the whining ‘why am I not a star’ wrestler? Why not use his abilities as they are and give him the push he deserves?!? He is the best pound for pound wrestler in my opinion and he should be given the push he deserves.

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  1. This is my yard: Undertaker/Roman Reigns – The Undertaker will go down in history as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He will be remembered amongst the great ones like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, Ric Flair, or Bruno Sammartino. So are we as wrestling fans to just lay back and believe that Roman Reigns is a replacement for The Deadman…The Lord of Darkness…The American Bad Ass…The Big Evil…The Phenom…the man whom the Big Show called the greatest professional wrestler…the man who Mark Henry and Vince McMahon himself called their Undertaker_at_Wrestlemania_25_croppedfavorite wrestler of all time? I am partial in this argument because I don’t like Roman Reigns. He worked as a member of the SHIELD faction but now that he is being force fed down our throats, I can’t stomach it. I don’t think that he is a technically sound wrestler. I don’t think that he can work the mic. He can’t cut a promo. So….is the WWE pushing him in hopes that he can be as successful as the Rock? I think so. I think that that being the ‘passing of the torch’ for the Undertaker is a slap in his face. I will give the WWE one credit: they did give him the last slot of the PPV and allow him to take off the hat, gloves, and jacket in a memorialized fashion. The Undertaker has been wrestling for over 30 years and deserved better than to lose to Roman Reigns at his last hoo-rah. But that’s just my 2 cents.

 


 

Featured Image: WrestleMania 33 Stage image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – A #Phenomenal start to #WWE #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 last night as the sun starts to set in #Orlando #Florida #AJStyles #ShaneMcMahon, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57704230
WrestleMania 33 set up image by and attributed Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – Live for WrestleMania 33, and the incredible set up for it! Just Amazing! #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Florida #Orlando, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698644
WrestleMania 33 Banner image By Jeff Kern from Orlando – Apparently, there’s some little wrestling event this weekend in Orlando. Interesting people watching opportunities while I wait for my friend’s birthday dinner . . . #wwe #downtownorlando #amwaycenter, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698528
Shane McMahon performing a shooting star press at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – #ShaneMcMahon shows off his high flying skills as the crowds watches in awe – Another amazing match at #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #WWE #AJStyles #Orlando #Florida, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698830
The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – The Hardy Boys return at #WrestleMania to create fireworks! #WrestleMania33 #WWE #Orlando #Florida #HardyBoyz #JeffHardy #MattHardy #BrotherNero #Delete, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698636
Charlotte Flair entrance at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – Fireworks as the #WWERaw #WomensChampionship gets underway at #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #WWE #Orlando #Florida #CharlotteFlair, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698657
Charlotte with Belt image by and attributed to Tabercil – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50251230
Bray Wyatt entrance at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – A stadium full of light, while the lights are off! Amazing to view. #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Orlando #Florida #Wyatt #BrayWyatt #RandyOrton #PhoneLights #FollowTheBuzzards, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698660
Triple H makes his entrance at Wrestlemania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – It’s time to play #TheGame! #HHH makes his entrance at #WWE #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Orlando #Florida, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698844
Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33 WWE Universal Champion image by and attributed to Brock1990 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57688786

Nacho Libre and the real Priestly Luchador

Nachopost
In the summer of 2006, the world was introduced to a half-Mexican priest who secretly wrestled as a masked luchador to raise money for the orphans at his monastery. The sports comedy starred the always funny Jack Black in a movie written by Mike White, Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess (yeah…Napoleon Dynamite). My family and I fell in love with the simple, family friendly comedy; but recently I unexpectedly found out that the movie is loosely based on a true story.

320px-Jack_Black_(25747103295)Nacho Libre, though loosely based on the life of real-life Catholic priest in Hildago, Mexico, centers around a priest who works as the monastery’s cook but dreams of being a luchador. The priest, Ignacio, loves the orphans that he works with but the orphanage does not respect him nor do they give him money for the quality ingredients needed for good food. This causes his food to become more and more inedible (much to the literal and metaphorical distaste of the head priest). One night while collecting the free leftover chips from a restaurant in town, he was jumped by a street vagrant named Steven. He and Steven eventually joined forces once Nacho had reached his breaking point the next day when the already terrible meal was without the only redeeming factor…the chips. Even though he is losing almost every match, Ignacio is enjoying the fruits of being a semi-pro 640px-Jackblackandtomhowardluchador. To keep his identity secret (because the monastery thinks that wrestling is a sin), Ignacio adopts the name “Nacho” and Steven becomes “Esqueleto” (Skeleton in Spanish). The reason that wrestling is a sin? Because they are wrestling for vanity. When Nacho finally realizes that the Lord will bless him if he wrestles for the children…he becomes a professional luchador and even beats the greatest wrestler to ever live.

The man who inspired Nacho Libre, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, got his inspiration after watching two Mexican wrestling movies in which the protagonists of the stories are poor priests who support the children of their orphanages by becoming lucha libre wrestlers. Sergio went to Rome and Spain to train as a priest and even taught in many Roman Catholic universities when he got back to Mexico. After a time, he became a priest in the Diocese of Texcoco and founded an Orphanage; just like the movies that had influenced him to become not only a priest but a luchador wrestlers. He founded “La Casa de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta” and he became the masked luchador Fray Tormenta. He hid his face, much like Nacho Libre, because he was afraid that no one would take him serious in the wrestling ring if they knew he was a priest (and vice versa).

180_FrayTormenta-01Fray Tormenta retired from the wrestling business in 2011 after a 23 year professional wrestling career. He still works passionately with the orphans as a priest. The soft spoken Fray Tormenta has lived an epic life but humbly still preaches in a simple old church in Mexico. The larger than life character has influenced movie writers to create amazing characters; as well as comic book, cartoon and video game creators. The Mexican padre might not be exactly as Nacho Libre portrayed him to be but this loyal luchador did what he had to to provide for the orphans. Which just happened to allow him to intertwine the two things that he was truly passionate about: wrestling and his orphanage. He managed to bring his beloved religion into the sport that he loved and even managed to bring some of his sport into the church. Fray Tormenta still dons his lucha libre mask while carrying out his priestly duties. Seriously, did you think I meant that he would throw an unrelenting church member into his the figure four leglock called “the Confessional” if they weren’t listening to his sermon? I do know that I would never fall asleep in his church. 🙂

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Featured Image: Luchador masks image by and accredited to StellarD – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56891280
Nacho Libre movie poster by and accredited to Paramount Pictures, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3953967
Jack Black red carpet photo by and accredited to Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia – Jack Black, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47516745
Jack Black and Tom Howard training for Nacho Libre image by and accredited to Tom Howard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8302967
Fray Tormenta black and white image by and accredited to alchetron.com, Fair use, http://www.traditioninaction.org/revolutionphotos/Images%20(101-200)/180_FrayTormenta-01.jpg
Fray Tormenta Priest and Luchador by and accredited to Vice Sports, sports-images.vice.com/images/2015/01/08/addict-priest-luchador-the-incredible-semi-true-life-of-fray-tormenta-body-image-1420677603.jpg