Scotland Week: My Inner Geek: We Were Promised Jetpacks’ Michael Palmer on Professional Wrestling

Unravelling Due Out via FatCat on October 14

Sep 03, 2014 By Michael Palmer Web Exclusive
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We have a special theme on Under the Radar's website this week which we're simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we will be posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. In this guest blog post Michael Palmer, guitarist for Glasgow-based band We Were Promised Jetpacks, writes about professional wrestling as part of our My Inner Geek series, in which a musician writes about something they are a geek about.

We Were Promised Jetpacks formed in 2003 and also features Adam John Thompson, Sean Charles Smith, Darren Kenneth Lackie, and Stuart Michael McGachan. The post-punk band's new album, Unravelling, is due out on FatCat October 14.

Hello everyone. My name is Michael and I love professional wrestling. Now sure, a lot of you like wrestling, or used to as a kid. You know who Hulk Hogan is, you've probably heard of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and you might know Stone Cold Steve Austin. Those of a certain age may remember Andre the Giant getting slammed at Wrestlemania 3. Or maybe you got your dad to buy you some plastic pink glasses like Bret Hart had. Perhaps, even, you've done the D-X "crotch chop" hand motion in your time. None of that makes you a geek. I, though, watch Raw every single week and haven't missed a Pay-Per-View in about four years. If that makes you want to call me a geek then fine, but you'd better expect me to respond by swinging a punch towards you, stomping my foot on the ground, hitting you very lightly on the cheek and expecting you to sell it like I hit you.

I watched wrestling as a very young kid for a brief time, probably around 1993, then again from around 1999 to 2002. I checked in every now and again after that but never actually watched anything. Then, at the end of 2010 I re-watched the debut of The Nexus as I thought that sounded cool when I read about it. By 2011 I was watching weekly. Yes, it's scripted, but my true love for wrestling really began when I realized how not scripted the matches actually are. While most think that matches are tightly choreographed, in reality most of it is left up to the two wrestlers calling it live, in the ring. Think of it like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The actors know how the scene will play out, but the dialogue and the jokes are improvised on the spot. It's the same in the ring. The wrestlers know the ending, and the story they're telling, but how the story is told is up to them. As a kid, I hated Kurt Angle. Now, I realize that's because of how good he was. The way he put together his matches made me feel something. The matches themselves had an incredibly detailed story. How could these guys possibly tell such an emotional, compelling story just from pretending to fight each other? That's me hooked.

This is one of my favorite conversations:

Person: So you like wrestling, you know it's fake right?!?!?!!!!!!!!!! Hahaaa!

Me: Yup. Oh, did you see Game of Thrones last night?

Person: Of course I did, I love that show.

Me: You know it's not real, right? You know that Joffrey is played by an actor? He's actually a really sweet kid probably.

Person: Yes I know, obviously.

Me: And the people from Lost weren't really stranded on an island with a smoke monster. They were actors, that was scripted for a TV show. And that guy from Entourage isn't really a good actor that people have heard of. It's all fake.

Person: I know. Don't be an idiot.

Me: Then why do you like it if you know it's fake?

Person: Oh, I see what you're doing now. You're being a dick 'cause I did the wrestling is fake joke before.

Me: Yes I am. Aaaaaaaaand scene.

[Both Me and Person turn to the camera and bow, picking up the roses that inevitably get thrown from the crowd.]

Nobody who doesn't believe in Santa Claus watches wrestling because they think it's real. People watch wrestling for the same reason that they watch Kung-fu movies or read comic books: it's a good vs. evil story told through action. Add in the fact that if you go along to a wrestling event and cheer as loud as you can for a guy, you can directly affect his career, then you've got something truly special. You can change the product. If you go to a movie and sit in the chair and boo when Iron Man comes on you'll probably get ejected. But if enough people go to wrestling and cheer someone, they will change the product to make you cheer him more. The Rock was just an average wrestler getting by with what a couple of wrestling writers were writing for him. Then one day, he got so good that people started cheering for him instead of booing. Then, more people started cheering. A lot. The WWE (WWF at the time) realized they could make more money with him as a good guy so started playing to it. The people cheered more. Fast forward a few years and The Rock is legitimately one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. All because a few geeks cheered when he put his one of his eyebrows up.

To me, wrestling is storytelling in its purest form. Some people like theatre, some like musicals, I like wrestling. Yes, it has its flaws from time to time. Sometimes the writing is bad and sometimes there's a character called Katie Vick. If you don't know who that is then please, please don't look it up. But to me, wrestling is the only form of entertainment that feels alive, that I can watch along with and feel a part of. When my favorite football team wins it's because of a bunch of factors played out randomly and one team capitalized. When the hero wins at the end of a movie I celebrate and feel joy but then it's over just as quickly as it started. But when Daniel Bryan lifted the WWE World Heavyweight Championship above his head at the end of Wrestlemania 30 it was because he was chosen. He was chosen by WWE to win. All the time he spent striving to be the best in his weird, backwards, mocked little business had paid off. The blood spilled, the injuries, the pain he will live with for the rest of his life was worth it in that moment because he was chosen to be the guy who won in the end. He was chosen and I, personally, played a part in that decision. And to you, the person calling me a geek, I say that right then, in that moment, wrestling was real enough for me.

www.wewerepromisedjetpacks.com

 



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