The Story Never Ends

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

wm main eventOn Sunday April 6th, 100,000 people of all ages, races, genders and nationalities will congregate upon Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. This happening could possibly set an indoor attendance record. The fans crowded in will scream and cheer for 6 hours until the main event where 2 middle aged warriors will set foot in a predetermined battle inside a structure known as “Hell In A Cell”.

This, my friends, is WrestleMania.

If you’re not a wrestling fan this must seem bizarre to you. How is that professional wrestling can possibly draw so many fans to its biggest attraction? How is that the WWE Network is one of the top 5 streaming video services in the world? How is that WWE’s signature show “Raw” has been on the air for over 20 years and over 1,100 episodes?

The answer is actually quite simple. It’s all because in pro wrestling the story never ends. Continue reading

Chasing The Championship

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

WWF Belt“Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Jake “The Snake “Roberts. The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Razor Ramon. Mr. Perfect.

What do these wrestlers all have in common?

They’re all iconic performers. They’re all WWE Hall Of Famers.

And none of them were ever World Champion.  Continue reading

God’s Announce Team

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

jerry-lawler-jim-rossOne of the most underrated and important aspects of what makes pro wrestling so great is the announce team. 

From my personal favorites of the early 90s Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to the Attitude Era staples Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, the best pro wrestling commentators truly take the in-ring spectacle to another level.

I once dreamed of being a pro wrestling announcer (ok I still do). I had my own toy headset that I would wear and call the action on my old WWF videos and with my action figures.

But being a great pro wrestling announcer isn’t as easy as simply calling the action in the ring. The best commentators share a few common traits: Continue reading

How To Create A Wrestler

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

IMG_7739I spent a lot of time during my formative years playing wrestling video games. 

The first one I ever owned was WWF Royal Rumble for the Super Nintendo. It was a pretty basic game – as most were back then – with 10 or so characters that all could do pretty much the same moves. Still, I played it for hours on end.

Video games evolved over the years and thus so did wrestling games. From WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64 to WCW Nitro for the Playstation all the way up to the WWE Smackdown Series for PS2 and beyond.

With new systems came expanded rosters of characters, new match types, better graphics and in-depth story modes.

Without a doubt the greatest feature ever added to wrestling games was the Create-A-Wrestler feature.  Continue reading

The Run-In

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(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of WrestleMania 32 this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on to see how this fake sport provides real lessons for anyone who’s ever grappled with God.)

The momentum in a wrestling match can swing in an instant.

All it takes is one right move or one reversal to bring a competitor back from the brink of defeat to a momentous victory.

Sometimes though a wrestler is so exhausted they can’t fight anymore. Their only hope comes from a run-in. Continue reading

Is Saying Yes Really Worth It?

IMG_7018The Yes Movement came to a painful end last night.

Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan finally ended months of speculation and announced his official retirement from professional wrestling last night live on Monday Night Raw.

The man who garnered global fame and success from his spontaneous chants of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” had to finally say “No” to his desires to go against doctors’ wishes and return to the ring after suffering a debilitating concussion last April. Continue reading

The One Lesson Anyone Can Learn From Wrestling

P2- Hulk Hogan llega al ring en WrestleMania IIIIf I could sum up everything I’ve ever learned from pro wrestling in one sentence it would be this:

The face beats the heel. 

In wrestling terminology there are two types of characters – faces and heels.

The face (short for babyface) is the good guy. Think Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, John Cena.

The heel is the villain. People like The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Ric Flair, and Mr. McMahon were great heels.

Wrestling at it’s core is the story of a good guy versus a bad guy. Almost every single wrestling match in history consists of a face versus a heel. And the face beets the heel.

The heel may get the upper hand. He may vanquish a few good-hearted men along a path of destruction. But in the end the heel always goes down.

This is the cycle of wrestling, a never-ending story where the characters change but the outline stays the same each week. Continue reading

What To Do When You Get Everything You Ever Wanted

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of Wrestlemania XXX this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on and see how this fake sport provides rich lessons for anyone who’s grappling with God.)

I remember when The Golf Channel launched in 1995. Living in Augusta, GA The Golf Channel came standard on our cable package. It was the first specialized network I remember coming on television, a channel devoted entirely to one sport.

010814_wwe-network_600As my parents watched The Golf Channel and I sat on the floor playing with my wrestling figures, I wondered if one day there might be a WWF Network.

19 years later my dream came true when the WWE Network launched (ok, my dream was one letter off).

The WWE Network is a 24/7 streaming video channel and on demand library. It’s a pretty revolutionary concept and is changing the landscape of the pro wrestling business.

For just $9.99 a month viewers get access to every major wrestling show of the past 30 years, plus every future pay-per-view event. Then there’s all the classic episodes of Monday Night Raw I grew up watching with the likes of Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

The catalog of programming is overwhelming in scope. It’s everything I ever wanted it to be and so much more.

So why am I not more excited about The WWE Network? Continue reading

How To Be The Man

(It’s WrestleWeek on POP GOD! In celebration of Wrestlemania XXX this Sunday we’ll be looking at the intersection of faith and wrestling. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to hop in the ring on this journey. Read on and see how this fake sport provides rich lessons for anyone who’s grappling with God.)

There have been a lot of great talkers in the history of wrestling. It’s hard to pick out the best of all time.

You have to consider “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes:

Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage must be near the top of the list:

But to be the man, you have to beat the man. And the man nobody could beat at promos was Ric Flair: Continue reading

The Nativity Scene Smackdown

slide.001The Doriot Family Nativity Scene was a war zone.

Every year my parents put out a handmade wooden Nativity scene. There’s a swinging fence, hay on the ground in the barn, a reverent recreation of the first Christmas.

And every year I couldn’t help but desecrate it.

The first thing I did when the Nativity Scene came out of the attic was hijack it to use with my wrestling figures. The barn became the backdrop for an epic wrestling match. I called it the annual Christmas Clash.

The Christmas Clash was the centerpiece of my make-believe wrestling federation – the biggest card of the year, my own personal Wrestlemania. For some reason I loved having this beautiful barn as the setpiece for my miniature grapplers to have their most important matches.

The baby Jesus sat in the background and an angel looked down overhead as Shawn Michaels and Diesel wrestled all around. This is what I turned the Christmas story into as a child.

What have we turned Christmas into?

The mission of POP GOD has been to seek God in the present tense of pop culture. You would think it’d be easier than ever to see God’s presence in pop culture during Christmas. But Christmas has become less a celebration of the arrival of a Savior and more of a pagan holiday celebrating generic platitudes like giving and happiness and togetherness.

God has allowed us to redefine our worldly celebration of the birth of His Son in many different ways. Still, if you look closely, you can see the spirit of Christ amongst the masses. Just as the baby Jesus was present in my Nativity Scene Smackdowns, the Lord is present in the pop culture of Christmas.

So this season on POP GOD, I don’t want to ask the question of “Where is God underneath the wrapping paper?”

Instead, I want to ask, “Where is God in the wrapping paper?”

Where is God in the minutiae of this holiday? Where is God in the cheesy Christmas songs and movies? Where is God in egg nog and Christmas Tree Cakes?

I used to think I was being blasphemous with the way I used my wrestling figures. Now I think I was just embodying what Christmas is all about – the presence of the Lord descending into our everyday lives.

As a child though, I relegated the savior to the background as my wrestling figures brawled before His birthplace. This year on POP GOD, we’ll be celebrating the presence of God in the midst of every aspect of Christmas in pop culture.

Stay tuned to POP GOD during the Advent season for a special Christmas countdown. We’ll have a new post every weekday leading up to Christmas including a few Guest Posts and a special Christmas music episode of the POP GOD POPcast.

(If you don’t want to miss anything, enter your email address in the box on the left side of the page to subscribe to POP GOD and have every new post delivered to your inbox.)

Christmas does not mean what it once did. God’s presence is in the background of how the world celebrates the season. But He is still there – if only we will look.

Did you ever misuse your family’s Christmas decorations as a child? What’s an unusual place you’ve seen Jesus at Christmas? Leave a comment below and join the Christmas conversation: