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

How To Avoid The Worst Christmas Ever

Let me tell you about the worst Christmas present I ever opened.

My parents would sometimes allow me the scandalous privilege of opening up one present on Christmas eve. One year when I was 9 or 10 my eyes were drawn to a curious cylindrical package. With approval from my parents, I was able to open this gift early.

Filled with the giddy excitement of getting a head start on Christmas, I made confetti out of the wrapping paper.

Then, my heart sank. 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:

Why I Love Fake Things

I learned the truth when I was about 6-years-old.

I was watching a video in the bedroom while my parents had friends over. My father came in and he just couldn’t take it anymore.

He had to tell me the truth – the truth about wrestling.

20110907_past_ss_1990_r“You know it’s fake, right? It’s all planned out and scripted,” he told me about the hulking superstars I had recently become obsessed with.

Funny, though. The revelation didn’t bother me. Even at a young age, I simply shrugged and went back to watching Randy Savage drop elbows. Continue reading

Who Goes To The Opera Anymore?

“Really, do people still go to the opera? Opera is still a thing? What am I doing here?”

All of these thoughts ran through my head this past Saturday night. My girlfriend and I attended the Atlanta Opera’s production of “Tosca”.

The opera was impressive, extravagant, and I must admit, entertaining.

Never in my life did I think I’d be writing a sentence like that. If you were to tell me two years ago I would soon become a regular attendee of the opera I would have believed you, only if you were referring to the soap opera of professional wrestling.

Then I met my girlfriend. She’s an opera student. She opened my eyes to a section of the arts I did not know was still vibrant and relevant.

So there we sat Saturday night, taking in a 3 hour opera performance.

This is not a post for me to brag about what a wonderful boyfriend I am for gritting my teeth, forsaking football and enduring the opera. I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy the entire experience of dressing up, drinking $9 champagne, and taking in the incredible Italian singing.

This post is just to point out sometimes you do crazy things for the ones you love. Continue reading

What To Do When You’re The Worst At Fantasy Football

Mondays are pretty good for me.

On Mondays I wake up to a cup of coffee from Buona Caffe, take a long walk with my dog Roc, and plan out a week full of possibilities.

On Mondays I usually get a chance to go running and spend some time working on future blog posts.

On Mondays I gather with my closest friends and watch wrestling, something that a bunch of guys in their mid-twenties are probably too old to still do.

On Mondays the hopes of a new week are abloom. The problems of the week before have passed.

It’s Tuesdays that I hate.

nydailynews.com

Every Tuesday during the fall I wake up to dire news. Each Tuesday morning I open up my computer and start my day depressed. That’s because on Tuesdays I find out my Fantasy Football fate. Continue reading

All You Need To Be A Great Friend

Kermit+The+Frog++Fozzie+Bear+Jim+Henson+Frank+Oz+ker+fozThere’s a special kind of love that exists between friends. Friends are the only people in our lives we choose to love.

You’re born into your family’s love. You may or may not love them. They may or may not love you back. If you do love them, it’s not because you chose them to be your family above anyone else.

When you fall in love you usually can’t help yourself. Something stirs in your heart. You’re romantically drawn to the person of your dreams. You don’t always choose who you fall in love with.

Friends are a different story.

When I was in elementary school, I had certain qualifications a person had to meet to become my friend. I quite literally would walk around the playground at recess with potential pals and interview them for a position in my social circle. The three major qualifications for being my friend were:

– You had to like X-Men.

– You had to like wrestling.

– You had to like country music.

These three things of course being the most important things in my life at the age of 8. If you were a fan of all three of these, congratulations: you and I were about to be buds.

No matter how old you are, you still get to choose your friends. You’re not forced to love these people as family or as a spouse. Instead you think so highly of them that you want to associate with them on a regular basis without any patriarchal or romantic ties.

And to think, that’s how Jesus thinks of us:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)

Jesus calls us His friends, and this entails a very special type of love. He does not have to love us; He chooses to love us intentionally.

Jesus also says He does not look down on us as servants, though we are called and should be moved to serve Him. Instead He calls us into His inner circle, sharing great truths and secrets with us from His dad like any best friend would.

Read through the gospels and you’ll see Jesus being a friend a friend would like to have. He talks with the disciples. He eats with them. He walks with them. He parties with them. He spends the night with them. He challenges them. He listens to them. He forgives them. He ultimately gives His life for them. And He does all those same things for us – His friends.

What turns an average friend into a great friend? The answer lies in how Jesus treated His friends: He gave to them out of love without any regard for Himself, up to and including His own life.

It may seem impossible to love your friends the same way that Christ did. But that’s what the holy spirit is for. We can call on our friend Jesus anytime we want, since His spirit lives inside of us.

So here’s a piece of friendly advice – try loving your friends unselfishly, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Boldly love your friends the way you want to be loved. Love them without expecting anything back in return. You’ll gain more from it than you give.

What do you think makes a great friend? What sort of friends have modeled Jesus to you?

You Are A Wrestler

Welcome to Wrestling School 101. You can be a professional wrestler today in just a few easy steps.

Don’t believe me? You have all the qualities. You don’t have to weigh 300 pounds and be in exquisite shape. You can be a wrestler right from the comfort of your couch.

20121106_EP_LIGHT_honest-abe_C-homepageAnd who wouldn’t want to be? Becoming a professional wrestler is an honor. Abraham Lincoln wrestled for fun back in his youth. It’s biblical to0 (we’re getting to that).

It’s quite simple: if you want to be a wrestler, all you have to do is know how to talk. Continue reading