Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Plagiarism
Before I get into this topic, I just wanted to thank the WrestleZone team for letting me be a part of their group. I hope to make you proud. Also, thanks for those awesome readers who emailed me thoughts on my debut column. Keep them coming!!
Ok, now to the matter at hand.
When I first heard that TNA was going to be the next big thing about 3 years ago, I was excited. WWE was still fun, but not nearly as creative as it once was. It lost that competitive edge that brought great feuds and storylines in the late 90’s. So to finally have a second wrestling promotion seemed like win-win for everybody – even WWE! Maybe WWE & TNA would play hot potato with a wrestler like they did with Sean Waltman (because back then, nothing brought legitimacy to sports entertainment like fake karate moves).
So I did what any absentee father does – let mom raise him until he was old enough to join a sports team. In other words, I gave TNA a few years to develop and find its way before I would start to tune in. I decided last year that it was time. Needless to say, it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride.
We’ll dig deeper into TNA as time goes on, but let’s talk about the most recent incident: Sting’s “shocking” arrival. The mysterious (barf) 3-3-11.
Dixie Dixie Dixie. *sigh* I think it’s time to play my version of “A Way with Words” – where we look at the meanings of certain words in the wrestling community.
In the world of wrestling, there’s a MOUNTAIN of difference in degrees between a shock and a surprise. A surprise is something that you may or may not know there’s a probability of happening. A surprise birthday party is just that – a surprise; you know your birthday is coming up, so it’s not inconceivable that your friends/family would put on a party. Or if you decide to walk down an alley at night when leaving an opera (instead of on the well-lit sidewalk), you would be surprised (not shocked) that d-bags would pop out and rob and kill you. But don’t worry in the long run; your son will grow up to be super awesome at fighting crime. Moving on…
A shock is something that completely comes out of left field and surprises the crap out of you. It rocks your foundation and/or perception of things. A shock would be when you find out (*SPOILER ALERT*) there’s no Santa. After all, you left cookies out for him for years, and in the morning they were eaten. How else would you explain it? Another huge shock is when your girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant with twins. You weren’t expecting this because everybody knows that you can’t conceive in a hot tub. Right? …Right?!?! Crap, I’ve got to make some calls…
So you see: Shock > Surprise. Let’s apply this to current events. When a major wrestling icon appears on a promotion he once swore he’d never be on – that’s a shock. When said wrestler reappears on the brand he’s been on for years – that’s a surprise. Personally I’m shocked Sting isn’t going to the WWE. One of the main reasons he never went was because his born-again Christian beliefs had him hating WWE’s (then) raunchy tone. However, now that WWE is PG, while TNA is trying more adult content, that can’t be his reason now. I think at this point, if he never goes over it will be a matter of … ummm… pride?
Why did Dixie think it was going to be “shocking” for him to come back to TNA? Did I miss when he officially left them? Is it just because the WWE fans got super pumped about Sting? If so, she missed the point.
Sting’s a special case – but most crossovers aren’t even surprising anymore. Some people point at the IWC to blame, but really it’s the 90 day no-compete clause. Back when WCW started to gain in popularity, wrestlers could be on WWE one day, WCW the next. I believe it was Lex Luger who did just that. To prevent a wrestler leaving from hurting their brand, the promotions came up with a clause in the contract where they can’t be seen on TV in another wrestling company for 90 days. So with there really only being two promotions right now (maybe three, if you count ROH), when a wrestler leaves WWE, most people just wait for them to pop up on TNA or ROH.
I almost hope she was confused by the WWE fans’ excitement, because the alternative would be worse. This brings us to our next word to define – actually, it’s a phrase. It’s called: Crying Wolf. This phrase came about when a boy was in charge of watching sheep. He thought it would be funny to yell “WOLF!!!” Every time he yelled this, the villagers would run to the herd to try and save the sheep. Believe it or not, each false alarm pissed off the townspeople more – so much so that when a wolf did come to munch on sheep, nobody came when the boy called out for them. They didn’t believe him anymore; he had lost his credibility.
So, Dixie, I get that you try and hype your product; however, when you keep making all these bold announcements to grab people attentions – only to not deliver the “shock of the decade” – you will only hurt yourself in the long run. People will start to assume these Dixie Revelations are nothing but a PR spin, and any little viewership bumps you currently experience will be a thing of the past. In fact, even weekly viewers will get burned out by the false hype. I promise you.
You can also define TNA’s announcement about the upcoming “shock” with another phrase. Can you say “publicity stunt”? I knew you could. In TNA’s case, both phrases are actually intertwined. TNA is guilty for trying publicity stunts to get viewers. True, WWE had the guest host idea that mostly fell flat during its run – but you simply cannot compare the two by how they handled celebrities outside of the squared-circle community. Tell me if you can see the difference:
WWE: “Make sure to stay tuned next week when the guest host is ROB ZOMBIE!!”
Could you tell the difference in the approach? WWE mostly keeps their guests from being injected into storylines (mostly). TNA wants them to have insta-beef with certain wrestlers. I saw the J-WOWW edition of Impact. Sure she was looking smoking hot, but was her stupid backstage segments (where she was basically wallpaper with boobs) and catfight with Cookie worth the $10,000 you paid her? Are you sure? How does her one appearance help move TNA forward?
I don’t want TNA to start injecting more celebrities into storylines like Bischoff did in WCW. I couldn’t buy Leno putting Hogan in an arm-bar, I laughed when Rodman complained to the ref that DDP grabbed his bandana (dude, that’s not an illegal move), and don’t remind me about a celebrity winning the World Championship! I would hate for TNA to go down that road. Next thing you know they’ll have KISS perform at a PPV – followed by a KISS-like wrestling character. Just kidding! No promotion would be stupid enough to think that’d be successful! Oh wait…
This brings me to the final two words that need to be cleared up: imitation and plagiarism. Imitation can be used either for parody or to have a unique spin on something – but the source is always acknowledged, usually in a respectful light. Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra, The Immortals as the new (or older – depending on how you look at it) nWo, Bieber as a vanilla Usher, etc. are all examples of imitations.
Plagiarism is when you blatantly rip-off something. You basically take someone else’s creation and copy-and-paste your information on it. After you make your slight changes, you then take all the credit for the finished piece. College kids get busted all the time with term papers. Sections of the book A Million Little Pieces were revealed to be ripped-off from other people. Plagiarism shows a lack of creativity, and is in bad taste.
The 3-3-11 concept was probably meant to be imitation, but was instead blatant plagiarism. I say that trying to give the benefit of the doubt, when I honestly can’t figure out how they thought it wasn’t plagiarism. Was it supposed to be a parody? Where was the funny part? I just have a hard time figuring out how the thought process was anything but “if WWE isn’t going to use that mysterious promo for Sting, we will.”
So like I said at the start of my column, I did like most absentee parents did and waited until the kid (aka TNA) had matured enough to keep my interest. Since that time there have been a lot of ups and downs (mostly downs). This recent stunt involving Sting has made me feel exactly like my parents did when –on a family vacation when I was a teen- they walked into the hotel room and caught me with a girl:
I’m not mad – just disappointed.
Noah James is a professional actor, published author, humanitarian, and (at times) a snazzy dresser. He also has an entertainment website at iamnoahjames.com. He can be emailed constructive compliments or hurtful words at firstname.lastname@example.org .