Online bombs have been lobbed at WWE for quite some time. Fans of professional wrestling have levied a number of criticisms against Vince McMahon and his family business for a number of things which signal a sharp declined from the company’s glory days.
Among these gripes, I’ll offer up “lack of organic stars”. Wrestlers like John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, and others were pushed to the stars by WWE not so much because of popular demand (though some listed certainly have a plethora of fans), but because Vince McMahon and others decided, in a boardroom, that these guys would be his featured players.
As you may expect, fans of wrestlers that weren’t given the golden touch are often disappointed. Why continue cheering for someone who’s never going to break through to the main event, all because the company refuses to put any eggs into his basket?
On the other hand, in UFC, Dana White is allowing for one of his fighters to become an organic favorite.
Jon “Bones” Jones, a light-heavyweight striker who uses his impressive reach to his advantage, is only 23 years old, and he’s on the verge of stardom.
After leapfrogging his fellow rising star in the light-heavyweight ranks, Jones found himself at the doorstep of immortality. Rashad Evans, next in line for a shot at Light-Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, had to pull out of the title opportunity with a knee injury.
With the fight scheduled for March 19, a scant six weeks away, Jones was informed at the post-fight press conference that he was being offered up Rua, for the gold, at UFC 128 in Newark.
Jones, with very little hesitation, if any, accepted.
So, to recap, a 23 year old fighter earns the love and respect of many by taking a tough opponent who has never lost a fight, making him submit in dramatic fashion in the second round, and then bravely accepts a chance to face the best Light-Heavyweight in the world today with very little notice.
I ask you this: even if you’re a fan of Bader (smarting from his somewhat stunning loss) or Rua (wanting him to keep his belt), how do you NOT want to pull for Jon Jones ?
If you grew up watching the Rocky movies, or any similar contemporary work that featured someone overcoming long odds to succeed in their vocation, you’ve dreamed of being that guy that won it all.
I’ve had those dreams. Like me, I’ll bet your dreams involved the “overcoming the odds” part, being that you’re probably middle class like me. To go from day labor or a draining 9-to-5 job to knocking out Mike Tyson or bodyslamming Andre the Giant or choking out Brock Lesnar is a dream that you’ve likely played so much in your brain, that if your mind was a VCR, the tape of you winning is most assuredly worn out by now.
Jon Jones is one of us. Sure, we’re not all 6’4″, 205 lbs of solid muscle, and capable of being up most sweaty, tattooed mixed martial artists, but he represents what we’d love to be. He has an opportunity to beat two of the best light-heavyweights in recent history, just 42 days apart.
Jones also wins if he loses the fight. I mean, beating Shogun on six weeks rest is a daunting task for any fighter. If he loses to Rua, what does it matter? There’ll be enough chatter about his being at a disadvantage, that Dana White would find it in his best interests to give him another chance, with adequate preparation time.
Jon “Bones” Jones is living the American dream, and he’s going to build quite the following as the coming weeks pass.
And this is a lesson for Vince McMahon: as much as long-term booking can be a good thing, sometimes it’s good to throw stone etchings to the wind when the fans become infatuated with somebody. A star can be born at any moment, and it’s how you nurture that star that decides how much money you get to rake in.
As for Jones, even a fool could tell you he’s money.
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