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How WCPW Should Have Booked: Joseph Conners’ Heel Turn (Part 2)

Last time on The Total Depravity of Mannings…

Right, so… WCPW had a very good idea that they failed to execute properly. And I can do it better…


How I Would Have Booked It

So, to start off with, we really don’t change too much. As I said, the beginning of this feud was really excellently done. Through the first month, really, the only change I would make is after Hendry steals the pinfall in their first match as a tag team, I would have a backstage segment between the two, with Conners expressing some frustration over Hendry’s actions, and The Local Hero responding, something along the lines of “Look, you already got your win last week; in fact, you got the first win in WCPW history. But I lost. I still needed my first win, so I thought you wouldn’t mind if I took this one. You’ve already established yourself as a winner here, but I still need to make my name on this roster.”

That would be important early on, because it would set up the dynamic of their partnership. Yes, Hendry is looking out for himself, but he’s not unreasonable. And it would also give Conners a reason to put up with him for so long. It would appeal to his ego and give his character a reason to understand why Hendry does all the narcissistic things that he does.


Besides, how could you be mad at a face like this, especially when it’s attached to an accent like this?

So then everything else plays out like it did in real life, until we get to Hendry’s singles match with Gracie. And this time… Hendry loses! Obviously! I mean, there’s no other logical way to do it. If it were a straight-up fight, Prospect could lose. They’re heels, they’re cowards, you have to book them kind of weak. But when they have the numbers advantage and it’s a 4-on-1 fight, you really have to give them the victory. Otherwise, they look like complete dorks.

So Gracie pins Hendry, 1-2-3, and after that, like in real life, Prospect starts to beat up The Local Hero. However, unlike in real life, this goes on for a while. Conners doesn’t rush to defend the partner he just turned his back on. Instead, he waits a good five or so minutes, until it’s gotten really brutal, and then he hits the ring. However, rather than running away from one man, Prospect swarms him. Conners tries to fight them off, and he actually does surprisingly well. Again, we can’t have our heel faction beaten by one man for no reason, but he holds them off long enough for Hendry to recover, and together the two of them chase Prospect off.

Hendry grabs a mic, but instead of thanking Conners, he starts dressing him down. He tells him “See? See what we could accomplish together? If you had only been here to have my back, I would have won my match.” Conners tries to argue, but because Hendry keeps interrupting him he finally gives up. He sits there in silence as Hendry instructs him to never abandon him again, and Conners just gets angrier and angrier this whole time.


So, sort of like this, but with more high school drama

Now in the real version, they had a dramatic change in Conners’ mannerisms. As soon as he won the title, he started just constantly licking his lips with a mad glint in his eye. It was kind of… weird. So, here, because we want a more natural transition, we’re going to have him start doing that, very subtly, after this conversation. At first, you should barely be able to notice it unless you watch him very carefully, and then we’ll just have him build and build on it each week.

The next week, James R. Kennedy, the leader of Prospect comes out; he cuts a promo and challenges our heroes to an elimination tag-team match, the three members of Prospect


Though not much more than a typical Grado match, I suppose

vs. Team Hendry, The Local Hero and Joseph Conners. Not Grado… Again, his involvement didn’t really make sense, and it also didn’t lead to anything. It was sort of a waste of everyone’s time.

So we’ve got a 3-on-2 handicap elimination match. But, instead of Conners getting eliminated right off the bat, this time Hendry gets caught showboating, and while the referee’s distracted, two of the members of Prospect double-team him, 1-2-3, he’s out.

With Hendry pinned, he starts to think the match is over, so he starts to exit the ring area and motions for Conners to come with him. Conners is all “Um… I’m still in this fight,” and Hendry is like “No, I got pinned. We lost.” Conners interprets this as Hendry trying to steal the spotlight again, grabs Lucas Archer, the legal man for Team Prospect, and hits his Righteous Kill DDT. He covers him, the ref counts to three, Conners gets the elimination. He never takes his eyes off of Joe Hendry through all of this. He’s looking daggers at Hendry. Hendry doesn’t get it, shrugs, and leaves the ring area so Conners can finish the match.

At this point, Alex Gracie and Drake, the two remaining members of Prospect, want nothing to do with Conners. They’re both out on the ring apron arguing about which of them should get in the ring. Finally, Conners walks over to their corner, knocks one of them to the floor, grabs the other, drags him into the ring, and proceeds to just rip him apart and pin him. He then does the same thing to the final member, eliminating all three men, one after another.

Okay, now, I know that I said that we can’t have our heel faction lose to one man, but there are a couple of differences between what WCPW originally did and what I’m suggesting. First, Conners isn’t beating all of Prospect all at once here, he’s taking them on one at a time. And secondly, and more importantly, there’s a purpose to booking it this way, because what we’re doing is establishing Conners as a bit of a monster. We need to show that he’s taking all of this anger he feels because Hendry’s constantly disrespecting him, and channeling it. And that’s letting him to do things no one thought he was capable of.

So basically we stick with that formula for the next couple of weeks; Hendry continues to upstage Conners, and Conners acts a bit madder each time. Then, finally, we get to the main even of Stacked. Now, in the real event, Hendry came out to his own version of the Sonic the Hedgehog theme, complete with a video where he was Sonic, and Conners was Tails. We keep that. But, instead of Conners shrugging that off, as he did in real life, that video causes him to hit his breaking point. I mean, everybody hates Tails, so…

Hendry Sonic.jpg

Probably not the worst thing that’s been done to Sonic. Probably.

When he sees that video, Conners stops moving. He stands still as a statue with no expression on his face. But in his eyes is pure rage. Hendry gets in the ring and goes for a fist bump, like in real life, and Conners simply doesn’t move. He doesn’t turn his head. He in no way acknowledges Hendry’s existence.

Rampage and Big Damo both make their entrances, and we don’t give Big Damo a mic, because that just ends poorly. Instead, the match just starts. After all, that’s what we’re here to see. Right from the start, Joseph Conners goes on an absolute tear. He just starts laying into people, knocking them over, left and right, up and down. He is dominating this match. You can see the looks on the faces of the other three competitors, all thinking ‘What the heck is this? Where did this guy come from?’

About halfway through the match, Hendry gets knocked out down to the floor. He’s not badly hurt, but he decides to just chill down there and see how things play out. Back in the ring, there’s some back and forth, but again it’s mostly still just Joseph Conners going nuts on everyone. He’s hitting move after move, and going for pinfall after pinfall. But each time, whether he tries to pin Rampage or Big Damo, they manage to just barely kick out before three. And Conners is just getting more and more outraged at this. He starts yelling, he starts pounding the mat. Eventually, he starts intimidating the ref after each near fall.

That goes on for a few minutes, and then Joe Hendry climbs back onto the apron. But before he can re-enter the ring, Big Damo shoulder tackles him, sending him flying back to the outside, and Hendry hits his head against the barricade. He gets busted open, there’s blood everywhere. The ref goes to check on Hendry and Big Damo seizes this opportunity to keep his title. He goes out into the crowd to grab a chair. Rampage and Conners continue fighting each other, so they completely miss this. Damo returns to the ring with a chair and he tries to ram it into Conners’ head. Conners just manages to duck out of the way in time and Damo instead cracks Rampage across the skull. Damo turns around to attack Conners, but Conners surprises him, and dropkicks the chair into Damo’s face, knocking him out.

Outside, Hendry is just getting to his feet. He’s a bit dazed and bloody, but still able to keep going. Conners grabs the ref’s attention and goes for the pin on Damo.

The ref counts one. Hendry climbs to the top turnbuckle. The ref counts two. Hendry leaps, but in his dazed state he misses Conners and Damo. He instead lands on the ref, just as the ref was about to count three.

If Conners had any sanity left, he loses it here. He grabs Hendry and pulverizes him with the Righteous Kill DDT. He then gets the chair Big Damo used, and proceeds to smash Hendry with the chair, over and over again, breaking the chair on Joe Hendry’s back.

Conners throws what’s left of the chair out of the ring. He wakes up the ref. He covers Hendry. One. Two. Three. And the twitching and lip licking get even more maniacal.

So that’s how I would have booked it. I think it just makes more sense. There’s a more logical flow from one event to the next, the character motivations are easier to follow, it prevents Prospect from being completely buried for no reason, and, most of all, it avoids raising questions about why there are no disqualifications in a match that would normally have disqualifications!

How do you think I did? Tell me about it in the comments below, let me know how you would have booked this angle, and also let me know if there’s another WCPW angle you’d like me to re-book. I take requests. Well… I might take requests. If I decide to turn this into a regular thing, I might take requests. Let’s play it by ear.


How WCPC Should Have Booked: Joseph Conners’ Heel Turn (Part 1)

Hello there! I’m Thadd from The Total Depravity of Mannings, and welcome to How WCPW Should Have Booked, where I look back at infamous WCPW missed booking opportunities and talk about how I’d book them differently because I’m a smart ass.

Author’s note: I swear on my life, I have never heard of Adam the Blampied’s series How WWE Should Have Booked and definitely don’t recommend watching it. Right now.


I couldn’t figure out how to do the ding.

That’s right, we’re talking about professional wrestling again today, because why not? I know, no one takes it seriously, but that’s too bad. Because at the end of the day, what professional wrestling amounts to is storytelling, whether that’s with words, or more often (and preferably) without words. And, as I’ve talked about before (and a lot of people a lot smarter than me have noted) storytelling matters. Telling clear stories, and telling them well, is important. It’s part of what makes (and keeps) us human. And if WhatCulture is going to point out when WWE drops the ball on their storytelling, I think it’s only fair if someone does the same for them.


The Original Booking

So, in one of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling’s first shows, Joseph Conners and “The Local Hero” Joe Hendry formed a tag team to take on Prospect, the main heel faction of WCPW (sort of like Nexus in WWE). Over the next two months, they built up a slow-burning feud between the two, with Hendry constantly upstaging Conners. He would interrupt him in interviews. In their first tag match together, Hendry blind tagged himself in and stole the pinfall. At one point Hendry made Conners come out to the ring with him just so he could call out another wrestler and demand a 1-on-1 match for a spot in the upcoming world championship, completely excluding Conners. Basically Hendry was acting like a bit of a cock.


Basically this. But over and over again, for weeks.

It all seemed to come to a head on the August 8th episode of Loaded, WCPW’s weekly show. The Local Hero was booked to face Alex Gracie, one of the members of Prospect, in a singles match. Conners was especially peeved on this night because not only had Hendry cost them their match the previous week, but he had promised to write an entrance theme for their team that was evenly about each of them, and instead wrote this, which was almost entirely about The Local Hero and only mentioned Joseph Conners for one line (the line was “Joseph Conners”). As a result, Conners told Hendry he was on his own for his match that night.

So Hendry goes into his match with Gracie by himself, while Gracie has the other three members of Prospect watching his back. And because Prospect are heels, they’re cheating! They distract the ref, they double-team Hendry, they generally make his life hell. And yet, despite this, Joe Hendry, who had not won a singles match before this night in his entire WCPW run, wins. He takes Prospect on, 4-against-1, and beats them. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.


If the man not wearing gold pants looks like he’s seen a ghost, it’s probably because he’s looking at his future endeavors

Then, after the match, Prospect start ganging up on Joe Hendry, and almost immediately after that starts, Conners hits the ring and chases them off. Hendry gets on the mic and says something about how much that meant to him and he gives Conners his moment to shine. Conners gives a big, long speech about how Hendry was there for him when he needed a friend and how he’ll be there for Hendry, no matter what. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and Prospect challenges Team Hendry, consisting of The Local Hero, Joseph Conners, and Grado (who really had nothing to do with anything and was just sort of thrown in there) to a 3-on-3 elimination match. Conners and Grado get eliminated early, leaving Hendry alone to take on Prospect alone, which he does. Again. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.


Well, if we buried everyone this hard, at least we’d never have to worry about zombies

Then finally, at WCPW’s next special event, Stacked. Hendry and Conners have both been inserted into the world championship match, a 4-way match that also included Rampage Brown and the defending champion Big Damo (no, your name is stupid!). Over the course of the match, Hendry sacrifices his body several times to push Conners out of the way of danger; the final time taking a chair shot to the midsection from Damo… A chair shot that, for some reason, does not result in a disqualification, even though it was in full view of the ref. First of all, what? Secondly, don’t question it, it saves time.

Anyway, at the end of the match, Rampage and Damo are brawling on the outside of the ring, leaving Conners and a wounded Hendry inside. Hendry offers his tag-team partner a handshake, which Conners takes and then immediately turns into his finisher, the Righteous Kill DDT, beginning his heel turn. Conners goes for the pin, and… I’m not really sure what happens. The ref clearly counts to three, and Hendry never kicks out or even visibly moves, but, for reasons never made clear, the ref signals that Hendry was not pinned.

So then, with very little provocation, Conners grabs the chair that Damo had used on Hendry earlier and throws it in The Local Hero’s face. He picks it back up and smashes it


Not pictured: A reason for disqualification

over Hendry’s back over and over again, completing his heel turn. He goes for the cover. The ref counts, one, two three. New WCPW Heavyweight Champion.

So yeah, there was a lot to like about this storyline. I liked that they put the belt on Conners in the end, and they did a pretty decent job of swerving the fans. They made it seem like Hendry was going to be the one to turn, and it was a bit surprising when Conners went heel, instead.

But still, it didn’t quite all come together. They started building the tension between the Joes, but then halfway through they completely undid that for no real reason, only to pick the angle back up again a few weeks later. Then the final event that caused Conners’ turn felt really small, and as a result his actual turn felt unearned. Also, Prospect was really buried by this angle, and for no real reason. And given that they’re some of the few heels on WCPW’s roster right now, they really need to be booked stronger to be a credible threat. Also, why were there no DQs? The match wasn’t announced as no disqualification, so using the chair should have been illegal. And if it was legal, why should we care that Conners used it? Why didn’t everyone use it?

So some good things, but also a whole lot of reasons it didn’t… really… work… And I can do it better.

Read Part 2 to see how…

Power Ranking Horror’s Best Villains

So I just finally got the chance to watch Sinister the other day. I’m pretty behind the times on my horror films, I suppose, but I figured this one was worth checking out. It struck me as significant for a couple of reasons, notably for being Scott Derrickson’s only critical success (relatively speaking) as a director and one of the few movies in which Ethan Hawke’s acting looked tolerable. Having watched it, I found another reason it stands out, at least to me: Although the movie was quite scary at points, the movie’s villain was not. At all.

And that got me thinking, ‘What makes for a good horror villain?’ It’s always seemed to me that the quality of villain is inversely proportionate to how far out of his way a normal person would have to go in order to become a victim. And, of course, you can’t start a line of thinking like that without eventually composing a list like this.

So, just in time for Halloween, presenting a completely new, never-been-done-before-don’t-even-bother-asking-Google idea, the definitive power rankings of the best horror villains!*

*Author’s note: this list was assembled almost at random using the first eleven horror villains I could think of. This list does not necessarily represent the opinions of Word Press, Hero McPiePants Productions, the WNBA, or this author.

As a general rule I’m going to ignore any sequels for this list, so we’re dealing with only the originals (except for the times I don’t feel like it). I’m also including only villains from movies I’ve actually seen, so Leatherface, for example, is out because I’ve never watched the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I did try to watch the 2003 remake but it was so stupid that halfway through I tried to gnaw my face off. I’m proud to say the resulting struggle was more entertaining than anything in the film.

So now that the legal disclaimers are done, let’s kick off the bottom of the list, with… Bughuul
Film: Sinister (2012)

There are horror villains who stalk their victims. There are horror villains who wait patiently for their victims to come to them. And then there’s one guy who leaves a box of homemade movies in the attic, hoping the next family who moves into that house will find them, watch them all, get scared, and move away, where he finally possesses one of their children and kills them. Oh yeah, they also have to have small children, or the whole plan kind of falls apart. Using this method, is it any wonder he’s successfully victimized only six families in five decades? Props to Derrickson for making a compelling movie about a boring villain, but next time just choose a more interesting monster and make your job easier.

#9 (tie): Samara and Aparat
Samara: The Ring (2002); Aparat: “Rap Rat” Creepypasta

Is it cheating use two for one slot? Of course not, I make the rules, I can do what I want. Besides, they’re very similar in their behavior. Samara is much better known, but Aparat was much more terrifying, at least to me, so I figured this was a good compromise.

So if I found the story of Aparat so scary, why’d I rank him so low on this list? Because he, like Samara, is only interested in killing people who watch his VHS tape. Just a few years ago these two probably would have ranked much higher on this list. But seriously, guys, it’s 2015. Even I don’t remember what VHS tapes are.

Oh, also, I think speaking Aparat’s name aloud was another way to incur his wrath, so hopefully you aren’t reading this list out loud to anyone, and if you are, good luck with that.

#8: The Blair Witch
Film: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Was The Blair Witch Project an impressive film, given its shoestring budget? Absolutely. Was it influential on the horror genre, even to this day? Undeniably. But is it, objectively, scary? I don’t think I’m alone in saying not really. But even if you do find it scary, it can’t possibly be because of the antagonist. To fall victim to her(?) you have to specifically seek her out, let her lead you in circles for days on end, follow some random noises into a decrepit old house, and then… something happens. Something we never find out about. It could be anything from giving you millions of dollars to turning your internal organs into waffles. Spooky

Seriously, lady, the kid who made Marble Hornets did you better than you did, and he makes videos for free on YouTube.

Also, the villains from Marble Hornets will not be appearing on this list because I didn’t think of them until too late.

#7: Jason Voorhees
Friday the 13th Parts 2-A Billion (1981-2009…and counting), we’re ignoring the original film here because no one cares about an old lady killing a bunch of teenagers. That said, it’s by far the best film in the series.

There’s not much to say about Mr. Voorhees. On the positive side of things, he can absorb any amount of damage and is unstoppable… if you ignore all the times he’s been stopped, of course. But on the other hand, he’s bound to Camp Crystal Lake. He can only massacre the teens who, like clockwork, show up at his camp every year. He remains unable to leave its borders. I mean, if you (again) ignore the dumb films… The really dumb ones… The ones where… Look, it’s a crappy franchise. Shut up.

#6: The Spirit of the Mirror
Oculus (2013)

There’s a lot of good things to say about The Spirit of the Mirror. It can manipulate its victims’ perceptions of reality, is basically impossible to kill, and the mirror eats dogs! That said, it’s also not a very… adaptable villain. It’s entirely reliant on victims locating the mirror, buying this priceless artifact, doing no research about any previous owner, ignoring any early warning signs, not noticing when their dog is eaten, and eventually dying a slow, horrible death. In the age of the internet, it’s hard to imagine this thing keeping its secret for long. It’s only a matter of time before it gets its own Wikipedia page.

#5: Ghostface
Scream (1996)

Having exhausted all of the passive villains, we’re finally to the ones who actually, y’know, do something. On the downside, that means starting with the worst of them, the Ghostface killer (not to be confused with the Ghostface Killah, who’s scary for completely different reasons). Without a doubt Scream is a seminal slasher film. There’s a reason it’s the highest-grossing slasher in US history. That said, it’s a little hard to take any horror villain seriously when he fails to kill Jamie Kennedy. Had he only been able to do that, we would all have been spared the much greater horror of Kickin’ it Old Skool. A man can dream, though… The Lamia
Drag Me to Hell (2011)

Pros: Relentlessly pursues victims, can attack anywhere, essentially all-powerful.

Cons: In order for him to come after you, you have to shame an old gypsy lady. They’re shockingly hard to come by these days.

#3: Michael Myers
Halloween (1978, definitely not 2007)

The Grandfather of all slashers, Myers did it first (except for maybe Leatherface, depending on how you count) and did it best (except for maybe Leatherface, because, again, I haven’t seen it). As lethal and indestructible as Jason and as tenacious as, Myers exceeds both in viciousness. He kills people because they’re there. In order to become his victim, no one has to come to the camp he was killed at, or have an affair with his mother, or have sex on screen (though plenty do). If you have the audacity to live, chances are pretty good you’ll end up on his hit list.

#2: Jigsaw
 Film: Saw (2004), Michael Meyers is big, strong, and terrifying, but y’know what’s really scary? A middle-aged cancer patient! Okay, fine, that’s a bad comparison, but consider this: Meyers may relentlessly stalk his victim, but he can still be slowed down by doors, walls, and other obstacles. On the other had, Jigsaw, despite suffering from terminal cancer, can be anywhere at any time, regardless of the logical problems that creates. His other mysterious powers include the ability to find a seemingly endless number of deserted warehouses, the ability to retroactively form contacts with the police, and the ability to sedate himself for hours at a time with no training. The gore probably has its place, but it’s how realistic the Saw films are that make them truly terrifying!

#1: Freddy Krueger
Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

If the measure of a horror villain’s quality is how unavoidable he is, no one else can ever compare to Freddy Krueger. There’s no haunted house to investigate, no enchanted item to mistakenly disturb, no old woman with mysterious powers to offend, no place to run. If you fall asleep, you’re dead. As the film wears on and the protagonists become more and more sleep deprived, he becomes increasingly dangerous by his very nature. He can’t be avoided, placated, or destroyed. He’s the best horror villain of all horror villains.

The Race for Ferguson

In 1998 Warren Beatty had, to date, his final ride in the director’s chair in the movie Bulworth. Despite being nominated for roughly half of the awards a film could possibly be nominated for and being very heavily tied to one of the biggest hit songs of that year, it seems like everyone missed it. It grossed a mere $29 million at the box office (just barely beating out Quest for Camelot, which was released the same weekend) and I’ve never met another person who’s even heard of it. The only reason I even know of it was because my favorite pop music critic mentioned it in his review of his review of Pras’ song. It’s too bad no one saw it, because it’s really good. I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than it’s a good reminder that absolutely nothing in politics has changed for at least the last 16 years.

I bring it up because in the short time since Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, It’s been back in my mind, and one scene in particular (apologies for the video quality, fortunately the sound is all right). There’s some pretty obscene language there, so if you’re sensitive to that feel free to avoid.

I bring that scene up because in it, Senator Jay Bulworth, who’s experiencing a mental breakdown and has started just telling people “da truth” in his interviews, begins talking about race relations between whites and blacks. His take?

“Rich people have always stayed on top, by dividing white people from colored people… We just gotta eliminate them… White people. Black people, too. Brown people, yellow people, get rid of ’em all. All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended, procreative program of racial deconstruction.”

“Everybody just gotta keep ******* everybody ’til they’re all the same color”…

And I hadn’t heard that idea before.

And I don’t know that it would work. But as I look at the scene in Ferguson, I wonder how the narrative would shift if this wasn’t a case of white-on-black violence. If the police didn’t feel the need to defend themselves from accusations of racism, if the black community of Ferguson didn’t feel oppressed (not without reason); if everyone wasn’t in such a rush to form an opinion on the case before we have all (or most of) the facts.

I just wonder how Jay Billington Bulworth’s idea could have changed this situation. Because, yeah, as a coworker pointed out to me, if race wasn’t a factor, people would find other ways to discriminate against each other. Anyone who takes an honest look at history knows that if there’s one thing most people are good at, it’s discrimination. But there’s nothing like race. Nothing else can help distinguish “me” from “everyone else” so readily and so easily. Nothing I know of comes close to causing such deep divides.

Maybe nothing would change if it had been an officer of nondescript race shooting a suspect of nondescript race. Maybe there’d be rioting because an officer from the east side shot a suspect from the west side. Or maybe my coworker was right and there’d be riots because an officer with curly hair shot a civilian with straight hair.

The only thing I know for sure is that Michael Brown stole a pack of Rellos (or maybe he paid for them) minutes before being threatened by an officer (unless he assaulted the officer) and then he was shot in the back as he ran away and surrendered (/was shot in the front as he threatened and bullrushed the man who shot him)…

All I really know for sure is that a young boy is dead. And that justified or unjustified, innocent or guilty, an officer’s life will never be the same. And that the same story will play out (and has) over again. And again. And again.

Unless we find a better way to respond than shouting “Thug!” and “Racist!” at each other until we all pass out. Rinse, repeat. Click, boom.