On Saturday, February 19th, during the Ring Of Honour's afternoon show "Do or Die 4", IWS wrestler El Generico will make his ROH debut. This will be an emotional moment for the entire IWS family, but especially for the IWS fans, because more than any other IWS wrestler El Generico was "born" in an IWS ring and his creation - his success is owed as much to the fans as anything else.
There are a lot of IWS wrestlers who could lay claim to their character being born in the IWS: PCP Crazy F'N Manny and Sexxxy Eddy who made their starts in the Dawson Wrestling Federation which would become first the World Wrestling Syndicate and then the Internet Wrestling Syndicate; the Arsenal and the Green Phantom who went from being fans in the audience to part of the roster; the Hardcore Ninjaz.
But for many fans no debut is more important than that of El Generico. When he started in the summer of 2002, the IWS was in the process of transforming itself from a hardcore wrestling fed - what French net smarks referred to as "le fed Canadian Tire" - into a fed that featured a bit of everything. El Generico has come to symbolize that transformation, combining comedy with reckless high-flying as well as some technical wrestling and strong style stiffness.
More importantly, El Generico would never have had more than one match if it wasn't for the fans. He was intended initially to be a one match joke - a jobber to be stretched, beaten and discarded. The fans refused to allow that to happen.
At its heart, wrestling is all about the "Tinkerbell" moment, that moment in Peter Pan when Tinkerbell lies dead and the outraged audience shouts and claps and cheers desperate to change the outcome. The best wrestling crowds are the ones who are united in their belief that if the believe hard enough; if they clap hard enough; if they shout hard enough - they can change the outcome. The IWS crowd is such a crowd, or at least it became such a crowd on July 14th, 2002.
This helps explain why, when Shooter Jay of the Paradise City Ninjas in a review of the IWS show Know Your Enemies 2003 (which can be found here: http://thesmartmarks.com/artman/publish/article_1024.shtml ) infamously called El Generico a "yardtard", some fans had to be restrained from declaring a fatwa on Shooter Jay and at the next IWS show a "Fuck Shooter Jay" chant broke out. IWS fans take attacks on El Generico personal.
Because El Generico was "created" by the fans, virtually every IWS fan has a creation myth, an origin story for him. This is mine.
When We Were Marks
I am El Generico's Father The Secret Origin of El Generico
"Success has one hundred fathers - Failure is an orphan"
I started going to the IWS in late 2001. Immediately, I started writing about the shows for the wrestling web-site slashwrestling.com run by Christopher Robin Zimmerman (which eventually morphed into the incredibly popular message board www.the-w.com ) I wrote ridiculously long move by move descriptions of the shows. Despite my initial inability to tell who was reffing which match or which Ninja was which, the wrestlers and the IWS co-owner PCP Crazy F'N Manny seemed to like what I wrote. (Eventually, in January 2003, they would lead to Manny giving me a job as the IWS publicist.) So, when I went to Commissioner Joseph FitzMorris' annual Tournament of the Icons, I was able to snag a choice seat right next to Sexxxy Eddy's Dad who was ringing the bell.
Overall, Tournament of the Icons was a great show, even if getting there and getting home was a nightmare. (You can read my review here: http://slashwrestling.com/guests/llakor13.html ) Despite liking the show, there was one match that drove me up the wall and I savaged it in my review: the match between the winner of the "Dark Match Battle Royale" Zero and TNT. I had two issues with this match. The first was that the battle royale was won by a heel which created a heel vs. heel match-up between Zero and TNT. The second was that TNT was using a technical heel gimmick claiming that he was the best technical wrestler in Quebec.
I have no issues with a technical heel gimmick, and at the time TNT had as much right to that gimmick as anyone, since he had spent time wrestling for Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling Association when it was still a WWF development territory. In a lot of ways, TNT blazed the way for guys like El Generico and Kevin Steen who came after him. But I couldn't support TNT’s version of the gimmick, because TNT refused to act like a technical heel in the ring. Specifically, he refused to stretch people, which to me was inexcusable. Nowhere to me was this problem exposed more clearly than with TNT's match with the rookie Zero. Being put in the ring with a rookie and not stretching him is almost immoral by my standards.
A couple of weeks after I published my review of Tournament of the Icons, with my scathing attack on TNT's abilities, I went to the IWS' outdoor show during the Fringe Festival. After the show, I introduced myself to TNT and we had a very good-natured argument about his ability in the ring and his gimmick. Under the circumstances, he was very gracious to me, confirming my suspicion that he was too nice for his gimmick. TNT objected to my demands for him to stretch people on two grounds: first, he explained that he had trained or helped train most of the kids that he faced, so he didn't want to hurt them. I countered that I wasn't asking him to hurt them, just to make it look like he was hurting them. TNT's second point was more pertinent - he worried that stretching his opponent - humiliating them - would kill their heat - end their careers before they even started. I argued that the opposite was true - that the bigger a dick that TNT was, the bigger a face his opponent could be. We agreed to disagree on that point. (I may have quoted Mick Foley quoting Terry Funk to help make my argument.)
Little did I know that this argument would lead to the creation of El Generico.
TNT approached PCP Crazy F'N Manny, the co-owner of the IWS and asked him to let him to take a rookie into the ring and stretch the crap out of him in an elongated squash. Manny agreed, leaving them only the tough choice of which rookie to pick. The Los Latinos helped supply the answer. The Peruvian Latinos had been badgering Manny for months to give a friend of theirs a shot at the IWS - a red-headed Mexican fugitive who washed dishes in the back of Le Skratch in Chomedey, Laval - the IWS' then home.
(No one is entirely certain how El Generico ended up working at Le Skratch so far from Tijuana. According to Los Latinos - and please understand that their English is about as good as my Peruvian, so I may have misunderstood - from what I gather from Los Latinos, El Generico was banished from his lucha training school and his hometown in disgrace after he dropped one of his fellow students on their head with an illegal brain-buster. He fled north searching for a place with greater compassion - and harder heads - in which he could wrestle as he pleased. Somehow, this search brought him to Laval.)
(El Generico's roommate, Beef Wellington, has a version of this story where he claims that El Generico tearfully confessed to killing a man in Mexico with the brainbuster. I have asked El Generico (through an interpreter) about this and he says that Beef misunderstood him, that he was watching Braveheart while peeling onions and he was trying to explain to Beef what he was watching, while Beef was busy sorting his boy bands cd collection. Apparently, Beef misheard "kilt-man" for "killed a man". Life in the Beef Wellington/El Generico apartment is lot like a bad 80's sit-com, only without big-breasted blondes or women of any kind for that matter.)
Manny decide to give the red-headed Mexican an opportunity against TNT, but the day of the show he handed the rookie luchadore an Octagon mask and told him to wear it in the match. In broken English, the young Mexican protested that he would be wearing someone else's mask - a huge violation of the sacred traditions of Lucha Libre. Manny pointed out that he was only going to wear it for one match; that Octagon would probably never even hear about it; that it was to protect him from being branded a jobber; and did he want spend the rest of his life washing dishes?
In the back, Manny chose the most generic Mexican music possible. (The Bouncing Souls only came later.) He made the young Mexican wear Kid Kamikaze's old Rougeau school training pants and used a magic marker to cover him in temporary tattoos, all in an effort to make him look like the most generic luchador possible - the epitome of the one night joke jobber.
Which is how Brian the Guppie, the IWS ring announcer (also making his debut July 13th, 2002 during Scarred For Life as documented here: http://the-w.com/thread.php/id=7711) came to announce the debut of Tijuana native El Generico. Much to TNT's annoyance, El Generico tried to rally the crowd to his side from the outset by shouting "Olé!" and the IWS crowd gave a good-natured "Olé!" back. This back and forth banter between El Generico and the crowd continued during the opening minute until TNT lost it and murdered El Generico with a vicious Stan Hansen lariat and then stepped on his neck, screaming at him "Olé! NOW, you son-of-a-bitch!" Well, the IWS crowd didn't like that much. Who was TNT to be stealing their fun? TNT then broke off choking El Generico putting him into a surfboard variant which left one hand free, so that TNT could pull back on El Generico's arms with one hand and swat the back of his head with the other.
It was at this point that the IWS crowd had an epiphany - a moment of clarity. It was at this point that the crowd switched from chanting "Olé!" to echo El Generico because it was fun to do and started chanting "OLÉ!" on their own because - well for lots of reasons. Because they wanted to support El Generico; because they hated TNT; because they suddenly realized that everyone in Le Skratch was chanting; because they suddenly believed that if they kept chanting El Generico could win. It was a "Tinker-Bell" moment. So they chanted - no WE chanted, and the harder TNT stretched El Generico, the harder we chanted; the more brutal TNT was, the harder we chanted; the more TNT hated it, the harder we chanted, until TNT was reduced to strangling El Generico with a scissors hold so that he could cut off the "Olé!" from his opponent while cutting off the crowd by keeping his hands over his ears.
Finally, in frustration, TNT grabbed a chair and pillmanized El Generico's neck, silencing us... but only briefly. As TNT stood outside the ring, he was forced to shout at IWS referee Ruffneck over the massive "OLÉ!" chant. TNT insisted that Ruffneck count him out, giving the victory to the seemingly-crippled El Generico. TNT tried to grab the mike to shift the blame for what he had done to El Generico's neck to us, but the chanting only grew louder and TNT eventually gave up and went to the back. Our chanting only stopped when El Generico was carried to the back himself.
In the back, Manny looked down at the bruised luchadore and said, "You do realize, now you're stuck with the mask?"
As the dust cleared, a few things were clear. We did not know who El Generico was, but we wanted him back. That night, the IWS fans chose the man that they would cheer for more; cheer for louder; cheer for over and above anyone else. That night, we turned El Generico from a joke to a fixture. That night, we created El Generico. That night, we earned the right to say...
Also next week: Will Test no-sell his quad injury by eating chips on his couch and return just in time for the Royal Rumble? Good stuff, Excalibur. Keep up the continuity! I want to know what happens with this quad injury!