Adhering to the classic television rule of the Three Ds (dragons, doggy style, and Dinklage), Game Of Thrones has become a massive success and a critical favorite. When George R.R. Martin read Lord Of The Rings and decided, “Hm. Needs more decapitations,” little did he know that one day he’d create an empire.
World Wrestling Entertainment is another matter. Yes, it sells out stadiums and consistently boasts the highest cable ratings on Monday nights, but WWE (or for those that have been locked in a dungeon since early 2002, WWF) is also a shorthand term for something dumbed-down to a base level. When politics or cable news is compared to WWE, it’s not a compliment.
But take away the surface trappings of both and it seems like WWE head Vince McMahon and George R.R. Martin have been trying to one-up each other for years. The way these two franchises mirror one another can often be surprising. Obviously spoilers follow.
#5. Both Shows Have “Brothers Of Destruction”
See if you can tell which show I’m talking about here: Two brothers are the biggest, most indestructible badasses in the land and are known by threatening nicknames, rather than a family name. The elder, who feels no pain and might even be an undead zombie now, burned his brother’s face at a young age, hideously scarring him to the point that he likes to cover his face with a helmet when he can. This event also caused the younger brother to have a weird relationship with fire, and he lets his hair hang over his face/helmet like he’s auditioning for a My Chemical Romance cover band. Both men could be among the greatest heroes of their time if they so chose, but they have a bias for serving evil, selfish rulers who order them to hurt people.
Game Of Thrones fans know I’m talking about the Clegane brothers: the younger Sandor, “The Hound,” and the older, more brutal Gregor, “The Mountain.” But even somebody with the most passing awareness of WWE knows The Undertaker and Kane.
There are some subtle differences: Undertaker supposedly burned the young Kane to toughen him up, rather than because he took a childhood toy, and in fact Kane is only imagining the burn marks on his own face — a way for WWE to save money on expensive prosthetics that could fall off mid-match. It’s really hard to put someone over as a demonic monster when his injury makeup starts running like the mascara of a girl that’s been freshly kicked out of a bar.
And like Gregor, Undertaker does have a propensity for periodically cheating. If he feels like he’s losing, he won’t hesitate to kick you in the crotch, probably because crushing someone’s head isn’t allowed on prime-time television. And just as Sandor wins us over by protecting the small yet tenacious Arya Stark, Kane reached his greatest heights of popularity as partner to the equally tenacious underdog Daniel Bryan.
The only thing missing is Arya growing a glorious goat beard.
Following this comparison to its logical conclusion, it’s just as well Sandor dies. He might otherwise have ended up wearing a suit and going corporate.
You either die a Hound or live long enough to see yourself become a lap dog.
#4. The Sparrows And The NWO Are The Same Thing
An authority figure who formerly controlled the reins of power is forced, by circumstances, into a position of lesser power. Resentful of the demotion and of having to share anything, this person empowers a zealous group that stands against society as it currently exists, knowing that, in the short term, they will take out the enemy. Inevitably, of course, they don’t stop there and wind up turning on the one who empowered them in the first place, publicly humiliating that person in a vicious way. Classic case of needing to be careful what you wish for.
Notice the use of gender-neutral pronouns above. On Game Of Thrones, the conniving, depowered villain is Cersei Lannister, who lets the religious fundamentalist Sparrows run roughshod in order to take out the rival Tyrell family, who are angling for power. But, when the Sparrows find out Cersei has been just as immoral and ungodly, she is imprisoned, forced to confess, and paraded naked through the streets of King’s Landing (NSFW), as the people jeer the hated Queen Mother.
She should’ve saved that loogie for when Martin announced he wasn’t even close
to finishing the sixth book.
Vince McMahon’s version of the Sparrows were the reunited NWO, whose contracts he finally obtained after purchasing his competition, WCW. Forced in the storyline to share power with Ric Flair, a man who’s been on the forefront of professional wrestling since 1742 and is both directly and indirectly responsible for every “WOOO!” you’ve ever heard, he pledged to inject the company with “a lethal dose of poison.”
This poison came in the form of the New World Order, a classic faction made up of “Hollywood” Hogan (“Hulk” Hogan’s evil alter-ego who appears whenever audiences get sick of being told to pray and eat their vitamins), Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. They had all evacuated the WWF in the mid-’90s and headed to WCW to run the place, and now they were tasked with ruining the company that made them famous and knocking Flair out of power. Wooooo!
“Shit, no one’s gonna be able to see the O on his ass.”
It didn’t go as planned, though. After a mere month of being a petty bully, Hogan faced top fan favorite The Rock at WrestleMania, and the fans cheered Hogan, who promptly turned against McMahon. The NWO fell apart soon after, and at the following year’s ‘Mania, Hogan publicly humiliated McMahon in a Seattle Street Fight, with crowds cheering for Hogan as he pummeled his former boss. That’s the wrestling version of being paraded naked through the streets.
And, sadly, McMahon has shown his bare ass on TV at least as many times as Lena Headey has.
I’m sure you can find hers on your own.
#3. The Wildlings And The Wyatts Are Totally Interchangeable
Forced to survive in a hostile environment, a heroic underdog eventually gives in and joins a savage, uncivilized group to help get him back to where he needs to be. Once he’s back on familiar ground, he turns on them all and takes them out. But in the end, they survive, prevail, and even outlive him, because fiction is no longer about making audiences feel good as much as it’s about showing people how futile it is to try to do anything positive with their lives.
Jon Snow is a member of the Night’s Watch, a group that aims to defend all of the misery and below-zero temperatures of a continent, from people and things that might threaten to make it all even more miserable. The Free Folk, aka the wildlings, called that because of their allergic reactions to combs and civil order, are one of those things. Though the wildlings are considered awful barbarians by most, Jon Snow comes to have a “You know, they’re not that bad …” moment with them after he falls in love with one of them during a failed spy mission. But, because this is Game Of Thrones, where plotlines always pick Option D: Worst Possible Thing, Jon Snow ends up dead, killed by the Night’s Watch for getting a little too cozy with the wildlings.
Or rather, “dead.”
The Wyatt Family in the WWE exploded out of the gate as a group of swamp hillbillies: two monstrous men (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) led by Bray Wyatt, a man whose native language is Metaphors. They later added a third henchbeast, Braun Strowman, but I refuse to consider Braun a man, since he looks like someone bred Hagrid with a cinder block factory.
The audience is also like wildlings, in that they grow ice-cold whenever Strowman tries
to impress them by doing anything.
After dominating the WWE, the Wyatts targeted the aforementioned plucky, bearded do-gooder Daniel Bryan and beat the piss out of him. Then, soon after, Bryan joined the Wyatts, probably because he felt, at least for a brief, beautiful moment, kinship among fellow bearded athletes. The story eventually ended with Bray beating Bryan at one of the most important shows of the year, the Royal Rumble.
The big difference in wrestling is that it’s written for short attention spans, so after Daniel Bryan turned on the evil group he had joined, the fans immediately embraced him again, as opposed to becoming suspicious and wanting him dead. That said, if he’d verifiably had sex with strapping redhead Erick Rowan, they might not have been so quick to do so.
Every relationship has its ups and downs.
#2. Theon “Reek” Greyjoy And Damien “Mizdow” Sandow Have Identical Storylines
After years of a career being either little-known or known only in association with bigger names, a heel (a bad guy) suddenly gets on a hot streak and sees a shot at the big-time, or the main event. Ambitious, he goes for it … and fails utterly. Instead of achieving the grandeur that he lusted for, he becomes known as an underling of an evil, arrogant, heavily promoted villain, who treats him like a slave, forces him to take a new name, and emasculates and embarrasses him at every turn. This earns him sympathy with the audience and even with his master’s leading lady, who eventually helps him escape the contract and become his own man again.
Wrestler Damien Sandow used to have the gimmick of “I am so much smarter than you losers.” After winning a few important matches, he took on John Cena, a superhuman that could get run over by a tank and still require only a week of rehab, and was destroyed. He partnered up with a character called The Miz, who is hated by fans, not for anything that he does in particular but just for being alive.
Sandow, seen here pondering if murdering Miz and becoming the biggest babyface ever
would be worth the life sentence.
The Miz treated him like an afterthought and forced him to be his “stunt double.” Now christened Damien Mizdow, he suffered constant humiliation until finally turning on Miz, much to the delight of everyone that’s ever had a conscience. However, a wrestler named Summer Rae turned on Damien after pretending to want to help him in his battle against The Miz and caused him to lose the grudge match. WWE can make you lose faith in the triumph of the human spirit just as adeptly as Game Of Thrones can.
“Hey kids! Try hard, do your best, and you too can be humiliated by being forced
to impersonate a dead guy because you both have beards.”
Theon Greyjoy, before being castrated by the insane Ramsay Bolton, has already lived a tough life. He’s just suffered an immense loss that’s brought on by his own cockiness, and has been imprisoned. After he has his junk forcibly removed, Ramsay nicknames him “Reek,” because of his terrible smell. He acts as Ramsay’s belittled servant for multiple seasons, but finally joins forces with Sansa Stark and escapes from Ramsay’s grasp, though his alliance with Sansa is shaky at best.
“So … I’m about to watch you get raped by my psychotic dick-chopping slavemaster.
Wanna hang out sometime?”
Yes, I’m saying Damien Sandow is Theon Greyjoy, though Damien’s castration is only metaphorical. “Mizdow” is the “Reek” rename, The Miz is Ramsay Bolton, and Summer Rae is Sansa Stark. And if Thrones follows WWE’s narrative, Sansa will soon reveal that she has been working with Ramsay THE WHOLE TIME. This “heel turn” would require hours of explanation, but even Game Of Thrones critics have to agree that the show’s ultimate legacy will be to illustrate why you should never trust your best friends. You should approach everyone you ever meet as if they’re going to cut your dick off.
#1. The Sons Of Two Powerful Men Are Forced Into Trial By Combat
Vince McMahon is fairly well-known for trying to rip off and/or piggyback on whatever is popular in pop culture at any given time, and GOT has been around long enough that he’s probably aware of it by now. So of course he’s going to see himself in Tywin Lannister, the sensible-yet-tyrannical patriarch of the wealthiest family in charge of everything.
The only difference being, Charles Dance doesn’t eat pureed steroids three meals a day.
Like Tywin, he has a horrible daughter who has taken charge of things and made a mess of them. Also like Tywin, he recently had his prodigal son, Shane, return and call him and the sister out publicly in front of an audience. Tywin’s son Tyrion basically had the same argument as Shane did, which boiled down to “Screw you, dad. You’re NOT nice.” How can Shane McMahon/Tyrion Lannister possibly prevail in duel worlds that are only run by the men who can prove themselves the most ruthless? Trial by combat, of course!
“Whatever, at least I’m not getting pushed into your ass. Again.”
Inside Hell in a Cell. Against the Undertaker, whom we’ve already established in our first point to be WWE’s The Mountain when working for Vince. However, since Tyrion Lannister is played by Peter Dinklage, who will end the series by shouting, “I have won the Game Of Thrones! Huzzah!” (Trust us on this one; we read the books), Tyrion chooses a replacement, and that replacement gets his skull mashed like an empty beer can.
Shane didn’t choose a replacement, but he got his ass kicked by the Undertaker. This goes to show you that, no matter how well-known Game Of Thrones is for killing off various characters, the WWE is even more willing to say, “Oh, you like that guy? Haha. Let’s get rid of him. Fuck your dreams!”
“We’ll teabag your dreams too, while we’re at it.”
Even the message is the same in both instances: Here’s your shining white hope. Finally, justice will be served. The good guy is small and a massive underdog. The bad guy is a giant of a man who rarely, if ever, loses. How can the hero possibly overcome this?
He can’t. Squish!
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