Viewing entries tagged
Risa Pappas

Free WWE Story Pitch #1: Bo Dallas

Comment

Free WWE Story Pitch #1: Bo Dallas

Last night on RAW, delusional motivational speaker Bo Dallas decided to provoke an infuriated Brock Lesnar. There was not one possible outcome of this that could have been in any way favorable to Dallas. He was simply offered up as a sacrificial lamb to The Beast because they needed to throw someone in there, and Bo has delusions of grandeur.

This is a major issue with the writing of the WWE: they severely underutilize the majority of their roster at any given time. I couldn't tell you off the top of my head the last time I even saw Bo Dallas before he strutted out in his white codpiece to receive the beatdown of a lifetime.  Add to that their infamous inability to stack a decent midcard, and you get lackluster lulls in the deep gulf that is the 9 o'clock hour of RAW. 

Another piece of media with its own "universe," complete with a whole universe worth of characters which springs to mind is Game of Thrones, a series of books written by one ailing, old man. I admit I've never read the books, but I do watch the show. Never have I tuned in and felt like a character was boring me. Everyone in the dog-eat-dog world of Westeros has a goal. Sometimes it's simply to stay alive. Sometimes it's to ascend to power. Sound familiar? Both are worlds of fierce, even deadly competition. Yet George R.R. Martin seems to have no trouble keeping every character working toward something. Along the way, he reveals things that show us who they are and give us insight into why they do what they do in the way that they do it. These books are tomes. They are gargantuan. And they are all written by a single man.

The WWE has a team of writers. Why don't this past Summerslam and last night's RAW reflect that? I'm asking because I genuinely don't know. But I challenge you to find a fandom more continually frustrated by the thing they love so much. The WWE is like your good-for-nothing nephew who tested incredibly well but just can't get his sh*t together. You love your nephew, but each time you see him, you come away sad. Why we indulge this sort of toxic relationship with the WWE I cannot say. Why we put up with generic and inferior plots in our top tier wrestling promotion escapes me, too.

So because I, among many others, am dissatisfied with the WWE, I've picked one character to mess with. If I get any sort of feedback at all, I might do another one. I'm not going to pretend this is the most brilliant idea ever and the WWE are fools for not doing it. I just want them to do something with the characters who are so often discarded. There's real talent here. Why waste it?

So, Bo Dallas was presumably carried out of the ring and into an ambulance last night. From there, he goes to a hospital and is treated for multiple injuries. We don't see him again for at least a month (sorry Bo). 

Finally, on Raw there's a backstage segment where someone mentions Bo is out of the hospital. "Why yes, he's in his dressing room, but I don't think he's scheduled for a match tonight. In fact, he hasn't been out of his room since he got here."

Later, Stephanie McMahon herself, accompanied by an annoyed Triple H, goes to his room, gently knocking on the door and asking Bo to let her in. A meek "leave me alone" is his only response. Eventually, Triple H takes matters into his own hands and bashes the door open. A shocking image: Bo Dallas, in multiple casts and bandages, is squatting Golem-style on the counter of the dressing room ripping at his dressings like a wild animal. Stephanie gasps and Triple H looks disgusted. Security is called and Bo Dallas is strapped to a Hannibal Lector-like gurney and wheeled away.

Another month goes by, and suddenly he shows up on Smackdown, all smiles and handshakes. The atmosphere around him is one of uncertainty, but he seems genuinely better. The following Raw, we see him chumming up to some fellow fighters. Later, we see them all win their respective matches.

In the months that follow, two things begin happening with increasing frequency:

1) He gets in ears, giving advice that seems smart but is long-run harmful to his peers. He plays one against the other, then hurts different people entirely, all under the guise of being helpful. He is surface-level reformed, but is really sowing seeds of discord. 

2) In a series of bizarre flashback packages, we begin to learn about Bo's time in the insane asylum. He was never officially released. He got better at being a manipulative motivator as the only way to keep from devolving into a comatose puddle after the beating and humiliation he received from Brock Lesnar. He looked at his own soul, and found it so mangled and unrecognizable that he turned away from it.

In other words, he had to become even crazier and more out of touch with reality in order to survive. By the time his month has gone by, he simply walks out of the place by befuddling and psychologically damaging every orderly and doctor he comes across. Brock Lesnar has accidentally created a monster.

A third problem has also been brewing, not with Bo Dallas but with Bray Wyatt. While Bo has been gone and come back, the Wyatt Family has become a serious faction. They got the new guy Braun Strowman (who I hope replaces the Big Show as the new Giant-in-Residence), and I'm sure Erick Rowan will return once he's ready. So they emerge as a serious splinter force in the WWE.

The problem with Bray Wyatt though is that he's crazy too, and somewhat erratic in whom he chooses to focus his bad juju on. Eventually, it gets to be too much for his lackies, and they lose faith, abandoning him.

And who is there, a fellow manipulative and charismatic leader with no flock? Bo Dallas. They're both nuts, and they both love to control and psychologically destroy their enemies. Also, because of the aforementioned nuttiness, anyone can be their enemy.

Boom! Real life brothers. Kayfabe tag team partners. A Reign of Terror begins.

Not only do they mercilessly destroy their opponents physically in the ring, but they shake these men down to their emotional cores. It gets nasty, vindictive and sinister. The twosome set into motion a series of disputes that get even the most loyal of friends to turn on each other.

Alliances are formed that never would otherwise in order to stomp out this menace. The former Wyatt Family members team up with the New Day. Dean Ambrose ("There's only room for one crazy guy in the WWE, Dallas, and it sure as hell ain't you!") and Roman Reigns reluctantly work with Seth Rollins (OMG Shield Reunion you guys!) and Triple H himself to rout them out... to no avail! This is a solid mid card that could last at least a year, easy.

But of course, us white people are great at destroying the best things we have (she said wistfully, with a touch of bitterness), so it all comes crashing down the only way it can in an entertainment sport dominated by big sweaty dudes: Bro Betrayal. Bray Wyatt turns on Bo Dallas in the middle of some balls-out match against perhaps the former Wyatt Family, who welcome Bray back as their leader (if you can't beat him, become his bitch). 

Bo is all alone now, bitter and deranged. He decides to focus his confused and traumatic rage at the one who made him. He decides if he's going to go down, there's only one man worthy and who will be guaranteed to get the job done: 

Brock. Lesnar.

It's a challenge no one saw coming, but when it arrives, everyone kicks themselves. Bo Dallas challenges the great Brock Lesnar to a fight at one of the big PPVs. "You made me, Brock. I'm your son. You made me this way and you will acknowledge me, even if it's only long enough to destroy me. I have nothing to lose! " He's shaking, nearly crying with rage.

Paul Heyman skips down the ramp and makes a big show of saying how unworthy Bo Dallas is to call himself the Son of the Beast and laughs in Bo's face. But surprisingly, Brock Lesnar accepts, albeit disinterestedly. 

The night of the event, Bo for once keeps his mouth shut. He's somber for a change. The gleeful insanity has been replaced with what you could almost call clarity, if not for the fact that Dallas is damaged beyond repair.

Of course the fight is Lesnar's, but Bo surprisingly holds his own long enough to pull some choice moves. After Brock viciously suplexes Bo ten times in a row, he hops off the apron and walks away. But then, he turns and gets back in. He seems a bit confused, unsure. He stands over Bo for almost a full minute, trying to decide whether to help his "son." Bo is barely conscious but he manages to get one hand up to reach for Brock.

Brock reaches down, picks Bo up in his arms like a child... and fudging SLAMS him again! Oh my gosh, it's terrible. But they don't call him the beast for nothing. He walks off for good this time and Bo is all but dead in the ring.

The lights go out, and out comes Bray Wyatt with his lantern and his "family" in tow. Braun Strowman lifts up the dead weight of Dallas like he's nothing, and Bray Wyatt leads them all up the ramp like it's a funeral procession.

Is this just a final courtesy to Bo from Bray, accompanying him to the Underworld? Or does it mean a possible rekindling of their alliance? What will Bo Dallas be like when, or if, he recovers from this second complete destruction at the hands of the Beast, Brock Lesnar?

Stay tuned... (or don't since this isn't real. But then, what is?)

@Gavin4L contributed to this post.

Comment

1 Comment

The Six Phases of a Big Project

Last night as my Production Designer and I were tooling around Rutherford location scouting some of his old haunts, he mentioned the "Six Phases of a Big Project," a humorous list I only vaguely recalled. He slipped it in, I suppose, as a gesture of solidarity as I enter the final week before the first day of shooting a music video for the band Tigerman.

In case, dear reader, you are unfamiliar, the phases are as follows:

1. Enthusiasm

2. Disillusionment

3. Panic / Hysteria

4. Hunt for the Guilty

5. Punishment of the Innocent

6. Reward for the Uninvolved

Any good system with phases can and must exist within, without, or mutually exclusively to other systems or other sets of phases. The phases of the moon have to do with the rotation of two celestial bodies which exist within the larger rotation of other celestial bodies around the sun, and the sun functions within a larger galaxy of other solar systems, which functions within the larger system of the universe, etc. (Pardon the scope. My need to ground my peanut existence within the larger cosmos and some unknown "grand scheme," much like the universe itself, is ever expanding.)

One can compare two systems to see which overlap, as a bored kid in a school library draws Venn diagrams. Here are the generally accepted phases of the creation of a film, short, feature or otherwise:

1. Development

2. Pre-production

3. Production

4. Post-production

5. Distribution

Forgive my incredibly rushed Photoshoppitry, but here's how I believe these two sets of phases overlap:

Development is the most fun. The project is like a rolling plain stretching out in the dawn before you, and you get to populate that plain with ideas of all sorts. Development is imagining possibilities, hence the enthusiasm.

But give it some time, and reality will set in upon you. Now you have to take those ethereal abstractions and give them definable features. The word "schedule" begins to fall out of your mouth as from a meal consumed for nourishment, not pleasure. "Budget" is another soul-sucker of a word, and it will sound sharply in your ears despite the softness of its vowels.

In the time leading up to the actual days of shooting, PANIC will gallop its prickly fingers up your spine and then ceaselessly poke at your brain like some sinister version of your twin sibling. "Mom, he won't stop touching me!"

Then the shooting begins, and it's like a loudly-uttered scream you only hear the echo of. It's the Doppler Effect, whipping past you so fast you think it must have missed you, but it hit you alright, as you find out when instead of going to sleep that night you just sort of blink out of existence for several hours and are suddenly brought back to life with none of reincarnation's rejuvenating qualities.

And once the shooting is over and you have mentally recovered enough to begin to torture yourself once more, post begins. Now your dream not only has a face, but a wrinkly one. Is that a copy of the script in the shot? How did I never notice the fella playing my leading man has two wildly different sized ears? I could have sworn we got at least one good take here. Did the intern really log the footage with only numbers?!

Some feelings are bound to be hurt, because even if your entire production was touched by an angel, blessed by a shaman or financed and produced by your sweet uncle Marty S., nothing will ever truly manifest that amorphous, ephemeral vision your flawed and lovely brain concocted. That vision got you high, and now you're crashing, hard. Somebody's got to pay, and the ones nearest and dearest who senselessly stuck around are the closest targets. (Sorry in advance, everyone.)

But once it's done (just kidding, it never is) you get to send it, like a sparrow, off into the world. Why did you let it go? Now it will never really feel like yours again. Everyone from the little shit P.A. who got high in the walk-in freezer and was fired immediately to the "producer" whose sole contribution was a ShopRite cheese platter is gabbing on and on about their new project. "The more people talking about it, the better," you console yourself, but does it have to be those assholes? Even thanking your parents feels hollow and cheap. "I didn't ask to be born, Dad. This baby is mine!"

Now, the "Six Phases" do come across as resentful ones. But there's a beautiful side to each sour coin. For disillusionment to exist, there must be pride, belief in one's self and one's mission. Doubt is natural, but can't be permanent.

Panic is just a symptom of caring, of passion. If anxiety is the worst part of giving a damn, I'll take it with no hesitation.

And while I will undoubtedly become a crazy bitch while I'm editing, those that survive the scorching of the earth around me will earn a level of my loyalty so intense that when they eventually do call on me, my very presence will trigger feelings of calming reassurance if not outright tranquility. I will come through so fast and so hard it will make those who don't know me well quite uncomfortable. Where's the Kool-Aid? Give me the whole GALLON! Reciprocity is the real currency of the world. 

As for the freeloaders, the disingenuous who pad their résumés or their wallets unearnedly, I can't speak to that sort. As a creature chronically honest to my own detriment, I can't imagine taking credit for the work of others. So while it may not be true consolation to some, those of us who cloak ourselves in tragic morality can rest on the unkempt laurels of our prideful compasses, shaking our heads at the system-gamers and feeling the sort of smug righteousness we can only earn when we actually do something instead of just talking about how majestically we would do it. Basically, if someone's stealing morsels from your plate, that means you've at least had a worthy meal.

So good luck out there fellow filmmakers, fellow creators, fellow doers. By hanging your asses out in the wind for all the dangers that entails, you are heroes. Whether glory shines upon you or not, a hero is still a hero in the dark.

1 Comment

Comment

Questions - #AWM2015

"How much have you written in the first week?"
Not one word.

"How do you feel about it, positive or negative?"
I'm okay with not writing. Writers spend the majority of their time not writing. It's natural to want to go outside, to eat, to sleep, to talk to our loved ones or our tolerated ones. Beyond that, many of us have jobs or other obligations which demand our attentions even during times when we would actually prefer to write, or so we tell ourselves. But just because I haven't touched pen to paper doesn't mean I'm not mulling it over, not letting words wash up on the beaches of my mind. The process is already begun. 

"Do you have a set goal in mind or could all your plans change tomorrow?"
My plans do change, with every tomorrow.  

"What's the most difficult part of writing so far?"
Apparently the writing part.

Comment

Comment

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror - #AWM2015

Lamplighter has asked the writers to realize that "our interpretation of the art is highly reflective of our own self." No doubt, that's true. In fact, screenwriters and fiction authors spend many a frustrated hour trying to scratch their way out of their own skin, trying to exchange the lens with which they view the world for the lens of their characters. 

Don't ask me to stop that ceaseless struggle and focus even more on myself than I already do. Not to be the crotchety old one in the herd, but I feel as though we Millennials are a tad too introspective.  Narcissism has gone from being tolerated to being encouraged in popular American culture.

This isn't a new rant, so I won't let it fly. I'm just quite ready to think about someone else for a change.

Comment

Comment

Questions - #AWM2015

The lovely folks at Lamplighter have given me a list of questions to answer, but I don't much like them. So I'll answer the one question that I do like: What do you expect to accomplish while participating in the project?

Well, no pressure, Lamplighter, but I fully expect my participation in the Artist Writer Mashup to lift me out of the cold fog that grips many a writer in the long, dark winter months. May my shaggy coat lose the glisten of frost. May I sleepily, cautiously, push my head up through the crust of ice that has entombed me and discover snowbanks dripping in the suddenly touchable sun.

I hope to be reinvigorated. I hope to use the AWM to stretch my compressed writing muscles. And may the end result not suck. :)

Comment

Comment

Why I Am Not An Artist - #AWM2015

...And so it begins. I'm excited to participate in Lamplighter's Artist Writer Mashup on its inaugural voyage. I'd better be excited, as this is my very first blog post on my newly minted website.

I don't know that I'm supposed to share the illustration I was assigned. It feels a bit silly not to, but then again, it also feels fun. Let it be a secret. Let me tantalize you with hints of it, wisps and whisperings.

My assigned illustration, I will say, made me smile. The white space it lives against is vast and stark, which I enjoy. I like to pretend that the white in an artist's piece (when it's present) represents the air that occupies all the space around us which we think of as being empty. 

Another thing I like about the piece is that, while there are very few things depicted therein, what items do appear do so in twos. I've always had a nagging feeling that duality was the "correct" mode of humanity and perhaps the surrounding world. Yin and Yang, right and left, right and wrong, on and off - these things always felt instinctively correct to me. Light and dark have for many years been two of my favorite opposites. One could argue that my fascination with pairs, doubles and opposites stems in some way from my birthday which designated me a Gemini. But who really knows?

The name of this blog prompt is "Why I Am Not An Artist." I'm not an artist because I can't draw. If I could, I'd be speaking with paints and scissors and cameras and complex software programming. A picture's worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Nevertheless I shall endeavor to use words to make something new of what Lauren Clarke has done.

Wish me luck.

Comment