We here at AP know you internet denizens love lists. And we know that folks in bands have other interests beyond cranking out decibels. So here’s Friday Fives, a column that solicits a list of five subjects from a number of various rockers.
Ever since we came up with Friday Fives, we’ve wanted Dan “SOUPY” Campbell, frontman for THE WONDER YEARS, to write a column on his second love: pro wrestling. Seeing as the annual Survivor Series is this Sunday, we decided to have Campbell pick his Survivor Seriesfantasy team. For those of you unfamiliar with the world of professional wrestling—that includes the entire AP staff except managing editor, Scott Heisel—a little background: Survivor Series is an annual pay-per-view event from WWE, now in its 25th year. A traditional Survivor Series match includes 10 wrestlers split into two teams of five. When a wrestler is pinned or submits, he or she is eliminated from the match. The last team with at least one member standing is the winner.
Here is Campbell’s fantasy Survivor Series team.
I feel it would be blasphemy not to have Punk on a Survivor Series team made for the sake of Alternative Press. Punk represents this community, not only with his “gimmick” (which isn’t really a gimmick. He actually is straight edge. He actually does listen to H2O, and he actually is a great friend to a lot of people in this community), but with his career path. Punk is the ultimate DIY guy (and if you watch his new DVD, Best In The World, you’ll hear about 100 people tell you the same). He came up touring through the indies and made it to the big show on the merit that he became one of the best wrestlers in the world and the most intriguing guy on the mic in over a decade. Punk has it all in the ring with a style that mixes in pieces of just about everything but doesn’t come off as disjointed. He also knows the right things to say to get you invested in him and his team. Plus, with Punk comes the greatest wrestling mind of all time: Paul Heyman. Goddamn do I love Heyman.
I’m a Lesnar mark. It’s hard not to be. Vince McMahon (CEO of WWE) brought in a ton of these huge guys because he knew that’s what a large percentage of wrestling fans wanted to see: larger-than-life people doing larger-than-life things. Lesnar was more than just a big guy though; he was the full package. The dude was incredibly fast, strong and agile, and a great mat wrestler to boot. A lot of big guys impress you with their size, but not a lot can F-5 Rikishi or hit (well, loosely hit) a shooting star press. Lesnar is an NCAA wrestling champion and a pure athlete. He was awesome to watch because he could do just about anything. Every Survivor Series team needs a great power guy, an undefeatable monster. Why wouldn’t you want the best power guy of all time?
Angle hit prominence around the time I stopped watching wrestling for a long time. Going back and watching his matches on Netflix, he makes me wish I hadn’t. Angle was the greatest pure wrestler to ever hit the business. He put on five-star matches with everybody. The guy is actually an Olympic gold medalist in men’s freestyle wrestling, and actually won with a broken neck. He’s as tough as they come, and he is the ultimate mat technician. Angle made wrestling look natural. Every throw and slam looked clean. Every hold looked like it was tearing the guy into pieces. He’s the technical piece of this team, and there isn’t a better technical piece in the world.
Shawn is arguably the greatest wrestler there ever was. You’ll find him topping quite a few lists, and for good reason. I’ve never seen him put on a bad match. He used to captivate me as a kid. You could see the unbridled joy of years of hard work in his face when he won the strap from Bret Hart in overtime in the Iron Man Match. You saw the pain in his eyes when he was double-crossed by Sid or Kevin Nash or Triple H. Everything HBK (“The Heartbreak Kid”) did, you felt. He told the best in-ring story of anyone and was the fiercest competitor there was. Michaels can pull off incredible high spots, grapple with the best of them and perform dramatic comebacks. People will argue that Steve Austin’s Stone Cold Stunner was the ultimate finisher, but I can’t imagine how anything could top HBK’s Sweet Chin Music. He could hit it out of nowhere for a nail-biting finish or warm up the band and get the crowd excited. I can’t think of a more picture-perfect underdog scenario than HBK pulling his broken body up, holding the ropes for balance, using what’s left of his strength to stomp the mat and build momentum and then delivering the chin music for the win. No one has more heart than Michaels. He should be on everyone’s Survivor Series dream team.
I wanted to mix a little old with a little new, and currently, there’s no one better than Daniel Bryan. It should come as no surprise that Shawn Michaels trained him because he’s the man currently living up to the bar that HBK set. He, like Punk, built his way up from the indies, a perpetual underdog because of his size. No one thought Bryan had the potential to be a star, but he won over crowds with his innovative in-ring persona, mixing MMA-style strikes and submissions with lucha-esque agility and just a hint of brawling. When Bryan connects with something, it looks like it seriously hurts. He’s funny, intense and captivating, and crowds fucking love him. Watch a live show. He gets a bigger pop than John Cena. Punk said if anyone currently is wrestling better than him, it’s Bryan, and I’m inclined to agree.
You can catch the Wonder Years on tour now with Yellowcard and We Are The In Crowd.