So, I'm on a search for something else to fill that TV spot until my lovely wife gets home.
I go by FX and, like always, it's a Bruce Willis movie er something. ESPN was playing fishing. ESPN2 was playing the racecars. Saturday morning is when ESPN and sister networks go completely to ish. So I end up on Spike TV. Nothing against the network, but I don't really think I meet the target market. You know, the meatheaded man's man: drink a lot of beer, read Maxim, probably have a tattoo and drive a customized automobile, shave your head like Vin Diesel and say things like "tight" and "clean." Not really my gig. And you can always tell what you should or shouldn't be watching by the advertising. More on that later.
Here's the quick setup. The show is called "Ultimate Fighter." Some ten or twelve trained fighters are packed in a house like Real World or, more appropriately, Making the Band and the dudes are competing for a UFC six-digit contract. UFC is "ultimate fighting" which is a cruel and sometimes crippling collision of many and any schools of martial arts and fighting. You have dudes that are straight street fighters, freestylers, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, traditional wrestlers, karate and so on. And they all come together in the "octagon." I've watched it before so this is nothing new to me, but I just want to make sure all of you are clear. So, you have one 30-minute show that really develops the relationships building in the house and, more importantly, the cancerous animosity that begins to grow between certain housemates. The 30-minute show to follow is when two fighters from two different teams are selected to beat themselves into submission at the end of the show. The first fifteen minutes are the preparation, the last fifteen minutes are the battle. Winner stays and loser goes home. And that's the basic setup.
So during the first run of this weekly show, you get a fight every other week, but during this mega-marathon, you get a fight every hour. Gotta love cable television. This is like the discount racks of cable television. This show was being sold separately and advertising was probably going for like $50,000 a spot, but now, they're sold as a set on a Saturday and the spots are probably closer to only $3,000 each--the basic principle of cable television and syndication. And the marathon was leading up to the grand finale--the live title fight where the winner walks away with a UFC contract.
So, with the Sawx not televised and the lovely wife still a good two hours from home, I settle in for a few episodes. I start to pick my favorites. I become enveloped. Captured. It tooke me back to when New0x, Leroy and I would watch Gracie put chokeholds on cats and Tank Abbott come out throwing haymakers with the intent to kill. Good times. That was long before you could find it on cable television. We used to find them on little VHS tapes--some of them hand-labeled.
Two hours later, in walks my wife. I try and pull it off like, "Yeah, I just turned over to it and decided to watch a little of it," but I already knew dudes' names. When they were dancing around the octagon, I'm muttering, "Rory, knock his trash-talking block off! C'mon, Mike, annihilate that dude!" I couldn't hide my enthusiasm. And, just as planned by the network, I sit there and watch episode to episode, hardly flinching except to escape to the Boom Boom Tomb to check the Sox situation (Schill was pitching an absolute gem).
Well, next thing you know, my lovely wife falls down on the couch and begins watching it. She starts asking questions about who's fighting who, how it works, what's a legal move and what's not. And I field her questions in amazement. I'm think my lovely wife's into this. It was a magical moment. The girl that would always tease me for the crap I'm watch on television is sitting her watching the most violent, testosterone-driven programming on television. Keep in mind, Spike TV is probably the most male-oriented network on cable except, maybe, all the "adult" channels.
About five episodes in (or two and half hours), we arrive at, yet another, commerical break and one of the show's sponsors is some sort of energy drink. When their commercial opens, there's a young woman wearing almost nothing and she's drinking this can of fluid and then she begins flailing around like a stripper--straddling the chair, tossing her hair this way and that, doing these wild leg kicks--and my lovely wife comments, "I hate this commercial."
I said, "I don't think you're the target market." I mean, usually, you can tell by the commercials whether or not you should be watching something. In this case, maybe it's because she's a female. Or if you're watching Divorce Court or C.O.P.S. and you see all the commercials for cheap insurance, mobile homes, pick-up truck accessories, pre-approved credit--maybe I shouldn't be watching that. Maybe I'm not the target market. Maybe because I have a steady job, drive an import automobile and am not involved in any litigation with a major drug company that I shouldn't be wasting my time and brain cells watching this. The suggestions are sometimes very subtle, but watch the commercials because it will tell you if you're too smart or too dumb to watch something. Regardless, though, I will usually watch it anyway. Which is the case with the "Ultimate Fighter."
I can tell she's becoming involved in all the storylines. There's the young deaf wrestler from Ohio who would tip cows as training. The guy who has a child back home battling cancer and carries a picture of his son with words "never quit" scribbled across the top. The trash-talking, hard-hitting Brit. The little-Muslim-fighter-that-could but his back was about to fall apart on him. I said his back problems might be the result of the Muslim prayer ritual. It looks to be alot of work on the back. In short, she was hooked.
My personal favorite fighter was a kid named Ed "Short Fuse" Herman.
Passed up by Team Ortiz (as in Tito Ortiz) when the teams were selected, Ed promised Tito that he'd live to regret passing on him. Herman eliminated two of Tito's fighters on the way to the finals which pinned Herman against Kendall Grove who hails from Maui. Kendall spent his time away from the show preparing for the title fight along side Tito Ortiz while Ed went back to teach martial arts at Team Quest back home. A true underdog fighter. Like Balboa in Rocky IV, Ed spent his time training by himself--building that heart of a champion on his own. When he would return to Vegas, he was a lean, mean fighter ready to knock Grove's block off. He's also part Danny Laruso, too--a young, scrapper with a less-than-ideal home life. His best friend died fishing in Alaska (which I learned is apparently one of the most dangerous careers in the world--who knew?). Herman's a loaner with the heart of a lion. He's not the popular kid. He's the fighter from the wrong side of the tracks and, if you cross him, be prepared for a beating. You'd be praying that he'd choke you out just to make the beating shorter.
Well, Ed came into the octagon last night looking better than ever. The crowd booed at his arrival--Kendall as the true crowd favorite. The battle was of epic-proportions. It went the distance with both sides trading off failed chokeholds and arm locks. Kendall got a few flying knees in (which is easily my most favorite move where the dude begins running, takes flight and puts knee right in the face of his opponent--like whoa!), but Ed would counter with hard strikes and body shots. It went the entire three rounds--sometimes with a fighter barely hanging onto consciousness. It was straight brutal.
It came down to the judges and, in the end, Kendall would win even though, I feel Ed had that locked down. In the end, Ed was also awarded a six-digit contract as well, so I suppose he won in the end even though he lost the final fight.
Man, but the real winner was me. How cool that my lovely wife would endure that much ultimate fighting? I mean, seriously, the girl's a champ. Even I almost couldn't do it. I've got the raddest lovely wife in the entire world.
Speaking of Team Ortiz, the Sox won on Papi's 10th inning homerun to centerfield. Dude, there's no greater clutch hitter in all of baseball. Amazing.