Kansas City Royals

On Champions

Last night, the Kansas City Royals won the World Series.

This is not a Royals blog. This is not a baseball blog. This is not even a “real” sports blog. This is a professional wrestling blog. And the Royals have very little to do with professional wrestling. I think John Cena dressed in a powder blue Royals jersey once. That’s about it. But this is my blog. And if I have to stretch a little to talk about my favorite sports team in my wrestling blog, I will do just that.

Lets talk about champions. A great champion is not born, he is made. A worthy champion must overcome adversity. Their journey must be long and full of trials for us to believe them to be worthy. In the pre-meditated world of professional wrestling, this should not be as big as a problem as it often is. There are writers telling stories, and the most captivating stories are always the underdog coming from nowhere, rising above all challengers to stand tall. Daniel Bryan is a great example of an underdog rising to the highest honor. So are the Kansas City Royals.

There, that wasn’t much of a stretch, was it? Wrestling writers, in particular WWE writers, could take a lesson from the Royals. I wrote before on storytelling in wrestling, and the Royals journey from the dumpster to the championship podium was damn near perfect storytelling.

Last year, the Royals were just the scrappy underdog. No one expected them to be good, certainly not to make the playoffs. But these Royals were different then the pitiful teams that came before them. They a new attitude, a few new players who brought a new sense of fun with them that combined with their homegrown talent and made them easy to root for. In essence, they got a gimmick change. They went from Rocky Maivia to The Rock. From Husky Harris to Bray Wyatt. From Issac Yankem, DDS to Kane. They went from jobber to contender.

And they came so close to winning it all. As close as humanly possible. The Royals ran through the playoffs like a wrestler being pushed to the moon, winning the Wild Card game and sweeping the next two series. They were Kazuchikia Okada winning the G1 Climax last year, looking completely unstoppable. And just like Okada, they gave everything they had to win, and fell just short. Ninety feet short. Okada had his Rainmaker clotheline kicked out of for the first time at WrestleKingdom 9, and the Royals ran into Madison Bumgarner in the World Series. Both left in tears, but resolved that they would complete their unfinished business.

Despite their success, the Royals were still underdogs. No one predicted they would return to the World Series. Almost no one predicted they would even win their division. The word “fluke” was said a lot. They were still underdogs, but now they had a bite to them. An edge. They had tasted victory only to have it taken from them, and they wanted it back more then anything. If other teams wanted to push them, they would push back. Adding their new attitude to their talent was like when a wrestler adds a new finisher to his repertoire. Their new attitude was Daniel Bryan adding his Running Knee. It was Chris Jericho adding the Codebreaker, or Undertaker using Hells Gate. When you add something new in wrestling, it’s like a level up. You instantly become more dangerous. And the Royals, with their taste of success, were more dangerous.

They were the best team in the American League all year. They won their division handily. They conquered former rivals. They even had an “Occupy Raw” moment of populous support when the fan voting for the All Star game was overwhelmingly in support of the Royals players. They had a few slumps, a few moments of despair that made their fanbase woozy with flashbacks of darker times, But overall, the Royals were the toast of the league, finishing in first place.

The playoffs were like one long wrestling match. The Royals would get down, worked over by their opponents, only to capitalize on their mistakes and come back with a win. Over and over again, the pattern played itself out. Behind near the end of the game, the Royals were down but never out. They were John Cena, relentless in overcoming the odds. And yes, I am aware I just compared my favorite team to John Cena. It won’t happen again, but it’s appropriate here. The Royals came from behind in almost all their wins in the playoffs. Just when the other team had hit their finisher, the Royals would kick out and get the win.

The World Series was no different. All season long, the goal had been to get back here, and take care of their unfinished business. And they did. The championship would not elude them two years in a row. Pop the champagne, hoist the trophy, the Kansas City Royals are World Champions.

It couldn’t have been scripted any better. An epic three year story leading the becoming champion. It’s a lesson wrestling should pay attention to. No one wants to see Roman Reigns get pushed for a few months and become champion. They want to see him fight, to win despite the odds, to get so close to his goal only to have it ripped away from him, but that only makes him want it more. Huh, that’s pretty much exactly what they’ve done with Reigns since his ill-advised Royal Rumble push. Maybe the WWE can be taught after all.

New Japan gets it. This January at WrestleKingdom, Okada will defend his IWGP title against Hiroshi Tanahashi, the man who beat him at WrestleKingdom last year. And though Okada is champ, the real goal for him is to defeat Tanahashi on the biggest show of the year, something he has yet to do. Last year he was so incredibly close, and now he has another chance, an opportunity to redeem himself. If Okada is lucky, the same people who wrote the Royals story will write his as well.