Blurred Lines: Conor McGregor Calls The Entire WWE 'Pussies' And Things Get Meta
Conor McGregor talking sh*t about professional wrestlers is the single most meta thing to ever happen to the sport of mixed martial arts. Ever. In practice, his comments were a thought invasion by the very entity he sought to insult – professional wrestling.
First, during his UFC 202 media call, he called WWE wrestlers ‘pussies’. He then followed that up on Twitter with this:
The sport of mixed martial arts and the world of pro wrestling have long been linked for very, very good reasons. One is scripted, utilizing the simulated tension of extremely athletic and muscle-bound people fighting each other sell. The other is unscripted, utilizing the real tension of extremely athletic and muscle-bound people fighting each other to sell.
But both require the spoken word to sell best. A well-placed comment spoken by a tough person with a ton of charisma makes both worlds float like cloud nine. Which is where this metagame begins
Let’s start with the history lesson. In the early days of MMA, there were two promotions that lorded over the rest: Pancrase and the UFC. Pancrase was borne from a culture that loved shoot wrestling, scripted grappling matches that featured real blows. Pancrase was founded by Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki, themselves pro wrestlers who just happened to also be the toughest SOB’s in their promotions. Across the pond, the UFC was borne out of a culture that stressed being the best.
The relationship between the bullshit fighting and the real fighting goes even deeper. Even in the world of ‘real fighting’, there are many gyms and dojos - the dens of higher learning - selling falsehoods. Try your hand at a few of these bullshit martial arts– Akido, Kyusho-jutsu, Dim Mak, to name a few. If anyone tries to convince you that a well-placed shot to the temple of a stationary opponent is an effective form of combat, return the favor. Check out the spectacular work of Jack Slack for Vice Fightland to get a good idea from his Wushu Watch. There’s always been a ton of bullshit to be solved in the world of martial arts.
The Notorious One’s call out of WWE wrestler is a glorious case of the meta. In a single breath, McGregor downright blurs the lines of just how much pro wrestling and MMA influence the other, thus elevating both.
Naturally, pro wrestlers everywhere had something to say. Which is the second meta occurrence in this story. Pro wrestlers say things to sell their violence for a living – calling out each other in scripted verses of machismo (yes, even lady-chismo). McGregor calling them out and their return of fire is just too meta to imagine!
Let’s rank the smack on a scale of Meta Points, one being the least Meta and 5 being the most Meta:
The Nature Boy gets a top grade here because he points out the greatest truth from the situation: Conor McGregor stole his act. From the arrogant, self-referential aspects of McGregor’s bit to the style with which he dresses, McGregor is NWA-era Flair through and through. Flair then takes the next step, accusing McGregor of lacking class because he used Flair’s gimmick. That’s so G. Flair fires a final shot, comparing McGregor to Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey, both UFC royalty.
So not only does Flair essentially paint his whole tweet as the guy who built McGregor’s act, he erases all indications of arrogance by throwing a comparison on another front to two of McGregor’s conetmporaries. Flair hits a home run. WHOOOOOOO!
As he is wont to do these days, somehow Reigns makes the biggest misstep, calling out McGregor with a glaring grammatical error substituting ‘your’ for ‘you’re’. What should have been a 0/5 on the surface gets a bonus because Reign’s stereotypical dumb-jock grammar error could totally have been a work. He’s such a tough guy, he can’t even read good. The fans are so on to you Mr. Reigns.
Angle’s retaliation on McGregor is the most meta – but also the most trolling, which is where he loses big points. Of any pro wrestler after Brock Lesnar or Alberta Del Rio, both who have competed in MMA, Angle is the most overlapping with the MMA game. He appeared as a guest coach on a season of The Ultimate Fighter, so knows better than anyone the differences between the two.
Even more meta, Angle himself fell victim to one of the great shoots in pro wrestling history. Angle challenged all the contestants on the WWE’s intensely meta ironic reality show, Tough Enough, to a shoot match. That’s right - a real grappling match in a WWE ring. Little did he know that Daniel Pudder knew a thing or two about grappling. Angle took Pudder down who promptly snatched onto a kimura and was about to snap Angle’s arm – for reals – in the middle of the ring. The only thing that saved Angel’s pride and arm was the quick thinking of the referee who counted the one-two-three, claiming Pudder’s shoulders were on the mat (they weren’t).
Here’s where Angle earns the bulk of his score though: he points the finger at the relationship many have claimed between McGregor and Dan White. Except, as we know now since McGregor’s being pulled from UFC 200, there doesn’t seem to be that much glad-handing and back-patting between the two men. This could be a sly reference to the Mr. McMahon versus Stone Cold of the Attitude Era, when taken from the perspective that essentially McMahon was in reality Austin’s boss, so he was the one scripting Austin to assault him constantly. Well done, Mr. Angle. Well done.
The meta of Sheamus’ call out is too easy, which loses him points. It’s also the most fraudulent, which loses him more points.
The easy: They’re both Irishmen. Also, Sheamus has history trying to use McGregor’s name for a rub, challenging him to a scrap on a radio show.
The fraud: Sheamus is well-known to be the buddy of one Mr. Stephanie McMahon (Triple H). If there’s ever a person who is up their bosses ass, as Angle put it, it may be Sheamus. If that doesn’t seal Sheamus’ total lack of self-awareness in the deal, perhsp it’s the fact he’s reportedly been the victim of a royal ass-kicking at the hands of fellow WWE wreslter Sin Cara, who apparently whupped him for a slight he made during medical treatment before a show.
This one is pure, raw kayfabe work. Kingston doesn’t even bother addressing the argument at hand – pro wrestling legitimacy against MMA – he stays calmly in character, offering McGregor a bowl of Booty O’s. McGregor is painted as being a little too sour (don't be sour, McG!). His stablemate Big E goes for the same, opting to take the piss out of McGregor and not look for blood. New Day does rock!
Unfortunately for Banks, her tweet was far too simple to be meta. The only thing that goes in her favor is the homage to the greatest crossover star from either pro wrestling or MMA, The Rock. That’s like if John Cena called out McGregor by saying, ‘Eat your vitamins and stay in school, brother!’ Actually, that would have been hella meta…
This is the meta creme de la meta creme. It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the great renaissance men of pro wrestling would get this one right.
Jericho is a mark king for wrestling fans. He gets the business and it’s workings as well as than anyone. He’s the most adept at dancing between the kayfabe line, being truthful outside the lines to earn credibility, and then hopping back into character at a moment’s notice. It’s like Jericho wears Y2J as a Buffalo Bill body suit.
Jericho does the smart thing and stays kayfabe. By using McGregor’s own weapon against him, smug arrogance, Jericho comes off as crazy like a fox. Firstly, he uses the tried-and-tested ‘no offense’ trope, which anyone can tell you means ‘take offense’. Jericho then jumps into another trope, the blissful ignorance that anyone could consider his fights not legit. Jericho clearly is telling McGregor that he’s the toughest SOB in the WWE. Jericho then doubles down, turning the tables back on McGregor and accuses the Irishmen of being the connoisseur of fixed fights. He signs off by going straight from the ‘I’ll kick your ass.’ standard line of trash talk to the dismissive ‘I’ll embarrass you.’ line. You couldn’t write this tweet better if you were The Notorious one himself!
This is the master tweet. Jericho has inverted everything we believe exists between pro wrestling and MMA. The furious testosterone, the scripted outcomes, the total commitment to personal superiority – it’s all there and more. Jericho is a poet.
A few other wrestlers got in on the action - Rusev, Bubba Ray Dudley, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, to name a few – but none of them really get to the meat of meta like those mentioned above.
All told, you have to think McGregor takes this one. Because he started the hysteria, McGregor gets a head start. Other than Flair and Jericho, none of the pro wrestlers really undo McGregor’s
McGregor knows better than anyone that the argument is hollow without real competition. He said as much himself in his initial comments, noting that he gives credit to Lesnar for stepping the cage – and then immediately throwing him under the bus for his steroid test fail.
Here’s the key: a never of the pro wrestler used McGregor’s size as a deal breaker. McGregor’s comments are backed up on that by the inherency that if this had been Cain Velasquez saying what he said, not a single person the WWE roster could pipe up. In this situation, they all come across as the standard schoolyard tough guys calling out the kid who actually knows a thing or two about defending himself. Which, in a way, is the most meta thing in this whole affair.
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb
Rhys has worked six years in the public relations industry rubbing shoulders with movie stars (who ignored him) to athletes (who tolerated him). He likes tiki-taka football, jelly beans, and arguing with Bruce about everything.