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PUNCHING DAY

Punching Day: Swerved 🌭

I’ve got bad news. I love entertaining you all, but my doctors say that you just got Swerved!

God, it feels good to be so much smarter than you dumb bastards. Were you concerned for another ape? Did you show weakness in Vince’s McMahon’s world? You had to pay. That’s what pranks are, right? Because it’s the Swerved experience. If you read these at work, there’s dung halfway through.

Hyperbole’s out today. Vince’s trail of sin is too long for me to call six hours of trash TV his worst crime. Even without consent and Jimmy Snuka, he’s ruined more lives than printable bullets. He’s the jock and dork answer to “who else do you kill with a time machine?” I’m making fun of a dictator’s mustache.

So I have to be precise, which Swerved makes tricky. Help me out here: what’s reality? I’m losing my grip after replacing my blood with C4. And pirating a WWE prank show.

That sentence eats holes in spacetime. Prank shows are pantomimed mirth. Wrestling is pantomimed war. Wrestlers pranking other wrestlers on camera gives philosophers heartburn. It separates reality and state with a clarity that no think tank or judicial bribe can subvert. No show exists less than Swerved, and there are still sixteen episodes.

We owe Swerved for fighting reality fundamentalists. We’re still a secular nation, when you don’t look too closely. We keep reality out of our textbooks, screens, and minds. If prank shows are still real to you, that’s fine. Fantasy always needs fresh thinkers, and George R.R. Martin’s next book might take another week or so. A private, portable reality is your right, even as it boils the planet.

So why did WWE make a prank show? Instead of paying employees or victims? Because in 2015, it seemed easier than all that punching. Ever been hit with a ladder? It feels like a ladder.

Of late, the wrestling duopoly’s thrived by selling wrestling. That’s new. There’s some value to making centuries of live television every week, without a union in sight. Saying “union” in a WWE building triggers the gas. And AEW keeps at least three versions of you in reserve, waiting for precious, precious sunlight. You might see a wrestler’s union in your lifetime. But you’ll see Pinkertons again first.

WWE tried a different angle in the 2010’s: the WWE Network, home of McMahon’s Choice versions of everything else on screens. The Network had more knockoffs than Roku TV or Bronx sidewalks, and half the funding. They also beat Disney to streaming by four years. Points for smelling change before CNN’s brain trust.

Honestly, the concept makes sense. Some fans already only watch wrestling, wrestling news, and life fade away. The Network aimed to addict casual fans as well. Reality TV fans could watch Legends House, where broken dolls waited for death. Or Total Divas, two weeks after Bravo extracted all value. Children got Scooby-Doo crossovers, in-house superheroes, and Smackdown. True Crime fans had a live feed of Vince’s office.

It didn’t take much to get a network show. Or have one dumped on you.

For example, they ripped off Shorties Watching Shorties, Comedy Central’s joint campaign against comedy, animation, and infants. If you were outside at the time: Shorties Watching Shorties paired classic/popular/licensable standup with flash animation. And two abject mascots.

WWE Story Time replaced standup with wrestlers telling wandering semi-stories. Mostly frat-style tall tales. Though I’m guessing Ric Flair left out his grabby plane rides.

Why do prosecutors frame anyone? Everyone has a WattPad book called My Kickass Crimes with two sequels and an audiobook. Including me. Can you sue yourself for fifth amendment violations? I’m ready to cash out.

Then someone had the idea: why not steal something people watched and liked? They listened, so not Shane. And it only lasted two seasons, so not Stephanie. And it always sucked, so not Triple H. Someone outside Succession’s core cast made a move.

Enter Punk’d with wrestlers.

With the best disclaimer since South Park. No one’s more dedicated to brand pidgin. Or women as a separate, semi-equal species. Every bone thrown to “divas” had a “let them eat cake” aftertaste. As for the logo within the logo, I wish any designers reading a fast recovery.

The debut starts with veteran speed bag Dolph Ziggler. Dolph needs this. He’s in almost every Swerved episode, across multiple pranks. If he can’t be champion, he can at least be Alibaba Ashton Kutcher.

Dolph Ziggler (they considered “Jeanne-Claude von Stallone”) was an early success in extracting the rough edges and life force from internet favorites. Swerved gave him a chance to thrive/smile again: he’s also a comedian. An actual one, not the way Hulk Hogan’s an actor or functional human. Dolph visited Roast Battle and proved he could job in two mediums.

He comes off worse here, on familiar turf. I think it’s like driving home: you turn into a fucking asshole. Dolph becomes Minister of Workplace Torment. For every pin he takes, someone gets electrocuted.

This opening prank’s a little complicated. Whenever someone sits down, a chair deep-fries their balls.

Hold on. Just voltage? No concept or misdirect, just Zeus’s sack-whack? This feels less like Punk’d, and more like–

The game evolves.

Collaboration’s about quietly doing what I say. But my partners say it’s about shared interests. With Gaiman and Pratchett, that’s our absentee father God. With Square and Disney, that’s bottomless pools of money. With Metallica and Lou Reed, that’s regret.

Jackass/Bad Trip producer Jeff Tremaine has plenty of interests beyond cruelty and poop. Vince McMahon has a few, mostly illegal. But their crossover only ends one way.

Dolph’s first interrogation is Matt Cardona, whose character gimmick is “enthusiasm.” Awesome for him, troubling for Americana. “Alive inside” is a distinguishing heroic trait. Imagine calling Superman “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to fall asleep without crying.”

Later on, Matt would get fired, use a Thunder Stone, and become a perfect meta-villain.

Today, he’s trying to keep his head down and do his job. The penalty for that’s getting Swerved.

Dolph’s man zapper lacks one ingredient. You need it to understand the show. The words that follow every little person ambush, fake gym mutilation, fake gym miscarriage, and chemical headshot that follows.

Maybe you think I’m fucking with you.

Note the double plagiarism. Granted, “You’ve just been Punk’d” and “You suckas got served” aren’t perfect lines. Except for “You suckas got served.” I’ll defend dance film with my life, or at least a few flares. Muscle opera isn’t far from headspin anime.

My point: those lines set the tone for their stupid settings. “You just got swerved” never sounds natural, no matter how many balls burn. It radiates brand. Chanting it three times summons an earnings report. It sounds the way Baja Blast tastes.

But so does the rest of Swerved. Everyone speaks fluent Titan Sports Communications Guidelines 2K15. They say “WWE superstar” in full, every time, like a sniper demanded it.

I mentioned shit. Swerved takes six entire minutes to get there. First, we’re treated to a mic dipped in dung. The shot feels longer than it is.

This prank’s called Poo Microphone. It’s about a mic that smells like shit.

That’s not an edit.

My notes called Poo Microphone a dumb name. But what else fits? The Prunes of Wrath? Brown Notes From Underground? The Voice: Hard Mode? Water finds its level. This is Poo Microphone.

The torment starts with Darren Young (Fred Rosser, in his poo-free new life). A dead-eyed plant approaches him with a poo microphone. He expects an interview, but gets dungboarded. Darren is WWE’s first openly gay wrestler, making this the 783rd most humiliating moment of the month.

He dislikes the poo microphone.

He requests less poo microphone.

The poo microphone remains.

False friends claim he’s imagining the poo microphone.

Darren stands his ground.

There’s twenty-one minutes and three pranks, so that’s the first poop mic of many. But Darren’s reaction spoke to me. He comes closer to jail than diamond heirs get to happiness. The Usos, on the other hand, are sedated enough to play along. They’re half tag team, half drinking contest. Rad, as long as you ignore the drag race afterwards.

So far, these pranks might seem thin. They are. The Mad King likes primates flinging dung, and hates zoos. But sometimes, physical pain gives way to mental pain. Until you miss the gentler days of CIA roleplay.

Swerved presents Family Business. Whether you love or hate this show, it peaks here.

The name’s tipped this for some of you. While the others read ahead: who do you have for the G1? I’m pulling for Will Ospreay.

Four buds–or fake buds, given reality’s recent accident–enjoy a meal between ladder matches. A break from having every second recorded, replayed, and insulted by web comedians. But the network’s hungrier.

This time, our plants are a fake waiter and waitress.

They’re also a fake couple.

And fake siblings.

A fake abusive sibling couple.

The audio leans in with a banjo, because subtlety went missing with reality. This prank’s a crossover between Hee Haw and a workplace harassment video. And an amazing personality test. Incest theater exposes your soul.

Player One doesn’t care. Even a little. He’s already thinking about the next meal.

That, or he’s clocked the pro camera in a freeway diner. Comedy law demands I choose

food. But half a season in, Swerved detection and compliance is a core survival skill. You need to check everything at groin-level for USB ports.

Player Two notes “If my sister was that hot, I might make out with her.” Don’t let horror distract you from a perfect kamikaze roast. WWE’s an international conglomerate. People in Kuala Lumpur heard him call his sister unfuckable. If one of your employees said this, you might edit it out. That’s what makes you weak. You’ll be Swerved and forgotten, like Ted Turner before you.

Player Three’s another plant, and struggles to simulate empathy. If you’ve murdered an Elder Scrolls NPC, you’ve seen his reaction. He’s angry, but assault gets the same audio as stealing a melon.

Then there’s Heath Slater, who earns a proper noun. He leaps into action. A century of West Virginia jokes die in forty seconds, as Heath prepares to cash in his annual felony. Hopefully SAG health plans cover silverback attacks.

The plants defuse the situation the natural way: foreplay. They earn every cent of scale, so it’s a shame they probably weren’t paid. As Heath’s eyes dim, the actors reveal the marginally less upsetting truth:

They’ve got chemistry. I hope they’re still provoking martial artists today.

I’ve blamed a lot of Swerved on pandering to Vince McMahon. But there’s no televised, multi-episode proof he has an incest fetish. You definitely can’t hear about it in Ivanka Trump’s support group. So I apologize. We’ll blame this one on the human condition.

The prank siege nearly drove these people insane. Even I can tell, and that’s something. I know every Chaos Space Marine chapter by helmet shape, so I’m iffy with personal cues. But there’s tension. The fun in “is this a rib” slowly dies. The season finale’s revenge ritual has a little too much verve. The Miz attacks Jeff’s staff with a taser, but I think he pitched live ammo.

So Season Two spread out the pain. Fans. Children. Passerby. Fans again. No outsider was safe from getting Swerved. It’s kinder, gentler, more diffused gaslighting. Incest play goes over badly in court.

It sucks way more. Looks like the monster was, as always, in me. I still nominate Vince for Siberian prison.


This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Supernaught, who has NEVER stood idly by while incestuous wrestling waitstaff attacked each other.

9 replies on “Punching Day: Swerved 🌭”

I’m hoping Eddie Kingston does well in the G1. I’m also hoping that Vince stays on medical leave until he eventually gets arrested and charged, but I feel the first thing is more likely.

As someone with a giant chibi sticker of the real Mad King, a poster I made by blowing one of his photos from the Players’ Tribune and adding a lazy Basquiat crown on the Uncrowned King rattling around, and a couple cherished pictures from an old CHIKARA show, I am pretty sated with Kingston’s performance. He had a winning record and had absolute bangers with Ishii and Takagi, plus he has some good STRONG Open challengers coming out of it.

Tom Green was interviewing people with poop on his microphone a full 15+ years before this show.

No, I don’t know what the point I’m trying to make is.

I love absurd wrestling stuff and Dennard’s takes on it are always so good. The analysis of the match Sandman had while on LSD is still an all-timer.

I Will have to make my own is/feels fake/real chart with my friende some day. Looking forward to placing all the religions and political standpoints. Where would a hotdog place anarchism?

As someone reading this as part of the Best of 2023, I have to wonder if the reappearance of the Pinkertons you mentioned counts that time this April. Wizards of the Coast had sent the Pinkertons after a Magic: The Gathering YouTuber because he had accidentally managed to purchase an upcoming booster box before its release date

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD9HRueI6Js

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