Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Sandman’s Uber-Supreme Championship of Toughness

What follows is the first round of The Tournament. I was sitting down trying to think of something I could write about for Jack’s blog. I needed something that I knew pretty well, toughness, and something that I could have fun doing (researching toughness and tournaments). So I skipped class to do some research and write up this monster. I’m sure some will disagree with the results, but keep in mind, I did research for a whole three hours, which means that I know more than you and my word is law. So shut your yapper and eat it! Anyway, some of you will find obvious omissions from the tournament, and I am sorry. Chuck Norris and Wesley Snipes definitely belong here, but I forgot. Besides, I give a reason for leaving old Chucky out later in the tournament. Keep in mind, this is real toughness, not movie toughness. While I do occasionally draw from the movies in my analysis, this is purely an entertainment aspect. If movie toughness was considered, Harrison Ford would be in here due to his feats as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. I hope you enjoy, and I’ll talk to you again when I write up the second round.

Vin Diesel vs. Mr. T
This match can be called the Battle of the Bouncers. Yes, both of the fighters were bouncers at one time in their lives. However, Mr. T once received the award of America’s Toughest Bouncer. I don’t believe I ever recall Vin Diesel winning this award. Let’s look at Vin for a bit. Besides the whole bouncer gig, he doesn’t really have any formal training. True, he is a big as an ox, but so is Mr. T. While Vin grew up in a fairly pampered life, Mr. T grew up in the ghetto takin’ care o’ his momma. The worst thing Diesel ever did was vandalize a theater, which led him to majoring in the second-most wussy subject in college, English. That’s right Jack, it’s a good thing you didn’t major in English, else I’d have to dub you Señor Pansy. A minor isn’t quite so damning. This fight gets ugly when Diesel calls up Mr. T’s momma in his former job as a telemarketer. This bothers the Mother of Jibba Jabba, and sends Mr. T into a rage. That’s right, Mr. T uses his skills as a former Chicago wrestling champion to rip Vin Diesel a new one. Hell, I pity that fool.

Clint Eastwood vs. John Wayne
Here it is ladies and gentlemen! Or should I say, lady? I have a feeling that Nicole may be the only female reading this thing. When I first sat down looking at this matchup, I thought it would be a huge rumble. However, one of these guys is putting up an enormous front. He may look hella tough, and he may be pretty über in most of his movies. However, thinking that a movie career as a tough man would lead people to believe that the Spy Kids were tough. It just ain’t so. Clint Eastwood is a huge letdown. He’s super-polite, and a really nice guy. Hell, that was his original role in Rawhide. The people who cast him in that role saw him walking down the hall, and they decided that he looked nice enough to play the character. How the hell is THAT guy gonna beat John Wayne? While they both played cowboys, John Wayne really was one in his youth. Also, while Dirty Harry was possibly Eastwood’s toughest role, John Wayne was actually the original choice of the moviemakers. Eastwood has always been second fiddle to Wayne, and that’s just going to be the way it’s gonna stay. John Wayne walks up to Clint Eastwood’s plush hotel room and beats the hell out of his bodyguard in one punch, just like when he did the same to Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard. Sorry Clint, you’re gonna have to as YOURSELF one question, and it isn’t “Do I feel lucky?”

Alexander Karelin vs. Hulk Hogan
This interesting matchup pits the world of professional wrestling against the world of Olympic wrestling. Unfortunately, that means comparing a real sport to a fake one. Granted Hulk Hogan is HUGE, but he’s doing it all under a script. I’ll give him his due respect though: wrestling, while fake, is incredibly tough. Those guys endure intense punishment to get out and perform every week, and Hulkamania’s been around a long time. Hogan’s been taking abuse to his body since he was a little pudgy kid getting beat up by bullies. The 6-time WWF/WCW/WWE champion has earned the right to be in this tournament, no doubt about it. Hell, he bodyslammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania II to really kick professional wrestling’s popularity into high gear. However, while Andre was a huge man, he wasn’t less than 5% body fat, which is what his enormous competitor is. Karelin is also a multi-champion. He won the Olympics so many times I can’t even remember how many there were. He hadn’t even been scored on in a decade. While he did lose recently to a guy almost 20 years younger than him in the most recent games, that was because his hands came apart about an inch for a split second. In a real fight, that’s not going to be the end of it. I’m sorry, but Mr. Nanny (in his pink tutu) are going to be reverse body lifted by the Russian Bear. While the Hulkster has taken multiple pile-drivers, he’s never had a real move performed on him by this beast.

Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li
Here we have the match from the East. Two Chinese action stars coming to battle it out. The Drunken Master vs. The One. Jet Li received his training at the Wushu Academy in Beijing, while Jackie Chan learned his fighting skills in the Seven Fortunes, which trained in an opera school. Li went on to become the Chinese national champion, while Chan learned all about gymnastics, martial arts, and theater. Yep, this looks like it’s going to be a good one… Wait a minute! No it doesn’t! Sorry, let me repeat myself. Jet Li, national champion, vs. Jackie Chan, graduate of opera school. I looked high and low for more of Jackie’s training, but he received it all at the school. While it did eventually make him become one of the greatest stuntmen and action entertainers of all time, I don’t think Jet Li is going to be impressed. Unless Chan can find a couple strange objects lying around, let’s just say he found a Skip-It and a ladder, he stands no chance. My guess is that Chan starts frantically looking for some props, but Li, who’s obviously become familiar with Chan’s style through watching his plethora of movies, will not let him get anywhere close to anything that could be used by Chan. Jackie better fight as the Drunken Master, because that’s the only way he’s going to be saved from the pain of the beating he’s about to get.

Steven Seagal vs. Dolph Lundgren
Finally, we have a good match! Once again, let’s compare the fighters. Both are masters of their fighting styles, Seagal in Aikido and Lundgren in Karate. Both have worked as bodyguards. Both have won championships, with Seagal winning the Aikido championships in Japan and Lundgren winning the European karate heavyweight championship. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t want to give either of these fighters too much respect. Seagal has become a joke as of late, and Lundgren… well, let’s just say that I don’t respect a guy who gets the crap kicked out of him in virtually every movie that he’s ever been in. The tide began to shift Seagal’s way when I learned about his previous wins over other tough guys. Yes, Steven was hired to train none other than James Bond himself, Sean Connery, during the filming of a Bond movie. He must have gotten a little pissed at his accent though, because he ended up breaking the Scotsman’s wrist. However, shouldn’t a martial arts expert be able to control his body well enough to prevent himself from hurting the ones around him? Perhaps this means that his skill was slipping a bit. Lets look at how these two guys aged. Seagal has become a fat man who gets no respect in the movies anymore. His mind is also slipping a bit with his tendency to write in incredibly bad lines in his environmentally-friendly movies. Where’s the guy who could kick the hell out of a bunch of sailors with a butcher’s knife? Dolph, on the other hand, was the team captain of the US pentathlon team for the Olympics in the 90s. The pentathlon is arguably the toughest event in the Olympics, and Dolph had to have kept himself in pretty good shape to keep up with this. The match plays out like this. Dolph brings the woodchipper from the movie Universal Soldier, in which he met his unfortunate end inside. While fighting, Seagal gets his ridiculous ponytail stuck in it and gets sucked in. He’s already proved that he can’t hold on too long. He got sucked out of that plane in Executive Decision. Do you think that He-Man couldn’t have held on?

Sylvester Stallone vs. Bruce Willis
Alright, that last match was way too long, so I won’t waste too much space with writing up the featherweight match of the first round. Sure, both of these guys play tough guys in almost all of their movies, but Clint Eastwood showed that movie roles don’t amount to much in this tournament. Sorry, but Bruce Willis has no chance. He has no training in any fighting skill, and while he’s shown his toughness by walking across glass barefooted, Rocky could take a hell of a beating as well. Stallone didn’t have any formal training either, but he did learn how to box a little bit in the Rocky movies. His trainers even said that he was really pretty good at it… a natural! Hell, he used those skills to beat Dolph Lundgren and Mr. T, both of whom are in this tournament. While we’re speaking of movie roles, why don’t we talk about one. Did you know that the Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to be the lead in Die Hard? He turned it down. The next choice was Stallone. He also turned it down. Lowly Bruce Willis was the third choice. Granted, he was fantastic, but the THIRD choice?!?!? I’ll say this match goes to the only man who has shown real toughness, by being voted the most likely to end up in the electric chair in high school. Sly wins this one before anyone has time to sit down.

Bruce Lee vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme
I’ll be honest with you. When I first sat down to analyze this fight, I figured it would be another blow out. How will a spandex-wearing pretty boy beat out the man voted as the greatest martial artist of the 20th Century? However, the Frenchman is not all that wimpy. Like Lundgren, Van Damme won the European karate championship. He won it in the middleweight division. He then went on to try to win the US championships. He lost. However, he was very determined. He later challenged his defeater to another match and beat him in less than two minutes. This is oddly familiar to the plot from the Bruce Lee biography movie. For those who haven’t seen it, go out and watch it! Van Damme has also had some pretty good movie toughness. Bloodsport and Kickboxer were hella tough! Hell, Van Damme was even originally supposed to play the Predator in the movie… uh… Predator. Arnold would have had his hands full if that would have been the case. Unfortunately, Van Damme was fired from his job, probably due to his wild behavior, which has led to some DUI incidents. Anyway, let’s look at how these guys are linked together. Actually, they’re the first two of the three guys in this tournament that are part of what I want to call, the Norris Factor. Yes, Chuck Norris is linked with a few of these fighters, which is why he was picked as a referee instead of a contestant. Van Damme was Norris’ training partner. I’d say that puts him at about the same level as Chucky. However, Bruce Lee was Norris’ master, and he trained him in Jeet Kune Do, which is Lee’s own made-up style of fighting. This fact alone sets Lee above Van Damme. Lee used to face challenges from other movie martial artists all the time, which is how I’d imagine this fight would begin. However, Lee never lost one of those challenges, and while Van Damme was busy doing one of his slow-motioned punches, the man who was so fast that the cameras couldn’t even catch his moves it going to be laying into him.

Lou Ferrigno vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Here’s the final match of the first round, and it’s got a twist to it as well. Both Arnold and Lou are former body-builders. However, if that’s going to be the only criteria, then Arnold wins. While Ferrigno was the youngest person, at 21, to win the Mr. Universe competition and to follow up the next year as the only one to do it consecutively, Arnold won Mr. Olympia SEVEN TIMES! He’s been called the greatest body-builder EVER, and called the most perfectly formed body in human history. They both have been in tough movies as well. While Arnold was beating up Van Damme’s replacement in Predator and scaring children in Terminator, Lou played the Incredible Hulk. However, this is a fighting tournament, and while body-building and tough roles does mean you’re a beast, it doesn’t mean that you could beat up another beast. So to determine the victor, I ask you, where are they now? Well, Arnold is the governor of California. He sits up in a plush office and practices the pronunciation of Culeefornia-, I mean California. Lou on the other hand runs a personal trainer service, where he become another person to take advantage of the Norris Factor. Yes, he’s Chuck Norris’ personal trainer. At 50, he still benches 400 lbs, although he could do 560 lbs at 25, his prime. So, let’s compare some recent pictures of the two. Lou looks like this, and Arnold looks like this. I guess all that makeup and black leather in Terminator 3 was covering up for something. Arnold gets broken into several pieces in this fight, ala the T-1000 in Terminator 2. He made the mistake of making Lou Ferrigno angry, and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Hasta la vista, baby!

The Tournament Will Return. Coming soon: The Second Round.

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