It’s not quite the cage match of the new millennium, but it will have to do. The current titleholder, Joe “The Gaffemeister” Biden, and the young challenger, Paul “Kid Wonk” Ryan, will meet in Danville, Kentucky, on Thursday night for what promises to be a grapplefest extraordinaire. A nationwide television audience will be watching as the two contestants battle for supremacy as well as the coveted Warm Bucket Of Spit — the precious trophy awarded quadrennially that reflects the truly irrelevant nature of the title they are vying for and signifies the fantastically ridiculous lengths to which political campaigns will go to attract voters.
In truth, this made-for-TV extravaganza is entirely superfluous when one considers that the heavyweight title bout between Barack “Chocolate Thunder” Obama and Mitt “Vanilla Lightning” Romney is the only contest that really counts. But “The Commission” has insisted that there be a match pitting the tag team partners of the two heavyweights, and when The Commission speaks, everyone listens. (They’re sort of like the mafia but without the New York accents or FBI wiretaps.)
The book is running heavily against Gaffemeister. He is older, not as quick on his feet as the challenger, and, despite possessing a grin compared unfavorably to the Cheshire Cat, has been known to become ill-tempered when challenged too forcefully. But with age comes experience, and the champ can be counted on to employ every trick in the book to upend his far less seasoned opponent. Rumor has it that Gaffemeister will use tricks learned from his youthful days as a mud wrestler in various clubs along the Eastern Shore — almost-illegal holds that would impress the TV audience and possibly trip up his inexperienced foe.
For his part, the Kid is good-looking and has energy, earnestness, and a certain savoir faire that will no doubt score him some points with the judges. What he lacks in wisdom gleaned from age, he makes up for with a cat-quick mind and a wealth of knowledge about the sport that will stand him well in a pinch.
But Gaffemeister has made a career out of his opponents underestimating his abilities. He is cagey, deceptive, and knows his way around the ring. The Kid must avoid the champ’s famous “sleeper hold,” which lulls opponents into somnolence — usually by employing his “regular Joe” shtick — and his “Amtrak Double Chickenwing” maneuver. Over the years, few have been able to recover after such a double whammy — or keep from throwing up.
The real secret of the champ’s success is his ability to employ classic misdirection maneuvers to score points. His style, described by one sports writer as “a cross between a chameleon and a rattlesnake,” reflects his shiftiness as well as his ability to land powerful blows on occasion. Kid Wonk takes the champ lightly at his own peril.
And the Kid? No one knows much about him or his ability to perform in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a nationally televised bout. Plucked from relative obscurity by Vanilla Lightning to be his Number Two, the Kid showed great promise on the Junior Circuit and made several splashy appearances in the lead up to his selection. One memorable event — “The All Star Health Care Hearing and Dog and Pony Show” — saw the Kid take on Chocolate Thunder and lay him low with a series of titanic blows, first to the solar plexus, then battering the heavyweight champ about the head. It was a beat-down that Chocolate Thunder is still trying to live down.
Thus proving he was ready for the Big Show, Kid Wonk was chosen to do battle with Gaffemeister. Will he freeze under the watchful eyes of tens of millions of Americans and a media waiting — wanting — to see him stumble? Can he avoid the mistakes of so many challengers in the past who either got lost on their way to the arena or perhaps should have?
Untested and untried as he is, Kid Wonk has one overarching advantage over the champ: he knows his stuff. Where the champ uses tricks and mud-wrestling tactics to score points, the Kid will employ grips and handholds that have stood the test of time and proven themselves winners when all is said and done. The sport’s First Principles — if defined and demonstrated correctly — will always outpoint the vain attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the judges by using imported and alien maneuvers that don’t belong in an American arena.
The stakes may not be high, but glory goes to a clear winner who will, if circumstances hold, then be able to claim a belt that no one really wants to wear, and a title no one wants to own.
When you figure out what all the fuss is about, let me know.