The Eternal Regional Auto Show That Is Wrestler Cameo

For $150 you can get Bret Hart to say anything.

I miss professional wrestling terribly. I know that it’s still out there, plumbing the depths of human morality, bleeding viewers and endangering labor while declaring itself essential, but how can you miss a houseguest who won’t fucking leave? I miss the real thing, y’all—125 people packed in a barn that just housed a chicken auction, ceiling so low nobody can use the top rope, and, off in the corner of the room, NWA legend Ole Anderson or ECW original Sabu sitting at a fold out table looking extra miserable while the dozen or so people whose memories of wrestling stretch back far enough to accommodate them will up the nerve to slide them a twenty for a signed 8×10.

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Wrestling is a transactional business, one in which the consumer forks over money in exchange for goods and services. That may seem obvious to you, the reader who can remember what wrestling was like before it felt like a hostage taking operation, but I miss going to Monroe, Georgia for an evening of bad pro wrestling and inexplicably good deals on deadstock WCW coffee mugs and Japanese wrestling magazines, snack bars where the vegetarian option is a dill pickle spear in a cup, and the aforementioned poorly advertised or entirely unannounced autograph signing.

It will be some time before wrestling once again resembles a swap meet, but thanks to the internet I can still gawk at one of my favorite aspects of it, the (virtual) palm to (virtual) flesh interaction between wrestlers and their fans. Cameo, a website that allows athletes and C-list celebrities 24-hour access to the feeling of sitting in a booth at a car show or regional comic book convention, has an unbelievable constellation of wrestling stars just waiting for you to show up to their inbox with $150 and a message for a friend or loved one. I never gave the platform much thought before, but now that wrestling is over I have plenty of time to think about what I’d like the stars of today and yesterday say to my friends on the occasion of their birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation from their PhD program, or birth of their child. Here’s some suggestions:

Bret “The Hitman” Hart ($150) – Tell Your Rival He Wasn’t On The Simpsons

Bret Hart’s Cameo page suggests the kind of ruthless efficiency you’d expect from the Excellence of Execution. Sitting with his back to the sun and wearing a Hitman shirt, Hart rifles off promo after promo, my favorite of which telling a fan that he’s the best there is, was, or ever will be when it comes to Chihuahuas. There’s a real earnestness to Hart’s interactions with his fans. Yes, he’s charging $150 for 30 seconds of his time, but he gives it his all. But rather than getting the Hitman to say something nice about a friend, why not pay him to body your enemies?

For $150, you can remind the guy who keeps “subtly” reminding everybody in the Slack how productive he’s been during the pandemic that he doesn’t have an action figure and he’s never been on Simpsons. Imagine that guy opening up that e-mail and seeing that he has a message from a wrestler he maybe remembers from childhood, and it’s something that withering. Absolutely worth it.

Kevin Nash ($105) – A Laid Back Way of Telling Someone to Fuck Off

Kevin Nash is new to Cameo, but everything about him suggests that he’s going to be incredible. He practically invented the 15-second personal/impersonal shoutout with his work on WCW Nitro on PlayStation and has never been shy about his reputation. His page states that “all proceeds will go towards the purchase of Berkshire Hathaway class A stock shares,” so you know what you’re getting into when you hand Big Sexy $105. While nobody has taken him up on his offer of telling someone how big of a pain in the ass they are, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind being asked to have a glass of red or two before laying into someone Wolfpac style.

Scott Steiner ($100) – Tell Your Friend to Ogle Babes On the Eve of His Wedding

I don’t know how heterosexuality works, but I’ve seen some movies and assume the marriage contract is one where, once signed, it’s no longer okay for men to appreciate hot women who aren’t their wives, which is why bachelor parties exist. And who better to get that party started than the Big Bad Booty Daddy?

Unsurprisingly, this is something Big Poppa Pump’s Cameo freaks ask him to do pretty regularly, so he’s no stranger to encouraging the soon soon-to-be-married men of this world to do “everything and anything” he would do while still a free man.

Sammy Guevara ($50) – To Remember What it Was Like to Hang Out In Your Friend’s Room Doing Nothing

Sammy Guevara’s whole thing is that he’s a vlogger, so it makes sense that he’s on Cameo cranking out birthday messages to AEW fans. What’s nice about them is the weird intimacy of his home, where his panda headdress rests on a fan across from a cardboard standee of him and Chris Jericho, Guevara himself backdropped by an impressive collection of Funko POP dolls in their boxes. While the mere act of handing someone $50 to record a personalized message places a barrier between performer and fan, Cameo pages like Guevara’s have the pre-pandemic vibe of hanging out with your friend and laughing about a joke you made months ago while trying to figure out what to watch while the pizza’s on its way. It’s not like you’re going to choose to watch something new, but the possibility is there, and sometimes the idea of watching something new is better than the act of doing so, and, hey, is that a POP diorama of Washington crossing the Delaware? Where’d you get that, bro?

Ryback ($250) – Let Your Buddy Know that Things Could Always Be Worse

Before actually watching a three minute long Ryback Cameo, I assumed that I’d be suggesting a virtual reprisal of his bullying gimmick, where he’d pour soup down someone’s shorts or make them shower with their clothes on while Paul Heyman made heart eyes at him from off camera.

What I didn’t consider is that it’s been seven years since leather daddy Ryback was a thing, and that the unending march of days has sapped the Big Guy of whatever erotic potential he once had. Now that he’s a swollen Alex Jones who thinks that a podcast, a YouTube channel, and an AirBnB rental make him an entrepreneur, Ryback absolutely has six minutes to talk about his “goddamn food videos” and how he can’t take the idea of wrestling, which is something he does at his leisure now. “Your wife isn’t going to want you fucking on the road,” he tells a complete stranger, apologizing for pushing the idea of a tag team. Ryback’s videos are expensive, but they are a fucking BARGAIN if you’re looking to remind your friends that, no matter how horrible things are, you haven’t completely lost your conception of reality.

Gillberg ($20) – For the Friend In Your Life Who Loves Carnies

Every professional wrestler is a carny, but few in the life are as carny as people who made a career out of losing. There are other jobbers on the service (Barry Horowitz!), but if your friend is the kind of dork who watches shoot interviews of guys like Brutus Beefcake and Virgil, get them a video by one-time WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Duane Gill, who has been making and failing to make towns since 1990. Yeah, the way he waggles his head around while making noises is a little concerning and the way he calls people “brotherman” like they’re rugged ring vets is offensive to the purity of the sport, but one of the time-honored miseries of professional wrestling is allowing dudes like Gillberg to live on in the recesses of our memories for a shamefully long time, and sometimes that means throwing $20 to some weird old grandpa your friend at some point insisted that you had to see.

Big E ($125) – Birthday Messages. Legit.

At $125, Big E is kind of a steal. He’s a current popular wrestler who regularly features on television. He’s bright and fun and positive. And he’s the guy who does the “Don’t you dare be sour” routine when the New Day hits the ring. His Cameos tend to run two or three minutes, and dude really throws his back into it, even if all he’s doing is wishing your kid a happy birthday.

Like, no joke, if I were a seven year old wrestling fan and my mom and dad got me a video where WWE Superstar Big E told me I had a golden birthday, my fucking head would explode. His messages of quarantine encouragement are also quite touching. Big E’s cameo is an argument for strapping dude up with more titles than he can carry.

Matt Cardona ($100) – Congratulate Your Friend On Scoring an LJN Superstars of Wrestling Prototype Action Figure

If you know anything about the man formerly known as Zack Ryder, it’s that dude loves his toys. He has a podcast about toys. He has a webseries about toys. It’s kind of its thing. But there are other toy collectors in the world, a silent army of people hunting for mint-on-card Skeletors and mail-in Sgt. Slaughters, and you’re probably friends with one. They may not have a Han Solo in Carbonite chilling out in the corner of their room like Cardona does, but maybe they just scored a cast mold of LJN’s first Hulk Hogan action figure and you want to support them through your slight confusion. If that’s the case, let Matt do the job and encourage your pal to give the Hulkster a figure bath. It’ll be a lot more meaningful than you asking what a cast mold is.

Maxwell Jacob Friedman ($500) – If You’re Into Getting Yelled At and Don’t Know Anybody Else to Pay

MJF is charging $500 on Cameo. So far he’s had one taker, the guy who dresses up as Scooby Doo at AEW shows. A Scooby Doo cosplayer with $500 to blow is an easy target, but MJF torched him in one of the platform’s great one and done moments. Wrestling fans have been paying MJF to be the target of his abuse since his debut, but if you’re on Cameo looking for fork over his challenge price for thirty seconds of agony, there are better ways to scratch this itch. I suggest FinDom, since you’re thinking about blowing a couple of car payments on a wrestler’s pretend ire. If you like, I’ll give you my Cashtag.

Ric Flair ($500) – If You’re An Old Who’s Into Paying A Premium to Remember What it Was Like to be Young With Other Olds

Ric Flair absolutely deserves $500 in exchange for a moment of his time. The Nature Boy turns it on for those sixty seconds, too. If he’s promoting your community barbecue, he hits you with serious Naitch. If you’re doing well at your job, he’ll light you up with some WOOs that sound ripped from his craziest Nitro promos. By favorite speed or Ric Flair Cameo is the one where he suspects you got your nickname from some women and wishes he could remember what he did when he turned 50, which was probably something like “get drunk while packing for a WCW house show loop.” While he’s certainly not the greatest value on the platform, he’s in an elite tier of wrestlers on Cameo who know what people want for their money and can reliably deliver on it, much like when he was an active wrestler.

I mean, it’s not as good as him threatening Eric Bischoff with public nudity, but if Ric Flair can Woooo himself into thinking that he’s his 50 year old self for a minute, maybe he can get your 50 uncle feeling like he’s 30 again. There aren’t enough products on the market designed for that, and too few people spending money on them.

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Colette Arrand

Colette Arrand is a minor transsexual poet and nu-metal enthusiast.

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