Landau Landscape - Is Zeb Colter a move in a new direction for WWE?

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With the recent gimmick repackaging of Jack Swagger (arrest notwithstanding) and his pairing with Zeb Colter, and the following media backlash and the actual thought-provoking programming that was the result of the creation of said gimmick, WWE has been handed the opportunity to bring WWE programming to a level it has arguably never been in. I am talking about genuine social commentary, amplified by the fact that there’s a live crowd as an integral part of the programming.

With the creation of a new WWE Network and the increased responsibilities of Triple H who is a fresh-minded person on top of WWE, WWE can use this new gimmick that is a main event angle for WrestleMania to test the waters for what would be a whole new side to WWE programming, if not for the whole of mainstream American television. WWE has a chance to add substance to their programming, which a lot of the time is screaming from within the gimmicks, by addressing issues modern western society is dealing with. WWE has the chance to portray characters that are genuinely thought provoking and gain a reaction from the audience (when was the last time WWE had a gay character in a realistic manner?) It doesn’t even have to be the gimmicks themselves, as even the more generic gimmicks can be made meaningful when the characters are inserted into certain situations.

Characters like Damien Sandow, Corey Graves, Dean Ambrose, Sheamus, CM Punk, Paige, Kaitlyn, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, Vickie Guerrero, Paul Heyman, Bray Wyatt, R-Truth, AJ Lee, Zack Ryder, Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro and of course Swagger (and these are just names off the top of my head that scream for a use of their unique characteristics) all have characteristics that can be served as deep social commentary and can raise some very important debates from the programming. Much like Swagger and Zeb Colter do now, Sandow can be used to bring into light things like ignorance and opium for the masses in shows like Honey Boo-Boo when he’s ready to be pushed, perhaps even taking him to late night shows for interviews in-character (which will of course require making the character more realistic – more on that later on) and seeing social media respond to real issues being raised will do wonders to WWE both in the public eye and viewership-wise. Not only will it bring in fans out of interest raised by the media coverage, but it will also make new fans check out the product because it breaks the public view of Pro Wrestling as being low-brow entertainment.

WWE has chances like this constantly, but always drops the ball. The Shield, for example, when they debuted had the chance to be a great social commentary and raise the question of an end vs. the means to it, and how far should one go in trying to get to a cause (and with commentators talking throughout the show, these questions can be asked point blank without interrupting the flow of the program). Damien Sandow started as a character that had some real legitimate criticism of modern American society and society in general, and its treatment of intelligence as a thing to mock rather than praise. You can argue with that point, but here’s the thing – it’s a point. It’s a message you can agree or disagree with. It raises a question and forces the viewer to be critical. Instead, Sandow has been reduced to a caricature of sorts, and The Shield have been made to move to absolute heelville when they had the chance to gain some marks’ following for their gimmick and create something interesting by actually raising valid points and backing them up. WWE sometimes have bursts of meaningful storylines, but why not make it a more centralized theme of the programming? It doesn’t have to be EVERY storyline, but it’ll be nice if it was a regular part of the programming.

It’s the sort of thing that can also catch mainstream media’s attention, though a couple of more controversial thought provoking angles like the Swagger/Del Rio one might be necessary to create a sort of norm of exploring WWE programming for news regularly and speaking about WWE programming for its own sake rather than “that one noteworthy thing”. Here are a couple of examples that would draw attention: A non-cartoonish gay character; A far-to-the-left character that calls America an inhumane country; A black character playing the race card. Such characters will require some blurring of the lines as far as a clear face-heel divide goes, so WWE won’t “take sides” in regards . WWE would be chalk-full of note-worthy things for a media which a lot of the time has to resort to speaking about gossip celebrity news. Eventually, since it won’t be news any longer the discussion of WWE programming will move to debate shows as opposed to news outlets. WWE can create their own media attention by having wrestlers go in character to late-night shows or to do interviews, as mentioned earlier. It will raise awareness of various social issues currently a part of the western world, and having well-articulated people like the Sandows and Barretts of WWE talking on behalf of WWE on real issues like immigration of Honey Boo-Booisms will break some paradigms and false dichotomies about WWE, opening it up to new audiences who used to view it as low-brow entertainment.

The video Swagger and Colter put out addressing Glenn Beck was a double edged sword as far as I can tell. It was good in clearing up that this is meant to entertain and is not real but just taking a topical, current subject in immigration and using it for programming. However, the amount of effort made in making it clear WWE is “no different than Glee” and is STRICTLY entertainment was wrong in my eyes. Why not dare to be different than Glee and CSI? Why not go for something edgy in a PG way and actually tackle important issues (and unlike the Attitude Era, necrophilia does not at all have to be one of them). I say WWE should embrace the fact that they are touching on an important issue, but go in a different direction than face/heel, antagonist/protagonist, and just show characters that act like such people would act. Some would cheat, some won’t. Their likability should not be dictated by the office, but rather by the individual watching. Some will relate to certain characters more than others. This sort of product is very different than what we currently have, and is a big risk. However, this angle with Swagger and Zeb Colter is a perfect way to test out taking the product in a more quality oriented, mature direction, that admittedly has its risks.

This is a transitional period for WWE with a changing of heads and the creation of a WWE network. It offers a platform to try new things, even, say, starting with a minor show in which these are centralized themes and checking the response to it. If you think this is the sort of thing WWE could benefit from – Facebook them a link to this. Tweet WWE and their wrestlers a link to this. I know this is not a very well-written editorial, and might not even be a good idea, but I’ll leave that to the people on top to decide. WWE could benefit from how this whole Swagger-Colter/Del Rio thing turns out. If it works this direction could be a win/win for WWE, and now they are about to have a perfect platform to test it out.

  • George

    You suck

    • GuyLandau

      Occasionally, yes.

  • greg

    You are a publicly-wanking toolbox.

    • GuyLandau

      This is not criticism I can use. Were you trying to say that I can’t enjoy wrestling for what it is? Or that I am too uptight and up my own a**? That combination is a very uncomfortable one by the way, as being uptight makes it a few times harder to actually fit inside my own a**, but I digress. Is it that I try to hard too be an upper-class A-hole? Is it something entirely differnet? Please, give me something I can use.

      • Greg

        I apologize, Greg. I didn’t mean to be obtuse. What I meant was: you are a toolbox (box containing tools) who enjoys public wanking (hopefully self-explanatory). And I will take the opportunity to add that the tools that you are full of, being a toolbox, are all dildos.

        • GuyLandau

          Ah, see THAT is something I can use for growth. I had to know what are the tools in question.

          Also, you are Greg.

          • Greg

            Well, that sure took the steam out of my insults, didn’t it?

            You’re a better sport than I deserve, Guy. It’s been fun, though. ;D

  • PFElton

    Cool blog dude – and cool 1970’s ring name! 😀

  • The Breaker

    Maaaan, I just don’t know. You raise some valid problems with how WWE handles their characters and adheres so tightly to the face/heel divide in situations where it would be more interesting to see natural and more realistic conflict develop. When characters debut (Sandow and The Shield as you mentioned), they have well-defined characteristics that could lead to interesting scenarios when they come to clash with the others. But instead of building storylines based on that, WWE automatically makes them friendly with whichever ‘side’ they were designed for. And the effective ‘boxing in’ of a character really hinders the creative process from a storytelling standpoint.

    But, I feel that using that framework to push across discussion about social issues such as sexual preference and race would be a mistake. It is a fresh idea, but also one that does not translate well to what we can’t forget is a wrestling show. For example, when someone gets into the ring who cares if they are a left-wing liberal, pro-life, or support gun control? The problem is that many of these issues don’t make the basis for a feud between pro-wrestlers. Such disagreements can’t sensibly be settled in the ring. The difference with the Swagger/Coulter/Del Rio angle is that Swagger wants to remove him from the country because Coulter believes he represent a gang of thrives out to ruin America. It is easy to see how such a dispute might get physical. And it has always been about the WHC, because through this Swagger aims to ‘reclaim America’.

    Wrestling is always centered around competition, and introducing other such talking points as mentioned above would inevitably dilute the product of what most people tune in to see.

    • GuyLandau

      Yeah, I may have gone too far with some of the issues in trying to be edgy. While I do think homosexuality and left-winged can work to an extent in a pro wrestling framework, in the same fashion Swagger and Sandow work (competition, besides just being there for its own sake also sometimes having ulterior motives in trying to best another point of view – see Del Rio and Zack Ryder as examples), and the competition, like it does now, can be used as a legal way to physically solve conflicts – this basically means having more old fashion grudge matches, but with less obvious good and bad guys. In the end of the day what I am calling for is a less obvious divide between good and evil and more interesting and topical characters, as I am thoroughly enjoying the Del Rio/Swagger program. I may have let my mind wonder to impractical la-la lands too much in writing this.

  • Ryan

    Good, thought provoking editorial, even if some of it is–as you admit–a little more fantasy than what can be reality. Coming up with fantastic ideas, however, is often how we are lead to the best realistic ones. By the way, isn’t it about time for another “yes’s” and “no’s” column? I miss those, man.

    • Ryan


    • GuyLandau

      This is my return to action, so to speak. The next Rundown will be up on Tuesday, and every Tuesday afterwards. I took a planned break for a month or so, which is now over.

  • John Palley

    (Cross-posted) Guy, you have to understand this from the perspective of a Glenn Beck (and by association, people generally on the Right). We have spent the last decade, and longer, being demonized in the media as racist, sexist, homophobic, and every other emotionally-charged insult possible. We have been slandered and defamed and, let’s be honest, deliberately associated with all the worst aspects of the Right, with malice aforethought (nobody is denying that there are morons on our side, they simply do not represent the whole) for so long that people who don’t pay attention legitimately believe the worst of the “reporting.”

    The media coverage of the Tea Party and the Right has been so negative for so long that we are exhausted trying to explain ourselves, and we just can’t stand more of the same. WWE has always been generally apolitical; we consider it something we can watch without being mocked.

    For WWE to put forth a tired, overdone, frankly moronic stereotype of the Tea Party movement is genuinely insulting, especially since it is four years too late to be relevant. Who talks about the Tea Party today? We lost the push, we failed to get our message across in a useful way, and so we will be quiet for the next few years until we have the ability to again affect American politics. Agree or not, piling on the Tea Party now, of all times, after the political and media landscape is almost 100% devoted to the Leftist narrative, cannot be interpreted as anything other than a leap onto the bandwagon.

    Why didn’t Beck agree to the appearance? Because he does not believe that he will be offered the opportunity to voice his beliefs without being mocked and vilified. He can’t trust anyone in the media, even scripted sports entertainment, because he has literally decades of media adherence to the narrative (scripted or otherwise) manipulated to portray anyone, ANYONE, on the right as racist etc. No one with any rational objectivity can look at Zeb Colter and see anything other than a vicious parody of the Tea Party.

    Subjective: can you imagine the outrage if this character had been an Occupy member or an explicit Leftist (say, a crazed environmentalist or a murderous abortion doctor?) Also, I am amazed at the laziness of green-screening Zeb and Swagger; could WWE not afford a fence and a Don’t-Tread flag for verisimilitude?

    These are not thought-out characters, these are a deliberate reaction to the election and a pandering grasp for the majority TV viewer, the Leftist who believes everything on NBC, CBS, CNN, PBS, ABC, HuffPo, DailyKos, et al., and cannot perform the most basic of research into facts. It is lazy and insulting and has no business in a show enjoyed by millions of Americans; directly attacking easily one-half of your viewing audience is not a smart move.

    In closing, Swagger should be fired hard, and Zeb should be repackaged.

    • Guy Landau

      This is copy-pasted from a previous post of yours. While you’re perfectly free to state your opinion (not being a resident of the states, I have no real knowledge of how the Tea Party handles itself), I fail to see how this relates to this editorial.

  • While I see where you’re coming from, I would worry about the WWE becoming too serious and not enough child oriented. From what I read, you’re looking for some more realistic characters who can raise more political thoughts and ideals through these characters. While bringing forth more social commentary could be good, I would worry that it could take away from the lighter side that brings in the kids, and the money. Yes, I know adults buy merch, for themselves and the kids, it’s the kids who push the adults for much of the merch. The kids are the reason that those dang spinner belts have done so well.

    I’d love to see Sandow really step up and go wild on intelligence as it’s something I think the WWE is missing, I worry if too many character step up and become great commentary on social issues, then the kids will wander off to do other things.

    I find it interesting that you’re calling for more adult programming while I’m calling for more larger than life characters that make the shows more interesting, and hopefully less corny. The Rock is over the top, but so is The Shield. Bryan and Kane are absolutely larger than life, but then there’s Orton who’s barley better than robotic. I think they could do what we’re both asking, but I worry that the WWE will keep dropping the ball at every turn.

    • GuyLandau

      As I said – it doesn’t have to be every character, I would just like to see more of stuff like Swagger-Colter. There’s room for larger than life-ness in my “vision”, but The Rock has ZERO substance to his character. This bothers me every time he talks. He never says anything, really. I don’t mind larger than life characters, when they have SUBSTANCE. Even John Cena, for all his genericness, has substance. Watch his promos against The Rock back before their WM match last year. He said actual stuff, Rocky said actual fluff. Rock used catchphrases like he always does but strip him of that he has nothing to say. Too many characters are like that, but watered down. The thing is, I think that if commentary isn’t pushed down our throats, but is just there, kids won’t know the difference. The most successful shows are multi-layered like that, with face value entertainment and an added value entertainment (The Sopranos comes to mind). The action and storylines will still be there, except with the characters having that added layer they can be about more than the recycled title and generic grudge – More like Del Rio and Swagger. This was actually done in a satiric fashion in Israel – there was a character representing each group of people in the population (Left wing, Right wing, Arab, Rich, Banks representative, Foreign security guard, etc. etc.) While I liked the idea, it was very poorly executed. Thing is, it doesn’t have to be so pushed down our throats. Just having it be there in a subtle manner will A. Give the creative team more to write about and B. add something less generic to programming and C. distinguish the characters from one another. You know how Wayne Keown said WWE has over 60 characters? about 30 of them are identical. WWE does have characters in some fashion, they just underuse them. Cody Rhodes is a nerd (He has the Triforce on his gear and he fashioned his gear after Dr Doom… Yup). Miz is a classic cool guy. Use some of Cody’s real personality and feud them on that basis. Have Cody exert some real emotion in one of the promos. There – subtle shifts that touch on something real and even help the BA*star drawing* campaign. Besides, some will identify more with Cody and some with Miz as long as you don’t push it down our throats that one side is right. It makes the audience identify the characters as real characters as opposed to just in-ring performers. Automatically every character will become more over to both sides because it will represent something.

      • John Palley

        So what is the motivation for starting this “deeper characterization” with the laziest parody of a Tea Partier ever conceived? Are you kidding me? Outright racism in the “New Minority” and “faces that I don’t recognize,” deliberate inflammation of race issues against Hispanics, and I still can’t get past the greenscreened fence and flag. This is infantile. Have a Leftist minority gay environmentalist transgender character waving food stamps and Obamaphones around, screaming about the 1% and the redistribution of wealth, and I’ll start to believe that this was not done to explicitly insult and deride the Tea Party. Until then, this is just another example of leaping the bandwagon with shifting political winds.

        • GuyLandau

          I just hope you are aware that the character was inspired by a person who took his own real beliefs into wrestling. This is not a stereotype but a representation of real views. These views may have nothing to do with the Tea Party, but here’s the thing: the Tea Party was never, not once, mentioned outside of Jerry Lawler’s ringside ramblings that in general are just infantile. Swagger and Colter are against immigration for being Xenophobes, not Tea Partiers. They are two people far to the right on immigration, as I have seen people do with my own eyes – and I’ve never even been to America.This is a real phenomenon, like it or not. How much it pertains to the Tea Party is irrelevant as the Tea Party wasn’t mentioned once, aside from perhaps by Glenn Beck himself. Xenophobia exists, and WWE even acknowledged Zeb as one, and that is what this gimmick is about. NOT The Tea Party. It was the media and the Tea Party affiliates itself that started making these comparisons. In Psychology there is a concept called “Projection”, and that’s all I’m going to say.

          • John Palley

            Hi Guy. I am well-aware of the character’s origins; to me, this just makes VKM even more guilty of ignorance, as he couldn’t even create an original character but instead stole an existing character from another organization. The gimmick works for RJ because (1) he works for an explicitly Hispanic organization and so is a worthwhile villain, and (2) because he is exaggerating his own real beliefs, and so isn’t just parroting a media narrative. WWE has no need to play race-baiting storylines; they are, what, 80% non-Hispanic? Who is excited about this storyline? Well, besides you, and believe me I understand your desire for more substance, but this is not the way to go about it.

            You can’t tell me that because Zeb and Swagger didn’t call themselves “The Tea Party Coalition” that VKM and co. aren’t fully aware of their intended target. You said “Swagger and Colter are against immigration for being Xenophobes, not Tea Partiers.” And just what is the common misconception, fueled by constant media hype for decades, about the Right in general, and the Tea Party for the last several years? Remember that one of the Left’s basic talking points (played hardcore in the last election) is that everyone on the right wants to round up all Hispanics (“people who don’t look like us”) and put them in concentration camps or deport them. This is demonstrably untrue; every debate is framed by “anti-IMMIGRATION” instead of “anti-ILLEGAL-BORDER-CROSSING.” I can’t believe that VKM and co. didn’t explicitly research Tea Party talking points (“American Exceptionalism” being the most obvious) to fuel their parody.

            You seriously think that people on the Right are “projecting” onto this character? When it couldn’t be more explicitly insulting? As I said, bring out a vicious Leftist parody, perhaps a militant Greenpeace whacko who bombs orphanages to implement population control, and then see who gets their panties in a bunch. It’s not projection to be insulted when someone slaps you in the face and calls you racist.

            You write: “They are two people far to the right on immigration, as I have seen people do with my own eyes.” Well of course! No one on the Right has ever denied that we have loonies who affiliate themselves with us. However, we do not agree with or stand up for those people; they sink and swim on their own (few) merits. This is different, in my view, from the Left, which always circles the wagons around their loonies and only disassociates from them when media attention becomes too negative (Jeremiah Wright, for example). Witness how no one except his fans support Alex Jones; the man is insane and we do not accept him as any sort of voice, but in the public eye, he is our mouthpiece. Why else is he the first person people quote when they want to paint us in a bad light?

            Finally, I think you’ve hit the root of why you (and certainly others) are confused about the outrage. You write:”I’ve never even been to America.” This means, if you’ll pardon my assumption, that you get all your news from media outlets broadcasting to your country, and I’m willing to bet that you don’t pay attention to media outlets that swing Right or even Center. Do you (I can’t believe I’m going to these stereotypes) listen to talk radio, watch Fox, or visit Drudge or TheBlaze? Do you see anything but the establishment Old Media narrative (NBC, HuffPo, et al.)? We are bombarded with Leftist propaganda every single day, all repeating the same negative hype. If you have no comparison point for, ha, balance, then of course you’ll believe the narrative.

            Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps VKM simply stole the character without doing a single jot of research and over-exaggerated them truly unknowing of the slap in the face he is dealing us. I can’t see it, though. He didn’t get where he is today without paying attention.

          • GuyLandau

            I do not get my news from Fox or talk radio, but nor do I get it from CNN or any left-oriented American news source. I get my worldwide news (with a grain of salt – they misrepresent Israel as well) from BBC and my US news from either watching live material (The debates, for example) or from SourceFed and Defranco Inc. which prides itself on being non-partisan with diverse points of view, and from what I can tell they manage to do that.

            Here’s the thing – I don’t have a problem with the right, and I associate myself with the left (to a degree, I’m pretty much center when it comes to politics – Israel’s form of government allows for a whole spectrum, without a clear divide.). Zeb Colter only made me think about the extreme, racist folks that he parodies, not the whole of the right wing. I did not make the Tea Party connection until Glenn Beck brought it up (to be fair, Lawler’s stupid remark in mentioning him in the first place was indeed stupid, as stated, and uncalled for). I don’t see McMahon – as a full throttle republican – doing this unless he felt it wouldn’t hurt the right. I’m sure that if it was a leftie character catching wind that he would just as easily swing that way.

            As for the question about how I would feel about an extremely-to-the-left character like you have described, I would honestly have no problem with it. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in America and don’t see any parodies of what I believe, but in the Israeli satirical wrestling show I mentioned there was a parody of my side and I was not offended. I do agree that WWE should be equal opportunity offenders in that regard and show many characters with opinions and personalities (seems basic doesn’t it?) – That’s what I call for with the editorial. I don’t think canning Colter’s character is the solution though – I think it should be evened out to the left with a character much like you described (orphanage bombing is a tad too extreme by WWE’s PG standards, but a militant greenpeacer or something along those lines should do the trick. Say a Gary Yurofsky of sorts). I also think Colter could be made to raise valid points, mostly. He almost does that now. I wish there were heels that told the truth everyone doesn’t want to hear – a la CM Punk pre-SES after his first heel turn. Colter could – and I think should – be like that. Extreme views, but backed up with valid or at least pseudo-valid arguments.

            Bottom line – I don’t generalize characters like Colter, or for that matter Rush Limbaugh (from reading stuff he himself wrote) with the whole of the right. There are the insane and there are the sane to every side. A Zeb Colter in my eyes relates more to an extreme leftist than to a sane right winged person. I guess that’s why I didn’t see validity in your claim, but perhaps I’m not in the majority view on this one. I would love if someone could honestly tell whether this character reinforced stereotypes they hold about the right as a whole.

            Here’s a question – would it please you if Zeb came out and said he doesn’t identify with the Tea Party and that they aren’t doing enough to take care of the problem in his eyes? That would distance him from them and show them in a better light.

          • John Palley

            Thanks for addressing your news sources, your feelings on generalizing, and your comments on a comparable Leftist character. I am beginning to understand you better.

            Still, let’s go over some of your points, and address what I feel is the disconnect between your view of the issue and the outrage I and so many other rational Conservative/Independents feel. (For the record, we are not establishment Republicans. We fee that their ship has sailed and it is time to change the course of the country, not continue to compromise and drive our country into the ground.)

            You wrote: “Zeb Colter only made me think about the extreme, racist folks that he parodies…” The thing you don’t seem to understand is that this extreme racist character has been the dominating representative of the Tea Party for the last five years. Day after day after day the Old Media pulls the craziest, most insane, most racist lunatics — the VAST minority — from their coverage and presents them as representing the whole. The majority of people on the Left over here genuinely believe that a Zeb Colter is the typical angry racist white male, seeking to reestablish the Patriarchy and subjugate all women and minorities. You might not see that because of your distance, and I understand and respect your view, but so many people here look at Zeb and say, “Yep, that’s the stupid racists on the Right. Every last one of them.” Beck and others (including, obviously, myself) are disgusted because we are sick and tired of that narrative. It has been years since the Establishment Media has reported honestly on the American Right, and we are so weary of being misrepresented that we see this as a deliberate attack (and pandering to the current electoral cycle, VKM’s personal politics be damned).

            I disagree entirely with your idea that Colter’s racism could be given more depth by arguing smarter. Please realize that this is exactly what the Left wants: crazy people representing the Right with seemingly valid undertones. It’s the classic problem where people look at, say, a terrorist and say “Well, I would never be crazy like that or support his views… but you know, he is making some good points.” And then you become guilty by association. We DON’T NEED lunatics like Alex Jones — note that Lawler dropped his name as well — representing us when we have intelligent, sane, rational people who are largely ignored by the larger media.

            Would I be satisfied with a comparable Leftist character? At this point, sure, since it seems like WWE is doubling down on Swagger and making the most of the media attention. They are not going to cut him loose, so his next video and in-ring antics hardly matter anymore. Bring in the clowns! However, you (should) know in your heart that they would never represent the Left as viciously as they represented the Right. For one thing, all the people currently defending them and calling Colter “justified” and “a great new push” would turn their swords sharp-side out and ram the WWE up the cloaca. The Old Media will utterly annihilate anyone with whom they disagree, and VKM is far too smart to let that happen. Can you imagine a Jeremiah Wright character, screaming that the US Gov invented AIDS to kill black people and that the white wrestlers have never been called a n—–? That is the true comparable parody, not just a Greenpeace member who likes fluffy bunnies.

            Finally, would I be satisfied with Zeb disassociating himself from the Tea Party and, seriously, saying they aren’t doing enough? No! You know what the narrative is after that video? “Racist Wrestler Entreats Tea Party To Become More Racist Than They Already Are!” There is no good ending to this story.

  • You raise some good points.

  • wrestlingfan4life

    if I remember right, when Zeb Coter wrestled as “Dirty” Dutch Mantel, he was a “grey” character; in other words, he didn’t care who he wrestled, face or heel, he just wanted to fight, most of the time for a belt. I miss those types of characters, though Randy Orton has been somewhat of a “grey” character off and on. I think it lends more to a natural conflict, a rivalry, rather than a forced “good v. bad” type scenario.