Honouring Memorial Day 2018
The death of Sergeant Gordon Elias in the movie Platoon is one of the most iconic deaths in cinema history. Betrayed and wounded by a comrade, Sgt. Elias runs from North Vietnamese soldiers. With his arms raised towards the sky, he eventually succumbs to the gun fire and dies, as his fellow Americans watch the scene from a helicopter. The death of one of the truly good characters lets the audience experience the cruelty and hopelessness of war.
Showing different video packages, the WWE commemorated Memorial Day in a way that did not dwell on these negative feelings. Instead, the video segments celebrated the virtue and the heroic sacrifice of those who gave their lives while serving in the military. To drive the positive message home even further, the 28 May edition of RAW presented us with a segment that was inspired by war movie tropes. However, unlike Platoon, this segment ended on a decidedly more uplifting note. I speak of the Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and Jinder Mahal, including the Elias aftermath.
Monday Night Rollins Goes to Battle
Seth Rollins is one of the most popular WWE superstars right now. The cheers he got from the Richmond crowd are proof of that, especially as he faced off with Elias, who is another fan favourite. Rollins ousted Elias from the ring, because he had serious business to attend to: his revenge against Jinder Mahal. The ring attires of Rollins and Mahal – red and green respectively – already showcased that these two wrestlers are polar opposites. One is the beloved baby face that fights with heart and courage. The other is the hated heel that often cheats in his fights, while drawing on elements of the foreign heel gimmick. The match thrived on the good face-heel dynamics that saw Seth opening the match very aggressively. Seth proved his resilience and determination, as he battled through the match. He did not let the Singh interference deter him, nor did he give up, after Mahal directed a chair shot at his middle section. He did somewhat snap after that, letting the heat of the battle get to him. Using a chair as well, Seth got himself disqualified, but retained the IC title.
A Shot to the Back
As he followed Singh and Mahal up the ramp, dishing out further chair shots, the crowd celebrated Seth as a hero. Understandably, after defending the IC title yet again and giving Mahal his comeuppance, Seth went on to celebrate his accomplishments of the day. Standing on the announce table, Rollins raised his arms to the ceiling before Elias felled him with a guitar shot to the back. This imagery reminded me of Platoon and for a moment I felt that hopeless creeping back. After all, another hero was cut down. Yet the WWE writers decided to not leave it at that on this Memorial Day.
Preceded by another Memorial Day video, Seth was helped on a stretcher. He was surrounded by medical personnel who wanted to carry him out of the arena. At this point, Seth showed what he truly is made of and refused to get carried out in defeat. Instead, despite the pain from the fall he took, he got up and left the arena on his own two feet. This sequence was not only meant to start off a potential programme with Elias and showcase Seth as a top babyface. It was also meant as a message to soldiers and their families to not give up. The segment depicted Seth braving the pain to celebrate the heroism and strength of those who risk their lives in conflicts all around the globe.
The death of Sergeant Elias is as heart-breaking as it is iconic. The WWE plays with this imagery but reframes it in a way that changes the meaning. Thus the temporary down-fall of Seth becomes a message of encouragement and hopefulness to all. I don’t think this segment will become as iconic as the Platoon scene. And with the amazing year Seth has had so far, it might not become a stand-out moment for him either. Yet, any feelgood segment that keeps fans hopeful, that may even be inspiring and encouraging, is a good one in my book. After all, with the ongoing war of opinions between the WWE and the fans, we do have scant few of these. So we might as well enjoy them and celebrate Seth as Monday Night RAW’s hero.
What do you think? Leave a comment below or message me on Twitter @KirstinHerzog1.