Sometimes we have to put our egos aside and confront the world head-on, as it really is. To accept the sting of humility in the knowledge that it will one day pass, so that we might emerge in the light of a new day renewed and spiritually cleansed. Sometimes it’s the ugliest truths that require the most urgent acknowledgement.
With that in mind: I think Jake and Logan Paul are really, really talented.
Put your pitchforks away! Do you think I’m happy about this? My partner won’t even look me in the eyes any more. But it’s the truth, and I’m tired of pretending it isn’t.
If you aren’t sure who I’m talking about then first of all, I envy you as the moon envies the sun, but secondly: the Paul brothers initially came to prominence on the now-defunct micro-video service Vine in the mid-2010s. They later moved to YouTube, where they enjoyed immense popularity and fame while also establishing themselves as magnets for controversy, ranging from Jake breaching Covid-19 regulations at the height of the pandemic to Logan filming a dead body in Japan’s famous “suicide forest”.
In recent years the brothers have turned their attention to sport, with Jake enjoying a string of boxing victories, and Logan joining WWE as a semi-permanent member of the professional wrestling roster. Tonight, both men will be involved in high-profile bouts that collectively will draw the eyes of millions: Jake, in a boxing match against MMA veteran Nate Diaz, and Logan in an exhibition bout at WWE’s tentpole SummerSlam event.
I’ve never been a huge boxing guy, so I can’t speak to Jake’s technical skills in the ring, but what I do know is that when he began his sporting venture people assumed he’d be knocked out in the first round and slink away into ignobility, and now he has a 6-1 win-loss record. As I said, I don’t know a ton about boxing, but I think when the first number is bigger than the second number, that’s good.
But even if he’d never lost a fight, 90 per cent of a boxer’s value to the sport is their ability to draw eyes to the product, and in terms of interest and exposure, Jake has done his job better than most professionals. Every time Jake has a fight, the world knows about it. People want to see him. Now, is that because people are eager to see this brash young millionaire get punched in the mouth? Who’s to say? All I know is that hate money and love money both spend the same.
For me, though, the real surprise has been Logan Paul. I’m a huge wrestling fan, and like most people didn’t expect much of anything when he made his in-ring debut at last year’s WrestleMania 38. He competed in a tag team match alongside veteran performers Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and Rey Mysterio Jr, which in wrestling terms is usually shorthand for “we’ll do most of the work and make the celebrity look good”.
Not only did that match blow everybody’s expectations out of the water, but every match Logan has had since then has been sensational. He’s competed in bouts against the company’s top performers, and not once has he ever looked out of place. He’s naturally gifted in a way the wrestling world rarely sees, and assuming he stays with the company could easily be in the conversation with some of the all-time greats like Kurt Angle and Bret Hart. Hardcore wrestling fans are loath to admit it, but if Paul had spent the past 10 years doing flips in bingo halls instead of making YouTube videos, they’d be hailing him as the next Shawn Michaels.
His match this evening is against Ricochet, a high-flying cruiserweight whose ability to pull off superhuman feats in the ring means he is often billed as “The real-life Spider-Man”. On a night when WWE is known to put its best foot forward (SummerSlam is an annual event on a par with WrestleMania), their match has a real chance to be the best thing on the card. Wrestling may be fake, but these guys are capable of pulling off feats of athleticism that will make you believe a man can fly.
I know. It’s painful to say it out loud. But ignoring the truth won’t make it go away. The Paul brothers are generational talents and some of the greatest, most accomplished athletes working today. I’m not any more happy about it than you are.
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