“Cincinnati’s so shitty Ohioans would rather live in a place called ‘The Mistake on The Lake’ just because Lebron played there.”
From the walls of Reddit to the paragraphs of this article, that is the way the internet talks about Cincinnati, Ohio.
A place that I never noticed until I fell in love with their story.
Being from New Jersey, I never got a great idea of what the Midwest is like.
Back home, if you aren’t in an Empire State of mind, you’re ingrained in all things Philly. And if you aren’t all things Philly, you’re DTS: “down the shore” without a worry.
But with the endless culture pipeline that is the internet, a person like myself who’s never been west of the District has the opportunity to get educated in all things Middle America.
For example, every Midwestern metropolis has something to be proud of.
In Chicago, you’ve got some of the world’s greatest comedians, a gigantic reflective bean and a bread bowl that they call deep dish “pizza.”
In Detroit, you’ve got the birthplace of the American automobile, the legacy of Motown and a slightly better loaf of bread simply called “Detroit style.”
But when it comes to Cincinnati, all anyone hears nowadays is the two cents of an obnoxious heel called MJF.
While I don’t know jack about anything west of the Mississippi, what I do know is a decent boatload about pro-wrestling: the perfect mixture of violence, glammed pageantry and vicious one-liners.
To me, wrestling is the height of in-your-face entertainment.
I was lucky to have personalities like The Hardy Boyz and Rey Mysterio to obsess over in my little league days, but when I got into my teens it was all about the classic Attitude Era one-liners.
It’s idiotic and crude, but there’s nothing a teenage loudmouth from Central Jersey loves more than screaming Stone Cold’s “Austin 3:16” or The Rock’s “It doesn’t matter” retort in the middle of AP Literature.
But aside from the glamor and verbal jousting, the best part about wrestling were the heels. The villains who knew they were villains and soaked up the hatred like some assh*le sponge.
Chris Jericho is a notable best the way he parades around like an adonis and calls people “stupid idiots.” But since the founding of the AEW, nobody has been able to shut up about MJF.
MJF is the heel that heels get annoyed by. Coming off as this brash Long Island preppy who wears gingham and trash talks behind a bodyguard, MJF is a one-liner wrestler who was made for Tik Tok audio stardom.
Nothing is too taboo and nothing is too edgy for him.
So when MJF and the AEW made a stop in Ohio’s beloved Cincy, MJF decided to let loose.
“It’s called the Midwest because every single thing in it is mid!” MJF shouted as he swaggered in his business formal wear.
“Skyline Chili? Mid!”
The first offense.
“Your Cincinnati Reds that haven’t won a World Series since 1990? M-m-m-mid!”
A second offense. However, not one that holds a candle to:
“And every single person who lives here is mid!”
For those who don’t know what mid means, no worries. Because aside from the Gen Z slang, MJF was happy to call Cincinnati a dumpster fire and all its inhabitants (including the family of late Cincinnati wrestling legend Brian Pillman) “inbred rednecks” to get the point across.
And to add some punch to all this, the audio of this whole rant has gone on to be used by millions worldwide.
People who have never even heard of Cincinnati are using this audio to rag on their own “Cincinnatis” whether they be sexist ex-boyfriends, bad haircuts or getting a flat tire on the highway.
So all that said, what does the Super Bowl have to do with Cincinnati, MJF or anything I spoke about?
To the casual Super Bowl viewer, the Cincinnati Bengals playing in this game is just another half-time show warm-up. But to Cincinnati, this game is the ultimate underdog story.
Not only do you have a small Midwest city going for their first championship after a 31-year losing streak, but you got that city playing in Los Angeles, the lion’s den of big city snobbery.
Along with that, you have a young, strapping QB who was injured his first season and has worked tirelessly to make his name by taking the Bengals all the way to the big game.
And to make matters even grander, you’ve got Cincinnati as the Cinderella of this crazy fairy tale: A proud city that gets trashed by the evil step-sisters of the web just to rise up (with the love of devoted fans) to prove wrong the internet trolls that made their legacy a punchline.
Needless to say, Cincinnati has defied all the odds.
So when it comes to who you’re rooting for this Super Bowl Sunday, pick the team that has scrapped and struggled to the top.
A team that has worked so hard and represents every value we’ve held dear since the days of Rudy or the Mighty Ducks.
I may have no connection to Cincinnati, but for this weekend, Cincinnati might as well be New Jersey to me.
And I’ll be damned if New Jersey loses to L.A. of all places.
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