Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Your Curves Are Bullshit

Graded on a curve? Get the fuck outta here
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Contrary to popular belief, wrestling is not an exact science, and it's not something one needs to view with an "objective" eye. Everyone sees something different in a wrestling match or a promotion or a wrestler. No litmus test exists for quality. You don't have to like NXT or think the work being done there, especially by Sasha Banks and Bayley, is the best thing going. You also can vocalize that you don't like that work. It's a free country, and discourse is the main currency of Twitter/message boards/Reddit/*sigh* Facebook.

Of course, discourse generally means that you're not shouting into an abyss; rather, the exchange of ideas ideally goes back and forth. And opinions are like assholes in a way that everyone has them but fairly few of them smell better than neutral. That's fine; an opinion is an opinion. One man's powerful storytelling is another's boring dreck. Some people value emotional catharsis over clean execution of all moves and vice versa. However, the presentation of ill-formed opinions as factual information is what gets me all bent out of shape, and it seems to be centering as a hit on Bayley but more pointedly at Banks.

First, the criticisms spouted up in response to Banks' string of excellent matches in NXT this year that she shouldn't be rated as highly because she gets a chance to rehearse her matches at the Performance Center, as if wrestlers haven't been doing this for years, either on the sly like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat before Mania III or as a function of the business during the territorial days on the house show circuit. Then someone farted out the hot take that the Banks/Bayley match at Takeover: Brooklyn was overrated because the "crowd was too big," and that the noise from the crowd may have caused people to think it was better than it was.

Then, of course, the nuclear option of people criticizing a women's wrestling match without having any criticism of it at all accused people of giving Banks and the rest of the Four Horsewomen extra points because of their genitals. Because hey, anyone who likes the NXT women or Banks in particular is a zomg SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR who doesn't care about anything but ruining the good times of sexists and creeps everywhere or whatever.

All in all, whenever someone comes out with an argument that either Banks/Bayley match should be considered for Match of the Year or that Banks is a legitimate contender for various Wrestler of the Year awards, someone somewhere slithers out to offer a WELL ACTUALLY reason why they're being graded on a curve. In the interest of fairness, I'm sure some observers and fans overrate NXT because it is surrounded on all sides by a heaping pile of shit known as WWE's main roster.

But if you take away those trappings, NXT is still an excellent wrestling program. If you isolate Banks and watch her work, watch her dive into her character, watch her own whatever stage she's on, whatever ring she's in, she is excellent regardless of demographic or context. It's not the WWE hype machine getting behind Trish Stratus or Lita because they're the only women who stayed with the company long enough to get a sustained push and remain popular. Banks is putting in the work. The idea that the only reason anyone could like Banks is because of her gender is patently offensive for one, and it's dismissive towards any observer's abilities to watch and analyze pro wrestling.

Additionally, it's blatantly ignoring that if people like me are grading NXT on a curve, then the people who watch New Japan Pro Wrestling and whose absolute floor for match ratings is four snowflakes have to be grading on a far more generous one, right? Two can play at this game. I mean, NJPW can't be as good as what everyone says it is. Or maybe it is. I don't watch NJPW regularly for reasons that are beyond my control, so in all honesty, I can't say whether people grade it on a curve. But if they do, then it's their prerogative. My thing is that you won't see me arguing against AJ Styles for Wrestler of the Year because other people are biased.

The dirty truth is that everyone is biased, and objectivity is mostly a lie. If you internalize that as a mantra, you can hopefully let go of a lot of stupidity and maybe learn to judge things in a more honest fashion, without resorting to dumb, pseudofactual arguments like rehearsing matches somehow makes them worse or that women can't wrestle as well as men because vaginas or some shit like that. Again, that all isn't to say that Banks clearly is a clear Wrestler of the Year choice. Well, I certainly believe she is, but I'll listen to arguments against it. But if your argument includes any of the dumb shit laid out above, you can bet that I probably have tuned out and will move onto something more constructive, like bashing a hammer against my thumb.