Thursday, July 9, 2020

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 299

The calendar doesn't need tweaking, but how it's used might
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

Reforming the calendar is hard work. I mean, the only real attempt that went into doing it in earnest was the Revolutionary French calendar, which was a good idea in theory and probably in practice as well. It's just when you have a thing like the current calendar that has been in place since before the birth of Jesus Christ, the inertia one must overcome is gargantuan. Besides, unless you are bothered by the irregularity in days of each month (special considerations for my obsessive-compulsive disorder friends out there), the current calendar is benign at worst. I'm not saying you can't tinker with it, but I don't necessarily think one would need to renovate it severely. I don't even think you have to do anything to the calendar itself; rather, I would love to see habits change with how to deal with said calendar.

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Importance of Being Taichi

Taichi is a bastard, but's why he's so good and integral to New Japan
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
New Japan Pro Wrestling has a plethora of wrestlers who receive plaudits from American fans for various feats of kayfabe. Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi have the longform matches to back up their claims as being the current and former aces of the company, respectively. Tetsuya Naito's brash indifference towards anything but the art of lucha libre has gained him a massive following. Bullet Club has taken over the New World Order's mantel of counterculture cool villainy regardless of what one thinks about how counter the culture they really are. Tomohiro Ishii fulfills a need to see someone who looks like a comic book character come in and act like said comic book character in terms of wrecking shit. So many wrestlers have perceived importance in the New Japan firmament to folks viewing from the far shores of the United States.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 298

Aries, along with Ki, have made some dangerous arguments on Twitter this week
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

They're tied for last place. You might think this is a glib answer, but I don't like to give partial credit to someone for an argument they didn't make. Ki and Aries basically are saying the same things, that they shouldn't have to wear a mask because they have freedom or some shit. Aries giving the angle of his militant dipshit veganism doesn't make his argument worse, just funnier probably. He also didn't think to post a snippet from the Americans with Disabilities Act and interpret it out of context. When the dust clears, judging which one of these dangerous idiots is less dangerous feels like a waste of time. Both Ki and Aries should be laughed out of polite society for their virus denialism, but honestly, I bet if they end up getting COVID-19 after lick-cleaning their weights at the gym, they'll sing a different tune.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Bad Actors and Knowing Your Worth

Ki's virus denialism doesn't make knowing his worth bad
Photo Credit: MLW.com
Going to wrestlers on advice about anything but professional wrestling and probably like bodybuilding or training in mixed martial arts is a bad idea. It always has been. A few wrestlers have good takes in various arenas. For every vocal lefty like Sami Zayn, there are a dozen dozens of Trump voters. Still, even conservative wrestlers are only the tip of the bad idea iceberg. Some wrestlers go further than quietly supporting Republican/Tory politicians and spew pernicious screed about a vast number of topics from the ridiculous to the sublime. Sure, everyone gets a laugh when these wrestlers are served up for dunks in quote-tweets meant to mock and prod at them. Some people hate the idea of giving bad idea wrestlers the platform, but when someone like Ryback already has nearly 1.5 million followers, it's hard to think that someone like dunking on him makes too much of a difference in the dissemination of their harmful ideas.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Don't Blame Those Kids

Hallowicked is one of the many Chikara wrestlers who was NOT implicated; should he have to pay for the few who were?
Photo Credit: Christine J. Coons
Can an abuser be redeemed or rehabilitated? It's a question that gets asked a lot, too much in my opinion. The status quo gives way too much leeway to those accused of heinous shit, especially if they have a product that people seem to enjoy. It's how those accusing trainers in Chikara, including Mike Quackenbush, have to pass off their stories to others to expose for fear of a pile-on, but Quackenbush himself can record a 13-minute long video that he can have edited to remove hiccups and any accidental unsavoriness to explain "his side." I had people getting huffy at me for not wanting to listen to that side because it's something I've heard so many times before, how "Bram is a good guy and he's changed" without getting to hear from the woman he was accused of battering or that "Brock Turner had his whole life ahead of him and it shouldn't be ruined for a mistake" without consulting with the woman he was caught red-handed raping in an alleyway.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Yuji Nagata Still Has Something to Prove

Nagata and Suzuki showed how playing with perception is the last bit of deception left in wrestling's tank
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
After a week of writing about the worst of the people in the business, I think writing about the things in wrestling that make it good is in order. I'm not writing this to extol the virtues of either man as people, because I don't know the first thing about their personal lives. Wrestling, like the sports and entertainment it is uniquely modeled after, should provide escape even in dark times. I'm woefully behind on the New Japan Cup at present, but I caught up on the left side of the bracket over the weekend. Eight matches in, and it's no 2019 G1 Climax, but that's okay given the mismatches in stature or ability between the two wrestlers. The one match that I, like many of my peers, had circled for that side of the tournament was Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Normalizing Consent in Wrestling

Hammerstone is afraid of people coming for his chop wars, but he shouldn't as long as he knows to chop people with consent.
Photo Credit: MLW.com
Wrestling, like sex, is a mutually beneficial act between two or more consenting adults that produces a desired bit of gratification. In wrestling, the gratification is less physical than an orgasm, but the principles still remain the same. You need ongoing consent among all participants before that mutual benefit turns into assault or something worse. The worst offender from this past week's spate of cleaning house in pro wrestling, Joey Ryan, based his entire gimmick around sex, namely his sex organ. If an author were writing fiction about exposing the seedy underbelly of pro wrestling, they'd probably think having the worst offender be the Penis Wrestler Man be a bit on the nose. Still, Ryan's actions have become cautionary for the need for ongoing consent both in the ring and in the bedroom. It's not how one wants to arrive at a teaching moment with a wake of scarred victims left behind. I would rather Ryan had never been born and all fans and wrestlers and, hell, people in the world born imbued with an innate respect for consent, but one must play with the hand they are dealt.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The End of Chikara

Pictured: A Monster
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
In many ways, The Wrestling Blog has been inextricably linked to Chikara over its history. It used to be something I could hang my had upon, being able to speak with an expert's tongue about a pro wrestling company that was near and dear to my heart. I valued live experience and artistic output over access. You could say that was my first mistake, but I always wanted TWB to be more a critical outlet than a news hub. Maybe it was a mistake after all. The Speaking Out movement exposed some seedy details about the company, how people who were supposed to nurture trust of young aspiring wrestlers betrayed it in order to run a hellish grooming operation. Mike Quackenbush was less a genial and avuncular wrestling maven and more a cruel, oversexed nerd, twisted after gaining a modicum of power over a group of people he could view as subordinate. The trainers he allowed to harass and abuse young wrestlers, especially female ones, made the Wrestle Factory one of the least safe spaces in all of wrestling. You can read for yourself the graphic and lurid details of misconduct and malfeasance perpetrated by the power structure of the company by going to @CZWiggy's feed. I don't want to post anything directly here because I don't want to unnecessarily trigger anyone.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Foundation Is Rotten

Ryan's widespread and severe abuses were only the tip of the tip of the iceberg
Photo Credit: Mikey Nolan
Last week, David Starr answered questions of relationship abuse and "grey rape" by admitting to all these things, thus getting himself effectively removed from the wrestling scene. What followed was an avalanche of victims speaking out, either directly or anonymously through proxies. While it was overwhelming at times, it was not surprising given the whispers surrounding so many people in the industry already. Survivors came forward and outed several people on the scene, from as prominent as Matt Riddle to several administrators of small indie schools stateside. The accusations were wide-ranging, but all of them had a thread in common that they were endemic of people with power abusing said influence to exert some kind of control over someone with less of a say, whether it be through an experience gradient or through sexual misconduct.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Quarantine Writing Prompts: Second-and-Third Generation Wrestlers

Whether as The Natural or Goldust, Dustin Rhodes may be the quintessential second-generation wrestler
Photo Credit: WWE.com
My friends over at The Wrestling Estate posed a good question the other day. Who is the best second-or-third generation wrestler ever? Wrestling has its share of sons and daughters who took up the family business and had success to varying degrees. Sometimes, those wrestlers' family connections are well-promoted and made part of their characters. Others toil sometimes in defiance of their parents' fame. Either way, there are enough wrestlers with forefathers in the industry that this is an intriguing topic. I don't want to rank mine, but I will put them into categories, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I may miss a few wrestlers, and honestly, most of the ones I mention will be in the first category.

The Good

Dustin Rhodes - "The Natural" probably isn't the best wrestler to have a famous parent in the industry, but he might be the first answer that comes to mind given how he broke into it. His father, Dusty Rhodes, was inescapable in the '70s and '80s, and he was his son's guide to get into the biz in the early '90s. One of dad's most famous promos ever, "The View Never Changes," was an impassioned plea to Dustin even. One could argue that son surpassed father in one area, in the ring. Dustin was regarded as one of the best in-ring wrestlers in early World Championship Wrestling, which was no small feat given WHO wrestled there during that time. Still, being pushed as the son of a son of a plumber when dear old dad was just a metaphorical Sirius in a sky of red dwarves. He never could escape that shadow, at least in WCW.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Keep Abusers Out of Wrestling and Leftist Spaces

Starr is a predator but he's far from the only one in wrestling OR on the left
Photo Credit: Grenwail
Yesterday, David Starr, the most outwardly leftist wrestler on the scene to the point where his agitation for things like unions and protections may have gotten him blackballed from major companies, faced allegations from an ex-girlfriend of being a sexual abuser. These allegations are not new, to be quite clear, or at least the specter of them weren't. The same main accuser came to the surface years ago to talk about everything but the sexual abuse, to say that Starr was mentally abusive. The newest allegations accuse him of the sexual assault. Starr refuted those claims that he was a predator via the most hilarious way possible, a Notes apology, where he admitted to what he called "gray rape." To be honest, if you have to talk about a term that has "rape" in it, you might want to pump the brakes on denying that you're a predator.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

On Randy Orton, Black Lives Matter, and Listening

Orton listened. You should too.
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When the police murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, it was the straw that broke a camel's back that had been taking them on since the last time it suffered the same injury in 2015. History has a way of repeating itself when measures aren't taken to remediate those problems. Michael Brown and Freddie Gray gave rise to scores of other victims of police brutality, most of them Black, a pile of bodies murdered for no other reason than to let an entire race within any class lower than "fuck you money" in America know that their lives could be forfeit if a police officer has a bad day. The lynching of Ahmaud Aubery in broad daylight dovetailing into the murder of a sleeping Breonna Taylor off a no-knock warrant at the wrong house to Floyd's murder caught with graphic and lurid detail on camera set the American public off in greater fury than when the words Black Lives Matter were uttered the first time as a rallying cry five years ago. Aubery's murder was the only one not sanctioned by the police, but the fact that he was murdered in February and police didn't arrest the perpetrators until May and only after national outcry is almost as egregious a lapse in the supposed social contract between police and civilian as the wanton murders.

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Looming Epidemicological Sword of Damocles

There is no way in hell Reigns should come back until there's a vaccine
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Earlier today across the world's largest ocean, New Japan Pro Wrestling became the latest company to forge ahead with no crowd with its Together Project show. Of all the mainstream companies, they have been the most judicious about producing their shows in the time of COVID-19. Things have slowed down around the world. Countries like Vietnam introduced stringent restrictions from jump, and they were relatively unaffected. Other nations like New Zealand dealt with the virus as it infiltrated through their borders, and now they're virus-free and returned to a relatively normal way of life. While Japan is less like New Zealand and more like other pragmatic nations such as South Korea and Germany, it has reached a level of efficacy dealing with the virus that New Japan decided now was the time to start operations again.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 297

Hey, it's a pot of chili. That has something to do with the first question.
Photo Credit: Food Network
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

FINALLY, a question about an important topic - flatulence. There are all kinds of farts, ranging in smell, moisture, sound, and yes, temperature it. All farts come out a degree of "hot," but the really hot ones are rare. While they might indicate that you're sick, there's an almost comforting feeling about the cleaning heat clearing a path from inside to out. That is, unless I am misunderstanding the question. Capisicum farts are the fucking worst. THE WORST.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

New Japan Is Back Baby, Love Da New Japan

Gonna post you a bracket so you know it's real
Graphics via @njpwglobal on Twitter
At the height of the first spike of COVID-19, while WWE and All Elite Wrestling were running shows with no crowds, New Japan Pro Wrestling president Harold Meij proclaimed that while the pandemic wouldn't stop the company, they wouldn't put their fans or wrestlers at risk in order to put out an inferior or incomplete product. It would explain why they cancelled every show after the New Beginning tour ended, when the virus was in the midst of ravaging China and spreading its way further around the globe like Italy and the United States. Japan was hit hard, saw a lull, reopened, and then saw another spike. To their credit, Meij, the BUSHIROAD Corporation, and the rest of the people in charge were more judicious than even other Japanese wrestling companies, let alone those in America whose operations continued nearly unabated.