Friday, June 4, 2021

Where Should They Go?

Lovelace would be a wonderful addition to STARDOM in her post-WWE career.
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Wednesday, WWE let go six wrestlers in an attempt at shaving the budget. How a multibillion dollar corporation with no fewer than three revenue sources that pay them billions of dollars before the first fan walks through the turnstile or fires up a streaming service can cut talent for budgetary reasons would be beyond me if I were born yesterday. Either Vince McMahon and his shareholders are gearing up to sell the company to a multinational media conglomerate, or he's once again showing his true colors as the greediest shitbag even among the greedy shitbags that populate the ranks of wrestling promoters both currently and throughout history.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Cautionary Tale of Adam Scherr

Scherr's tale should be a warning for wrestlers and all labor.
Photo Credit: WWE.com

WWE released six people yesterday. This bloodletting of personnel associated with the company has become somewhat of a regular occurrence recently, and people have speculated that it's because Vince McMahon's new right-hand man, Nick Khan, is "trimming fat" for an upcoming sale of the company. I hate using that kind of terminology to describe people losing their jobs, especially when they work for companies that have several multibillion-dollar distribution contracts. Releases cited as "budget cuts" when the company is getting ten figures from no fewer than three deals are hollow at best, but unfortunately, this is standard operating procedure for most big capitalist ventures. When you realize that the aim of robber baron executives is self-enrichment and not providing a product for a fair price, things start to come into focus.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

On Big Spots, Consent, and Safety Policing The Indies

MV Young, above, putting Harlow O'Hara through a table off the apron was cool as hell, nerds
Photo Credit: MV Young/@THEOnlyMVYoung 

One of the most ill-advised wrestling spots ever took place June 28, 1998. During a Hell in the Cell match at King of the Ring, Undertaker threw Mick Foley from the top of the cell to the floor. It is one of the most memorable spots in wrestling history, but it could have been one of the most damaging had Foley not landed on the designated fall-breaking apparatus, in this case the announce table. I am not aware of any discourse around this spot today, but I imagine if social media were around at the time, there might have been uproar around it. I'm sure there was in AOL chatrooms and on message boards, where WWF vs. WCW partisanship made the WWE vs. The World chatter today look like gentle ribbing. However, for as "unsafe" as it might have seemed then, it was a perfectly viable and acceptable spot. Half of it has to do with the planning, which regrettably and infuriatingly was not there when Vince McMahon did everything but physically shove Owen Hart to his death in another controversial and entirely objective ill-advised, unsafe stunt a year later. The other half is that Foley himself came up with the idea and eagerly took the plunge to help put himself and his opponent over huge.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Best Wrestling Show Since WrestleMania XXX: A Double Or Nothing 2021 Conceptual Review

Graphics Credit via AllEliteWrestling.com

On paper, All Elite Wrestling's Double Or Nothing 2021, the third event named as such and the second consecutive one held at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, FL, was every bit a loaded show as the best wrestling events of the last decade have been. The funny thing about that, at least in America, is that the best cards on paper rarely have translated to results. I blame WWE for conditioning people never believe the hype either way. Their best shows, outside of the sublime run between Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2012 and WrestleMania XXX, were always unexpected, and the hyped shows more often than not faltered.

Friday, May 28, 2021

On Wrestlers and Their Politics

Cena misspoke, and in the process, he showed what most wrestlers are made of
Photo Credit: WWE.com

John Cena will be in the next installment of The Fast and the Furious, the ninth one, to be exact. Well, it's technically the tenth movie, but Hobbs and Shaw, a movie starring fellow former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson with a cameo appearance from current wrestler Roman Reigns, was a spin-off (mainly because Johnson and franchise anchor Vin Diesel allegedly cannot get along at all), but I don't want to be too pedantic. Anyway, he got in trouble with the Chinese government when, in promoting the movie in Taiwan by referring to that island as her own country. The Western capitalist world (and Sporcle, apparently) recognizes Taiwan as a country, but China does not. In fact, China considers Taiwan as a rogue province, and the leaders get really antsy at best when someone goes against their claim. This isn't endemic to the mean ol' scary Communist nation, because Turkey will get mad if you recognize the Armenian genocide, and the United States will get pretty pissy if you bring up that she was one of the last nations in the world to outlaw slavery. Governments across the board tend to get really mad if you tell people within them that they're wrong.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

To Whom Does Chikara Belong Now?


Nineteen years ago yesterday, Tom Carter and Mike Spillane ran their first show out of their newly-formed wrestling school. They chose the name "Chikara," which is a Japanese word that translates as "power." For 18 years, the company was a deeply-rooted part of the Philadelphia wrestling scene, and one that had live reach to locales like Chicago, North Carolina, and England. All of that went down the toilet when the extent of abuses perpetrated within the company was exposed during Speaking Out. Not only were individual wrestlers named, most graphically and specifically Kobald, but Spillane himself, who competed under the name Mike Quackenbush and carried on the company and school after Carter, also called Reckless Youth, left later on in 2002, was implicated in turning a blind eye to abuses by wrestlers and trainers to perpetrating mental abuse and short-shrifting on payments. The groundswell of, well, speaking out caused Spillane to close the promotion and for students and longer-tenured wrestlers, all the way up to Hallowicked, who had been there since day one, quit the company and resigned their posts as trainers at the Wrestle Factory.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dynamite Is Moving: The Turner-AEW Shakeup and What It Means


News broke yesterday that All Elite Wrestling and Turner Networks would be shaking things up. Firstly, Dynamite, the promotion's flagship show, will be moving from TNT to TBS starting in January of 2022. While this seems like a demotion at first, it should be noted that TBS was called "The Mothership" for a reason (or, if you remember it in Dusty Rhodes' voice, "Da Muddaship."). TBS is in roughly one million more homes than TNT. Second, a third hour of mainline cable programming, Rampage, was announced for TNT, although it is also moving to TBS in 2022 apparently. Right now, the first Rampage is set to air on August 13, a Friday, at 10 PM. Thirdly, AEW programming will remain on TNT in the form of four annual specials, which sounds like to me Cody Rhodes will have his own Clash of the Champions to play with, obviously with a different name given who owns the original trademarks. Finally, according to Dave Meltzer, there will be a "significant" increase in rights fees paid to AEW, although that number is not public at present time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

No, Don't Ban Deathmatch Wrestling

One dumb stunt should not condemn all of deathmatch wrestling

There are two statements that are both true and that I think people would be best served to remember when talking about deathmatch wrestling:

  • Deathmatch wrestling is not for everyone.
  • Deathmatch wrestling is no less safe than any other kind of wrestling.

The worst damage the people who misunderstand the first statement do is maybe post a video on Twitter without an appropriate content warning for gore. Is watching someone get staked on the crown of their head with a bunch of wooden skewers gross for the uninitiated? Yes. Is it really hurting anyone long-term? My guess is no, but I also am not privy to what people talk about with their therapists. I also believe fullstop in content warnings and think everyone on Twitter should err on the side of caution when they think they should use one. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Zombies, In My Wrestling? PREPOSTEROUS.

Were the zombies a bridge too far? Who cares.
Photo Credit: WWE.com

WWE, in an attempt to make good on an advertising deal for Zack Snyder's upcoming film Army of the Dead, starring Dave Bautista, populated the lumberjacks outside of the ring in the match between Damien Priest and The Miz at WrestleMania Backlash with zombies. This apparently was a bridge to far for many wrestling fans who didn't like the fact that movie zombies invaded a wrestling set. The counterargument was quickly deployed, because what would a WWE pay-per-view without people yelling at those complaining about what happened free of charge? WWE has always had bullshit supernatural characters. Wrestling has always had bullshit supernatural characters. If you don't like the movie zombies, then you're attacking the Undertaker and Kevin Sullivan and whatever other spooky character who can summon viscous fluids and box-like structures.

Monday, May 17, 2021

RIP New Jack

Complicated legacy or not, New Jack was one of the all-time titanic figures in pro wrestling.

Jerome Young, who competed for Extreme Championship Wrestling and other promotions under the name New Jack, died Friday evening of a myocardial infarction. He was 58 years old. He leaves behind a complicated and misunderstood legacy, but it was undeniable he embodied the manic and unpredictable energy that made pro wrestling great. Few wrestlers were as dedicated to the craft as he was, and few others paid a price with their bodies like he did.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Scattered Thoughts on AEW, Vol. 1: Production Woes, Conti Riling Up the Nerds, and More

Tay Conti is out here exposing nerds; you love to see it.

I don't really have a coherent topic I want to write on for 800-3000 words, but I do have quite a few thoughts on All Elite Wrestling that I want to put into the world. I don't know if this will be the first of such posts or the only one, but I think it's good to let a lot of this analysis I've had swirling in my head spoken into something a little more permanent than Twitter.

- One big reason, to me at least, why wrestling is seen as such a low-rent way to spend a couple of hours each week is because it is not produced like a television show, despite the protestations of one Vince McMahon that he doesn't promote pro wrestling but "entertainment." Kevin Dunn's production values are objectively terrible, but that hasn't stopped him from not only cementing himself as the longest-tenured wrestling television producer in America, but a growing figure of influence within WWE, the latter thought here which deserves its own longform post from someone who gives a flying shit about that damn company up North.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Ranking Every Potential Matchup for Bryan Danielson in AEW

If he makes it to AEW, there are no shortage of killer matches for him there
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Reports from Sean Ross Sapp indicate that Bryan Danielson's WWE contract expired after last week's Smackdown, where, as Daniel Bryan, he staked his wrestling career on that WWE brand against Roman Reigns' World Championship. While it is unclear whether this means he will, for the first time since the period between the debut of the Nexus and his return at SummerSlam '10, wrestle for someone who isn't WWE, it is not stopping people, like me, for example, from dreaming about dream matches across the globe. All this fancasting could end up futile, as it was for that glorious week Drew Gulak was a free agent last year. Danielson has reality television money tied to WWE with Total Bellas, and he apparently has a good relationship with Vince McMahon. WWE is making a hard push to re-sign him too. Still, if any wrestler could realistically choose "artistry" over "the bag," it's Danielson,who has expressed his desire to grapple all the chic names across every promotion of note in the world today.

Friday, April 23, 2021

When a Punch Is Not a Punch

Ogogo and his finish were victims of AEW's fans lack of conditioning

Anthony Ogogo already is looking like the breakout star from QT Marshall's new Nightmare Factory rudo offshoot. While Aaron Solow and Nick Comorato, aka Mr. Freakbeast are both nice prospects, few people have the look, the build, and the raw charisma as the Olympic boxing medalist. I expect that among he'll be among the Factory's success stories, along with Jade Cargill and Red Velvet at the least with several others looking like they have promise from that wrestling school. To say he got off on the wrong foot, or should I say fist, in his in-ring debut would be a contentious statement though. Last week on Dynamite, he had his first match on the TNT Network against a tomato can as one might expect. The match didn't last long, nor should it have, but it ended oddly as mainstream wrestling matches go. It would appear Ogogo's finishing maneuver is a body shot. This past week on Dynamite, Ogogo partook in a post-match fracas that saw him lay out Dustin Rhodes with the same finish.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Why Can't Wrestling Get Rid of Chasyn Rance?

Ivelisse Velez points to a much larger problem in wrestling
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Ivelisse Velez was let go from All Elite Wrestling yesterday. She announced on Twitter that it was because she "spoke out" and was fired for it. What she "spoke out" about revolved around her no-selling Thunder Rosa and then trying to shoot on her in a match a few months ago. She was used sparingly since. One might be tempted to take her side because it is one person against a monolithic corporate wrestling entity, but when you pull back and look at her greater history of wearing out her welcome in wrestling companies around the world, the answer becomes clear that this is the rare case that the wrestling company was in the right. In fact, her stances on gay people and mental health should have been red flags, as should have been her association with Chasyn Rance. Unfortunately, that last association doesn't carry much weight in the world of wrestling as it should.

Monday, April 12, 2021

If Everyone Else Is Running Marathons, Sprint to Stand Out

Omega is at the vanguard of the marathon matches; should other companies follow his opposite?

The best way to be noticed in wrestling, or in any medium of entertainment, is to stand out from the crowd. If everyone is zigging right, you zag to the left. It's common sense that isn't so common given how much copycat bullshit goes on in the wrestling business nowadays. Whether it's copying from yourself or shamelessly biting of some other promotion's ideas, matches, angles, moves, characters, or commentary tropes, there are few fresh ideas roaming around in the scene today, at least in America. While WWE is historically the biggest offender, that company has been stagnating for two decades and has still bilked several media outlets out of billions of dollars for broadcast rights. Where I think this pattern of malaise is most damaging is below the mainstream surface, below WWE and even All Elite Wrestling.