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.

Friday, April 9, 2021

When "Will They or Won't They?" Should Actually Be "Should They or Shouldn't They?"

The Bucks aren't good actors enough to pull off waffling every week

Just Wednesday, I wrote on here that if people want to see acting chops, they shouldn't be watching pro wrestling as a first choice. Few wrestlers have acting chops. Few wrestling bookers/writers know the ins and outs of drama. When storytelling in wrestling is done best, the stakes have always been concentrated in pantomime combat inside the squared circle. Stakes are defined, characters have motivation. It takes a special combination of elements coming together in order to make a story that transcends what's "good in wrestling" to "good for television." To wit, the most annoying and highest risk/lowest reward stories in television are "will they/won't they" plotlines. Usually reserved for romance stories, the stories central a character's decision hanging pendulously in the balance for longer than an episode can tire a fanbase out to levels of apathy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Grifter-Spotting

The Face of Grifting

I try not to pay much attention to Vince Russo, to be honest. He is the architect of the one era that irreparably damaged the foundation of wrestling forever, and yet people still revere him as some guru because he says things they want to hear about the current product. Sure, those things are facile and reductive and offer absolutely no insight whatsoever. When he says that wrestling should "bring main stream back," he offers no real solutions as to how these companies can do it. He only shifts blame to the "marks and dirt sheets" for liking long wrestling matches. Imagine that, people who watch wrestling and enjoy wrestling matches are the problem? I don't need to think too hard about his insane ramblings, because they are just that - insane. No one serious should take him seriously, and I'm not sure he holds any sway in the industry today. Still, the fact that he can set up his own subscription model where people pay into a crowdfund for opinions that amount to "WWE should push celebrities" or "AEW has too many matches" feels like the biggest waste of money that isn't attached to the federal government. It's why whenever I see a take of his that wanders wild into my timeline, I start to get annoyed to the point of obsessive compulsion.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Will Ospreay, the Failures of Speaking Out, and the State of a Rotten World

Ospreay is a symptom, not the disease, but he's still a nasty one at that.
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com

I have always believed in the maxim "When someone tells you who they are, believe them." What it means is that past decisions and actions by any entity, a person, a corporation, government, whatever, will be your guide when you're looking at what that entity might do when faced with a moral dilemma in the immediate present. For example, one shouldn't have needed to be surprised when WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump stated that the tiki torch-wielding White supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, VA and murdered Heather Heyer in 2017 were "very fine people." His first brush with national reputation was when the Richard Nixon Administration fined him for discriminatory practices against Black renters on his properties, notable because that same administration was so racist itself that people within it admitted they began the hypercriminalization of drugs as a way to keep Black communities in check. Trump had repeatedly told you who he was when he took out a full page ad in New York newspapers to call for the executions of the entire Central Park Five, (maintaining their guilt even after DNA evidence exonerated them) or when he called Colin Kaepernick and other Black athletes who knelt during the National Anthem "sons of bitches."

Friday, April 2, 2021

Factions Are Good, Nerds

The newest faction may be weak, but that doesn't mean the idea is

QT Marshall unveiled his new faction on Dynamite this past Wednesday, a rogue group of Nightmare Factory students consisting of Aaron Solow (known best as Bayley's ex-fiance), Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo, and Nick Comoroto. They used an exhibition match against Cody Rhodes to announce themselves forcefully. Marshall got himself intentionally disqualified by striking special guest referee Arn Anderson, and the rest of the group laid waste to the other Nightmare Factory guys, both Rhodes brothers, and Billy Gunn before their carnage was over. Another faction in All Elite Wrestling was born.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Labor Is Still Stronger Than Capital, Even In Wrestling

Much like she literally has Lacey Evans in a headlock here, Flair may have metaphorically had McMahon in one over Andrade's pending release.
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Professional wrestling is a multibillion-dollar global industry in 2021 with no small thanks going to WWE. Thanks to violating if not shattering decades of tradition and norms, Vince McMahon took the then-called World Wrestling Federation from its nominal territory stretching from Washington, DC to Maine and made it a nationally touring company. If you ask a majority of wrestling fans, however, whether or not WWE's product is "good," many will say that it is not, even if they watch between one and 11 hours of its output in any given week, spend money on a subscription to Peacock to get all the content they can, and venture every year to the host city for the flagship event, WrestleMania, to drop four figures of disposable income on a weekend full of the graps. Most of that sullied reputation begins and ends with McMahon as a figurehead for the company. One could ask why such a company that has less brand satisfaction than other peers among market leaders like Coca-Cola or McDonald's, even if it might have more brand loyalty, can make so much money. Shouldn't you have to be good at what you do to be profitable? The answer is obviously no because "available" and "convenient" often trump quality. But WWE feels like it's special in how bad it can be at any given time. The answer lies with McMahon himself.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Blood to Blood: The Quarantine Year of Britt Baker, DMD

Baker's blood is the emblem of her rise to wrestling superstardom
Photo Credit: Lee South

On April 8, 2020, Britt Baker wrestled Hikaru Shida in a nondescript women's division match on All Elite Wrestling Dynamite. The United States was in the midst of changing its "curve-flattening" forecasts for COVID-19 from two weeks to two months, and AEW was operating as the closest thing to an "outlaw" promotion in its history taping matches for its weekly flagship from an undisclosed soundstage in the wilds of Southern Georgia. Both women were floundering in the women's division, AEW's biggest Achilles heel in its short but eventful history. One errant kick from Shida to Baker's face changed everything for both women. As the blood from Baker's nose went from a trickle to a gusher, something seemed to click in her brain. Yes, she lost the match, but wrestling's a work. It's not about wins and losses, per se, but it's about the impression you leave.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Where's My Earth-Shattering Kaboom?

The pyro riggers and Khan did Mox dirty
Photo Credit: Lee South

Honestly, I feel bad for the entire All Elite Wrestling roster. They went out and killed it from the Buy-In through the finish of the main event, even further past that with Eddie Kingston running in to save his friend, Jon Moxley, from an earth-shattering explosion that should've burnt both men to a crisp. You weren't getting anything close to what would have believably been a flesh-immolating explosion, but that's okay. The fireworks that subbed for real C4 in the match itself did the trick. No one, not even Atsushi Onita, expected them to use real explosives because not even deathmatch guys use real explosives. However, there's a difference between "looks fake but I can buy it" and "two guys having to sell that they're dead because some sparklers went off diagonally from them."

Friday, March 5, 2021

How The Shaq Match Showed AEW Can Stand To Do Better By Its Female Roster

Red Velvet brought it Wednesday, and she can bring it every weekend
Screenshot via AEW YouTube
You'll have to forgive me if I found the excitement going into this past Wednesday's Dynamite tag team match, pitting Shaquille O'Neal and Jade Cargill against Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet, lacking. The build for the match was flatter than the earth in the mind of AJ Styles. It's what happens when you have most of the build concentrated around someone who can't talk (Brandi Rhodes), someone who might have chops but is still raw as hell (Cargill), someone who is rich enough not to have to take cues from wrestling producers to build his brand (Shaq), and the single most annoying wrestler on the planet since Triple H hung up the boots (Cody Rhodes). Add in the fact that they replaced Brandi with a wrestler who to that point had sparingly been on the flagship show in Red Velvet, and the idea of this match taking up prime real estate on a weekly show that already has had problems fitting in the wrestlers the company keeps signing and signing didn't seem like a good idea at all.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Meltzer Awards Only Have the Power You Give Them

Don't make Orange Cassidy the avatar for your stupid Twitter war
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein

You can't have it all all of the time. You can be critically successful or commercially lauded. Usually, it's one or the other. It's more likely to have neither than to have both, but some things have been popular and acclaimed, like The Lord of the Rings or LOST. It's hard though. There are two ways the brain can be wired, and what tends to be favored those who think about content in artistic or intellectual terms isn't accessible to the wider masses. There's nothing wrong with this paradigm as long as you can come to an understanding of what you like about the things you do and not throw a temper tantrum that everyone else doesn't hold everything in the same esteem as you, or everyone else, do.

Friday, February 26, 2021

RIP Jocephus

Rest well, big man

Joseph Hudson, better known to fans of the latest revival of the National Wrestling Alliance as either Jocephus or The Question Mark, died earlier this week of unknown causes. He also wrestled for Global Force Wrestling and TNA as Beauregard. Hudson was a ten-year veteran of the ring, a career mostly wrestled in Nashville and Chicago until he got his break wrestling for the NWA during its most recent incarnation headed by former TNA executive and Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan. According to Corgan, Hudson leaves behind a young son. While I could not find his age in my rudimentary search around the Internet, he couldn’t have been that old.

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Myth of "Good Booking" And Ratings

Bad Bunny is a good idea, but will WWE keep him retaining the viewers he's bringing to their TV? Photo Credit: WWE.com

The year is 2021. Vince McMahon makes billions upon billions of dollars before the first fan walks through the gate, or at least before the first fan WOULD walk through the gate if These Times weren’t so Uncertain. All Elite Wrestling is privately backed by a billionaire family that owns two professional sports franchises in leagues that are basically licenses to print money. Yet, people, and not just shortsighted fans either, look at the ratings of their various programs and start clutching pearls. There may be reason to do so if you work in either company and are feeling pressure to improve on those metrics. If you’re a fan though, wouldn’t you look upon the fact that McMahon just got a cool billion from NBC to merge the WWE Network onto Peacock or that AEW received a renewal from TNT before Dynamite hit its stride and not have to worry about your favorite wrestling program going anywhere?

Friday, February 19, 2021

Barbed Wire and C4 Go Mainstream

Moxley and Omega have gone hardcore before, just not this hardcore
Photo Credit: Bob Mulrenin

Dynamite this week went off the air with the five words every girl wants to hear, "barbed wire, exploding ring deathmatch." Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley will wrestle for the All Elite Wrestling World Championship in a return match from their December 2 in the match that Atsushi Onita made famous first in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. Hardcore wrestling with plunder, blood, and no disqualifications has been around ever since wrestling morphed into its modern form. Hardcore matches were just known as "street fights" in the old territories, before Extreme Championship Wrestling brought the word into the collective lexicon. What Onita pioneered in FMW though went above and beyond even the most extreme of what ECW did. He invented deathmatch wrestling, and for the most part, that genre has stayed off television, or at least it only filtered onto television as the different tenets became tamer.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Fabulous One With Not-So-Fabulous Offspring

Lane (right) is the father of an insurrectionist. Wild.
Photo Credit: @WrestlingIsKing

Retirements in pro wrestling are fleeting, never permanent. So are retirements in pro wrestling blogging, it seems.
Once upon a time, tag team wrestling was a huge deal in the United States, generally in the Southeastern territories. Stan Lane generally was considered among the specialists in this milieu, most well-known for his team with Steve Keirn in the Memphis, Florida, and Minneapolis territories known as the Fabulous Ones. They were an outsized and flamboyant duo known for unintentionally homoerotic calendar shoots, but also for being one of the best teams wherever they went. They had something for everyone, as most great wrestling acts do. See, wrestling isn’t just for the in-ring freaks like me or the people who love listening to guys yell charismatically. New Japan Pro Wrestling, for example, is popular with women in the home base because they have an inordinate number of ripped and boyishly cute mega hunks on the roster. I’d assume gay men and other people of various other genders who are attracted to masc-folk are in it for the pecs, abs, bulge, and ass too.