The wrestling stars of tomorrow, today?
July 9, 2012 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Last night at TNA iMPACT Wrestling's annual Destination X pay-per-view, Austin Aries defeated Bobby Roode to win the TNA Heavyweight Title. Meanwhile, in the WWE, CM Punk (previously on the blue) is currently the WWE champion and feuding with Daniel Bryan (seen here wrestling Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Title prior to his feud with Punk). And wrestling news sites today were abuzz with the news that the WWE has offered a developmental contract to Sara Del Rey, the "Queen of Wrestling," who has made a name for herself by wrestling men on equal terms. What do Aries, Punk, Bryan and Del Rey all have in common? They're all alumni of Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor, over the years, has become something of a feeding ground for larger promotions. In recent months the WWE has signed away Seth Rollins (formerly known as Tyler Black in RoH and other indies), Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) and PAC, "the man gravity forgot." Meanwhile, many of TNA's mainstays over the years - such as Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, Sonjay Dutt and Samoa Joe - all wrestled contemporaneously for RoH in TNA's early years.

How has RoH managed to thrive in an industry where getting television exposure - the lifeblood of independent and regional promoters in eras past - is increasingly difficult? The answer, unsurprisingly, is The Internet: the company's success with internet-based pay-per-views led to an online TV deal with HDNet for two years, and then a syndication deal with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group's fleet of local TV stations. RoH's business model has been taken as gospel by many other small indie wrestling companies, such as Dragon Gate USA or CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, the latter of which features the Colony, which is a team of three wrestlers who believe that they are giant ants.
posted by mightygodking (53 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Any wrestling championship in which George The Animal Steele is not the champion is obviously fake.
posted by Flunkie at 5:39 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seriously? Not to denigrate anyone but the morality play of professional wrestling is kitsch at best. My own father was glued to the set watching these battles, just one of the things that separated us. As a child I could recognize the artifice please Mefi enlighten me. What am I missing?
posted by pdxpogo at 5:46 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Behemoths doing incredible feats of acrobatics while telling classic stories of friendship, betrayal, and deception? It's called keyfabe. It's a soap opera for men, only instead of sobbing softly to herself, the wronged party hits the other with a steel chair.

Besides, a lot of my generation grew up in a golden wage of wrestling (the 80s and 90s were amazing) and still think of it fondly even if we don't watch it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:54 PM on July 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


This Roland Barthes essay is more than fifty years old.
posted by box at 6:00 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


PAC looks sick. I haven't really been able to follow the action but I always love BOTCHMANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
posted by parmanparman at 6:00 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


What am I missing?

I humbly submit the following for your review:

CHIKARA: Kota Ibushi vs. El Generico vs. Nick Jackson vs. Jigsaw

I defy anyone, no matter what your existing thoughts on the validity of wrestling as a cultural form, to remain unaffected by the drama, athleticism and sheer joy in the performance put on by these four men.

Matches like this are representative of the new era of indie wrestling, the originators of which I hope and pray are allowed to continue their craft as they climb the totem pole to work in front of worldwide WWE (and TNA) audiences. The signs are optimistic, but optimism about the big leagues is a long-forgotten feeling for fans of actual wrestling.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:04 PM on July 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Good post!

I feel like ROH is similar to what the USWA was when I was a kid: I read about it in the magazines and it seemed exciting, but I was only willing to spend X-percent of my life on professional wrestling and the major companies were just right there. The same is true today of ROH: I read about it in the news sites, and it sounds great. If I were a more hardcore fan (no pun intended) or if WWE/TNA didn't have so much content that is immediately accessible, then I would probably invest the time to check out and follow ROH.
posted by cribcage at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2012


CHIKARA: Kota Ibushi vs. El Generico vs. Nick Jackson vs. Jigsaw

Ibushi lies on Jigsaw's back, locks legs and arms, gets a bit of chiropraxis

Then rolls off, and it's announced as a move that Jigsaw used on Ibushi

See, I'm having a hard time following this fight, because I expect to be able to tell who's attacking who, alright?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:12 PM on July 9, 2012


If we're posting wrestling videos, allow me to add Kenny Omega vs. a 9 Year Old Girl and the Hypnotism Dance-off.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:16 PM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thank you for cluing me into Sara Del Rey whose gimmick (simply put, that she has no gimmick) is so revolutionary that I'm at a loss to explain it. Seriously great post, and I thank you.
posted by Poppa Bear at 6:19 PM on July 9, 2012


Every time I read someone rant on the internet about how Pro Wrestling is obviously fake I feel like I’m reading "Superman was bogus, actors can’t fly"
posted by bongo_x at 6:23 PM on July 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


I humbly submit the following for your review:

CHIKARA: Kota Ibushi vs. El Generico vs. Nick Jackson vs. Jigsaw


I popped for Ibushi's Matrix shit.
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo at 6:25 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This post is about twelve months past it's expiration date.

Seriously, I love me some older RoH, as my library shows. But RoH has been on the decline for some time. The sale of the company to Sinclair Broadcasting last year was, more than anything else, an attempt to keep the doors open.

Meanwhile, of all the indie promotions, RoH has consistently the worst track record in regard to Internet PPV distribution, to the point that it basically had to give away its last show for free as a make-good.

To top it off, they made the silly mistake of leaving one-half of their tag champs off contract, which resulted in him debuting in TNA at the show right before the PPV mentioned in the post, with his Twitter handle, on-screen, still referencing his former team.
posted by parliboy at 6:30 PM on July 9, 2012


LogicalDash: I'm guessing you're referring to a lucha submission maneuver known as the Gory Special (innovated by Eddie Geurrero's father). Lucha is the fast-paced, low impact, chain-wrestling style you see practiced in the opening exchanges of many indie matches, particularly in Chikara which presents itself as a primarily lucha promotion.

Lucha (and the related style developed on World of Sport) can appear overly complex and choreographed in comparison to the more straightforward, hard-hitting, arguably less "sportive" style most Americans are familiar with, but it's worth giving it some appreciation and suspending disbelief to pretend what you're watching is a genuine sport: you wouldn't tune into baseball or golf and expect to immediately understand every nuance. Likewise with lucha, you need to develop an eye for what's supposed to be happening amidst the crazy tangle of limbs. Watching a fake sport turns out to be much more engaging than watching a fake brawl.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:33 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, the joyful thing about Ring Of Honor is its ongoing Google-search-rating slugout with the Royal Opera House to be the top result when someone googles "ROH". Right now it looks like the opera is winning, but the wrestlers are about to jump on it en masse...

...I would pay actual money to watch this fight happen in real life.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:39 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I feel like ROH is similar to what the USWA was when I was a kid: I read about it in the magazines and it seemed exciting, but I was only willing to spend X-percent of my life on professional wrestling and the major companies were just right there.

I suppose this level of fandom is what separates the casual (sane) fans, like yourself, from the hardcore obsessives (me, up until around 7-8 years ago).

Not content to follow the smaller, regional promotions throughout the country via magazines, when I was a teenager I developed a pretty vast tape trading network, allowing me to collect tapes from all over the country (Alabama - Continental, Texas -World Class later USWA, CWA - Memphis, Portland - Pacific Northwest Wrestling, TN/KY - Smoky Mountain), plus Canada (Stampede), where I traded tapes with the guy who trained Edge and Christian, and Mexico. Also am pretty confident I'm the only kid who ever cut school for the sole purpose of driving to a Japanese grocery store to pick up All Japan and New Japan wrestling tapes.
posted by The Gooch at 6:45 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's pretty awesome. I used to cut school to be at the local record store when its doors opened at 10 am on new-release Tuesdays, so I can relate.
posted by cribcage at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2012


Literally switching the tv off of RAW to the computer monitor so I can type how bored I am with tonights episode, this post is a welcome distraction.
But where's the love for Colt Cabana?
posted by WeX Majors at 7:01 PM on July 9, 2012


Seriously? Not to denigrate anyone but the morality play of professional wrestling is kitsch at best. My own father was glued to the set watching these battles, just one of the things that separated us. As a child I could recognize the artifice please Mefi enlighten me. What am I missing?

I have to agree. My father was a big fan of the theater. One time he took me to see The Cherry Orchard. I stood up in the middle of the play and yelled, "This is artifice!" Just one of the things that separated us.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:04 PM on July 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


Seriously? Not to denigrate anyone but the morality play of professional wrestling musicals is kitsch at best. My own father was glued to the set watching these battles dramas, just one of the things that separated us. As a child I could recognize the artifice please Mefi enlighten me. What am I missing?
It's theatre. Of an admittedly weird sort.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:04 PM on July 9, 2012


I have to agree. My father was a big fan of the theater. One time he took me to see The Cherry Orchard. I stood up in the middle of the play and yelled, "This is artifice!" Just one of the things that separated us.
Did you then proceed to run onto the stage and hit the lead actor with a steel chair?
Because that would make most plays about 10x better.
posted by WeX Majors at 7:11 PM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


If we're posting wrestling videos, allow me to add Kenny Omega vs. a 9 Year Old Girl yt and the Hypnotism Dance-off.

GTW, that fight with the 9 year old girl is great. I just stepped away from this thread to irritatingly email that to everyone I know. I didn't know who to root for. But that Hypnotism Dance-off is the most illegal thing I've seen in the history of wrestling!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


GTW, that fight with the 9 year old girl is great.

it is nothing compared to Soldier Ant of the Colony using mind control on Chuck Taylor to make him march around and then Chuck Taylor uses his invisible grenade to take out the Colony but Soldier Ant saves the rest of them by diving on the grenade. In slow motion, no less.
posted by mightygodking at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


*holds up Macbeth 3:16 sign*
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:19 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


What am I missing?

I didn't get wrestling until someone explained it to me as sports LARPing.
posted by JDHarper at 7:24 PM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Wrestling is a LARP. Customers pay to play the role of "sports fans." The wrestlers pay (financially at first; physically thereafter) to play the role of "fighter." Everyone involved knows that we're all playing pretend, even though there is a bunch of real emotion and real physical action surrounding everything."
posted by andreaazure at 7:39 PM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know, I always mean to actually watch TNA, but every time I turn Impact on (which, admittedly, is--the rare times I remember--usually during the opening segment), I see Hogan or Sting or just some really lousy wrestling. Obviously there is talent in the organization, but I just don't have the energy to find it.

I did see Chikara the last time they were in my neighborhood, though, and it was just fantastic. Really thrilling stuff (including SdR), presented with such humor and obvious love for the craft. I only wish I could see shows like that more often.

To anybody who doesn't get pro wrestling, I say that I like to think of it as participatory theater. The audience is every bit as much a part of it as the perfomers in the ring. If you don't want to get invested in the drama and the action, or if the crowd as a whole aren't into it, you're just not going to have a good time.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:40 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


pdxpogo
I think its one of those things you have to be drunk to enjoy.
...but I have tried that and it still was monotonous and boring.
so I guess I'm also not fortunate enough to enjoy it. Woe is me.
posted by quazichimp at 7:53 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I think the South Park where the boys start as professional wrestlers and essentially end up as soap opera actors sums it up pretty well.
posted by maryr at 7:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Growing up in Mexico we would buy and trade comics de luchadores. You could read how the luchadores tecnicos fought robbers and aliens, how a wrestler would fight corrupt politicians to keep an orphanage open, and the evil politicians hired luchadores rudos to act as enforcers and bodyguard.

The comics had a very quick turnaround, we would read how Pedro Aguayo, at the time a rudo, got injured saving an old lady from a speeding bus, and that was why he would not be fighting next Sunday.

These luchadores, like most of the actual men behind the masks, were butchers and priests and welders and taxi drivers. One was a mad scientist who fought aliens. Another one I can remember was a caveman found under a pyramid

There were also trading cards to be collected in albums, with stats and biographical data.

They were like our superman and batman and fantastic four, combined with our sport heroes. Bigger than futbol players.

And we could go see them live on Sunday when they came to town, touch their capes, throw garbage at the evil ones and at the cheaters.

I find it hard to communicate this to my American friends, can you imagine being eight years old and going to the stadium to see the major league of comic book superheroes fight live in front of you?
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 8:02 PM on July 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


it is nothing compared to Soldier Ant of the Colony using mind control on Chuck Taylor to make him march around and then Chuck Taylor uses his invisible grenade to take out the Colony but Soldier Ant saves the rest of them by diving on the grenade. In slow motion, no less.

That was awesome (clap clap clapclapclap)!
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:34 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing the link to the dance off brought back terrific memories. Easily one of the best moments of YouTube history.

I've gotten back into watching WWE again, and it's almost as if there are, somewhere deep in the basement, some good writers. They're really, really trying to tell a good story, but they're so low on the totem pole that what they want to get across has to survive the egos of everyone above them. At this point, if you just ignore Triple H (and by proxy, Sheamus) and John Cena (and by proxy, whoever's been dumped into his feud), there's a pretty good show.

Next week is the Money in the Bank PPV. You've got a championship match that should be amazing (Punk/Bryan, with A.J. being just awesome), but the MitB match for that belt should be forgettable (Cena, Jericho, Big Show, Kane, and, well, people with relevancy issues), then probably a decent, if not all that interesting championship match (Sheamus/Del RRRRRRIOOOOOooh) with an attendant MitB match full of people who can work (Christian, who's old, but seemingly doing a retirement lap that involves pushing other wrestlers, and a clutch of new faces in need of more air time). I hold out hope that it'll be a good show, but, well... It's still WWE.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:55 PM on July 9, 2012


Thanks for all the posts and yes I was entertained but it doesn't take long for someone who knows nothing to separate the white hats from the black hats. Contrived choreographed catch as catch can must be like PBR being a good beer. I am overthinking this and wish all the true believers pure enjoyment.
posted by pdxpogo at 9:12 PM on July 9, 2012


Excellent use of the giantants tag.
posted by vrakatar at 9:15 PM on July 9, 2012


For all the validity there is to knocking WWE...I turn on TNA, or I go to one of the local wrestling events, and WWE is light years beyond its competition. The production value is better obviously, but also the work is better, the selling is better, and even when the storylines aren't measurably better they are being executed at a far higher level.

but it doesn't take long for someone who knows nothing to separate the white hats from the black hats.

That's actually a good example of one aspect of what I'm talking about. You are supposed to be able to tell the good guys (babyfaces) from the bad guys (heels). It's like criticizing water for being wet. And one way you'll know when you are watching really bad wrestling is that you can't tell who to root for.

I don't mean to knock the lower-level guys. It really is a craft, to be able to walk into a gymnasium full of people who have never heard of you and communicate to them, in just the few seconds while you're walking to the ring, that (1) you are a good/bad guy, and (2) they should care. It's difficult and I get that it takes years of experience and practice. But inevitably, with local events I'll have some trouble discerning and with WWE it is obvious. Partly because of production value, yes, but also just because the performers are better.
posted by cribcage at 9:22 PM on July 9, 2012


The production value is better obviously, but also the work is better, the selling is better, and even when the storylines aren't measurably better they are being executed at a far higher level.

This is just... not true on so many levels. The work and selling in WWE is very, very uneven - you'll get a wrestling genius like Punk or Bryan or Jericho wrestling against a serviceable ham-and-egger-made-good like Cena or Kane, or a slow, awful wrestler like the Big Show, and the roster tends to trend downwards more often than not.

As for the storyline thing, the WWE's longterm plotting has gone to hell over the past couple of years; their writers have terminal ADD and the personal preferences of management with respect to creative are wildly uneven. (As witnessed on tonight's RAW: "midgets are always funny" is a well they never stop going to.)
posted by mightygodking at 9:41 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one thing that's pretty truly distressing about the WWE (aside from the long list of things that are just plain dumb) is that they're screwing up the face/heel relationship. There are pretty set lines to follow, but recently, they've muddled it way too much. Heels gang up on defenseless faces, not the other way around. Yet, a couple weeks ago, in what was supposed to be a four on four tag match, three heels walked out* leaving David Otunga alone. He was summarily beaten down and each of the 'faces' gave him their finisher in turn. To top it off, another wrestler, who was only tangetially involved came to the ring and also beat Otunga down. After that, the dancing and celebration started, and children came out of the crowd to dance with their hero, the Funkasaurus (one of the truly wonderful new characters), who'd just beaten down a helpless man.

The truly fucked thing about this is that WWE is also running their anti-bullying campaign. They've got all of these faces delivering PSA spots against bullying. But then you've got John Cena, face of the company, doing all of these Make A Wish Foundation spots, out there implying that heels are gay, or disabled, or whatever. CM Punk was doing the same thing. For thirty sanctimonious seconds, they're exhorting people to not bully, yet that's what most of the face roster is doing at the moment. It's absurd, more so than usual.

*(another recent thing that needs to stop, heels just walking away from the match if they feel they can't win)
posted by Ghidorah at 9:48 PM on July 9, 2012


(another recent thing that needs to stop, heels just walking away from the match if they feel they can't win)

That's not "recent." Heels have been doing this since the 60s. It's one of the easiest ways to get massive, massive heel heat.
posted by mightygodking at 9:49 PM on July 9, 2012


Yes, I must concur in WTF'ing any assessment of WWE's product as superior, or even remotely serviceable, in comparison to modern indie fare. By any objective measure (and by many employees' admissions) 98% of the company's in-ring work has been piss-poor for the past 5 years, and deliberately so. I mean, this is a company that sees no problem in booking this... display. Count the working knees. I think I saw maybe one. A million-dollar lighting rig does not compensate for this decline: I'm a fan of athletic and charismatic wrestling, not lights and pyros.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I didn't say that the work and selling in WWE wasn't uneven. It is. I also didn't compliment WWE's long-term plotting. Who was that anonymous general manager, anyway?

Here's the thing to understand. If you are criticizing WWE in a vacuum—which is what people tend to do; and on preview, here come some good examples—then we're having two different conversations. I'm not saying WWE is perfect. "They do this wrong, they do that wrong." Okay, agreed. But I'm saying that, compared to TNA and the local productions I've seen (we are lucky to have several in the Northeast), WWE is better.
posted by cribcage at 9:53 PM on July 9, 2012


It's not a recent development, but it's one that has made a massive comeback and is massively, massively overused. It should happen maybe once or twice, max, in a storyline, yet it's happening every week.

It's the WWE's new "wrestler A comes out to the top of the ramp, distracts wrestler B who is in a match with wrestler C. Wrestler C takes advantage of distracted wrestler B, startling victory" trope, which has itself been beaten into the ground over the last year.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:54 PM on July 9, 2012


it is nothing compared to Soldier Ant of the Colony using mind control on Chuck Taylor to make him march around and then Chuck Taylor uses his invisible grenade to take out the Colony but Soldier Ant saves the rest of them by diving on the grenade. In slow motion, no less.

Now that is the sort of wrestling I remember seeing glimpses off in the late eighties/early nineties whenever we were anywhere with satellite television. Every now and again some WWE or TNA is broadcasted on Eurosport2 or one of the "extreme" sport channels we get here, but it just looks dull: guys that all look the same whaling on each other without much humour.

Almost as bad as ultimate combat or any of those other "let's take a bunch of unrelated fighting arts and mix them together" sports which always seems to end in a sort of particularly grim gay porn climax as two half naked men grappled with each other on a dirty boxing ring floor, half-heartedly tradign punches.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:45 PM on July 9, 2012


EC DUB!!!! EC DUB!!!
posted by horsemuth at 11:34 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to try not to start analysing all the ways in which the current WWE product is flawed because I'll be here all day, and I have a different point to make. But fundamentally, I think all the problems arise out of the fact that the WWE's nominated superstar (Cena) is essentially designed to be a fantasy figure for the archetypal ten year old boy, the manifestion of that immature id run wild - thuggish, amoral, confused by the opposite gender, lacking in empathy, a smugly disruptive classroom clown, a spoilt child who always gets his own way. If he is a superhero, he's not Superman so much as Captain Marvel - the alter ego of a 11 year old boy. Adult fans have miscontrued WWE's intent in the recent Cena - John Laurinaitis fued as a misfiring reply of the everyman employee versus boss dynamic of Austin - McMahon, whereas it's actually a pitch perfect schoolboy revenge fantasy, with Laurinaitis playing the role of "wannabe trendy teacher" who deserves his comeuppance (in wrestling logic) not because he is an authority figure abusing his position of power but simply because he is an authority figure (with additional justification coming from how "uncool" he is). In other words, Cena just doesn't resonate with adult wrestling fans in the right way, and his actions seem frustrating and illogical when viewed through the eyes of the adult fan who expects slightly more maturity in their morality play. It doesn't help that the condensed narrative apparently enjoyed by the kid fans doesn't really allow for the genuine story of underdog triumph (that is the superficial theme of Cena as a character), as any Cena loss or setback (the few there are) are negated too rapidly for adults to feel like it had any satisfactory impact. This constant reset button must be reassuring to kids, but creates a very episodic feel to his angles, rather than the sort of evolving story arc that wrestling should be known for.

OK, that was longer than I thought...

What I actually came here to say is that professional wrestling appears to work on two levels - superficially as combat sport, but in actuality as a fake sport that is really a form of drama. But I put it to you that underneath it all, wrestling is a real sport after all. The in-ring action is ritualised and cooperative, and isn't the fair fight it appears to be. But it is still an athletic (and dramatic) performance, on which the athletes are judged. In this regards professional wrestling is a sport similar to ice skating or synchronised swimming. It just happens that the judging process is opaque, happening through a combination of crowd response and deliberations behind closed doors. The judging process is almost certainly corrupt, rife with cronyism and arbitrary decisions, but still, read any wrestling autobiography and it is obvious that professional wrestlers consider themselves in competition, and the honours earned by receiving a championship belt are (hopefully) deserved recognition of a wrestler's performance in the ring. Wrestling fans are too quick to concede that professional wrestling isn't a sport. It's not the sport it appears to be, but it is a sport all the same.
posted by iivix at 2:52 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Who was that anonymous general manager, anyway?

As we just learned last night, it was the pseudo-Irish midget that the WWE trots out whenever they want a cheap laugh.

But I'm saying that, compared to TNA and the local productions I've seen (we are lucky to have several in the Northeast), WWE is better.

WWE is consistently better in one regard only: technical production quality. That's it. Everything else? They can have better matches (sometimes). They can have better plotting over a period of time (2011's Summer of Punk was an excellent example of WWE creative firing on all cylinders) than other promotions. But it's going beyond the scope of reality to say that the WWE is always better; right now we're in a stretch of a few months where there have been a few isolated moments of goodness and a terrible mound of crap elsewhere, and at the same time TNA has been consistently knocking it out of the park on practically every level.
posted by mightygodking at 7:14 AM on July 10, 2012


What am I missing?

Although I grew up in the heyday of '80s and '90s wrestling, and had a number of friends who were really into it (particularly when we were younger), I never understood the appeal. It wasn't until I started reading the Masked Man (aka David Shoemaker) at Deadspin and later Grantland that I really developed an appreciation for the art form. If you're generally curious, you should check him out.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:49 AM on July 10, 2012


I'm really, really excited to see Sara Del Rey. It's the latest of many signs that the WWE is taking lady wrestlers seriously. When Kharma comes back it's going to be must-watch TV.

Side note: I could potentially go to a TNA house show in a couple weekends. Tickets are cheap and it'd be my birthday weekend. Has anyone ever been to one? Is it worth it?
posted by HostBryan at 10:39 AM on July 10, 2012


House shows for cheap are almost always worth it.
posted by mightygodking at 11:06 AM on July 10, 2012


The Masked Man is most of the reason I'm back into wrestling. His writing is pretty great. He's not writing as some outsider analyzing a culture, it's pretty clearly an important thing to him.

I'm also a big fan of Brian Stroud, who does The Best and Worst of Raw. He's also a fan, one who's grown up with wrestling. He's pretty open about how much he's changed in his life, and is pretty blunt about what he dislikes in wrestling now. It's interesting reading him because he so clearly loves wrestling, and he's elated when WWE does something that isn't stupid, or the easy way out of the story, but as the column was just starting to pick up in the fall, you could see him seriously just chucking it all in disgust and giving up on wrestling. Then again, the stunning waste of potential that was the Summer of Punk was pretty awful. If you focus on the little things, Raw can be great, but then their trying to force HHH and the Rock on us, and I find myself fast forwarding through all talk of 'this business.'
posted by Ghidorah at 2:32 PM on July 10, 2012


TNA has been consistently knocking it out of the park on practically every level.

Yeah, we're just going to have to agree to really, really disagree on that one. TNA is still trying to put over Garett Bischoff, right? And Brooke Hogan? Also, if we're going to poke fun at the long-term planning of Raw's anonymous general manager (which...let's!) and then turn around the talk about TNA, then we're going to have to address Joker-Sting. And while I suspect probably no one in this thread is a fan of either John Laurinaitis (WWE) or John Cena Sr. (via Boston's Millennium Wrestling Federation), both of them are used in more consistent and logical roles than how TNA uses Dixie Carter.

TNA in 2012 is better than it was in the previous two years. I'll give you that. We don't have Flair blading and thrashing or the Nasty Boys making embarrassing and incompetent cameos, the X Division is again getting some chances, and at least very recently the old guard has been mostly used to benefit younger talent. (This may last, it may not. Consistency isn't TNA's strength.) But if you find the work better, the selling better, if you think the promos being cut by TNA's champions are better than Punk or Cena or Jericho, then I feel like we're watching—pardon the pun—two different shows.

trying to force HHH and the Rock on us

Vince McMahon sometimes follows his inclinations to the detriment of the business, no doubt, but I don't think this part is true. Triple H and the Rock draw. If they didn't, nobody would push them down our throats. And the recent proof of this is in comparing Sheamus to Drew McIntyre. Both received huge, arguably premature pushes. But one stuck and the other didn't, and you see the results. The audience decided.

The same thing happens everywhere in entertainment. A record label tries to force a single onto the air, or a movie studio tries to force a summer blockbuster to happen. But then it's into the audience's hands and either the movie becomes huge, or it crashes and the sequel is cancelled. Some fans may be tired of seeing Triple H or the Rock, but most fans aren't, so those guys main-event WrestleMania while Drew McIntyre was lucky to get the battle-royal check.
posted by cribcage at 3:49 PM on July 10, 2012


Just like Phantom of the goddamn Opera keeps packing them in, so too will HHH and the Rock. Not my bag of snakes, but, like any artform, people experience, and want to experience, pro wrestling in different ways. I've given up on looking at HHH's Views on This Business as taking time away from in-ring action, and realized that it's probably what pays the bills so we can still have rasslin'.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:24 PM on July 10, 2012


Uncleozzy, that's an interesting way of looking at the 'this business' crap. And yeah, aitches and the Rock still draw, but it's maddening because you know they won't be there next week, that anything their involved in will be dragged out over months. Cena should have owned the Rock by just pointing out that he was there, and the Rock wasn't. He tried it once or twice, it went over well, and then it just disappeared. I imagine that line of promo's got the axe from higher up. I'm not a Cena fan (well, face Cena. Someday, heel Cena will come back to us and rule the world), but the Rock and his occasional appearances, mostly centered around racist/homophobic bullshit reminded me of the reasons I stopped watching wrestling. Bryan, Punk, Ziggler, and the wrestlers actually wrestling, they're why I came back.

And for the record, I loved Laurinitis. Not just him, but the whole ensemble, giving Otunga a valid reason for existing, actually being part of the 'social media' that's funny and extends the show, just everything about him. If you change it around, and watch it as if he was the protagonist, hell, the last year or so was amazing. Punk and Cena, every time they had a problem with him, it was name calling and bullying, which, until the inevitable mistaken return to the ring, was god-awful to watch. Big Johnny, though, kept in character the whole time, and was definitely one of the better things, I thought, about the year.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:20 PM on July 10, 2012


Holy crap, PAC is amazing!
posted by Mister_A at 7:20 AM on July 11, 2012


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