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Ring Cycle - Superheroes, Steroids and Suicides
December 8, 2007 6:28 AM   Subscribe

"'It's been a magical evening,' Joel says as the Great Khali hits the Undertaker with a dustbin lid." Jon Ronson (and son) journey into the world of WWE to investigate the death of Chris Benoit.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good article. It starts out, frustratingly, like a piece of me-first gonzo journalism, but it actually settles quite nicely into a good analysis.
posted by psmealey at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2007


Jon Ronson rocks. Seemed to me that he started out wanting to disapprove, but by the end had a begrudging admiration for what he saw. William Regal (not much of a wrestler name, that) came across quite well.
posted by afx237vi at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2007


Good article, although there were a lot of errors, some small and some big. He says that he read about the Benoit situation being a murder-suicide and *then* saw the Raw tribute. I guess that's possible because of the time difference between the US & the UK, but the reports that it was a murder-suicide didn't come out until after the tribute in the US. Also, he kind of implies that Vince's great-grandfather invented pro-wrestling, but not really. Jess & Vince Sr. were one of many promoters that grew out of the carnival tradition (oh, and Vince Sr.'s company was WWWF - World Wide Wrestling Federation). Vince Jr. didn't get sued by the other WWF and change the name until a while after they had made it big. It was 2002, I think, that they changed the name to WWE.

I gotta say, though, I love the fact that John Morrison quotes William Blake.
posted by papakwanz at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2007


Good reporting (rare these days) -- walks a fine line by being realistic while also sympathetic to all parties concerned.

I found this quote particularly interesting: Regal tells me about a day - 15 years ago - when Vince McMahon made a startling announcement on live television. "He stood up on stage and admitted that wrestling was fixed. He said, 'We're not going to insult your intelligence any more. It's fixed. It's a performance. It's entertainment. We decide in advance who's going to win the match.' "

I didn't know about that -- it's quite a moment, a small blow for honesty.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2007


I wish it wasn't fake and they didn't decide who will win in advance. Because if wrestling wasn't fixed I might've actually paid money to see Vince McMahon kick Donald Trump's ass and shave him bald. That would've so rocked.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:38 AM on December 8, 2007


Fake?! "It's still real to me, dammit!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:56 AM on December 8, 2007


thanks - I love a good Jon Ronson article.
posted by forallmankind at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2007


Back in my Limo management days, I received an order to transport Vince McMahon from the International Arrivals level at the Vancouver International Airport to the Hertz car rental kiosk. I called his office, and spoke to his secretary, informing her that the kiosk was literally across the street from the International Arrivals level. She put me on hold, and then came back on the line a minute later with the instruction to meet and transport him anyway.

Intrigued, and not wanting to tie up a driver unnecessarily, I took the trip myself. Greeting him at the YVR , I pointed out where the Kiosk was, and that it was actually further to walk to the holding area for limousines. He just laughed, and off we went. I loaded his bags into the car, and we drove out onto the one-way causeway, around the terminal, and back to the rental Kiosk we had passed on the way to the car.

He got out, thanked me, and tipped me $40.

posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


That story would've been better if he'd pissed all over your leg.
posted by item at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2007



Some years ago Duane (the rock) Johnson hosted SNL, and i worked the after party at a middeling midtown seafood straunt. Vince made an appearence, and left. I had a moment where i lliterally bumped into the Big Show. What Ronson describes about seeing some of these behemoths up close is quite true. The party never got out of control, much to my chagrin. AC/DC quietely noshed, and left.

Since the Benoit thing i have been unable to watch wwe. They just work those guys too hard, and more bad things will happen in the wrestleing world as long as the huge bucks are there to be made, i fear.

Oh, and Joe's gonna kill you.
posted by vrakatar at 4:16 PM on December 8, 2007


Good stuff. I enjoy watching wrestling for the character aspect and always find the "behind the scenes" part of wrestling interesting.
posted by jmd82 at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2007


The best movie about wrestling is Boogie Nights only it isn't about wrestling.
posted by I Foody at 6:21 PM on December 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


I Foody, I never thought about it, but you're exactly right.
posted by jtron at 9:43 PM on December 8, 2007


That story would've been better if he'd hit you with a folding chair.
posted by basicchannel at 1:59 AM on December 9, 2007


good stuff... thanks for posting it.
posted by ph00dz at 9:22 AM on December 9, 2007


As papakwanz observes, the MacMahon family did not invent professional wrestling. I your read enough, you'll see references to itnerant fake wrestlers going back to the Middle Ages and before. When you talk about what the WWE does, you're talking about one of world's oldest folk arts -- something that seems to meet a timeless human need.
posted by Faze at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well said, Faze. It actually gives me goosebumps to think of all of the oral history and tradition that goes into a single wrestling move. It's sad that so many people don't get that.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:03 PM on December 10, 2007


There’s a nice bit in the film “Highlander” where the main character passes some guys bashing each other in a ring in a small village in Scotland. Then, in the present, he’s at Madison Square Garden watching the Fabulous Freebirds. Kind of a nifty reference to how it has grown but stayed the same. It’s not really for me anymore, but I do admire the athleticism it takes to perform at those levels.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2007


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