The Man Without a Mask
, The New Yorker on Cassandro and the role of the exótico within lucha libre.
“It was Baby Sharon who encouraged me to step out of Mister Romano,” Armendáriz said. Baby Sharon was an exótico—a luchador who wrestles in drag. Exóticos have been around since the nineteen-forties. At first, they were dandies, a subset of rudos with capes and valets. They struck glamour-boy poses and threw flowers to the audience. As exóticos got swishier and more flirtatious, and started dressing in drag, the shtick became old-school limp-wristed gay caricature. Crowds loved to hate them, screaming “Maricón!” and “Joto!” (“Faggot!”). The exóticos made a delightful contrast with the super-masculine brutes they met in the ring. Popular exóticos insisted that it was all an act—in real life, they were straight. Baby Sharon was among the first, according to Armendáriz, to publicly say that, no, he was actually gay.
BAH GAWD! (exp.) — A shocked evocation of the deity in order to underscore the gravity of a moment or situation, popularized by announcer Jim Ross. Must be screamed loudly in a pinched Southern tenor. (Related expressions: MAH GAWD!; GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY!; slobberknocker — an unsightly brawl; shades of [wrestler X] — when a wrestler uses a move in a manner reminiscent of a previous wrestler; business has just picked up — an unexpected entrance that raises the stakes in a segment; bowling shoe ugly — a roughneck or plainly (and woefully) uncoordinated match; That’s [wrestler X]’s music! — a surprise appearance by a wrestler, as forewarned by his entrance music playing before he appears in person.)
Feeling overwhelmed by wrestling, sorry, sports entertainment lingo? David Shoemaker at Grantland presents the Grantland Dictionary: Pro Wrestling Edition
The cameras faded out and wrestling fans exhaled. It was more than just a promo; it was a virtuoso performance for the ages. It was shocking on several levels: that a monologue could have so much more power than a match; that WWE was launching the promotion of the main event of its second-biggest show of the year without either of its competitors speaking; and, perhaps most surprising, that Paul Heyman was doing the heavy lifting.
David Shoemaker does a close reading of the WWE SummerSlam promo
to try and explain the rise of Paul Heyman as the face of WWE.
While everyone was distracted by LeBron James returning to Cleveland
, World Wrestling Entertainment pulled off an even bigger coup* by signing seven-time Global Honored Crown champion KENTA
. Kenta Kobayashi
(he capitalizes his ring name to differentiate himself from his mentor, Kenta Kobashi
) was one of the biggest stars of Japan’s Pro Wrestling Noah promotion before resigning in April, leading some to wonder whether he would be returning to the bigger All Japan Pro Wrestling. Instead, Hulk Hogan personally signed Kobayashi
to a developmental contract while on a WWE event in Osaka. [more inside]
What is unique about pro wrestling is this: it is the only creative endeavor where the audience affects the work in real time. A long time ago some smart aleck described pro wrestling as “a LARP where the wrestlers are playing athletes and the audience is playing the audience, and everybody’s in on it.” And that’s exactly true. Now, of course, pro wrestling is still a scripted affair and on a case-by-case basis the audience doesn’t usually change the outcome of a story as it happens – [...] But it’s more than just simply cheering for the guys you like and booing the guys you hate; the crowd is an integral part of wrestling now.
Christopher Bird (aka the Mighty mightygodking) explains why wrestling is the one true performance art
Less than 24 hours after delivering his first promo on Monday Night RAW
in years, which came only days after his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame
, WWE is announcing that Warrior, formerly Jim Hellwig, best known as the Ultimate Warrior
, has passed away
at the age of 54. (And before anybody asks, this appears to be real, rather than of the "ghost Warrior appears in a mirror but only Hulk Hogan can see him
Legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross adds a flourish to any occasion
, even when it's not wrestling
. After four decades in wrestling, he's moved on. SBNation takes a look at the man and his career
"I mean, my God," Chet Coppock said. "We're 35 years removed from this, and I still have people who when I go to Indianapolis will see me and go, 'You know, I still remember the night you wrestled Victor the Bear
Lost Dog: The Search For A Forgotten New Orleans Superhero
On a recent Friday night in the Harahan Community Center, the master of ceremonies had the capacity crowd’s attention. “This here,” he promised, “this tonight is gonna be some old-school professional wrestling.” All of us cheered. “Some of you may remember– folks my age, a little younger– the kind of old-school wrestling New Orleans was famous for. I’m talking about a certain Bill Watts. I’m talking about the Junkyard Dog.”
Some jumped to their feet, howling in approval. “Junkyard Dog!” they shouted. Most just clapped politely. When I spoke to people outside during the show’s intermission, no-one younger than forty had much to say about Junkyard Dog. Of the younger attendees, a few knew he was from here, but to the majority he was just another name, a minor figure from the distant days of Hulk Hogan.
Thirty years ago, Junkyard Dog was a New Orleans demigod. [more inside]
At the WWE Performance Center
in Orlando, wrestlers-in-training (some of whom perform weekly on WWE's "minor league" show, NXT
) learn both the art of working within the ring as well as how to cut a promo and improvise in-character. The WWE developmental system has promoted numerous successful young talents to the WWE's main touring roster, most recently Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family
. Recently, the WWE uploaded a number of "performance evaluations" - promo practice routines by wrestlers in developmental - to Youtube in an account that was meant to be private. Unfortunately, they uploaded them publicly, and before they could close the account to the public, the videos had leaked across wrestling internet fandom
. [more inside]
Professional wrestling's relationship with homosexuality and non-heteronormative presentation has long been downright hostile: from Gorgeous George
in the 1950s, to "Pretty Boy" Pat Patterson
in the 1970s, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis
in the 1980s, Golddust
in the 1990s, the infamous Billy and Chuck
in the 2000s, and even Orlando Jordan
in the 2010s, wrestlers who present as effeminate or who "might be gay" have always been portrayed as heels
, drawing boos from the crowd. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the suggestion of female homosexuality
has been called upon only to titillate.
And although former performers like Patterson
and the late Chris Kanyon
publicly acknowledged their homosexuality after their active careers had ended, and though the WWE recently hired openly-gay
retired professional golfer Jane Geddes as VP of Talent Relations
, there hasn't been an active, out WWE Superstar until now, when Darren Young, asked if he thought there was a place for a gay wrestler, told TMZ
that he's "gay ... and happy."
In 2009, ESPN producer Lisa Fenn worked on a story about two high-school wrestlers, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett. Sutton was hit by a train when he was a child and had both his legs amputated; Crockett is legally blind. After the story aired, Fenn stayed in Sutton and Crockett's lives, and the three formed a surprising, enduring bond. [more inside]
"We heard them yell, shout and scream. But, who ever pays attention when they take that deep breath before they shout it out? Nobody does except for me. Have fun." Professional wrestling frequently leaves the audience breathless, and this video is no exception.
The cruel tragedy of The Iron Sheik
is a heartbreaking story about the wrestler, Howard Stern guest and Internet joke The Iron Sheik. Vice also has a hilarious interview with him.
On the eve of their 4th internet pay-per-view extravaganza
, rumours abound of a cataclysmic denouement for the unique independent wrestling company. With wrestlers prone to accidental time-travel
, dimensional warping
and mind-control by ancient, cursed artifacts
(not to mention outbreaks of goblins vs balloons
and international games of duck-duck-goose
whenever Osaka Pro
come to visit), the Chikara workplace is stressful enough, but under the power-crazed directorship of Wink Vavasseur, and purported backstage strife, the promotion has been hemorrhaging talent for several months... [more inside]
Frank Deford, a 50-year veteran of Sports Illustrated, once labeled Meltzer the most accomplished reporter in sports journalism.
“You could cover the Vatican or State Department,” Deford said recently, “and not do as good a job as Dave Meltzer does on wrestling.”
For nearly 30 years, Dave Meltzer has published the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
, featuring weekly behind the locker room door insight into the business of professional wrestling.
How far reaching has Meltzer's impact been? In one famous incident, Hulk Hogan, frustrated by what he perceived as consistently negative coverage in the publication, burned a copy
of the newsletter during a live Pay-Per-View event.
"Professional wrestling fans, we who are "smart marks" especially, are in many ways more sophisticated than the political junkies who populate political blogs and web sites
(what are really fan boy and fan girl mark hangouts) like the Free Republic or The Daily Kos.
They know that professional wrestling is a work and a game.
Do the Obamabots, Tea Party zealots, and true believers on either the Right or the Left realize that politics is much the same thing?"
Wrestling Out Of The Olympics
- The Gods Must Be Crazy Mad
The whole lucrative sham of it all was exposed once again this week when the executive board of the IOC — Informal Motto: "Me Some Too, Yes?" — recommended that wrestling be dropped as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Summer Games, which are supposed to be held in Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid, depending on whose checks clear first, I believe. According to the board, wrestling is no longer a "core sport" in the Olympics and it will have to petition for inclusion in 2020 along with, and I am not making this up, sport climbing and wakeboarding. This is terrific. Why don't we just hold the Olympics in an REI outlet store somewhere? [more inside]
Bill Moody, best known as professional wrestling manager Paul Bearer
, passed away Tuesday at the age of 58
. [more inside]
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling
is notable, in the wrestling world, for taking the position that intergender tag matches should just happen whenever men and women want to fake-fight one another - but perhaps this is just part of CHIKARA's particular worldview, which is one that includes a time-traveling knight from medieval times who came to the present day and then formed a tag team with another version of himself from three weeks later who also traveled in time to the present day
and the Super Smash Bros., who are very defensive of the original Nintendo Entertainment System
. At this year's King of Trios three-day super-event, two all-female teams competed, including the Sendai Girls from Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling
. The Sendai Girls made it to the semifinals where they competed against Team Ring of Honor
in what was subsequently deemed by many wrestling fans to be the best intergender match yet wrestled in North America. This week, Chikara put the match up free on Youtube
"Video Game Character Wrestling
is a Twitch channel
run by a guy named Bazza. He said earlier how when he first ran it like a month ago, he 'was happy he got 50 viewers, maybe he could get 50 the next time too', and it just fucking exploded, with an average of 2000-3000 viewers in recent matches," (Via this Something Awful thread
). Video Game Character Wrestling is an improbable live-action machinima
spectacle which pits AI controlled versions of major game characters (and some real-ish personalities) against one another in a brawl for it all. [more inside]
In response to WWE.com posting a not-really-that-accurate list of the 50 Most Beautiful People In WWE History
(warning: awful slideshow), Brandon Stroud of Withleather assembled an all-star cast of beauty/wrestling experts, including Grantland.com's David Shoemaker, Clark Duke of Hot Tub Time Machine
and professional Batmanologist Chris Sims, and with science
has composed a a more accurate response list
Some folks in CHIKARA Pro were having a wrestling match, and a baseball game broke out.
'By most accounts, Bill Walton stands well over seven feet tall. But during his NBA career, Walton always insisted that he was 6'11" because he didn't want to be considered a freak. When I read that fun fact in David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game, it hit a chord. I've been doing the exact same thing as Walton for my entire adult life. I'm not as tall as Walton. I'm not even one of the less-than-70 seven-footers in my age bracket in the U.S. But I'm close. Another quarter-inch, and I'd pass the seven-foot barrier. But anytime anyone asks my height, I say that I'm 6'11". I don't mention the extra three quarters of an inch. People don't need to know about that.
In any case, I'm still pretty fucking tall. And being pretty fucking tall is a weird thing to wrap your head around.' [more inside]
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
. [more inside]
Secrets of Pro Wrestling (1987) What happens when these two wrestlers get a raw deal from their chosen profession? They don't get mad, the get even!
) [more inside]
25 years ago today, the professional wrestling boom sparked by the Captain Lou Albano/Cyndi Lauper "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection" reached its zenith with WrestleMania III
- whose attendance record of 93,173 for a live indoor "sporting" event in North America stood until 2010. The match between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is prized by aficionados as one of the greatest in wrestling history. Look into the videoscope! [more inside]
Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 may remember Racket Girls
as a sleazy little Poverty Row crime drama featuring wooden lady-wrestler acting and inexplicable overdubbed audience shrieking. You may not be aware, however, that Racket Girls
was one of three movies starring Timothy Farrell
as the oily Umberto Scalli, and that Dance Hall Racket
(1953) was written by, and costars, Lenny Bruce
. [more inside]
Any shortlist of the top wrestling promo botches in history would include Lex Luger's t-shirt
and the debut of the Shockmaster
. But it is unlikely that anything will ever surpass Hulk Hogan setting up his Wrestlemania XIX feud with Vince McMahon
While Hulk Hogan
may have been professional wrestling's biggest box office star of the past generation, from a critical standpoint, Ric Flair
is widely regarded as the most talented wrestler of the modern era
in terms of actual in-ring ability, as well as being known as one of the best promo men
(the ability to give entertaining interviews promoting upcoming matches) in the history of the business.
In recent years, however, Flair's legacy has been tarnished, with his name more likely to be making news for any number of embarrassing
out of the ring incidents and dire financial situation
as for his in-ring exploits, to the point where comparisons to Randy “The Ram” Robinson
are not out of place. Grantland explores Ric Flair's fall from grace in "The Wrestler in Real Life"
The recent passing of Randy Savage
stirred nostalgia in wrestling fans from the '80s. Then WWE wrestler CM Punk
garnered mainstream media coverage
with a blistering promo
that ran roughshod over the corporate image that the WWE had been carefully cultivating for the last decade. The unprecedented use of social media in his feud with John Cena
(he sent both indie wrestler (and close friend) Colt Cabana
and WWE ice cream bars
trending on Twitter) has not only given wrestling the biggest mainstream boost since the Attitude Era
, it has also shined a light on writers who love the fake fighting but aren't the stereotype of a wrestling fan -- The Masked Man
) has been writing excellent pieces for a while, but The Dugout's
Brandon Stroud now posts The Best and Worst of Raw
, and a host of Tumblrs (such as Styles Clash
) follow the sport (with Fair to Flair
as an example of a collaborative blog). [more inside]
"Punk-artist-anthropologist Cameron Jamie has made three documentaries on violence; I’ve read about them all and seen just this one
." The author speaks of "Kranky Klaus," LA-born artist Jamie's peek into the Austrian folkloric character Krampus
, a sort of photo-negative of Santa Claus who comes on Christmas to punish bad children. [more inside]
"Macho Man" Randy Savage passed away today
at the age of 58, when he was struck with a heart attack while driving. [more inside]