Regional rivalries, bad business decisions, money, television, big egos, and sweaty, shirtless men: the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. [more inside]
John Cena holds two minutes of his press conference in Chinese, arguably just as well as Mark Zuckerberg's forays into the language. This is partially due to the fact that the WWE offers its stars a free second language program, but is also indicative of the wrestling promoter's big push into India and China. The company just signed their first Chinese national athlete... and, well, WWE has a large fan base in India.
The Miley Cyrus Entrance. The Phil Collins entrance. The Venga Boys entrance. The Pokemon Entrance. The Foo Fighters entrance. The Queen Entrance. The Limp Bizkit entrance. Featuring The Local Hero, Joe Hendry. (All links YouTube, which has tons more.)
Daniel Bryan is arguably the most beloved professional wrestler in the entire world; he is also widely considered to be one of the best professional wrestlers of all time. He has not wrestled a match since April of 2015, when injuries forced him out of action - after they had previously cost him much of 2014 as well. He spent 2015 training regularly and going to doctors hoping to learn that he could continue to be a professional wrestler, and finally, last week, learned conclusively that he could not. This is his retirement speech.
As a preliminary to Season 2 of Lucha Underground, comicbook.com is featuring a comic book story bridging the first and second seasons. If you're not already familiar with the show, here are Five Sites Offering Reasons to Watch.
A shot of the wrestler ‘Exotic’ Adrian Street and his father (taken by press photographer Dennis Hutchinson in 1973) has been described by the artist Jeremy Deller as ‘the most important photograph taken in Britain after the war […] it is the perfect summation of the difficulty post-war Britain had to come to terms with being a post-industrial country.’ Its subject is quoted in a BBC News piece (by Steven Green) as having said that the picture is ‘worth a million words, because it hasn’t shut its gob [...] ever since it was taken.’ [more inside]
Fifty years ago this week, Terry Funk had his first professional wrestling match. He retired in 1983, having held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for more than a year and nearly three dozen other titles (many of which were in territories *not* owned by his family). Retirement didn't agree with Funk, so he signed with the then-WWF, where he fought Junkyard Dog, Tito Santana, and Hulk Hogan. He retired again a few years later, and then three more times in the 1990s. And in 2006. And in 2013. Maybe his most recent retirement match, wherein he lost by disqualification to Jerry "The King" Lawler on October 24th of this year at the age of 71, will be his last (he did, after all, take a fireball to the face). [more inside]
You’ve seen a painting of Norbert Grupe. A heavy, creased brow and shoulder-length hair framing a frightening scowl, the massive work hung in the fictional Manhattan Museum of Art in Ghostbusters II. [...] Most people will only ever know Norbert Grupe as Vigo the Carpathian. But Norbert Grupe—a Nazi soldier's son, boxer, professional wrestler, failed actor, criminal, and miserable human being who was never so happy as when he could make someone hate him—was once a man so beautiful that other men wanted to paint him.
"It's fake and its real, and sometimes, when the stars align, something happens that is both real and fake simultaneously." Mat Ricardo, a professional entertainer, describes a moment from the professional wrestling scene.
Releasing its first episode today, Vixen is a CW animated web series starring DC Comics' shapeshifting African-American superheroine Mari McCabe. Vixen is set within the CW's steadily-growing Arrowverse, the DC TV universe shared by live-action series Arrow, The Flash, and forthcoming team series Legends of Tomorrow. But that's not all: it's been an eventful summer for the Arrowverse! [more inside]
The BBC asks, "Why do wrestlers so often die young?" After aggregating the multiple studies of professional wrestler mortality, a Manchester University researcher points the finger at "cardiovascular disease". One of the studies he examined was a grim University of Eastern Michigan mortality study of 557 former wrestlers which showed that wrestlers aged between 45 and 54 had a mortality rate 2.9 times greater than the rate for average men the same age. And the prognosis for professional wrestlers is even worse when compared to athletes in other American sports. Even when compared to NFL football. [more inside]
After months of social media sparring, the Arrow TV superhero / WWE fanboy / giant nerd actor Stephen Amell will don full Oliver Queen-ish kayfabe to face his WWE nemesis Stardust on WWE Monday Night RAW. [Mild Arrow season 3 / The Flash season 1 spoilers within] [more inside]
Wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper has died of a heart attack at the age of 61. Piper was one of the great "heels" (villains) of the 1980s wrestling boom, teaming with Paul Orndorff at the first WrestleMania in 1985 to take on Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. [more inside]
"Don't say 'Edge is busted open,' instead say, 'Edge got his teeth knocked down his throat!'" [more inside]
The hard-working son of a plumber, who dined with kings and queens and slept in alleys and ate pork n' beans, the man of the hour, the man with the power, the hit-maker, the record-breaker, who had style and grace, a pretty face, made backs crack and livers quiver, the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, a multiple time world champion of professional wrestling, father of two sons who themselves have become talented wrestlers, has gone to his final ten-bell count.
Professional wrestler Tommy Rogers (real name Thomas Couch), best known as one half of the tag team The Fantastics, has passed away at the age of 54. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Rogers "...had been having legal troubles in recent years stemming from fighting. He was to be sentenced tomorrow over a fight with police officers and feared a long prison stay." [more inside]
2 music video takes on the squared circle were (coincidentally) released this week: The Mountain Goats' The Legend of Chavo Guerrero and A Tribe Called Red's Suplex (ft Northern Voice). [more inside]
"The biggest, most famous guy on the roster is Andre the Giant," DiBiase said. "Andre made Hulk Hogan, in my opinion. Here comes this guy that has everything going for him, you know, Hogan. His size, his whole deal, his look. But you know, somebody's gotta make him a star. And Andre the Giant more than anybody, I think, is the guy who helped Hogan become a star, and I think Hogan would tell you that."Being Andre the Giant.
With WrestleMania 31 mere hours away, let's talk about representation in pro wrestling. And really, lessons that apply for any form of entertainment.
If you don’t use positive representation to speak to new fans who look different, who act different, who have new ideas, you’ll never have new fans at all.If You Can't See It, You Can't Be It: The Importance of Representation in Modern Day Wrestling [more inside]
Wrestling Isn't Wrestling: a short film following the last 20 years in WWE, with a mostly female cast and a preposterous number of celebrity cameos. Directed by Max Landis and starring Chloe Dykstra as Triple H (contains lots of profanity).
WWE, the Royal Rumble, Corporate Entertainment Culture, And When It All Goes Wrong.
Bolivia has undergone a significant change under the three terms of President Evo Morales, the first president to come from the country's indigenous majority. Members of that majority have found prosperity, increasing the prestige of indigenous design and style, as seen in this seven minute segment on the new buildings and minor twists on old fashions adopted by Bolivia's indigenous bourgeoisie, from Financial Times' coverage of the displays of the Aymara people's new-found wealth. [more inside]
The name Jim Harris probably doesn't mean much to many pro wrestling fans, however, most would be very familiar with his alter ego, Kamala. Billed as hailing from Uganda, Kamala, who never spoke, was portrayed as a dangerous, cannibalistic savage. After debuting the Kamala gimmick in Memphis in 1982, his career peaked in the mid-80s when he had a main event level feud with the biggest star of the era, Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, as detailed in this article from the Bleacher Report, the past few years have been challenging for Harris both medically and financially, but he maintains a positive outlook. [more inside]
A sumo wrestling tournament. A failed coup ending in seppuku. A search for a forgotten man. How one writer’s trip to Japan became a journey through oblivion. [slGrantland]
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.[more inside]
Illegal Weapons Used in Wrestling Death Match (slyt). Not the 'Most Illegal Thing I've Seen in the History of Wrestling', but still good. The pain is visceral. So, so visceral.
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.
Feeling overwhelmed by wrestling, sorry, sports entertainment lingo? David Shoemaker at Grantland presents the Grantland Dictionary: Pro Wrestling Edition.
"Kayfabe is a slinky thing, in what it masks: it’s sheer enough to let us marks in on some of the fun, yet supple enough to obscure most of the human cost." On the disposability of professional wrestlers, by Dan O'Sullivan, aka @Bro_Pair
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.
From Ianyan Magazine and elsewhere comes: The Legend of Ali Baba: The Incredible True Story of Armenian Genocide Survivor and World Wrestling Champ Harry Ekizian [more inside]
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" variety.)
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."
Former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page has recently emerged as a health guru of sorts, with an exercise routine based on Yoga. He's also reaching out to former wrestlers who are battling addiction problems, Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. via [more inside]
A 45 minute interview with pro wrestler Bully Ray. Also known as Bubba Ray Dudley of the Dudley Boys. [more inside]
Dave Shumka's account of being shot after a comedy show is equal parts hilarious and terrifying. (Starts at 4:25) [more inside]
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]