"If you have enough heart and a weird enough face..."
March 16, 2015 1:37 PM   Subscribe

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).
posted by roll truck roll (29 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

Thank you. Thank you so much. Oh god, Thank you.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nuts, I'm getting ready to go to work so I can't watch this 'till this evening... but I did find that there's an awesome set of publicity photos!
posted by coleboptera at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh god I love how the same people who were the corporate shills in Landis's Superman video are back as WWE corporate shills.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by PenDevil at 2:31 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

It does definitely showcase the futility of trying to explain Ric Flair to people who are unfamiliar with Ric Flair.

Side note: You can get a pretty fun playlist by going on Rap Genius and looking up all the songs that name-drop Ric Flair.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:32 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I get that "Wrestling" isn't wrestling, it's a TV show about wrestling. But the acting is so bad and the plots are so uninteresting.

"Wrestling" is wrestling to exactly the degree that porn is people having sex, but it it wasn't for the sex being had I wouldn't want to watch porn acting either.
posted by penduluum at 2:51 PM on March 16, 2015

This is pretty great, though.
posted by penduluum at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2015

I think the key problem with wrestling in the current age is that basically the entire point of the for cable broadcasts is to build up storylines for the Pay per view events and since they don't want to give anything away for free the action on the regular shows like RAW are just completely stale and predictable.

It's hard to care about the main event when it's just Cena doing LOLCENAWINS every week because that's his schtick. Without the possibility of surprise the storylines just seem lame and weak.

Combine that with the PG nature of WWE and it's exceedingly stale about 40 weeks out of the year.

I'm not sure what would revitalize the brand (making more of the action on the weekly shows relevant, toning down the dependency on PPV to drive storylines, having more midcard matches, etc) but it's pretty clear that WWE has kinda lost it's way.
posted by vuron at 2:59 PM on March 16, 2015

OOH, that was good and scratched my wrasslin itch something fierce. Since the heydays of Sky Channel and Superchannel showing wrestling late at night in the eighties it's been hard to come by here in the Netherlands, just half hour compilation shows with all the good bits cut out on Eurosport or something.

This gets what makes wrestling great.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:13 PM on March 16, 2015

Daniel Bryan came up in this, and I immediately associated him (well, this portrayal, meaning her) with Squirrel Girl.

And then I thought, hey, that's surprisingly appropriate.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:16 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I didn't know about the Superman video until today. I only sort of vaguely knew who Landis was, and just saw this linked on a wrestling message board. I'd assumed that it was Landis trying to It's-Always-Sunny his way into a job with WWE.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:24 PM on March 16, 2015

I know very little about Wrestling, and basically nothing past playing "No Mercy" in college, but I loved how the casting of Triple-H and framing of the Narrative basically made him Cersei Lannister without saying as much.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:02 PM on March 16, 2015

As a total pro wrestling nerd there was pretty much nothing I didn't love about this.
posted by The Gooch at 4:17 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what would revitalize the brand (making more of the action on the weekly shows relevant, toning down the dependency on PPV to drive storylines, having more midcard matches, etc) but it's pretty clear that WWE has kinda lost it's way.

Step 1 would be the death of Vincent K McMahon.

Ok, I kid, but only just.

I think the biggest content problem in the WWE is the pure amount of it they need for their broadcast schedule. Between RAW and Smackdown they have to come up with 5 hours of TV per week, every week. That's an absurd amount of time to fill, and that's before you factor in Main Event on the Network. If they cut RAW down to 2 hours it could be a lot better paced. Smackdown could be hacked to 1, and rather than just being full of recap and filler, perhaps allow it to focus on the languishing midcard so they can actually build up real storylines and new characters for the coming years.

The second biggest problem, though, really is the evil alliance of VKM and Kevin Dunn. When you have a ridiculously out of touch septegenarian micromanaging a creative team and rewriting an already stretched three hour show on impulse just before it goes on the air because he feels like it, there's no way you can have coherent long-term story lines that fit with the times.

For what WWE without VKM would look like, just look at NXT. Real athletes, rather than the traditional ham-in-spandex look; coherent story lines; less filler time; women who actually get to participate in something other than two minute fights that end in a distraction rollup; and so on.

WWE is never going to be like the indies. I've really gotten in to ROH and Lucha Underground since late last year, and in fact went to an ROH show this past weekend. But I don't pretend I'll ever see anything like that in WWE. I'd be happier with less LOLCENAWINS, better booking for the women, and more coherent, well-written story lines.

And maybe not starting a "wrestling" show with a 20 minute promo every week, eh? But I think that's what happens when you have so many hours to fill. Seriously... ROH, LU, and even NXT manage to do great things in an hour a week, there's no reason WWE couldn't still make money, and put out a much better product, with 3.
posted by jammer at 4:21 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

(Perhaps the most embarrassing confession I've ever made on Metafilter: I once owned a DX "Suck It" T-shirt and wore it all the time).
posted by The Gooch at 4:21 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

In fact, idea I just had:

Kill Smackdown. Totally. Keep RAW at three hours and combine the five hours of padded-out shit you were going to spread between RAW and Smackdown into three hours of real weekly content. Then take NXT off the Network and put it, still at an hour, into Smackdown's slot. Give more casual fans who don't hunt out the developmental shows on streaming TV a chance to be exposed to the wonders of Sami Zayn, Kevin Steen, Finn Balor, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, etc. Keep the story lines mostly distinct between the two, but without the complete kayfabe seperate universes that they have now; have main roster stars show up every now and then, and NXT stars appearing on RAW on occasion, to keep interest up between the two. That way you can introduce new people slowly on RAW, show their links back to NXT, get the casuals more interested in the new product, and have some storylines already in place for when folks get the call-up to the mainshow.

This could really help with the problem NXT stars tend to have with being poorly booked due to having no existing stories or mindshare when they get bumped to the main roster and just... sputtering out. (This doesn't happen to all of them, for evidence of which look at all of the Shield, plus Bray Wyatt, but I think the count of folks who were over in NXT but died on the main roster like Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd -- who FINALLY seem to be getting something like a real push -- and the travesty that became of the Ascension would be greater)
posted by jammer at 4:30 PM on March 16, 2015

I'm not that far in, because watching this video isn't quite in my job description, but it feels very Drunk History.
posted by dumbland at 5:27 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Styling and profiling.

Can I favorite this many, many times?
posted by vrakatar at 5:48 PM on March 16, 2015

This was amazing.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:52 PM on March 16, 2015

But the acting is so bad

part of the appeal really I think
posted by atoxyl at 6:22 PM on March 16, 2015

Always a little surprised when I hear Chris Benoit mentioned, wondered if he was going to go anywhere beyond the one mention and, if so, where.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:37 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah Sax, I winced at his name also, but laughed hard many more times.

In other, breaking news, the living legend Larry Zbyszko is going to the hall of fame.
posted by vrakatar at 6:53 PM on March 16, 2015

Thinking it all over, I feel like maybe Landis likes wrestling, but that he doesn't exactly get it. I mean, even if we overlook that he refers to Trips as one of his favorite wrestlers (which, LOfuckingL), there's an interesting story to be told about Hunter, and Landis doesn't come anywhere near telling it.

Part of the allure of wrestling is how muddy the distinction between real life and product is. Triple H the character isn't really all that interesting. He's a guy who wants the title, and he betrays or is betrayed by all of his friends in pursuit of this. Every wrestler ever has this story. Triple H the performer, though, has a significantly more interesting story, and Landis just doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that this story exists.

So the story that we watched here has no mention of Hall and Nash, no acknowledgment of Hunter being buried for years for the send-off that he and Michaels gave them, no hint of the backstage politicking that Hunter engaged in to get where he is, and no real distinction between Hunter's real-life marriage into the McMahon family and the phony story being told on-screen. Landis mentions the switch to the PG era, but he doesn't talk at all about the reasons for that switch or any of the ways that it has changed the landscape (which, when Benoit was brought into the story, I was sure would be covered).

What we're left with is the story of teenage boys getting excited that someone was yelling about dick-sucking on television. Which, yeah, is a fairly accurate portrayal of the Attitude Era, but it really isn't a compelling argument for why people should watch wrestling.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:06 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

I will not the be the first person on metafilter to make the recommendations that I'm about to make. But I might very well be the first person to make them who wasn't a fan of professional wrestling from a very young age. Because I wasn't. I only just recently started to watch the versions of pro wrestling that I watch, at the age of 47. That's sort of embarrassing to admit, but watching these things is hilariously fun.

First off, Chikara, which is just pure concentrated fun, and which has all its matches readily available for purchase online.

Secondly, Lucha Underground, which you can get if your cable/satellite service has the El Rey network, or if you want to shill out for a months worth of "Sling TV" on a set top box. This is fantastically entertaining to watch, for around a dozen and a half reasons.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've never really gotten into wrestling. Like, yeah, I get that it's drama. But you know, boring drama that ends in boring fistfights.

However, every once in while a piece of media makes me think that I should pay attention. Gotta be honest, this wasn't it. But this recent Radiolab piece on wrestling before and after the Montreal Screwjob was.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:50 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well that was great, and actually covered a whole series of plots that I missed in the decade and a half where I forgot how much I love wrasslin'

However. Landis makes the same mistake that the current WWE makes - there's not enough about the actual wrestling matches. Promos and plot are great but they only provide emotional background for what goes on in the ring.

What's missing from WWE shows is an actual respect for the story being told by the two performers in the ring (this was really brought into focus when listening to Jim Ross call New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom in January). When you listen to Raw or Smackdown (not so much NXT but still a good bit) there's so much plot filling in and promotion of social media that the drama of the what's actually happening in (or near) the ring gets neglected.

Sometimes I've seen attempts to justify wrestling by comparing it to dadaist drama or performance art but it's purer than that because, when it gets down to it, wrestling only ever tells one story: a wrestling match. And tells it again and again and again. There's no reason to see WWE as synonymous with wrestling: watch a Pro-Wrestling Guerilla show or Chikara or Lucha Underground or any of the myriad other promotions and you can see the infinite variations in the way that this single story can be told.

The physical narration of a progression from bell to pin (or countout, or disqualification or...) is what's fundamentally enthralling about it. The plots can be a bonus but only in so much as they add a richness of meaning to the performance in the ring.

Finally, because it's St Patrick's day and I've been looking for a reason to share this with people for the last day, here's a picture of an Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) with Hulk Hogan
posted by coleboptera at 5:53 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I loved this. Thank you!

And lol at all y'all getting all smarky and how he did everything wrong and blah blah blah. He had 25 minutes to explain wrestling to non-fans who use "you know it's fake" as the reason they look down on it; and chose to use one character as the thread and an example of what's great about it, not everything and anything that is great about it and oh by the way here's also he things that are wrong about it and here are the things that other people think is great about it.

Yeah, I love the in-ring storytelling. Yeah there are too many promos nowadays. Yeah HHH is whatever. Yeah WWE sucks and the indies or NXT are where it's at. Yeah Raw is too long. Yeah currently this is the "reality era" and the line between work and shoot is blurry. But again, this was 25 minutes to entertainingly explain why some of us get caught up in this stupid way of killing time and feeling feels. Sigh.

I am like the most plate of beans-y person there is about wrestling... I have a draft of a blog post (with fucking FOOTNOTES to fairly heavy articles about gamergate and minority representation in media) about why it's good and okay to critique it and you don't have to turn your brain off to watch it and analyzing it is part of the fun so it's kind of funny I just said what I said. Maybe because this video brought me back to when i first started watching wrestling and got caught up in the drama.
posted by misskaz at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yeah I should have emphasised that I really did love the video! - thanks for bringing it to our attention roll truck roll!

It's tricky to not get carried away every time wrestling comes up. In other news, I may have worked out why my friends won't watch it with me
posted by coleboptera at 3:17 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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