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  • Admin's Avatar
    Today, 12:00 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 07-03-2020: -queenstratus (born in 1991, Age: 29) Happy Birthday!
    0 replies | 3 view(s)
  • Admin's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:37 AM
    Aries, along with Ki, have made some dangerous arguments on Twitter this week Photo Credit: WWE.com It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers: Who had the better take, Low Ki or Aries? — Jake Drury (@SocksUnterShoes) July 1, 2020They're tied for last place. You might think this is a glib answer, but I don't like to give partial credit to someone for an argument they didn't make. Ki and Aries basically are saying the same things, that they shouldn't have to wear a mask because they have freedom or some shit. Aries giving the angle of his militant dipshit veganism doesn't make his argument worse, just funnier probably. He also didn't think to post a snippet from the Americans with Disabilities Act and interpret it out of context. When the dust clears, judging which one of these dangerous idiots is less dangerous feels like a waste of time. Both Ki and Aries should be laughed out of polite society for their virus denialism, but honestly, I bet if they end up getting COVID-19 after lick-cleaning their weights at the gym, they'll sing a different tune. Name a food/dish you haven’t tried but really want to — Superheroes wear masks (@Killa_Stuff) July 1, 2020I've had a lot of different kinds of food, but there are still some blind spots. The hugest, wide-ranging cultural one is African cuisine, which I know isn't a monolithic cuisine. There's West African, Ethiopian, Moroccan, a whole variety, but I've never ventured onto that continent's culinary board outside of whatever influence it has had on Caribbean, Cajun, or Southern cooking. I should probably get crackin' on those individual cuisines now that they're becoming more worldly. As for individual dishes, my answer would be a good bibimbap. I like Korean food quite a bit, but I'm still generally uninitiated. A mix of stir-fried meat and vegetables, rice, and a fried egg all sound really good to me. As it’s July 1st: has any athlete ever been more shrewd, had more forethought than Bobby Bonilla? Same question, reverse polarity: has any team ever been more stupid than the Mets? — ~menace silly~ (@abvavrg) July 1, 2020Actually, Bonilla probably cost himself a good bit of money by deferring out just given how money depreciates over time. I'm not entirely sure $1.1 million is going to be a paltry sum anytime soon, and having that income coming in well into retirement has to be welcomed. That being said, even looking at it from the Mets' point of view, it wasn't a bad move. Now, granted, what I'm about to say could be thrown in the trash given the immense value of franchises and the people who own them, but for argument's sake, allow me to posit that money isn't fake, especially a sports team owner's money. The Mets set a budget that Bonilla's salary deferral allowed them to add more salary in other areas. They signed Mike Hampton, who was the 2000 National League Championship Series MVP. When he left in free agency, he bore the Mets the fruit of a compensatory pick that allowed them to select franchise cornerstone third baseman David Wright. Again, they probably could've had all that if fans at large didn't give sports owners the benefit of the doubt of crying poor. Still, I don't think the Mets, an otherwise laughable franchise in other decisions they've made, made out too badly here, no matter how much one wants to laugh at them. We were wrong about the juggalos weren't we? — spork pervert (@baollisque) July 1, 2020Juggalos are a cautionary tale at generalizing a group of people. Sure, "juggalo" isn't a race, but when you choose to associate with other people over a benign thing like music, no matter how bad the consensus thinks it is, you tend to have a melting pot of different integrities of character. Yes, there are scumbag juggalos, but there are a lot of good people who just want to do drugs, watch wrestling, and get really into a niche-level specific kind of rap. It helps that the Insane Clown Posse themselves have proven to be willing to listen and fight for marginalized people at least. I don't know how much growing they have yet to do; detractors will tell you they are somewhat misogynist and also don't have the right to use the word "ninja" when they want to say that other n-word. THAT BEING SAID, it feels like any time they make headlines lately, it's for saying the right thing. That goes a long way, I suppose. The only people you should judge by association are Nazis and other associated fascists and racists. They are scum of the earth. Juggalos? They're just down with the clown. Judge them on an individual basis. Sell me on a MLB Team that will come out of left field (pun 100% intended) to Win the 2020* World Series. (*** or whenever another one happens again) #tweetbag — Samantha Allen (@sallen_87) July 1, 2020A short season, which I STILL doubt will come to completion, opens up the field substantially. The small sample size leaves determining the playoff order to greater variance, and to me that means only the most moribund teams like the Tigers, Marlins, and Orioles are eliminated before the first pitch, instead of half the league. The favorites to win a full 162 games - your Yankees, Twins, Astros, Nationals, and Dodgers - are all threats to win again, but a chunk of the season that comprises even less than a half-a-normal season can make some weird shit happen. There are quite a few candidates, but the Chicago White Sox to me feel like a team that could take advantage chaos. They have some hot prospects, spent money, and have some guys around who are coming into their own. Would Tim Anderson be a 162-game MVP candidate? I mean, stranger things have happened. Could he win a MVP over 60 games? That sounds a lot more likely. They're not my pick to win the 2020 World Series (if you want my official prediction, it's "no one"), but if somehow this season plays to completion, well, I'm saying don't be shocked if they win the whole damn thing even if they don't even make the playoffs over the next five full seasons. Now, if this season doesn't happen and the next one is a 162-game frame in 2022 after the virus wipes this one out and a strike wipes the next one out? Maybe the Angels will get career best seasons out of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani all in the same year. However, that's too far in the future for me to predict at this point. You’re 16 and have $100 to spend on something cool. What are you spending it on? #Tweetbag — boxwatcher (@boxwatcher) July 1, 2020I was 16 years-old in 1997/98 so if I came into a Benjamin, I would have bought either two N64 games or one N64 game and like three or four CDs. I dunno, I was basic like that. If I were 16 today, then I would probably see how much a mid-pair of Bluetooth earbuds were. Maybe I would ask my parents to go in halfsies on a really good pair as part of an early birthday gift or whatever. Or who knows, maybe I'd just buy three Switch games or something with it. I dunno. My point is, I'm basic as hell. Favorite partial discography, or one that would surprise even people who know you? Two albums minimum. (For example: Pearl Jam only through 2000, first two Sabbath albums, some of Miles Davis’ fusion classics on Columbia.) #tweetbag — Desperate Hours (@dhpdesign) July 2, 2020Given the width and breadth of what I advertise to listen to on Twitter, I'm not sure anything outside hip-hop might surprise people, and it's not because I don't like rap. I do, but the thing is that I have yet to really get into albums rather than singles here and there. That's on me. That being said, I guess the closest that can be surprising, and it's really not how much I like artists such as Mitski, is Janelle Monae. I've only listened to two of their albums so far, The ArchAndroid and Dirty Computer, but they're an incredibly gifted songwriter with a knockout voice. I dunno, are you really surprised by that? Maybe you are. Either way, I love those two albums.
    0 replies | 8 view(s)
  • Admin's Avatar
    07-01-2020, 12:36 PM
    Ki's virus denialism doesn't make knowing his worth bad Photo Credit: MLW.com Going to wrestlers on advice about anything but professional wrestling and probably like bodybuilding or training in mixed martial arts is a bad idea. It always has been. A few wrestlers have good takes in various arenas. For every vocal lefty like Sami Zayn, there are a dozen dozens of Trump voters. Still, even conservative wrestlers are only the tip of the bad idea iceberg. Some wrestlers go further than quietly supporting Republican/Tory politicians and spew pernicious screed about a vast number of topics from the ridiculous to the sublime. Sure, everyone gets a laugh when these wrestlers are served up for dunks in quote-tweets meant to mock and prod at them. Some people hate the idea of giving bad idea wrestlers the platform, but when someone like Ryback already has nearly 1.5 million followers, it's hard to think that someone like dunking on him makes too much of a difference in the dissemination of their harmful ideas. The latest wrestler to dip his toe into evangelical idiocy has been Low Ki, who has used Twitter as his personal disinformation board about COVID-19. In the grand style of one of dril's more popular tweets, every time someone called Ki out on his dangerous screed, he would double down and proclaim that his freedom not to wear a mask or socially distance in a misguided attempt to build up his own antibodies was just as important or moreso than everyone else's right not to get sick at minimum. Remember, COVID-19 is not just a respiratory illness. It attacks blood vessels and has been known to cause strokes and heart attacks. Additionally, it seems to have chronic effects that doctors have yet to study. This strain of coronavirus is nasty business, but count Ki among the cacophonous minority yelling from the mountaintops about how their freedom is more important than your health. It's par for the course for Ki, whose mouth has not always been his strong suit. He's said a lot of dumb things in the past. He's done a lot of dumb things in the past. Just ask Ahtu about the time Ki knocked him loopy in the opening match of the cursed EVOLVE 10 show and then tried to get his shit in on him while he was loopy. Maybe he'll remember it, but odds are, the concussion took care of that brain space. Still, Ki has done a lot of objectively good things in his career that people have claimed were bad. While there's no defending the epidemiological denialism, it feels like people bringing up that he's "hard to work with" as a building block for his rap sheet might be letting biases they don't know they even have when it comes to how they view wrestling cloud how they look at a person on the whole. In case you're new and don't remember Ki from any time when he was with a promotion for longer than a match or two, he's a worker who knows what he's worth. He knows that people come to see him kick folks and do his double stomps and head drops and talk in a voice that is unsettlingly and shockingly basal in tone. He has had a reputation of "holding up" promoters for more money, creative control, or both, and because he's one of the few wrestlers who not only can use that as leverage but who absolutely will, he gets vilified as "difficult." Wrestling culture promotes selflessness for the locker room, and it's a poisonous attitude, not because being selfless is bad, but the selflessness is often a veneer for managerial control. If you get the boys to take a smaller cut "for the good of the locker room," to do a puzzling job for a weird wrestler "for the good of the locker room," to do menial manual labor for no extra charge "for the good of the locker room," you can easily manipulate the books and put more money in your pocket. Because wrestling is so hyper-focused on specific plans for specific wrestlers, it's easier to condition fans and workers alike to fall in line. A wrestler holds out for more money or because they don't think the story they're being put into makes sense? They're robbing you of a payoff. It's why painting someone like Ki, who knows his worth, as a bad actor is easy and evergreen, and the mass outpouring of Speaking Out over the last two weeks about sexual, physical, and emotional abuse in wrestling in the last two weeks needed years upon years melding into decades of buildup in order to break the dam. The programming has always valued protecting slimebags like Joey Ryan and even Brandon Stroud as long as they kept to the omerta that the promoter was right to foster an environment of falling in line over one that, in the words of Adam Scott's character from Stepbrothers so eloquently put it, busted the nut. It just so happened that all those "bad actors" were easy to vilify for OTHER reasons altogether. Aside from Ki, you had Warrior, who was a psychotic bigot. "Sycho" Sid Vicious blew off wrestling for the leisure activity of playing softball, which goes against America's beloved Protestant work ethic. Ryback spews about how mental illness isn't a real thing. If I were an unhinged conspiracy theorist, I might say that these wrestlers all realizing their worth was more than what they were paying turning out to have other issues was a psyop to reinforce wrestling's hyper-capitalist culture. Occam's Razor, however, suggests that most people who get into wrestling are, well, quirky to say the least. There's no reason not to dunk on wrestlers who make the worst possible claims about important current events. It might seem pedantic to keep your dunking in bounds, but no matter how idiotic the take is, most people contain multitudes. Dunking on Low Ki because he priced himself out of too many shows or promotions is the hollowest of owns, because he's only looking out for his own self-interest. Now, you can take him to task for his lack of solidarity with other people in the locker room, but then you get into the argument of whose responsibility it is to join in. Is the onus on Ki to get his fellow workers looking for more money beside him, or is it on the other people in the locker room to stand up for him instead of to him? There's a right answer, and I'm not sure it's the conventional wisdom either.
    0 replies | 18 view(s)
  • Admin's Avatar
    07-01-2020, 12:00 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 07-01-2020: -jacky123 (born in 1981, Age: 39) Happy Birthday!
    0 replies | 17 view(s)
  • Admin's Avatar
    06-30-2020, 01:10 PM
    Hallowicked is one of the many Chikara wrestlers who was NOT implicated; should he have to pay for the few who were? Photo Credit: Christine J. Coons Can an abuser be redeemed or rehabilitated? It's a question that gets asked a lot, too much in my opinion. The status quo gives way too much leeway to those accused of heinous shit, especially if they have a product that people seem to enjoy. It's how those accusing trainers in Chikara, including Mike Quackenbush, have to pass off their stories to others to expose for fear of a pile-on, but Quackenbush himself can record a 13-minute long video that he can have edited to remove hiccups and any accidental unsavoriness to explain "his side." I had people getting huffy at me for not wanting to listen to that side because it's something I've heard so many times before, how "Bram is a good guy and he's changed" without getting to hear from the woman he was accused of battering or that "Brock Turner had his whole life ahead of him and it shouldn't be ruined for a mistake" without consulting with the woman he was caught red-handed raping in an alleyway. At some point, one doesn't want to engage in the sort of one-sided trial in the court of public opinion when they've seen that sort of thing played out so many times before. The idea of "fairness" to him or any other person accused of rape, assault, grooming, bigoted language, or simply looking the other way when this all was happening is loaded anyway. As has been seen with Trent Seven bringing up legal action against one of the proxies telling the stories of victims who are coming forward, the system will ensure that fairness for the accused is preserved anyway. I'm more interested in fairness at least, if not justice, for the accusers, especially in an environment where an overwhelming majority of victims are telling the truth and get absolutely no recourse for what was done to them. There can be other victims in this case though, ones who will seem like easy targets, proxies even. In the case of Chikara, there's an entire promotion full of wrestlers, especially young ones, who had nothing to do with the bullshit happening around them, bullshit that they may never have known about. The thing about abuse and abusers is that it takes an overwhelming amount of arrogant hubris to let their actions fly in broad daylight or with a rainbow trail leading to the disgusting payload at its end. These people generally are careful, and even in times when they slip up, it is usually in front of people lower than them on the totem pole that they can pressure into silence using bookings and payment as leverage. Yes, while some students/young wrestlers in the company spoke out of turn and said things that were either not true or were painted by their own biases of what was going on around them, do they deserve the same treatment as the trainers/wrestlers implicated in wrongdoing or the person at the head of it, who turned the other way and was accused himself of saying and doing the heinous stuff that should get someone shunned from a scene until it's proven they've changed? The legal system, flawed as it might be, has classifications for offenses. Stealing a pack of gum doesn't carry the same weight as first degree murder, nor should it. Even then, some Chikara wrestlers now face is punishment for Quackenbush's transgressions for the equivalent of being the person in front of the gum-thief in line at the supermarket. Whether it be Hallowicked, a longtime veteran, or someone as wet behind the ears as Mister ZERO II, as long as you aren't implicated in any wrongdoing, why should you pay for the sins of your teacher or your boss? These folks are already paying a price by losing the steadiest, and in some cases only, booking they've ever had. The closure of Chikara has ripple effects that will make things harder on these wrestlers already facing the horrendous working conditions set forth by COVID-19. In other words, they're already paying a steep price for all of this; they don't need to face verbal abuse either. One of the biggest problems America and the world in general face is how people who transgress are dealt with in a manner that ensures their humanity remains respected while justice is meted out for those whose humanity these offenders have violated. As much as, in my anger and frustration, I want to throw someone like Quackenbush out for allowing a wrestling promotion that he advertised as being "for everyone" to become a front for a grooming operation, the truth is that even he probably can be rehabilitated. Maybe "redemption" is out of the question, at least until the victims left in his wake get their justice, but it's just as barbaric to expect that he face punitive action alone and suffer for the sake of suffering for crimes when that sort of thing should be reserved for war criminals and disaster profiteers. That being said, the flaws in the justice system often highlight how it leaves victims floundering in the wake of a prison-industrial complex that basically tortures criminals not based on crime severity but on their demographic. If Quackenbush is never welcomed back into the wrestling community, which is not guaranteed, it will represent the most severe possible punishment that he could face given how little law enforcement cares about things like sexual assault and domestic violence. The fact that within days of Impact Wrestling letting him go that Michael Elgin was still booked for IWA Mid-South shows how little the promise of blackballing can manifest itself if you have some weight behind your name. The problem then becomes who does end up paying. Cycling back to how people got mad at me for not wanting to listen to what Quackenbush had to say, I'm not entirely mad at them for feeling that way at all. They have dealt with backlash from people who look at Quackenbush as the physical manifestation of Chikara and they themselves take on a defensive position, as if they have skin in the game of whether Quackenbush's explanation is received well. The sad truth is that they do, and the even sadder truth is that they should absolutely not have to face whatever backlash he or the trainers/wrestlers that have been implicated. There's no reason why Bryce Remsburg or Molly McCoy or Dasher Hatfield or Callux the Castigator or Solo Darling or anyone else in that locker room has to pay for what happened in that Wrestle Factory or by people who were charged with representing it. Chikara is bigger than one man, and it represented more than the bad actions. Even discounting the fans, it was a family, and as seen with every single family on the planet, no unit is perfect. Just as it is unfair to punish the son for the sins of the father, it's unfair to punish the trainee for the sins of the teacher, especially since you might end up punishing people who have been victimized themselves. No matter what you think about Quackenbush or any other people who have been named, you need to channel your calls for justice and righteous anger at the people who deserve it. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is never a sound practice anyway, whether or not that bathwater was contaminated the whole time.
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  • Admin's Avatar
    06-30-2020, 12:01 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 06-30-2020: -atevileye (Age: hidden or unknown) Happy Birthday!
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  • Admin's Avatar
    06-29-2020, 11:30 AM
    Nagata and Suzuki showed how playing with perception is the last bit of deception left in wrestling's tank Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com After a week of writing about the worst of the people in the business, I think writing about the things in wrestling that make it good is in order. I'm not writing this to extol the virtues of either man as people, because I don't know the first thing about their personal lives. Wrestling, like the sports and entertainment it is uniquely modeled after, should provide escape even in dark times. I'm woefully behind on the New Japan Cup at present, but I caught up on the left side of the bracket over the weekend. Eight matches in, and it's no 2019 G1 Climax, but that's okay given the mismatches in stature or ability between the two wrestlers. The one match that I, like many of my peers, had circled for that side of the tournament was Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki. The match had two distinct rhythms that probably were not split right down the middle in terms of time, but felt like their weight was equal. The first half showed a slugfest between the two wrestlers where they traded blows without collapsing in trauma or exhaustion until Suzuki took Nagata down with force and purpose. The second half was pretty much a textbook Suzuki bullying that should have ended in an easy win but that culminated in Nagata stealing a victory in total shock, going against the grain of what the momentum of the match might have suggested (and yet in wrestling parlance, when two wrestlers are of equal stature, one might expect the guy getting his ass handed to him all match to pull a horseshoe out of their asses to get a fluke pin to win). It was deeply satisfying for the simple yet unexpected story it told, the tale of the massive chip on Nagata's shoulder. This first round match was described after the fact by some as a "dad fight," which is perfectly accurate if one guy's dad was a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Peeling back the layers showed more depth to the story they were trying to tell. For context, both wrestlers are on the other side of 50 years, both with similar levels of experience. Despite the apparent parity, Suzuki has far more cultural cache, whether it be "Kaze Ni Nare," his position at the vanguard of shoot-style wrestling, or his general sour disposition as leader of a prominent faction. Sure, Nagata had a big moment in the sun with American fans showing up on World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro and he ascended the top of the mountain in New Japan unlike Suzuki. That being said, the number of fans who remember him WCW who might have New Japan World subs feels dwarfed in comparison to what Suzuki means in the here and now. It doesn't matter that they're both the same age. Suzuki feels like he could beat Tetsuya Naito right now and carry the banner, even if that won't ever happen, while Nagata's place in opening card tags teaming with a random Young Lion (especially now that Manabu Nakanishi has retired) against Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima, feels not just earned, but comfortable for him. In the eyes of many, Suzuki is a "young" 52, while Nagata's same age feels "old." Through that lens, the entire match takes on a different, weightier feel. Granted, I will never begrudge anyone's analysis of a wrestling match, especially when theirs isn't looking for subtext where none exists. I'm perfectly content in taking criticism that I may be looking too hard for something that isn't there that I might as well be writing headcanon. Then again, Kevin Kelly made sure to note that this was the third meeting between Nagata and Suzuki in the first round of the New Japan Cup, and that Suzuki had won both times in the past. Unlike in All Elite Wrestling, commentary isn't just there for noise. Kelly says the things you should be looking at. Nagata had to climb uphill to win, and with that piece of info, the strike trading in the first "half" of the match is now Blue Justice valiantly standing against a competitor with "real" bona fides behind his strikes while being able to stand and deliver responses of his own. The second "half" shows Nagata weathering the all-out assault from a dangerous and ruthless opponent, and yet he's able to get to the ropes on every rear naked choke. He is able to swing his legs to prevent Suzuki from ever hitting the Gotch-style piledriver. Suzuki takes him into deep waters, but Nagata keeps getting his head up for air, and at the precariously last possible second, Nagata, the amateur wrestler and master of leverage and counterwrestling, uses Suzuki's own momentum against him and sinks him for good in the form of a bridging Saito suplex. He lives to fight one more day, and wouldn't you know it, his second match would be against the company's ace, Kazuchika Okada. I haven't gotten to that match yet. Nagata as the old gunslinger looking to prove that he still has one more big win in him is not a terribly unique story to have told, as promotions have been telling it since the dawn of professional wrestling. Extreme Championship Wrestling, for example, went all the way with it and had Terry Funk winning its World Championship at the centerpiece of its first ever foray onto pay-per-view. Having that moment come against someone just as old as him is both a curious move and one that shows the juxtaposition of two men with similar backgrounds just perceived differently. Wrestling at its heart was borne of deception anyway. The old carnivals would put their unseemly champions against local tough guys and clean up showing that not all books can be judged by their covers. That deception crept into the modern era with the play that promoters and wrestlers would try to pass the work off as a shoot, although again, I keep having to mention that the actual point in time when the fans actually were in on the joke is always in dispute and is probably earlier than anyone might want to admit. As more and more fans not only get that it's supposed to be a work but revel in it, the art of deception has to keep moving in less obvious avenues. The less refined among promoters attempt to blur the lines between reality and stage-show through clunky "worked shoots," which became passe almost as soon as they started becoming hip. Playing with audience perceptions, however, is perhaps the best way for savvy storytellers to get their kicks in being able to trick an audience without fundamentally betraying what it is they're actually doing in the first place. The idea that wrestling is fake is not lost on fans; they're there not in spite of it, but BECAUSE of it, because it is visceral theater whose action can be controlled completely by the players looking to carry out a story rather than athletes trying to win. In a medium where a mid-30s Kenny Omega can still be seen as an up-and-comer or where Randy Orton could become boring and stale before that 30th birthday, age means less and less as years go on. So you can have a situation where a 52-year-old man can show that he has one last big score left, that his guns still fire, against someone of the same age and even a LESS impressive in-kayfabe resume (Suzuki being the King of PANCRASE and a founding father of mixed martial arts gives him a leg up regardless of any worked titles, to be quite honest), and it doesn't come off as hokey or hollow. When in the hands people who know what they're doing, a story like what was told in this match feels genuine and elicits a deep emotional response. Whether marveling at it as a hard-hitting dad fight or feeling some kind of resonance of a deeper story, Nagata and Suzuki did what many wrestlers set out to do and few of them succeed at on any given night. They created pro wrestling magic.
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  • Admin's Avatar
    06-29-2020, 12:00 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 06-29-2020: -ambotsaimu (born in 1992, Age: 28) Happy Birthday!
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  • Admin's Avatar
    06-27-2020, 12:01 AM
    4 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-27-2020: -SpinnerAbb (born in 1974, Age: 46) -EliseDiehl (born in 1983, Age: 37) -DopeDavey (born in 1984, Age: 36) -Axjb (born in 1994, Age: 26) Happy Birthday!
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  • Admin's Avatar
    06-26-2020, 12:07 PM
    Hammerstone is afraid of people coming for his chop wars, but he shouldn't as long as he knows to chop people with consent. Photo Credit: MLW.com Wrestling, like sex, is a mutually beneficial act between two or more consenting adults that produces a desired bit of gratification. In wrestling, the gratification is less physical than an orgasm, but the principles still remain the same. You need ongoing consent among all participants before that mutual benefit turns into assault or something worse. The worst offender from this past week's spate of cleaning house in pro wrestling, Joey Ryan, based his entire gimmick around sex, namely his sex organ. If an author were writing fiction about exposing the seedy underbelly of pro wrestling, they'd probably think having the worst offender be the Penis Wrestler Man be a bit on the nose. Still, Ryan's actions have become cautionary for the need for ongoing consent both in the ring and in the bedroom. It's not how one wants to arrive at a teaching moment with a wake of scarred victims left behind. I would rather Ryan had never been born and all fans and wrestlers and, hell, people in the world born imbued with an innate respect for consent, but one must play with the hand they are dealt. As with any move to clean out the filth in any sector, you have pearl-clutching bystanders wondering if the mobs are going to far. You see it with the Black Lives Matter protests taking down statues. One can look at them toppling Nathan Bedford Forrest, and unless they're totally racist, they can think that's necessary. But put a rope around a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and drag it to the ground, and you get people asking to fetch their fainting couches. Sure, Grant is a "good" president from America's history, but that's like pointing out the cleanest pig in a wallow. Predictably, one of the people at the vanguard of wrestling's "are you going to far?" brigade is Alex Hammerstone, star of Major League Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH, a fine wrestler but someone who has a history of baffling social statements. He made this tweet yesterday: I’ve see people try to lump in getting chopped or being bumped a lot with bullying and even use the speaking out hashtag. Are you kidding me? if a trainer takes advantage and abuses students it’s one thing.... but at this rate, how long before someone complains about pushups? — Hammerstone (prob lifting weights right now) (@alexhammerstone) June 25, 2020On a visceral level, I can get his preemptive anger, but the point is both of his big examples are textbook ones highlighting the need for ongoing consent in a wrestling ring. I saw the Gary Jay vs. BSTRD Cassidy match from Bizarro Lucha's Into the Luchaverse, and they turned each other's chests into ground beef. They're not the first two wrestlers to ravage each others' chests (and the younger Cassidy got the rawer end of it), and they won't be the last. That being said, I can see how a wrestler wouldn't want to see the appeal of having to ice their chest down after a match where they ostensibly thought they'd escape unscathed. I'm not saying that shit doesn't have a place in wrestling altogether. I don't kink-shame, and sadomasochism, though not for me, is valid I suppose. What I am saying is if wrestler A chops a little too hard and wrestler B doesn't like it, B should have the ability to revoke consent to take those chops. The same goes for taking a ton of bumps in a match. Consent should never be taken for granted, no matter what story one wrestler wants to tell. Open lines of communication are vital to really anything that involves more than one person working, playing, doing anything. Take the lines of communication away, and people are not on the same page. The chances that someone gets hurt or worse go up exponentially when you have two people working with each other but without knowing the plan of action. Wrestling is weird, almost paradoxical, in that the goal has nominally been convincing people that the wrestlers are fighting, but it's the thing most dependent on synced collaboration in the moment in all of sport or entertainment. It's why people get so furious when someone like Sexy Star starts shooting. What separates her attacking Rosemary on purpose from Ryan assuming that because Candice LeRae was okay taking a Boobplex that Vanessa Kraven would? It's always a grayer area with things like hard chops in the ring, because the unspoken treatise among all wrestlers appears to be that taking and giving hard chops has implied consent. What is hard about making it verbal? It doesn't end the practice overall. If Hammerstone wants to get in the ring with Gary Jay to make each others' chests look like Abdullah the Butcher's forehead, that's their right. The problem comes in with having a problem with people speaking out about it. Abuse comes in a lot of forms, and otherwise well-meaning people have to be careful that their ignorance, negligence, or assumptions put them in the same category as out-and-out bullies, abusers, and rapists. This goes not just for wrestling, but for anything in life, especially sex. The reason why so much rape and assault happen is because society teaches people, mostly men/masc-people but really anyone can fall victim, that no doesn't always mean no and that you have to keep being aggressive and persistent. How can communication between partners be effective if more than half the population believes it's their God-given right to receive sexual gratification regardless of any other circumstance? I don't know how to tell people that they have to care about other people if they don't know it already. However, you are not in this alone. Everyone on this planet needs help to get through life, and that help has to go above and beyond meaningless platitudes. This maxim is even truer in the wrestling ring, where one false move, one miscommunication, can be the difference between walking out of the ring the same way you walked in or not walking out at all. What people like Hammerstone need to realize is no one's coming for his chop wars unless they can prove that people who don't want to bleed from their pecs in a match where they are only getting paid 20 bucks were still being made to bleed from those pecs. Communication is the most vital tool for the human race, and consent has to be guaranteed at every turn before you try the next thing you want to do. If you go ahead and do something to a non-consenting party though, well, I hope you're well-equipped and mentally ready to deal with the consequences.
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    06-26-2020, 12:01 AM
    3 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-26-2020: -LeomaLin7 (born in 1971, Age: 49) -Rickey3712 (born in 1972, Age: 48) -NFL (born in 1996, Age: 24) Happy Birthday!
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    06-25-2020, 10:26 AM
    Pictured: A Monster Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein In many ways, The Wrestling Blog has been inextricably linked to Chikara over its history. It used to be something I could hang my had upon, being able to speak with an expert's tongue about a pro wrestling company that was near and dear to my heart. I valued live experience and artistic output over access. You could say that was my first mistake, but I always wanted TWB to be more a critical outlet than a news hub. Maybe it was a mistake after all. The Speaking Out movement exposed some seedy details about the company, how people who were supposed to nurture trust of young aspiring wrestlers betrayed it in order to run a hellish grooming operation. Mike Quackenbush was less a genial and avuncular wrestling maven and more a cruel, oversexed nerd, twisted after gaining a modicum of power over a group of people he could view as subordinate. The trainers he allowed to harass and abuse young wrestlers, especially female ones, made the Wrestle Factory one of the least safe spaces in all of wrestling. You can read for yourself the graphic and lurid details of misconduct and malfeasance perpetrated by the power structure of the company by going to @CZWiggy's feed. I don't want to post anything directly here because I don't want to unnecessarily trigger anyone. Quackenbush responded to the allegations with a brusque and inadequate apology and by closing Chikara and resigning as head trainer of the Wrestle Factory. In the blink of an eye, a company that had nearly two decades of rich experience had disappeared with nothing more than a whimper because of the malice, lust, and greed of a few people. One could argue he had no choice, and I would agree at least superficially. So many people on his roster, from wet-behind-the-ears wrestlers like Frey Nassar to the most stalwart of veterans like Hallowicked, all tendered their resignations at the revelation of this reprehensible misconduct. You can argue over how much anyone quitting right now knew about what was going on when it was going on, but drawing from my personal experience, you can't push blame on anyone other than the people who made it happen. Part of why the Chikara experience is so tainted is because I went to a lot of shows with Brandon Stroud. He has also been implicated in the Speaking Out movement as a manipulator and a rapist judging by stories that have been given anonymously to others who wanted their stories to be heard but not face the inevitable misogynist blowback. I didn't know him well enough to see his blatantly abusive tendencies manifest, apparently. Those who did? Can you cast blame on them? When you have someone like Stroud, who wielded a considerable amount of professional influence at UPROXX, acting tyrannically and abusively, people, no matter how close, can feel the crunch of calling out someone with so much influence, especially if they so happen to write for his vertical. Even then, those who remained silent for reasons of intimidation still ended up feeling the professional brunt; there have been stories told about him lobbying to get people fired from UPROXX if they even mentioned any of the then-whispers surrounding his malfeasance. Something as insignificant as opinion writing and review about pro fucking wrestling can foster that kind of hostile environment. So what does that say about the next step up, the actual wrestling being reviewed? Unless you can prove that Hallowicked was complicit in the cover-up, I'm not sure how much heat you can put on him and not the people who were named, like Quackenbush, Icarus, and Kobald. The truth of the matter is that all the wrestlers who have quit have one thing in common. They have all, almost in unanimity, proclaimed that Chikara was a family to them. Quackenbush had a choice to make when co-founder "Reckless Youth" Tom Carter stepped away from the company. He could have continued on or closed the doors without the person with whom he started the venture. He chose the former. He didn't have to close Chikara. It didn't belong to him alone, and one could argue that after all the shit he pulled, it probably didn't belong to him at all. As long as they too weren't involved in the systemic abuses that were happening, there were wrestlers like 'Wicked, like Ophidian, like Dasher Hatfield, all of whom could have taken the mantel of steward over for the company. Even after he'd been found out, Quackenbush took the coward's way out, even if the Chikara name may now be irrevocably poisoned by his actions and the actions of people he either endorsed directly or indirectly by turning the other way. I thought Chikara would be the paragon of what wrestling should be, and I always imagined that when it eventually closed, I would write paeans to the wonderful memories I gathered from attending and watching shows. Now it has ended in disgust and abuse, and I am both sad for the victims it left in its wake and for the wrestlers who did nothing more wrong than unknowingly sign up to train under a demented and perverted taskmaster who didn't care if they were violated, physically or sexually, and also happy now that this scourge on wrestling is closed. Granted, Chikara isn't the only place where this shit has happened, but that's what the Speaking Out movement is about. It is about tearing down every single institution that has allowed the systemic abuse of innocent people who just wanted to fucking wrestle, burning the debris, and building a new wrestling scene with no trace of the horrific architecture that housed all those abuses beforehand. When wrestlers like Rory Gulak, Thomas Sharp/Blaster McMassive, and Juan Francisco de Coronado were jettisoned from the company after whispers about them were spoken into a megahorn, I thought they were isolated incidents at the time. Now I know they were part of a systemic culture of sexual misconduct and abuse, and that they were only sent away in order to hide what was really going on behind the scenes. You could've been a creep all you wanted in that fucking company, but if you got caught, you had to pay the price for everyone. Well, that's not going to happen anymore. As much as it hurts me to say it, Chikara was a blight on the wrestling community, and its end is a cause to say "good riddance." I will never forget the good times I had at shows or all the friends I made there. Some things you just can't taint. That being said, it'll be hard to look back at them fondly through anything but lens of sadness and anger because of the people that were being hurt to provide the canvass for those memories to be made. In the meantime, until the wrestling community can burn down the current superstructure and build one safer for wrestlers and fans alike, the need to question everything is imperative. Given how deep the rot was in Chikara and other places that put on a happy face and said "wrestling should be for EVERYONE!" maybe it's for the best that if one company has more than one wrestler accused of being a creep, you might want to start treating them as a place that's rotten to the core. If that means no wrestling companies are safe spaces, the problem isn't with the fans calling it out, that's for damn sure.
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    06-23-2020, 12:00 AM
    2 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-23-2020: -BlancheMur (born in 1981, Age: 39) -hulkmanno (born in 1987, Age: 33) Happy Birthday!
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    06-22-2020, 09:11 AM
    Ryan's widespread and severe abuses were only the tip of the tip of the iceberg Photo Credit: Mikey Nolan Last week, David Starr answered questions of relationship abuse and "grey rape" by admitting to all these things, thus getting himself effectively removed from the wrestling scene. What followed was an avalanche of victims speaking out, either directly or anonymously through proxies. While it was overwhelming at times, it was not surprising given the whispers surrounding so many people in the industry already. Survivors came forward and outed several people on the scene, from as prominent as Matt Riddle to several administrators of small indie schools stateside. The accusations were wide-ranging, but all of them had a thread in common that they were endemic of people with power abusing said influence to exert some kind of control over someone with less of a say, whether it be through an experience gradient or through sexual misconduct. The sheer number of people who have been implicated in this outpouring of revelation says one thing loudly and clearly. The wrestling industry's foundation is rotted. The support structures do not protect anyone except the people who are actively working to undermine their integrity. The omerta in the locker room has kept abusers safe, but the extent of that protection really hasn't been explored until now. Honestly, I fear this past weekend was only the tip of the iceberg. You don't have this many stories come out and only concentrate it on indie wrestlers and low-hanging fruit in major companies. Does anyone think WWE, a company that is headed by an accused rapist, a suspected accomplice to murder, and the most wicked and ruthless capitalist ever to promote a show, has a roster full of angels on RAW and Smackdown? The reason why McMahon himself hasn't been touched is the same reason he skated during the George Zahorian steroid trials, the same reason he got off with just a settlement to Martha Hart after his gross negligence ended Owen Hart's life, why the rape allegations to him never stuck. He's filthy rich and embedded in the one percent. While he's not the reason why the business is full of scumbags, he certainly is the patron saint of every bully and abuser in the industry. He runs the market leader, and that infection trickles down, whether or not anyone wants to admit it. His continued presence gaining the most wealth from the presentation of wrestling will make cleaning out the industry difficult. It's hard to rebuild when the guy running the show is making billions off a culture of rot. Make no mistake about it though, you cannot build on top of a rotted foundation. Simply clearing out the people like Starr and Joey Ryan (who should be in a prison at the bottom of the ocean right now) and Dave Crist and Saraya Knight (in case you thought men were the only bullies and abusers here) without addressing the systemic issues that got so many pieces of shit in positions of power. The whole paradigm has to shift, and there's no simple and easy answer. Even the correct answers, worker-owned collectives, aren't ever going to be easy to implement because of how entrenched the Western world and technologically-advanced nations in Asia like Japan are in capitalism. No matter how anyone might like it, wrestling might be the business most ingrained with the goals and aims of capitalism. The pessimistic view is that there is no cleansing flood coming to destroy wrestling as it is, leaving the passengers of a mythic ark, and the reason is that the wholesale protection of abusers and bullies is embedded in greater society. If you think movies, music, and sports all have better track records than wrestling at rooting out the scum, well, might I interest you in the continuing careers of creeps like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. It's embedded in the legal system as well. Rape is one of the most under-prosecuted crimes on the books, and domestic violence might as well be jaywalking the way people escape consequence from it until they end up murdering the people they're abusing. Society doesn't and has never respected victims. If wrestling got tough and actually meted out justice for the abuse happening under its umbrella, it would be ahead even of the law in effectively rooting these problems out. As glum and dire as the situation might be, it is still up to the decent people in the industry at least to try. A good start would be to flush everyone named at all from the beginning of time until this past weekend out of the business. Sure, no one came out with new Chasyn Rance stories, but what the hell is his hive of scum and villainy in Central Florida doing existing after everything associated with it? The fact that the Team Vision Dojo is still operating, or that Impact Wrestling has collected anyone who has been accused of anything in the last decade on its roster, shows there's still a shitload of work left to do. Regarding Impact, it won't matter if they fire Joey Ryan after the outcry over him because they'll still have Dave Crist, Moose, Rich Swann, Michael Elgin, Trey Miguel, Tessa Blanchard, and Sami Callihan on the roster with the last one in that list having major control over booking. Just because the workload is heavy or Sisyphean doesn't mean it's not worth doing. It would be nice to have support from the world at-large, but no matter what, it's time for wrestling a to clean house. If that means kicking a bunch of shitty people in the nuts in the process, then it's what needs to be done. The alternative would be to do nothing and leave people like Ryan in positions where they can continue to hurt people unabated. Honestly, I would much rather have the entire industry collapse and there to be no more wrestling until the world ends (which at this pace will be in 2050) than to have a situation where this thing I've written about for over a decade and have been a fan of three times as long harbors widespread and severe abuses of vulnerable people, real people.
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    06-20-2020, 12:01 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 06-20-2020: -Vinz06 (born in 1996, Age: 24) Happy Birthday!
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    06-19-2020, 09:49 AM
    Whether as The Natural or Goldust, Dustin Rhodes may be the quintessential second-generation wrestler Photo Credit: WWE.com My friends over at The Wrestling Estate posed a good question the other day. Who is the best second-or-third generation wrestler ever? Wrestling has its share of sons and daughters who took up the family business and had success to varying degrees. Sometimes, those wrestlers' family connections are well-promoted and made part of their characters. Others toil sometimes in defiance of their parents' fame. Either way, there are enough wrestlers with forefathers in the industry that this is an intriguing topic. I don't want to rank mine, but I will put them into categories, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I may miss a few wrestlers, and honestly, most of the ones I mention will be in the first category. The Good Dustin Rhodes - "The Natural" probably isn't the best wrestler to have a famous parent in the industry, but he might be the first answer that comes to mind given how he broke into it. His father, Dusty Rhodes, was inescapable in the '70s and '80s, and he was his son's guide to get into the biz in the early '90s. One of dad's most famous promos ever, "The View Never Changes," was an impassioned plea to Dustin even. One could argue that son surpassed father in one area, in the ring. Dustin was regarded as one of the best in-ring wrestlers in early World Championship Wrestling, which was no small feat given WHO wrestled there during that time. Still, being pushed as the son of a son of a plumber when dear old dad was just a metaphorical Sirius in a sky of red dwarves. He never could escape that shadow, at least in WCW. Then, he ventured up north to the World Wrestling Federation. As fate would have it, Dustin inherited his father's quirky personality traits, and with some persuasion, maybe from Vince McMahon, maybe from Vince Russo, maybe from no one but himself, he transformed into Goldust, looking like an Oscar statue come to life and skirting the lines of masculinity all the while. While the then-WWF punted the ball on Goldust's in-character sexuality, making his emphatic "no" answer to Jerry Lawler's question of whether he was gay a babyface turn, he still felt at home as an outsized and bizarre creature of impulse in a company that was embracing those kinds of characters. The funny thing was that no matter how many times he left WWE, when he tried to reboot "The Natural" or do a play on the Goldust character in a company that didn't have rights to it, he flopped, save this current run as an All Elite elder statesman. But no matter how many times he came back to WWE, no matter how many times the incarnation of Goldust was nothing like the one that worked in WWE prior, he found some niche, some groove where he could survive at least, and in some cases, thrive. It's easy to say that some of the people listed later on are better wrestlers and thus better "second generation" ones, but given how much of Dustin's career was first following in Dusty's footprints and then breaking out of his shadow, I might be inclined to say he's the quintessential inheritor of the family business, even if he didn't surpass dad in terms of legacy. Sometimes, it's okay to have a great career on your own, even if it doesn't transcend the way the ones who came before did. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - It's funny to see Jim Cornette decry "outlaw mudshows" today when perhaps the greatest wrestler ever to live got his start in one. Randy Savage began working for his father Angelo's rogue promotion in Kentucky, horning in on Memphis' Mid-South territory, and it led to him going on an organic hot streak that may have defined wrestling in the '80s more than Hulk Hogan's run as Vince McMahon's Aryan superman or Ric Flair's salad days as The World's Champion. It's easy for kids today to forget Angelo Poffo because he was active so long ago and is now known more as a promoter. It's easy for them to forget how lucky wrestling was to have gotten Savage too. He was a highly-touted prospect for the Cincinnati Reds who was on track to make the Major Leagues until an injury set his career back and sent him to his dad's work. The best things in wrestling almost always happen by accident though. Terry Funk - From the Double Cross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, the Funker made huge impacts in no fewer than three decades in pro wrestling while continuing to work late into his 70s. Like Rhodes, he had big shoes to fill, not just from his father, Dory, Sr. but brother Dory, Jr., who broke in first and won the National Wrestling Alliance Championship first. Still, it's hard to discount people who say Terry was the one who ended up being a candidate to be the best ever. Certainly, his resume speaks louder than all but a handful of other people, and it wasn't as a one-trick pony either. You couldn't tell me that the Funk who terrorized Jerry Lawler as a larger-than-life cocky villain looking to get knocked down a peg or two was the same as the vicious killer who piledrove Flair through a table or as the scrappy legend looking for one last run in Extreme Championship Wrestling. But he was so good at everything he did for longer than so many other people, it's hard to look at him and not lay superlatives at his feet. Bret and Owen Hart - Stu Hart's two most successful sons in wrestling made their hay in totally different ways. Families can breed a lot of things, but brothers don't have to be clones of the father or even themselves. Bret was methodical, self-serious, a brawling technician who made sure to show the work in everything he did. He was cunning, planning, living up to his nickname in every single way. Owen, however, was free-wheeling, emotional, fiery, and bold. Maybe that's the reason they were such great rivals. They completed each other in ways that Bret's other big rival, Shawn Michaels, couldn't even say. Both of their careers ended prematurely and tragically. Bret may have gotten off easy in comparison, but he bore Owen's fate with him all these years as well since Owen surely couldn't from the grave. Wrestling is a business that chews people and spits them out. Lucha, in general - Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio, Jr. are perhaps the most famous wrestlers to make it to America from Mexico or more accurately Mexican heritage. While they were both born in America, their families were lucha royalty. Mexico is the place where they made their initial hay, although one could argue Mysterio and especially Guerrero got supernova huge elsewhere. The thing is that they're only really unique from their home scene in the fact that they left for America in the first place. In many respects, lucha is a family business. There are so many wrestlers with Jr. or Roman numerals after their names or "El Hijo/La Hija de" before that you'd think having a relative in the business was a prerequisite. The success rate is astounding in most cases. Even the cultural behemoth El Santo had a son who went into lucha. If you think Dusty Rhodes had big cowboy boots to fill, imagine being the kid of a man who resembled Mexican monoculture. Lightning almost never strikes twice in the same way, but you can't call El Hijo del Santo's career anything less than a success even with how much pressure he had on him. For as much as wrestling in America can be weird and insular, there's something charming and warm about how many families are born into lucha. The Bad Randy Orton - It's not to say Orton has had a bad career or is a failure as a wrestler. Maybe in this spot, "overrated" might be the right term to use because he's always been pumped up, either by his company or by rabid fans of said company who see appeal in him more than a finisher or his recent spate of seeking social justice. Orton has always felt like wasted potential, someone where he had to be motivated to keep up his end of the bargain. There have been times in his career where he lived up to his potential and then some. Surprisingly, the first thing that pops out is the Extreme Rules '12 match against Kane where they just beat the shit out of each other around the arena. The other times were all the matches he had with Daniel Bryan, which might seem unsurprising on the surface. I mean, Bryan could have a great match with a broomstick. The thing is, Christian could make a similar claim. Sometimes, I feel like I'm Squidward peeking at SpongeBob and Patrick from the window when it comes to that series of matches, but they without question always left me flat. How could Orton have seamlessly great matches with Bryan Danielson and not Christian Cage? Look at how much he gave Bryan, and then how much he didn't give Christian. It's a microcosm of his entire career. When Orton felt like giving a shit, he gave everything he had, but that always felt rare compared to the times he didn't, no matter how many cool RKOs he dished out in improbable situations. Cody Rhodes - I think it's undisputed that the younger grandson of a plumber is probably more objectively successful than Dustin. The company he founded and runs has lasted a year and gotten on TNT. He successfully built a brand away from the megalith and thus started his own budding megalith to compete. It's hard to say anything he's done is unsuccessful, but every time I watch anything he does outside of a few oases here or there, it elicits a cringe. He followed up an impassioned speech that evoked his father's oratory skills against one wrestler, Chris Jericho, with basically trying to measure dicks with another, MJF, by letting everyone know how rich he was, which to me speaks to the fact that he never really got what made his dad special. It didn't matter if his dad had all the booking power in a company behind the scenes. He never let anyone forget for whom he was fighting when the lights were on or the cameras were rolling. Cody just lets that line get blurred, and it's going to make whatever heel turn he has cooked up down the line feel limp, because how can you look at him outside of a few spots since leaving WWE and think he's been anything but a half-baked villain anyway? I understand the desire to like Cody, but the point is he spent so many years of his career with bad editors giving him shit to work with that he jumped right into having no filter and no one to tell him he was coming up with bad ideas, and the whiplash has made him the most cognitively dissonant character in all of wrestling. Charlotte Flair - On one hand, it's not her fault that McMahon has booked her the way that restlessly unsatisfied fans accused him of presenting Roman Reigns. On the other, does the fault matter when her presence on screen is overbearing? It's a chicken-egg argument, and it might be more interesting if she were as good as either Reigns or her now-pregnant counterpart Becky Lynch at her job. Like Orton, she's a textbook case of the word "overrated" having value in a conversation, although it's less because she's preternaturally talented and more because I'm not sure she was ever taught how to use her tall frame in a way that made her movement in the ring feel natural and not janky. One can only see her land on her knees on a moonsault attempt or move in almost the manner of stop motion animation taking Sasha Banks' lucha-inspired offense so many times before believing the hype that she's some generational talent. Of course, she will end up being to the WWE Women's division what her father was to the NWA and WCW, and it won't be entirely undeserved. One should probably just accept she's more American Hulk Hogan (in character of course, I'm not saying she's outwardly racist) than Steve Austin or John Cena even. Vince McMahon - Did you know his father, Vincent James McMahon, didn't want him to follow in the family business? They grew up estranged from each other for the first 12 years of the son's life. In some respects, the world might have been a better place if they never did get in contact with each other, because no one has been as destructive a force in professional wrestling than Vincent Kennedy McMahon. From his monopolistic treatment of other promoters to his labor-busting of his talent, few people have set a tone like he has and done it in such a prominent role in the business. Wrestling promoters as a rule rarely if ever are good people, but the difference between someone like Jerry Jarrett and McMahon is the difference between someone robbing a bodega and Lex Luthor. Wrestling would be different if McMahon wasn't the man to take it national, but would it have been better? I have no idea, but I'm not sure it could be any worse. The Ugly Greg Gagne - Gagne is the bizarro McMahon in that his dad wanted him to be front and center, and it ended up tanking the company he worked for. Verne Gagne is rightly regarded as one of the best and most revered promoters in the game, building a wrestling empire out of the frozen northern Minnesota territory. It was part his own hubris that was his undoing. Sure, McMahon raiding his pantry didn't help, but Hogan didn't have to leave if Gagne had just put him over Nick Bockwinkel, for crying out loud. Still, the gambit with his son may have been the most damaging play of nepotism in an industry that has had a lot of fucking nepotism in it over the years. Maybe the AWA was circling the drain and would've gone belly up if Greg never set foot on camera. That being said, he's an easy mascot for the company's demise, like David Arquette or Vince Russo were for WCW or Justin Credible for ECW. Richie Steamboat - To be completely fair, it wasn't Steamboat's fault AT ALL that his wrestling career ended the way it did. The kid had a promising career based on the Florida Championship Wrestling matches that got posted to YouTube. He was a fire white-meat babyface in the vein of his father against dastardly intellectual elitist Damien Sandow. There were high hopes for him. But then the ugliness reared its head in the form of Bill DeMott, whose training regimens could be described as "draconian" if one is being eminently charitable. One wrong moonsault done during drills, and Steamboat's career was effectively over thanks to a fucked back. What might have happened if DeMott, known as a taskmaster and a bully putting it lightly, was properly vetted for his job instead of hired in a fit of cronyism? Maybe Steamboat was the guy to take the mantel of pure-hearted hero from his father. Wrestling is a cruel business filled with cruel people. Curtis Axel - WWE went from hating the idea that Axel had famous male forebears to trying to capitalize on it in the most half-assed way possible that it's almost admirable. Poor Axel never had a chance when his career arc went from "Genesis of McGillicutty" to Jerry Lawler openly questioning his and David Otunga's charisma when they were Tag Champions to making him a Paul Heyman Guy without ever telling Paul Heyman to care about him. It was perhaps the highest-profile case of management telling someone to go figure it out because his dad was a legend. It's a shame, because Axel always had a ruggedness around him, a real throwback to the days of barrel-chested dads whose kids bragged about them. I feel like there's always room for guys like him in any company, because burly guys brawling is perhaps the easiest route to a sustained fan reaction possible at this point.
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    06-18-2020, 12:17 PM
    Starr is a predator but he's far from the only one in wrestling OR on the left Photo Credit: Grenwail Yesterday, David Starr, the most outwardly leftist wrestler on the scene to the point where his agitation for things like unions and protections may have gotten him blackballed from major companies, faced allegations from an ex-girlfriend of being a sexual abuser. These allegations are not new, to be quite clear, or at least the specter of them weren't. The same main accuser came to the surface years ago to talk about everything but the sexual abuse, to say that Starr was mentally abusive. The newest allegations accuse him of the sexual assault. Starr refuted those claims that he was a predator via the most hilarious way possible, a Notes apology, where he admitted to what he called "gray rape." To be honest, if you have to talk about a term that has "rape" in it, you might want to pump the brakes on denying that you're a predator. Whether anything else will happen with these allegations against Starr remains to be seen. Several promotions where he has worked and been relied upon as a feature attraction have remained silent. Thankfully, his peers have not. Either way, I don't want to focus too much on Starr himself because while he deserves to be dealt with in a just manner that is fair to his victims, he is not really special in the wrestling community. The amount of wrestlers who have sexual assault or domestic violence on their ledgers is astounding. To be clear, one predator in the biz would be too much, but when you have a rogues' gallery that stretches from the well-known and egregious like Chasyn Rance to the ones only talked about in whispered tones like the Crist Brothers, you can't point only at Starr and make an example of him as if he hasn't shared locker rooms with wrestlers who have equally bad histories. Starr positioning himself as the leftist voice of reason in wrestling presents another problem in that leftist spaces, places that honestly should be safe places for women and other marginalized people regardless of gender or sexual orientation have far too many rapists and abusers in their midst. There always seems to be a story about marginalized, victimized people leaving organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America because their inaction with regards to the abusers makes the work they do not worth it. Another place where left politics intersect with wrestling is with Jetta Rae in the East Bay DSA. In case you thought you could trust anyone based who they are, she is a trans woman who has been accused of preying on more vulnerable members of the DSA. When met with the accusations, she went on a rant against cancel culture and then started training to be a wrestler at Hoodslam. In case you think it's just the wrestlers who are creeps, look up the names of people like Connor Golden, Michael Curry, "Jeevesmeister," or "Lana del Raytheon." Predators always seem to be popping up, and the bare minimum steps are taken to shoo them away if those steps are taken at all, and they're taken far too late. Wrestling and leftist organizing placed on diametric positions on the fun/work axis, but they share a common goal of the need to be safe places for people to congregate. Going to wrestling shows should be a blithe experience, a place to live vicariously through the pantomimed violence in the ring. You shouldn't have to worry about being groped in the entrance line or raped in the bathroom. You shouldn't have to worry about your experience at the show tainted because a friend you met through wrestling or in the business itself harmed you. In turn, going to the DSA meeting or marching in the streets for social justice for Black people, or doing door-knocking for a leftward candidate should not make you fear for your safety. It's important work that should in theory be done in order to protect future victims of sexual assault or domestic violence from ever having to become victims. The fact that it happens in these places and that no one seems to care shows how fucking far humanity has to go in order to destroy the old hierarchies and power structures in order to have true justice. No matter where potential victims, and yeah, cis men can be and have been victims, are, the fact that they have to fear for their safety makes things rotten to the core. The accusations against Starr only highlight how perilous the navigation of life in total can be for potential targets, and his should be a lesson that it's almost never just the singular actors. Gloating over finally "getting" someone like Starr is hollow and ignores the fact that he comes from a system where abusers and rapists continue to get bookings with the shield of locker room omerta, or that the left has finally rooted out a bad actor when there are still people within organizations who cape for folks like Jetta Rae or Golden. The worst part is that the greater population of people who consist of victims and those who are neither victims nor predators does not have the support of power structures. Even the superstructures that don't contain actual predators, and let me tell you, both politics and wrestling contain rapists and abusers from top to bottom, look the other way if the accused can draw money or has a uniquely gifted voice for organizing. The best the community can do is to not only believe victims, but protect them. That may not feel like much if you get promoters defiantly bringing Starr back in a month after this all "blows over," but reaching out to those who don't feel safe at shows or meetings and offering them even just some idle conversation to ward off creeps doing creep shit can mean the world to someone vulnerable. Mass action and organizing within these spaces can help root out the rotten actors. Overall, the greater population overwhelms those in numbers who want to keep creeps and predators in their midst, or at least I hope it does. Until then, cases like Starr's will continue to expose how badly equipped places that should be safe are to remain truly sanctuaries for the victimized and at-risk. The goal should always be to eject those who make others feel unsafe out of supposed safe spaces. If any community can't promise that, what fucking good are they?
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    06-18-2020, 12:01 AM
    2 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-18-2020: -ProdVidea (born in 1976, Age: 44) -milos87popovic (born in 1987, Age: 33) Happy Birthday!
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    06-17-2020, 12:00 AM
    4 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-17-2020: -dichvuatm90 (born in 1980, Age: 40) -Jonnycakesten (born in 1980, Age: 40) -FranklynCl (born in 1981, Age: 39) -klifor01 (born in 1982, Age: 38) Happy Birthday!
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    06-16-2020, 12:53 PM
    Orton listened. You should too. Photo Credit: WWE.com When the police murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, it was the straw that broke a camel's back that had been taking them on since the last time it suffered the same injury in 2015. History has a way of repeating itself when measures aren't taken to remediate those problems. Michael Brown and Freddie Gray gave rise to scores of other victims of police brutality, most of them Black, a pile of bodies murdered for no other reason than to let an entire race within any class lower than "fuck you money" in America know that their lives could be forfeit if a police officer has a bad day. The lynching of Ahmaud Aubery in broad daylight dovetailing into the murder of a sleeping Breonna Taylor off a no-knock warrant at the wrong house to Floyd's murder caught with graphic and lurid detail on camera set the American public off in greater fury than when the words Black Lives Matter were uttered the first time as a rallying cry five years ago. Aubery's murder was the only one not sanctioned by the police, but the fact that he was murdered in February and police didn't arrest the perpetrators until May and only after national outcry is almost as egregious a lapse in the supposed social contract between police and civilian as the wanton murders. While the fervor nationally after Brown's and Gray's murders in 2015 was hot, it feels like the current climate has produced a much more passionate outcry from more people in the spotlight. Some of those folks aren't surprising, but this round of righteous protest against police brutality has brought out some shocking names speaking eloquently on behalf of Black Americans, the most shocking among them being Randy Orton. He took to Twitter the night after protests started to proclaim Black Lives Matter and that all lives couldn't matter until Black lives did. It took me aback fiercely as Orton's social cues have always been far right of the Y-axis on a political compass chart. While his words were shocking, they were appreciated. He didn't waver, he didn't make some wishy-washy bullshit statement, and he didn't go on a Seth Abramson/Gwen Snyder-like thread where he would've easily lost the plot. For someone with the reputation he has, his response was perfect, or maybe it seemed perfect because noted bullshit peddlers in wrestling or otherwise never so concisely or emphatically come out on the side of good in these situations. I more than anyone understand the hesitation to rush to throw laurels at Orton's feet, because he's only doing what he should be doing at minimum, and White allies shouldn't be centered in these kinds of struggles. That being said, the White voice can be a powerful weapon, a crowbar that can open doors that Black voices can't because of racist tendencies not to listen. Listening, it seems, is the one thing that can break down doors and put hammers through walls. It's how Orton came to have this change of heart, as he explained to Brent Brookhouse of CBS News in an interview. IN 2016, Orton made headlines by downplaying Colin Kaepernick's protests as playing the race card. But as it turns out, having more and more Black colleagues in the locker room gave him new perspective, not because of osmosis or magic, but because he heard what they were saying: It took me a little time, but what I had to do was realize, Kaepernick, he wasn't shitting on the flag. He wasn't disrespecting the people that have given their lives for our freedom. He was taking a stand against police brutality. As a white guy, I don't see it. But then I started listening to my black brothers and sisters, especially the ones I've known for years and some for more than a decade. I was hearing first-hand accounts of interactions with cops that took advantage of the situation and the power they had because they maybe felt a certain way about the color of someone's skin. That's when the lightbulb went off. I'm embarrassed to say it, but it took me a little while but I get it. What I said on Twitter, I stand behind. If anyone doesn't agree with me, I think they need to do more digging. Go look at Big E's Twitter from a week ago, go look at Xavier Woods' Twitter, go look at things Kofi said, that Mark Henry said, that Shelton said, that R-Truth said. If you read what they're saying and try to put yourself in their shoes for even just a minute, you're going to see right now that it's not fair. All lives do matter, but like I said on Twitter, until black lives matter, all lives can't matter. My only regret is that it took me a little bit and some soul searching to see that.It's true you shouldn't have to spend time with a human being to see their humanity, but the undeniable truth in America, in any location on the globe, is that a lot of times, children grow up in sheltered environments, where they only see other kids and adults who look like them. The people in power structures in those communities may have ulterior motives in wanting to keep diversity to a minimum, and thus they peddle grotesque stereotypes of interlopers to their community, and it's how a White person who grew up in suburbs can come to believe racist myths about Black people when they've never had a Black classmate, a Black teacher, or a Black neighbor. If it takes being in a locker room with a bunch of Black people, or having children of "illegal1" immigrants working in the cubicles adjacent to yours, or growing up with a gay uncle to see firsthand the value in their humanity, it's not a bad thing. The key is listening to people talk about their own learned experiences. Listening. It's an art that a lot of people, myself included, have trouble doing from time to time. Orton seemed like he was too far gone to consider changing until he changed, and he credits it to forgetting dogma and lending an ear to peers he's grown to respect. If he can do it, anyone can. Blessed be those who can change without seeing, but why would you not want to befriend as many people of different backgrounds as possible? Variety is the spice of life anyway. Right now, that variety is under constant threat from a mostly White ruling class that sees anyone looking to claw ahead to get some money for themselves as a threat. The police motto says they "protect and serve," but what they protect and whom they serve is drastically different than what the uninitiated think or what television has told its audience. In order for things to change, White people need to follow Orton's example, to listen to not just Black people, but all marginalized peoples, and take their struggles seriously. Real change doesn't come from politicians in ivory towers. It comes from direct action. The changes in laws and policy since the justified and collective anger over Floyd's murder all came from those protests and crowds shaking the tree, burning down police precincts, agitating their oppressors. Keep it going, and for White people like myself, the best way to keep it going is to listen, understand, and support.
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    06-16-2020, 12:01 AM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 06-16-2020: -unviewed (born in 1957, Age: 63) Happy Birthday!
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    06-15-2020, 02:46 PM
    There is no way in hell Reigns should come back until there's a vaccine Photo Credit: WWE.com Earlier today across the world's largest ocean, New Japan Pro Wrestling became the latest company to forge ahead with no crowd with its Together Project show. Of all the mainstream companies, they have been the most judicious about producing their shows in the time of COVID-19. Things have slowed down around the world. Countries like Vietnam introduced stringent restrictions from jump, and they were relatively unaffected. Other nations like New Zealand dealt with the virus as it infiltrated through their borders, and now they're virus-free and returned to a relatively normal way of life. While Japan is less like New Zealand and more like other pragmatic nations such as South Korea and Germany, it has reached a level of efficacy dealing with the virus that New Japan decided now was the time to start operations again. However, can there be a normal, new or otherwise, in the time of a novel disease that not only wreaks acute, short-term havoc but is now showing to have longer-term chronic issues after it has been "treated" and put in remission for survivors, without a reliable vaccine? While I applaud New Zealand's efforts in containing the virus and flattening the curve, seeing a stadium full of people in close proximity to each other makes me a little squeamish. All it takes is one person infected with the virus to cause another spike in countries that have nipped it in the bud so to speak. Remember how South Korea battled the virus at first and then got it under control? A single asymptomatic carrier of the virus in Seoul went clubbing, infected 100 people at least, and may have exposed an additional 5,500 people. True safety cannot be achieved until there is an effective means of protection, and this only works in places where the government cares enough about people to have treated the virus seriously. The United States has had, by far, the worst response to the virus out of anywhere on Earth save possibly other nations run by autocratic despots like Brazil. Politicians knew about the virus' landfall in the States, and their responses ranged from "calling it a hoax" to "not telling any of their constituents and using the info to make illegal stock dumps and purchases for personal enrichment." When it first started to ravage the population, not even a day passed after affected areas started being issued shelter-in-place orders before those politicians bitched and moaned about reopening the economy. The goal was never keeping the population safe for the people in the highest levels of administration in federal government nor in state governments of places controlled by toady Republicans. Florida is one of those places, because it granted wrestling, which to be truthful even as an outlet written by someone who loves the medium is about as essential as a skin tag with the current environment, essential business denomination. As much as I'm looking forward to watching New Japan, ANY New Japan, I'm wondering if this will trigger escalation in America that might put wrestlers here in danger. It wouldn't be New Japan's fault until they themselves started filing crowds back without taking any precautions or before a vaccine were to be developed. However, America's business leadership mirrors the federal leadership because the country elected perhaps the avatar of its greed and haste as the President. Just as business owners and administrators are eager to put their labor back in harm's way after no real reduction of risk, no curve flattening, the President will look at countries reopening after putting in hard work and think that they got to where they were through happenstance and not careful planning. The New Japan plan includes allowing the gradual reintroduction of fans, and when that footage of paying customers in various arenas in Japan wafts across the Pacific, you know Vince McMahon will be horny to get someone, anyone in the crowd who paid to be there faster than you can say "you're an independent contractor, Harry!" WWE has already been impacted by the virus. Even discounting the fact that a couple of their wrestlers may have tested positive for it at some point in the beginning of the pandemic, it has cost them through precaution its arguable biggest full-time star in Roman Reigns. While he denies it's the reason he's staying away, he's at heightened risk for not only catching but feeling the worst effects from COVID-19 because he's a recent cancer patient with a compromised immune system. What happens when McMahon starts selling tickets again and some jackass who also toted a gun on a state capital pays for a front row ticket and gets close enough to a wrestler to transmit COVID-19 to them through their spittle talk? Reigns is never going to come back under those conditions, nor should he. All it's going to take is the wrong wrestler to catch COVID-19 from a fan in attendance to take the entire industry down. If WWE goes down, it's taking the whole place with it at least domestically, and if you don't think that's the case, take inventory of how people view wrestling in America. It's so closely tied to the market leader that you're just as likely to hear someone refer to all graps as "WWE" in the same way they refer to all bleach as Clorox or all tissues as Kleenex. The worst part is there's nothing anyone can do to control it because if McMahon decides he wants fans at SummerSlam with no flattened curve or no vaccine, he's going to get there with help from his WWE Hall of Fame buddy in the White House. As seen with the armed protests at government buildings, it doesn't matter if all the "good" wrestling fans like you and I stay away from events. People in this country have an unjustified sense of entitlement that allows them to wave their "freedom" around like a serial flasher waving his penis around to unconsenting victims. Wrestling is at a crossroads right now, whether people want to believe it or not. If you don't think McMahon would be pennywise and pound foolish at this point, congratulations, you have ignored the history of nearly every wrestling promoter in the history of the sport/medium. COVID-19 has a real possibility of destroying American wrestling, and all one can hope for at this point is that McMahon has cooler heads surrounding him, telling him that people doing big events in New Zealand or Japan with people in the crowds has a lot to do with how they handled it. Realistically, you can't hope for a capitalist that McMahon might listen to, like his son-in-law or daughter, to have a humanitarian agenda anyway. What wrestling fans have to hope for is that someone starts talking sense and keeping this push to reopen the economy suppressed. What the country needs is more testing, more payouts from the government to be able to afford basic necessities, more debt relief/abatement, and less pressure to expose themselves to a disease that could fuck them up for the rest of their lives, if not kill them. As of right now, that proposition isn't a slam dunk.
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    06-14-2020, 12:01 AM
    2 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-14-2020: -pplucho (born in 1980, Age: 40) -chronic (Age: hidden or unknown) Happy Birthday!
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    06-11-2020, 12:54 PM
    Hey, it's a pot of chili. That has something to do with the first question. Photo Credit: Food Network It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers: those farts that come out really hot: good or bad — “thank you King” tom (@HELLA_GIRTH) June 10, 2020FINALLY, a question about an important topic - flatulence. There are all kinds of farts, ranging in smell, moisture, sound, and yes, temperature it. All farts come out a degree of "hot," but the really hot ones are rare. While they might indicate that you're sick, there's an almost comforting feeling about the cleaning heat clearing a path from inside to out. That is, unless I am misunderstanding the question. Capisicum farts are the fucking worst. THE WORST. If you ran a gym what typing would run & with what pokemon? — AD (
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    06-10-2020, 06:23 PM
    1 member is celebrating their birthday on 06-10-2020: -SmoothE611 (born in 1976, Age: 44) Happy Birthday!
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    06-10-2020, 12:01 AM
    3 members are celebrating their birthday on 06-10-2020: -NellEspino (born in 1972, Age: 48) -bigmetaldan (born in 1975, Age: 45) -jacklinn (born in 1987, Age: 33) Happy Birthday!
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    06-09-2020, 02:42 PM
    Gonna post you a bracket so you know it's real Graphics via @njpwglobal on Twitter At the height of the first spike of COVID-19, while WWE and All Elite Wrestling were running shows with no crowds, New Japan Pro Wrestling president Harold Meij proclaimed that while the pandemic wouldn't stop the company, they wouldn't put their fans or wrestlers at risk in order to put out an inferior or incomplete product. It would explain why they cancelled every show after the New Beginning tour ended, when the virus was in the midst of ravaging China and spreading its way further around the globe like Italy and the United States. Japan was hit hard, saw a lull, reopened, and then saw another spike. To their credit, Meij, the BUSHIROAD Corporation, and the rest of the people in charge were more judicious than even other Japanese wrestling companies, let alone those in America whose operations continued nearly unabated. While the United States hasn't necessarily made the advances in containment and curve-flattening that other countries have at this point, it is in the process of a forced reopen that may or may not be premature. I feel like there are right ways and wrong ways to do everything. If you're going to be a restaurant or entertainment venue, you should probably do things like the place I just profiled on my food blog (SHAMELESS PLUG) and not like casinos in Las Vegas or resorts like Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Japan seems to be further along in handling the virus. Without a vaccine, I'm not sure how full, safe containment can be achieved. Japan's baseball leagues have returned, but already, two players on the Yomiuri Giants have tested positive for COVID-19. Still, New Japan has announced it will soldier on, first with a "Together Project" special show in front of no fans and that will air live on Monday, June 15 on New Japan World at 6 AM Eastern/3 AM Pacific (7 PM local time). The show's matches will not be announced until bell time, so that should be fun. Perhaps the anniversary show main event between Tetsuya Naito and Hiromu Takahashi will happen there? Don't quote me on this; it's pure speculation. I'M JUST THINKING OUT LOUD. Anyway, that announcement was followed the doozy, that the New Japan Cup that was originally scheduled for February will happen starting Tuesday, June 16 to run through July 3. The bracket has some changes due to travel restrictions. Gone are Juice Robinson, Will Ospreay, KENTA, Jay White and others, replaced by a smattering of junior heavyweights, Young Lions, and old dudes. The tournament will conclude with a two-day Dominion event at Osaka-Jo Hall on July 11 and 12, where the winner of the Cup will face off against Naito for the IWGP Double Championship. Of course, the first question is whether or not it's safe enough to run shows right now even in a country that has the coronavirus under control. On one hand, ass someone who hasn't missed an episode of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite since quarantine started, I'm just happy my favorite mainstream wrestling promotion is coming back. On the other, shows with no fans are still dangerous given wrestlers have to be in close contact with each other to wrestle. WWE and AEW have handled things well, and I have no reason to believe that New Japan won't either. That being said, I still don't know if it's a good decision without the vaccine. That's the key to returning to any sense of normalcy, even if COVID-19 has inexorably altered what normal can even be defined as. For now though, I will enjoy whatever I can get out of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Even if it ends up shutting down again after another spike in the virus, it's good to have more wrestling to look forward to again, no matter how ill-advised. Capitalism is a double-edged sword where you oftentimes have to end up dragging the things you love, and wrestling companies, WWE or otherwise, seem to love to give fans reasons to drag them. I don't know if the product that New Japan will be close to what Meij says is their best. I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt more than some other companies though.
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    06-09-2020, 01:06 PM
    Cardona stood up to his former bosses Photo Credit: WWE.com Being a multi-national provider of sports entertainment in near-monopolistic fashion can make the egos of those running said entity swell up to solar proportions. It's the attitude that allowed them to fire Drake Maverick, ask him to work the Interim Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, and then use his tearful reaction-to-firing video as part of an angle to try and make them look like a benevolent benefactor giving him another job in NXT. Vince McMahon and Paul Levesque just have massive amounts of hubris to think that they can call up anyone they want to take their time or their resources to use without promise of any long-term benefit. They escape any consequences of hubris just because wrestling, though improving, is still a hub for bootlickers, people who don't know their own worth compared to what they really mean to the capitalist superstructure. All in all, Matt Cardona, as Zack Ryder, felt like as much a company man as you could be without breaking through the brown ceiling like Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, or The Miz seemed to have. Perhaps that feeling was based in how little he seemed to speak out about his role being cut, how he responded to his original flare in popularity being used to light the torch for yet another John Cena vs. Kane match by begging to get back on TV with song called "Hoeski" rather than saying things on social media. It all seemed to ignore that Cardona originally lit on fire because he was the squeaky wheel who desired grease every week on YouTube. Just because he seemed to quell it and preferred to talk about his action figures probably didn't mean he had any less frustration. You can fool a lot of people, especially headstrong executives who think that unless you were fired because you threw Ultimate Warrior-levels of fits, you could be called upon to be at their beck and call after release. Cardona must have had the office hook, line, and sinker, because they expected him to say yes when they asked his girlfriend, Chelsea Green, to ask him if he would let them use the pool at his house to advance the OTIS/Mandy Rose storyline. As one should've expected in retrospect, Cardona was furious at the suggestion. Those craven asswipes couldn't even ask him directly, and they had the nerve to ask him to set up a camera crew at his house to use his pool after firing him despite him giving them everything they supposedly want out of a wrestler. In a funny twist to all this, Cardona, who relayed the tale on friend Brian Myers' (fka Curt Hawkins) podcast, said that shortly after, Miz and John Morrison were due to come over to hang out, and they, without knowing WWE's request, asked if OTIS could come with them. Cardona recognized the happenstance even after suspecting it was a rib, and obviously, he doesn't have an issue with the big man. So now you have more of an insight into how entitled capital, especially this certain company that seems to embody all the worst aspects of it, can be. WWE has so much cash on hand right now that it could literally light a million dollars on fire and still be on pace for a record-breaking year for revenue and profits. Yet, when the time comes for it to spend some money on the things that make it the worldwide leader in professional wrestling sports entertainment, the pursestrings tighten. Not only do wrestlers get the cut, they are expected to provide afterwards. I don't know how much money Drake Maverick was making before he was fired, nor do I know right now what his new contract pays him. I do know developmental deals, with little exception, pay peanuts comparatively speaking, and that the salary probably wasn't worth the expectation of labor after the firing or the exploitation of his emotions in the process. The same goes for Cardona. Whatever money WWE was willing to pay him to use his pool, if any, was not worth the hassle of having the production crew come on and pile on the emotional strain of having fired him from the only job he ever really wanted so that Vince and Stephanie McMahon, Paul Levesque, Jerry McDevitt, and Kevin Dunn could all make their wallets fatter. Good on him for standing up to WWE. Though, I'm not sure I'd expect Cardona to start joining the revolution and posting leftist polemic like this was some kind of awakening. After all, he seems to be one of the few who remembers when people wanted to Join the Force: What about GFW??? https://t.co/gtlU07Diee — Matt Cardona (@TheMattCardona) June 8, 2020
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    06-08-2020, 02:08 PM
    Lucha Strange, the only YouTube show where you can see a wrestler rolled down a hill in a tire Screenshot via Lucha Strange YouTube Wrestlers are just like you and I. When they're penned up because of a quarantine from highly infectious disease, they start to get stir-crazy. While lucha libre promotions have started up doing some empty arena shows, it's just not scratching the itch for some of these wrestlers, Arez in particular. The freelancer whose big-time lucha work most recently has been for AAA has started a YouTube channel called Lucha Strange. So far, the channel has three videos, all of which feature him fighting against his fellow luchador cohorts, namely Latigo, Tromba, and Toxin. If you're familiar with Dramatic Dream Team, specifically the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, then the conceit for this almost pop-up wrestling promotion will be familiar to you. In place of the belt is a small, golden plush figure of Arez himself that he "defends" in each video on the streets in Mexico. It's a fun and creative take on lucha using its surroundings to enhance the action. Perhaps the funnest part is that there's no steady referee; they just recruit passersby to make counts and check for submissions. The three videos run between seven and ten minutes apiece, so if you wanted, you could knock out the entire run right now and be ready for the fourth video, which if release patterns hold should drop this Thursday, June 11. Longtime readers of the blog know that I love both gonzo wrestling and when wrestlers show entrepreneurial spirit enough to do their own thing on channels beyond what their parent companies would provide. As the Chuck Taylor Instagram 24/7 Championship innovated in the field of 90-seconds-or-less matches that still told an entire story, Arez brings cartoon shorts to life on the streets and back alleys of Mexico, in homes and shops. Again, it's only three episodes in, so you can pretty much get in on this on the ground floor. It's not just the lack of wrestling that's talking here though. I love this shit three episodes in, and I can't wait to see where they go, no matter how many more episodes they have in the tank.
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    06-08-2020, 11:45 AM
    Is Adam Cole a victim of McMahon's size fetish? Photo Credit: WWE.com The meme in WWE is that Vince McMahon loves tall, muscular guys around which he can build his company. It's arguable that McMahon has never liked wrestling, a business inherited from a father who didn't want him to follow his footsteps, but he's always liked the idea of bodybuilders as the heroes of the day. One could even say that his first decade of running the then-World Wrestling Federation was all just a prequel for his real passion play, the World Bodybuilding Federation, complete with its own shady supplement in IcoPro. Remember IcoPro? Most of you young'uns were probably not even born yet when that black and white logo dominated WWE shows for about a year or so, which might have made the reference made during yesterday's Takeover: In Your House a bit esoteric. However, for as much as he had a love-hate relationship with wrestling, he always seemed enamored with the titanic figureheads who would headline his shows, larger than life men battling in veritable clashes between godheads. Hulk Hogan beget the Ultimate Warrior, who beget no one because his ego was incompatible with anyone's, let alone McMahon's. When Hogan left for World Championship Wrestling, McMahon kept trying to fill the void with Undertaker and Sid Vicious and Lex Luger and Mabel and Diesel, but in his lean years, he had to lean back on the people the fans reacted to, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Granted, Taker was a rock for them, but he was always the heavy in the ensemble cast. He would find various degrees of success with supermen with wrestlers like The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman. It should be noted that most of them were, like Taker, complements to a greater cast. Cena may have been the last iconoclastic singular star in the vein of Hogan or Steve Austin, but his rise coincided with Batista's, and they had guys like Taker, Edge, Triple H, and CM Punk to keep the main events fresh. Still, regardless of the card dynamics going on at any given time in post-1998 WWE, you always got the sense that McMahon loved him his big guys. The funny thing is that over the years, McMahon has gotten water from the smaller wrestler stone on many different occasions. Even though they presided over lean years, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels both were rocks for the company between Hogan and Austin, and they were only two less-than-statuesque wrestlers who cast titanic shadows from the main event. For crying out loud, Daniel Bryan closed the most emotionally charged WrestleMania of all-time triumphant. Many times over the years, smaller wrestlers have proven worthy by measurable metrics, whether financial or aural. The point isn't that bigger or smaller wrestlers are better than one another, and it's certainly not that there's a happy medium, although wrestlers between the extremes have flourished too in the company. I mean, Austin was their biggest star ever. Wrestlers connect with crowds for various reasons. It's more art than science. I've long held the belief that McMahon is not a genius, and the people with whom he surrounds himself often fall short of that mark like he does. McMahon surrounds himself with like-minded people to a certain degree, and it perpetuates a culture in the company whether or not the people participating in it are aware. He's a bully, so all the woke-appropriation by daughter Stephanie won't change the fact that the company has an air of hostility. He's a weirdo, so no matter how many fresh voices he hires to the writers' room, the show is always going to look like wrestling that doesn't like to call itself wrestling through some twisted lens of a boy who grew up fatherless in North Carolina and then became the ultimate huckster. So that brings the conversation to Paul Levesque, the aforementioned Triple H and a guy who at times is his father-in-law's right hand. There is absolutely no question his taste in wrestlers is further reaching than McMahon's. He, unlike Pops, appears to love wrestling. He loved it enough that he thought looking like the coolest and toughest and smartest character at all times was important enough at least when he was active. One could argue that the signing patterns, well, have no real pattern, that WWE, before the great COVID-19 purges, just signed anyone for the sake of signing them. Levesque never discriminated when it came to his guys in NXT, no matter what size. From Adrian Neville (PAC before and after) to Johnny Gargano to Adam Cole, he's stood by the wrestling product rather than a monolithic image. That being said, no matter how many mark pictures Levesque takes with his talent, no matter how much he insists his passion play is a legitimate third brand, the culture of WWE will always revolve around the flagship shows that generate the most revenue that are monoliths built by McMahon. Little guys can break through, but they always have to overcome some amount of inertia before they're given a shot to run with the ball. With Cole, that inherent bias reared its ugly head when Brian James, cohort of Levesque in the ring as Road Dogg and out, mentioned that the current NXT Champion might be on the main roster as Universal Champion if he were the size of recent signee Karrion Kross, who bowled through Tommaso Ciampa at IYH like a rodeo bull let loose in a china shop. Kross is 6'4" and 264 lbs. Cole is generously billed at 6' even and 210 lbs. But Cole also has a following he's built through years of standout wrestling outside of the mainstream in Combat Zone Wrestling and EVOLVE and inside with Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and NXT that has allowed him to be considered among the best in the game right now. To wit, Michaels, another Levesque consigliere in NXT, was billed one inch taller and only 15 pounds heavier than Cole, and he headlined multiple WrestleManias. What is the play here? The obvious answer could be that Cole's contract is up soon, and All Elite Wrestling would love to have him. They have his Bullet Club running buddies in the Young Bucks and his wife in Britt Baker. Again, WWE is a company run by a weirdo bully, so it's not above the culture of the company to have its underlings engage in negging tactics as a psychological negotiation ploy, as subtle as it is. If you note to the article, James glowingly puts Cole over, but the human psyche will forego pages and pages of effusive praise to seek out the slight. You don't have to be Michael Jordan to have a chip on your shoulder. The gambit is that Cole can either get pissed off and play ball with his friends in the show that struggles to beat the C-brand, or he can take it as fire to re-sign with WWE and prove everyone wrong. Then again, you shouldn't attribute to malice what can be chalked up to stupidity, and Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest explanation is often the correct one. James was more than likely going to bat for Cole, someone he sees as a franchise player who deserves to get the money commensurate with his talent. It's no secret that main roster money is much better than developmental or cruiserweight money, and a few little birdies intimated to me that a lot of wrestlers who make the jump to NXT from indies-plus-non-wrestling career jobs end up taking paycuts. With Cole, the value of his contract may be a bit richer since he was plucked from two companies, ROH and New Japan, that can and do pay well. James still may see Cole as someone slumming it on his show because of the implicit bias his big boss sees against wrestlers his size. And that's the real issue with WWE. You can rule Wednesday nights within the company, but the path you get as a smaller wrestler is infinitely harder than what you'd have if you were four inches taller and wide enough to support 40 or more pounds of muscle. I doubt WWE will ever change, even after McMahon dies to be honest. I think the slow fracture of its monopoly will be a bigger opportunity for wrestlers of all sizes going forward than anything that company will ever do. AEW has shown it really doesn't have qualms about playing small-ball with its roster. When Brian Cage is one of the bigger wrestlers, it's a lot easier to nullify biases towards the the tall and statuesque. The success of barnstorming indie promotions like Game Changer Wrestling, which has effectively replaced Chikara as the marquee touring indie, or other growth-stunted national promotions like ROH, Impact, and Major League Wrestling, will have a lot to do with how people can build money and accrue fame in an industry that for too long has followed McMahon's lead. An ideal wrestling world is one where one guy's vision isn't the only one anyway.
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