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A Statement on Professional Wrestling

This is the last one of these that I’m doing. Yes, during this pandemic professional wrestling has been a main source of entertainment and escapism for me. So yes, I am fully aware of everything that’s going on, the promotions that are involved, and the individuals being called out. I’m not going to recite the litany of allegations, or link to the stories, or explain to those not in the loop. Still, having posted positive things about pro wrestling relatively recently I have been asked about it. I am expected to denounce evil. So here’s my statement on professional wrestling.

Of course I believe women. Yes, I want these companies to do the right thing. Naturally I want people to be held accountable for their actions. 

These things should go without saying. This fucking world, that a fan has to engage in performative morality. That I need to state the obvious, that bad things are bad, so no one gets mad at me. Again, I don’t know these people, I’m not aware of what they’re doing behind the scenes or in their private lives. Not until the rest of the world finds out about these things.

The net effect is that all of this keeps pushing me deeper into my hermitage. It just becomes easier with each passing day to withdraw from the world. The awfulness is injury enough, but the insult of reducing these things to gossip and drama is well past the line for me. I can see a time coming when I just go silent, because there’s nothing left to talk about, because everything and everyone has been outed as terrible.

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May 28 2020: Victorian Novels and Barbed-Wire Matches

May 28 2020: At this point in my life I don’t care about having a consistent public image. There’s no through line, no story thread. I’m not worried about keeping my interests themed or easily explainable. There’s no way to reconcile my love of both effete Victorian novels and barbed-wire matches, the most brutal form of professional wrestling.  All that’s important, especially under the current circumstances, is finding the things that bring a little joy into my life and embracing them.

Of course, there is a through line. It’s an emotional one. As humans we are complex creatures. We have moods. That’s how I can be reading the complete works of William Makepeace Thackeray one moment,  and watching Mance Warner and Jimmy Havoc trying to murder one another the next. Sometimes I need refined, sensitive, and well-articulated expressions of the human condition. Other times I just need the excitement of two guys beating the hell out of one another.

We can talk about which of these is highbrow or lowbrow. Society can label one as socially acceptable while the other isn’t. Different groups will look down on one or the other, for their own cultural reasons. That fascinates me. I wouldn’t recommend a steady diet of either, personally. Both are part of the human experience, though. There’s room for both, in moderation.

May 28 2020

  • If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. You can also purchase one of my books or zines from Gumroad or DriveThruRPG.
  • I check all email and Twitter DMs, personal and professional, three times once a day. I respond  as time allows; if it requires some thought or research on my part, it will take me longer.
  • I am actively avoiding news and social media to focus on writing. Please take your information from reliable sources and certified experts, not the Mad Carrot and its puerile cultists.
  • Today is Day 72 in isolation. 
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Journal

By Request: Why I Enjoy MLW Fusion

Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to Major League Wrestling (MLW). I’m glad I gave it a chance. Their show, MLW Fusion, initially struck me as a cross between a style of wrestling I call “MMA cosplay” and ECW-wannabe hardcore. There was a lot of “real sports” seriousness coupled with what seemed to be a drive to make everything as grimly violent as possible. That’s not my to my personal tastes.

Over time, though, I got to see more variety. The name of the show, Fusion, is meant to reflect the notion that they showcase all manner of wrestling styles. Rather than doing a mixture in every show, it sort of comes in waves. As of this writing, for example, they’re doing a crossover series with AAA, so it’s heavy on luche libre.

This is because of how they film it. Apparently they’ll shoot a month or more worth of episodes over a weekend, all at one live event venue. They’ll handle all of those storylines, with the wrestlers that are there. Then the next wave will have new storylines, and some different wrestlers. It’s somehow got strong continuity and a disjointed feeling at the same time.

What I like are some of the great wrestlers. Mance Warner is a treasure and should be a household name. He’s funny, he’s smart, and most importantly, he can wrestle. When he’s on the card, I know I’m going to be entertained. MLW also has a lot of great “legacy” wrestlers, if you’re into wrestling history. The Von Erich brothers, Brian Pillman Jr., Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Jacob Fatu all uphold their family names.

How to Watch MLW Fusion

Every episode of MLW Fusion is available for free on their YouTube channel. The show is also free on FiteTV, but for some reason new episodes don’t appear until several days after they’re up on YT.

A Request

If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.

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By Request: Why I Enjoy AEW Dynamite

Today I want to talk about why I enjoy All Elite Wrestling and their main show, AEW Dynamite. First, a little background. In 2017 a wrestling journalist made a comment that no promotion that wasn’t WWE could sell 10,000 tickets to a live event. Three wrestlers, Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson, took that as a challenge. They put together an event call All In, and gathered independent wrestlers from a variety of promotions. It sold out in 30 minutes, and was attended by over 11,000 people.

Having established proof of concept, they went looking for financial backing. They scored entrepreneur Tony Khan, owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Together they formed All Elite Wrestling, AEW, with Khan serving as President and CEO and Rhodes and the Jackson brothers as vice presidents.

They did some pay-per-view events. Those did well enough to get the interest of TNT, who back in the day aired WCW programming. In October 2019, AEW Dynamite was launched. TNT is so happy with the initial product that they’ve committed to a 3-year contract and want to launch a second show.

Why I Enjoy AEW Dynamite

What I like about AEW is that it’s fused together a lot of disparate ideas. They’ve taken former WWE talent, some of the best indie wrestlers, and stars from Japan and made it work. People who wee perpetual mid-card guys in WWE (like Cody) get a chance to show that they’re main event material. Amazing guys from the indie circuit, like Max “MJF” Friedman (late of MLW), Orange Cassidy (formerly of Beyond Wrestling) and Jimmy Havoc (from all over the British and hardcore wrestling scenes) get the spotlight they deserve.

And they all get to be who they are. WWE remakes everyone over to conform to the WWE style. In AEW, they just bring their talent and charisma to the ring and let that play out. Good booking puts the right people, the wrestlers who compliment one another, together. It’s magic.

Granted, AEW Dynamite is less than a year old. As time goes on they might congeal into a house style, and ratings might drive who sort of matches get pushed and which get downplayed or nixed. Right now, though, it’s a big variety show with something for everyone. Serious MMA-type matches, comedy, hardcore matches, goofy gimmicks, it’s like going to the circus. I love it, and have never been disappointed.

How to Watch AEW Dynamite

In the United States, AEW Dynamite airs Wednesday night on TNT. Out here in the rest of the world it can be seen on FiteTV (not sponsored) with an AEW+ subscription, which runs $5 US per month. If I wanted to stay up late I could watch it live on Fite; I catch the replay when I get up the next morning.

A Request

If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.

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By Request: Why I Enjoy NWA Powerrr

Today I want to talk about the current iteration of the National Wrestling Alliance’s TV show, NWA Powerrr. As I stated yesterday, in 2017 Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins bought the NWA and relaunched it as an independent promotion. If you’re wondering how that adds up, know that Corgan worked for Resistance Pro Wrestling from 2011 to 2014, and to Total Nonstop Action from 2015 to 2016. Again, without going into the lurid politics of it, he wasn’t able to do the things that he wanted to creatively at those promotions, so he bought NWA.

Powerrr has the production value of public access television, and that’s part of it’s charm. It’s filmed in the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio, in front of an audience of around 200 people. The “crowd” is all on one side of the ring, which sits in the middle of the studio. In one corner opposite the audience is a desk where the announce team provides color commentary. In the other corner is a podium where interviews and promos are shot. That’s it. That’s all you need.

There’s no pyrotechnics. No entrance music. No jumbo screens or slickly-produced graphics packages. The announcer, Dave Marquez (we’ll see him again in a future post) introduced the wrestlers. They come out from backstage and either cut a promo, wrestle, or both.

What this really means is that the wrestlers have to be great. They need solid mic skills and heaps of charisma. They need to be able to wrestle without bells, whistles, and fancy camera work to make them look good. NWA Powerrr is fantastic because it’s refreshingly honest.  Corgan and has producing partner David Lagana have done a superb job curating a great roster and an world-class announce team. It’s perfect.

How to Watch NWA Powerrr

All episodes of NWA Powerrr are available for free on YouTube. New Episodes are released on Tuesdays at 6:05 pm Eastern Time. Several of the older pay-per-view events are also posted there for free. Newer PPV events are available for a fee on FiteTV (not sponsored).

A Request

If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.