Nostalgia Trips & Replacement Hips

I’ll admit it. I didn’t really become a ‘proper’ wrestling fan until much later than my contemporaries. While others had the enviable position of growing up spellbound by the Monday Night Wars, stunnering friends in the playground and raising their eyebrows and demanding to know whether we were aware of the Rock’s culinary activities; I was blissfully unaware of this world, aside from a few stolen minutes watching Heat or Velocity on a Sunday afternoon.

In many ways it then seems fraudulent to try and claim I am a fan of the Attitude era or criticizing Bischoff, Russo & Nash for scuppering WCW as I wasn’t around at the time, and hindsight is 20/20. Yet this is one of the core problems surrounding wrestling in general. Most fans are so committed to attacking Uncle Vincent or the nebulous powers that be in TNA, that they’ll invoke the ‘good ol’ days’ of the mid to late nineties as some kind of Halycon era in which all was good and every episode was like taking a shit on heroin. The fact of the matter is, is that there was as much dreck and shite floating about in that time as there is now. For every awesome stand off between Austin & McMahon or The Rock, there was Mae Young (not a young woman by any means) giving birth to a rubber hand that Mark Henry believed to be his child. No, this really happened.

Unfortunately, fans are so blinkered by this view that this period was the best, that TNA, which would have a segment in which a sackful of puppies were minced slowly by a grinning Jay Lethal if it meant people paid attention, have once again capitulated and allowed a few vocal segments of the Internet Wrestling Community decide their booking policy.

Most people are aware of the successes of the original ECW. A lo-fi visceral near bloodbath of a federation; it focused on intense feuds, revolutionary booking and introducing some of the greatest cruiserweights into the wider fold. Unfortunately through mismanagement it folded at its peak, and left a significant void in the Wrestling community’s heart. ‘EE CEE DUB’ chants would ring out whenever any of its alumni would appear in larger federations or whenever anything approaching hardcore was presented. Clearly people still had a soft spot for this style. The WWE then, having bought the rights to the name, brought back ECW for one night under the banner of One Night Stand in 2005. Following the success of this, One Night Stand came back the year later and the momentum started to build. Various ex ECW stars came back, and RVD won the championship from John Cena in front of the most partisan crowd I have ever seen. Seriously, check out the PPV, Cena gets his shirt thrown back at him about 7 times and is booed with an intensity that would power a city if it could be harnessed. Following on from the success of this ECW came back for a lackluster run, and subsequently folded earlier this year. Most people understood that ECW had long gone past its sell-by-date and should be lain to rest, and with Tommy Dreamer leaving in an emotional send off many people thought it would be.

That is until the shit-for-brains in Orlando decided that the best booking strategy would be to bring these 50 year old broken down hasbeens back for yet another parade of inadequacy. Despite it being completely at odds with many of their current storylines, TNA genuinely thought it would be a good idea to try and emulate a lightning in a bottle era that even WWE couldn’t do successfully. Let’s be honest here, while I’ve no doubt that Jerry Lynn & RVD can still go, Sandman, Sabu & Mick Foley should have hung up their boots about 10 years ago. So, rather than being the glorious resurrection that the IWC are hoping for it’s more likely to be like watching one of those programs about animal shelters for ex-zoo animals. Full of ancient crocks trying to entertain, but should be kept retired for humane reasons.


Hold 3. The Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gredunzle

This is why Chris Jericho is, and will always be, a complete hero.

Queer Money Inc? or Orlando Jordan And Sexuality In Wrestling.

Although the vast majority of the Inter Wrestling Community had long made up their mind on the new direction that TNA had decided to take Orlando Jordan in, it was picked up by many of the gossip-sphere, and they went buck wild with it. One Perez Hilton decided to chuckle into his fat neck and pseudo-sarcastic claim that ‘THIS ISN’T GAY LOL’, a marked unsubtle reaction to an unsubtle gimmick.

For those who are unaware (as this blog is essentially read as a last resort by my more bored friends, I’m assuming it’s everyone) Orlando Jordan was a fairly generic heel that was until recently under the employ of WWE. Struggling to find anything to do with him, Jordan approached WWE with the idea of using his real-life bisexuality in an angle, an idea that Vince no doubt loved as his love of all that is grotesque is well documented. This, obviously, never went anywhere, and eventually Jordan was sent on his merry way and let go. In the interim, Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff joined TNA, and in one of their first acts, acquired a raft of freelance talent including OJ. Again not having anything for him, OJ once again suggested his bisexuality be a gimmick and this time TNA went with it. Thus, TNA’s audience, made up almost exclusively of idiots, were subjected to the sight of a 6’ something black man being lowered from the ceiling wrapped in caution tape, rubbing lotion on himself before slithering out of the ring.

As you may well imagine, this did not go down well. Attacks came from all sides calling it ‘creepy’ ‘disgusting’ and varying levels of homophobia emanated from most sections of the wrestling audience. Indeed, even those working for TNA when trying to defend it were clumsy and insulting in their support. D’Lo Brown tried to invoke Lady Gaga, yet ended up making a crass comparison by saying ‘Well, you don’t know if she’s a dude or not’. Come on D’Lo, really?

It’s hardly the first time that sexuality has come into play in wrestling. At the height of the Attitude Era, one of the most intriguing characters was that of Goldust. The son of the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, a character that was based around his ‘Common Man’ charm and was one of the most enduring wrestlers to this day. Thus, when Goldust appeared, wearing a gold body suit, gold make up and a platinum blond wig groping and acting infatuated with his opponents it really jarred with the preexisting archetype of the badass wrestler. His feud and eventual Backlot Brawl really demonstrated the division between the old and the new. Piper had come up through the different feds and had been involved in some of the most brutal matches of all time; His dog collar match with Greg Valentine being one notable example. He was old school and angry. Goldust was flamboyant, used mind games and his whole schtick was a send up of popular culture and represent the new direction that the WWE was taking. Needless to say, they both beat the holy hell out of each other, and Goldust was begrudgingly given respect, by simply taking it.

However, regardless of Goldust’s precedent, the OJ character he is pedding these days is simply out of place. The reason Goldust was and still is such an enduring character is the fact that there is an element of mystery about his sexuality, and any attempts to classify him are met with confusion. Eric Bischoff once wrote ‘Controversy = Cash’, and unfortunately in this case he has fallen completely flat. It’s not that he has put a sexual minority on screen and forced people to rethink the way they think about sexuality; all they are thinking is what a shitty wrestler OJ is. Indeed, I’m not even sure the wrestling community really cares that much about OJ being bisexual. Kevin Nash has always been relatively enlightened about LGBT issues; Pat Pattersen was the first ever Intercontinental champion and was/is openly gay. I think the central issue is how shitty of a gimmick it actually is. It’s crass and vulgar and done in a completely artless manner. At the base of it, it’s a poorly done Lady Gaga rip off, and the introduction of Jordan’s real life bisexuality into it attempts to give it an edge, but all it does is give off the impression of an increasingly desperate booking team.

This is the same man that lost an ear wrestling Vader.

Can You Smell What Baroque Is Cooking or Is WWE Anti-Intellectual?

It’s a well-established understanding that wrestling is not one of the more culturally edifying activities one can partake in. In fact in the minds of the cultural elite, watching wrestling is on a par with eating processed cheese slices straight from the packet or some light bestiality. I’ve long had to endure the ignominy of having to try to justify why I enjoy it so much. I’ve even made ill-fated attempts at comparisons to Dickens (both have cartoonishly villainous adversaries, and lazily obvious morality tales) with chair shots.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to realise that there is little I can do to try to shake this nagging sense of cultural vacancy when watching wrestling. Especially when the product itself is so intent on firmly occupying the lowest of the lowbrow. Take, for example, the quintessential good vs. evil dichotomy that existed within the then WWF. Vince McMahon was the evil, self-made billionaire, whereas Stone Cold Steve Austin was the bad ass, bird-flipping, ass-whooping, beer-drinking everyman that the WWF’s target audience (basement-dwellers, people who go to work with their names on their shirt, men called Scooter and more importantly Nascar fans) couldn’t fail to fall in love with. While, of course I can understand and appreciate the concept of the underdog outwitting the almost clownishly evil authority figure, it did set an unhealthy precedent of ‘anyone in a suit = bad’.

This is what the rest of the world sees when they think 'Wrestling Fan'

Possibly the best working heel in WWE at present is Chris Jericho. The ex ‘Man of 1004 holds’ and ‘Ayatollah of Rock-and-Roll-ah’ now plays a chickenshit whiner; a role he has truly made his own. And while there have always been cowardly irritating heels, Jericho has truly found his niche, striding to the ring in a suit, spouting a series of polysyllabic words, before decrying the audience as being ‘hypocrites’ and err… ‘gelatinous tapeworms’. Then it takes some down-home boy like John Cunting Cena to run to the ring, shout like a gibbon having its ‘nads clamped, pull off his shirt and declare himself the representative of the ‘DUBBADUBBAEEEEUNIVERSE’. Again, the obvious binary of snobbery vs. everyman is very clear, but why does having a good vocabulary and dressing well make you a bad guy? Please don’t misunderstand me, WWE has an award-winning reading competition at Wrestlemania each year and also runs campaigns to encourage school children to read; but the underlying air of anti-intellectualism and the fact that it almost revels in its rejection of any form of supposed elitism, will always ensure that wrasslin’ will always be considered culturally redundant among the vast majority of people.


'Legendary Welshman'