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Posts Tagged ‘wrestling

“In wrestling, nothing exists unless it exists totally”*…

 

As Jesse Ventura once explained, professional wrestling is “ballet with violence.”  Reuters photographer Thomas Peter spent time recently exploring the world of Japanese women’s pro wrestling.  He reports that “professional women’s wrestling in Japan means body slams, sweat, and garish costumes. But Japanese rules on hierarchy also come into play, with a culture of deference to veteran fighters. The brutal reality of the ring is masked by a strong fantasy element that feeds its popularity with fans, most [but certainly not all] of them men.”

More (and several more photos) at “Professional Women’s Wrestling in Japan,” and at “Japan’s women wrestlers fight to win.”

* “In wrestling, nothing exists unless it exists totally, there is no symbol, no allusion, everything is given exhaustively; leaving nothing in shadow, the gesture severs every parasitical meaning and ceremonially presents the public with a pure and full signification, three dimensional, like Nature. Such emphasis is nothing but the popular and ancestral image of the perfect intelligibility of reality. What is enacted by wrestling, then, is an ideal intelligence of things, a euphoria of humanity, raised for a while out of the constitutive ambiguity of everyday situations and installed in a panoramic vision of a univocal Nature, in which signs finally correspond to causes without obstacle, without evasion, and without contradiction.”

– Roland Barthes, Mythologies

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As we slam the mat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1994 that the first Induction Ceremony was held for the WWE Hall of Fame.  The Hall had in fact been created the prior year; it’s inaugural inductee, (the recently-deceased) Andre the Giant.  But that honor had simply been announced during an episode of Monday Night Raw.  The class of 1994 included Arnold Skaaland, Bobo Brazil, Buddy Rogers, Chief Jay Strongbow, Freddie Blassie, Gorilla Monsoon, and James Dudley.

Bobo Brazil (Houston Harris), who is credited with breaking the racial barrier in professional wrestling

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Written by LW

June 18, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Wrestling is ballet with violence”*…

 

“You call it wrestling, they term it ‘working’ … As Shakespeare once said: ‘A rose by any other name,’ etc.” So Marcus Griffin began his groundbreaking 1937 book on the ins and outs of the pro wrestling business, Fall Guys: The Barnums of Bounce. It’s a good place to start, because any discussion of the grunt-and-groaners (as Griffin would call them) inevitably involves an examination of the artifice that undergirds the endeavor, and that artifice — be it the antediluvian secret that the whole show is a put-on, or the modern-day pretense that both actors and audience interact as if it’s legitimate — is itself bolstered by an intricate, seemingly inane vocabulary of lingo, idiom, and jargon.

Every subculture has its lingo, but the subbier the culture, the more unintelligible the dialect can be. Couple that with an industry conceived on falsehood and dedicated to keeping the lie alive, and you’ve got a rabbit hole that even the most stalwart of linguists would think twice before exploring. We take a stab at it here. The most obvious of terms, those used in common parlance outside the wrestling world — pin, feud, dud, etc. — are mostly omitted, despite their prevalence inside the biz. Some terms are listed within other definitions for readability’s sake. As with anything of this sort, this list is far from complete — and as with anything so idiomatic, the definitions are frequently debatable. Though some of the terms are obscure, their purpose is larger. The terms obscure the industry’s realities, sure; they function as a secret handshake among those with insider knowledge, obviously; but moreover, they try to describe a unique, oddball enterprise in terms of its own bizarre artistry…

From…

angle (n.) — A story line or plot in the wrestling product, as in, “They’re working a classic underdog angle.” It can be employed in either small-bore usage — i.e., the angle in a match — or in large-scale terms to describe a lengthy story. The term is borrowed from the archaic criminal/carnie phrase “work an angle,” which means figuring out a scam or finding an underhanded way to make a profit.

and…

Andre shot (n.) — A trick by which a camera is positioned beneath a wrestler, looking up, so as to make the wrestler look bigger. Famously used to make the 7-foot-4 Andre the Giant look even bigger than he was.

to…

workrate (n.) — A term for in-ring wrestling quality, used primarily by wrestling journalists to rate the physical and psychological performance of a match. The field of wrestling critique is often associated with journalist Dave Meltzer, who rates matches on a star scale; great matches throughout history are often referred to as “five-star matches” in reference to Meltzer’s rubric.

and…

zabada (n.) — A catch-all term for an arbitrary tool used to fill in a hole in anangle, usually used when the tool is still undefined, as in, “He’ll come out, cut a promo, run-in, zabada, then the finish.”

…it’s all in “Grantland Dictionary: Pro Wrestling Edition,” along with illustrations like the one above (for “chain wrestling”). Check out Grantland‘s other delightful dictionaries here.

* Jesse Ventura

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As we feel the frenzy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1906, in a game against Carroll College, that St. Louis University’s Bradbury “Brad” Robinson hit Jack Schneider with a 20-yard touchdown toss– the first legal forward pass in football.

“E. B. Cochems [the coach at St. Louis University in 1906] is to forward passing what the Wright brothers are to aviation and Thomas Edison is to the electric light.”

– College Football Hall of Fame coach David M. Nelson

1906 St. Louis Post-Dispatch drawing of Brad Robinson’s epic throw

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Written by LW

September 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

Lucha Libre!…

Mike Powell and Juergen Horn are living a peripatetic dream…

We’re lucky enough to have jobs that don’t require a steady address and since we both love traveling, we’ve decided to see the world… slowly. Always being tourists would get lame, but eternal newcomers? We can live with that. So, our plan is to move to an interesting new city, once every three months. About 91 days.

They are currently in La Paz, and are documenting their stay– from the Valley of the Moon to the inmate-run prison, San Pedro—  on their blog, for91days.com.  The highlight of the visit (at least for your correspondent) is their visit to the the local wrestling palace…

We recently attended the famous Lucha Libre at a sports facility in El Alto. Bolivians are wild for wrestling; posters of famous American wrestlers are everywhere, and you can’t go a block in La Paz without seeing seeing it on a curbside television set. Bolivia doesn’t have a professional league on the same level as the USA’s WWE, but El Alto’s Sunday afternoon Lucha Libre makes a solid substitute….

Rayo Azteco, Hombre Lobo, Mr. Atlas and Commando fought and provided plenty of fun, but the show really got going once the cholitas* were introduced. Alicia Flores was the first to enter, dressed in traditional garb, dancing around the ring to the delight of the fans. Her opponent was a guy, her assistant was a midget woman and, once the fight got going, none of them held back. Face-slapping, ball-grabbing, midget-stomping, high-flying action. It was awesome. At one point, after throwing the guy against the ropes, Alicia lifted her skirt in his face, knocking him to the canvas in shock.

The evening’s highlight was the Cholita vs. Cholita main event: Jenifer Two-Face against La Loca. No one has ever so completely owned her nickname as La Loca. This woman was crazy. As soon as the fight started, it got out of control. La Loca threw Jenifer over the barriers, into the foreigners section. Then she hopped over herself, grabbing coke bottles and spraying them over the crowd, howling like a beast. She kept at it, throwing chairs into the crowd and smashing Jenifer’s face into the bleachers just a meter away from us. Jenifer was a game fighter and brought the match back into the ring, but La Loca was just too loca. Soon enough, foreign objects had entered the melee, and the (fake) blood began to fly. With a little help from the evil ref, La Loca eventually pinned her opponent and exited the arena to the boos, whistles and shocked applause of the crowd.

* “Cholita” was coined by colonialist Spaniards as a denigration of the Andean population– in this feminine form, Andean women– but has since been adopted by the very people it was meant to injure.

 

As we practice our pins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Die Hard premiered.  Directed by John McTiernan with the precision of a Hong Kong action film, Die Hard was a huge hit; building on lead Bruce Willis’ wise-cracking TV (Moonlighting) persona, and on the precedent of Mel Gibson’s half of the “buddy duo” in the prior year’s hit, Lethal Weapon, it cemented the place of the funny, flawed hero in Hollywood action pictures.  Die Hard introduced American audiences to Alan Rickman… and, of course, made an A-List star of Bruce Willis.

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Nuts!…

Our friends at Autopia report:

It’s been quite an adventurous few months for Mr. Peanut. First, he got a makeover that left him with a gray flannel vest and a shell tanner than Snooki. Shortly after that, he made the acquaintance of Benson, a legume who is now his sidekick. With all those changes in his life, it’s only fitting that he upgrade his ride.

To that end, Planters has fixed him up with — wait for it — the Nutmobile, a custom creation set to tour the country teaching Americans to follow the way of the virtuous peanut…

Underneath that dry, wrinkled shell, the humble peanut is quite helpful to farmers. Like nearly all legumes, the roots of the peanut plant contain bacteria that contribute to nitrogen fixation — the process by which atmospheric nitrogen is converted to ammonia, fertilizing the soil.

To promote the “peanut lifestyle” of giving back to the earth, the Nutmobile will appear at events to draw support for The Corps Network, a service and conservation agency that offers over 30,000 young people the chance to mobilize communities in projects that restore and maintain public and green spaces…

The whole thing is one part George Barris, two parts George Washington Carver, and will join the Oscar-Meyer Wienermobile and the Red Bull Mini in the annals of vehicular marketing. If the new Planters commercials are any indication, we can only imagine that Benson will be riding shotgun.

So, is Mr. Peanut nuts about his new ride? We may never know, as the voice that sounds strangely like Robert Downey Jr. fell silent on this one: A spokeswoman for Planters told us that Mr. Peanut has no comment on the Nutmobile.

As we roast ’em and salt ’em, we might wish a hearty Happy Birthday to Verne Gagne; he was born on this date in 1926.  Verne was a champion athlete from an early age: he won NCAA titles while wrestling for the University of Minnesota. Then.in 1947, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears (though he never played for the team).  But it was as a professional wrestler and promoter that Gagne made his name.  He is recorded as a 10-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, holds the record for the most combined days as a world champion, lags only Bruno Sammartino and Lou Thesz for the longest single world title reign.  He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.  Through that same period– 1949 to 1981– Gagne became the owner/promoter of the American Wrestling Association (AWA), based in Minneapolis, the predominant professional wrestling operation throughout the Midwest and Manitoba.

Gagne was much beloved in Minnesota… which did after all elect one of his spiritual successors, Jesse Ventura, governor.

Verne Gagne in 1953 wearing his U.S. Heavyweight Championship belt (source: Minnesota Historical Society, via MinnPost)

Boys and Girls of All Ages!…

With a caveat to sufferers of the previously-explored affliction Coulrophobia, and as a kind of companion to the earlier-featured “Dictionary of Carny, Circus, Sideshow & Vaudeville Lingo ,” a collection of vintage circus and carnival posters and photos– one wonder after another!

These and many more at “Le Cirque” and “Bread and Circuses,” Flickr sets from gifted collector DoubleM2 (whose other groups of similarly fascinating designs from other corners of the human experience are also eminently worthy of a wander).

As we choose between an extra-large and an extra-extra-large popcorn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1992 that SummerSlam was held At Wembly Stadium in London.  With paid admissions of 80,355, it was certainly the largest ever professional wrestling crowd outside the U.S.  It may indeed have been the largest wrestling crowd ever:  the WWF reported that attendance at Wrestlemania III, held in Pontiac Michigan in 1987, had attendance of over 93,000; but many writers present believe that the WWF materially “overstated” the gate (and that the figure was more like 78,000).  In any case, no other pro wrestling event, before or since, has been so well attended.

Promotion for the broadcast, two days later

For video of SummerSlam 1992, click here.

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