The Moss-Covered, Three-Handled Family Gredunza

The moss covered, three-handled family gredunza is the third of Chris Jericho’s 1004 moves, preceeded by an armdrag and armbar, and to be followed by an armbar and the Saskatchewan spinning nerve hold. It is a reference to the Cat in the Hat’s TV special.

Links

Greg talks about performers and the request. I always enjoyed screaming “get me away from here, I’m dying.”

Cash reviews the New York stop for the Bright Eyes show. I saw the same set in Toronto last week, and it was damn incredible. The drummed-up version of “First day of my life” is stunning and someone needs to put it on the net.

Shawn writes up a fabulous tribute to Jeff Buckley including personal stories and documentary links. By far the best thing on the site this month.

Violence, Comedy, and Justice

If there is one thing that wrestling fans have in common, it’s that the majority of people they know do not understand why they enjoy the art of professional wrestling. This is because the “wrestling is stupid” crowd has a few very, very good points. First of all, wrestling is kind of stupid. Wrestling has never been high art, and isn’t supposed to be. Wrestling is flipside opera; a fair of simplified stereotypes and missionaries squaring off in a metaphorical triad of violence, comedy, and justice. It is a cavalcade of nonsense, but that nonsense has a very difficult to properly define structure. It’s this difficulty that leaves wrestling fans incapable of properly explaining their fandom to those that do not “get it.” It’s this difficulty I want to assess this week.

First of all, let’s look at the obvious trait that wrestling fans covet; violence. Violence is the currency of the wrestling world. Every single transaction between characters and ideals must use violence to solve their problems. This violence has a ferocious habit of escalation, as in, the only solution to all the violence is to have more convincing violence. Not convinced that the score is settled? Bring in the steel cage. Still not convinced? Have a stretcher match. Still need more? Bring out the Hell in the Cell, or the running gag of the “career ending” match. Yes, the violence progressively gets “worse” in waves, but if it’s all fake anyway, what stakes are we actually talking about? The wrestlers, or the audiences’ satisfaction?

Violence is a perfectly positive reason to watch pro wrestling. One can argue (easily) that the introduction of violence will only bring more (and more real) violence, but wrestling has never really been charged of this outside of scattered backyard incidents. It’s a fairly proven fact that the illusion of violence that wrestling represents actually has no bearing on the testosterone level of the audience. It might actually lower it, if the stereotypical image of a wrestling fan (compared to, say, a UFC or football fan) is any indication. These are not people that will beat you up after getting drunk at the bar. If we’re talking boys here, and statistically that’s the audience, and since one can assume that boys are going to seek an outlet for their instinctive bloodlust (if one is to believe in evolution, anyway), then isn’t it better that it’s being let out on a theatrical production of violence rather than the actualization of blood on canvas?

Secondly, there’s the slightly off-beat, yet very appreciated aspect of pro wrestling; comedy. Wrestling, like all art forms, has it’s own brand of comedy, appreciated mostly and often exclusively by wrestling fans. The comedy can range from offensively stupid (Dawn Marie’s dad?) to subtly brilliant (Shelton Benjamin’s “football” skit, Jericho’s entire heel persona in WCW), but in most cases, are not showcase pieces to entice non-fans. This is actually not a bad thing, because the inclusion of insider comedy is proof positive that we actually have a culture here, and culture is the greatest weapon against mediocrity.

Still, that’s no reason to rest on laurels. Even the biggest fan knows that wrestling could be funnier. Just as violence, comedy, and justice are fundamental positives in wrestling, they are also its biggest flaws. The best parts of these three traits are rarely attributed to the art, and that’s a shame. Wrestling could and should be much funnier than it is, and there’s no reason it isn’t. I’m probably one of the few writers who actually wants less realism in my wrestling, but I think it would really go a long way to making it a unique form of entertainment. The Lashley/McMahon storyline going into One Night Stand this weekend has been excellent for that.

Finally, there’s the most important and sought after jewel that the desert of pro wrestling offers; justice. The Lashley/McMahon storyline should end on Sunday night, and it should end with Lashley regaining his ECW championship. If it does, then we will have a predictable but reliable storyline involving violence, comedy, and justice. The justice will be the defeat of the overzealous owner of the company and his destruction of the ECW title’s legacy (which doesn’t really amount to much, anyway), and the triumph of the really, really nice guy who just wants to compete. The comedy was incorporated from the beginning of the feud by the inclusion of Donald Trump, a head-shaving, an embarrassing loss of the title by Lashley, and the obstacle-throwing that McMahon has been practicing. The violence is, of course, in the encounters between Lashley and McMahon’s cronies. This is an easy storyline to follow. It’s mildly entertaining, offers a clear beginning, middle and end, and does what few storylines in wrestling do; offer respite in the finale.

Justice is the heading for any wrestling fan. Nine times out of ten, a wrestling fans’ most memorable moments have been ones of justice, and yet it is the one thing that eludes us most of the time. Often, the justice is staged. Was there any real justice in John Cena defeating Khali last month (or repeatedly over the next week)? Was there any justice in Hulk Hogan defeating Andre at Wrestlemania 3, for that matter? This isn’t the kind of justice we keep close, though. A better example is of Chris Benoit winning the world title at Wreslemania 20, or Eddie Guererro winning the WWE belt a month earlier. It is Eric Bischoff being taken out by the same band of ECW originals that he had abused and accosted years before. It is seeing Ring of Honor begin to rise into the mainstream. Often, justice is hollow—delivered too early or too late. But when the wrestling world is pierced properly with a moment of it at just the right time, it is transcendently viewed as an important moment in low culture, and brings validity to our art.

The very ideas of violence, comedy, and justice make what is professional wrestling. There is actually no more or less to it, and if we’re ever going to genuinely respect our chosen art (let alone be able to convince non fans that we’re not idiots or insane) then these three characteristics have to be placed on an important pedestal and given the same kind of push that any main event wrestler might get.

Tags: , , , , , ,