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.

First off, apologies for missing out last week. I sprained my wrist and couldn’t type until about 3pm yesterday.

Links

Keith reviews Collision in Korea, a show that requires a masters degree in political science to fully understand its significance.

Keith rants on the Monday Night Wars segment this week, which hasn’t shown up on my channel yet. Come to think of it, CiK didn’t show up until a week later either. I have to wonder if Keith has a special deal with WWE or something.

WWE 24/7 is a great channel for fans, but its real value is for historians

WWE 24/7, the Fed’s on demand channel available for $9.95 per month, is by far the best thing going on in wrestling right now. Watching reruns of wrestling is a fantastic idea that, for some reason, is only being exploited now. While TV sitcoms and dramas are shown on repeat ad nauseum, and sports are never shown ever again (except on the stoic and dimly-lit ESPN classic), wrestling is the kind of entertainment that can be viewed over and over, but isn’t for the most part. I think it is for this—and possibly no other—reason that wrestling isn’t studied in the same way popular television is. For the most part, professional wrestling literature is a shambolic mixture of instant guttural analysis (the PPV this weekend is/was the worst thing I’ve ever spent $40 on), barely-topical arguments as to why lesser stars aren’t being pushed, and, of course, reports of shows (increasingly, reports of reruns featured on 24/7). These kinds of articles are featured largely because of the forward-motion that we have become used to. In professional wrestling, everything that happens tomorrow is the most important thing in the world, and everything that happened yesterday is old news.

But we’ve entered a period in professional wrestling where watching a rerun of Monday Night Raw from ten years ago is actually more entertaining than watching it now. I can almost guarantee that the next set of Raw/Nitro reruns featured on 24/7 will feature more wrestling, more captivating storylines, and more cultural significance than any show any promotion has put on this year. This isn’t nostalgia talking, either. Yes, I do consider 1997 to be the year that professional wrestling peaked, but that has nothing to do with me. 1997 was the best year for professional wrestling objectively. WWE, WCW, and ECW were all running hot (at least, on paper; in reality, WWE was extremely close to bankruptcy), mainstream media was just beginning to pay attention, and the actual wrestling being presented was some of the freshest and most appealing since the late 80’s. The crop of wrestlers that became stars in that year are a who’s who of the main event roster ever since. And you can watch them all without commercials. Being presented two weeks per month, it’s going to take another year and a half to go through the entire events of 1997, and I’m very much looking forward to studying it.

But the Monday Night Wars are only one feature on 24/7 that highlights the fact that wrestling should be studied and discussed in a historiographical sense. Yesterday, I watched the feature to the AWA DVD that came out earlier this year. It was a fascinating study, featuring almost exclusively AWA participants, shot documentary-style like all their features, and actually illuminating a piece of history that has since been fairly mowed over. They do this all the time on this channel. There is a history for professional wrestling, and it is incredibly deep, complex, and mysterious. This channel places pro wrestling in the timeline of modern society. It states very firmly that pro wrestling isn’t something that just happens on the outskirts of culture; it is indelible in mainstream entertainment, and deserves more than it has received in appreciation.

Last month, I watched a two and a half hour roundtable discussion on the Monday Night Wars in their “Legends of Wrestling” show. It was a panel of five participants (though only Eric Bischoff represented WCW) that spoke openly and honestly about a period of history. They made arguments that had not been presented in the MNW DVD (this discussion trumped that DVD in terms of substance), compared aspects in alarming detail, and put forth hypothesis and clarifications that was placed in a space of pure intellectual discussion about professional wrestling. This show is the gem stone of 24/7, and I hope they give us more of it. Though not particularly valuable as a product, these discussions enrich the history of pro wrestling by placing in a plane that requires an academic-like approach. It solidifies the fantasy that all the hours we have spent watching this circus actually means something.

The best part of the entire channel is the calm objectivity of it. Yes, some things have been altered. Theme music has been changed in places. Cuts have been made to uphold a sense of quality. Most strikingly, Chris Benoit has been edited out of every show he ever wrestled, leaving an odd gap in continuity in the Nitro reruns. But these changes have been made due to licensing and public relations nightmares, not because of political persuasion. 24/7 airs reruns of NWA, WCCW, and AWA shows without alternate commentary, sarcastic introductions, or even an air of lesser importance alongside WWE reruns. The channel is broken up by type of programming, not promotion (though they tried that at first), and this alludes to a calm over the once-violent sea of feuding promotions. All flying under a single banner, various promotions can finally be considered equals. McMahon could have purchased the tape libraries of all his former competitors and simply locked them up, but has instead placed them in an equally accessible format for the sake of preserving and heightening the allure of its importance. This is a self-serving idea, of course. I’m sure he’s making a killing off subscriptions to this channel, but the public good here far outweighs any kind of monetary gain.

24/7 has actually elevated some people in my eyes that I’m not sure McMahon had intended. I’m finding myself become a fan of Gagne’s style of wrestling (which was really ahead of its time when it came to speed and flash), but more importantly, I’m becoming a great fan of Bischoff’s inclusions to the various documentaries, panels, and reruns. Even though Bischoff no longer works for WWE, they still have him come in to do the odd interview and segment. More than anything, Bischoff seems to understand the absurdity that is pro wrestling where so many others treat it like a serious sport. Because of this, he’s capable of sitting back a little and viewing it for what it really is. There really isn’t a single point he makes in any discussion involving his actions in wrestling that don’t seem more believable than the people around him. Watching him, it becomes easier to understand how he was capable of making Nitro a national success.

The potential for the channel is nearly limitless. It can serve as a repository of all sorts of extra features, odd matches, and new stages of discussion. Because of this, we need to know what we’re watching. These aren’t reruns in the same way that TBS offers Seinfeld eight times a day. These are historical documents put up for study, for review, and for consideration into the canon of professional wrestling.

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