On Gifs that Express Volumes and Other Pressing Matters

So I was deep into a post about the unique women’s narrative in a match between Ivelisse and Sexy Star inspired by Ivelisse’s Twitter misadventures of late, because as you know, Ivelisse is my spirit animal, and I too am the baddest bitch in the building I am in. Also, I just can’t abide by the Twitter police all the time—this shit becomes its own form of exclusion and tyranny. But then Sexy Star had to go and pull one of these on her entire career:

And now writing about her in a positive light gives me vibes like the grinding of malfunctioning machinery. So that post has been officially speared through the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area. But let this be a case study in how writing about wrestling is a haphazard endeavor prone to sabotage, and how wrestling’s winds of change will turn your finely crafted point on its ear!

(An aside, though: while Sexy Star clearly needs to be done with wrestling, I do think she should be afforded a modicum of the mental health consideration that Ivelisse supposedly refused to grant the citizens of Twitter. Something has gone catastrophically awry for Sexy Star. She didn’t used to do things like this, she used to know better than this, and I hope she’s going to be okay in the world now. When wrestlers crash, they crash hard. I’d rather us try to be a little kinder now rather than after it’s too late. If you get my morbid drift.)

Even though the essay about Ivelisse vs. Sexy Star is dead, I was still hung up on it. I couldn’t seem to move on to one of the other topics on my writing list, which are always too numerous to detail. Wrestling theory was beginning to die in my heart, tbh. But then I realized that I just hadn’t caught up with the times. In order to move on, I needed to take inspiration from my fellow wrestling theorist J.J. McGee and do some writing about the best thing to happen to this blog since Lana told a pay-per-view audience to google “machka”. That’s right–I needed to write about gifs.

My love for gifs runs deep. They are a versatile and democratic art form, and they allow any internet citizen to express what mere written words cannot. As much as they tend toward bombastic and combative, they are a pressure valve for a certain volatility that grows in you when you spend your intellectual life sojourning about the internet, an energy born from the futility of reprogramming your neural pathways and wrecking your eyes in this cyberspace, which is both unreal and hyperreal. I mean, just look at this, the first gif that ever stole my heart:

Except imagine: when I first saw it, the kitty in the back said “DAMN” when he turned his head. It was exquisite. Also, I will use this gif any time, anywhere:

I just feel that the kitty taking the plunge can express a certain something about almost anything.

But wrestling gifs have a way of capturing a metaphor the way kitty gifs simply do not. Wrestling gifs are capable of distilling human conflict into its most powerful relatable moments. So I present to you now five gifs that are near to my heart, starting, of course, with:

The lesson here is—sometimes you just gotta burn shit to the ground and strike your arm pose as you steel yourself for the subsequent beatdown. Live fast and die young, this gif says, in an esoteric sort of way. I know a lot of people find my beloved Randy Orton to be a boorish jackass, and he is! But moments like these are why he never ceases to be relevant for me. He is the patron saint for those of us who go ahead and listen to the voices in our heads. In moments of chaos, sometimes the voices cut through the bullshit and get straight to the point, which is: burn baby burn, and arm-pose baby arm-pose.

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This is a gif about how life turns on a DIME. You finally get what you’ve worked so hard for, and out of the blue life’s mobius strip twists and everything you were counting on turns into its opposite. It’s the moment in which you go through the looking glass of a heel turn and suffer like Job for having dared to be good. It’s the moment life teaches you its cruel lesson: that nice guys finish last. Which is actually the message whether you are the Kevin or the Sami, if you really think about it. We try to tell ourselves life isn’t this way, but in fact, gentle reader, isn’t it? As the Randy Orton house fire gif also teaches, evolution requires creative destruction, so that new storylines can flourish. These gifs would have us remember that, rather than wring our hands over life’s cruel turns, we are wise to learn instead how to ride cruelty’s wave, for it will take us straight to Wrestlemania.
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Speared through the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area! This is what life does to you. This is what happening when I was trying to write about Ivelisse vs. Sexy Star. This gif is a metaphor about the wheel of time, how it does a number on us all. You can be the most sprightly and youthful Alicia Fox and yet the goddess of brutality will slam you through all your illusions and into close quarters with your mortality. And that is where you must lie prone until you confront the finite nature of your existence on earth, and thereby get your groove back to fight anew.
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This is the perfect gif to illustrate the decline of one generation and the rise of another. “Suck it!” signals the future king to the sneering embodiment of death and boomerism. The Death Boomer remains in the ring in his regalia, but the Gen X punk has gotten off a prime “fuck you”. He doesn’t have to get in there and try to steal the spotlight, though—he can just signal his trademark dick move and walk away, so he can wait out the wheel of time. Because time is coming for the Death Boomer, mark my words. He will be speared through the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area before long. (And credit to ilovewrestlinggifs.tumblr.com for this one!)
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So aside from writing about how I’m not going to write about Ivelisse vs. Sexy Star for now, I’m not going to write about this match for now. But still, this gif might embody the essence of 2017 as I see it, which I identified early on as a year in which we would only survive if we learned how to give no fucks. You think you’ve got the game all locked up because you’ve just laid down your trademark “baddest bitch in the building” promo—we’ve all been there—but then the one harboring a career-killer demon goes and bitch-slaps you, literally. This bitch slap right here is totally meta, you guys. It reminds us to stay sharp, never rest on our laurels, and never ever put our faith in a gimmick. (And thanks so much to J.J. McGee for making me this gif! Which I could only find online as an mp4, of all things.)

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Thank you for bearing with me while I got thoughts off my chest about five gifs for which I have strong feelings. I’d love it if you would hit up @SpectacleofX with wrestling gifs that you find express so much, and tell us what they mean to you.

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