Category: Audience Theory

November 1, 2017 /

There’s a quote by Edmund Burke that I came across in college. For years, a copy of it in careful violet-ink handwriting was taped to my computer, where I would see it every day: Never despair. But if you do, work on in despair. It’s… not the most uplifting of inspirational quotes, I suppose. The bright assertion of the beginning (Never give up! Hustle, loyalty, respect!) is undermined by the resigned weariness at the end:…

October 26, 2017 /

It’s late 2015, Dan and I have figured out how to buy tickets for New Japan Pro Wrestling shows and managed to attend a couple of shows: in the mountains of Gifu, in the sumo hall in our home base of Nagoya. We’ve even become members of the NJPW fan club, which gives us access to perks and better seats. It’s time to finally make our way to Tokyo and the Mecca of professional wrestling…

October 19, 2017 /

“I’m not sure I should watch this,” I say. We’ve gotten home from work and Smackdown is queued up and ready to go. I know Sami cuts a promo on Daniel Bryan and then he and Kevin win the main event together. Everyone on my timeline is thrilled. It’s the storyline I’ve been looking forward to for years. “I mean it,” I say. “I’m really not sure I should watch this.” “Aren’t you happy for…

September 28, 2017 /

“Go on without me,” I say faintly.  It’s 2015, and outside the car windows, the parking lot shimmers with late-summer Florida heat.  “Just…go on without me.” “I did not win a charity auction and get us a tour of the Performance Center just to leave you to die of heatstroke in the car,” Dan says.   He has a point, I have to admit.  Still…  “What if I trip over something? What if I say…

September 14, 2017 /

The ancient Greeks used a specific word–kairos– to mean roughly “the ability to choose the perfect moment to act.” They used it, for example, to describe the gift of knowing exactly when to loose an arrow in order to hit the target perfectly. Wrestling is a constant struggle to achieve kairos, because any wrestling promotion is basically an intricate ecosystem of interconnected parts: feuds and wrestlers and venues and dates. It’s like finding the right moment to…

August 30, 2017 /

It’s early summer, 2015, and WWE is coming to Japan in a couple of months. We have tickets for one of the two shows, and to my delight, Kevin Owens, NXT champion and newly arrived on the main roster, is on the card. In preparation, I have gone to the stationary store and bought nice paper, the kind with gold threads woven into it, and a new pen. I sit down and I put the…

August 2, 2017 /

Some of the very best moments in wrestling are about redemption. Redemption is Miss Elizabeth throwing herself into Randy Savage’s arms; it’s Shawn Michaels saying “I’m sorry, I love you” to Ric Flair; it’s Daniel Bryan holding those two titles aloft in New Orleans. It’s those fleeting moments where something is lifted out of doubt and darkness and held up as worthy, as valued, as clean and bright and true. Wrestling fans, we love a…

July 5, 2017 /

[Warning that there are gifs in here of Sami’s match with John Cena, which he fought with a legit injury.] My father was known for approaching life with teasing irony.  Nothing was as it seemed on the surface.  “Oh, these cupcakes are terrible, let me save you from them,” he would say while pretending to steal them away, to be thwarted by giggling shrieks of protest.  “Santa got lost this year, so there are no…

June 7, 2017 /

I am hating Kevin Owens. I know the grammar sounds wonky there, but believe me, it’s accurate.  It’s early 2015, I am in the passenger seat of a rental car driving down the Florida coast, and I am consciously, deliberately, and actively hating Kevin Owens. From the driver’s seat, Dan listens patiently as I list once more the new NXT champ’s offenses:  assault, title-stealing, repeated powerbombing, gloating, and generalized friendship failure are only the beginning…

May 10, 2017 /

I’m watching wrestling while hiding under the sheets so my parents won’t catch me. Clarification: I am a grown-ass human being of full adulthood, and I’m watching wrestling while hiding under the sheets so my parents won’t catch me. This is because I still haven’t figured out a way to explain to my parents that it’s terribly important I watch Sami Zayn defend his NXT title against Kevin Owens; that I have in fact flown…