Category: The Kayfabe Quandary

September 26, 2017 /

Who are we, as wrestling fans, and what have we lost? It’s March 28, 1962, in Los Angeles, California. It’s a Wednesday night at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, just south of Downtown, the famous arena about which Charles Bukowski once wrote, “the gallery boys went ape and the fighters fought like fighters and the place was blue with cigar smoke, and how we screamed, baby baby, and threw money and drank our whiskey.” That night…

July 14, 2017 /

It’s a question wrestling fans ask themselves with a regularity that’s surprising, given the nature of the industry: Which of these people could win a fight for real? The Legit Tough Guy is the answer, a folkloric figure whose assured existence and debated identity is perhaps unique to wrestling, which straddles the line between sport and drama. It’s hard to imagine ballet-goers, for instance, debating which ballerina is a swan in real life, and there’s…

July 3, 2017 /

On Sunday July 2, 2017, in his Twitter war with CNN, the president of the United States dropped a gif meme like an awkwardly-aimed missile, in which footage of him pounding on Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 23 was altered so that McMahon’s head is the CNN logo. Behold: It’s so bizarre to be writing about this. I shouldn’t be surprised after the recent trajectory of increasing surrealism in the Trump storyline—the orb, covfefe, Reality Winner,…

February 22, 2017 /

The indie wrestler I went out with circa 2003 died recently. I’m not sure what he died of, but his Facebook page shows an x-ray of a bone with metal rods in it or something, dated like a week before he died. I think physically he really had a hard time of it. He was around 43. People on Facebook were saying he was younger, but I remember him as being a year or two older…

February 23, 2016 /

Image Source: wwe.com Oh, dear friends, was this week’s RAW not a humdinger? And just when we thought the world was coming to an end because of Roman Reigns, who shows up but Shane McMahon, to drop a bombshell (if not quite a pipe bomb) that he has some kind of lockbox full of blackmail against Vince himself! The prodigal son returned, but not to beg his father for charity and compassion, oh no! Shane came back to…

November 30, 2015 /

So I was watching Breaking Ground, which gives a backstage look at NXT wrestlers as they develop their characters and attempt to find their place within the shambolic carnival of professional wrestling. This is on the Network, mind you, and everything you see is completely sanctioned by WWE. One episode focuses on Baron Corbin, or more specifically, Tom Pestock the Former Football Player-Turned-Wrestler, as he grumbles backstage and keeps to himself and rides a motorcycle…

September 23, 2015 /

Pro wrestling will give you trust issues. The language of pro wrestling is the language of deception. Mark, work, selling, and kayfabe are little strands of carny DNA that show us wrestling’s origins — a callback to when strongmen traveled with carnivals across the United States, bilking gullible Dust Bowl Alpha Bros out of money by goading them into rigged matches. Even if one of the local hayseeds looked like he might actually win a match with the strongman, another carny (hidden…

September 11, 2015 /

We’re watching some New Japan Pro Wrestling from 2013 on AXStv, in which Kazuchika Okada and Togi Makabe are arguing over which of their styles is “real” professional wrestling. Makabe is being accused of being a “backyard wrestler” and Okada is the technician with the world-renowned dropkick. Okada said this about Makabe’s style, which leans toward street-fighting (he also wears a chain around his neck, hello signifier!): I doubt that’s “real” professional wrestling. I am…

August 25, 2015 /

Look, hear me out here: I too was initially bitching and moaning about the perplexing botch/screwjob ending of the Brock Lesnar/Undertaker match at Summer Slam. But after sitting with it for a few hours, I was still captivated, unsettled, left wondering what the fuck. “WTF #Summerslam” I tweeted, and then soon realized that was exactly the sentiment I was supposed to carry away from the match. Here’s the thing we tend to forget about wrestling…

August 8, 2015 /

My friend Tim Kail hit the nail on the head on The Work of Wrestling today with this essay about the flawed concept of “fake” in professional wrestling. Hopefully you’ll click on the link go read it after I tempt you with this excerpt: Yes, Ronda’s aches and pains resultant from her hard work and her righteous battles are legitimate. Rocky’s wounds are paint. Sylvester Stallone does not feel their pain. But the emotion experienced…