Category: Wrestling Theory & Criticism

November 15, 2017 /

Wrestling is repetitive. At its worst, it’s a frustrating experience, full of dead ends and pointless loops, events that pile up without a story to tie them together, jolting along until they merely stop without closure. But there’s promise and potential there, too. Given enough time and patience, some luck and stubbornness and inspiration, you could put all those repeating patterns together into stories that echo and resonate off each other, like bells that never quite…

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…

October 11, 2017 /

To steal and adapt a saying, some wrestlers are born to their characters, some achieve their characters, and some have their characters thrust upon them. Kevin seems to have been born to his character–a cocky, sneering prodigy who happens to be better than anyone else in the room and knows it (Samoa Joe supposedly said of him way back in 2003, “The arrogant little prick is almost as good as he thinks he is.”*) El…

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…

September 20, 2017 /

The great Bobby “The Brain” Heenan has died, and as such I’m reflecting deeply on his life and exceptional professional wrestling career far earlier than I had ever wanted. As I type, I’m watching an astonishing amount of universally glowing tributes pour in across social media in Heenan’s honor—each one equally sincere and well-deserved—from a range of fans, friends, and former colleagues, past and present. In one sense, I feel sanguine in knowing The Brain’s…

September 8, 2017 /

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…

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 19, 2017 /

Run-ins are the bane of anyone trying to look back and re-assemble a story in wrestling.  You could, for example, watch every single match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in the WWE and never come across the first time they interacted on Raw–because it happened at the end of a match between Kevin and Neville, where Sami comes out and interrupts a post-match beatdown: Lots of feuds and alliances are born in unrelated matches,…

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,…

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…