Worst: Brooke Hogan deliberates, pt. 1
What’s the best way to determine a #1 contender? Is it a tournament? A battle royal? Chikarametrics? Anything involving actual wrestling? Haha, of course not. It’s Brooke Hogan, and she is here to pick a challenger and make you feel sad and stuff. Be it Velvet Sky’s WWE ’12 CAW hair or her claim that she’s never gotten a fair shot at the title despite only being back for two weeks and at one point holding the belt for nearly a month, this segment was going to get a worst anyways.
Brooke Hogan’s flawless reasoning for eliminating ODB from the title hunt is that she is already one half of the tag team champions, and hasn’t been wrestling enough singles matches to take away from her own title defense possibilities. PSYCHE! It’s because she has a husband with a foot injury, and should be home nursing him back to health instead of doing her job of Professional Wrestler because “family first.”
Best: ODB’S graceful exit
Because seriously Brooke, kiss my ass.
Best: Kenny King and Joey Ryan – Let them entertain you
Yet again, Kenny King is a welcome breather from what we have to slog through this week. I love watching wrestlers who look like they’re having fun, and outside of Christopher Daniels/Kazarian shenanigans, is there anyone who looks happier to be there than King? This kid is infectious, and not in the way you’d suspect from someone on the Impact roster. His excitement gets me excited, plain and simple. From the greasy finish last week, assessing his situation this week and literally peacing out, to him taunting RVD from the ramp after he gets Carbon Footprinted by Matt Morgan in his Tanning Mom costume, it’s all great. Given the opportunity, King could be not the charismatic heel we want, but the charismatic heel we need.
I really didn’t hate this match, which left me more than a little surprised given the involvement of Matt Morgan. Morgan’s the kind of wrestler you think would be strong and imposing because he’s got muscles and is crazy tall, but he ends up being less of an Undertaker-type big man, and more of an El Gigante – all limbs and no skill. However, what Morgan lacks in…everything…is more than made up for by Joey Ryan.
He may not be the best technical wrestler, but his commitment to perpetuating sleaze makes a gimmick-girl like me swoon a little. Little things he does during this match more than make up for his Pantone 157-coloured albatross of a tag partner. He’s not just holding onto the tag rope, waiting patiently and occasionally straining to get a tag, he’s engaged in the match, shouting for Morgan to hit harder and making fun of Kenny King when Morgan does. If Kenny King is the happiest to be there, Joey Ryan is the most excited to hurt you, and show off his junk while doing so. It’s going to suck when his gimmick dries up and we all end up hating him because Impact doesn’t often let us have nice things, but until then I’m going to bask in his greasy glow and buy into whatever he’s selling.
Worst: Taz, you stumpy homophobic jerk, get off of my television
I had never planned to write a Worst for Taz, because the bottom line is it would be a rehash of how poor he is on commentary every single week, and the fact that he is consistently terrible is more than a given. This week he turned his stumbling, bumbling, crummy persona up to 11 so that we would all be fully aware that any dude who likes another dude in any way is LOL GAY and that is both HILARIOUS and GROSS.
I’m going to make it very clear that this is a constant thing in professional (take your pick) and independent wrestling (PWG, Eddie Kingston using a gay slur against Tim Donst in AIW, RCW, default insults in ROH) that I am 100% fed up with. We are ten days away from it being 20 goddamn 13, and the use of homophobic and misogynistic attitudes should not be a conversation we should need to have. And yet here we are.
Be it fans or professional wrestling companies, I think we can all agree that the height of professional wrestling popularity came and went with the Attitude Era, both financially and in general public notoriety. Without turning this into a missive on the problematic nostalgia for this period of time, it seems like WWE is in a constant struggle to try to get back to that by peppering their PG United States of Cena with all of the dumb, edgy things (crotch chops, the Rock’s insults) that should be left in the past. TNA, as much as they are in the shadow of the bigger, more financially stable company, adopts an alternative take, trying to be more of an ECW alternative to the shiny, mostly family friendly type of programming WWE provides. There’s blood, literal T ‘n’ A, death threats, and an angrier tone to the fake violence. These aren’t the things that attract me to TNA, and while a good portion of their fanbase might dig it, TNA has proven itself to be the most successful when they leave that behind and showcase the best possible wrestling they can from both their male and female roster. TNA has always had an opportunity to net the fans fed up with whatever other companies are doing, and usually squanders it for ECW/WWE refugee wrestlers close to/past their prime, and naughty crotch-centric camera angles.
There is a reason that Knockouts can outdraw the men, and it’s not Velvet Sky’s internal aviary. If that were the case, their ratings would be sky high (pun definitely intended). TNA’s X-Division, much like the WCW Cruiserweights, has always been a fantastic opportunity to showcase smaller, more agile wrestlers who don’t fit the stereotypical norm of a musclebound professional wrestler. They have repeatedly proven that they can put on exciting matches and pay-per-views showcasing different International styles (lucha libre, puroresu) that some may not be familiar with, without resorting to racist USA vs. The Rest angles. Sure, TNA may never be as progressive as I want it to be, but you can’t set a bar for yourself and expect fans not to hold you accountable when you don’t live up to it.
If TNA can step outside of its traditional approach when it comes to these two things, I certainly don’t see why we can’t enjoy an entertaining wrestling match without the insinuation that Todd Keneley is joined at the choda with Joey Ryan (and that it’s a bad thing), or that Christopher Daniels is only sitting on Santa’s lap because he wants to be anally penetrated (jeez, really Taz?). I’m pretty sure that if anyone watching is legitimately offended by a commentator saying something positive about a wrestler, or someone sitting in Santa’s lap (again, really?), they’re probably all too easily scandalized by half-naked men grappling with each other to be watching in the first place.
If Kurt Angle wants to see his Brischoff dreams come true, great. If Todd and Joey Ryan want to kayfabe smoosh themselves up against each other out of mutual respect and adoration, there’s nothing wrong with that. If Christopher Daniels has a Santa fetish…you know what, whatever. I’m not here to judge. But none of these things are legitimate parts of the story being told in either the tag match or the Santa segment, and in no way does Taz’s assessment of GAY GAY GAY HOMOSEXUAL GAY add to the story of the King-RVD feud, or that Kazarian and Daniels enjoy using elaborate prop-filled segments to make fun of AJ Styles and send me into fits of delight.
The argument has been made that when companies, TNA in particular, embrace any kind of prejudicial tone they are playing up to their fans. As a fan of both Impact and not being a crappy human being, I’m more than a little offended by that. Denying that these people don’t exist would be foolish, because I think we’ve all been made to feel uncomfortable by one ignorant fan or another at some point in time, but again, it is almost 20 goddamn 13. If we can speak out about racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments in anything else in life, why do we have to give wrestling a pass because some guys just want to see boobs, and Taz thinks boys who like boys are gross, and that’s the way it’s always been? How is a wrestling company going to survive if it chooses to play up to this demographic instead of embracing the idea that good wrestling is for everyone, and trying to prove all of the stereotypes that keep people from watching wrestling wrong? How many of you, when telling someone you like wrestling, has a great sentimental story about being a kid and loving Macho Man, or Hulk Hogan, or Bret Hart? If people can outgrow wrestling, why can’t wrestling outgrow it’s previously held mindsets and try to bring those people back? If you’re a wrestling-loving parent, do you want your kids growing up with the idea that girls are less than human sex objects, people from different countries are worthless and evil, and gays are to be mocked and shamed? Or do you want them to appreciate the skill of a well-spoken promo, the art of a well-crafted gimmick, or the beauty of a Northern Lights Suplex?
The Wrestling Community as a whole may not agree on everything, but the bottom line is that we’re all here for wrestling, and I fully believe that a focus on that instead of disappointing, outdated notions of sex and race would benefit everyone, no matter our political or cultural views.
Sorry to get all soap-boxy on you good folks, but my alternate for this worst was “F-ck you, Taz” and an animated gif of me running headfirst into a brick wall.