Hello, wrestlefriends! Today is the genesis of the beginning of the first part of TNA Genesis! Are you ready for this? DO DODO DOO DOO DODO DODODOO DO DODO DOO DOO DODO DODODOO. But first, some pre-show notes:
– This week Brandon and I made our triumphant return to the world of casting pods at The Mandible Claw. Whose got two thumbs, hates pile drivers, and instantly cries over Mr. Dressup? Podcast spoiler alert: This gal.
– Jessica/Lobster Mobster/Married to the Mobsy has been writing about UFC, and while I don’t understand it, I love and support her, and you should too! Read her stuff here, and follow her on Twitter here.
– Like, comment, share, repost, link, tumbl, and tweet this Best and Worst. If you do, you get that sweet satisfaction of bragging about your literacy AND proficiency at social media at the same time.
This week on Impact Wrestling: It’s a pay per view, but it’s on TV, and you don’t have to pay a thing! The future is now, and also the immediate future because it continues next week!
Worst: I see London, I see France, I have a big stupid sign about Magnus’s underpants
Chances this show is going to exhausting: 100%
Best: Let’s enjoy some people being delightful before it all inevitably goes to pot
From a completely stripped down creative viewpoint, it’s really easy to understand why I love Dixie and the Blokemans (new single dropping 1/24/14). You’ve got the out-of-touch mean rich lady who assumedly thinks that people can lead successful lives on a pittance with no health insurance, an obnoxious wee sycophant with weird hair and glorious bowties, the embodiment of nepotism itself in a young newcomer who values the superficiality of a win more than hard work and legitimacy, and a entitled title-holder plucked from the pages of a magazine who turned his nose up at the camaraderie of his previous stablemates at the first whiff of glory. These are good, compelling, intertwined characters who are able to interact with multiple people outside of their immediate realm, form a solid base to keep momentum going forward in their own sub-stories, and are simple enough that the face-heel dynamic isn’t shrouded in shades of gray.
The execution, however, is really something special. It’s said time and again that really, there are no good guys in TNA, and that’s true in a really unfortunate kind of way. The faces are still real garbage humans, and even when sticking up for someone, it’s for their own personal gain, or done in a way that is equally as horrifying, sexist, or homophobic as the rest of the show will demonstrate. The spectrum of good to evil is skewed, with most “faces” either morally despicable douchebags with backwards and outdated ideas of masculinity, or cretins with no memory of their very recent alliances or contemptible actions.
Everything about these four is clear cut: their motivations are simply and easy to understand, and it’s obvious where they lie on the “should I boo this person?” scale. The execution, however, is what makes it really special. Rockstar Spud and his infinitely punchable face and boundless energy. Dixie’s delivery, self-satisfaction, and her sheer exasperation when people interrupt her or don’t do things her way. Ethan Carter III’s everything, basically. Even Magnus gets a best later on, a herculean feat if there ever was one. And most importantly, they look like they’re having fun. Like they want to be there. No one is schlumping out to the ring, muttering a half-hearted death threat then throwing the saddest punches in the history of both sadness and punches. Dixie pausing to playfully kick Spud in the rear as he holds the ropes open for her? How could you not be charmed by that? EC3 may be harbouring resentment towards Magnus, but My Three Blokes are still sticking together, aiding in each other’s defense when needed, and forming a cohesive partnership that, while it may be a façade, sets the sirens blaring on my friendship-based wrestling alert system.
I’ve talked about the constant state of fear Impact Wrestling has cultivated, the fear of the other shoe dropping and everything going belly up. A good promo ruined by someone making limp-wristed gestures at someone. Good storylines losing trajectory and fizzling out with zero explanation. Chavo. But this is good, and it is precious, and want to put that fear out of my mind and enjoy Rockstar Spud’s matching leopard-print lapels and bowtie, Dixie’s sexy mom jeans, and Ethan Carter III’s everything, basically. You’ve done a good thing when you can get Magnus to make me smile, and him presenting Dixie with the title belt fills my heart with rainbows. So this is a Best, and will stay a Best, and I will be the saddest when it’s blown to smithereens.
Best: Rockstar Spud
Spud that belt is so heavy you’re going to get smooshed don’t get smooshed I just started to like you, k?
The good news: Sting found his bat. The bad news: He’s cold and there are wolves after him.
Best: Joseph Park
I would love to type a longer Best for him running down the ramp like that, but I have exploded into bits of heart-shaped confetti, and it’s a little hard to type.
Worst: I’m really disappointed that the segment is chopped up on YouTube like this…
…because Samoa Joe takes the mic to shout something, and I swear I have watched it back seven times, and the best I can decipher is “HOOAHSBEEN HAUL ASS BIGBLOW.” Is…is this an easter egg? If I play the show backwards, will he give me a recipe for lentil soup?
Worst: Lei’D Tapa and ODB are strong so they must actually be men, amirite? They can do wrestling moves, just like dudes!
Best, I guess?: 6-on-6 tag
This match is way more fun if you
a) mute it
b) pretend this is the wrestling equivalent of the Soul Train Line Dance
c) skip it and watch Soul Train Line Dance compilations on YouTube the entire instead
Worst: Write about the wrestling show, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
So…I guess this starts off clear enough. Chris Sabin is a manipulative, possessive, abusive boyfriend, and Austin Aries calls him on it. Because he’s a good guy, right? He’s got A Woman’s Worth on his iPod. He’s seen at least three Meryl Streep movies. He knows how to intervene on behalf of a friend, right?
Sometimes when I try to explain the premise of specific happenings in wrestling, I sound legitimately demented. “You see, there’s this great and devious evil insect overlord, his pumpkin-based friends, and a dead guy…”, “Well, no, see, he used to be a wrestler, but now his body is just a husk inhabited by demon, and then he’s got these two guys who have great big bushy beards who never shower…”, “No, see, you’re thinking of the toilet demon who travels via sewer, loves Spider-Man, and his favourite part of the turkey is the butt.” See? I sound like a crazy person. Any, if not all of these things, don’t sound half as insane as what I’m about to describe:
Velvet Sky doesn’t really wrestle, but her boyfriend does, so she keeps him company, and is often at ringside to cheer him on. He’s been treating her worse and worse to the point that he’s manipulated her into cheating, demeaned and berated her in public, and is on the cusp of being violently possessive. Then there’s this other fellow, the victim of their cheating, who lost his title belt and now wants it back. He thinks the best way to empower this woman is to tell her she’s hot, insist that though he’s vegan he would consume a pie made of pigeons that have been slow-roasting in her vagina, and then put her in a cage so she doesn’t interfere with their next match. The girl, obviously fed up with the way she’s been treated, tells them both to go screw, flips them the Stone Cold double fingers, and signs up for a pottery class the night of their match because she’s a strong powerful woman who can do what she wants.
One of those things isn’t true. You’d think it was the cage part, right? You are the most wrong. Next week, because Austin Aries thinks that Chris Sabin can’t beat him without the help of Velvet Sky, he would like to make sure that she is not at ringside. His solution? Put her in a cage at ringside.
An honest-to-goodness cage.
She couldn’t possibly be okay with that, right? She’s making the exact face that you’re making just reading those words, and THEN gives them the inappropriate hand gesture and tells them to go suck eggs?
No. She’s into it. She’s mad at how she’s been treated, she’s gonna go in the cage, and if he loses, she’s gonna break up with him.
What kind of f-cked up mad lib did TNA Creative fill out to make this happen? I can’t be the only one completely baffled by this.
Worst: No really, this show is a trial
As of this point in the report I’ve got a few hours to figure out how I can accurately convey why putting a woman in a cage, the hashtag #pigeonpie, and helping a woman reclaim her worth by telling her she has a hot ass, are all terrible horrible things because no one in the production meetings has the common sense to realize that may somehow not go over well with anyone who has a shred of human decency about them. Then we have the fellow who aggressively and violently treats a woman as property and wants to set a pair of newborn twins on fire. We’ve got the honoured guests of the TNA Impact retirement home, one who looks like a throbbing cartoon penis, and the other who turns your childhood fandom into your adulthood sadness and who gets weirdly homophobic for a bit. We’ve got the ROH tag team equivalent of Unflavoured and Wintergreen nonfat ice milk acting as harbingers of Dixie’s doom . And then there’s Magnus.
I constantly say that if you love independent wrestling, it will love you back. And to an extent that is true. Some promotions might be streets ahead, but not all. Televised wrestling may have led me to that well, but independent wrestling made me thirsty for more. Televised wrestling, however, rarely loves me back.
Wrestling has given me friendships I never dreamed possible, and experiences that I’ll treasure forever; experiences that changed my life in innumerable ways. It’s given me an incredible support system of female fans who feel just as frustrated and marginalized as I do. It is a bond that connects every one of us reading. I write a wrestling column. I have my own website and a number of podcasts dedicated to it. I have a wrestling t-shirt collection that I am terrified to add up the cost of because it would be staggering, not mention the amount of money I’ve spent traveling all over two countries for shows. I am surrounded by paintings of wrestlers that I’m working on, posters and signed pictures and towels (it’s a thing!). It my life. It is my passion. And yet, I do not matter. The representation of people just like me on television does not matter. We are distilled down to our gender, categorized, fetishized, or dismissed.
I am fully admitting that I am having a tough time with this show because it feels like I am constantly butting up against the same problems; running headfirst into that same brick wall that says if women are strong, they must be dudes. No one knows how to be a real man. You can goad anyone into doing anything by questioning their upholding of these outdated ideas of masculinity, and if you’re not, you must be gay, feminine, weak. And if you dare say anything, you’re too sensitive. Shut up, sit down, stay quiet. Don’t like how you, or the representation of your gender or race or sexual makeup on television, are treated? You’re a bitch. You’re a c-nt. You’re a f-g. You’re a white-knighting asshole who just does things for website views or to get laid. Get the sand out of your genitalia or we’ll threaten you with physical harm, to rape you, or to kill you. These are very real problems that the thing I love the most is lousy with. The thing I love the most is the thing that more often than not makes me feel the worst, and feel the most excluded because of who I am. How can I defend any of this? How can I say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that everyone should watch this show, and everyone should love wrestling? Why should I commend someone for celebrating the life of the late, great Mae Young on one hand, while undoing the work her and her contemporaries did to blaze a trail for those who came after them with the other?
I don’t want to keep writing the same things every single week, but the outright refusal to understand that the paltry statistic of women who watch wrestling isn’t because we’re too sensitive, it’s because we are systematically being driven away by fans, by wrestlers, and by the companies who so badly want our money has to stop. So I’m going to keep saying it until some of it, any of it starts to sink in. I want everyone to love this dumb thing I love so much, just not at the expense of the attitudes segments like these cultivate. Sooner or later, it’s gonna stop being worth it.
Worst: Speaking of…
“Man dressed a day labourer-meets-fancy-limo driver beats other man with own shoe for saying the name of a lady he’s obsessed with, stops midway to smell the shoe, enjoys it, continues brutal assault.”
There’s “you can’t make this up!” and “oh my god…somebody made this up.”
Samuel Shaw has become the latter.