[CONTEST] Betty Turbo’s Delicious Art

In my quest to discover more wrestling branded food to review I stumbled across the art of Betty Turbo and couldn’t be happier. Betty was kind enough to take the time to speak with us about what drew her to draw wrestlers in such a delicious light.

A.V: How did you get into wrestling fandom and what about it resonates with you the most?

BETTY: Several years back a friend asked me create a custom work of art for her partner for a holiday gift and the only clues she gave me were that he liked Ric Flair and giant squids.  I had to do a little research about who this Ric Flair chap was.  I got so many comments from people on my Ric Flair drawing, I was urged to illustrated more wrestlers, and I was really unprepared for how enthusiastic wrestling fans were!  As someone with a background in theatre, and someone who utilizes an art persona in my professional life, I connected with the dramatic angle and performative storytelling aspect, as well as the notion of characters and alter egos.  The more reading I did the more I got sucked in to the world of wrestling!  Through the magic of the internet I connected with Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy, who is also a big proponent of wrestling and baked goods, and she connected me to a lot of contemporary wrestling fans and later invited me to illustrate her cookbook.

A.V: What inspired you to combine wrestling and delicious baked goods in an art form?
 
BETTY: When I started the Ric Flair piece, it was such a foreign subject matter to me, that I tried to filter the content through a lens in which could bring my own enthusiasm and expertise more directly.  I have always been a dessert fan, and I was working as a cake decorator at the time, so I decided Ric Flair and the giant squid were battling for the last slice of chocolate cake.  Next I drew Jake the Snake and replaced his trademark gimmick with cupcakes.  While it started as a joke, as I developed more drawings it became a very compelling tool to play with.
One aspect of fascination for me in looking at pop culture is: who are our examples of excellence?  Wrestlers battle it out to win this or that championship title, and devote themselves (to varying degrees) to becoming these top specimens of physical strength. What if they put all that work into winning a blue ribbon in a baking contest?  Are certain categories of excellence reserved for only men or only women?  Who do we model ourselves after and how can we cross-pollinate some of these arenas that feel largely divided by gender roles?
Another fun intersection of pop culture and dessert I always come back to is the idea of consumption and “guilty pleasures.”  How we consume media for entertainment and our attitudes towards food have a lot in common, you know?  Some of it is considered good for you. Some of it is considered junk.  Some folks want to make you feel bad for enjoying anything “low brow” or assume that if you are interested in wrestling, or reality TV, you have only poor taste and low standards.  Or you couldn’t possibly be a foodie if you also enjoy ranch dressing made from a packet.  And healthy people definitely never eat a double scoop ice cream cone.  But I do think it is in fact possible to enjoy some junk food, physically and mentally, and still be a thoughtful, intelligent human being!
A.V: If you could have your own food inspired wrestling persona, what would it be? Do you have any moves that you would incorporate?
 
BETTY: Oooh! I would have to come up with something ice cream related, because it would be so good to play with visually, and I could also tie in the cold aspect, as if being born in snowy Alaska created my frozen persona.  I could go iiiiiice coooold when I needed to be a heel.  Gosh I’m ashamed I haven’t already developed this further in my mind!
A.V: I noticed that you have the Beth Phoenix design and was wondering if you had any plans to do a focus on any other female wrestlers in this art series?
 
BETTY: I would LOVE to draw more l lady wrestlers. I haven’t actually added anything to this series in a while, I’m not sure in what fashion it will continue.  Beth Phoenix was vastly more interesting to me than the rest of what I observed of WWE Divas (As a casual fan! No disrespect intended!) but the more that I meet people from independent wrestling promotions the more I am interested in new ways.  I did a little painting inspired by The Fabulous Moolah for a recent show and I would definitely love to go back and spend more time learning about women wrestlers of years past as well. Of course if any lady wrestlers are listening and need a weirdo illustrator to create some merch for them, I’m available!!
A.V: Favourite baked good?
 
BETTY: Pie! Filled with sour things like plums and rhubarb.
A.V: Favourite wrestler?
 
BETTY: I really love Mick Foley and reading his books was what really got me on board as a wrestling fan. He seems like a pretty outstanding human being. I just want to give that guy a hug!
A.V: Do you have a favourite match or a dream match that you would book in an ideal world?
 
BETTY: My dream match is the one in which I’m drawn as a lady wrestler in a Hernandez bros comic book!

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you. Betty was kind enough to donate one of her wrestling prints as a prize to our loyal readers.

To enter the contest you need to be following us on twitter, facebook, tumblr . You will get an entry from each social media interaction.

  1. Tweet us @femmezuigiri with a link to the contest and your dream wrestler + food combo
  2. Tag Femmezuigiri on Facebook and comment on the page with which food you think it’d be most fun to wrestle in a pile of
  3. Reblog the contest entry on tumblr and add in the comments a food related pun for a wrestling move
TrophyWin a dessert themed wrestler print from Betty Turbo
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Bayley’s Gonna Hug You

You can just hear her name or see her face and your mouth curls into a smile. Is it the thought of hugs, headbands and high ponytails? The electric personality evident in most everything she does? Whatever it may be, Bayley is one of the most unique characters at the level she performs at, and arguably the most important character in all of WWE, because Bayley dares to cover territory a woman in WWE has never been allowed to enter.

 If you take a peek at the women’s division in WWE, for years it has been plagued with the stale notion of “all women are catty and out to get each other.” This has led to the absolute minimum amount of differentiation between faces, heels or the Divas in general other than “this girl dresses goth” or “this girl wears sporty clothes.” It’s not often that you can be quirky and happy all the time without having some kind of “crazy” label stamped on you.

Bayley is as babyface as a babyface could get. She only truly hates her opponents when they’ve given her no reason to like them, and although her counterparts may deem her strange, she’s never painted in a negative light for her positivity, ultimately earning the respect of many of her opponents because of her passion and heart, and maybe even her hugs.

 It could have gone up in flames from the get go. A perpetually giddy, awkwardly shy superfan could have been a nonstop cringefest. But Bayley touched on moments and experiences that many if not all wrestling fans could relate to. Let’s be honest, not all of us have played it super cool when meeting professional wrestlers, and some of us to this day still embarrass ourselves around anyone who’s laced up a pair of boots. We have all experienced the excitement that Bayley showed about wrestling and as a result people connected with her.

 As she’s developed, more of her own personality has come through in shows. Bayley has never made any secret of her pogo-sticking past and love of Randy Savage but on a deeper level, the superfan persona has evolved into showing her drive to be a great wrestler and how much she loves wrestling. Bayley simply can’t be bothered to constantly engage in tearing her rivals down, she’s busy making sure she is the best she can be.

 One of the strongest examples of Bayley’s heart and determination was in her match against Charlotte at NXT Takeover Fatal 4-Way.

Bayley was the loveable underdog who put her all into battle with the whole crowd behind her. While her efforts were not enough to secure the championship, Bayley earned the hearts of the fans and gained new appreciation from Charlotte.

 Of the “four horsewomen”, Bayley interestingly enough brings the hard hitting moves to competition, ramming opponents into the ring, employing a number of suplexes including her signature Belly-to-Bayley, in essence taking her #huglife to a punishing level.

 

As far as role models in wrestling go, Bayley is no doubt among the top of the list. Her genuine nature, drive for self-improvement, respect for her peers and colourful presentation style has made her a favourite of young and old. And to have a character in wrestling that dares to be different beyond the normal alternative, not-like-most-girls specifications is refreshing. Bayley is all of us deep down, many years ago, when wrestling was the number one thing in our lives, and for quite a few of us out there, Bayley is still us.

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Suplex Reserve

2015 is quickly becoming the rise of the wrestling themed albums, and I will not complain. This year there were two wrestling albums included as part of Record Store Day, The Mountain Goats released Beat The Champ, and just last week A Tribe Called Red dropped a surprise wrestling themed EP called Suplex.

We watch our fandom move in and out of mainstream pop culture and every once in a while it catches the glimmer of the unsuspecting passerby drawing them in. Most of these times, unfortunately, what’s gaining steam is produced by and focused on white men. It shouldn’t feel like we’ve struck gold when diversity comes into the picture, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a great deal of satisfaction when that’s the case.

Here’s where A Tribe Called Red come into play. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are a Native electronica group based out of Ottawa, ON comprised of DJ NDN, 2oolman and Bear Witness, who blend instrumental hip hop, reggaeton, dubstep with elements of First Nations music including chanting and drumming. This wrestling inspired EP is hard hitting and refreshing all in one. The single is titled Suplex, and the accompanying video begins with backyard wrestling on the reservation and centres a child’s passion and dedication to wrestling as he moves up the ranks in the wrestling world as a performer.

Bear witness states:

Growing up in a world where indigenous people are so under-represented in the media, you tend to identify with what’s available to you. The connection between the indigenous communities of the Americas, and professional wrestling, is really heavy. In North America we had pros like Chief Jay Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel who were indigenous, but had to dress in headdress and tassels to compete. In my generation, we all loved the Ultimate Warrior and hated Tatanka. Even if nothing about the Warrior was indigenous, we made some kind of cultural connection to him. More recently, The Rock has shown us how a proud indigenous man can make it as a wrestler on his own terms. The idea of the video was to show that connection we made to these people beyond stereotypes, but also to see an indigenous character make it, without needing the stereotype.

Wrestling, and western pop culture, are not kind to indigenous people and rely on very dated, and oft offensive, stereotypes. Despite the rich Aboriginal history within the ring, we see a lot of grapplers forced to ‘play Indian’ in order to appease the white viewer. This sort of exploitation ends up with a lot of crossed lines, misinformation and leaves the onlooker between a rock and a hard place where you have to discern whether or the marketing of their ethnicity is damaging to the culture or a proud celebration of one’s heritage and Ancestral traditions. We’ve seen many a performer take on this gimmick from Cheyenne Cher in GLOW, to Tatanka, Wahoo McDaniel, Princess Tona Tomah, and the list goes on. They are all obviously very proud of their heritage, but this representation is something that we are seeing die out. We also had wrestlers such as Jack and Gerry Brisco, Native American brothers, who show their heritage but don’t portray it as a caricature of themselves in the ring. Then there’s the other problem of those like Chief Jay Strongbow – a Native war chief played by ITALIAN AMERICAN Joe Scarpa from Philadelphia. But as we well know, racism and cultural appropriation within the world of wrestling is a huge problem that’s shifting but not necessarily going away.

The stereotypes and storylines that we see played out by Natives in wrestling aren’t always centred around the narrative of victimhood, but the existence of these characters serves as a reminder that we exist and should take these opportunities in order to preserve our livelihood. A match between an Aboriginal wrestler and someone who isn’t a person of colour that doesn’t rely on any harmful preconceived notions is vital in order to move forward.  As a fat, queer, Native woman it would overjoy me to see someone who doesn’t fit the societal norm, and can be a great representation for Native women everywhere, enter the ring.

You can get Suplex over at Pirates Blend, or listen to it on Spotify below:

Rowdy Roddy Piper’s … all out of bubblegum soda

One of my passions in life is snack foods and I have a super soft spot for wacky flavours — especially when it comes to soda pop. So we’re going to be home to a new column: Grapples to Oranges where I review wrestling branded snacks, merch and other oddities both old and new much to your delight and, hopefully, mine.

Thankfully, even though I have come here to chew bubblegum, kick ass and eat snacks, I am not all out of bubblegum. I’m actually chock full of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s …all out of bubblegum soda by Rocketfizz. And no wonder the man’s out of bubblegum because it’s all in this damn bottle (and in the bags of bubblegum he’s selling to go with it).

piperI obtained a bottle when I was out visiting DoubleCakes and she brought me to a BevMo. Canada doesn’t have a chain that’s quite the land of fun sodas like that, so I felt like I was in the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of pop shops. Luckily, I was able to snag the LAST bottle of Piper’s soda off the shelves. I somehow held out the entire week and saved this soda for last out of all my choices. It was quite the shock to me how much it tasted like gum, although it was brought to my attention it is in the name and my reaction may have been a bit much.

So, snag yourself a bottle to try for yourself, or at least watch this painfully awkward ‘commercial’ that they made to promote the product:

Hands up for NXT

NXT has been a force to be reckoned with for quite a while in the WWE, and nothing truly displays its staying power than a block of shows outside of Florida. Last week, the WWE began its first round of touring NXT to cities other than its usual home at Full Sail University, and it was a rousing success. Three shows were planned for the initial tour, two taking place in Philadelphia and the third in Albany, New York. I flew into Philadelphia for the Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling show, and thus stayed an extra day in order to catch the first NXT show. Initially there was only one show planned, but the original Thursday date sold out so quickly another show was added for the next evening.

Never having been to Philadelphia or an NXT show before, I was unaware of what to expect, and what I ended up experiencing completely shattered my expectations. We arrived approximately a half hour before the show was scheduled to begin, and the line to the entrance was roughly 3 blocks long at this point. That’s when I first realized this was going to be far more intense than I thought. The show was held in an old theatre and there was exponentially more seating than there looks to be at the weekly shows at Full Sail. I believe the show ended up being sold out, or very close to that, and according to the theatre’s website, it seats roughly 3,000 people.

Our seats were quite good, not close to the ring but in a great spot to see the action, and the NXT crowd is very different from many crowds I’m usually a part. The general age range seemed to be mid-twenties and there were far fewer children and families than one normally sees at a WWE show. My group were also the only women seated in our area, and from discussions with those around us, we collectively had been fans and had seen more shows than the rest. The man sitting directly in front of me confessed he had only been watching wrestling for a little over a year but he is now hooked, and the NXT show was his first live event.

I knew early on I was going to enjoy the evening because the crowd was brought to its feet immediately but the lovely, sinister chords of William Regal’s theme. Regal has been one of my favorite wrestlers since I was a child, so to stand up and bow to the man was a dream. He spoke favorably of NXT and the talent, as well as thanking the crowd for attending. Immediately following Regal was the introduction of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Honestly, I believe the duo got the loudest pop of the night. In the other matches that followed there were some heavy cheering for favorites (Finn Balor and Sasha Banks being the loudest), but it seemed as though no one in the room sat through Enzo and Cass’s entrance. They of course faced Blake and Murphy and put on a very entertaining match, with tons of “SAWFT” and “HOW YOU DOIN?” chants throughout.

Following that was a fun women’s tag match that pitted the team of Alexa Bliss and Bayley vs Becky Lynch and Dana Brooke. Bayley was a hit with the crowd and everyone was on their feet for her entrance. The match was good and really showed off how great Bayley is at interacting with the crowd and keeping them invested in the match.

The next match was one I had been hoping to see, a triple threat for the title between Kevin Owens, Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor. The three are so incredibly well liked by the NXT Universe, and it was less of a “cheer for your favorite” match as it was a “cheer for absolutely everything” type of match. I particularly enjoyed the entire crowd participating in Balor’s entrance and throwing their hands in the air with him with every crescendo of his music. Owens began the match by leaving the ring and taking a seat ringside, which prompted “SIT OWENS SIT” and “CHILL OWENS CHILL” chants. The three of them worked very well together and most of us were surprised it was not the main event (at least until we realized what the main event would be).

After the conclusion of the triple threat, there was a solid intermission. The show started back up with a bang bang (see what I did there?!) and Mick Foley surprised everyone by arriving and giving a small speech about the amazing amount of talent at NXT. Baron Corbin vs Rhyno was next, and naturally, Rhyno received immense “ECW” chants. Corbin was absolutely playing heel in this match and the crowd was steadily against him, going so far as to alter the “New Day Sucks” chant and clap to a “Cor-Bin Sucks” one. People quickly became bored of the match and it devolved into obnoxious chants for a while, including a chant for The Young Bucks and other Ring of Honor stars, which was predictable seeing as half the crowd attended the Ring of Honor/NJPW shows the nights previous. He seemed to perform well in the heel role though, and after successfully pinning Rhyno follow the End of Days, called out Joey Styles at ringside and ordered him to bring more ECW alums to the show the following day for him to take care of.

One of my personal highlights of the night came next, when NXT papa himself, Triple H, made an appearance. The crowd collectively lost its mind, and even I, who have seen Triple H in person many, many times now, found myself jumping up and down and rocking out. The entire crowd joined in singing his theme, which was one of the weird, but oddly beautiful wrestling moments I’ve experienced. There’s something strangely heartwarming about looking at the person next to you and belting out “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GAME AND HOW YOU PLAY IT” as you jump up and down together like 10 year olds. Triple H walked around the ring and took video and selfies with nearly everyone at ringside, including Mick Foley and Joey Styles. He proceeded to enter the ring and say some words about his passion for NXT and for the talent. He then began to announce the main event, Sasha Banks vs Charlotte, which most of us assumed would headline after the triple threat being pre-intermission.

The crowd for the most part was impressive all night with a few snafu’s, the main one being someone trying to start a “No more divas” chant at this point. Thankfully, not only did the crowd boo and shut the person up, Triple H said something along the lines of ‘sorry man, these women are badass and they’re your main event.’ Unfortunately my camera died during this segment of the show so I have no amazing photos of these two phenomenal women, but it was really a blessing in disguise as I was able to concentrate all my attention on the absolute clinic these two women displayed. Both came out to equally loud cheers, and I’m happy to report that the minute the gross and stale “Sasha’s ratchet!” chants began, they were shot down with the loudest “NO SHE’S NOT” chant I’ve ever heard.

The match between Charlotte and Sasha was brilliant, full of great submission and chain wrestling and a few fun bits thrown in. Charlotte at one point broke out her father’s patented face plant and Sasha responded by Ric Flair strutting over her prone body. There were tons of near falls, outside of the ring attacks, and the final submission to give Sasha the win was beautiful. Both women left the theatre to a standing ovation and plenty of “This is Awesome” chants.

Other matches that took place involved Bull Dempsey vs Jason Jordan and Solomon Crowe vs Tye Dillinger. The only things to really note in those matches were the push they seem to be giving Dillinger, as he now has a ‘perfect 10’ gimmick, complete with a 10 scorecard he carries to the ring and raises when he’s done something relatively impressive. I’m not sold on him yet, but he quickly turned the fans on his side and let’s face it, wrestling fans love an easy thing to get hooked on chanting so “10” is a perfect fit.

All in all, the show was a brilliant success and an incredibly fun time. Even leaving the show was pleasant, and I was stopped twice between the exit doors and my train platform by people who wanted to discuss my Chuck Taylor shirt. Our ride back involved an entire train car of people talking about the show we had just seen, and it seemed as though at least half of the attendees of NXT had also gone to Ring of Honor/NJPW shows earlier in the week. It was a great experience and I would gladly throw down money to go again and again, especially if there’s another women’s match on the card that would even come close to the performance Sasha and Charlotte bestowed on we peasants.

TNA is pending cancellation… again?

Rumour has been running wild tonight on twitter on the status of TNA Total Impact Wrestling. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, it seems as though Destination America has cancelled TNA. Spike dropped them like a hot potato a while back and it was only time before it came around again.

This comes hot off the heels of their announcement to move to a new Wednesday night slot. Now, if this is some sort of spin to try and pull viewers from NXT and Lucha Underground then we’ll see our mid week get a lot more interesting.

There are some mixed feelings here since losing any major wrestling promotion is always a little sad, it would be nice to see a shift in the direction since they had recently taken on Billy Corgan to tackle some storylines he’s not equipped to handle. But they were also willing to at least promote they were going to do a women’s only show, even if that wasn’t the case.

As of this moment neither Destination America nor Total Impact Wrestling have confirmed nor denied these allegations, so it’s just a matter of sitting back and watching. Maybe you can take this moment to watch a WOW PPV or tonight’s fantastic women’s matches for NXT Takeover complete with excellence such as this:

takeovergirlsfinishslide

Femmezuigiri Takes Over NJPW/ROH

Shelly and Alex were on hand live this week for the New Japan Pro Wrestling & Ring of Honor joint shows in Philadelphia and Toronto to represent Femmezuigiri. What did the gals think?


I, Shelly Deathlock, attended both nights of War of the Worlds. Here is a quick recap of the experience!

War of the Worlds Night 1, May 12, 2015, Philadelphia, PA

I arrived too late for the meet & greet with the wrestlers but I got to meet a lot of great internet friends. My seats were not great for this show because I bought them last minute and I could still see pretty well. okada2Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. the Briscoes was match of the night for me, followed by KUSHIDA vs. Roderick Strong. Roddy Strong had quite the showing at these events this week and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in high profile matches against great wrestlers.

The Night 1 VOD is already up for purchase at rohwrestling.com.

War of the Worlds Night 2, May 12, 2015, Philadelphia, PA

I had front row seats for Night 2, and also attended the meet & greet! I talked to The Kingdom’s Maria Kanellis about her role in New Japan Pro Wrestling going forward, and she said her goal is to do more wrestling and have women make more of an impact in the company. This is great news. I also congratulated her on winning the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and she agrees the titles are hers. So there’s that cleared up for anyone who was wondering.

I waited in line for like thirty seconds for the women’s restroom. The men’s line was wrapped around the lobby, but it was a delight to be at a wrestling show and have to wait in line during intermission. It’s never happened to me before. So many women! Here’s to wrapping the bathroom line around the lobby someday!

The show was awesome, and I think Naito and Kyle O’Reilly stole it. Philadelphia ended the match with a “Thank you Naito!” chant and warmed my heart.

shinsuke_streamers1Shinsuke Nakamura was, as ever, a godking of strong style and charisma, and the cheers for him erupting every five minutes both nights were deafening. Nakamura is easily the Japanese wrestler that American fans have taken to the most. It’s not surprising, as his flamboyance, technicality, and brutality fit right in with all our familiar favorites like Ric Flair, Randy Savage, and Eddie Guerrero. We’d keep him here forever if we could. It felt really wonderful to be part of a crowd that appreciated his greatness and showed it.

 

 


On behalf of the right-minded wrestling fans of the GTA I, Alex Martino, would like to apologize for the excessive enthusiasm many had towards Bullet Club at Global Wars this weekend.

roh liber

This weekend felt like MY CHANCE to see my favourite wrestlers in the flesh and not on a 5am livestream. It was also my chance to blow some money getting signed 8 x 10’s and pictures with my faves which I will soon frame and showcase along with lesser accomplishments like diplomas.

On the first night I decided to meet one of the wrestlers only, who I hadn’t decided yet. I’d first accompany a friend to meet Shinsuke Nakamura, my absolute number one favourite in all of the entire world right now, and take their picture with him. When time came for them to meet him I couldn’t help myself from becoming a human earthquake, hands shaking like crazy trying to take a good picture. I didn’t even notice Nakamura shaking his hand asking if I was okay. I was of course, just allowing the overabundant amount of feels of being feet away from some of the top stars in NJPW to come through.

I decided on getting a picture with Okada night one specifically because he was wearing loafers with rhinestones on them, which I complimented him on, and he chuckled while thanking me. Pro tip: always try and make Okada laugh or giggle or something. If it means carrying a picture of YOSHI-HASHI or Tomohiro Ishii sleeping with you, do it.

With all that excitement out of the way you know I was ready for some wrestling. The iPPV was the card I was most looking forward to because of three of the best match ups of the night, and the fact that the Bullet Club were all in the main event, so I only had to deal with them once all night. 🙂

What you guys all missed by being at home watching the streams was the most enthusiastically watched dark match I have ever witnessed: Donovan Dijak against Dalton Castle. The crowd was amped up for Castle, who won the match. I’ll take this time now to point out that however quiet the crowd sounded was not at all how it was in the arena. Granted, my end of the arena was quiet for stuff like Tanahashi/Elgin, and they weren’t too hyped about Naito/Lethal, the latter likely due to not seeing all the action, at least from my view.

Night two I wasn’t sure what to expect, turned out it was a TV taping. This was my chance to go back and get that precious photo with Shinsuke. Nakamura remembered me from the day before and said “nice to see you again”. This photo was the most overjoyed I’ve been since the Canada won gold in women’s hockey.

rohalex

I had a little difficulty with seats but being up in the general admission stands behind the boards gets you the most ideal visibility as well as it’s cheaper. If ROH does a show at the Ted Reeve Community Center again, just go for GA, you can wander, you can stand in a nice spot where you’ll be on camera, you can get great photos of wrestlers posing on the ropes, it’s the ideal experience in every way except for your lower back. If you weren’t there, don’t fret as everything taped will be on ROH TV over the next few weeks and some matches are definitely worth watching.


 

Overall, it looks like everyone had fun at Global Wars. DoubleCakes and AV stayed in on the wrasslin’ action by taking in WWE Payback, some wrestling podcasts and the WCW Uncensored ’96 8-on-2 handicap match.

 

“Wear Pink And Fight Like Superheroes”: An Interview with The Blossom Twins

I have always preferred tag team wrestling. When pressed, I point to CHIKARA’s stance that more colors make for a better painting, but though this appeal to authority has spared me from a lot of tired debate, my feelings are not so neat and concise.

If wrestling was a  legitimate “sport”, then we would have standings, rulebooks. We would have  regulatory committees. Or rather, we would insist on such things. But they’re aren’t, and we don’t. Wrestling is performance, wrestling it is art–strange, wondrous, athletic, violent, witty, and transformative in  ways college drama professors pine for when they decry the digital age.

A good tag team match can embody the compelling joy of in-ring storytelling–The Blossom Twins, Lucy and Kelly (Hannah and Holly to the denizens of kayfabe) have a lot of good tag team matches.

To say they are positive for children is limiting and misleading–by having characters and a wrestling style accessible to little girls, The Blossom Twins are in turn “positive” to grown men, encouraging us as a community to let wrestling be a home for imagination and unironic, uncynical love for fiction-in-motion.

Femmezuigiri is, to unite our vernacular, “hella chuffed” to have gotten this chance to chat with the Blossom Twins.

Media, and perhaps society as a whole by extension, is quite hung the hell up on twins. On the screen, twins are portrayed as creepy, inhuman and overly sexualized. Wrestling often takes this a step further–many twin tag teams are booked as incompetent tricksters, relying on the cheap heat of “twin magic”. And sometimes they’re not even twins! It’s just two dudes who look alike that got the same haircut. Was it a struggle for you to maintain an identity, as individual performers and as a team? Did you ever feel pressure to “up the sex factor” of your twin status for wrestling audiences?


Lucy:
Hmm, I never really thought about maintaining my identity. We are slightly naïve to a lot of things like that and pretty much just bounce along in our daily lives. Especially when we were wrestling, we didn’t think too much about what people thought about us. We’ve always been twins and don’t know any different and we absolutely love being twins, so people can take us or leave us, it makes no difference to us. Wrestling plus the sex factor…ugh!!!

Is it just us that gets irked by how everything these days needs to have some sort of sex factor? It’s funny though as the last two years or so we were wrestling, we got told numerous times that we needed to act less like 10 year olds and more like women. We used to get so mad because we just wanted to be us.

We wanted kids to be able to watch us and relate in some way to us. We thought if kids wanted to wear our ring gear or dress like us, they could without their parents worrying that their skirt is too short or the tops barely there.

We didn’t so much feel pressure, though, I remember doing different photo-shoots at the time to show that we could be more ‘diva’ esque. Looking back, even though we had fun stepping out of our comfort zones and being creative with the girls on those shoots (thank you Kayleigh and Abi) I wish we would have stuck to our guns a little more.The same goes for “bikini battle royals”–I wish I had the guts to have simply said no. They were always terribly awkward and we hated them with a passion. It’s not our thing. We just wanted to wrestle.

Kelly: Haha, “upping the sex factor” for wrestling audiences was never something me and Lucy were very good at, quite simply because we didn’t want to. We work with kids and have always had them in the back of our minds.

We wanted to be role models and show them we could wear pink and be girly, but go out and fight like superheroes. Any time we had to do things to be considered “sexy” was just awkward, especially if it involved trying to wrestle while doing so.

Now don’t get me wrong, we still enjoyed getting made up by the professionals at TNA and getting to feel a bit glamorous for TV, but at the end of the day, you can put as much make up on me as you want but I’m still going to act like the kid who wanted to grow up, wear spandex and be thrown around a ring for a living!

How did teaming with someone you’ve literally known your whole life make your in-ring communication different from other teams you’ve worked with, if at all? Do you ever something funny stuck in your head and have to try to not think about it or laugh during the match?

Lucy: We would have to say that we guess other teams don’t quite gel together as much as we do. We haven’t worked with another tag team who have always and primarily been a tag team before, so we would say we differ in that we click together 110% and are usually always on the same page. We get what each other wants from a story or match and know what’s best for the team and how we fit.

We think it was hard for a lot of people to hear us talk in wrestling because we talk 100 miles per hour anyway, but add that to us being incredibly passionate about wrestling and it’s rather difficult. We think our twin language definitely came out when it came to talking about a match or storyline.

Kelly: As far as in the ring goes, we were always very focused on what we had to do, so we rarely tried to make each other laugh, though if there was a time when we were feeling more laid back we would sing the “Wizard Rap” from Workaholics to each other to calm each other down! Little odd but we love that show!

If the 90’s taught me anything about wrestling, is that it doesn’t pay. We’ve had wrestling race car drivers, garbage collectors, clowns, dentists; but so few culinary gimmicks! Do you have any memories or stories of big, macho manly man wrestlers just going bugnuts over sugar baked goodness?

Lucy: Haha, we love this question because of course we have tons of memories and stories that involve wrestlers and cupcakes. In fact, we have actually spent the past two years writing a cookbook that combines these stories with the recipes. It is a dream of ours to get it published one day–so stay tuned!

Kelly: Funnily enough our love of cupcakes actually grew when we first came over to the states and that was exactly because “big, macho manly man wrestlers” went “bugnuts over sugar baked” goodies.

Where does baking fall into your personal identity as feminine women? To prove this isn’t a loaded question: baking is important to me, as an adult, because I didn’t get to live that “baking pies with Mama” American girlhood. It’s very healing, and empowering for me, that sort of maternal “provider” space you get in when you give a friend a slice of home-baked pound cake. Is baking, for you, reclaiming this idea of where a woman’s place is–since you used to make a living kicking other girls in the chest–or is it sort of following suit with your ideas of what femininity looks like?

Lucy: I never really thought about it like that. We grew up cooking with our Grandparents and always loved being in the kitchen, so we kind of laugh at the stereotypes or when people say “women belong in the kitchen” to me it’s not really offensive. I love being in the kitchen and I do love the feeling of making something fresh and passing it on to family and friends, it’s the best!

Furthermore, in our family it’s our Grandad who absolutely adores being in the kitchen, he would spend every minute in there if he could, so I don’t necessarily see it as being a feminine thing.

We love being in the kitchen and baking or cooking to make people happy so that’s why we do it. With Italian grandparents, food is everything.

Kelly: Like Lucy said, it’s our Grandad who will sit and talk to us about cooking and what he wants to make next in the kitchen 24/7, so we don’t really think of it as a feminine thing to do. Like a lot of things in life, I think its one of those things people say or try to put a label on to be controversial.

Wrestling is reaping a rapid expansion in the UK and Europe. It’s always been popular there, really–I remember living in Germany and watching WWF pay per views through a pirated Sky card. A lot of American wrestling is grounded in nationalism, even today. How does UK wrestling culture differ from American wrestling culture, in your experience?

Both: We feel like we have been away from British wrestling for so long now, it’s crazy. So we find it hard to compare cultures. Especially now that we have been away from even the American culture of wrestling for a little while–it’s hard to make comparisons. We think wrestling fans do like to support their own, but these days it seems people get excited to see wrestlers from other countries too.

And it’s all just eggs, flour, fruit, sugar, some spices, really; agricultural practices have, for better or worse, rendered the notion of “in season, out of season” to the periphery. And still: we have very set ideas of what’s appropriate to bake in the fall, and in the winter, and in the spring. Do you think this is just tradition, or do we sort of invest emotions and ideas into baking that give us these ideas of appropriateness?

Both: We absolutely think that people invest emotions and memories into baking! We think it kind of starts with tradition but then you become invested into how it makes you feel.

For instance, we immediately think of all things Gingerbread when Christmas rolls around. It makes us happy and excited and adds another element of joy to the holidays.

We are big believers in food bringing people together and creating the best memories.

I feel we have demonstrated an acute sensitivity and appreciation for each other’s cultures so far in this interview. That said: do you miss biscuits and tea and pub food when you travel in North America? Have you ever walked into a pub here in the States and felt “Jesus, this is an affronting caricature”?

Lucy: Since we have been in America longer now and don’t get to go home as often as we used to.  We of course miss EVERYTHING British. However, we happen to have the best Mum in the world and often get sent tons of goodies. I think I have enough Tetley’s tea bags to last till Christmas. And as far as British themed pubs in the USA, we have tried the odd one and had fish and chips here and there, but nothing comes close to our local chippy or the pubs back home.

Kelly: Ditto! To put it simply nothing beats a good cup of tea and fish and chips from our local chippy back home!

Do you get less satisfaction out of singles wrestling? Not trying to drive a wedge between you. As a bass player, I’d say Jesse F. Keeler or Tina Weymouth are my inspirations–music doesn’t offer much in the way of “versus” competition, and so I guess for me my ideal scenario of emulation, aside from stealing their spots in their respective bands, would be to play with them. You were inspired by the Hardy Boyz; do you want to fight them? How do role models work in wrestling? Who are the “Edge & Christian” of your careers?

17757_519487708121773_353317459_nLucy: Singles wrestling was always fun. It was cool to be able to show a different side of us and what we were capable of. We both have slightly different wrestling styles so I did enjoy getting to do that. However, we dreamed of being a tag team since we were 12 and studied and studied tag team wrestling, its truly what we are passionate about. Our trainer Rip Rogers would make us so excited when he used to teach us tag stuff.  He just gets it, and understands like no other–it was so awesome to learn that stuff from him.

As far as the Hardys go, we always wanted to team up with them. We loved their style, we loved how they kicked butt and we just wanted to emulate them. I think we loved so much that they were brothers living there dreams together that we wanted to be sisters living our dreams together!

Kelly: I always enjoyed being a Tag Team more, just because I felt more confident when we were in the ring together. I didn’t mind the occasional singles match but I hated having to make an entrance on my own.

As far as the Hardyz go, we always wanted to team up with them, but then with the women we admired I guess it’s  more of a career highlight to actually wrestle them. We were lucky enough to get to wrestle Mickie James in our career and absolutely love her. We always thought it would be awesome to wrestle the team of Trish Stratus and Beth Phoenix. They could be our “dream” Edge and Christian.

Women wrestlers get so few opportunities for violent gimmick matches (I mean, aside from the gendered violence of “Bra and Panties”-type striptease contests). Tag team wrestling has a storied past of TLCs, cage matches, “put guys in a box” type contests–do you think women’s tag wrestling needs to rise to that level of risk to be taken seriously? Is it enough of a struggle to be booked as a legitimate grappler, as a woman, without setting yourself on fire wrapped in barbed wire?

Lucy: I’m going to be honest, I don’t look at it like there’s “women’s wrestling” and “men’s wrestling”. I was 12 and dreamed of wrestling Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, to put in perspective how my brain works!

I understand that yes there is “women’s” wrestling and yes, theres ‘men’s wrestling, but technically “wrestling” itself is just one sport. There’s not a separate school for women’s wrestling and men’s’ wrestling. Math is math, wrestling is wrestling. It’s all the same psychology, we should all be aiming to make art and tell great stories.

My biggest pet peeve in wrestling was when we would travel on the indys and do all girls shows–I hated hearing “we’re going to wrestle like guys” or “we’re going to show the guys that we are just as tough”, then I would see girls beating the crap out of each other or i’d actually have girls pull my hair legitimately.

Wrestling is an art, the best of the best “guy” wrestlers do not go out their and beat the crap out of each other. I want to be like Macho Man Randy Savage, not because I want to prove girls are tough or that girls can wrestle, but because he was simply the best wrestler, entertainer, most awesome person ever. Does that make sense?So as far as girls needing to be in or getting the opportunity to be a part of gimmick matches, I don’t believe anyone needs to prove themselves through barbed wire matches.

We took part in a ladder match which made sense to a storyline and was a lot of fun. I loved it, but I’m not about to go through a table just to prove I’m tough. And women’s tag teams in general, they need to first just learn what tag team wrestling is, the rules, how to do them right and actually have proper tag team matches like The Rockers and The Hart foundation, that would be a good start! (That goes for guys too.)

Kelly: Personally, I don’t think violent gimmick matches prove anyone is a “wrestler”, regardless of gender. I understand that they can be used to help a storyline go further etc but I don’t think having one proves anything other than you are a tough person who has a high pain threshold. I enjoyed having our ladder match in OVW because it helped a story progress and, growing up huge Hardy Boyz fans, it was obviously very cool to tick off the list.

With that being said, I wouldn’t want  to have a ladder thrown at me every time I  wrestled in order to supposedly prove something. I think the best way women can be accepted is by watching old tapes, learning from the best people and telling the best stories.

How do you handle holiday gift exchanges? Is it hard to keep a secret from one another?

Lucy: There’s always at least one present that I get for her that she ends up knowing before the holiday. We’re not very good at keeping secrets from each other.

Kelly: We are terrible at keeping secrets from each other. I’m trying to think of a time where we haven’t actually spilt the beans on a gift.

Our husbands are very good with how close we are. I recently moved back to Kentucky after me and my husband spent 8 months in Florida– he soon found out that life wasn’t going to be much fun with me being so far away from Lucy.

Cupcakes: can they be stopped

Lucy: Nope! We love them and they are constantly evolving and people are forever coming up with new and improved creative recipes!

Kelly: Haha I hope not! They are fun and make people smile, what’s not to love!?

Do you think you’ll see regular intergender competition, and on the multi-national media level, in your lifetime? I guess I should have prefaced this with “Do you think intergender wrestling is good?” Wrestling promotions as a whole have trouble (or disinterest in) maintaining a separate women’s tag division. Should tag teams be open to intergender competition by default to compensate this?

Lucy: This might sound harsh, but I think the reason tag team wrestling suffers these days is because, in a way, no one dreams of sharing the spotlight–I think that is more apparent in women’s’ tag teams. If we are talking women, I feel that most women want to take center stage and find it hard or just don’t want to be in competition with a partner.

I’m going to be bold and say that Kelly and I are a little different. We cared about our tag team, we cared about each other, we weren’t in competition with each other. We wanted success for the both of us.

Even when it came down to how we were going to split up, we got very stubborn and didn’t want to do it anyway but how we dreamed it and we wanted to do it in a way that we both loved, not where one was going to be left in the dust.

We weren’t, and still aren’t, about outshining each other. That’s why our tag team worked. Wrestling promotions struggle with tag team divisions because there just isn’t that many tag teams out there. We would love to see more intergender stuff out there as our favourite opponents have been some of the guys we’ve trained with. Those matches are tricky and do have to be done right though.

Kelly:  Lucy covered a lot of how I feel in her answer but I will say, I think promoters struggle with women tag teams because there aren’t that many out there, or because they think it’s easier to just book 2 women and have a singles match than it is to book 4 women.

It is a shame, as I would love to see more people out there devoted to tag team wrestling–its something we are very passionate about. I absolutely love watching The Usos at the moment because they are everything a tag team should be. Maybe their twin connection helps them too, because like Lucy mentioned before tag teams are about being a team not about outshining one another.

Describe to me your ideal “You got in the ring and all you got was beat up by The Blossom Twins” consolation cake. What kind of frosting/icing would you spell that with?

Both: We would have to go with the most colourful , bright, cute cream cheese frosting (our favorite), covered in sprinkles of every kind and colour, to  show that we just kicked your butt and had the most fun doing it!

You can follow The Blossom Twins on twitter and at their main site.

You can follow DoubleCakes on twitter and support her work on Patreon.

Dust your mug

Please welcome Courtney Rose of Wrestling with Makeup to our team! She will be bringing you tips and tricks to creating fantastic looks inspired by your favourite wrestlers! If there’s someone you want to see her cover, please don’t hesitate to tweet at us your suggestions.


Ever since he debuted on the roster, Stardust has been a favourite of mine. This new makeup look is my nod to Stardust, a bit of a galaxy/nebula kinda thing. I didn’t want to just copy the Stardust look, I wanted to create something new but similar, and I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. This look uses fewer products than one might assume and is much simpler to recreate than you’d think.

The first thing you want to do if you’re doing a version of this look is make sure to moisturize and apply an even foundation. I’m wearing Clinique Stay Matte #02 – Alabaster.

Once you’ve set your foundation, the next step is to draw around your eyes. This will be the general area of the galaxy space with an eyeshadow base of some sort. For this look I used the NYX Jumbo Eye pencil in Milk. I made dashes surrounding the area I wanted, and then more within that area, focusing a lot of the lids and under the eyebrow. Next step is to blend it out so it’s even. Using something like these NYX pencils is really helpful to give the eyeshadow not only something to cling to and prevent creasing, but the white also helps with the pigmentation and makes the colors look brighter, which is so crucial to this look. The blending can be done with just your fingers, which is my personal preference, but you can opt to use a sponge as well.

After that, I began to apply the colours I wanted to use. I mapped out beforehand how many colors I wanted and where to place each on my face, so the application isn’t terribly hard. Start out with a soft dome brush and place some of the shadow, working inward. Wipe your brush off on a napkin or paper towel between colors, nothing with remover. The important thing about this look is blending, so you want to wipe the brush between uses, but not get rid of all the previous color. Then you take some the next colour and place it, blending backward with the previous. It’s essential to blend between colour changes and not to produce any harsh lines. Do this alternating colour pattern all the way across the eyes and fill in however you feel appropriate. Blending is the key here, it doesn’t matter how much or how little product you use.  The eyeshadows used for this look all came from the Sleek Palette – Ultra Matts V1, aside from the red which is NYX Hot Red. The gold glitter is a nondescript makeup glitter and I’m not entirely sure where it came from.  I simply took a brush and dipped it in the glitter and tapped it out over my face to try and get it evenly distributed.

When I felt like the eyes were properly blended, I wiped the brush off more vigorously this time and took a colour close to my skin tone, using it to blend out any harshness between the colours and my natural skin. For this I used Mac’s Brule.

My next step was to line my eyes. I’m a big fan of the ELF cream eyeliner in black. I lined my eyes and then applied false lashes. The ones used here are ‘Oh Honey!’ by Katy Perry. Remember to go back after apply the lashes and fill your black liner in a bit more in order to cover the false lash line. Finally I filled in my lips using NYX Butter Lipstick in ‘Hunk’ and filling in the middle with a bit of the orange shadow from the palette I used.

To keep it in check I set it with Urban Decay setting spray and voila! Done!

All the brushes I used for this look were by Royal and Langnickel!

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Try recreating this Pixie Dust look and tweet us pics of you wrestling with makeup.

 

Fan Edition | JH Roberts

Name: JH Roberts @jh_roberts

Age: 31

Location: Athens, GA

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Describe your ringside style: T shirts of bands, wrestlers or other pop culture thing, skinny pants, jean jacket with Cesaro or X Files patch on the back, and flats.

How did you become a wrestling fan?

After living in Alabama during the Attitude Era, I had a lot of negative associations with wrestling, mostly based on the fans I knew and how they treated teen-female-bodied-punk-rock me. Even after meeting a collection of male feminists who like wrestling, including my current partner, I still had a mental block against it. Fast forward to 28, through a period where I studied ballet and restoration comedies: partner and I are sitting around unemployed after moving, and he binge watches CM Punk matches. I start to recognize how wrestling functions and see that it’s not all offensive, just mostly. What really sold me was going to a Chikara show in AL, and meeting people partner had stayed with touring with his band, and re-meeting people I knew from punk shows in Montgomery. I then realized there was a space in wrestling for me and my friends. I settled into that space and then branched out from there.

Fave wrestler:

Mayumi Ozaki

Fave Promotion:

DDT

Fave Move:

Surfboard

Fave Match:

Dream Tag Team:

Cesaro and Sami Zayn

If you had to choose your entrance theme, what would it be?

For my imagined vampire-Euro trash-incestuous mixed tag team at Monstrosity Championship Wrestling:

 


For my imagined New Orleans spooky lady gimmick, Rosie LeFanu: 

 

For my imagined veg-anarcha-feminist gimmick

 

Update: Womens’ Wrestling at NJPW Dontaku 2015

Last week, I speculated on the nature of Wrestling Dontaku’s six-person tag featuring Maria Kanellis and Amber Gallows alongside their respective husbands and their husbands’ tag team partners. Now that the event has come and gone, let’s look at it.

The backstory is silly, and very pro wrestling: Karl Anderson was obsessed with Maria, and his obsession had led to the loss of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for him & Gallows. As a result, Gallows brought in his wrestler wife Amber to try and keep Maria under control in the grudge match. It’s funny that Maria, a professional temptress, gets into so much trouble when she does her job well. Maybe she should tone down her siren song or something.

Let’s take a minute here to examine the dynamic of Maria Kanellis in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Her boys are the champs. Maria has her own t-shirt. Her tag champs don’t. This is in the pre-match video package:

matchintro - Imgur

This is Amber’s entrance:

amberintro

This is Maria’s entrance:

mariaintro - Imgur

This is Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance, just as a point of comparison:

shinsuke1 - Imgur

 

shinsuke2 - Imgur

The depictions of Maria & Amber are nearly night and day, though they’re both beautiful women. To be fair, they zoomed in on Amber’s chest a bit as she walked to the ring, but her ring-announced in-ring intro was flashy and athletic. I’m not sure whether Japanese wrestling fans and/or NJPW are so obsessed with Maria that they’d legitimately prefer to film the whole show with a picture-in-picture of her ass, or if the gimmick of Maria-in-Japan has reached some apex of self-parody that they’re just pushing every time they get her on TV. In any case, Maria’s depiction in NJPW doesn’t make me uncomfortable as a female fan — I think it’s hilarious, if a little much. The ass zooming shots went on for a minute or more, when thirty seconds would have been more than sufficient for both lusty and parody purposes.

The match itself was fairly standard. The rules were mixed-tag — when Maria was tagged in, Amber had to be tagged in. The highlight of the entire situation was Karl Anderson daydreaming so hard about Maria that he forgot to do his signature machine gun taunt in his entrance. I was actually shocked, and so were Amber & Doc. So was referee Tiger Hattori.

karlwhat

The wrestling match was a wrestling match sprinkled with shenanigans. The women hit some nice moves on each other and it looked like Amber wanted to murder Maria. The culmination, as you might have anticipated, was Maria hitting a low blow on Karl Anderson to get the advantage for her team, and then rolling up Amber for a surprise win. Amber went into full-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West meltdown mode, which was another highlight.

amberscream

Post-match, Doc and Amber still want to murder Maria, but Karl Anderson protects her. That is, until he SURPRISE turns on Maria, and he and Doc hit the Magickiller on her.

Some points:

  • This wasn’t an intergender match, so Maria was not competing against the men — they’re bad men who just assaulted her post-match (at Amber’s urging) outside the bounds of competition because they were mad that she got the win.
  • It’s reasonable that a bad girl like Amber would sic her men on Maria when she herself couldn’t get the job done.
  • It’s oddly refreshing in entertainment when bad guys are beating up a woman because they’re mad at the woman rather than using the woman to get at the woman’s husband/boyfriend/otherwise associated man.
  • I’m not even sure Gallows & Anderson care about Taven & Bennett at all. Maria’s match, Maria’s belts, Maria’s feud, Maria’s win, Maria’s post-match consequences.
  • I don’t know where this leaves the feud. Reasonably, Amber could want to get her win back. Taven & Bennett could want to beat up Anderson & Gallows for beating up Maria. Or it could just be over for now.

For it being the first time women are featured as wrestlers in NJPW in thirteen years, we’re off to a decent start. Let’s hope this opens up the door for future storylines with women and even more talent.

 

Don’t go there, Billy Corgan

Tonight, tonight I ponder what Twilight Zone universe I’ve entered. Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins fame was announced as the Senior Producer of Creative Talent and Development over at TNA Impact Wrestling a week ago, and it’s taken some time to sink in. He did an interview for Variety in which he mentioned wanting to explore racial and transgender issues. Normally, I’d jump for joy knowing someone in a position of power was willing to subvert wrestling tropes and add greater depths and representation to the characters that are portrayed, but it comes at a hefty cost when the person in charge is a noted transphobe.

Attached is a screenshot from Billy Corgan's Livejournal: http://billycorgan.livejournal.com/11224.html
Attached is a screenshot from Billy Corgan’s Livejournal: http://billycorgan.livejournal.com/11224.html

The words above, and the article linked, are just some of the problems that I fear we have to face coming from Corgan. It seems that everyone is focused on whether or not he has enough of a love for wrestling to do the job, but his knowledge and understanding of wrestling isn’t the problem considering he was the Creative Director for Resistance Pro Wrestling. It’s really trendy to centre storylines in media around trans issues, sexuality and gender politics, but the stories are being told by cisgender heterosexual people and they are making a quick buck off it. This reads as an advertising tactic or something used to draw in viewers for shock value, and shock isn’t the type of representation needed. As Billy states “Those social and cultural issues that are sort of a ‘don’t go there’ subject will result in themes that will feel more meaningful to current audiences”, I think this should be a don’t go there subject for him and he should stick to what he knows best: writing shitty angsty music that tell no one’s stories but his own.

There are opportunities abound for better representation, but a poorly researched exploitative approach is only going to worsen any positive momentum we have and send the big guns running back to what they are most familiar with. It won’t gain new audience members, but the lowest common denominator is the least frightening option at times.

RuPaul’s Drag Race | WTF! Wrestling’s Trashiest Fighters

I tell everyone the same story about how I got into RuPaul’s Drag Race: on the first weekend that I was free from producing my first sketch show I woke up with nothing to do and decided to marathon the whole show. Imagine my elation when my second episode into the new chapter in my life had a challenge centred around my all-time love, professional wrestling. This episode was guest judged by two basketball players because who else would have a intersectional understanding of wrestling and drag queens.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the format of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it is a reality competition hybrid between America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway featuring drag queens.

At the start of the episode, the sound for the controversially named transphobic slur equivalent of Tyra Mail shows up and RuPaul relays a message filled with fighting allusions to give the queens a hint of what’s to come. RuPaul, out of drag, then emerges with a mini challenge that has the queens putting their padding abilities to the test. The queens are given 30 minutes to make the best bum pads they can and then must present their creation. It’s kind of like in school when you’re put into groups, are given a discussion question, and then need to report your findings to the rest of the class, except with cushions you’re stuffing in your pants. Now the real winners of the challenge may not actually be who you, the viewer, think should win. As mini challenge winners tend to help storylines along, they’re wins for the sake of kayfabe. Phi Phi O’Hara, Willam and Chad Michaels are selected as the winners and are gifted the opportunity to pick the queens they will work a match with, essentially.

The Drag Race faithful are then taught their first pieces of wrestling lingo: faces and heels. Tiny baby me who knows all about wrestling applauds this information. Ru says three guys who were in town for PWG and happened to be SAG members will be teaching the queens a few moves that they will use in their in-ring debuts. The first time I watched this episode I only recognized one of them so I’m really curious to see who I freak out about this time.

Hey! It’s Joey Ryan! He’s here to show us how to train people and not be an asshole like Bill DeMott! So nice to see him with a glimmer of hope in his eyes that one day he’d get a developmental deal with WWE. I still don’t know who Hector Canales or who Ryan “Master of Submissions” Taylor are. So I’m as bad of a wrestling fan as I was in 2013, good to know.

Joey Ryan basically shows them all the moves they’re going to perform and Phi Phi worries about Lashauwn’s performance and if she’ll take it seriously. They’re learning how to wrestle in a day, this stuff will not be on any PWI match of the year lists anytime soon, but at the same time, Lashauwn is not committing to the rehearsal as much as she should be.

Team Willam comes in for training and Joey Ryan tries to get the queens to work a crowd. Jiggly’s heel persona is a lot like one of those out of control teens on Maury, while The Princess has checked out and can’t really get into being a heel. Willam reads The Princess for her muted heel tactics. You’d think that a bunch of catty queens who love to tear one another to shreds would come to light given a challenge that forces them to take the piss out of one another.

Team Chad then comes in and oop! Madame’s ankle! Again! It’s been a constant excuse of her throughout the episode, that and her lack of athletic ability. Despite that, LaQueer’s characterization is really working in the rehearsal.

Now that the practice bit is over with, let’s go back to the workroom where Ru can terrify the girls and make them question their decisions. Phi Phi has booked herself as a babyface and gave Kenya Michaels and Latrice Royale a bearded gimmick. RuPaul worries about the choice, not realizing that over a year after this episode was broadcast, beards would be all the rage in professional wrestling. It’s a good thing RuPaul isn’t a real booker.

RuPaul also says “people watch wrestling because they wanna be excited, they wanna be turned on, they want beauty” and… on the surface I really, really, REALLY want to disagree, but as I recall that I had a boy band crush on The Shield in my day I know that he’s still kind of right. It’s just annoying to have it brought up in the context of … what I guess is supposed to be women wrestling, and women’s wrestling already has a pretty bad rap.

Promos! RuPaul understands wrestling even just a little. Each tag team gets their own backstage segment. Introducing LA’s Finest, a lazy blonde bimbo cheerleader gimmick, and The Bitter Betties. LA’s finest are obviously billed to be the faces but they admit they put hair growing tonic into Bitter Betties shampoo.

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Phi Phi and Lashauwn use vanity as their gimmick, which unbeknownst to them is actually a common heel trope. So the story is really not strong enough. Another downside to teaching drag queens to wrestle and expecting them to be ring ready in a day is they don’t know how to sell moves to save their life. Kenya Michaels was really the savior of this group, her energy was right and she was the perfect size for excellent double team opportunities. Phi Phi hits a clothesline like a wet noodle and pulls out a blush brush. This match is no makeup disqualification. The finish has Latrice throwing Kenya onto Lashauwn with a cross body for the win. Highlight of their whole bit was Latrice really owning the “I’m a big bitch” gimmick and tossing tag team partner Kenya into the ring.

Team Willam is up next, and once again the backstage segment does not clear up who is a face or a heel or what the point of the beef is well enough. Willam and Dida are equally a decent promo but Jiggly really has that ruthless agression on lock. The Princess is just there. The match is the same as the segment, Jiggly outperforms everyone in the group, Dida and Willam are doing an acceptable enough job and the Princess is… there.

Team Chad has the first complete heel tag team of the night, classic freak gimmick, angry and everything. Chad and Madame LaQueer are basically Kevin Sullivan and the One Man Gang except in drag and pretty. Milan and Sharon Needles are pretty much playing the pristine, harmless babyfaces with crabs BECAUSE OF KEVIN SULLIVAN AND ONE MAN GANG MAKING DISHONEST MEN OF MILAN AND SHARON’S BOYFRIENDS. IT ALL MAKES SENSE. FINALLY ONE OF THESE MAKES SENSE.

In ring, Sharon is as talkative in a match as a drunk Dean Ambrose in a death match, they probably use the same references too. LaQueer and Chad knocked it out of the park and Milan’s wrestling wasn’t even shown because it was so obvious who the most successful team of the night was.

For myself and many others this episode of Drag Race was a wonderful amalgamation of two favourite things (the middle of the Drag Race/wrestling Venn Diagram is larger than you think), but I learned very quickly that a drag queen’s perception of a character does not a wrestling character make. Both are amplified and often larger than life, but you need more than just “like me ’cause I’m pretty and sassy.”