HulkaRacism: When It Came Crashing Down

Today millions of wrestling fans around the world have received a monumental, unavoidable surprise: their fave is problematic.

As you may have seen on our front page, we at Femmezuigiri promote a Hulkamania-free space to grapple with the nasty -isms rampant in professional wrestling. So when the hot button issue of the day is the icing on the red and yellow cake which sent Hulk Hogan abruptly out of WWE, it brought up a lot of different feelings.

If you’ve been anywhere on social media since yesterday evening when warnings of a breaking story — as well as the removal of the Hulkster from WWE’s website — first got out, you’ll probably find most everyone else is at varying stages of processing the information, and are there ever levels to process.

It started last night when a thread on forum site thecoli warned of an audio recording that would be published so full of racial slurs it would lead to WWE severing all ties with Hogan. Several hours later WWE.com had removed as much Hogan-related content from its site. His profile was removed from the Superstars roster, he was no longer listed as a judge on the Tough Enough reality series already in progress, Hulk Hogan merchandise was removed from WWE Shop and Curtis Axel who had been running wild with Axelmania as of late returned to his pre-Royal Rumble incarnation.

Hogan’s first statement on the matter was a brace for impact tweet at 1:00 am EST suggesting what was to come was in the hands of God.

Even before the Enquirer’s article was published word had spread of Hogan’s potential wrongdoing through a misleading article which cited a podcast where Hogan uttered a racial slur. The Enquirer would then publish the content of the recording, thoroughly demonstrating the degree of trouble the Hulkster had gotten himself into.

WWE would soon follow up the story with a statement confirming the termination of Hogan’s contract stating they are “committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of [their] employees, performers and fans worldwide.”

The termination also includes Hogan’s removal from the WWE’s Hall of Fame which he was inducted to in 2005.

Hogan has since apologized, expressing disappointment in using language “inconsistent” with his beliefs. Hogan has also selectively replied on Twitter to fans pledging their continued solidarity to Hulkamania, and standout members of society have been at ready to have Hogan’s back such as MMA fighter and domestic violence enthusiast Tito Ortiz as well as Dennis Rodman.

In a situation where the largest professional wrestling company in the world unsanctimoniously excommunicates the biggest star wrestling has ever seen — and the one who arguably put said company on the map — it comes as a surprise to no one that the news has garnered attention from out there in the real world, and it hasn’t all been pats on the back for WWE removing a racist from its payroll.

Articles from several well known publications’ online platforms have made ample light of the numerous occasions where WWE’s characters, storylines and Chairman of the Board have far from celebrated and embraced cultural diversity. Many of you reading right now can probably count at least five of these occurrences off the top of your head, onscreen and off (take your time, I’ll wait it should only take you a few seconds). On top of that, it is an open secret that POC wrestlers are rarely if ever granted the opportunity to propel themselves to the main event. With the extensive (and The Rock means EXTENSIVE) laundry list of terrible race representation in the WWE, it’s incredibly suspect that only now and in this moment they’ve decided to rise above racism. After all, Michael P.S. Hayes is still employed.

For WWE, this was a case of the receipts being so good they couldn’t not do something. It’s conclusive evidence of one of the most recognizable names in wrestling and greater pop culture being overtly racist. An offensive storyline, gimmick etc. is only a problem when the negative backlash goes beyond the fanbase eg. that fucked up Muhammad Hassan bit on Smackdown (interesting to think about whether WWE would have even backtracked were there no timely real life terrorist attack). If D-Generation X puts on blackface to impersonate the Nation of Domination or another POC wrestler debuts with a painfully stereotypical gimmick a few of the overly-sensitive lefties may go up in arms but WWE figures they’ll be back next week tuning into Monday Night RAW anyway. Once the outer reaches of society uncharacteristically pay attention to professional wrestling for once, then it’s an issue. Then a McMahon has to actually be accountable to someone who has no shares or any ownership of the company.

Because of this, 90% of fans remain incredulous, a little bit puzzled and definitely skeptical that this is a sign of WWE trying to leave the blackface, racist caricatures and glaring inequality on the roster behind. For all we know JBL will be back on commentary saying black wrestlers lack intellect, the Prime Time Players could end up returning to their old spot being a charismatic tag team that’s overlooked by creative and Team BAD may only ever see themselves wrestling on Main Event or Superstars. It’s a horrifying stretch but some would be neither shocked nor appalled, it’s something fans come to expect from WWE.

Despite skepticism on WWE’s policies regarding POC talent, we are still left with the reality that the biggest star in wrestling history has been not only axed, but wiped clean from the records. It’s incredibly difficult to wrap your head around, isn’t it, considering this is someone who main evented seven of the first nine Wrestlemanias, (eight if you count the whole Bret/Yokozuna/Hogan thing at WM IX) consistently drew crowds and admiration, and up until today was praised by WWE for his legacy (read: he got them a buck or two more when he showed up).

Ignoring how weird it’s going to be for WWE to overlook many iconic moments in professional wrestling history, some won’t find it too difficult to adapt to Hulkamania not running wild in the company: the late Lou Thesz did say Hogan “couldn’t tell a wristlock from a wristwatch” and that his “grandmother could do a better leg drop.”

There are still of course, the countless fans who regarded Hogan as a hero, looking up to him during childhood, appreciative of the fond memories his work in wrestling brought to their lives. While the past can’t be erased regardless of WWE redactions, the reframing of what Hulk Hogan means and represents can happen. Remember when you found out that Hogan loved the backstage politics and had a tendency of making it all about him? Similar process, only racism.

Skin Tight Bitch Fight

A month back I teamed up with other members of DMG Toronto as part of their Gym Jam and created Skin Tight Bitch Fight.  Now, that game is live for play in your browser on itch.io.

The game is fairly straight forward, although not too easy to win. Your goal is to play alone, or with a partner, and put on a match that will go over with the crowd. If the crowd isn’t satisfied your next show will have to be cancelled.

Give it a try and support it on itch or my patreon if you can. 🙂

 

A look that defies gravity | Neville

I was lucky enough to be in the crowd the night Adrian Neville, or Neville as he is known now, debuted on the main WWE roster, and I quickly became a huge fan of his new look. I love capes in wrestling, something about the over the top nature of wearing a cape appeals to me (shocking, I know). Thus it seemed only appropriate to try and formulate a look based off the purple gear Neville has been sporting lately, and keeping it dramatic while also somewhat wearable.

neville progress

For this look I started with the eyes because I knew I would get a lot of fallout from the shadows. I started by priming my eyes with the Urban Decay eyeshadow primer, and then began applying the different shades of purple. The palettes I used for this look were both by Sleek because I am a huge fan of their pigmentation. I started with the light purple shimmer color from the Snapshot palette and placed that at the inner corner of my eye. I then went in with the purple shade from the Ultra Mattes V.1 palette and blended the two. Finally, I took the darkest purple from the Snapshot palette and applied that to the outer corner of my eyes, using a blending brush to blend it inward and distribute the product leftover on the brush into the crease to create some definition. I then wiped that blending brush off and took a bit of the shimmery off white color from the Snapshot palette and blending that in under the eyebrow and into the inner tear duct.

At this point, I took an eyeliner brush and black cream eyeliner from ELF and lined my upper lash line. While that was setting I took a smaller eyeshadow brush and ran some of the darkest purple color under my bottom lashes. I then applied mascara to both the top and bottom lashes. The one I used was Lights, Camera, Lashes by Tarte, but any mascara will do. I then applied false eyelashes. The ones I am wearing here are the Oh, Honey! Lashes from the Katy Perry/Eylure line. After the lashes were applied and dried, I ran some of the same black eyeliner over them to cover any white glue left from application. I finally finished the eyes with some purple glitter liner. The one I used here was the Revlon Photoready Eye Art in Lilac Luster. I personally feel like the eyeshadow portion of this product is weak, which is why I don’t use it often, but the glitter half is great and there’s a wide range of colors to choose from in the line.

I kept my face and lips simple because the eyes were already so busy. I first used the Smashbox Color Corrector because I have a lot of natural redness and it really helps to control that. Then I applied foundation and concealer. I’m trying out a new foundation which is the Mary Kay CC Cream in Very Light, and the concealer used was NW20 by Mac. I set those with a plain powder (HD Powder by City Color) using a large face brush. For my lips I used the Kate Moss for Rimmel London lipstick in 03, which is a very neutral taupe color.

Akira Hokuto: Defying Traditions and Societal Norms

Art created and contributed by L. Planas (TOFU + BEAST)
Guest contribution article by @LagerWhat

Akira Hokuto is a feminist icon. Not because she’s been in some of the greatest women’s matches of all time, held titles in numerous companies, or because she continued to wrestle after suffering a legit broken neck (watch her tag match against Kazue Nagahori and Yumi Ogura and try not to cringe when she takes that piledriver at 1:36). She is a feminist icon because she turned two fingers up at Japan’s conservative patriarchal culture, which dictated when women worked and when they stopped, whether they wanted to or not.

Japan’s postwar constitution, signed in 1946, established equality between the sexes, but life and culture has not yet lived up to this ideal. The notion of otoko wa shigoto, onna wa katei to shigoto (“men at work and women at home”) is at the core of traditional Japanese society: A woman’s role is to marry, have children, and be housewives in support of their husbands. Even in 2015, Japan is a “nation of housewives” and it’s generally accepted that women will leave the workforce after marriage. 70% of Japanese women stop working after their first children are born, due to financial and cultural restraints, as well as lack of childcare availability. Divorce is frowned upon and female divorcees are stigmatized for going against traditional values. It’s simply the woman’s job to be a housewife. This expectation to marry and tend house was evident in an unwritten rule at All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) that required its wrestlers to retire from the ring when they turned 26 years old. For their health, so they can go home and start families.

Turn 26? Get out of the ring, get a ring on it,  and get in the kitchen!

Got married? Mazel tov! To the kitchen!

Had a baby? What kind of mother are you?!?!! Feed that baby and make your man some dinner. To the kitchen!

Abiding by such rules was not for Akira Hokuto. Starting her wrestling career at AJW in 1985, she quickly built a reputation for toughness, tenacity, and skill in promotions all over the world, working matches in LLPW, JWP, CMLL, GAEA, and WCW. She co-held the WWWA World Tag Team title on multiple occasions and won the top women’s titles in AJW, CMLL, and WCW.

In 1993, the year she turned 26 and reached AJW’s mandatory retirement age, Akira met Shinobu Kandori at Dream Slam I and battled what is arguably one of if not the greatest match in all of women’s wrestling. The bout, which ended with rounds of stiff punches, raised the bar for what was possible in women’s wrestling and earned a perfect five-star rating from The Wrestling Observer. Further flipping the bird to convention, she married a luchador, Máscara Mágica, and moved to Mexico, performing as Reina Jubuki in CMLL. Her skills and her star were too strong, too bold, and too bright to retire to the kitchen.

Returning to Japan a divorcee in 1994, Akira Hokuto faced Aja Kong in the main event of “Big Egg Wrestling Universe”, an inter-promotional show held in the Tokyo Dome; the all-women event had a $4 million gate. Without taking inflation into account, Big Egg out drew WrestleMania X-7, where Steve Austin beat The Rock ($3.5 million), and WrestleMania XIX, which saw Brock Lesnar pin Kurt Angle ($2.76 million). Who ever said women can’t draw?

1995 saw her WCW debut — and a new marriage, this time to NJPW’s Kensuke Sasaki, a legendary wrestler in his own right. Akira continued to wrestle and became WCW’s first — and only — women’s champion in 1996. Hokuto and Sasaki welcomed their first child, a son, in 1998. Returning to the ring after a brief maternity leave, she wrestled for three more years and had her farewell match in 2002.

Akira Hokuto defied tradition and societal norms. She wrestled, aged, married, divorced, remarried, had a baby, continued to wrestle, and left the ring when SHE felt the time was right, not when a conservative patriarchal culture (repeatedly) expected her to.

Feminist. Icon.

 

If You See Kay(fabe), Or, The Ethics of Unmasking

Wrestling fandom is at times a arms race of disenchantment. If you went to a magic show and spoke over the act’s climactic reveal with running commentary to your date about magnets and trap doors, you’d expect people to be upset with you, or even ask you to leave. Not even the most libertarian-leaning of cinema guests would tolerate a screening of Inside Out punctuated with the scoop on Amy Poehler’s rate of pay.

Smart marks and the wrestling press at times seem bereft of boundaries in sharing space with kayfabe. There is a sort of posturing at play, a competition where your love of wrestling is demonstrated not through your appreciation of it despite it’s fakeness, but by saturating all discourse with self-aware commentary on how it’s fake and you have an intimacy and fluency in that fakeness far exceeding anyone else in the room. It manifests in aggressive chants at the indie show, drowning out performer bumps with enlightened irreverence. I was able to come to the realization of wrestling’s fakeness in my own time as a matter of development; kids who go to CHIKARA events risk being seated next to the smug live tweeter who’s happy to tell everyone around him the only reasonable outcome of the match based on who’s moving on to what promotion after the show.

We don’t, as many might lament, know too much for wrestling to be  fun and exciting anymore. We know too little in regards of when it’s appropriate to share what we know and how to gauge the benefit of its dissemination.

Sharing a leaked WWE memo advising commentators not to use the words “title belt” or “hospital” has a finite community advantage: it allows the press and fans to hold a major corporation accountable. WWE twists and pinches language to squeeze out any semblance of sport or athleticism from their identity, setting forward an industry standard in how it treats their talent. The forced march of the infirm, where wrestlers struggle to walk in their 40’s, will continue unwavered in the wake of WWE’s unchecked apathy for the business they’re actually in.

Revealing the identity of a masked wrestler—one who wrestles under that mask for a promotion aimed at children—does not carry a finite benefit to the fandom. The worth of this information is not shareable. Voices of Wrestling proves itself a little wiser, a little less in love with the business; everyone else forfeits, whether it’s Silver Ant and his privacy or the child fan violently jarred from the dream.

The scoop is defined by its context. Doxing the closeted KKK members in your neighborhood is not the same as doxing a woman who critiqued a video game or a show in a way you didn’t like and has the palpable fear of violent reprisal from a stranger. A leak is not justified just because it proves something. What does what it proves mean to us? How does knowing it allow us to make smarter decisions? How does it better our community? 

Knowledge is not, in this sense, morally or intellectually inert. Freedom of the press is a responsibility; it is up to you, the courier of information, to determine the weight of an item of information and decide if the discomfort or even damage that weight can do if dropped is vindicated by it’s contributions to the community.

No matter how great the demand for a wrestler’s real name or the address of their house or how they like their eggs, that information cannot be conveyed into discourse. A young or new fan being able to sit through an indy show without smart marks inciting chants of in-jokes and telling you how the dish was made before you’ve even tasted will prove a greater yield to the fandom than the page views and controversy you can drum up by telling me whether Hania The Huntress shaved her legs today and whether that means she’s going to Ring of Honor.

It isn’t  the promotions that suffer from this compulsive need to chew on the curtain. It’s funny to do a Braden Walker chant during Chris Harris’ matches. But it was WWE that signed off on that name and produced the segment with his terrible catchphrase—and it’s TNA that is able to prove it’s “realer” by acknowledging Harris’ failure to make it in WWE. But these chants don’t get in WWE or TNA’s heads, challenging their concentration and daring them to fuck up on TV.

Promotions are practiced enough in shitting on their talent. They don’t need help unbuttoning their pants. What power, if any, our “inside knowledge” afforded us has already been ceded to WWE, who have used The Network to overwhelm us with “behind the scenes” access where everyone casually references each other’s real names and forego the inconvenience of even a little acknowledgement of current on-screen feuds and relationships. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: you can learn more about the birthmark on his ass and how his father left him when he was a child on the new Network special coming up right after RAW.

You are not an alternative if you corroborate, or replicate. Wrestlers are already treated like living IP by promotions; we only compound that forfeiture of identity by tripping over ourselves to throw their real names back in their faces every chance we get. WWE and TNA have made camp in spoiler territory. If we want to resist an oligopoly of mediocrity, we need to start setting boundaries for where Kayfabe can be conserved, if only so young talent and young fans can participate in the sport without being heckled out of the room with our overbearing, overeducated hot takes on overness.

Wrestling took our money by insisting it was real, and now it takes the next generations’s money by cashing on our self-aware participation. If the major promotions wanna stake a claim by saying wrestling is fake, then resistance is to say “only wrestling is real”.

When wrestling tries to sell out, buy in. Preserve the magic where you can, and practice mindfulness when passing on “shoot knowledge” and who it benefits.

It’s this presence of mind and cognizance of consumption that sets us apart from those damn dirty marks.

FEMMEZUIGIRI WANTS YOU

Come all ye lady fans of pro graps who want an intersectional, inclusive space to share and explore their passion.

It don’t take a call to Mean Gene to know that Femmezuigiri is coming into its own as a feminist menace, with the hot takes and cold blooded critical beatdowns that keep patriarchy up at night. We are growing beyond a niche site into a resource servicing a long overlooked community.

To meet the forward momentum needed to sustain that growth and open a non-re-sealable can of whoopass on the sexist elements of wrestling, we’re looking to bring on some more contributors who can easier take on subjects outside the immediate scope of our current staff.

We can’t pay yet, though our site runners are actively working to bring in advertising and merchandise revenue, which will be distributed amongst all active contributors.

We are very amenable to people with patreons or other crowdfunding models of income using our site as an avenue for distributing your work. The benefits of the team itself and their combined skills/access/connections should also be taken into account!

(If pay is absolutely non-negotiable, send us an email and the editors will see what we can work out.)

We’re looking for:

Lucha correspondent, especially if you speak/write Spanish!

Japanese-speaking puro + joshi correspondent. If you’re not down to write whole articles, please contact doing some translations-for-hire.

Florida correspondent, especially if you attend the NXT tapings.

Roller Derby correspondent. A since estranged sports entertainment sister. Time to reunite the family.

UK-Based correspondent who can also serve as archnemesis to Maffew? And participate in snack exchanges with the US and Canada-based writers? Plz : 3

Wrestling game enthusiast. We’d love playthroughs of Joshi/women’s wrestling games, but we’d be easily sated with a funny review of Superstars of WrestleFest, if we’re being honest with ourselves.

Hit us up over at a.v.christensen at femmezuigiri dot com and doublecakes at femmezuigiri dot com. Let’s make a deal!

Thank you for reading this, for spreading the word, and helping us make this hobby into a maybe semi-part-time profession.

 

-DoubleCakes & Aquavulva