Tag Archives: kayfabe

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.

“I’m Actually Pretty Great At Sleeper Holds”: An Interview with Bake And Destroy’s Natalie Slater.

In childhood, I played the odd game of touch football without an audience, held together by the numbers–points, winning streaks and personal bests. A captive audience buzzing with capital make for interesting stakes, but few if any athlete will be invited into his respective hall of fame on the grounds that, though he never won any championships, he had a really good grasp of the “psychology of the fans”.

Being a wrestling fan is not a passive state. When you look into a painting, your gaze gives that work of art meaning. In art, we call this “funding and fusion”. The ball can float through the basket whether its watched by one or one thousand people. But the botched grace of a Pollock is not empirical. Likewise: the things we love about wrestling–the sell, the hope spot, the “let me tell you something, Mean Gene”–require not only our witnessing, but our reciprocation. Hulk Hogan did not attain immortality; it was thrust upon him by throngs of fans who saw him deplete the nemeses of America with the white hot fire of a Rock N’ Roll Jesus.

The fan-created art, blogs, zines, and non-name brand merch that sprout from wrestling fandom are not just the pop culture carbon footprint of wrestling, but necessary infrastructure; we are building gods and warriors and whatever they’re doing with Sandow out of otherwise “common people”.

In curating a culture for wrestling to thrive in, wrestling fans have a lot on their plate.

And Bake And Destroy’s Natalie Slater wants to fill that plate with delicious vegan food that will kick the shit out of you if you think for a second about making a “well I’ll just eat double the cows hurr hurr hurr”.

Her book has been given high marks by Colt Cabana and Lita. Like, I mean scores. Not John Cena tripping on LSD wrapped in bows.

How much of the aggression in your aesthetic is a counterpoint to the notion of veganism as passive or detrimentally pacifist? Vegans are so angry because they’re always starving”.

honkytonk
Honky Tonk French Toast

Well, I’m an aggressive person to start with, so regardless of what I was or wasn’t eating, I have always been aggressive, and confrontational. Having something that I feel really passionate about, like veganism, like ethical veganism, just gives me more ammo. I just sort of enjoy arguing no matter what it’s about.

So your wrestler archetype would be Roddy Piper circa ‘84-’85.

Oh, you nailed it! If I could be anyone I would be for sure Roddy Piper.

What would go into a Rock N’ Wrestling era Roddy Piper themed cupcake?

Whatever it is, it’s gotta be something that can be used as a weapon. I feel like a good cream filled pie would be excellent. It would only make sense if it were coconut–a coconut cream pie that he could smash in anyone’s face would probably be perfect.

That is the moment I became attracted to men When I saw that happen and I was like “Whoa, that was cool, that guy’s kinda hot. Wait a minute, I think I like dudes.”

Roddy Piper was absolutely my first crush, and still remains… he still looks good.

Seeing that happen was a big part of my childhood.

Piper I was born after that segment aired. Maybe that’s why I’m a lesbian.

You know, it could’ve gone either way for me. It’s not too late still.

Wrestling is pretty much the one constant of my life. I get older, I change—no matter who I grow into, wrestling is a core part of that person’s identity. I’d definitely change my sexual orientation before I quit wrestling.

 When I was a child, I was afraid I’d be stuck living in Europe forever and never get to watch wrestling because I bought into this idea that everyone hated America’s freedoms and so Germany wouldn’t let the WWF in their country because Hacksaw Jim Duggan would try to get the crowds to chant “USA” and start an international incident. Before I ever kissed a girl, I was tits deep in the realpolitik of the ring.

Pro wrestling really, at it’s best, holds up a comical mirror to society. There’s always the guy going “USA USA”–there’s always the character, his opponent, who stands for whoever in the current news is viewed as trying to take away our freedom in some way, or challenging the American dream in some way. If you’re in on the joke, as a fan, you know you’re kind of making fun of yourself, and America is making fun of itself. You appreciate it, because you’re in on it, and it’s funny.

But I know that for a lot of people who maybe didn’t necessarily get into it when they were young–it can be a lot harder as an adult to appreciate the complexity of it and not just see it as buffoonery.

Deep Fried Cream Corn Balls
Deep Fried Cream Corn Balls

My husband did not grow up a wrestling fan, at all. He was a skateboarder, is a skateboarder, was always outside, never watched TV, wasn’t interested. He grew up a defiant little kid; everybody watched wrestling, all the people that he wasn’t interested in being friends with.

For him, as an adult, trying to appreciate something that means so much to me, it is a struggle for him, as a 43-year-old man trying to understand wrestling for the first time in his life.

So it is something very uniquely tied to your upbringing Some people do get into it as adults, and more power to them. For most people I know, it is tied to whatever it gave you as a kid, whatever feeling of unity or release or escape or whatever.

When people ask me “Why do you think we can achieve [insert goal of the “social justice agenda” here] in our lifetime” I go “look: when I was a kid, I believed John Nord was a Viking somehow resuscitated to fight the undead.

Those were magical days.

When I was a child, my parents told me that chicken wasn’t made of chicken, that it was just a vegetable that we called chicken. Until I was about 9 or 10 and had seen a farm slaughter firsthand, I had believed I was a vegetarian. It was like learning wrestling was fake—not wanting to turn around and see the steps you’d taken, able only to keep walking like nothing had ever happened. Can you remember, and do you want to share, when the pieces began to click and you realized wrestling was a work?

It wasn’t so much something that I did, or realized; it was a tide shift in wrestling itself that sort of made me willing to suspend my disbelief. In the mid to late 90s, I would say probably 1994/95, is really when Steve Austin really started booming. And by 1997, he was the biggest name in professional wrestling. And his entire gimmick was sort of gimmickless in a way.

It was certainly and exaggeration of his personality, but instead of saying “Oh, I’m a professional model and I’m gonna spray you with my essence”, instead of these cartoonish characters, he was like just a bad ass dude–you could kind of picture him being your friends’ dad or a cool uncle or whatever.

Well, I don’t know how cool he was with his jean shorts, but you know what I mean.

When wrestling started taking that shift, from that caricature to Degeneration X, where it was more just cool and every day guys, it made me, as a teenager at that point, go “oh, all that stuff before like Doink the Clown were these silly things, I accept that”.

Now everybody is just sort of like a realistic badass. There aren’t as many fanciful characters anymore.

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Banana Bread French Toast Cupcakes

Honestly, that’s kind of when I quit paying attention for a long time. I didn’t want that, I wasn’t interested in that as much as I was interested in all the weirdos–demented clowns and repo men. For a while they were all just kind of this dad guy.

I wonder if that magic can co-exist with social media. Every WWE show, it’s “livetweet this match! The Bellas have been busy on Instagram! Look, we made Kane and Sheamus read your insulting tweets!

That’s a good point. There’s not that barrier between us, as fans, and the stars anymore. It’s sort of removed some of that magic and mystery.

When you think of baseball, there are foods you associate with that. Hot dog, cracker jacks, a warm beer. Though other sports don’t have quite that culinary identity, there is a food/party culture to sports: tailgate parties, popcorn, $8 beer, etc. Would you break vegan for a Superstars Ice Cream Bar, and if given necessary leverage, what would you make the “official food” of wrestling? 

Would I trade in my vegan card for the day for an ice cream bar? I have to say no. As excited as I would be to see that, it would really need to be something truly delicious that would ever tempt me away from this path that I am passionate about.

I have very clear memories of that ice cream being super icy and artificially vanilla.

Amy
Lita & The Hurricane would make for a good indie band name.

I would for sure instagram it and be super excited that it existed—but I don’t think it would be worth it for me to actually eat it.

If it were up to me, I would say since no other sporting event has ever truly claimed nachos as their own, I would like to claim that, on behalf of wrestling. And really make something of it! I love nachos–that’s probably my favourite food.

But that is really interesting that there has never been food associated with other sports—you can get a soft pretzel and peanuts at any sporting event. I wonder if it’s because wrestling events are always indoors and there’s not that picnicking aspect to it that you kind of get at a baseball game.

I was also gonna say whatever the food was, it would have to be cheap enough that you didn’t feel upset when a wrestler knocked it out of your hand and called you a piece of shit because you got too close to the guard rail.

That’s a good point!

As a non-vegan, I really love vegan baking. The ethical and moral shit aside—we’ll save that for the PPV blowoff–there are genuine objective advantages to vegan baking.

foodfightFor one thing, just right off the bat, if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat cookie dough or taste cake batter if you cook, vegan baking is the way to go. You’re not at risk for all of the food borne illnesses that you’re at risk for if you’re consuming things like raw eggs in your batter. From a purely snacking while you cook perspective, it’s awesome.

Another thing that drove me nuts, as a conventional baker, was the constant need for ingredients that I wasn’t necessarily using for anything else. Nobody in my family eats eggs. My kid doesn’t like them, nobody likes them–if I had a recipe and I needed two eggs, I’d have to get an entire dozen to make this one stupid recipe.

The same with milk! We’re not big milk drinkers, I mean being vegan, obviously now we’re not, but we never were. There were just a lot of things that I had to keep around in order to bake, that now that I don’t have to; the substitutions are simple and cheap, and they’re real food substitutions.

I can use bananas instead of eggs. I can use baking soda and vinegar as an awesome leavener. I can use flax seeds ground up and mixed with a little bit of water as a binder. There’s all these things that I can use, that are super simple, that are already in my house, really inexpensive and are actual, nutritious, food.

Once you know the tricks, it’s really not that complicated anymore. And I think it does trip people up—they’re so used to butter, milk, eggs as being the baking staples. But honestly, there’s a handful of tricks and they’re easy.

A vegan diet is a cholesterol free diet. If you stick to real foods, it improves your digestion.

There are a million health reasons associated with it too– it’s also just a purely simple and inexpensive way of cooking and baking.

What was the litmus of your suspense of disbelief? For me, I knew wrestling was real when Jake “The Snake” Roberts tied Macho Man into the ropes and had Damien bite him. Looking back, I realize that doesn’t speak well for the “magic” of wrestling. It’s athletic improvisational theatre with complicated but engaging rituals—and when that doesn’t work we have this live animal in a sack!

I remember my little sister and I being genuinely terrified of the Undertaker.

I remember him putting Ultimate Warrior in a coffin and slamming it shut. We literally cried, the two of us cried, because we thought he was dead. That was shocking, and terrifying, and we really thought we saw someone die. It couldn’t have been more real than that very moment.

A runner up for me, of moments that “wrestling is so terrifying it transcends the question of ‘real’” would be Royal Rumble ’94 where you see the Undertaker inside of the casket and then he becomes smoke and ascends to the TitanTron. That is probably why I am legitimately afraid of being buried alive, as an adult.

Those matches were really scary. It’s funny; I’ve brought my iece to quite a few wrestling events, and she cries every time Kane comes to the ring, because the fire and everything else. It’s scary, and he’s scary. I guess in a way it’s nice that some of those really supernatural and weird characters did manage to live on to keep scaring little kids the way they should.

I have always loved a good heel. But I didn’t hate Undertaker; he just scared me. It wasn’t until I was older when I appreciated that, really.

Even as a kid I, always liked Jake the Snake, I always liked the Million Dollar Man. I liked those guys because they were funnier and more fun to match. There was something about the Undertaker, though; he wasn’t a straight heel. He was something else. He wasn’t good, he wasn’t bad, he was just kind of evil and that was frightening.

He’s kind of like the Borg in Star Trek. He’s this inhuman force that can’t be reasoned with.

Right, yeah. That’s totally it. You picture yourself somehow encountering these people. If you met Hulk Hogan, he would ruffle your hair and tell you to say your prayers and take your vitamins. If you met the Million Dollar Man, he would call you a peasant, and you might be able to kiss his ass and carry his briefcase for him and maybe he would let you hang out with him. You kind of know how to handle them as a human.

The Undertaker, there was no interaction that you could picture with him because he was so cold and dead. And really, maybe the most interesting character.

Would you have taken your niece to an Attitude era show?

fraaaandsWell. it’s interesting because the biggest reason why my niece is interested is because my family is very close with Phil Brooks, formerly known as CM Punk–he and I have known each other for 20 years. He definitely crashed our house quite a bit as a teenager.

At the height of his popularity in the WWE was like right when my niece kind of hit the age where kids in her class were really into wrestling–she was second or third, he was all over the place, everybody was talking about the “Pipe Bomb” and she was really interested. My sister was like “you know, he’s a friend of ours. And auntie can take us to matches.” We would always sit ringside and it was exciting for her. A big part of why she was even interested was kind of the access that she was able to have because just of his friendship with my family.

I don’t know if there was anything going on during the Attitude Era that would have caused as much of a buzz in third grade as Punk kind of breaking that wall and really airing his grievances.

I feel like older kids were more interested in the Attitude Era—even adult men were really into Steve Austin and the whole whoop-ass and all that. DX and all their groin grabbing–that was kind of for older kids and grown ups. So, I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I feel like I should mention this now, in case you ever Google me, but I used to be a super, super, super intense critic of CM Punk

That’s fine. Let me tell you: being friends with him for 20 years, you definitely have to have a thick skin about people’s criticisms of him. People were critical of him before he was anything, when he was working in a comic book store. It’s nothing new.

I’ve warmed up to him in the past few years, because I’m an adult now. The Attitude Era was fun for what it was. And ECW was fun for what it was. But wrestling cannot be that anymore. Wrestling needs to be accessible to children. I came to really appreciate the work he’s was doing to make wrestling accessible to kids. So if you’re ever wanna tell him “I talked to this girl who used to hate you, but now she doesn’t”—well, I’m sure he hears that a hundred times a day.

Hahaha, yeah.

Do you prefer the blue waffle-style cage or the chain link fence?

I think maybe the chain link just for no reason, I just picked one that I’m like “I like that better.”

When people talk about wrestling, they frame it as a sport/jock culture. But wrestling is not a jock culture; it is very firmly a nerd culture. I hear people argue with such lengths about which cage is better. And in fact, I know some wrestling writers who hate steel cage matches, and it’s not because they don’t like the gimmick of it, but because they find a face having to escape a situation to win thematically inappropriate.

beth
Has a more pretentious statement ever preceded the splendor of Beth Phoenix?

I’m with you. For me, wrestling was definitely a nerd thing. A nerdy thing to like, and all the jocks and the people who liked quote unquote real sports were not interested in it because it was fake.

But my husband grew up in Flint, Michigan and all his cousins were from South Carolina. Flint is very urban, but most of the people he was with on a regular basis were a little bit more rural and they all loved Ric Flair. He was their hero, and to him, wrestling was more of a jock thing to be into, because he was a skateboarder and a punk rocker in Flint, Michigan in the eighties, and very much an outcast. The kids who were more socially acceptable and popular all loved wrestling, and loved Ric Flair. It’s really interesting how your surroundings can completely make wrestling culturally acceptable or unacceptable.

I live in Chicago, Punk lives in Chicago too, and it’s been pretty easy for him to have some degree of privacy here. In the city of Chicago, people are very image concerned, it’s very “hip”, and wrestling is not really considered hip. And so he, for the most part, can kind of do this thing and not get a lot of hassle. But when he leaves and goes to the suburbs, or to another city, he gets hassled a lot more by wrestling fans. It’s weird– a lot of it is to do with your surroundings.

If you were gonna make cupcakes of 90s Sting and The Crow era Sting

Oh my gosh!

What would be in them?

90s Sting was so excellent. I loved him, and had a giant crush on him, even though my cousins referred to him as generic Ultimate Warrior.

They were tag team partners. So, not far off? 

It would definitely have to be neon in every way, like maybe a version of a funfetti cake. Lots of colours in there. And it would need to be filled with something fluorescent and custardy. Lots of really artificial food dyes would be in play. Maybe one of those tiedye cakes that are all over pinterest.

For the Crow era: I think you’d have to go really dark–like a dutch chocolate, and then fill it with some kind of red berry jam and ganache. And then you could use white chocolate to do a reverse corpse paint thing on top of it.

They would be two completely different taste buds. One would be a much more kid friendly overly sugary sweet and the other one would definitely be a more bitter and dark chocolate.

And what would your finisher be?

This is not based in fantasy. It might not be as fanciful as an answer as you would hope for. I’m actually pretty great at sleeper holds. I sometimes just throw them on my husband for fun—he’s tapped out on a few occasions.

Considering my love of sweatpants, maybe I would just call it the Comfy Sweatpants. And when I put it on my opponent, they would instantly feel like they were in a comfy pair of sweatpants and they would be unable to resist.

That’s great, that’s better than anything I could’ve hoped for in terms of an answer.

Excellent.

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.

tr

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.”

 

 

Lana Stands Up For Women, Wrestling Fans Are Outraged

Lately, a lot of women within the WWE have been taking to social media their grievances towards gender inequality. This morning, Lana has joined those ranks. This came as a slight shock to me since she is a woman who puts on a heavy Russian accent and is part of an outdated and fairly racist gimmick.

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She also tweeted about equal pay and the wage gap. What didn’t surprise me about this whole scenario was the atrocious response that she received on twitter, largely from male fans. From stating that women in the porn industry make more money than men, to the wage gap being a myth, to the divas asking for too much; it’s hard to ignore how butthurt some men are when you question their privilege.

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A large majority of the complaints are that despite her heelish character, her being a woman who stands up for herself and the rights of other women is just not fair. How could she betray you? Are you telling me that she isn’t really Russian and the Undertaker isn’t really undead and that Naomi doesn’t really hail from Planet Funk? You’re right, we’re all just here to look pretty in the ring and for you to jerk off to.

Wrong.

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This is an issue that doesn’t just exist in the realm of wrestling, but everywhere. Misogyny is around every bend and if you dare stand up for women you will be bombarded with the tears of many a wrestling fan. A woman standing up for herself and acting as anything other than a sex object should not be what garners her the most heat inside the ring or out.

Knowing that I’m going to encounter a wave of aggression and mansplaining every time I stand up for what I believe in isn’t going to shut me up. Although it would be nice to not have to fear for my safety just for ensuring that I’m treated with dignity and respect. Just because you haven’t personally experienced it, doesn’t mean someone else’s lived experiences aren’t true.

Maybe these fans are right though. Lana does make more than they do as a television personality than they do sitting on their couch at home. Gender inequality and the wage gap is a load of hooey.

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