Tag Archives: roddy piper

“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.

champcakes
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.

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:

Fan Edition | Buttons and Hats

Name: Ami Moregore (@happypeep)

Age: 33

Location: NJ and travelling about 1.5 hours in all directions for good wrestling as my budget allows.

Describe your ringside style:

I’d like to think it’s nothing too unusual. Simple shirt, tights and skirt. Sensible closed toes shoes or boots (since I’m frequently front row and never know when I’ll need to run due to falling humans) and a DSLR around my neck. Something happened during the late winter of 2014 and I began wearing these adorable hats made by Athena’s Wink. I’ve now seen my hats on DVDs I bought and feel equal parts mortified and amused that these are on a permanent record. My purse also gets in on the act. I’m quicker to buy buttons over shirts since my dresser is over capacity and I get to support multiple wrestlers rather than just one.

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How did you become a wrestling fan?

I’m old enough that I remember Hogan’s Rock and Wrestling on the air, but I don’t think that made me a wrestling fan (except to Roddy Piper). It’s such a blur but I’d have to blame older kids in my neighbourhood for enthusiastically talking non stop with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Texas Tornado or the Ultimate Warrior.

Fave Wrestler: 

Ugh, there’s so many. Currently active faves will always include LuFisto. In addition to the sheer artistry she brings to wrestling and the genuine emotion she can evoke, she inspires me. She’s my age, which is by no means old, has accomplished so much, and yet she’s still hungry. That and she’s just such a sweet human. I’ve also noticed that any wrestler I talk to long enough will admit their appreciation of her.

Fave Promotion: 

I’m so spoiled by the amount of great promotions near me. I’ve been consistently happy with the quality of matches I’m catching from WSU/CZW, and I don’t even like death matches! It’s hard to separate the two companies. In addition to their product, the staff has been most kind to me. But seriously, there are so many great ones near me that I am spoiled and feel guilty.

Fave Move:

Arm bar choke hold. It’s a move that has multiple ways to apply, even if the end result is the same and it’s a legitimate painful move if done right. I’ve used it to take down people three times my size!

Fave Match:

For now? Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi vs Danshoku and Yoshihiko in DDT where, SPOILER ALERT, Taka ‘kills’ Yoshiko. Favourite live match I saw may be reDRagon defeating the Young Bucks at ROH War of the Worlds 2014.

Dream Tag Team? 

Danny Hodge and Lou Thesz in their primes. I can imagine wrestlers well versed in history collectively needing a change of underpants at that thought.

Dream Entrance Theme?

Amanda LePre’s The Gift. Though if I ever get married I should totally come out to Muta Concerto instead of Here Comes the Bride.

Thanks for taking part, Ami! If you want to be featured please contact us via email or on twitter!

Boys Will Be Bigots

“He hurt my feelings.” “Oh well, boys will be boys.” I truly wonder how many times Vince McMahon, and the majority of the talent within the WWE, have heard this excuse used towards their actions over the years. I’m of the mindset that once is too many, but here we are continuing to wrestle with homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, you name it.

So, here we have a company that totes it’s anti bullying campaign, Be A Star, and does everything in their power to go against what they claim to stand for. Hot off the heels of hugely problematic trainer and alleged sexual harasser, Bill DeMott, stepping down from his position within the company, you’d think they’d want to push away from this troubling pattern they’ve been stuck in for so long. Instead, they pay big money to resign Brock Lesnar as one of their mainstays. This is more than just my personal feeling about his wrestling prowess, or lack there of, but solely aimed at what message they are sending by promoting a vocal homophobe and unrepentant stalker. He has, on the record, stated “I don’t like gays. Write that down in your little notebook. I. Don’t. Like. Gays.” Not only is he still signed with the WWE, but he is their champion and the face that they continue to push. They also spent a lot of money to keep him around, and if that isn’t a glowing endorsement of his behaviour, I don’t know what is.

People are going to argue that one person doesn’t constitute a problem, or point out that them keeping queer talent on the roster shows that they are trying to change. I wish I could believe that was the case, but when Darren Young came out the transparency surrounding their statement and maintaining his career to save face was strong. You had a man who you were trying to push fairly hard, only to bury him in your midcard moments after he came out. Pat Patterson has had his sexuality ‘known’ by the public for quite some time, but he only came out officially on WWE Legends’ House. There has also been some allusion from wrestlers, such as Roddy Piper, towards treatment along the lines of sexual harassment from Patterson in the locker room when they were first starting out.

Let me run down a list of other horrific examples of this problem, past and present, that drive this point home.

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Billy and Chuck

Billy and Chuck became a tag team duo that’s sole purpose was to incite gay panic. How quaint. They would have extremely homoerotic workout routines and eventually were engaged to be wed live on television. Fast forward to their ceremony, they are about to be pronounced husband and husband and there is a freak out where it’s revealed that it was all a huge publicity stunt and they weren’t really gay.

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Mark Henry

Mark’s entire gimmick is based around him being a lady’s man. Upon attempting to woo Chyna, who was having none of it, Chyna’s friend Sammy was sent back to take care of Mark. Here’s where I point out to you that Sammy is a cis man dressed as a woman, his purpose is to trick Mark into having sex with him. In wonderful attitude era fashion, we see footage of Sammy going down on Mark Henry backstage. Mark starts to feel up Sammy and then proclaims “Sweet Jesus! You got a penis!” Sammy rips off his wig to reveal he’s actually a man and Mark Henry runs to the washroom to throw up.

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John Cena

It hasn’t been long since John Cena was still rap battling his opponents before a match, most of which were peppered with slurs and wholly oppressive in nature. It didn’t take long before GLAAD actually stepped in to address this issue and steer them away from this continuing to happen. This is yet another man who the WWE has at the helm of their company, and is supposed to be a role model to children, or at least that is how he’s marketed.

This list can go on and on, and that is really disheartening. There are lesbian panic storylines surrounding Rosa on E! Total Divas, the countless times that Lawler has called someone a fag on commentary, the time that the Godfather called Regal a fag in effort to entice a fight, The Rock saying John Cena’s wristbands make him look like a bloated transvestite Wonder Woman ready to fight crime, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Cheap pops aren’t worth it, and there’s no way you can look me dead in the eye and tell me “But he makes us money” when you’re spending ungodly amounts to keep them signed and have my believe you and condone your actions. Once again though, I’m none too convinced that your real slogan isn’t “WWE: You like what we tell you to like.”