Monday, May 17, 2010

Gimmicks and Angles

Every now and then I wonder what it is that works and doesn't work for me in professional wrestling.  Just last week I had an illuminating online chat on the subject of squash jobs.  In previous posts, most notably here, I've expressed my distaste for the squash job angle, and it's true that I prefer a battle between equals in physique, mass, fight, and skill.

I make exceptions for payback matches--where some odious and cowardly heel (or manager or valet stupid enough to enter the ring to face a trained wrestler) gets his ass handed to him, after he's been practically begging for a beating week after week.  I can't explain the satisfaction I get from that scenario, but it's deep.

During this chat last week, thanks to the other guy's insights mostly, I realized that what really bugs me is the idea, perpetuated in the pro and underground wrestling scenes alike, that pretty rookies must have their asses handed to them in match after match after match.  I would much rather watch the strapping young stud give the rugged ring veteran at least a good run for his money and, even better, a good drubbing.

I could possibly see the charm of a wrestler having to job his very first match--a nice initiation ritual, okay, I could cope--and I really don't mind when wrestlers lose a fairly high percentage of their matches.  But when they appear to be losing every match, I begin to wonder on what basis they can call themselves wrestlers.

What I do resent, though, is consistent and sustained predictability:  the sure knowledge that even before the competitors enter the ring, I know who the winner's going to be ... 99.7% of the time.  Sure it's kayfabe--I accept that--but for me the drama is usually so much better when I can believe that either fighter has a fighting chance of coming out on top.

Still, enough careers have been built solely on the suck end of squash jobs and enough videos are titled "Squash Job Wrestling" for me to realize I'm not in the majority on this one.  BG East has ten (so far) releases each on its Hunkbash and Jobberpaloozer series.  Lots of you dudes like knowing that Alexi Adamov or Troy Baker or Christopher Bruce is more than likely going to get pwned even before you slide the disk into your machine.

Okay, fine, I'm just saying what I like and don't particularly like.

Here's something else I don't get--fluorescent-tube and staple-gun and thumbtack matches.

I'm not particularly squeamish--or at least I don't think so.  If some fighter bloodies his lip in the normal course of combat, I don't mind so much.  But stringing razor wire around the ring is just (I'm sorry) barbaric.  And "barbaric" is not even the problem--the problem is that these angles don't interest me--they offer spectacle without drama.  They are stunts, pure and simple, in the manner of Evel Knievel and Johnny Knoxville--but without the death-defying ballsiness of the one or the gonzo sexiness of the other.

Sure, a dozen Megabrites smashed on a man's bare back is something to see--but, in my mind, it's nothing compared to a dramatic story, where duplicity and baseness catch their rewards across the jaw, upon the knuckles of some stalwart and honest hero figure--or where a bruised and battered ex-champion pulls himself up off the ash heap of ignominy with one last valiant slugfest against his age-old arch-nemesis.

I like the thrill of "foreign objects" as much as the next guy.  I can even tolerate the occasional folding chair against the forehead.  But ladders and coffins surrounding the ring are just too too much for me to take even semi-seriously.  (Mark my words:  ladder matches will be remembered as the 2010 equivalent of mullets and Bastion Booger.)  When props overshadow the human drama of pro wrestling, you've lost me.

(Eros, yes, wonderful, please--thanatos, sorry, not so much.)

Again, I figure I'm in the minority here.  This past weekend, Comptroller relayed a comment he received via e-mail correspondence with an up-and-coming young Australian wrestler.  The eighteen-year-old babyface said,  and I quote verbatim, "the hardcore n blood is a turn on for fans because without any of thats.. its un-realistic & boring."  (Personally, I suspect the goal is not "realism" or "excitement," but rather avoidance of the entertainment's being perceived as "gay" or at any rate "more gay than UFC"--but I don't think I could prove that ... not yet ... just a suspicion that's been gnawing at me lately.)

But who knows? I may in time change my mind about some or all of these things.  Eventually I warmed up to the idea of masked wrestlers and tag teams--two classic gimmicks I just didn't see the point of until fairly late in the life of my kinks.  Live and learn.  My kinks evolve and grow like everything else in life.


  1. Another fine dialogue which makes skull island the best blog. I also like your choice of photos,and features in todays blog! While I do not have your acumen in preguessing the winner 99.7 percent of the time, I usually bat about 70 percent. The Hawks Plexus match I thought was good because it seemed even and not as predetermined. I agree the hotties are bashed. Is it that we middle aged out of shape men resent their good looks and virility? On the violent aspect I was told by a face (Randy Scofield) the blood is added to give more realism. Are we so violent that unless there are trash cans whips fire and barbed wire or glasa that we are not seeing enough entertainment? And on a comment to a youtube video I agree. Are thwe wrestlers and promoters just stupid with fluorescent light tubes. Those are usually old lamps with pcb's in the diffusers. Not good to come in contact with. There should be some safety standards implemented for these guys. Comp.

  2. "When props overshadow the human drama of pro wrestling, you've lost me." Amen, Joe, amen! I get so bored watching ladder/coffin/garbage can matches. They're so predictable! And those so-called "extreme" matches aren't just barbaric, they're disgusting (I'm squeamish, even that scene where Mickey Rourke juices himself in "The Wrestler" made me wince). I assume that since UFC-style fighting is giving pro wrestling a run for its money, the promoters and wrestlers have to resort to more violent/bizarre matches. I wish that trend would go away, but it seems it's only getting more popular.

  3. Hey. You referenced Alexi, Troy and Chris Bruce as guys who got pwned often. But here's the thing: If you look at their specific matches, even though all have losing records, the vast minority of those were squashes.

    Take Troy Baker as example. Out of 20 matches he lost 14. 30 percent win rate is actually huge for a jobber (Kenny Kendall and Bob Emory certainly never won that often). Only one was a pure squash-- Brigham Bell on Demo 4--and that was presented not as Troy being weak or inherently out of his league but as Brigham cheating off the bat and Troy not having a chance to recover. Three more were eventual squashes--Shane McCall, Jarrett Cole, Josh Avery--after Troy scored at least one fall, and, again, turned on his opponent "cheating" in some way. So while Troy Baker had a losing record, the vast majority of his matches (16 out of 20) were wins or highly competitive. The same is true for Alexi, Chris Bruce, Brad and Wade's records. Ironically, one of the few long-term BGE names who loses almost 100 of the time is Cameron Matthews, and he rarely seems to make the obvious jobber list.

    I think the perception that those got their asses handed to them on a regular basis is proof of the of the power of that fantasy. They aren't just hot boys. They're hot boys who can be had. It doesn't matter if the viewer is old and out of shape or a 20 y.o. male model: everyone can relate to the image of the guy who's so attractive he feels out of reach. When Troy or Brad steps into the ring and abruptly finds himself tumbling through the air, bouncing off the mat and begging for mercy as his relentlessly relentless foe twists him in positions bodies aren't meant to bend, it brings him back to earth, makes him accessible. It's all in the flow of holds that display Troy's body as if he's a living sculpture, how engaged and inspired the heel seems to be in dishing it out and above all the whole "how far will this go" aspect.

    Say what you will about the soap opera, but WWE is nothing but competition with the outcome being in "doubt" until the end. Between that and Youtube, competitive pro wrestling is everywhere. By contrast, if you specifically enjoy hot guys taking a beating in a wrestling context, you have to go to BGE (or Canned Ham or NRW or Rock Hard Wrestling...). I don't doubt that most gay wrestling fans like competitive matches, but since what Troy or Brad provided isn't available elsewhere, they got concentrated interest. And we tend to remember them for what made them different rather than the majority of their matches.

    Sorry for the long-ass response!

  4. Who is the delightful young blond guy at the top, just waiting for his beating to begin? I know that I must know him, after all someone with his good and boyish looks couldn't have evaded me this long, but just can't ID the lad! Please let me know...



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