I spend some time on this blog (not too much, I hope) going down memory lane, remembering the so-called glory days of wrestling, to refresh myself on my own golden years more than anything else. But one of many things on today's scene I'm happy I lived long enough to see is the advent of aggro punks, skinny, buzz-cut, pasty-skinned twenty-somethings with bad teeth, anarchic tattoos, and piercings designed to scare the faint-hearted--itching to go at it with somebody, anybody, ready to fight as dirty as it takes. Born out of the mosh pits of the '70s and '80s, inspired by Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club (well, anything by Palahniuk, really), with nods to Henry Rollins and Mad Max movies, "aggro" is less a movement than an attitude--and, really, less an attitude than an unchecked instinct for mixing it up on a regular basis.
Punks aren't conventionally beautiful. Their bodies aren't gym-toned or salon-tanned. Some of them don't even look properly fed, the result of a diet of cigarettes, whiskey, and junk carbs. What makes them attractive is their "fuck yeah" attitudes, their willingness to break into rough combat mode without provocation, without even anger. There's a sociopathic side to the attitude (perhaps the whole thing is sociopathic) that may make it less than desirable as a basis for a life style, but its emergence in pro rings and cages in the past fifteen years, the overflow of online video sharing of backyard and basement wrestling, is cause for celebration.
CM Punk has the highest profile among these guys, as a result of his defection to WWE six years ago, and, sellout or not, CM works-for-me to this day. Just a tight close-up of his meaty body, breaking a sweat as he gasps for air in the middle of a match, charges me up a little. The smaller promotions give us grittier punks like Jersey Kidd, "Sudden Impact" Louis Moore, Frank "The Tank" Burlington, Jordan Lennox (good Tank-v-Lennox vid here)--mean greasy boys your mother told you not to play with. On the UK wrestling scene, there are guys like "Textbook" Dave Breaks, Shane Oldham (watch Breaks v Oldham here), Brad Flash, and Chris Stone, who take big brown dumps on British catch wrestling's rep as a gentleman's sport. On the gay scene, aggro emerged side by side with heroin chic in the '90s and pig-sex porn in the '00s, in rebellion against thirty years of safe-sex sermons and "just say no" commandments. Whatever its damage to public health, the new attitude provides a welcome relief from party-circuit style, A&F-wearing twinks, and (however fondly I remember it) the Bruce Weber aesthetic in general. Glenn Scott and Kid Vicious at BG East, Joker at UCW, Big Sexy at Thunder's Arena, and the like are (and have been) trendsetters--and inspirations for this blog.
But, as I said, aggro is more what you do than how you look. Like to fight? Like to push your limits with another tough guy? Enjoy catfight-quality intensity? Don't mind getting hurt sometimes? Like knowing that pained look on the other guy's face came from you? Then, even in a Brooks Brothers suit, you're a punk, bro.