Posts Tagged ‘Kane’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Monster Heels

August 21, 2017

As part of my ongoing series on heels, I would like to talk about a classic type of heel called the “Monster Heel”. This is a pretty straight forward idea. This type of heel is usually very large and very strong. Like the monsters in movies or fairy tales, they are big, scary, and violent. They attack with overwhelming force and, again like a horror movie, they are really hard to hurt and if they are hurt, it is not for long. The business has a long history of them.


Kane

The first monster heel that I experienced, was Kane. Kane was billed as the brother of the Undertaker, who was already a prominent supernatural figure in the WWF. In Undertaker’s backstory, Kane was thought to have died in a fire accidentally set by Undertaker as a young boy. That belief was a mistake as Kane had survived the fire and he showed up in the company to exact vengeance on his brother for the perceived attack and the death of their parents. He was unstoppable, regularly defeating whole crowds of wrestlers by himself. He destroyed everything he touched, even his brother (temporarily). On top of that, he was billed as (and is actually close to) being seven feet tall.


Awesome Kong

When I used to watch TNA Wrestling close to 2005, there was a lot to like. There was a lot of potential. One of those bits of potential was a woman who had made a name for herself in Japan and was booked as an absolute beast. She had no mercy for her opponents, partially because her character did not even speak English. She was strong and she was nothing like a lot of the female wrestlers on television at the time. Everybody else seemed to be a fitness model and there were more catfights than technical wrestling matches. Kong would flatten her opponents like she was a force of nature. She was strong and resilient and she frightened people. Best of all, one of her finishing moves was called the Implant Buster, a knock on the looks of her more lithe opponents.


Tomasso Ciampa

He might be the smallest person on this list but there is a good reason why Tomasso Ciampa is often labeled “Psycho Killer”. When he hit his stride in Ring of Honor, he was brutal and sadistic and he would stalk his victims just as well as Jason. While he did throw a lot of his opponents around, it was his devastating knee strikes that made an impression on me. His attacks looked like a wild beast, like an unhinged man. His character was a man who did not care about his opponent. I really believed sometimes that he may have knocked his opponent’s teeth and irreparably damaged the soft tissue. I am interested to see what he can do now in NXT that he has turned heel yet again.


Mil Muertes

Lucha Underground is definitely a very different wrestling program. The world of Lucha Underground is supernatural and nobody bats an eye at all sorts of crazy thing happening. So, the existence of Mil Muertes, the man of 1000 deaths, is not a surprise. Mil is a man who has died several times throughout his story but death is not the end. Each time he only comes back stronger. He is summoned back to life by his association with the deadly Catrina and black magic. In the ring, it takes so much for him to be stopped and his moves are beyond destructive. He finishes off opponents with the Flatliner and has in-storyline murdered several people and then used their skulls to adorn his throne.


Vader

Then, of course, there was Vader. I was not present for some of his best work. By the time that I first saw him, he was in the WWF and he was being used more for comedy than as the monster heel he could be. I have since watched the archival footage and read personal accounts from back in the WCW days and I see what people saw in him. Vader never had the most impressive physique but he was strong and he was relentless. He was the master of the powerbomb long before everybody was doing one. The powerbomb is a legitimately dangerous move if you do not complete it correctly and is still no fun if done perfectly. In a memorable moment, he powerbombed Cactus Jack on the concrete outside of the ring, potentially ending his career. He was mean and he made his attacks look real because a lot of them were.

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Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Kayfabe

November 13, 2015

WILPW

So two days ago one of my favorite sports entertainers, The Undertaker, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and tombstoned a guy wearing a turkey costume. In a bubble, the skit was actually pretty funny. You can watch the video above for context but context doesn’t really do much for that sort of humor. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state that I have disliked Jimmy Fallon in the past because I felt he ruined Saturday Night Live while he was on it. I have since released my grudge but I still don’t really care for him but I respect that he is popular.

I can see why they chose Undertaker for something like this, seeing as we are coming up on Survivor Series. For those unaware, The Undertaker character made his debut during Surivivor Series 25 years ago in 1990. The guy must be close to retirement at this point as he only shows up for big payperview matches and those matches are farther and farther between. The Undertaker also has historically had some of the best pyro and has a history of showing up and beating up everybody just because.

Now, the above video is why I am a little upset at WWE for loaning out the character. Back in the day there was a more strict adherence to something called kayfabe. Kayfabe is a term in backstage lingo that evolved from the secret language of carny workers. The concept of kayfabe is that promoters, writers and performers create a world that the characters live in that has its own rules that are usually strictly followed. Kayfabe is used to enforce a code of acting both in and out of the ring that helps with the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. A heel performer might even refuse your autograph request and insult or threaten you to keep up the illusion.

Let’s stick with The Undertaker as our example. The Undertaker started as a creepy individual who was brought in by Ted Dibiase. He felt no pain and locked people in coffins and was billed as a near unstoppable monster. With a height of 6′ 10″ and a dead-eyed expression on his face, it was easy to understand how crowds would be intimidated by him. Then the character was killed in an event that took pretty much every heel in the promotion and even then it was a close thing. He was instantly ressurected and since then he has been a supernatural entity. He’s basically a horror movie monster but strangely he’s spent much of his career as a babyface. I think it draws on the desire a lot of us have to root for the horror movie villain. He grants that desire by only hunting heel characters.

Let’s get back to my point, though, about the Wyatt Family taking on the Brothers of Destruction and the larger point of kayfabe. As I type this, there is currently a storyline running where Bray Wyatt is calling out the Undertaker and his brother Kane. I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before but Bray Wyatt is a backwoods cult leader with a vaguely defined Cthulu-like mythos. He and his family recently took out The Undertaker and abducted him to who knows where. Wyatt claimed to have consumed his soul and later demonstrated that he had control over Undertaker’s spooky supernatural powers. On Monday, November 9 the Undertaker (and Kane) returned to face down the Wyatts.

So what am I getting at? If the Eater of Worlds can’t keep the Undertaker down, how can Jimmy Fallon summon him on a whim for a comedy sketch? It’s actually not that big a deal these days but it raises a lot of questions when a character appears outside of their domain. How did Jimmy get the Undertaker to come? Why does Taker hate the guy in the suit? But, like I said it’s not a huge issue. The slight pin prick of annoyance did make me think about how much I love kayfabe though. It’s ridiculous, it’s strange but everyone plays along with the story and we get to immerse ourselves into a strange world that I enjoy.


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