Posts Tagged ‘Ospreay’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Death of Kayfabe

November 18, 2017


Al Snow gives his opinion.

In an earlier post, I described the magic of Kayfabe. For those who forgot and do not want to click back: Kayfabe is the old carny term which basically means the story or false reality that sports entertainment companies weave around their product. Of course, the term was created when everybody was using the term “wrestling” instead of “sports entertainment”. This is the agreed upon device which creates babyfaces and heels (good guys and bad guys) so that there is enough friction to continue fighting. It is also the thing that turns an American named Nelson Simpson into “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff. It is a necessary part of the business and it has been a big part of how most businesses do things.

They fought over a shampoo commercial.

I was driving around with my brother recently and I was saying something about the business of pro-wrestling. He turned to me and asked me why the performers compete against each other. He understood, as most people do, that there are a championship belt and a contender for that title. He was wondering why people lower on the card would fight each other. The short answer is that they are paid to do so both in real life and in kayfabe. However, that is not exactly what he meant because that simple motivation is something everybody can understand. There are a lot of reasons for these people to fight for. The main reason people compete so hard is that they feud. A feud can start as simply as one performer states that they are the best and another performer tries to prove them wrong. It can be as complicated as one man stalks another man’s girlfriend. It can be something obscure like two men fighting over who gets to be in a shampoo commercial or who has the right to use the letter T in their name. Whatever it is, as long as it is a compelling story or it is told in an entertaining way, the crowd will buy it.

Jim Cornette gives some excellent analysis on Cactus Jack.

The reason why I started writing this post is actually good ol’ Jim Cornette, a man who I respect a lot. You see, Cornette has been involved in the business for a long time. Most notably, he has been the booker (writer) or booking committee for several prominent companies including TNA, WCW, WWF, ROH, and various NWA territories. He has also been an onscreen manager mostly of tag teams in the NWA, WCW, and WWF. He founded Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the nineties and he was the main driving force behind the rise of Ohio Valley Wrestling as the first official talent development territory for the WWE. He has had huge success in the business. So, going forward, please remember that I have enormous respect for both Jim Cornette and the old school side of wrestling that he represents. I have only seen a little of pre-nineties wrestling because I was not exposed to it when I was younger and I only have so much time in the day now. Still, I respect the old-timers for what they contributed, most of which survives in some form in the present day.

He really, really hates Joey Ryan… who isn’t a dick from all other accounts.

Jim Cornette and the old school contingent have claimed that kayfabe is a device that is dying a horrible death. The most recent example of the supposed ‘death of kayfabe’ is the rise in popularity of Joey Ryan. This is really where I sat up and take notice as I am a pretty big fan of Joey Ryan both in and out of the ring. Joey Ryan was simply a great independent wrestler who got brief stays on television in both Wrestling Society X and TNA. His gimmick was as a sleazy wrestler who was sponsored by the YouPorn website and chose The Pina Colada Song (a song about cheating on your spouse) as his entrance music. The old school’s problem is that Joey Ryan is a comedy wrestler. In Cornette’s words, “Funny Don’t Earn Money” because people want to see something they believe is a real fight. He really lost his mind when Ryan adopted a move called the YouPorn Plex (also known as the Dick Flip). In this move (as shown below), Ryan literally uses only his penis to flip his opponent. Cornette screamed that this pushed the limits of suspension of disbelief and that it effectively killed kayfabe (yet again).

Now that’s sleazy.

Obviously, I disagree. Back in the day, promoters and performers somehow convinced audiences that professional wrestling was real. Babyfaces and heels never talked or hung out in public so that fans would believe that they really hated each other. Dusty Rhodes ‘broke’ his leg in a match against Ric Flair and then wore an actual cast in public. He even wore that cast around his house where only his two young sons could see him. The point is that they went to enormous lengths to keep up the illusion that it was all real as part of a grand tradition. Unfortunately, as technology improved and the Internet was born, us fans all started to talk to each other. We started to figure things out and we peeked behind the curtain and now the cat is out of the bag. We know it’s all a show. There is no way we can go back to where we were and I am not sure many people actually want to go back. I definitely do not want to go back there. I love the way things are now.

Joe Hendry proves that funny can equal money.

This is the new kayfabe. Back in the day, we got a bunch of tough guy characters to boo or look up to. Now, kayfabe is so much more varied. One of the things I love about pro-wrestling is the three-ring circus element of it. If you do not like the clowns (like Joey Ryan, Colt Cabana, Enzo Amore, Joe Hendry) in ring one, you can look over at ring two and see the strongman (Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Brian Cage). If you do not like that you can look over at ring three and see the acrobats (Ricochet, Ospreay, Neville). However, the business has really grown and we all now have access to hundreds of rings. If you do not like something, there is a good chance that if you turn your head, you will see something you love.

If I can believe the storylines in Lucha Underground, I can believe anything.

Besides, the new kayfabe is not all that different from the kayfabe we have gotten for decades. As long as the internal rules are mostly consistent, I think kayfabe remains intact. Every wrestler responds to Joey Ryan’s genitals in exactly the same way which makes their legendary powers a canon fact. We were told back in the day that Undertaker was dead and we believed it because we wanted to believe it and the announcers and other wrestlers never contradicted it. I choose to believe what they tell me to believe because it is way more fun to play make-believe than pick at it because it does not make sense. We all know that the Upside Down is not real but we choose to believe it when we see that dryer lint floating around. My rule is that if something is fun and nobody is getting hurt, then I support it. Joey Ryan and guys and gals like him is a lot of fun to watch and I am all about having fun. Of course, Cornette is very welcome to earn advertising dollars nitpicking the hell out of it.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Independents

July 9, 2016


The volume of sports entertainment out there is daunting these days. In my last post, I spoke of a time where there were two choices. If you did not like vanilla than there was always chocolate and if you did not like chocolate then screw you. However, there were always companies “independent” of the big two that you could watch. These independents are generally where the big two get their talent. Now we are down to the “Big One” but it feels like there are at least three levels now in our country. There is the WWE/NXT which is generally regarded as the top of the heap. Under that, there are companies like Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor and TNA. They are well-funded and have television but they still feed talent to the WWE. Below that are all the smaller companies that are largely regional and often feed NXT, LU, TNA and ROH. Of course, then there’s the AAA and NJPW and any other foreign markets which are kind of in a class of their own.

So anyway, it has been a long while since I enjoyed some independent action. I made time over the last two weeks to surf YouTube and check out some great matches. However, instead of praising companies, I thought I would take the opportunity to praise some of the performers. At present, these people do not have exclusive contracts anywhere. In lieu of clips, I decided to put up whole matches to show these people in action.

“King of Dong Style” Joey Ryan

Anybody who follows my twitter would know how much a fan I am of Joey Ryan. Joey is currently working on television for Lucha Underground but that is just one of his gigs. I have known of Joey Ryan since first seeing him in Wrestling Society X when he was one half of That 70’s Team with The Disco Machine. He got a try out on TNA Impact but they do not deserve him. His mission statement (according to various announcers) is to bring sleazy back to pro-wrestling. He has certainly accomplished this as he portrays a character you would not want to touch with a ten-foot pole and mostly because he might like that. His character thinks highly of himself but there is a good reason for that as he is a competent fighter in all of his incarnations. He is also the King of Dong Style which parodies Nakamura being the King of Strong Style. Sometimes, King of Dong Style means that Joey is immune to low blows and in Japan it means he literally fights people with his privates. As a guy who regularly takes part in intergender matches, he is the master of the Boobplex and the YouPorn Plex. Currently, he is touring with his long time tag partner Candace LeRae as The World’s Cutest Tag Team. He seems to thrive best in situations where he is not held back from being his pervy self but he has fit in anywhere I have seen him.

The Young Bucks

Matt and Nick Jackson are real life brothers who have been high up in the business for quite a while now. With all the talk lately about The Bullet Club and its partial absorption by the WWE, it’s cool to look at these guys too. These guys have become synonymous with the word independent in the past few years. They have thrived on the independent scene and worked for what seems like every small company in the country. They briefly worked in TNA as Generation Me but wisely got out while the getting was good. They are also regular special guests with ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling but neither are lucky enough to make it exclusive. As I insinuated earlier, these two are still members of the Bullet Club which had to expand to make up for the loss of AJ Styles, Prince Devitt, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Before AJ left, he used to do trios matches alongside the Bucks and it is clear they were on his level. Their work is incredibly smooth and they transition from move to move very quickly and they do the right moves at the right time. A lot of tag teams that engage in a lot of high spots pause a lot and look like they are just going down a list of moves they want to do. The Bucks are great about building the excitement of the match and playing to the crowd. They are like a faster, better version of the Hardys who did not go insane.

“The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay

The world of pro-wrestling recently exploded due to the online release of a New Japan Pro Wrestling match between Ricochet and Will Ospreay. I have not gotten to see that match as of the time of this writing but I have seen highlights. Some say it is amazing and others say it is destroying the business but it looked like a professional Lucha/Indy/Japanese hybrid match that had a lot of heart and athleticism. I decided to look into Will Ospreay because I already knew Ricochet as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground. After watching a few matches, I can tell that Ospreay deserves all of the hype and praise that he’s getting. He is definitely an amazing high flyer but I can see that he also has a technical side to him as well and I bet he can brawl if he wanted to. He is extremely athletic and is able to adapt to different styles. If you watch Ospreay/Richochet they are working a very light Lucha-esque style but if you watch the video above there is more weight to everything. England has a more hard hitting style with a history of both technical skill and causing pain. He (and many in the new generation) have been accused of just being spot monkeys but I can see good selling and plenty of psychology. His matches build and come to an explosive end and bring you on the emotional journey that they are supposed to. I can see where the criticism comes from but I do not agree with it. Ospreay is a hard worker and knows what he is doing and can only get better as his career continues.

So that’s it for this time around. I will have more next time when I have time to do this again. I enjoy watching stuff I am unfamiliar with to get an idea of what is out there. Sometimes the independent wrestlers get hired by the bigger companies and it is great to “know them when”. Time for me to go watch Ultima Lucha Dos!

But wait! BONUS MATCH!!! Because it includes two out of three entries here and I loved the match.

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