Posts Tagged ‘WILPW’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: AEW Dynamite and Rampage 5/3/23

May 8, 2023

I went on May 3rd to the CFG Arena in my hometown of Maryland to finally see a live All Elite Wrestling show (almost 4 years after the first Dynamite in Washington DC). This would be my fourth overall live wrestling show. 

First, I have to speak to the locals. This was my first time in the Baltimore Arena since it had been renovated as it changed from the Royal Farms Arena (affectionately The Chicken Box) to the CFG Arena. The place is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly suited for a pro-wrestling show. I had previously been to the venue for WWE Extreme Rules 2017. It was good then but this was way better. The chair felt more comfortable for one. I also selected a seat further away from the pyro so I was not frightened during certain entrances. I could still feel the heat of the fire spouts, though. Getting in and out of the venue was easy and I never stood in a single line (although I never went for food or drink).

I got there at 6:30 pm as the tickets said to be there by 7. I already felt like I was cutting it close but I had plenty of time to get inside and find my seat. I had to laugh as I saw a young man trying to explain why he had a giant pair of cardboard scissors to a guard outside of the building. Pro-wrestling is wild. At around 7:20 ish we started to get some advertisements. We got a good look at the upcoming AEW video game Fight Forever. We also saw plenty of advertisements and promos explaining the relevant storylines. It is always nice to have a refresher. Then the Dapper Yapper Justin Roberts came out to hype up the crowd. He did a great job throughout the night of keeping the energy going during commercial breaks and any pauses in the programming. He also introduced two ringside cameramen from Baltimore!

We got two dark matches before official showtime which was a surprise to me. One was Skye Blue versus the relative unknown Adena Steele. I have loved Skye as the plucky underdog for quite some time. I was over the moon when the next theme I heard was the Best Friends (with Rocky Romero!) going up against Internet mainstays the Spanish Announce Project. There was plenty of good comedy and athleticism. I have loved The Best Friends for a good long time and I was hyped to see a surprise appearance from them.

The surprises kept coming as Tony Khan himself came out to hype up the crowd with his usual manic enthusiasm. He is such a genuine fan that it is hard not to smile when he shows up. He’s not a perfect guy but I like him.

Dynamite proper started with the entrance theme of the man I most wanted to see. The familiar strains of Jefferson Staship’s Jane played as Orange Cassidy came down to the ring accompanied by Bandido. They teamed with Roderick Strong and Adam Cole who I had seen fight each other at my very first live wrestling event. The Jericho Appreciation Society were their opponents. The match was exciting and chaotic as you would expect an eight-man tag team might be. The faces were victorious thanks to the efforts of all involved.

After some banger promos, we moved on to Saraya vs. Willow Nightengale. I have been a fan of Saraya since her days on NXT and ditto for her teammates Ruby Soho and Toni Storm. I have been a big Willow Nightengale fan since I first saw her in Major League Wrestling last year. She is really going places. Her energy is unstoppable. After the match, I was shocked by the return of Hikaru Shida and I totally bought the fake swerve as Shida pretended to side with the villainous Outcasts but helped Team DMD beat them down instead. I had no idea that I would be seeing Shida who is definitely in my top 10 favorite female performers.

 After that was the biggest match of the night (by volume). Six trios teams came to the ring for an 18-man team battle royale. I got to see some of my favorites The Dark Order. The stars of the match were The Acclaimed with Daddy Ass (the reason for the aforementioned cardboard scissors). I have always loved their energy but it is something else to see it in person. This match was chaotic fun. Plenty of crowd participation and everybody got something to do. I was thrilled to get to see one of John Silver’s trademark power move combos. Seeing the Acclaimed win was awesome and Daddy Ass looks so great for his age. Actually, he looks good for any age.

Next, we got a Wardlow match which was short but with a lot of fun energy. Wardlow tends to plow through opponents and his match against Virginia native Logan Laroux. Afterward, we got to see Christian Cage appear, a name from my childhood. It was great to see him run down my city and get to boo him for it.

I never really thought I would see any part of the Bullet Club live but Juice Robinson and Jay White (!) are in AEW fresh from New Japan. They were up against the homegrown AEW talent of “Absolute” Ricky Starks who is oozing with charisma. Everything he did had so much oomph to it. It is clear that if he is given the ball, he is going to go far. He is still pretty young but he shows so much talent already.

The main event of Dynamite was next with the Four Pillars Tag Team match. MJF is a master of his craft at a young age and it is clear that he is already a huge star. He had two really great promos throughout the night and he is such a ridiculous chickenshit heel who also happens to be good in the ring. There were some great promos from Darby Allin and Jungle Boy. Guevara also had some really funny moments too. The match lived up to the hype with both drama and comedy. The four men beat the hell out of each other. MJF’s mind games finally backfired when he lost control of the situation and lost the match. I am so excited to see the four-way match at Double or Nothing.

However, the night was not over. We rolled right into filming some matches for last Friday’s Rampage. I was really glad that we started out with a trios match featuring The Lucha Bros and El Hijo del Vikingo. All three were in the earlier battle royale but I got to see more of them in this match. I have been a fan of the brothers since their days in Lucha Underground and I am not as familiar with Vikingo but I have loved what I have seen so far. They were up against QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, and Powerhouse Hobbs. It was a fun match that really showcased Vikingo. He is amazing.

We got a short match between Jade Cargill and Baltimore native Gia Scott. Gia was great but Jade still bulldozed right over her to make her record 49 – 0. No shame there, Gia. I was kind of glad that this one was short as I was starting to get sleepy and hungry.

Finally, we got a match from Sandy Forks, Delaware’s Mark Briscoe. He may be from Delaware but he was a mainstay of Ring of Honor while it was based in Baltimore, Maryland. It meant that we were ending the night with a hometown favorite. It was also emotional seeing Mark wrestle without his brother. He was up against Preston Vance who is a legit monster but nothing could stop the heart of a Briscoe. Chicken fought long and hard and he was able to finish the match with his brother’s Jay Driller finisher. On a personal note, this match ended with the same move that ended the first main event I ever saw live almost ten years ago. It was an emotional moment.

There was a lot to love at the show and, as always, it was fun being among fans. Everybody was having a good time and the energy was so infectious. I was tired at the end of things but satisfied. There were a few people I wanted to see wrestle that I did not see but I can only hope to see them next time. Chief among them are “Hangman” Adam Page, Danhausen, Sting, Maki Itoh, Kris Statlander, and The Young Bucks (with Brandon Cutler). Still, I can’t complain. It was a great night.


Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Dem Boys The Briscoe Brothers

January 23, 2023

When I was a teenager, my mother told me stories about being in school and clinging to the Lynyrd Skynyrd song Gimme Three Steps as a mantra of sorts. Because of her, I was introduced to the band and I have always loved their sound. In fact, the very first live concert I ever went to was Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Maryland State Fair. I had a great time. After the concert, my mom bought me a t-shirt and I was excited. It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized the implications of the t-shirt having a confederate flag on it. Although I love the band, I struggled for a long time with that symbol of hate and oppression. The band has since clearly denounced and abandoned the Confederate battle flag as part of their aesthetic. This makes sense in this day and age. They also claim that they took up the flag for marketing purposes originally and not because they believed in it.

When I started watching Ring of Honor, I had the same experience with The Briscoes. The two brothers also incorporated the confederate battle flag as part of their aesthetic as shorthand for southern culture and heritage. Still, the true meaning of that flag haunted me. The brothers are from Sandy Fork, Delaware which was not a confederate state but is still close to Virginia and my home state of Maryland which have confederate pasts. As far as I have found, the Briscoes have never publicly uttered anything close to racist and worked with many wrestlers of color without taking liberties. Jay Briscoe had one homophobic tweet over a decade ago which he has since apologized profusely for. The Briscoes claim that they love everybody. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Also, Jay Briscoe died in a horrific car crash very recently and I feel that makes it easier to let go of the issue. 

As I said, I first became aware of The Briscoe Brothers through Ring of Honor, a wrestling company originally based out of my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. This was back in the early 2010s when Ring of Honor had a television deal with Sinclair Broadcasting but was still a pretty small promotion. In 2012 and 2013, I watched it every week. The talent was off the charts and many of them are now part of the WWE or AEW. However, I loved the SCUM storyline. Kevin Steen, Steve Corino, and Jimmy Jacobs had formed an evil faction to feud with the rest of the company. I am a sucker for big bad factions that everybody has to work against. One of the first major victories that spelled the end of SCUM was Jay Briscoe winning the Heavyweight title off of Kevin Steen. 

For the Best in the World pay-per-view in 2013, Jay’s brother Mark challenged him for the title. It got a little personal between the brothers. The preshow of the pay-per-view (which I watched in the DuBurns Arena) was an episode of ROH Television that toured the Briscoe family chicken farm in Sandy Forks. (Their real last name was Pugh) It really illustrated who they were as legit country boys with a lot of passion and humor. They reminded me of the Hogwallop family from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Their style was dynamic and hard-hitting and the two brothers had boatloads of chemistry with each other. Jay was the more serious one while Mark was the silly one but when it came down to it, they were both sharks. Watching them fight each other in the main event was a masterclass in knowing your opponent. Having brothers of my own, I sympathized with both of them as sometimes brothers have to fight.

The brothers were primarily a tag team together but did not always work together. After the events with SCUM, Jay became deadly serious about getting the title back (lost after an injury) and started carrying around his own belt as the Real Heavyweight Champion. Meanwhile, Mark continued to embrace the goofy side of pro wrestling as the master of Redneck Kung Fu. The Briscoes stuck with Ring of Honor for 21 years, only taking a break when Mark was injured in a motorcycle accident and Jay did not want to continue wrestling without his brother. They remained with Ring of Honor until its closure and then came back when it was purchased by Tony Kahn.

Khan wanted to include the Briscoes on television for All Elite Wrestling and Ring of Honor. The problem was that Warner Brothers owned both TNT and TBS and considered the Briscoes to be a liability. Their rough and rowdy past troubled the executives in a similar manner to how they had troubled me. Of course, I worried because I earnestly believe in human rights and equality while the executives primarily care about profits. Still, I did not think it was completely fair as I believed the boys had repented and redeemed themselves. I also hoped that putting them on television would finally give the Briscoes an excuse to abandon the confederate flag. They didn’t need that flag but they still had it. 

Unfortunately, as I said earlier, Jay Briscoe died in a car accident earlier this month which means that he will never appear on television again. Thankfully, we are left with plenty of archived footage on YouTube and the Ring of Honor subscription service. I will probably be catching up on a lot that I missed while I agonized over their use of the flag. If Mark continues to wrestle, I hope that he considers dropping that element. I would understand if he hung up his boots. He and Jay had a legendary career without being in a major company and that legacy will continue.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Strange Tale of Bray Wyatt Pt. 2

August 15, 2022

Possessed By Sister Abigail

Braun Strowman broke free of the cult and Rowan was banished after too many failures. Bray Wyatt found a new member in The Viper Randy Orton. The devious Orton pledged himself to the Wyatt Family leading to success. However, at the first opportunity, Orton betrayed Wyatt after eliminating Luke Harper. Orton went to the Wyatt compound and he burned it down, making special care to violate the grave of Sister Abigail. Sister Abigail had been the source of Wyatt’s power. He went to the compound and smeared its ashes on his body. It was revealed that Sister Abigail was a demon and Wyatt took her completely into his body, becoming possessed. He faced Orton in an otherworldly “House of Horrors” and defeated the snake. Wyatt remained in an unstable state with Sister Abigail within him.

The Wyatt/Abigail amalgam soon picked a fight with the heroic Finn Balor. The feud with the dangerous and violent new Bray Wyatt forced Finn to fight fire with fire. Finn drew on his own demon persona, a choice he was always reluctant to make,  to fight Wyatt. The Demon handily beat Wyatt leaving Wyatt fanatical and bitter. He kept saying that Balor could not possibly beat him without The Demon, playing on Balor’s personal pride. Balor responded that he was an ordinary man who could do extraordinary things and faced Wyatt again without The Demon. Balor was able to defeat Wyatt by himself, sending Wyatt further into his spiral. 


Bray Wyatt next clashed with Matt Hardy with Wyatt having the upper hand early on in their feud. Wyatt’s defeat of Hardy was so brutal that it re-awakened a version of the Broken Matt personality now known as “Woken” Matt Hardy. Hardy himself was knowledgeable about the supernatural as he was possessed by the soul called ZENITH which had existed since 7 A.D. only recently making Hardy its host, giving him “broken brilliance”. That connection helped Hardy beat Wyatt in a Final Deletion match, meant to eliminate whoever lost. Hardy won and then pushed Wyatt into the Lake of Reincarnation on the Hardy compound. Wyatt vanished.

Wyatt surprisingly returned to assist Matt Hardy instead of harming him. Wyatt’s reincarnation had purged the succubus Sister Abigail from him and left him clean and good for the first time in a long time. At that point, ZENITH and Hardy helped rehabilitate Bray Wyatt who welcomed the ancient spirit of Samael within him. Now a good guy, Bray formed a successful team with Hardy known as the Deleter of Worlds. They won the tag team titles together and everything was great until Broken Matt quietly disappeared.

The Firefly Fun House and the Fiend

Something was very wrong with Bray Wyatt. He had vanished for quite some time when troubling vignettes started to appear on television. Bray reappeared in a red sweater in segments of what could only be described as his version of a children’s show. He was accompanied by several puppet characters a la Pee Wee’s Playhouse or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He was constantly smiling and unceasingly positive as he talked about rediscovering himself. It would have all been very pleasant except that there was a dark edge underneath it all. Nobody knew what to think of these strange interruptions  Bray seemed unstable and it became increasingly obvious that the puppet characters were pieces of his past, his very soul. Mercy the Buzzard, Ramblin’ Rabbit, Abby the Witch, and Huskus the Pig were all his past that was still a part of them.

The “good” news according to Bray was that he had found a way to focus his darkness in order to protect his happy new world. This so-called focus seemed to result in a sharp division of Wyatt’s character. Bray Wyatt, the host of the Firefly Fun House, could be happy, weird, and teach kids lessons. His other side, The Fiend soon emerged and it did not seem to be a protector. The Fiend seemed to be a predator, single-mindedly brutalizing whoever it could get its hands on. The grotesque monster seemed set on the domination of the WWE just like the prior incarnations of Bray Wyatt. This time he was unstoppable and he implored the WWE fans to “Let Him In”.

Eventually, the loveable and playful Bray Wyatt also started to wrestle. He did not want to dominate, he was always trying to “help”. The biggest example of this is his match with John Cena at Wrestlemania. The two of them had clashed before but Cena was not prepared for the new Bray Wyatt. The Fiend was something Cena could understand. Cena never backed down from a fight and had slain more than his share of monsters. However, this time Wyatt attacked John’s mind and soul, pulling him into the extradimensional Firefly Fun House and walking through Cena’s psyche blended with his own. The attack and victory were existential and it took quite some time for Cena to recover.

Passing on The Madness

Wyatt then moved on to feud with Braun Strownman, a monster of a man who had once been his follower. Wyatt attempted to get into Strowman’s head, calling the past back up to show their connection and Wyatt’s superiority. He did not pull him into the Fun House but it was very similar. Strowman had grown as a monster among men and he shook off Wyatt’s influence.   When that plan did not work, Wyatt even summoned his Eater of Worlds persona from the past to fight Strowman in a swamp. It was time to unleash The Fiend. The monster attacked Alexa Bliss, somebody Strowman had befriended and shown affection for. The Fiend kept involving Bliss, forcing Strowman to step in. Braun and The Fiend fought tooth and nail with The Fiend winning Strowman’s championship belt.

Following this, The Fiend whisked Alexa Bliss away and she began to take on a more insane appearance and demeanor. She began to appear on the Firefly Fun House alongside Bray, fully part of his world. She also took on elements of The Fiend but her power source seemed to be a mysterious doll named Lilly.

The Fiend and Bray Wyatt reignited their feud with Randy Orton which quickly became extremely violent. Eventually, the two faced each other and Orton set The Fiend on fire, banishing The Fiend. Alexa Bliss haunted Orton in the meantime until a charred version of The Fiend returned to protect her from Orton. However, it was a trap. Alexa used her powers to weaken The Fiend so Orton could finish him off. Bray Wyatt appeared one more time to say how excited he was for a fresh start and then he never showed up again.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Strange Tale of Bray Wyatt Pt. 1

August 1, 2022

This is a kayfabe rundown of the character known as Bray Wyatt. Wyatt was portrayed by
Windham Rotunda, son of Mike Rotunda, brother of Bo Dallas, grandson of Blackjack Mulligan, nephew of Kendall and Barry Windham. He is a third-generation pro-wrestler who seems to approach it as much as performance art as an athletic spectacle. His greatest creation to date is the ever-evolving Bray Wyatt, a project that seems to be over as he has left WWE at least for the time being. Sometimes polarizing, Windham never failed to create a reaction. If Bray Wyatt rises again, at least I will have gotten some of the lore down.

The Backwoods Cult Leader

Bray Wyatt first appeared on WWE’s training ground Florida Championship Wrestling. He appeared in what would become his signature style of a fedora hat, Hawaiian shirt, and scruffy beard. On paper, he sounds like a beach bum but Wyatt always had a sinister feel to him. From the very start, Bray Wyatt had the same feel to him as the character of Max Cady from the 1991 version of Cape Fear. Wyatt was menacing but charismatic, not somebody to be taken lightly even though he did not have as impressive of a physique as traditional wrestlers. He is deceptively fast and opportunistic in the ring.

After FCW was rebranded as NXT, Bray Wyatt became more powerful even as he was injured and prevented from wrestling for a time. He recruited two men who he referred to as his first and second sons. They were Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and the trio was known as The Wyatt Family in the styling of The Manson Family. Wyatt’s sons were undyingly loyal to him. They seemed to be unhinged with not a lot going on upstairs besides whatever Wyatt willed them to do. The Wyatt family became a dominant force with Wyatt as the crown jewel of this filthy, dangerous cult. 

The trio debuted in vignettes on Monday Night Raw that introduced the wider world to Wyatt’s message.

Eater of Worlds

When the Wyatt Family made their actual debut on Raw, it became clear that Bray Wyatt was more than just some backwoods cult leader. His words became increasingly more violent and cryptic, like an evil Jim Morrison. He began to refer to himself as the Eater of Worlds, a sort of proclamation that felt like he was the face of a new cosmic horror. He would often have one of his sons carry a rocking chair to the ring for him so that he could sit and watch them destroy their enemies. He would delight in the mayhem and then swoop in to provide the finishing blow before reveling in the violence. At this point, it did not seem to matter if Wyatt and his family won or lost matches. Rather than lose, they would often get disqualified and brutalize their victims anyway. His victory seemed inevitable and he was having fun getting there. He also kept mentioning Sister Abigail (it was also the name of his finishing move) which was a mystery. If opponents wanted to find him, Wyatt said that they could “Follow the Buzzards”. We all know what attracts buzzards and vultures.

Their first feud was with Kane. The Family debuted with an attack on Kane. They continued to attack wrestlers at random all while imploring Kane to come and find them. Kane reemerged and the trio obliterated the usually dominant demon and made him look helpless. They even defeated him in a ring of fire match. After defeating him, they beat Kane down, and kidnapped him, leading to his disappearance for a time. They next went after the happy-go-lucky Kofi Kingston who they also destroyed. 

It was here that The Wyatt Family received their first resistance in the face of the united front of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. The two were recognized as some of the greatest skilled wrestlers ever with Byan claiming to be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and CM Punk claiming to be the Best in the World. Unfortunately for Bryan, CM Punk became distracted by his own problems with the WWE Authority and left the company. The Wyatt Family preyed on Bryan and beat him down until he agreed to join them. The four members continued their reign of terror but eventually, Bryan had enough of being picked on by Harper and Rowan and broke free of Wyatt’s programming.

Soon after this, the Wyatt Family briefly clashed with the Authority’s The Shield by disrupting the Authority’s designs against Bryan, John Cena, and Sheamus. This showed that the Family was villainous but not aligned with the totalitarian leaders of the company. In fact, they ended up helping Daniel Bryan but that was an incidental side effect of their true mission.

The Whole World In His Hands

The Wyatt Family had targetted John Cena. He was the wholesome, G-Rated face of the company. Super Cena always overcame the odds and lived by the phrases “Hustle Loyalty Respect”, “Never Give Up”, and “Rise Above Hate”. He was the perfect target for the Wyatt Family. By this time, the WWE fans were solidly divided between those who loved Cena and those who hated him. Wyatt wanted Cena to finally unleash his inner darkness and constantly tried to goad him into giving in to being a monster. When that did not work, Wyatt went after one of Cena’s few weak points. He went after the hearts and minds of the kids. The fans were divided but the kids always loved Cena and Cena took that to heart. For example, John Cena has consistently broken records at the Make A Wish Foundation. Wyatt caused people to cheer for him and to sing for him. A real battle for the hearts and minds of the WWE fans. He seemed to have a hypnotic power over his growing cult. Members of the cult signified their support by raising their cell phone flashlights in the darkness, referred to as “fireflies”.

The New Face of Fear

Wyatt announced that he had let his sons, Harper and Rowan go. He claimed to have fixed them and they were now free to roam. This allowed Wyatt to focus more on fixing others like he did Rowan and Harper. His efforts were not successful but he left his mark on everybody he feuded with. At this point, he also began to taunt the Undertaker leading up to a casket match at Wrestlemania. After a hellish battle, Undertaker prevailed and Wyatt faded away for the moment.

It was not long before Wyatt returned but he did not return alone. Harper and Rowan returned to the Family, having had their own feuds and adventures. The Family was also joined by Braun Strowman which gave the Wyatt Family even more muscle.

His next big feud was with the legendary Brothers of Destruction. The Wyatt Family targeted the demon Kane first, with Wyatt claiming that he was far more powerful than Hell’s Favorite Demon. The Wyatt Family defeated Kane, beat him down, and then carried him off to parts unknown. Kane disappeared which brought out Kane’s brother, The Undertaker. Unlike so many others, Wyatt was not afraid of The Deadman. He was happy to pit his forces against the supernatural dangers of the famous zombie sorcerer. Kane reemerged and the Wyatt Family faced The Brothers of Destruction. When the Wyatt Family defeated Kane and the Undertaker, Wyatt demonstrated that he had stolen their powers. He had Kane’s power of fire generation and Undertaker’s control over thunder and lightning. 

Bray Wyatt and his Family continued to feud with other groups. This included facing off with The New Day. It was the power of positivity coming into conflict with the sinister Wyatt Family. The two factions were opposites of each other but neither side was willing to back down. It culminated in a horror movie of a match at the Wyatt compound.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Jerks

May 30, 2022

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“Hot Mess” Chelsea Green

Chelsea Green has played a hero before but I feel that she is at her best when she is an unbalanced and arrogant hot mess of a human being. Green excels at playing a character who is obsessed with both victory and love. She is unpredictable but often gets caught up in her own head which causes her downfall. I first became aware of Green when she left WWE last year and returned to Impact Wrestling. However, I realized that I had seen her before at the legendary All In pay per view. I was intrigued and I have gone back and watched a lot of her matches which led to making the above video. She recently married fellow wrestler Matt Cardona and is currently part of the Cardona Family’s reign of terror on NWA television. She is currently feuding with Mickie James after pretending to be Mickie’s friend. It was all a ploy to take Mickie’s belt and Mickie’s husband’s (Nick Aldis) belt. 

Maxwell Jacob Friedman aka MJF

As I write this, there is a lot going on with Max who is in the midst of contract negotiations with All Elite Wrestling. He no-showed a fan event but did show up for his advertised match yesterday. This is not about Max in real life, this is about the character. I first became aware of MJF when watching him in Major League Wrestling on YouTube. He was the leader of a faction called The Dynasty which was really just him and his rich friends (Richard Holliday and Alex Hammerstone). The group lorded their wealth over everyone and hid behind their lawyer (Holliday’s father). It was during this time that he came up with his signatures. He wore a Burberry scarf to the ring, he gave a knowing smirk, and he had the catchphrase “I’m better than you and you know it”. He moved to AEW and ramped up the character who has been a weasel from day one all while claiming to be “salt of the earth”. The biggest thing is that he is actually a good wrestler but he still stacks the deck against his opponents.

Britt Baker DMD

When All Elite Wrestling started (which basically happened at the All In pay per view), they needed somebody to build the women’s division around. They had plenty of talent but they needed a villain who could really rile up the fans. They decided on relative unknown Britt Baker who had some miles in the independent scene but had yet to really get her moment in the national spotlight. Like a lot of good wrestling gimmicks, they grabbed on to parts of her real life story. Baker legitimately works as a dentist. She performs in the ring and then flies back to operate her practice. In the ring, she is a legit badass and has been through many bloody matches proving her prowess and skill. However, as she stood in the spotlight, she became far too enamored with herself and arrogant. She recruited Rebel (who she keeps calling Reba) and Jamie Hayter as minions to keep challengers away from her. She is haughty and a little delusional in a comic sort of way.

Emi Sakura

Emi Sakura came to my attention through the excellent YouTube shows for All Elite Wrestling. However, I wish I had known of her long before because she is great. She has had a career for nearly thirty years but mostly in Japan. The bulk of her career has been spent in Japanese Joshi wrestling which is a particular style of women’s wrestling. Her long career has served her well as she has been honed into a finely tuned villainous wrestler. I mean, for starters, she comes to the ring in a crown and a cape often with an assistant (Lulu Pencil) who she constantly abuses. She acts like a stereotypical anime villain complete with the laugh, the comic fear reactions, and grandiose gestures. She is also yet another example of a villain who can back it up. Her strength and control continue to amaze me. Her double underhook backbreaker in particular is breathtaking. 

nZo FKA Enzo Amore

Now this one is controversial. Eric Arndt was accused of sexual assault. He was fired from his WWE job and kicked to the curb. However, the case was later dismissed for lack of evidence. Now, if Arndt did it then I would never defend him and I am not defending him here. Again, this is about his character. As Enzo Amore, he played a goofball villain (later turned hero) playing up the image of an Italian party boy turned wrestler. He certainly had the gift of gab as he constantly came up with lines that were both original and memorable. After his firing, he eventually reappeared in Major League Wrestling (who did their research, I’m sure). He seems to have lost a bit of that goofy nature and replaced it with real-life bitterness over his fall from grace. Now he still knows how to talk but he is also vicious in and out of the ring.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: “Hangman” Adam Page Pt. 3

January 31, 2022

Kenny Omega had defeated Jon Moxley for the title at the Winter is Coming on December 20, 2020. The two had had a long and storied rivalry in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling. Their bloody rivalry had included Mox brutalizing Kenny Omega, causing damage to his confidence and ego. He needed a win and the two had a long and violent match. It ended with Kenny Omega winning with the help of his longtime friend and fellow Canadian Don Callis. Callis and Omega tried to frame the win as an accident at first but it was clear that they had conspired to cheat together so Kenny could be crowned AEW Heavyweight Champion. Callis took over The Elite as their manager s “the invisible hand” who had guided Kenny’s career from the start.

Omega became corrupt under the guidance of Callis and the Elite grew, bringing in old friends Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Callis spread through the group like a sickness, making them overconfident and more prone to cheating to win. They faced down anybody remotely good in AEW and remained victorious. Still, they had become a shadow of the dominant faction they had once been. They were the Patriots, hated in tainted victory. They feuded with Mox, the Death Triangle, and Eddie Kingston in some chaotic matches. Omega and Callis started to claim that nobody could beat them.

The Dark Order had become true friends and supporters to “Hangman” Adam Page. Their spokesman, Evil Uno, started to make public challenges. He would say that their friend Page could beat Omega and that the Dark Order would equalize the Elite’s numbers advantage. They were interested in a fair fight for their friend. Hangman would berate his friends telling them that they should not make challenges on his behalf. He was pursuing the Heavyweight Title but anybody could see that he was worthy if he just believed in himself as much as The Dark Order believed in him. Finally, they convinced Hangman to make the challenge himself.

After negotiation with Callis, it was decided that Hangman and the Dark Order would face Omega and The Elite in a five-on-five tag match. If Hangman’s team won, Hangman would get to challenge Omega for the title and Evil Uno and Stu Grayson would challenge The Young Bucks for the tag titles. If they lost, Hangman would be placed at the bottom of the rankings and would have to fight his way back up the ladder again. Hangman and the Dark Order made an entrance and fought a match befitting their heart and fortitude. However, the Elite cheated again and Hangman fell short again. Cheating or no, the opportunity he had fought so hard to believe in had slipped through his fingers.

Hangman told the Dark Order that he wanted to be alone again for a while to think. He did not blame them for the loss but he needed to collect himself. Members of The Dark Order reacted differently to this statement. Eventually, those differences caused a rift and eventual Dark Order civil war as the group’s frustrations boiled over. During this time, a lot of The Dark Order saw a lot of growth in their characters. The strife between factions continued until the anniversary of their leader Brodie’s death. At that point, Brodie’s widow and his oldest son convinced the group to get over their differences and reunite as friends.

Meanwhile, Hangman had disappeared and it was known that he had taken time off to reflect but also for the birth of his first child. He took a good long paternity leave instead of playing into The Elite’s plan of making him fight back through the undercard. His family was more important. However, somebody else decided to believe in “Hangman” Adam Page and this time it was All Elite Wrestling. They awarded him the final spot in a ladder match for an opportunity at the AEW Heavyweight Championship battle. The Hangman that returned was full of love not only for his friends and family but also for himself. He finally fully believed in himself.

Hangman started a campaign of revenge against his old friends in The Elite with the help of his new friends in The Dark Order. During a Halloween episode, the Dark Order pulled off an Ocean’s 11-esque trick which allowed Hangman to sneak attack The Elite, gaining momentum for his upcoming title fight. AEW Full Gear pay per view was the date. This was the perfect event for this match to happen for two reasons. It was the one-year anniversary of the last Full Gear which was the last time that Omega and Page had wrestled one on one where Omega had won. The name of the pay per view was also born from a joke that Hangman had originated on YouTube.

The championship match was not easy. Both competitors and their allies had brought everything they had to the battle but in the end, it was one on one. Page poured all of his heart into the match and refused to lay down for his old friend, Omega. They traded so many blows with Callis trying to cheat at every turn. Page had an answer for everything and he was doing it without The Dark Order. At the end of a long and brutal match, Page had Omega dead to rights with his signature Buckshot Lariat. The Young Bucks jumped up on the apron to interfere but they looked into their old friend’s eyes and decided to let him have it. This left Hangman to call The Dark Order to the ring to celebrate. A feel-good ending to an almost three-year storyline.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: “Hangman” Adam Page

December 6, 2021

When All Elite Wrestling started, a curious duo showed up at the very first payperview. They were Evil Uno and Stu Grayson and they claimed to be from The Dark Order. The two traveled with a gaggle of masked men known as The Creepers. They overwhelmed people with numbers with a vaguely goth luchador vibe. They acted like supervillains and established themselves as a major force right away. However, a group of losses caused them to fade into the background a bit. It was at this point that they started to act more like a cult. They put out commercials telling people that if they felt powerless or lost that they would be welcomed into The Dark Order. They quickly snapped up newcomers John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan Angels, and Preston Vance. They were reborn as 3, 4, 5, and 10 respectively and the Dark Order was to be feared again.

Around this time, the Dark Order started crowing about the coming of their Exalted One, their leader. They hinted for so long that their opponents were not sure if anybody was actually coming. Finally, Brodie Lee arrived and immediately devastated Cody Rhodes, a longtime member of the Elite and a fan favorite. He took the TNT Title from Cody and started to recruit again. He made entreaties to Anna Jay who was frustrated by a losing streak and The Dark Order gained its first female member (99). He sought out happy-go-lucky Colt Cabana and convinced him to join (8). The Dark Order was now nine-strong and cohesive. It was at this point that Brodie Lee turned his gaze to Adam Page.

When we last left Page, he was feeling lost and disconnected from his friends and therefore his own life. He had failed to win a singles title and he was on the outs with the one guy he won tag titles with. In fact, the Dark Order had tried to court Adam Page since almost the beginning. They let their intentions of recruiting him known in the first months of the company but it just never clicked. Either things were going well enough for Page to turn them down or they just did not connect somehow. However, Mr. Brodie Lee focused on Page, seeing him as a powerful ally that could be shaped to make the Dark Order even stronger. He poured on the charm and the force of his will on Hangman even while he was still tagging with Kenny.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to the Dark Order and FTR, Page and Kenny had their falling out and Page was finally completely severed from The Elite. FTR abandoned him as a drinking buddy now that they had won the tag titles off of him and Kenny. Kenny had then defeated him to become the number one contender for the Heavyweight Title. Meanwhile, the Dark Order had suffered some setbacks of their own. The Day after Christmas in 2020, Brodie Lee (real name Jon Huber) died in real life from a lung disorder caused by being suddenly immunocompromised. In the real world and in storyline, the Dark Order was devastated and struggled to rally in Brodie’s name. They returned to their efforts to recruit Page but this time, it came from a place of love and friendship. The cult was broken and they were now just a group of misfits and friends. Their unofficial and symbolic leader was Brodie’s eldest son who went by Negative 1.

Whenever Page was outnumbered and needed a hand, the Dark Order was there to defend him. He turned every offer to join up down as he felt like he was not ready to join up with anybody after the pain of losing The Elite. After a painful breakup, he was tentative to open his heart again. He knew the Dark Order was hurting too but he just could not bring himself to team up again. Slowly, they started to win the cowboy over and he began to be a little more accepting of their help against the overwhelming numbers of the Hardy Family Office. It seemed that both parties had warmed to each other. Page could not help but be charmed by the loveable antics of the former cult members and the Order was earnest about accepting another lost soul into their ranks. The friendship was pure and the Hangman became an associate but not a member of The Dark Order.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: “Hangman” Adam Page

November 22, 2021

All Elite Wrestling was born because Tony Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner and owner of TruMedia, took an interest in a stable of wrestlers known as The Elite. The Elite (at the time) was made up of Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, and Adam Page. The five had become great friends through banding together in several different pro-wrestling organizations. They put on the biggest independent professional wrestling show the world had ever seen when they organized and put on All In in 2018. Over 11,000 people were in attendance and many more were watching at home. This is what brought in Khan and his money and these friends were suddenly part of a company of their own.

The Announcement

Kenny, the Jacksons, and Cody all decided to take executive positions in this new company. They all became Executive Vice-Presidents so that they would always have a hand in the creative direction of a company based on their hard work and the hard work of their friends and allies. Adam Page was the only one of the five who did not take an executive position. See, Page was known as “Hangman” Adam Page, a simple cowboy from Virginia. He wanted to prove himself. He had not won many championships in his career while his friends had each won dozens. The Jacksons are known as The Young Bucks and had won tag titles all over the world. Cody Rhodes is the son of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes and has won tons of tag belts and singles championships. Kenny Omega is a phenomenon in Japan and has won so many championships. Hangman had not yet built his legacy.

Championship Against Chris Jericho

So it was that he entered the Casino Battle Royale to determine who would face Chris Jericho (arguably the biggest star the company had at the time) in a match to be the inaugural AEW Heavyweight Champion. It was his chance to finally elevate himself to the level of his friends. He lasted until the end of the battle royale and he would face Jericho at the next pay per view, All Out. Unfortunately, as hard as Hangman tried, Jericho had his number at every turn and beat him for the title. Worst of all, it was a clean loss since Jericho had not cheated and pinned Hangman right in the middle of the ring. It shook Hangman’s confidence.

Hangman floated around for a bit, getting into a feud with “The Bastard” PAC while trying to support his friends in The Elite. Eventually, Hangman started to team with his friend Kenny Omega and the two actually won the AEW Tag Titles. This caused some friction because the Young Bucks were the established tag team in The Elite. The Bucks wanted those belts but Kenny and Hangman were hesitant to face their friends. The Bucks eventually won the right to face Hangman and Kenny. The lead up to the match and the match itself was not exactly friendly as the two teams both really wanted to win. After a brutal battle, Hangman and Kenny stood tall and the Young Bucks could not call themselves “the best tag team in the world” anymore. There was definitely tension within The Elite.

It was during this time that the pandemic truly hit and The Elite got into a big feud with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle. The Elite expressed doubts that they could count on their old friend Hangman to back them up. Hangman seemed somewhat undecided after all of the bad blood between him and his friends. He had also taken to drinking more on air. He was not a sloppy drunk but he seemed a tinge sad with a whiskey glass in his hand all the time. Still, when the time came Page literally rode to the rescue in the Stadium Stampede match on his horse to save his friends.

Hangman then did serious damage to their friendship when he cost the Young Bucks a match which would have made them first contenders to the tag team belts. Page swore up and down that his interference was an accident but it was clear that he was worried about facing his friends and possibly losing his friendship and his first major championship belt. Their previous match had been very competitive and Page was obviously not looking forward to facing them again. For this, the Young Bucks expelled Hangman from The Elite even though Hangman was still teaming with their friend Kenny.

First contenders FTR sought to divide Hangman and Kenny further and they did it through alcohol. Page was a drinker but Kenny and the Bucks were straightedge. FTR started acting as Hangman’s drinking buddies, dividing Hangman’s loyalties somewhat and encouraging Page in his drinking. This inevitably led to FTR winning the belts by defeating Hangman and Kenny, causing all of the bad blood between the two to become even worse.

Hangman started making appearances at the commentary table where he assured everyone that he and Kenny were fine and would win back the belts very soon. However, without talking to Hangman, Kenny had entered into a tournament for a match for the Heavyweight Title and kept brushing off Hangman’s attempts to schedule a rematch for their belts. Hangman obviously dropped into a depression on screen and seemed to be more into drinking than wrestling. Still, he entered the same tournament as Kenny and the two faced off against each other in the tournament finals at Full Gear where Kenny defeated him. Hangman started to spiral even more.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Love That Danhausen

September 13, 2021

Since I have been getting back into the world of pro-wrestling, I have been once again scouring YouTube for my beloved weirdos. I love good technical skill but I am a sucker for a strange gimmick. These are the performers who are often polarizing like Orange Cassidy, Abadon, Alexa Bliss, and more. One of the names that has gained a cult following online is Danhausen and for good reason. The performer (named Donovan Danhausen) has created a compelling little weirdo and the gimmick is really going places.

Not much is known about Danhausen because he is shrouded in mystery and his answers in interviews are either evasive or made up on the spot. What we do know is that he comes to the ring with his face painted like a death metal musician, spooky leather pants, and extensive tattoos. He does not have the best physique but he is definitely pretty fit. He comes off as nerdy and awkward through his movements but is definitely capable of technical wrestling. Like other comedy wrestlers, if he was not good at wrestling, he would not be as popular. People buy into the weirdness but at the end of the day, he gets things done.

Danhausen speaks in the third person and often adds ‘hausen’ at the end of words in his sentences. He speaks with an odd, high-pitched voice that his performer describes as “a mix between Conan O’Brien and Mark Hammill’s Joker”. Danhausen is entirely focused on wrestling supremacy as a means to dominate the world and get sacks of cash. Everything he does is focused on that goal. As part of that, he does not care much for other pro-wrestlers. He often gets their name wrong either through apathy or as a psychological tactic. Either way, it definitely throws people off of their game. The only wrestlers that he manages to befriend are ones that he feels will get him closer to his goals.

For example, he has recently teamed up with the French-Canadian Frankenstein PCO. The two work well together. PCO is not the brightest barbarian but he can take a lot of damage and deal just as much to opponents. Danhausen is more wily and quick and the combination is really starting to turn some heads in the Ring of Honor tag division. Teaming these two popular misfits together seems odd at first but makes a lot of sense. PCO is not much of a talker, Danhausen cannot stop talking even during matches. Danhausen sees himself as an evil mastermind and PCO does not care as long as he gets to hurt people.

Let’s run through some other parts of Danhausen’s gimmick.


Danhausen hates it when anybody on camera with him swears. It is not that he objects to swear words but he objects to what swear words do. If somebody swears in a YouTube video or on Ring of Honor episodes, that segment might be censored or cut. That means less money for Danhausen. Danhausen may be very evil but he is also very practical. He recognizes that demonetization has become a big thing on YouTube and other platforms and he wants to prevent it from interfering with him receiving huge sacks of cash (which he strangely calls “human money”).


Danhausen carries a jar of human teeth to the ring. Nobody is sure where Danhausen obtains these teeth but he promises that they are ethically sourced. He has claimed that some were sent to him by actor/wrestler David Arquette. He may have stolen some from other people. The teeth understandably confuse his opponents who are not expecting people to bring teeth down to the ring. When he has his opponent down, he will often pour the teeth into their mouth and then hit them so that he has effectively knocked their teeth out.


Danhausen admires Pee Wee Herman. Herman is a great warrior in Danhausen’s eyes because he faced down a whole bar full of bikers once by performing a dance to the song Tequila by The Champs. Danhausen has adopted this warrior song for his own use. In the middle of a match, the music may start up which prompts Danhausen to dance like Pee Wee did. However, he adds in a few kicks to his opponent as he dances.

Adaptation to Weirdness

Danhausen is able to mesh with other strange wrestlers. He has fought the eternally lazy Orange Cassidy in the past. He has the aforementioned tag team with PCO. However, on the indy scene, he had two tag teams that really showed off his strangeness. The first was with WARHORSE whose name is capitalized for good reason because he is loud and forceful. The other tag team was with queer wrestler Effy who formed the tag team Gaytanic Panic with Danhausen. Danhausen adapts really well to the gimmick of whoever he is facing and alters his gimmicks to work with the match. Here are some examples:

WILPW: Another Summer of Punk

August 23, 2021

Almost seven years ago, I wrote about CM Punk. I was going through a difficult time as a fan. My emotions were still raw from Phil Brooks walking out on pro-wrestling as I wrote that blog post a mere ten months after Punk left. I had struggled because Punk had been my favorite at the time and I felt like I resonated on a similar wavelength with the guy. He was a comic book geek, a pro-wrestling geek, and just seemed to be very creative. As I wrote before, a lot of things came to light when Brooks was ready to talk about it. It was clear to me that he had suffered from burnout and physical ailments that caused his love of pro-wrestling to die. I did not realize how hard I took that.

Shortly after I last posted on the subject, I found more out from Punk’s own words. He walked out for a lot of reasons. The first and foremost reason was his health. He was suffering from broken ribs, injured knees, and multiple concussions. This was before the WWE’s current concussion protocol which is allegedly better at protecting against this. Looking back you could definitely tell a lot of this from his performance near the end of his WWE run. He looked tired and broken down at the time. He was also feeling frustrated by the way his career was going. He felt like WWE was holding him back. He was having a crisis of faith caused by all of his frustrations with creative control of his character and not being compensated for his sacrifices.

Punk and his friend Colt Cabana were sued for Punk’s statements against the WWE on Colt’s podcast. They were cleared of all liability. The lawsuit caused a falling out between the two friends. At the same time, I felt like I was struggling to find my own love of pro-wrestling again. I discovered NXT, a breath of fresh air in the WWE product. I began to search for content from other companies. In 2015, I started watching Lucha Underground and I was in love again. I began to see clips from Mexico and Japan and the indies in the United States. Slowly, my love for the product came back.

When All Elite Wrestling premiered, I was excited. I was well-studied on the independents that birthed the company. I finally gave up on watching WWE when they failed to sever ties with Saudi Arabia, sheltered sexual abusers, and kept killing the careers of performers I loved. Meanwhile, AEW had its problems (mostly Chris Jericho for me) but it was creatively fulfilling for performers. The company truly embraced the three-ring circus element of good pro-wrestling. There is something for everyone. I am a big fan of the goofy weirdos but also the amazing technical skill. As my love of the business reignites, I need to write about this company (and MLW).

On Friday, August 20, 2021, a hole in my fandom heart was repaired when CM Punk returned to pro-wrestling in the middle of an All Elite Wrestling ring. They teased it for weeks, they hyped up their audience, and I tuned in to watch live for the first time in a long while. They wasted no time and Punk came out right away. There were tears in his eyes as he looked out and smiled and my own heart swelled watching him be happy. He had found his love again. I am excited to see where it goes but that moment was worth it. Pro-wrestling is a strange business and it has its ups and downs but sometimes there are very pure moments worth getting happy over.

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