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WRITING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

By Drew Kannegiesser

Garbage.

I've never been in a fight in my life. In Grade Nine, I got the shit kicked out of me in gym class, but it didn't count because I only landed one punch. I got punched about a dozen times in return, but either had the resolve or stupidity to keep standing up. Standing up can go a long way in this world sometimes, and it can make the difference between an excellent and a shitty (read: dead) fighter. However, does it make you a good wrestler?

This seems to be the principle of most indie federations since the implosion of ECW: crazy bumps and blood equal workrate. To be fair, ECW managed to carve a niche during the Monday Night Wars, and established themselves as a viable third brand, both of which must have been next to impossible. But you have to give Heyman and Co. credit: they rode a wave doing something different, something new and something that still managed to feel "independent," even as it was broadcast on national TV. Of course, this was harder still to dig as time wore on and a slew of imitators tried to cash in as well. As a result, we got to see the "rise" of feds like XPW, CZW, and IWA-MS by selling tapes of ex-convicts beating the living shit out of each other at carnivals.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't pretend to know how to wrestle. I'm not going to decry guys like Zandig (and girls like LuFisto) for not perfecting the Quebrada, especially when I have enough trouble getting my keys while holding a coffee. It's not like Hayabusa mastered it either. But hey, he can roll with it (and everywhere he goes too). One does not need to do crazy spots to be a solid wrestler. But if a guy like Necro Butcher, who not only learned to wrestle in his transition from deathmatcher to the second coming of Bruiser Brody, but also got super over in RING OF HONOR (!), can learn to work an actual match, shouldn't anyone be able to?

The problem is that in the majority of hardcore indies, it devolves into a brutal quasi-shoot where guys get over based on how much blood they spill. Granted, sometimes guys who deserved to get over did; Nick Mondo could actually do more than a botched headlock, making him the Dean Malenko of the death match, and was able to take a fucking weedwhacker to the chest in the process. But the rest of the time, as we watch sweaty, bearded men in terrible shape stagger around and trade chairshots for ten minutes, it feels like a mix of Gladiator and Bum Fights. All the brutality, none of the class.

That said, I'll still watch indy vids here and there, to learn new faces and new techniques, and new ways to fuck people up. But having seen the Mike Levy video, I don't think I ever plan on watching deathmatching again. In sixteen hypnotic minutes, you can watch the depths that human beings will sink to in order to get paid...not like Amy Dumas head-below-waist depths, but primal-animalist-soulless depths.

In case anyone hasn't heard by now, essentially Ian Rotten booked indie jobber (the kind of guys who would go out and put over Barry Horowitz and Iron Mike Sharpe) Mike Levy for his most recent show against Mickie Knuckles. At first, having not seen Ms. Knuckles on television, I had difficulty telling which competitor she actually was, and I can freely admit I mistook Ian Rotten for her at first glance. Long story short, Levy stiffs Mickie a few times (not like Jews fucking Irishmen) and she goes fucking ballistic. I have no problem admitting that she could kick my ass any day of the week. For about ten minutes, she headbutts, cockshots, and beats the shit out of Levy with any weapon she or the fans could provide. Levy fights back and busts her open, and that seals it for him. Once the match is over, two more guys come from the back and shoot on him, leaving him covered in blood while Ian beats on him more, allows his son to join in, and berates Levy on the mike. It's definitely disturbing to watch, as a man is being beaten half to death and the audience is marking out for it. Then again, crowds gathered at crucifixions (or Undertaker-symbol hangings) as well.

What really sets this event apart from, say, Mass Transit is the sheer fucking arrogance of Ian. He berates Levy for injuring Mickie before her TV debut, which follows a weird logic: we can fuck our own roster up as much as we want, but as soon as enough people are watching at home, we have to start looking pretty. But the worst of it is his criticism of Levy for not selling properly. This raises several questions, namely:

a) how does suffering a concussion and being shot on by five people count as "no-selling?" and b) how on Earth is IAN FUCKING ROTTEN able to give anyone advice on wrestling, other than working taped fist matches?

This is the dude who couldn't get over as an actual worker, so instead got over by trying to kill his brother in front of a live studio audience. If another indie wrestler lectured Levy on workrate, it would be preachy but tolerable. When Ian Rotten does it, it's the most blatantly hypocritical thing I've ever heard. Does Ian think all fifty people in the audience showed up to watch Greco-Roman? It's called a deathmatch, and people go to watch grown men get fucked up beyond repair, which could segue into my second Hayabusa reference tonight. Call me crazy, but when three guys stomp your fucking head into a ladder, it's pretty hard not to sell it. But seriously, has Ian Rotten stepped inside a wrestling ring shirtless in the last two decades? Has he performed something more complex than a DDT (deathmatchers take note: it's like a headlock, but you get to fall backwards!) in the last three? Pot, meet Kettle. You two have a lot in common.

Learn to sell, Levy? More like learn to fucking work, Ian. Then again, considering the police investigation launched over the matter, Ian may need to learn to work at Wal-Mart instead. But as with Scientology, to protest merely legitimizes it, and it's not worth the effort. So instead, I'm going to let actions speak, and stop regarding this glorified pit fight as wrestling. I do not say this to be preachy, sanctimonious, or better-than-thou. I simply say this as a fan of actual wrestling. While you can't appreciate cream without drinking a lot of milk, you don't have to drink shit every day to appreciate cream. The choice is up to us. To each their own, but my line in the broken glass is drawn, and I'll choose 'boring' chain wrestling over chairshots ad nauseum any day of the week.

*climbs off soapbox again, this time placing it in closet*

A week later, it turns out the charges have been dropped, as both parties admit the whole thing was a work. Interesting. It then makes Levy look like a more ridiculous seller than HBK and more of a masochist than Terry Funk, with half the intellect and a tenth of the workrate.

But in a brief aside, is anyone else as happy as I am about Kendrick's new heel gimmick? The Brian Kendrick, accompanied by Ezekiel, has the potential to be better than Jericho and Ralphus. Anyone who has seen Kendrick's work in ROH and Japan (mostly as Spanky) will know that more airtime for the guy can't be anything but a good thing, especially since he and London are officially splitsville (grrrr). It's a bad month for tag teams, especially this week. One pair of rookie jobbers won the belts and another lost theirs. Sigh.

 

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).