5.29.2008

the TSF special: Why Chris Benoit.

Chris Benoit: 1 Year Later. Why it hurts, and why the mainstream media stopped covering it, and how the internet shaped what we know about it.

Recently the HBO program “Costas Now” had a 4-part roundtable discussion on sports media. There were programs on Sports Talk Radio, Sports TV, Sports Journalism, Race and Sports, and the internet. However, all anyone remembers is the internet because of one man: Buzz Bissinger and his self-immolation in the segment flanked by Deadspin founder and seeming eternal frat boy Will Leitch and an utterly confused Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns. His point, near as it could be determined underneath a haze of profanity and disagreement, was that the internet is populated by-and-large with people ill informed about the concept, much less the principles, of strong journalism. I will leave it up to you to decide if that is the case with this blog. However, as I heard him, and recently read an interview on friend of this blog The Starting Five, I am reminded that the “old media” which Buzz is a part of clearly knew nothing of what they were talking about when it came to a case. In fact, it could be argued that without a blog, and more than one, that what we know about this case would be far less than now. The case I am speaking of is Chris Benoit.

First, for those of you who come to this blog having no clue as to who Chris Benoit is or what he represented, I will try to sum it up. Simply put… Chris was the wrestling fan’s wrestler. He had busted his tail in Canada, and Japan, and Europe to be thought of as the best wrestler that he could be. In many ways his aggressive style was the template upon which an entire generation of junior heavyweights based their work. He was the bright shining light for fans of WRESTLING, not sports entertainment, throughout the 90’s and up until his death. His was a legacy of brilliance up until the last time we saw him alive.

The way his life ended, and the way he ended the life of his wife and his son, hurts because we never believed this to be from him. Admittedly, we never believed it to be from anyone, but especially not him. Not when all you heard was about how nice of a man he was, how sweet, how caring to his child. And when he had seen his best friend die in just the same way, and wept openly on a live tribute along with us, we assumed he would calm down… that he would be the guy we could say we grew old watching.

But this is not intended to be an elegy. Rather it is a reminder of what he was on the day before his death, and what he became the day after. You see on his day after… Chris Benoit was a monster, a tragedy, and the best case for increased vigilance about concussions. All depending on whom you believed. But do you know who knew nothing? The mainstream media. Buzz Bissinger’s media to be exact.

Nancy Grace, who before this episode was perhaps best known for knowing nothing and driving a woman to suicide, believed Chris Benoit was demoted from the 4 Horsemen to Raw, and that his death was due to steroids exclusively. NBC’s Today Show allowed Vince McMahon to go on their air that By contrast…. The Wrestling Observer, a newsletter run by the estimable and highly qualified Dave Meltzer, had already sniffed out that this was a murder-suicide by the time of the west coast rerun of Raw and within 72 hours had found out that he had a high amount of concussions, enough so that his brain was like a 90-year-old dementia patient.

But even the internet gave up… because after a time there was nothing new to say. No survivors existed, and the WWE excised Chris Benoit from its entire history. So what do you do when there is nothing left to report? You move on.

And that’s what I am going to do. Move on. See you guys around next time.

Footnotes....

T2p= Toryumon 2000 Project, a brief but highly influential wrestling promotion out of Japan noted for its heavy reliance on lucha libre and the submission style.
Ace= japanese term meaning the top man of a particular promotion.. e.g. Koji Kanemoto is the ace of New Japan.
4 Corners of Heaven= Akira Taue, Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada. The 4 men who were, at any point, the 4 greatest heavyweights in the world and all wrestled in the same promotion at the same time frame (All Japan in the 1990's)
World of Sport= the term commonly used to define British Wrestling in the 1960's to the early 80's. Named so because all live matches were televised on the BBC's World of Sport programme.
Special= A hold usually invented by the man that uses it most commonly. Rumor has it that once it is a special it is considered a vast insult by anyone to use the hold other than the trainer, save in rare instances. e.g. the figure-4 leglock could be called the Ric Flair Special.

more facts to come.

A Primer for Puroresu.

Today’s article: “a primer on Puroresu.”

As is sometimes the case people might say something so stupid, so utterly deviant from the basic concepts of truth, that they must be dealt with. This is the case with Glen Gilberti. He has forced me to explain Puroresu, calmly and slowly.
First off, I will deal with Glen Gilberti’s assertion that somehow Puroresu is nothing more than people elbowing each other in the face non-stop is beyond ridiculous. It is not strange to hear this from him though, considering that he works for a promotion that has a roster who by-and-large enjoy Puroresu as an art form, and have in some cases worked in it. Furthermore, it is also not strange to hear this out-and-out dismissal of a non-American art form from someone that works for a promotion whose head booker alienated an entire promotion by booking a title change for one of the most respected titles in the world with a tequila bottle used by a Mexican wrestler as the base for the finish.

Let us be clear though: Puroresu is not merely the concept of no-selling violence that Gilberti and the other detractors of it seem to think. Matter of fact Glen should know this better than most, considering that he was once upon a time booked in WCW with a young man named Tokyo Magnum and then returned the favor by flying over to Japan to appear in Magnum’s Toryumon X promotion. Truthfully Puroresu has influences in a vast majority of styles, whether it be the layered escalations of maneuvers commonly found in All Japan during their “Four Corners of Heaven” period in the 90’s or the serpentine and heavily involved submission work of Toryumon, Toryumon X, and their forerunner T2P and most of all the rapid-fire exchanges found in New Japan’s stocked Junior Heavyweight Division.

The trouble with Puroresu is not what people think it is not, but it is what people think it is. Truthfully… Puroresu achieved its exalted space in the minds of wrestling fans because of its greatest moments. The passing of the torch by Tsuruta to Misawa in 1990 that left fans crying in their seats, sad that they had seen their previous hero felled but happy that a new one emerged. The Benoit\Sasuke classic of the 1994 J-Cup where the man who would sadly later be known for a horrific crime proved that he was a worthy heir to his own idol’s throne. THAT is Puroresu, not what Glen Gilberti imagines it to be as he listens to his boss down everyone who is not American.

5.01.2008

The First Post ever on this blog....

Hi I'm pretty sure you're going to be wondering what in the hell I'm doing here, and why I posted this blog.

Simple.... I like wrestling, all kinds from all different places. And it was past time, I thought, for people to know about it.

I'll be posting on everything from recent DVD's I have ordered to matches that I downloaded, to maybe even a few interviews with some of the indy stars I think are worth watching.

Welcome aboard. Hopefully you will enjoy this blog.