10.24.2008

Explanation......

I do not do this normally but an addendum to the post just below this one.

When I wrote it, I was angry at what I thought was a series of cheap shots made purely because the writer knew he could take them with no one to call him on them. In the course of me trying to disprove those cheap shots, I did the one thing I should not have done: I took cheap shots of my own. The truth is this: D.K. Wilson of Sports on My Mind knows nothing about MMA, nor does he want to. That is his right. After all, there are things he is likely expert on that I know nothing about, nor that I would want to. Moreover, I vow here…. No more cheap shots on the subject of race, and for that matter no more cheap shots period. But I also hope that you hear this: Do not assume, that just because I have vowed not to take a cheap shot at you, that you can continue to tell your audience flat-out falsehoods about MMA. I will be watching.

And on the subject of racism in sports media this is the argument that I was trying to make, and I hope that if you have stumbled over here from Sports on My Mind you will listen to it. This blog, whether you wish it to be or not, is largely about pro wrestling, MMA, and amateur wrestling. When one of those three things intersects with something else I am going to cover both the original thing and the intersection. However, do understand, for I would not expect this of those of you who have a blog that details something in specific to detail from the things you enjoy discussing to come and cover the differences between T2P and Toryumon X, it will only be when there is a motivation that I find. Let me have this little corner of the blogosphere all to myself, to speak in my voice. And that voice doesn’t NOT care about ESPN, and doesn’t NOT care about other things that have nothing to do with all manners grappling. It’s that those opinions are private, left to me to discuss with comfortable AND uncomfortable company on my own terms.

Sincerely,

The Majesty of Wrestling

10.22.2008

Puncturing Bubbles

I take no joy in doing what I am about to do, but know that if I didn’t do it, I’d find myself regretting every morning. Here we go.

Recently D.K. Wilson over at Sports on My Mind, who got this written about him the last time he tried to speak on something about which he has no great sense of knowledge, decided he’d keep the damned thing going. So, because we here at The Majesty of Wrestling like puncturing self-important people’s bubbles just as much as we like Torneo Ciberneticos, puppies, and American Dragon, here we go: A FJM-style dismantling of every single last one of Mr. Wilson’s points in his latest notes article found here

(Author’s Note: My Comments are in Bold. Helps to keep things clear.)

Brock Lesner was featured by Tom Ferrey in one of Tuesday’s E:60 segments. And Lesner was the recipient of some serious ESPN “White Pass” treatment.
OOH….. Racism. I’d love to see how we prove this one.

For those who do not know him, Brock Lesner was an NCAA champion wrestler at the University of Minnesota. He then entered the world of professional wrestling and became a multimillionaire. For his efforts he blew out both of his knees and has chronic back pain.
After leaving the ranks of pro-faux grappling he tried to parlay his wrestling fame into making the Minnesota Vikings as a defensive lineman. Lesner lasted until the final round of cuts and found himself lost and without work. So he turned to mixed martial arts for salvation and in a rocket rise through the ranks reminiscent of Kimbo Slice, is set for a championship fight against 45-year old Randy Couture in November.
The only difference between Lesnar and Slice is that while Kimbo got there because he was discovered by some faux boxing promoter looking to drag himself into the MMA mainstream behind the wing of a parody of a street fighter, Brock lesnar actually has and always had the credentials necessary to be a good MMA fighter. NCAA Champion, one of the most dominant college heavyweights in recent memory. And I will say that your dismissive attitude towards Pro Wrestling will not be treated as it normally would here.
It is a true, your 15 minutes of fame is up, story.
But not for the WWL and its continued efforts to make good on its bet that MMA is the next big deal in - sort of - sports, So to force MMA down the throats of sports watchers, we are introduced by Ferrey to 6′3″ 265-pound Brock Lesner:
“Brock Lesner has always wanted to fight. Four years ago he was labeled the next big thing - but in the make-believe world of pro wrestling.”
Former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg then says:
“He’s a genetic freak. If god were to sit down and build a warrior I think he would come out to be Brock Lesner.”
Wonderful imagery there, ESPN. This is, after all, the sports news outlet that played and replayed Kellen Winslow’s U of Miami locker room tirade where he mentioned being a warrior ad nauseum. They highlighted and debated Winslow’s quote on every show possible and slagged him for using the word at a time when America was at war.
Ok. Where to begin? Brock was actually named the “Next Big Thing” by the WWE and proved it, and then after an ugly split with the WWE, went over to New Japan and did pretty much the same stuff (although him leaving and taking the belt with him was kind of shady.) But, to somehow imply that Brock Lesnar isn’t a genetic freak is just plain dumb. The dude’s got massive strength, great speed, and is agile for someone who is built basically like a big house.

And ooh… the Warrior quote. Apparently Kellen Winslow, who at the minimum was an 18-year-old kid discussing a penalty he had incurred for a cheap shot and how he was tougher than everyone who was on the other side of the field, is perfectly alright. But Bill Goldberg, who meant it in a way of describing the boundless athleticism of Lesnar, is somehow deserving of the same criticism that Winslow got
.
Well, we’re still at war, but it apparently is just fine to air Goldberg’s quote and flaunt Lesner, who until recently, was just another WWE goon participating in that arena of predetermined outcomes, as a warrior.
“He got the fame, the fortune, and the girl… better known as “Sable,” wrestling diva and Playboy centerfold.”
Lesner tells us that he “lived the world of a rockstar” replete with “two Hummers, a Mercedes, Corvette - airplanes, four or five houses…”
And they say black athletes are the only people to squander their earnings on luxury items while acting like petty, transparent, consumer-addicted whores.
Am I going to sit here and argue that Lesnar’s lifestyle wasn’t reckless and consumeristic? Of course I’m not. That’d be silly. Almost as silly as going through an entire friggin article calling someone Lesner when his name is Lesnar. Nitpicking I know but hey….. it’s only going to get worse. And re the spending thing: One of these days I’ll take you to the homes of some white players in major sports and we’ll see how big they’re living. Deal?
But ESPN attempts to trick us into believing this is just another story of an All-American kid from the heartland (Lesner is from South Dakota). Just after showing a snippet of one of Lesner’s MMA bouts, there is a jump cut to a sunset-lighted field with infinite rows of corn and luscious green trees in the background and a tractor creating furrows and kicking up perfectly wind-blown dust (out of video camera view) in the foreground.
And baleful country slide guitar is serenading us to a sleep filled with pro-white America dreams.
Lord have mercy Jesus Christ. Because someone is from South Dakota, and a country guitar is played, it’s… let me get this right…. PRO-WHITE AMERICA? Oh god. He actually said this? *Sips a bottle of water, trying to calm down.* Oh that’s better. God forbid there are people in this country, even in Lesnar’s South Dakota, who like country music who happen to not be waving confederate flags in the backseat of their pickup trucks. And regarding the field and the tractor and the corn: It’s actually a good shot of the Midwest. Things like that happen out there. People use their fields to grow things. Like Corn… Wheat…. Rice. People don’t call the Midwest the breadbasket of the USA because it sounds nice. It’s true by and large.
Ferrey intones:
“Webster, South Dakota, a town near the Minnesota border with fewer than 2,000 people.”
And a solitary man - Lesner? - stands next to the town sign on the edge of railroad tracks - obviously going out of Webster.
“Lesner grew up on this dairy farm, struggling to help his family hold onto a property headed to foreclosure.”
It is Sarah Palin’s America.
Lesner then tells the tale of a broke family and knowing he needed to get out and make something more of himself (damn those people sure know how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps).
Wait a minute. We’re now clowning Brock Lesnar because he was able to get out of a bad situation because he was good, NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-LEVEL good, at something and used it to get a college degree from a pretty good academic institution? Come on now man.. Besides, in Webster, farms exist. You know like the ones you might have seen (cursing under your breath that the men in them have GOT to be racist). Now you’re just Nat X, tilting windmills and seeing racism behind every corner. What’s next: “I demand to know why the black shoelaces are behind the white ones!”
If all of that wasn’t insidious enough to turn your mind’s eye queasy, the punch line is.
Ferrey then says:
“So Lesner literally fought his way out.”
Cut to childhood friend, Matthew Baumgarn, who is bright-eyed remembering a young Lesner:
“He likes to beat on people. He grew up beatin’ on people. Him and his brother were fightin’ all the time.
And then Ferrey asks Lesner:
“What is it like to simply maul somebody?”
To which Brock Lesner replies in a very matter-of-fact fashion:
“Ahh, it’s a good feeling. Handling another human being and makin’ ‘em feel less than you is, uh, I don’t know, somethin’ I got a thrill out of.”
The music turns minor chord serious folksy and Ferrey begins to pave the road to creating a respectable man out of Lesner by letting us know how he “channeled his aggression into football and wrestling.”
Really? Channeling your aggression into doing something safe, in a controlled environment, instead of beating up random people all the time is a BAD thing? That’s what wrestling is at its core Mr. Wilson. You try and impose your will on someone, make them do what YOU want them to. And as someone who had older cousins allow me to let you in on a little secret: We fought… A lot. I’m sure if I polled your readership the ones who had bigger brothers could tell chapter and verse about the times they got into it with their brothers. It happens.
But there is no humanizing this —— is there?
Those were not, when I was a fool stories Lesner told. The man loves to physically damage other human beings with his fists or in any other way he can.
Today.
Imagine if that was ———– Kimbo Slice?
Remember the animalistic poses ESPN coaxed out of Slice during his E:60 segment with Rachel Nichols - with the up close camera views that distorted his features even more; the sweat, the bare footed bearded black barely human-looking…. thing we laid witness to - dwarfing Nichols who, though she held up trainer’s mitts for Slice’s punches, she also appeared hesitant, frightened to enter too close to his space during the interview (another silent nod to King Kong?) – hailed as the possible future of MMA?
Lesner was interviewed by Ferrey in a clean as a whistle barn on Made in the USofA hay bales, baby - and don’t you forget it, brother.
I try very hard to make this a family friendly blog but this is too far. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Forget the fact that before anyone knew Kimbo Slice existed he did this same parody-of-a-black-man shit on youtube, knocking cats out at NothingToxic purely for fun. Again so we’re clear Brock Lesnar, who was a national champion wrestler and a college-graduate from the University of Minnesota, is as much of an animal as Kimbo Slice, who got into MMA because he wanted to make money and because boxing wouldn’t have him. Again… DK Wilson= Nat X.
Lawrence Taylor referred to himself as a “crazed dog” on the football field and has been forever remembered as the animal “other” who didn’t know the defensive scheme but made the Hall of Fame by being “turned loose” by his head coach Bill Parcells to decapitate the quarterback. Never mind that Taylor could also be found covering a running back on a circle route 40 yards down the field after recognizing that the offense was designed to have a tight end chip block him, a tackle block him, and have that running back chip him on his way out into his route. Oh, LT was a thinking man’s football player, all right, but you’d nbever know it listening to media members descriptions of the man.
Think of the portrayal of Mike Tyson, before the Evander Holyfireld ear biting incident. Tyson as a champion was depicted as a killing machine, a brutal human sub-species - part rotweiler, part shark, and only human through the fact that we walked upright and on two legs.
Think of the fun ESPN would have today if a black athlete described himself as does Lesner. He’d be a thug, a goon, a monster. He’d be deemed too brutal for whatever sport in which he participated.
He would be dehumanized.
But Brock Lesner? Brock Lesner is an American Tail, human, not mouse. Brock Lesner had it all but turned down a seven-year $45 million pro wrestling contract to try to play the honorable game of football for $230,000 per season; who now lives as he really always wanted to all along, simply and with the woman he loves. And all the while he is once again called “the next big thing,” this time of MMA. And should he defeat Couture, Lesner will have millions once again.
Not bad for an All-American warrior from Webster, South Dakota.
Right Tom Ferrey? Right ESPN?
For the last time it’s Lesnar. And if he defeats Couture Lesnar will have done an incredible thing. Do you know who Randy Couture is? Do you have any idea what he’s done? Thank you. Your silence speaks volumes.

Is the way that Mike Tyson and LT were portrayed for the vast majority of their careers racist by some? Yeah, I’d he honest and say for some media members it was. But remember…. Race didn’t make Mike Tyson say he wanted to drive someone’s nose bone through their brain. Race didn’t make Mike Tyson act like Godzilla in Japan. Race didn’t make LT fail drug test after drug test. And Race didn’t make LT into what he is now, a guy trading off of his fame.

This is not a wholly racist society. And if you think it is, if you imagine it to be a place where no black man can get a fair shot at anything unless he “sells out” or “Acts white”, I’m sorry. Your hopelessness saddens me
.

10.14.2008

Three Countries: The Main Styles of Japan, Mexico, and England

Since I am spending a good bit of my time at the moment trying very hard to convince one “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush to deign to give this blog another interview I figure that now is as good a time as any to discuss my fondness for a particular style that he has shown an ever-increasing aptitude in, and that’s the British Lancashire style. This week on TMW…. British Wrestling. Pip Pip, Cheerio, and all that crap. We go across the pond.

Internationally Known: The various styles inherent in Pro Wrestling, and why British Lancashire needs to be revived.

As it goes, there are the three main styles that most American fans are familiar with: Mexican Lucha Libre, Japanese Puroresu, and the amalgam of both styles that is American pro-wrestling. Considering that most of what you see in American wrestling is a mix of the best of the two styles here I’m not going to give you the American listing. In addition, inside those two other macro styles there are various and sundry sub-styles. I will separate them for you now by country and give you the best matches to show you the form.

Puroresu:
The traditional style of New Japan called Strong Style. It tends to place high emphasis on matwork, submissions, and stiff strikes. Despite changes over time, it is always called 'strong style’. This is not the same thing as the imitators that have sprung up throughout the United States, the foremost of which is American independent promotion Ring of Honor followed closely by IWA Mid South. They are practicing what is referred to commonly as American Strong Style. Best Example: I’d say…. Takada v. Koshinaka from New Japan in 1986. A high-end contest for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title, a belt that would rise to new prominence with the arrival of the “Holy Influx” of juniors in the 1990’s led by this man: http://themajestyofwrestling.blogspot.com/2008/08/japanese-thunder-parable-of-liger.html


All-Japan and Noah’s contribution to this list is in the King’s Road style, a layered approach based on the escalation of maneuvers, lengthy striking duels, and fighting spirit in abundance. Incidentally, the stars of the era’s matches build one on top of another, each encounter requiring the winner to come up with some new attack to keep the loser off of him. For pure drama, there are few styles that convey as much as King’s Road. Best Match: Misawa-Kawada 6-3-94. The graceful, cerebral, and smooth Misawa, who already had a good run as the second Tiger Mask, against the hard-hitting and rough-hewn Kawada, nicknamed “Hard Luck” by the fans for his inability to catch a break.

Dragon Gate and Toryumon, and their stylistic ancestor Michinoku Pro, bring to us lucharesu. A fast-paced blend of the best of Japanese junior heavyweight and Mexican Lucha Libre (and we will get to them later.) The best way to describe the lucharesu style is to imagine blindingly quick mat work and insane aerial tricks, mix them up in a package, and out comes lucharesu. Best Match: 10-10-96. Kaientai DX (Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo, Funaki, Terry Boy, Shiryu 2) v. Gran Hamada, Super Delfin, Gran Naniwa, Yakushiji, and Tiger Mask IV. A 10-man tag from a show called “These Days”. You think a 10-man tag is hard to follow? With this one it moves quick, with non-stop spots and a breathtaking pace still awe-inspiring 12 years after the fact.

UWF, UWF-I, RINGS, and so on. Theirs is a shoot style. More matwork than even Strong Style does, and lots of submissions. Crazy submissions that prompt you to say “Ow Fuckity Ow” like you were Juno McGuff. Best Match: With this, there isn’t a best match. More of a guy whose work you need to seek out. Volk Han.
Mexico:

Lucha Libre:
This is a bit harder to do because of the nature of what Lucha is, sort of a free-form art based entirely around timing. However, we wouldn’t be a blog called the Majesty of Wrestling if we didn’t try so here we go.


Lucha-core. A strange amalgam of traditional junior heavyweight daredevil spots, hardcore brawling, and dashes of the traditional Lucha style. It’s more commonly the style performed by the AAA luchadors. Best Match: Mexican Powers v. Las Hermandad v. Familia de Tijuana v. Teddy Hart\Jack Evans from the most recent triplemania.

Llave-Style. Think holds circled into holds in interesting way. It is maybe the hardest style to master, but the most aesthetically pleasing to this writer’s eye. A heavy influence on what would later be the T2P promotion in Japan. Best Match: Anything Skayde did in CMLL. Seriously go look that guy up. His work is awesome. If you cannot find any of his stuff in Mexico or in Japan, where he was the trainer for Toryumon and Dragon Gate then find his matches against Mike Quackenbush in the states.

Now then to the fun one. The British Lancashire (Or World Of Sport as it is more commonly referred to) style practiced extensively in Europe is in a lot of ways more closely resembling amateur wrestling than anything you will find with the possible exception of the UWF and RINGS stuff. It is entirely based upon wrestling skill and technique in applying a variety of holds, pinning combinations, and locks. Striking is at a minimum, and there are very few “gimmicks”. Out sized personalities do exist, in the awesome heel work of Jim Breaks and the babyface skills of Johnny Saint, but by and large it is about the skill inherent in the men who choose to compete in it. There are five 5-minute rounds in non-title matches with victory being achieved by one person who can get 2 falls by pin, 3 submissions, or 1 knockout. In the title matches there are 10 rounds of 5 minutes each and the same basic rules apply. Any participant who is knocked down to the mat has a 10-count to rise back to his feet and continue the battle.

Another interesting distinction is that the referee does not audibly count the pin falls, meaning that the crowd and the viewing audience is fully expected to figure out on their own steam that the 3-count is occurring.

Largely this style has been consigned to the mists of history and DVD’s, with only a few stars left from the era still capable of performing it. However, the current generation of American independent workers has mastered many of the spots, men like Mike Quackenbush, Chris Hero, Alex Shelley, and the Best Wrestler in the World, Bryan Danielson. If you wondered where Hero’s cravate came from, for instance, it’s in the time he spent studying under the British style.

I hope this has been as fun for you to read as it has been for me to write. Thank you for reading