I’m going to watch Summerslam this Sunday on the WWE Network, I will watch NXT Takeover Saturday night, and I will watch the Raw after as well. I clearly have a wrestling problem and WWE is more than happy to serve up what will be more than ten hours of wrestling all from The Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Three consecutive sold out nights in New York for a product that numbers wise isn’t that hot. As culture fractures it seems your best bet is to play to your base and give them more than they could possibly want.
Looking at network numbers there is a little more than a million wrestling fans willing to pay $10 a month and the ratings for Raw and Smackdown keep going down. WWE seems to have found it’s niche and it seems that niche can’t get enough. Unless it’s Tough Enough, ain’t nobody got time for that. I will watch it all. Happily. I got problems. Wrestling problems and it isn’t limited to what Vince and Co. are shilling.
G1 Climax 2015
The last month I’ve been keeping up on New Japan Pro Wrestling G-1 Climax Tournament. Over the course of 19 shows from July 20th through August 16th this annual tournament features the best wrestling in the world. Is the commentary in Japanese? Yep. Does that matter? Not at all. 20 men are separated into two blocks and compete for points with the winner getting to challenge the champion at their version of Wrestlemania in January. The final night featured probably the greatest match of the year between (my dude) Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
At the same time Lucha Underground wrapped up its first year of weekly shows (and hopefully not last) on The El Rey Network with Ultimate Lucha – a two hour culmination of all their storylines that featured a deathmatch, jaw dropping high spots, and a man that may or may not be a Dragon who flew away right before the credits. As I am typing this I have an old Pro Wrestling Guerilla show from 2011 on where Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens) and El Generico (Sami Zayn) are throwing themselves through every step of every ladder they could find at the Lowes in Reseda, California. I will probably listen to a podcast about wrestling as I fall asleep. I GOT PROBLEMS, access to wrestling isn’t one of them.
Watching, reading, listening, and talking about wrestling seems to take up the parts of the internet not reserved for Marvel, Star Wars, and whatever folks are mad about this week. You can follow the just about everything with GIFs on twitter. You can stream several different promotions from around the world at various price points that cost less than a trip to Chipotle (I get guac, yes, it’s extra.). ProwrestlingTees.com has made actual honest to god shirts that aren’t THAT embarrassing to wear in public.
Much like the Comic Con culture exploding into the mainstream it seems wrestling has finally figured out that there are nerds out there with money they can’t wait to get rid of. Previously you watched on Monday and from time to time you bought a Sunday night PPV. Maybe you spent a couple bucks a month on a newsletter. Wrestling fandom was pretty limited. You had to really work to tape trade or put up with some horrible website with too many pop up ads if you wanted to know what was going on outside of WWE or WCW. Now I follow every event live on twitter and then either do my own podcast right after or listen to someone else’s.
They call fans “marks” because we are the ones getting conned. The biggest difference now is that the con is now more of a co-op. This weekend in Brooklyn WWE is for all intents and purposes throwing a wrestling convention. WWE’s minor league promotion NXT sold as many tickets at the big show. Give the fans what they want, treat them like fans – not marks – and they will dump buckets of money on you. And you better take care of the fans because if you don’t there is more than enough wrestling to go around.
With that line, a million voices seemed to cry out that they all cried at work watching a advertisement. Which is a really weird way to react to marketing (outside of ads for pet shelters.) It’s Han Solo and Chewbacca back at again. Chewie, we’re all home! Wait, didn’t home suck? Hasn’t “Star Wars” sucked since at least 1997? Or maybe 1983 if you’re being honest? Why would you want to go back there? Why would you want to go home? We’re both getting goosebumps – only mine are caused by the thought of unopened Boss Nass figures in a hot suburban garage I never want to go back to. What is everyone so excited about?
What about Star Wars excites you? I won’t waste my time with my bonafides but like Tim from “Spaced,” I’ve made my peace with “Star Wars.”
I just can’t believe how many of you are allowing yourself to be fooled again. It’s the “home” thing, isn’t it? That’s the good stuff – pure medical grade, uncut nostalgia. You just want to go home, that’s why you still watch wrestling, or read comics, root for some team you don’t live any where near – whatever you need do to go “home.”
J.J. Abrams is all about going “home.” His singular marketing innovation (according to J.J.) is the mystery box. It’s so easy to kill him for this TED talk because it exposes everything that makes J.J. Abrams work so weak. Like the best kind of marketers, he’s hiding it in plain sight.
A charming anecdote about about some gift his grandfather gave him he never opened – the mystery is always better than the reality, right? If he had opened it, I’m sure it was just a check for $5 (joke credit to the other love of my life John Sabine.)
J.J.’s whole career is selling you empty boxes addressed to your old house. He wraps them up in things you used to love but everything is just off model. It’s “Star Trek” – but not really; Spielberg -but not really; and now “Star Wars” but not really. Like any licensed piece of material, it mostly just reminds that it isn’t exactly the thing you love. J.J. Abrams is making supermercado “Star Wars” pinatas. I just don’t think I need to wait till December to find out what’s inside.
Do I want it to be good? Of course. Will I see it? Of course. Do I want to believe? Desperately. Almost as much as I want the new “Twin Peaks” to happen and be great, someone to make a “Dune” movie that is as good as the one in my head, or that Chris Carter will make good episodes of a new “X-Files.” I WANT TO BELIEVE – I just know better and so do you. J.J. Abrams makes bad movies – search your heart, you know it to be true.
I get why you are excited. I’m just preaching caution. Neither “Star Wars” nor J.J. Abrams has done much in the last 20 years to earn your trust. If we go back to the last time J.J. Abrams wrote something starring Harrison Ford, we have even more reasons to be concerned.
It’s usually after I’ve stopped at In-N-Out, just after my parents have gone to bed. I’m laying in a tiny old bed, in my tiny old house, where tiny old me dreamt about big and new “Star Wars” movies that I remember – I FUCKING HATE GOING HOME.
August 23, 2014 / Mark / Comments Off on A Supposedly Horrifying Thing I Hope To Never Do Again
I’ve swam my whole life, till I got fat. I played water polo but then I stopped cause I got tired. I’ve been a lifeguard. I got my scuba card or whatever it is and have dove, dived, or diven however you say it all over the world. I say these things not to brag or to boast. I say them so you can understand how surprised I was when I became sure that I was going to drown in the in a 8 foot by 4 foot windowless jail sail on a cruise ship of the coast of Florida.
Right. Let me explain. I worked on a cruise ship after college. I was a videographer. It was a dumb job and the perfect way to avoid my impending adult life living in Sacramento. I was on the Crown Princess. The newest vessel in the fleet. There are 19 decks on the Crown. I lived on deck four which placed me just below the waterline. I shared my cabin/prison with a kid from southern california named Rory. I think you know what that dude looks like. We called our cabin Bakersfield. We had turned the room into a bar floating around in international waters. We maintained a closet full of booze and cigarettes. To placate the underpaid and comically overworked crew on a cruise ship tobacco and alcohol are basically free. At $1.25 a pack I ran the numbers and I was losing money NOT smoking.
We sailed away from Port Canaveral, Florida a little after 3pm. I had nothing to do since we were headed to sea so I brewed a pot of coffee to help jolt away the previous evening. I sat down in a the one chair we haid that barely fit between a desk and previously mentioned liquor filled wardrobe. The desk had a tiny tv on it along with piles of empty marlboro light packages. A shelf above the desk had our 360, it’s cinder block like power supply and a coffee pot.
In hindsight I would suggest never placing hot beverages above eye level as a rule to live by. I poured a cup of coffee and was about to light a cigarette when my chair started to lean backwards. This isn’t uncommon when you live on a ship. The ship lists. You lean. It lists to port and starboard and you list to port and bounce your way back to starboard. Later in life you can impress people with your knowledge of nautical terms.
My chair continued to tip back and the desk, television, coffee pot, xbox, and open case of soda cans I forgot to mention in the previous paragraph began to tip forward. Now this was uncommon. And it kept continuing. Over the course of about a minute in real time and four to five hours in HOLY FUCK I MAY DIE TIME the Crown Princess listed a maximum of 24 degrees as it rolled back and forth. I became the star of a wacky silent film about a fella who just doesn’t know what to do about the weaponized cans of soda flying around his room. Then the coffee. Then the power brick of the xbox. Then I was slammed back the other way. Then I threw my arms out as the soda (sorry Pop for yokels) came careening back at my shins now flying around the cabin.
This was a supposedly horrifying thing I hope to never see again. I was going to die on a fucking cruise ship. My last vision your bubby floating past as I sink to the depths. There was no rose to reaching out. Just a pot of hot coffee as I died like a looney toon on vacation. When the listing subsided. I paused the way any of you would to just do a systems check and make sure you are still alive and that your pants we not ALL THE SHITTED. I look left. I look right. Take a big breath and slam open my cabin door. The australian fellow next door summed up the event much better than my long worded rambling account possibly could. “Huh, wicked.” Yes Adam. mate. It was wicked.
The ensuing events and announcements all sort of bleed together. No one died. Hate to ruin that cliff hanger but I did live, sadly. Footage of the event has found its way on to youtube. Search “Crown Princess Disaster” My personal favorite is the footage from the youth center. It’s best described as Poseidon Adventure crossed with Bugsy Malone. My friends were eating a late lunch in the buffet on the top deck that silly time we all almost died. They saw the water from the pools pour out and no joke rush its way down an elevator shaft. Those on the decks below compared it to The Shining. We returned to florida and offloaded the passengers. The crew would be staying onboard as we made our way back to our home port in New York.
But for the evening we would be staying in Port Canaveral. During the incident much of the liquor onboard had been destroyed. But somehow someway more than a few bottles remained unharmed till they made their way to the crew bar that night. Look. You’ve been to parties. I’ve been to parties. I can promise you that night the crew had what I can best describe as a celebration of life. It was one single craziest evenings of my life. Everyone made it home with someone that night. I think the idea was like.. WE LIVED. Groups of people hung out in cabins together. More than a few couples started and ended that evening.
In the morning we headed back to New York. There was no serious damage to the ship somehow. Honestly credit to the captain who handled everything like a pro. The crew was incredible and cleaned the entire ship up and had things mostly back to normal before we made it back to port in New York.
I leave you with one thing. The movie that was playing that evening for the passengers? No joke, swear to dusty rhodes? Mother Fucking TITANIC.
” Billy Corgan is into wrestling. This seems to be a joke to most people with a music blog/tumblr/snapchat of cassette tapes they listen to. He has written multiple hit rock records at the almost last possible moment in time that someone could do that. He was a suburban Chicago kid who willed himself into a rock star/music press combatant as the face of The Smashing Pumpkins. After years of playing the heel in popular culture is Billy making a face turn?
Corgan currently is the creative director for the Chicago-based independent wrestling federationResistance Pro Wrestling (ResPro forthwith) along with Jacques and Gabriel Baron, who are brothers. What separates the almost three-year-old group from most local indy feds is an impending unscripted reality show on AMC. On Friday July 25th, I attended “The Mob Rules” at The Barn at Arabian Knights Farm. Three hours of independent wrestling in a barn about an hour outside of Chicago and Billy Corgan? Tough to pass this up. I should note I received a complimentary ticket from ResPro ring announcer Zach Thompson.
A quick confession, initial versions of this article suffered from major drift. I wanted to talk about the actual wrestling show and less about Corgan. I took photos, notes, and tried to interview people like an honest to god journalist. No matter what I did the article was not coming together.
I needed a concept for this sprawling double album. Enter Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies”. Eno devised a series of cards (or a website in this instance) meant to inspire musical creativity with vague (or oblique if you went to a better college than I) statements written on each card like “consider different fading systems” and “abandon normal instruments.” I find them incredibly useful in writing. If Eno can draw almost listenable music out of Chris Martin and Bono, certainly he can help me write about wrestling. Each of the following headings is an Eno strategy…”