As anybody who's over 21 but less than like 29 can tell you, there is a fine line between being fat and being ripped. I myself had my own bout with the fat/ripped conundrum two years ago, when I began my weight training at Crunch Gym. An Indian friend of mine, indisputably ripped, put me on a low cardio, high rep program that I took very seriously. I was doing about five minutes of cardio per session, and about 35 minutes of weight training plus like ten minutes of the ab machine that's supposed to work the "side abs", which frankly I don't even think exist. At the end of my sessions, for which I never stretched before or after, I confused actual damage to my body for "healthy tearing down of my muscles, which will soon rebuild bigger slash stronger," and began "rewarding" myself with 20-24oz peanut butter and banana recovery shakes. To these shakes, which I'm guessing were already in the 1000-1500 Calorie range, I added two extra shots of whey protein, largely because I could. Since I'm being completely upfront about my workout plan, I should also add that the blender container Crunch used to process drink ingredients was closer to 28oz in size--so it wasn't unusual for the cafe woman to let me sip up an additional 4-6oz of recovery shake before she put the legit 20-24 ounces into the plastic cup, the contents of which leaked from the top as soon as the straw was inserted, as it was filled to the absolute very top. I stayed on this program for about a month, and I saw results rather quickly. A friend of a girlfriend at the time noted, positively, that I was jacked. My chest filled out my expensive printed t-shirts, and in general I felt more "solid" in the "I have put on fifteen pounds of muscle in one month" sense of the word. Anyway long story short: I had gained fifteen pounds of pure fat in about a month. Somehow everybody thought it was muscle? I myself was confused, until I realized that the reason I was running out of breath when climbing stairs was not because my leg muscles were fatigued, but rather because I had put on fifteen pounds of pure fat and had put a hold on all cardiovascular exercises. Like I say, fine line.

Fat wrestlers--by which I mean performers whose shtick, more/less, had at least some connection to the fact that they were obese--were anomalous among the WWF athletes circa late 80s early 90s, but something of a haunt, if not an unusually dominating presence, considering their small number. A certain roundness of stomach is usually what separates a Fat Wrestler from a wrestler who is fat, is my sense of it. Earthquake, who got his start as a 460lb prop that Dino Bravo lifted on his back via push-ups, was a Fat Wrester; Bam Bam Bigelow was a unpredictable not-exactly-muscular wrestler who happened to be fat; Yokozuna, the sumo who was an amazing heel throughout the 90s, turning anyone who defeated him into a de facto face, was a Fat Wrestler; Big Boss Man, who was a cop and likely thought Munchkins were for queers, was a WWF superstar who just happened to have some size to him. Tugboat/Typhoon, a member of the Natural Disasters alongside Earthquake, was a Fat Wrestler; Kamala, Papa Shango, Haku, and countless others were merely not cut in the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart/Ultimate Warrior/steroids-and-sixpacks style. Andre the Giant posed an interesting crisis for the fat-averse WWF storyliners, as his weight (540lb) was outdone only by his height (7'4"). Vader was as big as Earthquake, weight-wise, yet somehow the way his stomach fell in that red onesie, I just think he was able to hide the pounds a little better, and so I feel obliged to chalk up another point in the happened-to-be-fat category.

On and on and on. All of these men were, in a rather oblique way, nevertheless in good physical shape. They could perform, and they knew how to redistribute their weight such that it wasn't that big a deal for somebody like Hogan or Stone Cold or whoever to pick them up and slam them. Frankly I don't now how these Fat Wrestlers do it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't impressed.

But what's confusing me, in a huge way, is what I see to be like this counterintuitive Round Stomach Bias at work in the casting process. Shouldn't fat people whose body types fit the local mall Santa Claus mold get the face here? Look at John Trenta, aka Earthquake, in his pre-Earthquake appearance:

Earthquake is a very gentle-seeming man. He has kind eyes, and at least initially, seems capable of (if not actually at home in) a down-at-the-farm demeanor. Pleasantly plump, they call it; the man likes his steak but I doubt he could take a knife to a cow's neck. Mean Gene and Warrior, two vets when it comes to "more than meets the eye," really have no reason to suspect that this is the man who will one day give the following interview, aka "Earthquake pretends he's Marvel Comics' Juggernaut with the added twist that either Earthquake or Juggernaut (in character) has to take a shit, which is why Earthquake/Juggernaut keeps shifting his weight so rapidly":

These days of course, you'll rarely see a WWE wrestler whose athleticism/performance abilities are hidden behind layers and layers of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue. Fat Wrestler was shorthand for heel in a way that the storyliners, probably with good reasons, have forgotten or retired--but the Heelness of Fat Wrestlers played out so much in their physicality, in their actual movements, in the David and Goliath-ness of the setups, that to be honest I actually miss the Fat Wrestler = Heel shorthand. Physical strength does not always have a one-to-one relationship with the number of muscles on your neck!


Strangely, This Comforts Me

For years, I had a memory of a match between the Macho Man Randy Savage and Jake the Snake Roberts that ended with Savage getting tied up in the ropes and Roberts sicking his cobra on him. The memory always terrified me for a number of reasons

1) The idea of having a snake's mouth on me - regardless of whether or not it was venomous - made my eyes roll into the back of my head. I literally want to vomit just thinking about it now.
2) My memory was that the snake was on his arm for a shitload of time. That added revulsion to sheer immediate terror.
3) Even at the age of 12, I always understood Jake the Snake's cobras to be a thinly veiled extension of his penis.

So in other words, this wasn't just your average feud match between an alcoholic and a steroid junkie (which, quite frankly, was pretty standard). This was some form of illicit, metaphoric, mid-ring coitus. And I didn't want to believe it.

12 Year Old Self: Oh really, WWF - you're trying to tell me that this man is gay?

12 Year Old Self: Nice try, but not happening. I watched his wedding.

So again, this memory really caused me some issues.

Here's the kicker, though - when I brought this moment up with a bunch of buddies (many of whom watched as much wrestling as I did) none of them remembered it. Apparently, it never happened. And that's when I got really scared, because now my brain was generating phobia-ridden, homoerotic wrestling narratives that were rivals to the phobia-ridden, homoerotic wrestling narratives that WWF generated, only that these were my phobias and I wasn't getting paid for them.

So I'm pretty happy that a recent YouTube culling of the Roberts/Savage feud unearthed this moment that supposedly never happened.

Admittedly, this is still pretty disturbing, especially when you get into the semiotics of it. Snake (Damien) as devil, snake as penis, snake as poison, penis as poison, Jake the Snake as latter day Christ Figure, Miss Elizabeth as feminine divine, Slim Jim as penis, etc, etc, etc. Bottom line, this clip is a hair's breadth away from being a conservative allegory for how gayness is spread.

And did I mention that it appears the snake is basically killed during the course of the rumble that follows?

Until three days later.




"How must I prepare, you must ask yourself: Should I jump off the tallest building in the world, should I lay on the lawn and let him run over me with lawnmowers, should I go to Africa and let it trouble me with raging elephants..." --ULTIMATE WARRIOR

"I don't know what he just said, but I think it sounded cool." --CHRIS JERICHO

Pro wrestling has like this reverse-Monet feel to it, immediately intelligible in the moment but lapse time and the premise falls apart. A match is something of an anti-narrative: a string of unrelated gestures, whose ending largely has nothing to do with the beginning or middle. This is where the comparisons to theater don't hold up, as does the supposedly implicit moral coding too, as the heel/face binary doesn't exactly let justice prevail. There is no accumulation of substantial fact, no substantial storyline to follow: There are only the moves, stylized to serve the character of the wrestler who performs them, though the moves themselves are self-reflexive, communicating outside the wrestler next to nada. Which is to say, style is not opposite substance here, nor even separate from it. In the ring, style IS substance.

I bring all this up because this fact, style = substance, was something my eight-year-old self intuitively understood when I watched the Ultimate Warrior go on his outlandish maniacal tangents when McMahon put the mic to him. Yet in the video above you got all these sideshow types--McMahon, Jim Ross, Mean Gene Okerlund, et al.--taking shots at the Warrior for not making any cumulative sense, i.e. fundamentally misunderstanding that Ultimate Warrior was taking the basic premise of pro wrestling and applying it to his interviews.

Keeping in mind how absurdly scripted national television is anymore, how even reality shows are given complex story arcs after smart and heavy edits, I have trouble understanding (a) how these interviews happened at all, (b) why McMahon allowed this to happen with such frequency, (c) what sort of top-down input/stern warnings Ultimate Warrior may have received from the writers or management types, considering that he really clearly said whatever the fuck he wanted, whenever he wanted, for as long as he needed to. Did he really have this much control over his character--who, as far as meta-characters goes in the WWF, Ultimate Warrior is my favorite, and possibly the best example of a WWF wrestler playing the character of a WWF wrestler. The Ultimate Warrior's meaning (substance) were wholly secondary to his delivery (style)--to the extent that if he had actual things he wanted to say, he ran the risk of drawing attention to the words themselves and away from the Ultimate Warriorness of how he spoke.

I like to think McMahon just trusted his instinct with Warrior, or let this one go for its obvious comedic value--and yet it seems like all these people heavily involved with the federation were just aggravated by Warrior. To an extent they had a right to be. This character, sorta like Doink, was high parody of pro wrestling's basic premise, though if you ask me, all that means is Warrior contained his own parody, and so was some kind of unironizable, undefeatable, truly ultimate symbol of himself.


The Huck Finn-ing of Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Chapter the First

You don’t know about me without you having heard about my good friend, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Jim and me, we was two peas in a pod growing up. I reckon we spent most our time together, just floating down the river and talking 'bout our favorite lengths of wood and such.

Even when he made it big in the WWF, what with his wrestling and his ‘HOOOO-ing’ and the like, there weren’t a time when a body couldn’t find him with me come summer. Sometimes at night we’d just spend hours chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” over and over till Miss Watson or the Judge would holler over and tell us to quiet up or we’d wake the dead. By-and-by we’d stop a-carrying on, but never once did we wake no body at all. I didn’t mind, but Jim always said it was a right shame that the dead weren’t patriotic.

I reckon I always known that Jim would be a wrestler. We’d be fishing or eating or something such like, when all of a sudden he’d start flapping like a bird and puffing his cheeks out awful hard. That was his wrestling mood, and there warn’t nothing nobody could do once that rascality come upon him. Then he’d clothesline the Widow Douglas or three-point stance himself into a tree. Jim was always doing dangersome stuff, even when there weren’t no cause. Like when he’d stick his thumb under his armpit and then fixed to make himself a sandwich. If that weren’t hygienically unsound that I don’t know what was. Still, me and him were friends, like I said before.

Course I’ll never forget the day when Jim left for the WWF. We were waving flags in t’other faces – this being a Tuesday and all - when here comes this slack faced man ambling into town and asking who wants to join his “slobber-knocker” up North. Why Jim was so excited that he done nearly cried himself right then and there, seeing as he most always wanted to slobber-knock. So Slack Face signed him up for all the corn pone Jim could eat, which is none of my business but I reckon a bad idea, what with Jim eating pone like throwing it down a well. I was mighty sad to see Jim go, but I did my best and gave him a thumbs up as they loaded him into his cage. By and by Aunt Sally made me some lunch, and that was mostly the day.

And as for his name? Why townsfolk started calling him Hacksaw after his first wrestling match. Hit a man awfully hard with an old hacksaw. Thought it would look good on TV. Right full in the face. After that, the name Hacksaw just stuck, though that wily Slack Face kept switching the saws for 2x4s ‘fore the next match. Blame it if ole Jim was too retarded, he couldn’t tell the difference.




Well we're gonna have to go back a few years Mr Mc Mahon about twenty years to be exact. We're talking bout a little funeral home sitting up on a hill, beautiful old trees all around, and a wonderful wonderful family-owned funeral home. The family lived upstairs, the father was the mortician who ran the funeral home, the mother was the secretary the receptionist but there were two little kids there. One kid was a little red-headed punk. And then there was a second kid, a sweet little kid named Kane. Now I was the apprentice at the funeral home, I worked under the red-headed punks' father, who by now you know is the Undertaker. The Undertaker's father was a mortician of excellence. He taught me everything I know. He taught me the correct way to prepare a body for burial, how to do the makeup, how to deal with the families, he taught me from A to Z. But while I was working at that funeral home, I seen a lot of things going on that shouldnt been happening. This little red-headed punk, there was something funny about him. He had a look in his eye, THE LOOK OF THE DEVIL, he was the devil's seed if you know what I mean...

That poor little Kane, the little brother, followed the Undertaker around everywhere he went. The Undertaker was little Kane's hero. Anything the Undertaker did was fine. Well it went on for about two years my apprenticeship, I was going to college at night, taking courses in mortuary sciences at the same time. The Undertaker and Kane would run around the funeral home like wild men. They had free reign of the property. They'd sneak out behind the garage, I seen what they were doing; their mom and daddy didn't see what they were doing, but I saw what they were doing. I saw them taking chemicals out of the embalming room of the funeral room. I saw them sneaking behind the garage smoking cigarettes when they were little kids.

But you know one particular afternoon, I was leaving to go to school. As I backed my car out of the funeral home, I looked behind and who do I see. That red-head devil seed, Undertaker, with his little brother. Something was funny, something didn't seem right. But I went ahead and backed out of the driveway and went to school. I came back from school about ten o clock that night. And what do I see? I see firetrucks! I see ambulance. I see steam and smoke and I see the funeral home in ashes. Someone burned down the funeral home. Inside the funeral home was this lovely family that took care of me. I looked over to the bushes. Who did I see in the bushes but the Undertaker! Undertaker! You burnt the funeral home to the ground. And along with the funeral home, you killed your parents.

You killed your family Undertaker! I knew it! I've had this secret on my inside all my life. Twenty years! You killed them. Undertaker! You are a murderer! You are a murderer Undertaker! You are a goddamn Murderer!




This is a man who wrestled for a long fucking time, who claimed Hogan as a best friend, who was known in the 80s as Babyface on account of his slick bathhouse bod and locks. His shtick, in retrospect, was that he was a Chippendale. Take a second and think about how convoluted everything is about to get. Chippendales are male strippers, typically of the hulking but effeminate sort, the kind of guys who shave their pubes into like different shapes and stuff and probably have had their butt hairs waxed.

Granted I've definitely considered this kind of hair removal process--it probably feels pretty great if you think about it--but the difference here is that I'm not a Chippendale, and didn't go through with it. Point being: Chippendales are masculine in very unmasculine ways. They have muscles but likely don't lift much--and even likelier, probably use the machines at the gym, not the freeweights, so they're not developing their stabilizing muscles, so their muscles are really truly for show. And in case you have already forgotten the image of a man having his butt hairs removed, I just want to reiterate that these Chippendale types care about their looks--to a degree that (social construct or not) is a tad on the flitty side.

The myth and genius of Brutus the Barber Beefcake is that he had his butt wax cake and ate it too: It was 100% permissible to dig Beefcake, to think this kind of lifestyle was acceptable, precisely because his muscles aren't for show. Because he was a wrestler and hurt other human beings with these muscles, etc., etc., etc.. He can care about his looks because the tool with which he cares about his looks is not a pair of tiny barber shears but enormous, cocklike garden scissors. And as an in-ring shtick, and this to me counts as one of the biggest and most biblical mindfuck the WWE has ever put to us, Barber turned "giving someone a man's haircut" into the ultimate devastating and demasculating thing anyone could possibly do to another human being. He was only a Chippendale insofar as he could chippendalize his opponent after the match. As far as retellings of the Samson story go, you can't do much better.

Except he actually doesn't hurt any human beings! This is scripted television! His for-show muscles are in the for-show service of not being for show. He is a parody of masculinity twice over.

Beyond that: You'll notice in this clip above that Barber has a full-on mullet. You're probably wondering how a man who's cut so many people's hair hasn't given himself over to a good looking trim himself. Pop quiz: Who shaves the Barber?

WWF spent years trying to figure this out in the so-called "Barbershop" sketches, in which Brutus interviewed other wrestlers. Especially after the parasailing accident in 1990, the man had a bit of an impunity to him around the federation: First the hit job he did on Earthquake from behind a mask, second the fact that WWF storyliners seemed hesitant to address the fact that Beefcake's face had been reconstructed after the emergency--that the man had actual screws and shit in his face, holding it all together. Who shaves the Barber? It drove the other wrestlers insane, reaching a bit of a climax in this scene with Sid Vicious:

Without a barbershop, WWF now put Brutus back in the ring. Amazingly, the story of his crazy fucked up face comprises the nutmeat of his comeback, and you can hear in the clip all the way above how Gorilla is just enthralled with the possibility that this man's face could just come apart again. This is an actual man's face we're talking about. When IRS takes a briefcase to Brutus's face, I still find it difficult not to flinch and/or grab my own face in self-defense.

Then there's the whole weird wordplay aspect of his operation: The "heel" is the bad guy, the "face" is the good guy, and here's Money Incorporated smashing the "face" of the "face", and for the next few months afterwards, actively trying to destabilize the man's surgery. It's all supposed to be a storyline but I mean look at the fucking mask they made "Brutus the Bionic Barber" wear:

Dude was outta here soon after.


Vince McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club

“Following the collapse of the WCW/ECW Alliance at Survivor Series 2001, Mr. McMahon created the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club, which consisted of various WWE individuals being ordered to kiss his ass in the middle of the ring, usually with the threat of suspension or firing if they refuse” - Wikipedia.

I can’t even begin to say all that should be said about both this concept and this list. Read it and then let’s talk.

# Member Reason
1 William Regal
Regal became the first member as a condition of being rehired by the WWF, having betrayed the Federation to join The Alliance.

2 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin was the second Alliance member Vince had wanted to kiss his ass, but Austin instead hit a lowblow on McMahon with his pants pulled down.

3 Jim Ross
Austin's refusal to join the club prompted uproarious laughter from Ross at ringside. Noticed by McMahon and Kurt Angle, he was forced to take Austin's place, following an unexpected beatdown from The Undertaker.

4 Trish Stratus
For betraying him at WrestleMania X-Seven, McMahon ordered her to go through with it before being saved by The Rock.

5 Zach Gowen
During his feud with Gowen, McMahon ordered him to participate in order to gain a contract with WWE.

6 Marty Jannetty
In the midst of McMahon's ongoing feud with Shawn Michaels, Jannetty was in-line to join the club in order to remain in WWE. However, McMahon relented and forced Jannetty to break Chris Masters' Masterlock in order to remain in WWE. Jannetty failed and soon exited WWE.[37] This was also the first "Kiss My Ass" segment in which McMahon wore a thong instead of pulling his underwear completely down.

7 Shawn Michaels
Following Jannetty's failure to participate, Shawn Michaels became a member of the club after he was knocked unconscious by Shane McMahon.[37]

8 Shane McMahon
During his match against Michaels at WrestleMania 22, McMahon dropped his trousers as Shane prepared to thrust Michaels' face into his father's ass again. However, Michaels overpowered Shane and shoved his face into Vince's ass instead.[38]

9 Triple H
Shane McMahon tried doping HHH, but HHH switched water bottles, making Shane pass out after HHH pretended to pass out. HHH then proceeded to hit the The Pedigree on Vince while Vince's pants were still pulled down.[39]

10 Mick Foley
Foley became the second person (after Regal) to join the club voluntarily, on the grounds that it would save Melina's job. However, after participating, Melina promptly betrayed Foley and he was fired by McMahon.[40]

11 Hornswoggle
As punishment for skirting the Royal Rumble match, Mr. McMahon wanted his alleged bastard son Hornswoggle to join the Kiss My Ass Club. When it came time for him to pucker up, Finlay interrupted. After much yelling from Mr. McMahon, Hornswoggle finally leaned in and bit his freshly buffed buttocks. Mr McMahon later stated, even though Hornswoggle bit his ass, his lips still came into contact with it. Therefore, he officially became a member of the Kiss My Ass Club.

Ok, now let’s go through this step by step:

# Member Reason
1 William Regal
Regal became the first member as a condition of being rehired by the WWF, having betrayed the Federation to join The Alliance

First of all, hats off to Vince McMahon for 1) insisting people kiss his ass, and 2) deciding such an action was worthy of club status. Also, good call on inducting Regal first. Back in WCW, he kissed Goldberg’s ass (in a manner of speaking) on the latter’s way to the top, so solid callback, writing staff. Wrestling is truly at its best when it’s literalizing a metaphor.

2 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin was the second Alliance member Vince had wanted to kiss his ass, but Austin instead hit a lowblow on McMahon with his pants pulled down.

Initial impression - Vince is clearly incapable of distinguishing the shticks of William Regal and Steve Austin. Or else he’s very trusting. But given that Stone Cold probably follows his wife’s goodnight kiss with a lowblow and stunner, I’d call Vince’s actions naïve at best. Out of character, or a rare humanizing moment for McMahon? I’m not sure.

3 Jim Ross
Austin's refusal to join the club prompted uproarious laughter from Ross at ringside. Noticed by McMahon and Kurt Angle, he was forced to take Austin's place, following an unexpected beatdown from The Undertaker.

Vince is a quick learner. Jim Ross is not Stone Cold. He will probably kiss your ass. History shows he did. More on this later.

4 Trish Stratus
For betraying him at WrestleMania X-Seven, McMahon ordered her to go through with it before being saved by The Rock.

At this point it becomes clear that McMahon is nervous that this gimmick is quickly becoming pretty gay. Thankfully that subtext is put to rest by having a muscle-laden man interpose himself between McMahon and a woman. Crisis solved. Let’s move on.

Quibbling point but worth making. Vince clearly fails to understand that if people don’t actually go through with kissing your ass, it’s sort of bullshit to induct them into the Kiss My Ass Club. By what measure are Stone Cold and Trish Stratus members? That they were invited to do so? Was it their relative physical proximity to Vince’s ass? Where’s the bright-line on this? Reductio ad absurdum, we’re all kissing Vince’s ass to some degree. Frankly, that’s genius, but I still expect some tighter apagogical shit from the WWE writing room.

5 Zach Gowen
During his feud with Gowen, McMahon ordered him to participate in order to gain a contract with WWE.

With the induction of Zach Gowen, two of the four members of this club are physically disabled. What might be construed as a civil rights victory goes entirely unnoticed by the public at large. In fact, there’s a 25% chance that – if you’re a member of the Kiss My Ass Club – you can’t move your face. I’ve been to the mountaintop and it looks remarkably like Vince McMahon’s ass cheek.

6 Marty Jannetty
In the midst of McMahon's ongoing feud with Shawn Michaels, Jannetty was in-line to join the club in order to remain in WWE. However, McMahon relented and forced Jannetty to break Chris Masters' Masterlock in order to remain in WWE. Jannetty failed and soon exited WWE. This was also the first "Kiss My Ass" segment in which McMahon wore a thong instead of pulling his underwear completely down.

Locker Room, 1994:
Shawn Michaels: I don’t know dude. If we want to win the title, maybe we should just kiss McMahon’s ass. Figuratively, I mean. Not literally. Just a metaphor.

Marty Jannetty: No way, bra – we are this close to taking the belt from the Hart Connection! We do this our way!

Shawn Michaels: ‘K…(shuffles some papers)

Marty Jannetty: Bra, you’re not gonna kiss his ass behind my back are you?

Shawn Michaels: Nah…

Raw, 2006
Audience: Just kiss his ass dude! Get the contract! Provide for your family!

Marty Jannetty: Won’t do it!


7 Shawn Michaels
Following Jannetty's failure to participate, Shawn Michaels became a member of the club after he was knocked unconscious by Shane McMahon

Now 4759 hits and counting.

By the way, what’s with the thong? In my brain, Vince McMahon wakes up each morning, looks in a mirror (I imagine every surface in the McMahon household is a mirror) and sings to the dawn: “Today, I get my ass kissed.” What changed all that? HDTV? Possibly. A certain squeamishness about potentially spreading Butt Bell’s Palsy? Maybe. Either way, I consider this a low point in club history.

8 Shane McMahon
During his match against Michaels at WrestleMania 22, McMahon dropped his trousers as Shane prepared to thrust Michaels' face into his father's ass again. However, Michaels overpowered Shane and shoved his face into Vince's ass instead.[38]

The less said about this the better. Watch it for yourself. ( The man has his face in his father’s ass for a good 5 seconds. Consider your father's ass. Seriously, think about it. Now consider being in it. I can’t figure which is worse: that there is a human being in existence who pitched this idea to the McMahons (his father’s ass!), or that the McMahons came up with this themselves. Equally frightening question: the extent of psychic trauma this caused Shane McMahon, or the fact that it caused him no trauma at all?

9 Triple H
Shane McMahon tried doping HHH, but HHH switched water bottles, making Shane pass out after HHH pretended to pass out. HHH then proceeded to hit the The Pedigree on Vince while Vince's pants were still pulled down.

Very Romeo and Juliet, which – if memory serves – ends with the Duke hitting the Friar with a 619. Obviously, the KSMAC angle has run its course at this point. Which must mean-

10 Mick Foley
Foley became the second person (after Regal) to join the club voluntarily, on the grounds that it would save Melina's job. However, after participating, Melina promptly betrayed Foley and he was fired by McMahon.[40]

-it’s time for Mick Foley to continue his bit of taking things too far.

11 Hornswoggle
As punishment for skirting the Royal Rumble match, Mr. McMahon wanted his alleged bastard son Hornswoggle to join the Kiss My Ass Club. When it came time for him to pucker up, Finlay interrupted. After much yelling from Mr. McMahon, Hornswoggle finally leaned in and bit his freshly buffed buttocks. Mr McMahon later stated, even though Hornswoggle bit his ass, his lips still came into contact with it. Therefore, he officially became a member of the Kiss My Ass Club.[41]

The technicality here is fantastic. Wrestling knows no pyrrhic victories, and if you can get a midget dressed as a leprechaun who may or may not be your bastard son to bite you in the ass, you, my friend, have won. Technically.

Again, we could be here all day with this topic, so forgive me for tapping out. For the record, the Kiss My Ass Club was officially closed when McMahon kissed Rikishi’s butt. How that ends anything is beyond me.


Via Breitbart:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Most of former professional wrestler Ric Flair's fights were scripted. But Chapel Hill, N.C., police didn't find anything fake about the blood and bruises on the Nature Boy after a fight with his daughter's 22-year-old boyfriend...

Neighbors called police about 2:30 a.m. Friday about a fight at an apartment in the city about 30 miles northwest of Raleigh. The fight was over, but officers followed a trail of blood to Fliehr's apartment.

She told police the men had fought but it was over and things were fine. Officers found the 59-year-old Flair, whose real name is Richard Fliehr, on a bed in the back room. The boyfriend was in another part of the apartment...

"He was kind of elusive," Gunter said of Flair. "He said everything was fine. Officers said he had a 'no problems here' kind of attitude. He just wanted everything forgotten."

Flair, known for his platinum blond hair, fur-lined robes and signature "Wooooo!" catchphrase, retired earlier this year after a 36-year career. He had wrestled for a number of big-name organizations, including World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment.





































Anybody Want a Peanut?

Based off JBL's near man-boobs on the last Raw, I think we all need to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of him switching to an Andre the Giant/Big Show one-piece pretty soon.

In fact, I've crunched JBL's BMI, and the results are frightening.



It just occurred to me that Ravishing Rick Rude's name means effectively Raping Rick Rude.

But some part of me already knew that.


Am I Missing Something?

Look, I realize I’m behind on the wrestling times. And I’m not bitter, but I am confused. Like when my grandfather used to watch footage from WWII on the History channel - what I see on the screen awakens something deep in my subconscious, but frankly that’s not how I remember Iwo Jima going down (or its wrestling analog, the Rikishi’s stinkbutt). You just had to be there.

The hard reality is that things have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

In my day, there were only a handful of ‘superstars’ and at least three of them were death-replacements for the Ultimate Warrior. Now there are literally dozens, and not one of them is Razor fucking Ramon.

In my day, women weren’t even let into the arena, unless they were either married to wrestlers or were about to have their marriage ceremony interrupted by Jake the Snake Roberts. Now we have wrestling divas whose marital status is totally unclear.

And don’t even get me started about the writing out of Grand Master Sexay.

But like I said, I’m not bitter, just confused.

Case in point - the latest Smackdown. Enter Triple H (nee The Connecticut Blue Blood). He’s working your standard opening mike job. The crowd is pretty into it, despite Triple H almost casually hyping his upcoming title defense. And not surprisingly, he’s interrupted by one of his PPV challengers, Shelton Brown, The Gold Standard.

And here’s where things just get sad.

The Gold Standard has arguably zero mike skills (like this bad: The overwhelming vibe in the arena is one of complete apathy. Goldust (presumably a relative) only had to pull into the arena parking lot and he became the subject of numerous hate speech acts. The Gold Standard apparently pulls his weight around the WWE with concession stands sales.

The plot shittens. Enter MVP, or Montel Vontavious Porter. In his free time, Montel suffers from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a medical condition that causes his heart to beat three times that of a normal individual, meaning at any given moment his heart could literally burst during a match. Presumably he became a professional wrestler after losing a bet to an actuary. Unfortunately, MVP also sucks with a mike. It’s honestly terrible. I’m pulling for the Wolff-Parkinson-White angle.

And that’s when Triple H -in what amounts to complete hypocrisy from a man once dedicated to decorum – snaps kayfabe in two. Asking how long MVP and Standard have worked for the ‘company,’ he proceeds to break down the way to cut a promo – hype the PPV, get interrupted, trade insults, kick ass, set up the PPV. It’s brutally honest and clearly evident in what just happened. And I’m not sure the audience was ready for it. Maybe there was some guy there who was pumped that he could now cancel his Introduction to Screenwriting course at the New School, but the rest of us felt a little hollow inside. “I’m sorry Willy, but Searchlight’s/MVP’s heart had to explode to provide character closure and precipitate a dénouement.” Thanks Stone Fox, but leave me my illusions.

The rest of the night proceeded as planned. Diva Fight. Generic rapper sort you moves like a character in Capoeira Fighter 3. The Undertaker openly vows to murder Vicky Guerrero, detailing how the acrid smoke of her own burning flesh would ultimately suffocate her in a mahogany (he specified the wood) coffin. And yet, somehow I felt we never got past those first few minutes.

In my day, when Tugboat ended his longtime friendship with Hulk Hogan because Hogan failed to send him a Get Well Card during a hospital convalescence, we believed it. We all knew Hogan was illiterate, but we believed. So give the audience a break, Triple H – they paid their money already.

And they won’t even get to the see the worm.



So this "punkout" of CM Punk last night at Unforgiven--it's about fucking time! I have been waiting for two years now for the WWE to re-recognize the value of storylines sparked off bad character name wordplays: Punk got 'punk'd; said punking consisted of a punch-out; Punk is now "out" with an injury. I wish Freddie Prinze et al figured out a way to work in the CM angle here: Maybe this is when you introduce an I.R.S.-type scientist wrestler gimmick who's heavy into the metric system, or a Dink-type mini CM Punk character named CM Punk, CM. Holler!

Anyway Punk was attacked by Ted DiBiase's kid, Dusty Rhodes' kid, and a Wild Samoan's kid, all of this keeping Punk from defending his championship belt. I sense that McMahon might explore a more explicit politicking slash nepotism in these storylines: backdoor deals between Million Dollar Man and McMahon, kayfabe kickbacks in the unremembered 80s, father-son tag team matches between Million Dollar Junior/Million Dollar Man and Cody Rhodes/Dusty Rhodes' Ghost. In my mind this is a dream match, a little gimmicky, a little supernatural, and the fact that Dusty Rhodes is still living should not keep the WWE from murdering him and making this happen.

We're also talking about the sons of three of the most ridiculous characters in WWF history, sonning the Regular Guy (CM Punk) who is Extremely Regular in the worst way, so incapable of What Is vs What Seems that he couldn't handle how his body failed his soul. Thank Jesus for tattoos, among them references to: Pepsi (CM Punk likes Pepsi; is straight-edge); Minor Threat (the Pepsi tattoo is an homage to Minor Threat's Brian Baker's Coke tattoo); Cobra from G.I. Joe; strong women (Punk is a feminist); DRUG-FREE (Jake and Elwood style on the knuckles, a reference to Chicago); STRAIGHT-EDGE on the tummy (self-explanatory), Bouncing Souls and Op Ivy symbols (dits); and an anchor tattoo that, in Punk's words, "represents someone in my life who's always there."

Did I mention that our hero Punk was crucified on a show called Unforgiven?

Listen it's not my place to give it to sXc crowd--everybody has his reasons for staying off the junk or out the bottle or "in the smegma" (i.e. being vegan). Plus I liked plenty of the cleaner-cut wrestlers back in the steroid-enhanced golden age: Texas Tornado ran on windpower; Red Rooster kept himself pretty together; Bossman was a clean fighter, threw back a few after the match I'm sure but the man had no time for gluttony; even Hulk Hogan had me thinking it was the vitamins making those veins pop. Granted I'm not that naive anymore, and now know that vitamins alone didn't get Hogan all those muscles--he cut back on the cardio and just did the weights really fast. Anybody who doesn't understand this concept should email my friend Shawn, who has a lot of advice about this stuff, including what kinds of recovery shakes to drink and so on.

But what I dislike about the Intercontinental Blackhole that is WWE's CM Punk is that his shtick is a complete disavowal of everything that was great about the WWF in the Golden Age 90s. Punk is evidence that the WWE has left all that behind: no steroids, no costumes, a collapse of person and persona, anti-intellectualism normalized, however accidentally. Company men to the max, CM Punk has been largely complicit in letting his own rather whatever life become the stuff of storyline: Philip Jack Brooks, a straight-edge kid from Chicago, plays CM Punk the straight-edge wrestler. Same thing with JBL, a successful stock analyst rich dude type who plays exactly that in the ring--a target for working-class angst that invites anger rather than provides escapism.

My feeling is: Your son or daughter will discover the vapid self-impressed asshole that is the New York businessman soon enough--will realize he watched American Psycho and read the wiki page for Bright Lights, Big City and now thinks what he's doing is totally bad-ass and entirely sophisticated, even though he spends his entire fucking day eating rice noodles out of takeout plastic and carrying around his copy of The Economist, of which he only reads the shorter articles but "gets the gist" of the ones that run a K or two. Similarly, your son or daughter will very likely encounter the self-satisfied Christian quote family man who wears his close-mindedness like a badge of fucking honor, scornful of youth and fantasy, distrusting of the hopeful, obedient to the proper channels and arrogant in his devotion to humble causes and common sense. As far as civilians go, this brand of righteous is a dominant mode, and the worst thing our country has produced by far. Your son or daughter has a good shot of either being one or being sympathetic to the cause or at worst being completely oblivious to it. So why not, in that sliver of time before pee-pees become dicks and wee-wees become bearded clams, let them believe the unbelievable?




Slowly but surely I wrap my head around the mindfuck that is Million Dollar Man forming a tagteam alliance with Irwin R. Schyster in 1992. Money Incorporated--later called Million Dollar Incorporated.

1. Ten years prior you wouldn't have seen these two men be such buds: The tax rates for the wealthy were around the 60% mark; depending on when DiBiase made his millions, my guess is he probably wasn't too keen on the IRS, or the IRS.

2. By 92, courtesy Reagan and Papa Bush, that rate was relaxed, so maybe things weren't so tense anymore between the two.

3. But! Irwin's pet peeve among wrestlers, fans, and commentators, was that they were all tax cheats--working the system, withholding income, stuffing numbers in the nook-cranny loop holes of the increasingly unwieldy tax code.

4. This scheming was undoubtedly what allowed DiBiase to become a Million Dollar Man in the late 80s!

5. You will notice Million Dollar Man slips I.R.S. some cash after I.R.S.--this being what I believe to be the beginning of I.R.S.'s shtick becoming entirely too complicated, at least for me. He makes out with Million Dollar Man's Sherri, but he's the one who gets paid off? And doesn't I.R.S. hate people like Million Dollar Man?

6. This match becomes increasingly more complicated when you factor in that one law enforcer, Big Boss Man, is pitted against another (i.e. I.R.S.). Somehow Big Boss Man is the face here--but 1992 was only a year away from 1991, the year American cops got dealt quite a blow in the form of the Rodney King beating. All of this is occurring to me just now. You have Big Boss Man wrestling alongside the only black wrestler in the WWF at the time, Virgil, who lest we forget was a former slave to Million Dollar Man--only recently had he wrestled for his freedom. Somehow Virgil is OK wrestling alongside a character who in the American popular mindset is at one of its most corrupt and racist peaks.

7. I'm in the writing room right now, 1992, trying to figure out what to do with the alliance between Big Boss Man and Virgil. Do I make Virgil a cop too? Do I feel bad when I give Boss Man the authority to wield his billy club, you know, considering?

8. It's three in the fucking morning and I'm still here, in my trailer, writing out this storyline. This is what I got so far. I have the Rich Man, the Boss Man, the Tax Man, and the Black Man. The Boss Man is more/less an incorruptible force, a vector of justice who just so happens to be in the guise of a New York police officer. I wouldn't say Boss Man is gullible, but my guess is he gives everyone a fair shot. It's not in his character to act outside the law though; matches show Boss Man having incredible crises of conscience when faced with such heinous cheating in the ring. For Boss Man, two wrongs do not make a right.

9. Maybe Boss Man hates Million Dollar Man for fudging his taxes? So he enlists Virgil?

10. Complication: Virgil is the least qualified person in WWF when it comes to taxes, on account of the fact that Virgil has not collected a salary from Million Dollar Man for several years now, on account of being Million Dollar Man's slave. The numbers 1-0-4-0 mean nothing to him, nada.




Doink debuted in late 1992 as like this sideshow character, halfway between a fan and a commentator. He was a pretty ugly motherfucker, even for a clown. His wig hair was basically repulsive, a radioactive shade of green, and the wig's balding hairline kept most of his strands around the perimeter of his head, sorta like if Larry from the Stooges got ducked headfirst into a bin of hospital sewage. A clown gone wrong--and capitalizing off the clown-gone-wrong momentum of Beetlejuice (whose face Doink ripped off entirely) and the purposeful purposelessness of Jack Nicholson's Joker--which is to say Doink was Heath Ledger's Joker before Heath Ledger's Joker. His face paint had some semblance of order to it, the blue upside-down triangles and the red dot on the nose and so on--but this was maybe Doink's biggest mislead. The character's end game had no internal logic, no particular motivation beyond pulling the rug.

A true clown, in the most Shakespearian sense imaginable, Doink was subject neither to the rules in the ring, nor to the fear that your Bobby Heenan and referee types had to worry about w/r/t staying on Vince McMahon's good side, nor to the paralysis one has as a fan at these things, wondering at all times how participatory of an event is this after all--how far does the "game" of wrestling extend, impunity and all.

When he made the jump to wrestler, the norm for Doink was legendary stunts such as the one above, where he distracted the jock-ish wrestler Crush with simulacra of himself and then snuck up from behind Crush and smeared his eyes with some kind of blinding chemical. Doink is a professional wrestler, yet as a character he exists solely to mock the stereotypes of professional wrestler: big, dumb, obsolete pieces of post-ww2 masculinity--muscles for show. More than that, the clown doesn't rest until he's proven well beyond a doubt something we knew to be true but had put aside for the time being: his opponent is just as much of a clown.

Anyway it's no secret the WWF had a drug and steroid 'problem' in the 90s--so maybe what I'm about to say is a little too easy. Doink went through several iterations, i.e. several people had to play Doink, in no small part because the act of playing Doink seems to have taken a fuckload outta dudes. It must have been really intense; you really just can't give a fuck about anything if you want to do this character right. Self-preservation is not in your storyline. Matt Osborne, the first Doink, supposedly got shitcanned for frequent junk abuse, and then the gimmick went through three more dudes before fading out. Nihilism as a stage gimmick (and as a movie gimmick) is arresting but exhausting and ultimately boring--the unpredictable wraps around and becomes predictable again.

But I like what happened afterwards: The Doink costume became shorthand for "I am going to do something completely against all rules, and yet I will suffer no consequences for my action": Chris Jericho suited up as Doink several years later, for instance, and of course ECW took on Doink for a minute after he made his way through WWF. Except! Except ECW--supposedly the most extreme of the wrestling circuits--fundamentally couldn't handle the extreme anti-logic of Doink's character, and they storylined Matt Osborne out of Doink, which they slammed as mere gimmick. Shane Douglas told the clown to stop clowning around. He was too good of a wrestler.




Two weekends ago I saw RAW live at MSG. I readily admit to some ironic posturing here--easier to do when your $200 ringsides come gratis, granted, which is to say you deserve the whole story and range of sentiment. There I sat surrounded by sons and fathers of all races and blackberry plans, watching two grown men with spray-on tans wrestle two black guys in timberlands and embroidered jeans. It was an important match; the winners would take the WWE Tag Team Championship Belt. The black guys were named Cryme Time. They came kayfabe from NYC--so your hometown heroes, lovable thugs, the match's Faces. I cannot exaggerate the sheer amount of embroidery on the seats of these men's jeans. If you want Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants crossover, there have to be easier ways than needle and thread.

As for the heels: I forget the one guy's name with the really bad spray-on tan. I just looked it up though. His name is Cody Rhodes--the son of Dusty Rhodes, and nephew of Tugboat aka Typhoon, one half of the Natural Disasters. (This is as good a time as any to mention that there was another guy that night who had a pretty bad spray-on too. He was shorter and sorta looked like this guy who gave me a hard time in grade school.) The other guy was Teddy DiBiase--the son (yes) of Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.

Rhodes was born in 1985, DiBiase in 1982. Both are younger than I am. And it occurred to me, as I dropped eaves on fathers regaling their sons with stories of this man-myth named The Million Dollar Man, who had a Million Dollar Belt ("every last inch covered in diamonds--covered in diamonds"), who had a song that went MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY, who had a black man-servant named Virgil, who (Virgil) wrestled Million Dollar Man for his freedom way back in Wrestlemania VII--it occurred to me that I was closer in age and reference to these fathers than to their sons. This was reiterated to me every time I yelled some kind of heinous insult towards the ring, and the little boy who sat in front of me wearing a John Cena shirt looked back at me in utter fear. Would I yell at him? Would I maybe hurt him?

(The John Cena t-shirt design rips off the box design of early NES games, an 8-bit Cena made to look like a Punch-Out character, pumping his fist in triumph as his competition lies dead on the mat. Cena released a rap album in 2005.)

The match drags. Like really drags. Pro Wrestling, the physical in-the-ring act of it, is not spectacle without the TV angles, the smart editing, the commentators, the fake news sideshows between matches. Forced to watch two men pretend to injure one another, at a distance so close that the un-reality of it does in fact begin to feel like an insult, I marveled at the young people around me, who (in contrast) watched every moment enthralled. These are the same young American people, I'm told, who have the world's shortest attention spans, who need at least three or four jokes per page of a script or they will turn off the tv. WWE, minus commentary, minus chairs, is tortoise-speed entertainment.

Like many people my age, I believe that professional wrestling reached some kind of peak in 1992, 93, 1994, when Randy 'Macho Man' Savage served as WWF commentator alongside Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan. Philly had ECW too, and I got my ass down to the bingo hall at least twice that I can remember, and caught the rest late night on Channel 48. Every major league had at least one wrestler who looked like someone in my extended family: My dad looked like Skinner; my aunt's mobster ex-fiance was a wop Million Dollar Man; my uncle somehow looked like both Rod Van Dam and Hulk Hogan, though neither man looked like the other; Earthquake looked like my dad during dad's fatter/intestinal disease period; Ric Flair was a less effeminate Pop John.

I retired from my career of professional wrestling spectator in 1998, 1999 or so, after the twins Matt and Andy bought tickets for Pandemonium in the Spectrum, and we went with their dad and a few of their Catholic high school cronies. We were way up, it was tough to stay interested. All I remember is that I had a camera with a 500mm lens and took shots of every partially exposed breast that entered the ring. I also remember a guy named Val Venis, and I also remember being perfectly capable of saying his name without, you know, going for the obvious. In fact I also-also remember maybe being a little bothered when people did go for it: Like, grow up, guys, that's his name, just deal with it.

What had to be a half-hour later, DiBiase and Rhodes beat Cryme Time by cheating. I think Rhodes distracted the referee and it was all over from there. The ref between them, DiBiase and Rhodes lifted up the Tag Team Belts over their heads in celebration--and seconds later, Cryme Time ambushed them from behind, stole their belts, then ran out of the ring. I know what you're thinking, big deal, they're still the Tag Team Champions. But that's not how this works. You are the Tag Team Champion if and only if you possess the physical Tag Team Champion Belt. Kayfabe, I imagine there is no official record of the Champion outside of who is wearing the belt--a hundred-million dollar business, the WWE still keeps its championships analog.

DiBiase and Rhodes are fuming, but when they settle down, they sneak in a quick hug, as if to tell each other everything is going to be OK. Instinctively, the entirety of Madison Square Garden shouts "Awwwww." Rhodes suddenly notices what's happening, and begins to mime that there's been some kind of misunderstanding--no, no it's not that, it's definitely not what you're thinking.

End scene.

The day after I spent some time digging up what I could of Writing on Professional Wrestling. There was that pro wrestling class at MIT, which had a blog, and I read that all the way through. A few university presses have put out essay compendiums on the subject, and there are a few pieces scattershot on the web. Most of the discourse, as with any academic writing on pop culture, is largely a self-serving defense of the subject as worthy of academic inquiry. Roland Barthes. Hypermasculinity. Revisions of Masculinity in the Post World War II era. Wrestling as Spectacle. Role of the Mask! Authenticity vs. Inauthenticity! Wrestling Is Sort of Like Pornography! Sexism. Wrestling As Modern Epic Storytelling. Heroes and Villains. Everything I've read keeps an arm's length from the subject matter, and my guess is that most of them have never liked pro wrestling anyway. For the sake of being "critical discourse," the critical discourse on professional wrestling fundamentally misunderstands the humor and appeal of professional wrestling.

I didn't fear Papa Shango because he is playing on stereotypes of non-Christian religions and a continental fear of witchcraft as handed down to us through children's stories. Rather, I feared Papa Shango because he is an enormous man who paints his face white and carries around a skull with smoke coming out of it. I didn't love Big Boss Man because he is an archetype of the Spirit of the Law, and I didn't hate the Mountie because is an archetype of the law's Letter. Actually, I loved Big Boss Man because, for such a ridiculously fat man, he was pretty fucking nimble, and he used to do this thing when he would slide into the ring on his belly, sorta like a penguin. I loved Big Boss Man because, for a good six months, I had trouble putting on my shirt, on account of all the rug burn I suffered imitating him.

Aside from the occasional riff on Mankind, you'll never read anything that concedes hey, maybe these wrestlers knew what they were doing--that maybe the humor wasn't so unintentional. For all the talk of suspension of disbelief, you'll never read anything that has the courage to buy into the gimmick a little--to get past the fact that the commentators "serve a key function in disseminating important storyline information to the audience" and into the nitty-gritty: Why is the stare down Macho Man's favorite part of the match? What was going through Jim Ross's brain as he had to narrate the Owen Hart fall? Who played the best Doink?

Since the match I have found myself watching about an hour of WWF on Youtube every day--matches I remember mostly, but others to fill in the cracks too. As a closed and profitable and fantastical and self-perpetuating universe, the WWF in the early/mid-90s remains deeply fascinating to me--not just culturally but aesthetically.

LADDER MATCH is an ongoing effort to understand why.