Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Forgotten Vs. Smashing Machine
* = This is sort of what my weekend looked like...
I literally did nothing of any tangible worth to society this weekend. Nothing. I sat on my ass and watched a couple of wrestling documentaries & more Puroresu than a gaijin like myself should. For those that don’t know Puroresu is Japanese Pro Wrestling, but I’ll get to that momentarily, first however are the two documentaries I watched;
- Triumph & Tragedies The Story Of The Von Erichs (**** out of 5) – Hey kids want to be depressed? Then watch this flick. Wow, talk about a downer. Five kids all involved in Pro Wrestling just like their dad, four don’t make it to the age of 30.
Oh and just in case you want to just blame wrestling there was a 6th son, who died at age 6 of electrocution. I remember watching the Von Erichs as a kid at the Lynch’s house down the street on ESPN during the summer. It was World Class Championship Wrestling and it was pretty entertaining. Had I known how steeped in tragedy the whole thing was I most likely wouldn’t have been as interested. David Von Erich died in Japan under mysterious circumstances. It’s debated whether it was a drug overdose or an eating disorder mishap or whether his stomach burst. If you ask me all of those are just horrible ways to die. From there two of the other boys committed suicide. One after surviving a horrible surgery mishap that resulted in Toxic Shock which he barely survived. The other was the non-athletic Von Erich who upon realizing he wasn’t going to follow into the family business shot himself. Oh and just to up the quotient of ‘ugh’ the one surviving brother is the one who found him, with their mother in tow. Last but not least was Kerry Von Erich, possibly the most famous of the family. This former discus thrower, and all around incredible athlete just couldn’t seem to get out of his own way as far as success in the ‘business’. Eventually he was in the WWF and successful there, even with a prosthetic foot after losing it in a motorcycle & subsequent recovery accident. He was big into the drug culture though. In the end he was about to do some serious jail time and rather than face it he shot and killed himself. How much tragedy can one family take? The documentary was one of the saddest things I’ve watched in awhile. It totally smashed a lot of my illusions about the Pro Wrestling I enjoyed as a child.
- Bloodstained Memoirs (*** out of 5) – I needed a palate cleanser after that and this is what this little diddy was. This was a series of interviews with various stars & former stars in the world of Pro Wrestling all hosted by the indomitable Al Snow.
While most of the interviews were interesting I found three fascinating. First was Ultimo Dragon, who of course interviewed in his mask. He talked at length about the difference between wrestling in Japan, Mexico, & America. How a guy his size was never going to ‘get over’ in the U.S., but how times have changed and some of his contemporaries Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio Jr. have become World Champions. He lamented the deaths of Guerrero & Benoit whom he was tight with, and talked about his nerve injury in his arm that has basically limited his career. Next was Keiji Mutoh, also known as The Great Muta. When I was younger watching WCW The Great Muta was one of my favorite ‘heels’. The green mist spit, the ‘Shining Wizard’ running knee, & the handspring elbow were just amazing. His series of matches against both Ric Flair & Sting were really cool. So to hear him talk about those matches, his elevation to President of the prestigious All Japan Pro Wrestling organization, and of course his well-known knee injuries was captivating. Mutoh came off as one of the most thoughtful, well spoken, and realistic of the individuals. His answers regarding merchandising and the battle between the ‘soul’ of wrestling and making money was really fascinating. Last but not least was Rob Van Damm. In college I was a HUGE ECW fan and one of the main reasons was RVD. The highflying style, coupled with the stiff kicks really made him something different in an industry of ‘sames’. I was intrigued by his views on ECW, his time in the WWE, as well as his time in All Japan. He was incredibly frank on his feelings on both the industry and his place within it, especially considering his ‘outsider’ reputation. Overall this little documentary really focused on the performers as human beings, showing them in a light beyond the drama, the blood, and the industry and for that alone it was worth watching.
At about that time I decided I needed to watch some actual wrestling. SO I gorged myself first on a selection of the very best of the Macho Man Randy Savage. The reality is I had forgotten just how much ‘fun’ the 1980’s WWF was. The characters were crazy, the angles pretty bad, and the interviews are off the chart insane. All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw with sort of a bizarre childhood reverence. To watch the Macho Man drop that elbow on Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat was pretty damn cool. As cool as that was the Hogan Vs. Savage rivalry really was the stuff of my youth, and I found myself captivated by it. Surprisingly enough I had completely forgotten about Savage’s feud with Rick Flair, which was, for the time, quiet bloody.
After feasting on Macho Man footage, man that sounds gay, I then turned to my other big wrestling love; Puroresu. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not as much into the ‘Garbage Style’ stuff of FMW. I don’t care to watch a guy get thrown into space heaters, or barb wire ring ropes, and a ring full of scorpions really doesn’t do much for me. What I love is the All Japan & New Japan federations of the late 1980’s through the mid 2000’s. There is a heavy SUPER stiff style going on there that is unbelievable to watch. Whether it’s Kawada’s devastating kicks, Vader’s powerbombs, or Kenta Kobashi hitting the ‘Burning Hammer’
it’s a wonder someone wasn’t killed when these guys went at it. There is a real ring psychology that is in heavy practice here as well. Understand these guys don’t cut promos. They don’t have run-ins. There isn’t all the drama of American Wrestling; instead they and the fans treat it like a legitimate sport. So when dudes hit and kick each other there is very little thought given to just how HARD they are doing it. I’d extend that example to suplexes, back drops, and powerbombs as well. The sheer amount of neck trauma you’ll witness in one of these matches is crazy. Seeing Mitsuharu Misawa get his face DESTROYED by a kick from Toshiaki Kawada is insane. He literally breaks his face with a kick and they FINISH THE MATCH! Like I stated above there is virtually none of the theatrics associated with modern American Wrestling. Instead there is this weird vibe of sportsmanship and honor with an underlying current of “HATE”. The ‘stories’ here are more built around “I think I can beat you”, or “you trained under one of my rivals”, or “we used to be pals now we are rivals”. No one steals anyone’s wife, no one hits anyone with a car, and I don’t have to listen to a bunch of talk. Instead I get to see pudgy Asian dudes beating the beejezus out of one another.
Wow, again I sound super gay.
Oh well at least I have…
- I painted nothing this weekend; I’m disappointed in myself.
- Somewhere online I saw the leaked trailer for the American remake of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. I was skeptical when I heard we were getting another remake of a film that didn’t really need it. That being said it looks very good. I also love the tag line at the end, “The Feel Bad Movie Of The Holiday Season”. Because let’s be realistic if you’ve read the books or seen the original flicks these are NOT happy stories. In fact they are FAR from it. Are they interesting and on some levels entertaining? Yes, or I wouldn’t have watched what amounted to a HORRYFING rape scene. Are they things that I would want to watch or read about again & again? Hell no.
- I’m hungry. Not for anything in particular, just sort of general hunger.
- My brain is weird today. I feel like I’m outside myself watching things happen, almost like I’m two to three seconds behind everything. I’m having problems talking, reading, and even typing this F’N monstrosity today. I pity the folks surviving my CPR class, because I’m a bit of a reading wreck right now. I have sort of this low-grade headache going on and it won’t subside. It’s like I'm in a haze.
Is it time to home yet?
* = Oh Stan Hansen you charming devil you...