The McMahon Behind The Curtain

The opening segment of this week's Monday Night Raw is a light shining at us from the future, illuminating what the WWE could (and hopefully will) become one day. 

In it, Roman Reigns, yet again irate at the absence of his WrestleMania opponent, Brock Lesnar, took to the microphone to air his grievances.

Brock, in Roman's words, "Didn't show up to work".

This has been the essence of his problem with Lesnar, and the basis of their WrestleMania rematch. Roman, regardless of the crowd's perpetually mixed-to-negative reaction to him, always shows up to work. He "busts his ass" for the business that's "in his blood", and, just like the fans, he's sick and tired of Brock Lesnar only showing up to work "when the money is right or the city is right". He believes The Universal Champion should be a full-time member of the WWE roster; an unconditional leader of the locker-room and the company. 

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The Road To Better Representation Of Asians At WrestleMania

On January 28th, 2018, two performers of Japanese descent, Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka, won their respective Royal Rumble matches. 

This was a defining moment both in pro-wrestling history, and in my personal pro-wrestling fandom.

When you’re an ethnic minority, growing up a pro-wrestling fan presents a challenge. 

Pro-Wrestling's xenophobic roots result in the depiction of ethnic minorities as the heels (villains) opposite the "All-American" babyfaces (heroes). We are represented by racial caricatures and stereotypes that are designed to emphasize one’s foreignness. It’s a constant reminder that we are the “other”; that the way we look, the way we sound, the way we act inevitably elicits boos.

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Hey, WWE, Please Hire Women Writers

Last night's Raw ended with Stephanie McMahon announcing the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match at the forthcoming annual pay-per-view. 

This is a welcome announcement that instantaneously makes next year’s Rumble more interesting and essential-viewing. Over the next six weeks, fans will watch this match take shape, and discuss who it should bolster, how it will be structured, and what surprises may be in store. This is all good, and it’s reassuring to see the WWE do the obviously right thing.

Fans should definitely be happy, but fans should also be asking, “What happens after?”

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WOW - EP149 - 2017

For the second to last episode of 2017, Work of Wrestling podcast returns to the original three-part format of the show!

For the Lock-Up, I review everything in pro-wrestling that I've seen in 2017. I focus primarily on WWE, discussing some of the highs and the lows, what stood out to me as particularly memorable and what WWE can do better (from The Festival of Friendship to the squandering of Bayley).

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The Inaugural Women's Royal Rumble Review (2018)

The WWE's annual Royal Rumble is many pro-wrestling fan's favorite pay-per-view, and with good reason. 

It is the pop-filled prelude to WrestleMania, typically establishing the primary Championship narratives that lead into Vince McMahon's "showcase of the immortals". Unfortunately, recent Rumbles have been mired in fan discontent, with the WWE and its audience locked in deep disagreement about who deserves the "top guy" moniker, and thus a shot at WrestleMania's main event.

All eyes await, with a mounting sense of anticipatory dread, as the final four participants are revealed. There is a collective sense of "really...this is who it's going to be?" that hangs over the final minutes of the match like a grim cloud.

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WOW - EP147 - Survivor Series 2017 Review

This year's Survivor Series fluctuated between "fine" and "fun". Nothing was terrible, but nothing was too memorable, and in-between existed a lot of legitimately good fun. 

The basic conceit of Raw and SmackDown facing off in competition would resonate more if the stakes were clearly outlined and involved more than "bragging rights".

We might know the motivations of the characters when they're outside the squared circle (i.e. Kurt Angle wants to keep his job, Shane McMahon wants SDLive to be more than the B-show), but we don't know what an actual win in the wrestling match itself signifies. The concept of "why" any of this is happening doesn't have an instantly accessible answer beyond, "Because!"

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Tim Kail's Raw Review

There are times when the WWE strikes that perfect balance between heavy-handed schmaltz and sincere, logical storytelling.

That elusive sweet spot may just be the purest representation of the WWE's perspective on professional wrestling; an over-the-top family saga wrapped in spandex, fireworks, and an assortment of colorful heroes & villains that occasionally results in genuine expressions of pain, joy, surprise, and psychosis.

One such moment occurred on the November 13th, 2017 episode of Monday Night Raw when Kurt Angle and his tearful "son", Jason Jordan, were interrupted by a grim & determined Triple H. 

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"But is it good?" The Only Worthwhile Debate In Modern Pro-Wrestling

Watch pro-wrestling long enough, and you begin to recognize the patterns of wrestling matches and the tropes of the medium: the heel cheats, the babyface "comes back", groups and teams inevitably betray each other, veterans "pass the torch", and on and on it goes in an endless merry-go-round of (hopefully) joy and wonder.

Eventually, you may even want to see some of these patterns and tropes at work because they provide a sense of comfort, a return to your once simplistic, romanticized view of right & wrong.

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