The Work of Wrestling

EXPLORING THE ART OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING

Professional wrestling is an art. The Work of Wrestling is dedicated that simple truth.

ARTISTS INSPIRED BY PRO-WRESTLING

I'm a fairly cagey person. I'm an even cagier artist. I'm suspicious and distrusting of communities, groups, trends, clubs, even people who identify themselves as artists. Almost any situation where people willingly gather en masse with some shared purpose or interest makes me uncomfortable. And while I spend time listening to the podcasts, watching the videos, and reading the blogs of my peers, I'm incredibly choosy about what I actually commit substantial time to. The internet, for all the excellence it offers, is flooded with mediocrity and outright poor work.

So when I put something or someone over, it's because I really believe in what they're doing or I think there's something in the way they work that's commendable and valuable.

In this piece, I will share with you the work of other artists who have been inspired by pro-wrestling in intriguing, inventive ways.

Not long ago on an episode of The Work of Wrestling podcast I emphasized the importance of communication between the arts. When seemingly disparate concepts communicate with one another and inform one another we often see positive results - similarly to how two people with different ideologies can mature when they exchange thoughts.

Take, for example, this retelling of Mick Foley's "Cane Dewey Promo" in the voice of Arnold Schwarzeneggar by John Andosca of Network Nation (I found this on Mick Foley's Facebook page - Andosca also made a documentary Standing Up To Comedy about Mick Foley's Hardcore Legend Tour):

And Dusty Rhodes' "Hard Times Promo" in the style of Morgan Freeman:

These videos are funny, passionate recreations of beloved pro-wrestling promos made all the funnier because they're delivered with such sincerity.

I've spent a lot of time looking at YouTube channels and watching a lot of poorly lit, poorly shot talking-head videos, a lot of incoherent IWC ramblings and rantings masquerading as opinions that contribute nothing valuable to the world. So to discover this, to genuinely laugh aloud and to actually want more videos from a channel is a true rarity for me.

And I don't think I'm alone. There's mass appeal in what Andosca has created here and it's deserving of a wider audience. There's actual talent on display, and it's successful because it manages to capture the spirit of both the pro-wrestlers who performed these promos and the actors being imitated; a truly difficult task.

A promo that was incredibly moving and well-performed in its original state is humorously transformed into a far-reaching American documentary about "hard times".

(Also keep in mind the music in the Morgan Freeman Dusty promo is from The Shawshank Redemption - a nice nod to a classic Freeman film)

Another channel that similarly combines pro-wrestling, humor, and sincerity in genuinely inventive, thought-provoking ways is Kyle & Oliver.

If you're interested in creating a quality YouTube channel, a cohesive internet entity that offers people a product (even if that product is free, weekly videos or blogs), look at what Kyle and Oliver have done for inspiration.

Not only do they produce consistent, quality work, their logo, their design, their tagline, and their bios subtly contribute to a very relatable, inviting experience. They make you feel like you're a part of their world - one of the most important, intangible aspects of a successful YouTube channel.

Kyle & Oliver's beautifully simple logo and channel art.

Kyle & Oliver's beautifully simple logo and channel art.

"Here To Make You Smile" might be the best tagline I've encountered on all the blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels I've visited. Everything about that simple phrase is perfect. There's a sense of comfort in that phrase, a permanence to it that reminds you K&O will give you a new video every week. You know they're mission statement immediately.

It's a familiar, gentle tagline that, in of itself, makes you quietly smile. And K&O deliver on their humble, simple promise.

And they do it by fusing a love of pro-wrestling with a love of song and parody:

K&O also produce video-game related parodies and videos - they aren't purely focused on pro-wrestling. As a result, their channel stands as an excellent example of the interconnectedness of the arts, how our need to express ourselves manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. They don't confine their creativity to straight humor either - they occasionally veer into dark comedy and even drama, tinging the experience of their brand with a sense of irony.

Their black and white cartoon faces stare out at you, inviting you into a world that is whimsical, creative, occasionally lighthearted, occasionally dark, but always in control of itself and expanding upon the various way in which it "makes you smile".

(If The Work of Wrestling has ever made you smile or think or feel just about anything, then you'll likely also enjoy Andrea Gregovich's blog Notes on the Spectacle of Excess. She approaches professional wrestling from a literary perspective, a concept that I hope becomes increasingly commonplace in the future.)

What all of these artists have in common is more than just a passion for professional wrestling. They're looking at the object of their affection from a unique point of view.

Very few people would think about cutting Mick Foley's promo as Arnold Schwarzennegar, and even fewer would ever be able to do it well enough to actually elicit laughter. And I laughed, raucously, from start to finish.

Very few people would think about combining song parody and pro-wrestling, but Kyle & Oliver have done so in such a way that you forget what they're parodying and feel as though you are experiencing something entirely new and enlightening.

There's no cynicism in their approach either. I've listened to a lot of incredibly complacent podcasts and videos that have a decent internet following. But none of them seem destined for success beyond their small, cynical worlds that revolve around hating John Cena or hating Monday Night Raw.

The only people who really get over in this world are those who combine intense work ethic with a sense of hopefulness and positivity. No one wants to watch someone hate something. It's sad and unintersting.

But love, love like the love on display in the work I've shared in this post is valuable to professional wrestling and our continued evolution as a community.

I might be cagey, but I'm willing to step out every now and again if it means helping readers cut through all the soulless SEO-friendly-content roaming the internet ether to discover something genuinely worth their time.

Professional wrestling is on the verge of a transformation. Not only will there be a changing of the guard as it relates to what goes on inside that squared circle, there inevitably will be a changing of the guard with respect to analyzing and celebrating what goes on inside that squared circle.

In an age of constant communication, where the internet permits new voices to assert themselves through excellence and intelligence, the time is right for young, talented people to step up and claim ownership of the way this medium will be perceived in the future.

I claim that pro-wrestling is art. That is my gimmick. That is my contribution. This perspective is the undisputed future of professional wrestling analysis. I make no apologies for that, and I invite you to join me.

I encourage my similarly passionate, like-minded fellow-artists to stake their claim in their own way, to shape the future, and to make the whole world sing.

You can follow John Andosca @999Nation, Kyle & Oliver @KyleandOliver, and Andrea @AndreaGregovich on Twitter.

You can follow me on all the various social media gimmicks by clicking on the links below:

Is there a blog or YouTube channel you really like? Post it in the comments section. It doesn't even have to be related to professional wrestling. Just share well-made, intriguing work. Thank you.

And remember to subscribe to Work of Wrestling in iTunes.