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Breaking Kayfabe Presents: “Back to Basics”

BKGraphicJohn stared at his cell phone as it sat on the glistening black marble tile of the kitchen counter. He hovered over it, his elbows pressed firmly against the cold marble surface, fretting about having to make the phone call once again. Despite having done this for the last six weeks, he always had trouble dialing the number; as the days passed it only got harder and harder for him to scroll through his contacts list and press the call send button when he ran across Adam’s profile picture. By now the image of the silhouetted women posing suggestively over a star was indelibly etched into John’s mind. He saw it in his dreams as he slept at night, when he saluted the American flag as a part of his morning ritual before brushing his teeth. He even found himself having convulsions while watching his favorite sitcoms from the 1980s when star wipes were used as transitions between scenes.

John had it bad and could barely endure any longer. He had to call Adam, and he refused to give up without convincing him to accept what was truly best for business.

He tilted the brim of his periwinkle blue fitted baseball cap backwards, lifting the inspirationally colorful beret off his freshly trimmed hair. He ran his hand over his head, starting from his moist brow and culminating at the scruff of the back of his neck, something he occasionally did when he needed more time to consider his options.

“You can do this, John…” he said to himself, remembering all the things he learned from his life coach in developmental. “You’ve done it a million times…never give up, never surrender.”

He replaced the cap on his head and leaned away from the counter. Taking a deep breath, he snatched up his iPhone 6 adorned with the words “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and a Hello Kitty sticker, and scrolled feverishly through his contacts. He hesitated when the silhouetted women appeared on his screen…

Sigh…” he exhaled, taking his next breaths in deliberately through his nose and releasing them carefully through his mouth. “Don’t chicken out now, John. Just dial the number…WE can do this.”

His finger quivered over the profile picture momentarily, and as if a surge of inspiration coursed through his veins, he pressed the call send button and placed the phone gingerly next to his ear.

Ring…ring…ring…

This part always made John nervous. The last few times he called, Adam seemed to be a bit on edge…a tad bit testy and irritated. John knew that the constant phone calls caused Adam all sorts of frustration, but having Adam mad at him was the fuel that needled beneath John’s skin, giving him the gumption to at least attempt to make the call each week.

Ring…ring…ring…click…

“Hello?” a familiar voice said tentatively on the other end.

“Hey! Adam!” John replied excitedly. “It’s John. How’s it going, bud?”

“Oh…John,” Adam replied. “Uhm hey…did you change your number again?”

“Yeah,” he replied with a slight chuckle. “You know me…always gotta have the best deal with the best coverage. Vintage Cena…hehehe.”

“Yeah…right,” Adam said. “Look, I’m kinda busy at the moment, so what is it you want this week?”

John relaxed a bit as the tenseness eased from his body. I’ve got him talking to me; at least he’s talking to me this week. This is going to be easy and sweet. “Oh, I just wanted to see how you were doing…the last time we talked you were busy filming a show or something.”

“Yeah.” Adam stated matter-of-factly. “Haven’s doing well and thank you for asking by the way. Look…if that’s what you wa…”

“Yeah yeah, I gotcha,” John stated. “You know Nikki Bella, my girlfriend? She’s on this show on the E! Network right now.” He backed away from the counter and turned towards the kitchen’s stained oak cabinets. “It’s called Total Divas, you might have heard…”

“I know the show, John.” Adam said.

“Right…I was on it a few times, but I try not to do it too much because it takes me away from the ring so much, you know?”

“This conversation is making my head hurt…”

“Okay, okay, I promise this won’t take long. Remember back when we had that feud?” John opened one of the cabinet doors, revealing a shelf chock-filled with a variety of spices and canned foods. His eyes became instantly transfixed on an unopened box of Celestial Seasonings Herbal Green Tea. A smile crept across his face.

“Yeah, I remember…that was back before I retired…” Adam said. “Look, I’ve really got to…”

“Those were great times, weren’t they Adam?” John asked. He removed the box of tea from the cabinet, opening it hastily and pulling out two tea bags. He brought the tea bags up to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes as he smiled gleefully. “We loved those days, right? Things were sooo cool.”

Adam groaned as the consternation in his voice grew with each labored sigh and completed sentence that rolled between his lips. “Look, this is ridiculous. You’ve called me for weeks now, John. I’m done; my in-ring career is over. I’m retired, why is that hard to understand?”

“Yeah, I know…” John said, now cradling the phone with his head and shoulder as he filled a bright orange metal tea kettle with water from the sink. “It’s just…it’s just that…”

What, John? It’s just what?

John placed the tea kettle on the electric stove top and set the dial to high, a bit too eager to have his nice cup of hot herbal green tea sooner rather than later. “I miss those days, Adam. I mean, we’ve got a bunch of guys—and don’t get me wrong, they’re all good guys—but they don’t have the fire that you have.”

“How is that my concern, John?” Adam asked. “I’m not a wrestler anymore.”

“Okay,” John said with a slight hint of defeat in his voice. “I’ll come clean. There are these two guys in a program…Seth and Dean. And they’re soooo good, almost like they hate each other in real life.” He cradled the phone between his ear head and shoulder again as he searched for a mug in the other cabinets. “You’re the first person I’ve said this to, but I think…I mean, I know… I’m a little jealous, you know?”

“John, you’re actually jealous of someone?” Adam said as he chuckled. “Say it ain’t so, champ; say it ain’t so.”

“That’s the thing, Adam…” John interjected.” “Nobody has had that type of chemistry with me since you! These two guys come up, and their program is solid all the way around, and before I knew it they had this instant Rhodes/Horsemen thing going, Adam. You and I made magic in the ring…our drama was irreplaceable. You were the perfect yang to my yin. I miss those days…I miss you, Adam.”

“…this is getting a little weird,” Adam said, his voice cracking slightly with a smidgen of fear mixed with a generous amount of confusion.

“No, nothing like that Adam” John said as he perused the cabinet for cups. He pushed a few colorful mugs to the side until he spied a simple white mug with “World’s Greatest Tag Team” stamped in large black letters across the front of it. “I’m just saying that your energy, your charisma, your way with words…that meshed well with my…well, with me.” He pulled the mug off of the cabinet shelf and placed it on the granite kitchen countertop.

“John, look; you think you know me,” Adam replied. “But that was just a character, an over exaggeration of parts of m…”

“Adam, I need you to come back.” John blurted out.

“…what?”

“I need you to come back,” John repeated as he carefully placed his tea bags into the mug he pulled from the cabinet. “I’m nothing without a guy like you, and you’re one of a kind.” The water in the tea kettle started to come to a boil.

“I really think you’ve got me confused with someone else.” Adam said. “And I’m flattered, really I am, but with my neck and Haven, I’m not getting back into a ring to wrestle ever again.”

John began to get flustered. He leaned on the countertop, hovering over his mug, and lifted his cap from his head as he rubbed his scalp again. “Adam, there’s so much we can do together that these guys just can’t accomplish with me or with each other. All I need is one more feud…one more feud between you and me…and we’d could have the world in our palms!”

“I could die if I got in the ring again. Everyone knows that, and I can’t believe you…have you really been calling me all this time for that?”

John hesitated before answering the question. “…maybe…”

“For Pete’s sake, John; this is my life you’re talking about here! NO, I can’t…I mean, what in the world got into your thick skull to convince you I’d consider getting in the ring again?”

“There was that one time you came back and threw a stiff punch.” John was now stooped over peering into one side of a black Maytag double-door refrigerator. “You looked pretty solid to me then; I figured you got a second opinion or something.” He closed the refrigerator door after pulling out a Ziploc bag of lemon wedges and a plastic bear-shaped bottle of honey.

“All I threw was a punch, a punch John,” Adam yelled. “That was one punch, one night…totally different from wrestling on a long term basis.”

John returned to the counter and removed two lemon wedges from the Ziploc bag. “C’mon Adam, that was one pretty stiff punch. We all saw it.” He dropped the wedges into his mug as steam began to spout from the kettle. “Your neck can’t be that bad to launch the punch you threw.” He pulled open a drawer under the counter and found a spoon.

I can’t do this…” Adam muttered over the phone. “I just can’t do this with him anymore. John, I’m hanging up the phone now. Lose this number an…”

“Adam, before you say anything else,” John said. “We’ve got some great doctors now, and it’ll be easy to get you cleared.” The kettle began to whistle. “We still got Andrews in Birmingham on speed dial, so you really don’t have much to worry about.” The whistling from the kettle grew louder. “Ooh, the water’s ready…” John said loudly to no one in particular.

There was an awkward silence over the phone. “John,” Adam asked. “What was that?”

“Oh that was the kettle. I’m making tea.” John removed the kettle from the stove top and slowly poured the hot water into his mug. He filled the mug with water close to the brim and began dipping his tea bags up and down.

“You’re making…that was the kettle…” Adam asked.

“Yep,” John said as he squeezed a healthy portion of honey into steaming hot water. “It’s Herbal Green Tea,” he said while stirring the steaming hot tea with the spoon he found. He switched the phone to his left hand and lifted the mug to his lips, taking a nice and careful sip of his concoction.

Ahhh,” he said sounding pleased and refreshed with a self-assuring nod to solidify his satisfaction. “That’s good.”

“Did you say ‘the kettle’?” Adam asked. “Wait…just wait a min…”

John placed the mug back on the countertop and leaned with his back against it. “Now Adam, I’ve talked to Vince and the guys, and all you have to do is sign the papers. I could even bring them to you. If you want, I could even sign them for you…”

Silence came from the other end of the phone.

“You still there,” John asked. “Adam? Adam? Stupid nationwide coverage my Aunt Fanny…” He stepped away from the counter and, pulling the phone away from his ear, began to wave it around in the air to search for a better signal. He took two baby steps to the left, two more to the right, stared at the phone and waved in front of his face.

“ADAM…CAN YOU HEAR ME?” he yelled at the phone, seemingly to no avail. He looked at the device once more and returned it to his ear.   “Adam, if you’re still there, say something…anything…”

“John…what the hell are you doing…?” Adam said.

“Oh, there you are!” John said with a sense of relief rushing over his body. “I thought I lost you for a sec. I was trying to see if I dropped you.”

“No, John…what the hell are you doing…in my house?

John’s eyes grew wide with shock. He quickly squeezed them closed, shrugged his shoulders and turned his head towards his left shoulder. He opened his eyes cautiously only to be confronted by Adam’s deadly accusatory and angry gaze.

“Adam!” John said nervously. “Hey bud! Want some tea, it’s really unbelievably awesome.”

“How the hell did you get into my house, John?!” Adam yelled.

“Now Adam, I know this looks weird, but I promise you I’m only here for us and I really think you should try this tea.”

“I don’t want any of the damn tea, John! Wait…is that from my brand new unopened box of tea?!?!”

“I get that you’re a bit frazzled, but we won’t be able to talk about your return if you stay narrow minded,” John said as he held his free hand towards Adam in a non-threatening way. “Just taste the tea and I promise you things will work out alright.”

I’m not wrestling aga…” Adam started to say, but stopped after realizing he was still talking into his phone. He snatched the phone from the side of his head and furiously pressed the call end button. “Get out of my house this instant, John!” he said while pointing indiscriminately towards an unseen exit.

John sheepishly looked at his phone and glanced back at Adam. “Well that wasn’t nice. I guess someone needs an attitude adjustment. You sure you don’t want to try the tea?”

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, JOHN!!!!”

“Okay okay okay, I can take a hint,” John said as he placed his phone in his pocket and picked up his mug of tea. “So I can just ask them to go ahead and send you the paperwork?”

“GET OUT!!!! GET OUT GET OUT GET…OUT!!!!!” Adam screamed furiously.

“Alright, I get it!” John retorted as he picked up the mug and took a brief sip. “You want some time to think about it, but they’ll be expecting the paperwork back soon so they can get going on your return. I’m thinking we do the Royal Rumble return-from-injury-surprise entry thing, although it’s a bit of a cliché now even if it does still work…”

Adam grabbed John by the collar of his t-shirt and the waist band of his camouflaged jorts, and dragged him out of the kitchen. Before he knew it John had been unceremoniously tossed out of Adam’s house, completely oblivious as he stared at front door slamming shut in his face.

“So we’ll be in touch, Adam! No worries, this is gonna be great!” He yelled at the door.

John smiled. He dusted himself off and straightened his clothes, turning from the front door to raise the mug to his lips, relishing the one long satisfying sip of his tea that served as his self-induced reward for a perceived job done well. It was at that moment he realized the fruits of his labors were finally starting to bloom and blossom. He managed to convince Adam to return to wrestling, so he thought, and Adam’s return was worth more to him than gold.

You did it, champ, he said to himself while taking another sip of tea from the WWGT-emblazoned mug. You wore him down good; I know he’s going to come around. Now we just wait. Never give up, never surrender. John could barely contain the huge grin that began to grow across his face. Perfectly satisfied with his efforts, he strolled away from the house with a new song in his heart and the tune of his entrance music whistling through his lips.

This is it, champ, he thought again once more. Your time is now.

What I Learned from Watching Nitro, Pt. 1

If you get this reference, consider yourself special.
If you get this reference, consider yourself special.

After watching about a month of programming from WCW Monday Nitro (specifically episodes 141 – 144, from November – December 1996, and a few others prior to those), here’s what I learned so far and why it’s important for us to consider today:

The Wrestlers Didn’t All Look the Same

Somewhere we all got caught up in the niceties of seeing six-foot plus, two hundred fifty plus pound behemoths traipse the pro wrestling landscape hither and thither. While we relished in the Bacchanalian revelry of barking like seals at wrestlers that “looked like” wrestlers, the powers that be consistently gave us what we cheered for, all the while conditioning us to become lukewarm to the different styles and abilities of wrestlers that could … you know … wrestle.

Take a look across the WWE’s roster or TNA’s roster at that; everybody looks alike … period. John Cena can be exchanged for Sheamus, Ryback, Mojo Rawley, Titus O’Neil, and whoever else. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger … they’re all cut from the same cloth and manufactured from the same fabric that brought us “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect.” They all wrestle alike, they pretty much sound like one another, and are honestly easily replaceable. If Zack Ryder was released today, would you (a) even realize it and (b) even care?

WCW’s roster towards the end of 1996 was literally chock-filled with wrestlers who didn’t fit into one homogenous mold or style. Each “character” was unique from the next, and had a skill set that expressed that their uniqueness. There were wrestlers of all shapes, sizes, and abilities, and while the action at times may have been choppy and suspect, these characters were irreplaceable. Lord Stephen Regal put on one hell of a losing effort to Chris Benoit one week while Juventud Guerrera was getting owned by Miguel Pérez, Jr. Dean Malenko was cleaning house left and right, and Marcus Bagwell, Scotty Riggs, Brad Armstrong, Tony “Villano IV” Peña, Jeff Jarrett, The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan, the Faces of Fear, Big Bubba Rogers, Psicosis, Ultimo Dragon, Squire Dave Taylor, Sgt. Craig Pittman, the Nasty Boys, the French Canadians, Madusa, Masa Hiro Chono (as it was displayed on the screen), Chris Jericho, Hardbody Harrison, Jim Powers, Bobby Eaton, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Hector Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., La Parka, Alex Wright, Juventud Guerrera, Mike Wallstreet, The Renegade and Joe Gomez, “Crow” Sting, the Steiner Brothers, and the many members of the nWo filled out the television program nightly. And those are just the people I can remember without watching those four particular episodes of Nitro again.

We can’t even look at the past month of RAW episodes and pretend with a straight face as if the roster is that deep or diverse.

Watching two hours of wrestling didn’t feel like watching two hours of wrestling.

Some time ago I wrote that TNA’s move to live broadcasts was far more tantalizing than three hours of plodding through WWE TV. Two whole damn years later, I can justifiably say this about that:

IWasRight

When watching WCW’s product from the end of 1996, multiple stories unfolded over the course of two hours with an intentionally subtle focus on one main story that wasn’t too overbearing or understated. The ebb and flow of the episodes, however, didn’t drag on or cram storylines down our throats. Everything felt organic, moved naturally from one segment to the next, and I eventually found myself wanting to see how things would culminate at the pay per view at the end of the month (Starrcade ’96).

It was interesting to witness WCW create must-see TV without forcing the issue, which led me to saying more than a few times, “Wait…that’s it? That couldn’t have been two hours.” In reality it wasn’t, as the absence of commercial breaks makes the episodes about an hour and a half long…but still…

At times it feels as if one main story on RAW takes precedence over all things, and that main story gets shoved into our faces constantly by the announcers, backstage segments, in-ring talking segments, and even recaps on completely different shows (SmackDown is pretty much RAW V2.5 at this point…and so is Main Event and Superstars…). There’s nothing subtle about the main storylines and most of the time we end up responding to these segments for what they were at the moment and not for what they are in the overarching storyline. Thus, three hours of isolated segments begin to wear on us mentally, especially if the entire three hours focuses hard on one storyline with everything else being comical afterthoughts.

The World Heavyweight Champion didn’t appear on EVERY episode…and I was okay.

The major storyline at this point in time was a pending match between the WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper, and for at least two straight episodes neither wrestler appeared on television as they hyped the possibility of these two facing each other. When Hollywood Hogan finally appeared, he didn’t even wrestle on the show and, in the grand scheme of things, managed not to overshadow the rest of the episode with his presence. Nowadays we complain of part-time wrestlers holding titles and not being in our faces every week, giving us no real reason to salivate over seeing them when they do make a rare appearance on the weekly televised product. When they do appear weekly, they’re so all in our faces that they might as well be sitting next to us in our living rooms.

The clichéd statement is that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I felt like I truly wanted to see Hogan face Piper because their interactions on TV were limited to a few spots here and there, even after their first initial face off.

The secondary stories were simple, exciting, and “real.”

While rehabbing a rotator cuff injury after surgery, Ric Flair christened Jeff Jarrett as his heir apparent in The Four Horsemen. Steve ‘Mongo” McMichael and “The Crippler” Chris Benoit vehemently disagreed with this appointment, and ultimately didn’t allow Jarrett to dabble in Horsemen business. Meanwhile Jarrett, along with other members of the roster, were embroiled in a single-elimination tournament to crown a new U.S. Heavyweight Champion after nWo member The Giant commandeered the title.

Chris Benoit was engaged in a bitter rivalry with The Taskmaster over his valet Woman, who at one point was aligned with The Taskmaster. Eric Bischoff, the most senior executive of WCW, was revealed to be a member of the nWo and gave all of WCW’s talent one month to convert their contracts to nWo contracts. While wrestlers began to slowly defect to the nWo, the remaining pro-WCW wrestlers attempted to gain support amongst each other. Caught in the middle of this fight were Sting and Diamond Dallas Page, both straddling the fence for their own very different reasons; Dean Malenko was crushing talent left and right in the Cruiserweight Division while preparing to face Ultimo Dragon, who at this point returned from Japan after successfully unifying eight different junior heavyweight championships.

What’s going on right now in WWE? Exactly.

I was okay with people losing.

I watched at least three episodes before I realized that Juventud Guerrera was being beat by almost everybody he faced, and Juventud was at that point a recognizable name in the Cruiserweight Division. And guess what…I didn’t pitch a fit.

Lord Stephen Regal lost one hell of a match to Chris Benoit after going on a winning streak, and guess what…I didn’t pitch a fit.

This is to say that tons of wrestlers lost matches and I didn’t feel inclined to write scathing commentary about how they were being buried because of a loss or multiple losses. When it comes to pro wrestling, somebody has to lose the match if we expect somebody to win. But in today’s era of trading victories, everybody becomes a fan favorite deserving of an indefinite win streak.

It’s impossible to push everyone as unbeatable Mongols, and if one desires to see a particular wrestler tear through the roster, one has to be able to (a) identify several stars for that wrestler to defeat and (b) craft a believable story to justify why said wrestler is able to tear through the roster like Kleenex at a snot party. Then again, when your main show roster looks like s**t and is ultimately stretched thinly across five hours (three for RAW and two for SmackDown), what can we expect?

Those are just my thoughts so far; perhaps you too should check out WCW Monday Nitro on the WWE Network. Think about all the fun you can have arguing with us here at L.E.W.D. all for the low low cost of $9.99!

Friday Night Fandom: “WRESTLING Matters!”

This one's pretty self-explanatory. | Photo: www.TheHistoricInterwebs.com
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. | Photo: http://www.TheHistoricInterwebs.com

With WWE SmackDown literally beginning as I type, I must admit that the majority of my day was spent gleefully staring at the LED backlit display of my laptop.  My initial internet query early this morning sent me on a somewhat rigorous search for matches featuring Jessicka Havok, TNA’s newest soon-to-debut Knockout.  After watching two or three of her matches in the Women’s Extreme Wrestling promotion, I stumbled upon the 2007 King of Europe Cup … and needless to say I was set for the rest of the day.

We wrestling fans often stand high and mighty on our knowledge of “real wrestling,” all the while managing to avoid teetering precariously on the precipice of having to explain what “real wrestling” is.  Most diehard fans will readily admit that “real wrestling” tends to reside in organizations that focus more on the in-ring action than it does the promos and backstage vignettes/interviews that explain why said matches are taking place.  In that same spirit, “real wrestling” has simple storylines that aren’t necessarily campy don’t cater specifically and strictly to a young audience or demographic.  “Real wrestling” highlights the athleticism of the wrestlers, where “styles” aren’t relegated to a specific region or a particular promotion’s standards, and the wrestlers are characters that are controlled by the athletes portraying them and not by a boardroom of writers and executives.

For those fans who revel in “real wrestling,” Japanese wrestling, women-only wrestling promotions, and Mexico’s Lucha Libre wrestling tends to be the most appealing and sought after product.  In terms of the world’s two largest promotions, TNA is favored for their “wrestling” far more than WWE.  Ironically enough, ROH and their decidedly pure wrestling focused product is rarely mentioned among the internet’s “real wrestling” aficionados.

What strikes me personally as odd is the fact that we tend to relegate pro wrestling and “real wrestling” as being expressed only in the world’s more prominent organizations.  We can talk about AAA in Mexico; we can talk about Wrestle-1 and NJPW in Japan.  We can even rattle off the names of some of the more notable women’s wrestlers (while haphazardly mentioning the organizations they belong to).  We mention how TNA is light years ahead of WWE in terms of the wrestling product, and after that our load is pretty much blown.  Our conversation about “real wrestling” is exhausted and we smirk while awaiting the best smarky response that gives us a good enough reason to go off.

We pro wrestling fans must expand our palate beyond what’s easily accessible and reliably pleasing to our “real wrestling” sensibilities if we’re going to be true to this “real wrestling” perspective.  With so many promotions operating around the world, it’s honestly asinine to keep “real wrestling” in a nifty and convenient little box that excludes the various styles and athletes globetrotting our planet with nothing more than word of mouth as their main source of promotion.

Having said that I now offer for your viewing pleasure the 2007 King of Europe Cup, four and a half solid hours of “real wrestling” goodness.

kingofeuropeI’ll admit to having been in the dark about this series, not coming across it until well into my Jessicka Havok search.  The words “Europe Cup” immediately stood out to me, as I assumed (correctly) that the show hailed from the UK and would feature in some form the catch-as-catch-can style that I’m very fond of.  I wasn’t let down at all, and was pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces wrestling on behalf of several promotions from around the world.  The really cool part was seeing these familiar faces presented in a “before-they-were-superstars” fashion wrestling as youngsters not encumbered by the politics and restrictions of wrestling in U.S. promotions for the U.S. market.  Wrestlers like Davey Richards and Rhino (current TNA Wrestlers), Chris Hero (former ROH Wrestler and WWE NXT Wrestler Kassius Ohno), Claudio Castagnoli (current WWE Superstar Cesaro), Matt Sydal (former WWE Superstar Evan Bourne), Doug Williams (former TNA Wrestler), Go Shiozaki, Nigel McGuinness (former TNA Wrestler Desmond Wolfe and current ROH authority figure), and PAC (current WWE Superstar and NXT Champion Adrian Neville) are all featured in the King of Europe Cup doing what they do best … wrestling.

The beautiful thing of it all is that each of the aforementioned wrestlers, along with the other athletes appearing in the tournament, were able to mix and blend their different styles of wrestling in lengthy matches that told stories different than that offered by what we know and choose to watch regularly.  Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli face each other early in a clinic of technical wrestling featuring two wrestlers who were tag team partners and are very familiar with each other’s styles.  PAC wrestles a high-flying style that leads to an injury that has him admitted to a local hospital, only to be brutalized by the begrudgingly vicious lariats of Nigel McGuinness.  Go Shiozaki gave Davey Richards one hell of a row with his strong style wrestling, and Doug Williams showcased the brilliance of the catch-as-catch-can style throughout his stay in the tournament.

All of this glowing praise is to say that “real wrestling” isn’t just about being able to watch one ridiculously crazy move after another one or indulging in a product that is subtly different than a product we dislike; “real wrestling” is about being entertained by the story that’s told in the ring through the actions, mannerisms, and facial expression of the athletes that’s supplemented with the commentary from announcers and the stories precluding the matches themselves.  There are tons of promotions and archived videos that present the product in this fashion, and we’d be selling ourselves and the business short if we didn’t saturate ourselves with the product that exists outside of our comfort zones.

As such, for your viewing pleasure and what will ultimately be a shameless plug of British wrestling, catch this epic match between British wrestling legend Johnny Saint and David “Fit” Finlay:

After you’re done with that, check out this match featuring Uhaa Nation from the UK’s Pro Wrestling Kingdom promotion:

And after that, before biting your thumb at Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion as some others have taken a cotton to doing, check out some footage from a few of their international partners: World Wrestling Professionals in South Africa (which, as it turns out, is touted as being the “biggest federation in the Southern Hemisphere), Westside Xtreme Wrestling out of Germany (mentioned also in the King of Europe Cup video from above), and Riot City Wrestling from Australia.

Have fun, and remember: wrestling matters.