Archive for the ‘State of Wrestling’ Category

The State of CHIKARA for August

August 12, 2009

chikaraWe here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

Moving on to the independent scene, next up we’ll take a look at the Philadelphia-based CHIKARA.  This promotion has been steadily gaining popularity over the past couple of years, and the roster is made up primarily of graduates from The Wrestle Factory, run by head trainers Mike Quackenbush and Claudio Castagnoli.

CHIKARA takes several novel approaches to professional wrestling, and is very unlike most independent promotions you’re liable to come across.  The wrestlers are mostly masked, and wrestle a hybrid American indie and traditional lucha style.  The promotion focuses on multi-man matches and tournaments, such as the King of Trios tag team tournament.  In fact, the main title, and only “championship belt” in the promotion is the Campeonatos de Parejas, their version of a tag team championship.  The other major title is the Young Lions Cup, an annual tournament for wrestlers under the age of 25 (ahem).  Once the tournament has crowned a winner, the Cup can be challenged for during the year until the next Lion’s Cup tournament, where a new champion is crowned.  Another major element of CHIKARA is its storytelling, with each year starting a new “season” of CHIKARA, similar to a television show.  In each “season” there is a main, overarching storyline that is very carefully crafted and resolved at season’s end.

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of CHIKARA!

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The State of TNA for August-ish

July 28, 2009

TNA

We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

As it turns out, when I originally did The State of Wrestling for July covering the WWE and ROH shows, I thought I could move on to random indies like CHIKARA and PWG for kicks, because CHIKARA and PWG are great.  Apparently I forgot all about TNA.  When I say “forgot about” what I mean to say is “attempted to block it from my memory”.  Watching TNA is like running a triathlon: there’s no real reward for finishing, and by the end you’re wondering whether your legs will give out before you shit yourself.  It’s not fun, it’s not entertaining, and it will usually just make you angry.  Once I remembered that TNA existed, I considered just not writing about it out of spite.  But if I want to truly call this series The State of Wrestling, well I suppose we have to take the atrocious with the bad.

TNA or “Total Nonstop Action” Wrestling (a bit of a misnomer, as the action quite often stops, and is far from total) is technically the second-largest professional wrestling company in the world, owned by an energy company, sponsored by an energy drink company, and featuring main eventers with no energy.  It is written by Vince Russo, a man largely credited with creating the worst parts of wrestling from 1997 onwards, and for killing WCW.

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of TNA!

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The State of ROH for July/August

July 25, 2009

ROH

We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

Some of you may be familiar with the East Coast-based promotion Ring of Honor. You may have seen their initials featured in Academy Award-nominated film The Wrestler. You may have heard your nerdy wrestling friend going on and on about “Brian Danielson”. Regardless of your exposure to ROH, there are two things to keep in mind:

1) They are the largest independent wrestling promotion in America.
2) They are a sinking ship and probably won’t be around in a year’s time.

Although they have a TV deal with Mark Cuban’s HDNet (yeah, I don’t get that channel either), ROH’s glory days are long past. They still offer up outstanding wrestling, but by and large they don’t really give you a reason to CARE about anything, since they place only the smallest investment in compelling characters or stories. That being said, they do have a few standout performers in their midst.

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of ROH!

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The State of ECW for July

July 22, 2009

ecw

We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

ECW is WWE’s third-tier weekly show and its third “distinct” “brand”. You may remember ECW as a scummy promotion where fat guys in T-shirts climb ladders up to where barbed wire is hanging from the ceiling for some reason. You may even remember the more recent Vince McMahon-owned ECW where Bobby Lashley took all of the steroids ever and then quit because Michael Hayes hates black people. In today’s WWE, ECW is the show/promotion where they bring the rookies up from their developmental territory FCW, have them be in really great matches, and then when they’re ready (or not) send them up to Smackdown or Raw, where Big Show will beat them all in one match. Since they’re using ECW almost exclusively as a launching pad for new talent, it’s insanely watchable, and the one-hour show usually features more minutes of wrestling than the weekly two-hour TNA Impact.

The General Manager of ECW is “Tiffany” who is basically the worst actor ever. Like if Mark Wahlberg’s performance in “The Happening” was a blond in a pantsuit with fake boobs. It’s never really been explained why she was qualified for a General Manager position of a professional wrestling company other than “banged Teddy Long” (implied).

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of ECW!

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The State of SmackDown! for July

July 18, 2009

SmackDownHDlogo

We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

Friday Night Smackdown, now in its tenth year on the air, may only get a fraction of the audience of the average Monday Night Raw, but for the past several months, it has consistantly been the best weekly wrestling program in the world.  Smackdown continues to put on great shows week after week because they don’t have to rely on gimmicks like special guest hosts, or publicity stunts like Donald Trump “buying” the show.

Smackdown benefits greatly from being one of the two shows, along with ECW, that Vince McMahon doesn’t watch, appear on, or care about.  As a result, the creative team is free to put together 20-minute matches, slow-building nuanced angles, and oh yeah, it doesn’t feature Triple H, John Cena, or Batista.  The only real “old guard” on Smackdown is The Undertaker, and he’s out on vacation (injured) three-to-six months out of every year.

The General Manager of Smackdown is Theodore “Teddy” Long, who you may remember as the manager of Rodney Mack, or before that, “the black referee” (he once botched a two-count when a wrestler didn’t kick out, prompting a “Tupac sucks” chant from the crowd, because wrestling fans display a stunningly limited knowledge of black culture when confronted with “what bald black guy do we know off the top of our heads”), or wayyy back in the day, the manager of the tag team DOOM.  He is somewhat put-upon in his capacity as GM, and is in the midst of a half-aborted angle where Vince McMahon is pressuring him to present compelling television or risk losing his job.  The joke is that Vince himself is unable to legitimately do this on Raw.

Let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of Smackdown!

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The State of RAW for July

July 16, 2009

wwe-raw

We here at Ring Psychology understand that it may have been some time since you’ve followed wrestling regularly. Perhaps you’re looking to jump back into it, but you’re concerned you won’t understand what’s going on. “Oh no,” you may be thinking,

“I don’t want to look like a fool in front of my wrestling friends if I can’t tell The Miz from The Morrison!” Don’t worry, we’re here to help! “The State of…” will provide key storyline info and identify the main players of all the major television shows…and ROH, too!

Monday Night Raw, or simply “Raw”, is WWE’s flagship show. In its 15+ years on the air, it has a storied history of presenting the most in-your-face, envelope-pushing sports entertainment in history. Austin pulling a gun on McMahon? Pillman pulling a gun on Austin? Hot lesbian action? It all happened on Raw. Now forget all the cool stuff I just said, because over the past two years, WWE has been moving in a decidedly family-friendly direction, and the most scandalous thing we’re treated to these days is occasionally there is some sort of vague dick joke.

Raw is, at this point, far and away the most boring and bland wrestling product on television, because Vince McMahon rules over it 100%. It’s the only show he gives a shit about, so it’s the one that goes through a billion rewrites before making it to air. You may get an awesome interview on Smackdown, or see a 20-minute awesome match on ECW, but watching Raw is like watching wrestling on a treadmill. The same four dudes are going to be all over it, you’ll see some attempts at comedy which Michael Cole will be told to laugh too hard at, and you’ll delete it off your DVR without watching all of it.

THAT BEING SAID, let’s take a look at the major players and storylines of Raw!

The current running theme of Raw is that each week there is a new “guest host” who acts as General Manager and what the guest host says, goes! The first few guest hosts have been Batista, who is currently out with a biceps injury, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, and Seth Green. Next week’s guest host is the gestalt entity known as ZZ Top. Keep your eyes peeled for Charo as we continue to move BACKWARDS THROUGH TIME.

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