One thing that pushed this “Wrestling Snob” away from modern professional wrestling is the total lack of selling. I understand that “wrestling has evolved,” and all, but all the cool moves, flips, and dives, aren’t nearly as cool as they could be because they just don’t seem to do much damage at all. Now calm down, this isn’t another rant from yours truly. What I am going to do is try to EXPLAIN why wrestlers take such a beating and keep going.
Since the 1980’s and 90’s, the focus on what you need to “make it” in professional wrestling has changed. Out are the hard bodied, overly large, muscle heads, and in are the smaller, but far more fit, flexible, and agile, CrossFit style of athletes. Sure, you’ll see a few body builder types here and there, but with the exposure of steroids years ago, much of the fitness industry now focuses on lean muscle mass and conditioning. The modern athlete also focuses much more on his or her mind as well, learning to overcome pain, injury, and exhaustion, not only physically, but mentally, to accomplish goals thought to be impossible in the past.
Today’s pro wrestler do the same, but on a larger scale. For example, why do you think it’s such an honor, and privilege to wrestle and work in Japan? With their “strong style,” and “Kings Road” philosophies, comes a mental toughness like seldom seen in the United States. Pro wrestlers go to Japan to not only “apply their craft,” but to learn the secretes of mental conditioning, taught in Japanese Dojo’s. One look at a guy like Juice Robinson, and you can see what I’m writing about here. Japanese wrestling has exploded onto the American scene, and with it came all of the teachings that normally were only found in that Country. Today, just about any wrestler that applies him or herself can learn the secrete arts of Puroresu, and this has been a large contributing factor to wrestlers overcoming moves that ended matches in the past.
Many “old school” wrestlers have opened wrestling school. These wrestlers developed strategies, training methods, and psychological methods, that have taught, trained, and inspired the current generation. These older wrestlers spent their days developing ways to withstand the moves the pain, and defeat, that many of the old school moves, styles, and methods, used assure. Today’s wrestlers, after having trained the bodies, and minds, to withstand more than the average athlete, now take up training classes with veterans that add to their knowledge. These things combined lead to wrestlers that no longer are instantly defeated with DDT’s, Super Kicks, and brainbusters. No, it doesn’t make sense to fans like you and I, but those who have the strength and ability to withstand the training that the modern professional wrestlers endures can learn the secrets. Why do you think it is that many wrestlers today get so insulted by fans critiquing their performance? They have suffered through immense pain, and pressure, to be allowed to step into the ring! No Timmy, you couldn’t get up after a super kick, but you’re not a professional wrestler that has trained his body, and mind for years to withstand such physical punishment and abuse. You’ve not delved deep into the psyche in order to tell yourself to keep going after taking a DDT, or a piledriver! The business isn’t just for anyone, it’s for the physically, and mentally strong. Have you not seen the quotes from NFL football players, and MMA fighters about wrestling being the most difficult thing they’ve ever done in their life? There is a reason for that!
If there is one thing about today’s pro wrestling that is legitimately easier, it’s the schedule. Yes, WWE performers still have insane schedules, but most other companies have a much easier schedule. AEW wrestlers have a much nicer, and more comfortable schedule than “stars” had back in the old days. As such, they can rest their bodies, and minds more. If you combine that rest, along with the new conditioning, and training, it makes a little more sense as to how they can take more damage. Finally, today’s rings, while not “trampolines” are much more comfortably built, allowing wrestlers to work a harder/stronger style more comfortably than the rings of old. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to bump around, but technology has improved in this way as well, adding to the “less selling” you see in today’s product.
It is my feeling, and belief, that wrestling journalists, and commentators need to start focusing far more on the modern athletic professional wrestler, and his or her training methods. If you listen to podcasts, like Arn Anderson’s, you will hear this much respected “old school” great talk about this. You will hear him say how athletic, how fit, how drilled in mentally, etc. today’s wrestlers are. You will hear him say how a team like “The Revival” are “worlds better” than he and Tully Blanchard, and folks, this guy isn’t getting paid by WWE anymore, and he hasn’t lost confidence in how amazing he and Tully were. Guys like Arn, Tully, and Jake Roberts realize everything that I’ve written here is true, and they’ve signed on to be teachers, trainers, and coaches, to take the AEW wrestlers even further in these directions. Once again you rely on “The Wrestling Snob” to help you enjoy today’s AEW, even when no one else is doing so. The uneducated fan may not need these things explained, or talked about, but I am here to try and help my fellow intelligent, wrestling snobs, understand the story of today’s in ring product. Next time we’ll discuss Kristen Stadtlander’s insistence that she’s “from another planet” and why that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and why I am the ONLY “journalist” out there capable of presenting such a case that isn’t insulting to your intelligence. Now if only Cody Rhodes were reading my material!
My name is Adam Leavelle, and I spent several years in the wrestling world hyping, promoting, pushing, and “putting over” wrestling that I found to be “done right.” I was in love with Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Evolve, and the companies I worked for as a commentator, companies like Lancaster Championship Wrestling, The Ultimate Wresting Experience, and Legacy Wrestling. I put over wrestlers like AJ Styles, Tetsuya Naito, AR Fox, Eddie Smooth, Nigel McGuiness, Bryan Danielson, and CM Punk. As the years rolled by though, things started to change. Professional Wrestling began to get sillier, and more outlandish. From a wrestler who was flipping other wrestlers with his penis, to another wrestler shooting invisible bullets from his “finger gun,” and his opponents selling them, I just began to get frustrated. The wrestlers that I still enjoyed like Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, etc. still “worked” matches pretty well, but the no selling of monstrous moves was getting to be too much to take. Combine that with the fact that the very much hated (to me) WWE was swallowing guys like them up, as well as Johnny Gargano, and Shane Strickland, just made me walk away from nearly all of professional wrestling. At this same time, Kenny Omega had taken over New Japan, and morphed into some strange social justice style of performer, out to spread a message, more than kick ass. I was very dejected, latching on to two companies for my “Wrestling Done Right.” Those companies being Pro Wrestling NOAH, and World Wonder Ring Stardom. These are two promotions from Japan, that I still hold above all others.
I’ve missed wrestling though, pretty badly. As much as I love NOAH, and Stardom, I really, really, want an American company to prosper, succeed, and give us wrestling fans an alternative to the horrible WWE. Yes, WWE’s NXT brand isn’t bad, but damn it, it’s still a WWE product, and I just don’t want to support a company that has proven time and again that they just don’t care what their fans want. A company that swallows wrestlers worldwide, and re-names them “sports entertainers” and often, even renames them in whole, (isn’t that right, Isiah, Swerve, Scott?) While I wish every wrestler well, and wish none of them to be out of a job (well, except maybe penis, and invisible bullet guy) I can’t support Vince McMahon, and his arrogant approach to “sports entertainment.” No thank you. I can’t watch the best Joshi wrestlers in the world, get beaten by wrestlers….errrr, I mean “sports entertainers,” that really don’t even deserve to carry their bags.
So what’s a rabid, intelligent, passionate, wrestling fan/journalist to do? Well, this one is going to do something that will shock everyone who knows him. I will be turning to All Elite Wrestling. Yes, AEW, the company that I have criticized since its inception. The company I’ve laughed at, and mocked, almost as much as Jim Cornette has. Why have I made this decision? Well, here is where you need to read the title of this article again, and bear with me. AEW does some really stupid stuff. Really stupid. They also do some really great stuff. Really great. I’ve discovered a way to look at most of the stupid stuff that I truly believe will help. I believe that I’m a smart enough guy, with enough wrestling knowledge, and ability, to cover AEW in such a way that it will help others enjoy it more, and if at all possible, make those at AEW sit up and take notice to what I am doing, and possibly incorporate it into their programing. I'm going to do this just for fun. Yes, I’d certainly love a job in the business, but that’s not my “goal” here. My goal is for me to be able to enjoy an American wrestling product, while covering it as a journalist, and to share that method through articles, and Facebook Live videos. I am nearly certain that many of you reading this wonder what in the world I am talking about. You’re likely wondering how in God’s name can I make sense of the stupid things AEW puts out? How can I take things that I have campaigned against, maligned, and spat at, and now make them not only bearable, but enjoyable? Well, if you can continuing reading this long article, I am going to give you my first idea now. My first idea is how to take a wrestler like “Orange Cassidy” and accept what he does, in the scope of the professional wrestling world. The problem with a gimmick/character/wrestler like Cassidy is that what he does makes no sense. He has no “story,” he’s just a goof that acts goofy, inside a professional wrestling ring. So let me tell you Orange Cassidy’s story, as I see it (in my attempt to accept him in the wrestling world).
James Cipperly always wanted to be a professional wrestler. Working hard on the independent scene, taking the name “Orange Cassidy,” he debuted in 2004, sixteen years ago. Working hard for years Casidy wouldn’t find a lot of success, even when working alongside WWE Superstar, Drew Gulak, and AEW wrestler, Chuck Taylor in Gabe Sapolsky’s “Evolve” wrestling as “The Gentleman’s Club.” Taylor would go on to work in high profile matches with Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Gulak would become the Combat Zone Wrestling world champion, and later even the WWE Cruiserweight Champion, but Cassidy languished behind. In 2006 Cassidy would find his most success as “Fire Ant,” a silly looking masked wrestler, part of the “Colony” in CHIKARA wrestling organization. Sadly though, Fire Ant didn’t obtain much success outside of the New Jersey based wrestling company. No matter how much Cassidy trained, worked out, and applied his craft, he continued to see his friends prosper, sign big money deals, and travel the globe, while Cassidy still worked as a masked ant, on the Eastern coast of America. Cassidy, in his sixteen year career, only claimed four championship titles, none of them known to many outside of those small companies. Unbeknownst to many, Cassidy sought out more training across the globe. While still continuing to be ignored by most, Cassidy honed his craft, until he became a finally tuned wrestler, so good, that most didn’t want to face him. Now Cassidy wasn’t getting booked because promoters feared him, they didn’t want him embarrassing their top stars. Fire Ant wasn’t going to dominate the indies, that’s for damn sure!
Along came Cody Rhodes, and AEW. Many in the wrestling world bemoaned the signing of a wrestler that now wrestled with his hands in his pockets. A wrestler that play kicked at his opponents like a small child. A wrestler that just doesn’t seem to care. Why would Cody want this clown in a “sports based promotion that he promised AEW was going to be? What I’ve discovered is that Cody Rhodes, and a few others in AEW, know what Casidy is doing. Now that I know, you too shall know. Orange Cassidy adopted this silly “sloth style” so that no one would ever take him serious, so that he would be taken lightly, and booked in low card matches. Orange Cassidy developed a plan over these sixteen years, a plan that could one day see him on top of the wrestling world. Many fans identify with Cassidy’s laissez faire approach simply because they too feel their hard work doesn’t pay off, that the lesser talented get more attention, and greater opportunities, they too would love to take a half ass approach to life and get by with it. To these people, Cassidy is their hero, someone they identify with so much, that his antics aren’t disrespectful to wrestling to them, but rather they are screwing “the man” that never appreciates when he worked hard for him! What many fans haven’t known, until now, is that it’s all a set up. While Cassidy appreciates the support he’s gotten from the AEW faithful, one day he will snap out of the “sloth style” and show everyone the kind of wrestler, the kind of “worker” that he is. What will it take to get him to that point? We saw just a little bit of it in his match against PAC, but Cassidy refused to come completely out of his disgusted man shell. I believe Cody Rhodes knows what buttons to push with Cassidy, and that he has shared that with his fellow AEW management team, and you will see the full story unfold on AEW Dynamite, week, after week. If you are how I once was, sick of the stupidity, know that there’s a story being told here. If you just want to see wrestling done right, know that also involves solidly told stories, and that Cassidy’s will be worth the pay off, even if right now, it’s only a “thumbs half way up.”
Future articles looking at AEW will help explain
-Why don’t big moves seem to do much damage?
-Why does one of their female wrestlers claim to be an alien?
-What is with the Young Bucks?
-Who is Kenny Omega, and what’s his mission?