Crazy Dave’s Bar Schedule

Posted by Florida Underground Wrestling News and Information on August 3, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article


To sign up for any of our events, please call the bar at: (727) 531-5518. We are always looking for pool players for our leagues. Also, we need players for our upcoming Dart League and local bands who would be interested in playing live at Crazy Dave’s.



Tables open for practice at 7 PM. Competition starts at 8 PM. $5 to play. 6 teams of 3 people, with all skill levels welcome. Ball in hand rules, playing 3 games each night. All money goes back to the players, even the last place team. The league lasts 15 weeks, culminating in a big party at the end of the season, with free food and a double-elimination pool tournament.

Competition starts at 6:30 PM. $5 to play, and all money goes back to the bowlers. And don’t forget out drink special — buy 3 drinks, get 1 free — limit 1 per person please.

Starting August 3, 2011, beer pong tournaments. For more information, please call the bar at: (727) 531-5518.

Coming soon — new Wednesday Night Pool League OR Wednesday Tournament Night. Interested parties, please call the bar at: (727) 531-5518 or email us at

See “Mondays” listing above for full information.

Join us on Fridays, 9 PM – Midnight, for live music from Jill, singing everything from oldies to modern hits and more.

Be the star of the show. Come on down, and bring your friends, every Saturday night, 8 PM – Close.

Plus Happy Hour prices from open to close.

To sign up for any of our events, please call the bar at: (727) 531-5518. We are always looking for pool players, as well as players for our new Dart League and local bands interested in playing live at Crazy Dave’s.

CvC 2.0. Who Was the Real First WWE Diva: Sable or Sunny?

Posted by Kari on June 29, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Red Division

Tim Nguyen vs. Ryan Frye

The Real First WWE Diva: Sable or Sunny?

Well my friends, the first question posed to me in the opening round of the CvC 2.0 competition is, who was the real first WWE Diva: Sable or Sunny?

To answer this question, I look back at which one had the greatest overall influence, most memorable moments and lasting legacy during their run(s) in the WWE.

That diva would be Sable.

To start off, I provide some history and backdrop.

When I was a younger lad immersed in the wrestling industry, there were many stars that I looked up to. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Sycho Sid, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Undertaker.

Owned all the action figures, read the magazine, memorized the moves. Everything. Wrestling nerd at its finest.


It was pre-WWF Attitude era, a post-Hulk Hogan era with no one huge definitive star but more of a collection of high-level stars, all fighting one another on a pretty even playing field for wrestling supremacy. It was more direct competition with one another and “who could outshine who” for dominance in the business rather than reliance on the one huge star or the mercy of those backstage pulling the strings that determined “the man”.

WrestleMania 12 was the first WrestleMania that I got my dad to get for me for my birthday. I was eight years old and wanted to see the Iron Man Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.

While watching the event, a lesser match on the card caught my attention. It was the Ultimate Warrior vs. then supreme jobber Hunter Hearst HelmsleyOh how quickly times change. Though it was a squash match, the female valet accompanying HHH to the ring caught my attention. Here and then the wrestling world was introduced to the woman they called “Sable.”

After the events of that night unfolded, we were left wondering who was this woman and what role would she play in the WWF.

Almost with that introduction, it was as if a changing of the guard was taking place.


We wanted to know more about that beautiful woman. More questions, more mystery.

The WWF was slowly transforming itself from the family-friendly show to a more TV-14, mature audience one.


Sable in her classic look during her first WWE run

Rocky Maivia turned from baby-face Samoan good guy to the cocky, villainous Rock.

Hunter Hearst Helmsey went from Greenwich snob to HBK’s bad boy sidekick. 

Almost as if the audience dictated the content of the show with their concurrent and projected adolescent (and hormonal) desires.

Hence, the Attitude Era was born which would shape everything we know and love about pro wrestling.

For the male wrestlers, it meant violent bloody matches, weapons used from ringside and swearing like it was nobody’s business. It was Montreal Screw-job, Stone Cold Steve Austin just whooped your ass and the People’s Elbow at its finest.

For the girls, it meant sex, sex and more sex. We wanted to see more of the women in a sexual way, more than just a good daddy’s little girl.


But what prompted it all this change? For that answer, we take a look at Sable.

Diva? What’s a Diva?

In fact, Sable coined this term for herself and subsequently all the women in the WWE at a RAW in 1999.

Thus christened an era.

She embodied everything the first Diva would: Wrestling ability and supreme looks. She was truly the total package.

And in my view, she wasn’t just good looking, she was the BEST looking.

Sable was first introduced to the WWE as Marc Mero’s valet. When the fans (and I’m referring specifically to the male ones), began to take notice of her..ahem assets, her popularity grew and her role changed to fit the demand. People were watching RAW not only for the wrestling drama but to see what she would do (or wear). It was the start of using female sex appeal to draw fans.

She turned from gorgeous female valet who never spoke to providing some of the most shocking in ring moments that we know today from women in the WWE.


Who can forget Fully Loaded 1998, when she wore a potato sack into the ring before taking it off to reveal her entry into the first-ever bikini contest against Jaqueline—two handprints Hollywood Walk of Fame-Style imprinted on her breasts.

Exposing her bare breasts live on a WWF pay-per-view?


First Playboy Cover

Yup, definitely a first at the time.

She was also a formidable female wrestler for her time, winning the WWF Women’s Championship during her first run, becoming only the second Women’s Champion of the the re-introduction of the belt. Her finisher was a power bomb, a very strong move for a female to perform, and she called her version’s The Sable Bomb.

Her presence created a demand for women competitors again in the WWE, more as duel package of wrestling and looks rather than looks alone. This drove the demand for the re-introduction of the Women’s belt.

She also appeared in four WrestleManias, competing in three of them. She successfully defended her Women’s title against Tori in WrestleMania XV.

Her ability to reinvent herself multiple times during her two stints in the WWE speaks volume to her talents as well.


She bravely came back to the WWE for a second stint after a messy fallout with Vince McMahon the first time around. Yet, she was still popular as ever and it was if she never left in the first place. She was in the top feuds against Stephanie McMahon, Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson in her part deux.


Sable and Torrie Wilson

Among her many firsts, one of her most notable feats (and to the delight of many male fans), Sable was first WWE diva to appear on the cover of Playboy.

She appeared in popular men’s magazine three times. Twice in 1999 and in 2004 when she shared a spread with other WWE hottie Torrie Wilson, another first. When she appeared in the magazine the first time in April 1999, sales were so high in some places that they had to redistribute copies from other areas to meet demand. That issue was one of the most popular of all time in Playboy’s history.

In addition, Sable has shown her talents to the world outside the ring into movies and TV, with roles in productions like Pacific Blue, Relic Hunter and Corky Romano.

Sable was a pioneer. She defined an era in the WWF. Easily in the most popular era of the WWE and when the WWE was at its peak, Its star female was Sable. Arugably the most lusted WWE Diva of her time. The winner and first real WWE Diva is Sable.

Thank you for reading.

You can check out my competition’s piece here.

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Professional wrestling circuit hits Iowa City

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 27, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Professional wrestling circuit hits Iowa City

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 27, 2011 7:20 AM

Fans cheered as the “Iowa Fight Song rang throughout the Wildwood Smokehouse Saloon on Sunday and professional wrestler Mike Pride stalked towards the ring, wearing black leather pants with the word “Pride” and a gold Tigerhawk logo printed down each leg.

Around 15 minutes into his match against Mick Wiqied, the wrestler found himself caught in a figure-four leg-lock. The crowd of roughly 70 chanted, “Let’s go Pride,” as he struggled to break free of the hold.

Even though he lost the match, Pride — whose real name is Mike Ray — said he’s living his dream.

“There’s nothing like coming out and having a bunch of people yelling for you and asking for your autograph,” Ray said. “It’s a feeling you don’t forget.”

Ray, 27, is in his fourth year with the Midwest Xtreme Wrestling Alliance. The Muscatine native has traveled throughout the eastern half of the state, wrestling in such towns as West Liberty, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and his hometown.

But everything started on a trampoline in the backyard with his friends. Ray said 1998 was a starting point for what became the Midwest Xtreme Wrestling Alliance, a company he helped create.

By 2006, Ray and his friends were renting an actual ring from Impact Pro Wrestling. A Public Access channel in Muscatine televised the events for a while, giving them fans and exposure.

“It was a big process, going from a backyard of, like, 30 people to a building of 250 people,” Ray said. “A lot of the money came out of my own pocket. There were times when I lost money on shows, but I kept it going in hopes that it would find itself and grow — and it did.”

The current version of wrestling alliance wouldn’t be possible without owner Rod Blair. Now 45 years old, he started wrestling professionally in 1986, and occasionally grappled on TV with World Wrestling Entertainment earlier in his career.

He first came into contact with Ray when he was working with Impact Pro Wrestling and traveled to Muscatine to help set up a ring.

“They wanted to know if I would go down and wrestle in a show and help the guys out,” Blair said. “So I went to Muscatine and started helping out with Mike and co-promoting. I bought our own ring and got it all licensed with the state of Iowa.”

Around a year passed between the time Blair helped set up the ring to when Ray asked him to join as a business partner. Blair said he spent $5,000 on equipment in his first week of starting wrestling alliance after it was licensed — all out of his own bank account.

“Everything just kind of evolved over time,” Blair said.

While few original backyard wrestlers are now on the current roster, Blair and Ray try to get local talent in their ring. One of those is current wrestling alliance champion Carl Forgy, who wrestles under the name Owen Donovan.

Forgy, who has been with the company for three years, has several family members from around the Iowa City area. The natural fan attraction is one reason Blair likes having local talent.

“My past three years with wrestling alliance have been amazing,” Forgy said. “Rod has an invested interest in the up-and-coming talent. He spent a lot of time with us getting us where we wanted to go. He was definitely instrumental in me going as far as I’ve gone.”

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WWE’s Undertaker: A Fans View of the WWE’s Last Outlaw

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 26, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

The Undertaker, the seven-time World Champion and the WWE’s Last Outlaw, has become one of the most beloved WWE Superstars in history.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably asking yourself, “Rize is an Undertaker fan?” “Isn’t this the same guy that worships the likes of John Morrison and the high flying genre?” “How could he possibly be a fan of the Last Outlaw?”

Excuse my nostalgia as I would like to take you back to a special moment for yours truly. It’s 1996, like any normal kid at the time, I found myself glued to my TV screen, as I pale guy with a zombie like demeanor made his way towards a wrestling ring.

There isn’t a grave to keep this fan away. (personal)

As I observed, my older sibling rebelled in the guy’s appearance (mark out), I was instantly amazed by this Superstar, but it would soon be overcome with another emotion.

FEAR (the one emotion synonymous with the enigma known as Undertaker)

The theme that echoed the sound of a bell signifying a departure of this life didn’t help my state of mind. Who (or whatever) this man was, he exposed my fear like no movie featuring Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers ever could.

This was the first time I’d ever witnessed Undertaker (and pro wrestling for that matter).




The Undertaker’s profound effect on me lead to me avoiding WWF programming and finding WCW as a worthy alternative.  Picking up Sting, DDP, and Booker-T as favorites along the way, I chimed in on WWF RAW at least three times.

Funny thing is, each time, I’d find myself staring at my TV screen, enamored by the one and only, Undertaker.

Some occurrences would be the infamous crucifying of Stone Cold Steve Austin to the kidnapping of Stephanie McMahon. When World Championship Wrestling folded in 2001, I viewed my first WWF pay-per-view in WrestleMania 17.

To my surprise, the satanic, sinister, undead being known as Undertaker had undergone a character change.

In a highly contested match with Triple H, I observed the new Undertaker. He seemed taller, his skin was normal and his attire seemed as if he’d been apart of a biker gang.

In the months that succeeded WrestleMania 17, I’d become accustom to Undertaker and his superiority over most of the WWF Superstars.

This type of Superstar only comes once in a lifetime.




Undertaker is the first form of professional wrestling to ever cycle my train of thought. Despite my obsession with others, Undertaker will always be a favorite amongst yours truly.



Undertaker is an all-around great superstar/human being.

Unlike his colleagues from the 90s, Undertaker has stood the true test of time. The Deadman has remained in the WWE (WWF) since his debut in 1990. Over 20 years of the strenuous life of WWE Superstar hasn’t pushed Undertaker to the edge of retirement just yet.

In the process, maintaining his reputation as a loyal WWE Superstar. Numerous Superstars have come and gone since 1990(Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, The Rock, Austin) while Undertaker has never left the WWE since his run began.

I think Triple H said it best. “16 years ago, I walked into that locker room for the first time. It was filled with Legends and future icons of this business. I saw one guy that stood head and shoulders above everybody else. One guy that I could clearly see was the glue that held this all together. I watched that guy do things that no human being should be able to do. I watched him duck tape a flack jacket to himself because he broken every rib and still was going to the ring that night. I watched him wrestle with broken bones, torn ligaments, and I watched him crush one entire side of his face and wrestle the next night.”



“He did it not because he was told to or because he had to because that’s who he was. I learned that if I should pattern myself after anybody in this business, it should be that guy. He represented everything that the WWE was and should be.”


Can YOU adapt?

Despite having a number of attributes, Undertaker is famous for his ability to adapt. The Last Outlaw debuted as a power house that was glorified for his speed and renowned striking ability. At his size, it’s not walk in the park to obtain as a great in ring technician.

But the sight of a 300-pound man diving over the top ropes onto Batista can change the thinking of any fan.

Besides this, Undertaker has added elements of MMA and submission wrestling to his arsenal. With the inclusion of the Hell’s Gate, Undertaker has seemingly cheated age by discontinuing the use of the choke slam and Last Ride.

Simply put, Undertaker can tell a story in the ring like no one (besides HBK) can.

The ultimate sign of respect, dedicated to the world of pro wrestling.



The one and only!

If not anything featured in this article, every pro wrestling fan must respect Undertaker for kayfabe. In case you missed my point, Undertaker possesses the greatest gimmick in the history of professional wrestling.

Undertaker has never broken kayfabe. Despite the potential to make millions of dollars through promotional or other potential business deals. Instead, Undertaker decided to retain his character and refrain from opportunities of financial gain.


For this, Undertaker will always have my utmost respect.

Eulogy: A fan’s final goodbye

I apologize if you were expecting more, but this is a one of a kind tribute to Undertaker. Now that his time in the squared circle is coming to an end, I found it appropriate to commemorate the career of the Deadman with this article.

Looking ahead to the future, I realize that Undertaker has one more match left in him. WrestleMania 28 will truly be epic. The night the Deadman cemented his status as arguably the greatest wrestler of all time.

In closing, I must its going to be extremely difficult to watch the WWE knowing you’ll never witness Undertaker destroy another opponent.

So it shall end, as it began.

With the irreplaceable ringing of the bell tolling the end of a life (career), but ain’t no grave can hold his body down.

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TNA Impact Wrestling Hitlist: Sting vs. Abyss, Bound For Glory Series, Samoa …

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 24, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

By Jason Powell

Dot Net Members will be listening to Will Pruett and Ryan Kester’s audio review of TNA Impact Wrestling later today. They are already listening to the two-hour Dot Net Weekly audio show. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.

TNA Impact Wrestling Hits

Sting and Eric Bischoff confrontation: Make no mistake about it, I’m tired of the power struggle, too much focus being placed on authority figures, and the way so many pro wrestling television shows open with lengthy talking segments. However, I am actually enjoying Sting’s new Joker-inspired antics thus far. I’m not sure where they’re headed with this version of Sting and that’s not a bad thing. Sting has improved as a performer even though he’s at a point in his career where he could have continued to coast and get by on his name value, so I appreciate the effort.

X-Division introduction videos: The raw indy footage was cool, but the brief mic work from the three participants were effective in giving us a quick introduction to who they are, what their background is, and that competing in the X Division is important to them. Well, at least that was the case with the first two guys. Dakota Darsow showed charisma on the mic, but everything he said was straight out of a cliche indy heel script. That said, he could become a good talker with more time.

Matt Morgan and Crimson vs. Beer Money: Good storytelling with Roode playing up the shoulder injury. This was a good television match, and it was nice to see more of the focus on Morgan than Crimson. By the way, Crimson is supposed to be Amazing Red’s “little brother,” but he looks more like Morgan’s malnourished younger brother. It was good to see the tag matches in the Bound For Glory Series only give points to the person who wins the match for his team, as that should lead to some interesting moments when tag partners bicker over who gets to win the match and the points.

Samoa Joe: A good night for Joe on the mic. He was very good in the segment with A.J. Styles and then did a nice job with his facials while reacting to Christopher Daniels slighting him. His line about the Real Housewives of Fortune got a laugh out of me, and the attack on Kazarian was effective. I must say that I’d much rather see the three-way with Styles, Joe, and Daniels than a Styles vs. Daniels singles match.

TNA Impact Wrestling Misses

Bound For Glory Series: I really want to like this concept because I like the idea that a series of matches leads up to the company’s biggest show of the year. I like the way the series matches play out at the house shows, and TNA has done a good job of promoting the next show’s series matches. However, there are just too many questions that have gone unanswered thus far. I don’t think it’s nitpicking to ask how many matches each wrestler will work, when the series ends, or why submissions are worth more points than pinfalls. And those are just a few questions that come to mind. If TNA wants viewers to invest in this series, then they have to show viewers that they have committed themselves enough to answer the obvious questions.

Sting vs. Abyss: They completely lost me when Abyss stopped to read “The Art of War” book during the match. He just continues to come across like a complete doofus, not an intimidating monster. I really hope they take the X Division Title away from him before Destination X. That has the potential to be a great show and there’s just no reason to have him carry the strap going into the show. I don’t even care if the idea is to have Kendrick beat him for the belt at the pay-per-view. As good as Kendrick is in the ring as as much as I think he could be effective in the right role, he’s just not playing it now. Sadly, he’d be near the bottom of the list of true X Division wrestlers that I’d even want to see get a title reign.

Bully Ray vs. Scott Steiner: I noticed the chain in the corner when the match started and I just never got over the fact that it remained there throughout the match. Furthermore, Steiner searching for Bully Ray backstage doesn’t mean anything anymore. Steiner loses so frequently that it seems like he has more bark than bite. Meanwhile, the monster Abyss running away from the chain swinging Steiner backstage and then trying to be the voice or reason? Ugh.

Zema Ion vs. Federico Palacio vs. Dakota Darsow: As much as I enjoyed the introduction videos, they never provided us with a real rooting interest. Darsow was heelish, but the other two were similar. Fortunately, Ion delivered some flashy crowd pleasing moves and made a decent first impression, but his gear was screamed indy even more than the other two guys.

Mickie James vs. Winter: Do the Knockouts just brawl now? I realize this was a street fight, which begs the question of why Angelina Love had make sure she hid her interference from the referee? Good effort from both women, but I’d like a little logic with my brawls.

Jackie and ODB vs. Miss Tessmacher and Velvet Sky: More of a brawl than a match. Did someone really write “kick to the vagina” as the finish to the match on the format sheet? Did I really hear ODB tell Tessmacher that she’s terrible?





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Faking the Fight

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 22, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Faking the Fight

The Wrestling stars  perform to the crowds at    events across the United States
The Wrestling stars perform to the crowds at events across the United States

Watched on pay-per-view television and at live arena shows around the globe by hundreds of thousands, there is often a fine discrepancy between what is real and what is fake in professional wrestling. Among the numerous rosters, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is perhaps the most well known league, having made the popularity of pay-per-view soar in recent decades.

Attempting to categorise professional wrestling, particularly the WWE franchise, appears problematic. With brutally executed manoeuvres in each match, there’s no disputing that athletic prowess is required. Yet as violent as the wrestlers’ moves look, the majority of matches are scripted and the winner decided beforehand.

That the outcomes of matches were predetermined was once a well-guarded secret, but now an openly discussed reality. In WWE, ‘plotlines’ between characters can unfold over a number of years like a drawn out soap opera. But even ‘worked’ sequences can present real danger to the wrestlers. So is it heavily constructed entertainment, or is it a sport?

As with many of the ‘answers’ to questions surrounding professional wrestling, it is an inextricably woven combination of both. WWE Commentator, Scott Stanford, illustrates that it’s “run for both sporting and television entertainment: you’re combining a live in-arena show with a television show week after week, no reruns.”

Staunch supporters might be expected to aggressively argue its validity as a ‘real sport’. Chris Fitzpatrick, from New Jersey, has been a fan since he was 11, and Thomas Hall from Kentucky has been watching professional wrestling for as long as he can remember. But neither believe it is engaging purely due to its sporting value.

“It’s not pointless to claim it as a sport, but it’s kind of misguided,” claims Hall. Fitzpatrick similarly believes that professional wrestling is “misconstrued as overly violent and a male soap opera.” It’s easy to see why: a wrestler could be stricken with a barbed-wire board by their opponent, only to make a dramatic comeback speech minutes later.

“It’s a bit of everything. You have to mix in a combination of performance, athleticism and showmanship. Because you don’t really have a home base like a professional sports team does, the term sports entertainment really does fit.

“The showmanship aspect of it is probably more important than the sporting side. There have been wrestlers over the years with incredible athletic ability that haven’t been huge successes, while there have been some that have a limited amount of technique who are very successful.”

“For these viewers, fanaticism, like supporting a sports team, goes hand in hand with escapism

Yet as a performative sport, Hall thinks professional wrestling is overlooked: “people that do that on Broadway are praised for what they do and are given awards.” For the first-time viewer, why so many viewers continually invest time – and money – in the largely faked pretence of sport is difficult to comprehend. For WWE, founded in 1952; because it’s a lifestyle which has been growing for half a century.

“If Monday Night Raw suddenly went off the air, I’d be lost,” says Fitzpatrick. “For nearly 20 years of my life, WWE pay-per-views have been a great opportunity to get together with friends and immerse ourselves in a totally different world.”

For these viewers, fanaticism, like supporting a sports team, goes hand in hand with escapism. It’s a compelling situation, unlike supporting a sports team or being a fan of franchises such as Pokémon. Professional wrestling provides the opportunity to legitimately support fantasy within the context of the real world.

“The biggest misconception is that wrestling fans are losers. We’re not,” claims Fitzpatrick. “It’s just a form of entertainment we enjoy. It may be (by today’s society) a ‘geeky’ thing to be into, but whatever.

“I have dual college degrees, own a home, and make a great living. And I’m a huge fan of wrestling.”

“The characters, the storylines, the outcome of the matches consistently captivate the audience,” summarises Stanford, despite the fact that they are heavily contrived. There are no displays of denial; fans are ready to acknowledge the artificiality of the professional wrestling world. Yet those who “scoff at the fact that I am a wrestling fan and say ‘you know that shit’s fake, right?’,” Fitzpatrick terms “ignorant”.

“Me cheering for Chris Jericho to defeat his opponent is really not all that different from someone who cries during Terms of Endearment or laughs at The Hangover. Just because something is staged doesn’t mean it can’t elicit emotion, and doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for the characters that these performers portray.

“Just because pro wrestling isn’t as dignified or refined as Broadway doesn’t mean you still can’t be enthralled by it. Humans all seem to have a basic desire to suspend disbelief.”

Hall eagerly reiterates: “We know it’s Tom Hanks on the screen and not Forrest Gump, yet we get sucked into it anyway because the performance given is so good that we forget what reality is. Then the lights come up and the illusion ends. Same idea with wrestling.”

Inside the ring, demonstrating theatrical talent is just as important as technical wrestling ability.

The wrestling superstars must be able to perfect a fake cry of agony as well as mask genuine pain. With the best wrestlers, there is often little to differentiate the two. Convincing audiences to forget the potential for injury and cultivating hatred towards villainous characters over a number of weeks is a more demanding job than that of any Hollywood actor, particularly during live shows. They are responsible for breaking the fourth wall, while simultaneously appearing to be ‘untouchable’.

‘Kayfabe’ is the notion of not breaking character outside of the ring, in order to maintain the illusion that the wrestlers’ characters and rivalries are real. However, the principle has been severely broken down in the past twenty years. In 1987, on-screen rivals Iron Sheik and Jim ‘Hacksaw’ Duggan were arrested, having been found taking drugs together. As one of the first major instances of kayfabe being broken, WWE (then WWF) took serious action – firing the Iron Sheik, and suspending Duggan.

“It hurt things a lot. It was during the 90s when the walls of it were broken down and they’ve never really been repaired. The lines between reality and characters started to blur and a lot of people claim it really hurt the product overall,” describes Hall.

“You can’t ask people not to associate with each other ever. It’s a very tricky area and can change a lot over time.” Professional wrestling demands much more than other forms of entertainment through the viewer’s suspension of disbelief in a fictional storyline.

But reality and fiction sometimes appear to merge together, and how immersed wrestlers become in their characters is put under close scrutiny, by fans and critics alike. As plotlines link closely or even overlap with the wrestlers ‘real’ lives, the line between the two is often blurred.

“I don’t believe CM Punk is a psychotic cult leader, but I do believe Steve Austin in his real life could be a brash tough guy who likes good old American beer,” comments Fitzpatrick.

“The best characters are often the ones who are just exaggerations of who they really are or what they really do. Guys like Ric Flair get lost in that character sometimes, but when you’re that great, it probably goes with the territory.”

Acting aside, things can go critically wrong inside the ring. Broken legs, necks and major knee injuries have befallen wrestling magnates Steven Austin, Hulk Hogan and Sid Vicious alone. The wrestlers spend over 200 days of the year on the road, travelling and taking part in matches. “It can be far more physically demanding that regular sports which have a six month season,” explains Hall.

A career in professional wrestling is well paid – Steve Austin made over six million dollars in 1999 – but it comes with a high death rate for under 65s. Stanford, who has a first-hand view in the midst of the industry, describes the wrestlers’ jobs as a blend of athletic ability and “punishment that they put their bodies through” night after night. Under extreme physical strain, taking excessive amounts of painkillers leaves them too numb to wrestle. Subsequently, drug abuse or using steroids provides a solution to carry on working – and in many cases, to death.

However, even the wrestlers are kept from the full truth on some occasions. The ‘Montreal Screwjob’ of 1997 saw WWE’s owner, Chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon double-cross the beloved defending WWF champion, Bret Hart. Hart had been loyal to WWF for thirteen years, and was signed under a 20-year contract. But McMahon engineered a match – with the participation of Hart’s opponent, referees, and other wrestlers – to see Hart lose both his WWF title, and job at WWF. The company still describes it as “one of the most controversial moments in sports-entertainment history”.

“Every time you think you have everything down as far as what’s real and what’s fake you get a curve ball thrown at you and realise the only people that know for sure are the people behind the scenes,” explains Hall. McMahon currently controls 88 per cent of the voting power in WWE, making him the puppeteer of plotlines who doesn’t need to guess what will happen next. Instead, with a team of creative writers, he has the ability to dictate it.

In any other sporting realm, this level of manipulation would be deemed unjust. But to avoid transforming into genuine fights, or developing similarities to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, strategic storytelling in professional wrestling is a necessity.

The amount of faked action and its potential to be seriously harmful are ultimately of no consequence. Viewers’ concerns are rarely about the realities that the wrestlers and the industry face, despite the acknowledgement that WWE is a business and a product. “I don’t watch it to hear about court cases or legal proceedings or backstage politics,” states Hall. “If I wanted to hear about realistic people having realistic problems I’d have a conversation with any run of the mill person.

“I want to see something I don’t see every day of the week.” Professional wrestling allows an interactive form of escapism where, unlike the majority of entertainment, the suspension of disbelief contributes to the reality of each fan.

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WWE: Lost in the Annuls of History & Tragedy, a Tribute to the Year of 2007

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 21, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

2007 began with a bang when The Undertaker won the Royal Rumble, arguably the only feat that he had yet to accomplish coming into the event. This put a cap on his legendary career and everything since has been the proverbial icing on the cake.

Also notable, rising stars John Cena and Batista continued their reigns atop their respective shows as champions, defeating Umaga and Mr. Kennedy.

This led into WrestleMania 23, with the fitting tagline All Grown Up.

Mr. Kennedy won Money In Bank but would later lose the briefcase to Edge, due to injury. Of course, the match itself was terrific.

The ECW Originals (Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam, The Sandman Sabu) defeated The New Breed (Elijiah Burke, Marcus Cor Von, Matt Striker Kevin Thorne.) Basicallly, this was the classic case of young loudmouths finally being muzzled by grizzled veterans. 

Bobby Lashley against Umaga; otherwise known as the Battle of the Billionaires. Vince McMahon had chosen Umaga, while Donald Trump selected Bobby Lashley. With two very agile big men, this resulted in a good match, with Lashley winning and Mr. McMahon getting his head shaved.

Chris Benoit against MVP was a fantastic match. Backstage, these two were best friends, which gave this match a student versus teacher feel. In the end, the teacher won in a match that the WWE claims to have never happened now. 

Meanwhile, Batista fell to The Undertaker, keeping the WrestleMania undefeated streak alive. Although he lost, Batista still came out of WrestleMania 23 smelling like a rose.

Lastly, John Cena beat Shawn Michaels in a match that lasted nearly thirty minutes. And who said John Cena couldn’t wrestle?

If you do, just YouTube this match. 

At the end of the day, none of the aforementioned WrestleMania matches left you with a bitter taste in your mouth, which is a very rare thing these days. But it spoke to the greatness of not only the event, but the entire year.

The upcoming slides will take a look at some of the great post-WrestleMania feuds and attempt to be as chronological as possible. 

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Book Review: Say Uncle! Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 19, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling  Modern Grappling by Jake Shannon

Jake Shannon’s Say Uncle!: Catch-As-Catch Can Wrestling and the Roots of Ultimate Fighting, Pro Wrestling Modern Grappling is a valuable addition to the fighting sports library. Shannon runs the Scientific Wrestling web site — a great resource for anyone curious about catch wrestling — and has been a dedicated student of this nearly lost art for over a decade. 

Shannon outlines the history and techniques of catch wrestling and, most interestingly, interviews many legends of the art including Karl Gotch, Billy Robinson, Billy Wicks, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Gene LeBell, Josh Barnett and Erik Paulson. The interviews are a wide-ranging lot and cover everything from the techniques and philosophy of grappling, to the old days on the carnival wrestling circuit to adapting catch to modern MMA.

The anecdotes from the old school catch wrestlers are my favorite part of the book as the era when pro wrestling was sometimes real and sometimes fake is a fascinating era. The grapplers Shannon interviews were on the side that fought to keep the sport a sport — often by “shooting” (ie competing for real) on “workers” (fake wrestlers) who didn’t have a clue to defend themselves. 

The book also features a nice 30 page section on techniques featuring black and white photos and explanations for a number of take downs, rides and submission holds  and how to string them together. The book also does a great job of explaining the “scientific” basis of catch wrestling with its emphasis on bio-mechanics, leverage and torque. 

The book makes an excellent complement to Mark Hewitt’s Catch Wrestling and Catch Wrestling Round Two which both look more at the history of professional wrestling in the first half of the 20th Century and doesn’t pay much if any attention to technical issues. 

Shannon’s book is a very professional production, well edited, nicely laid out and a pleasure to read. Most importantly the book is a critical contribution to the effort to preserve the knowledge and history of this almost lost martial art that is a direct forefather of MMA. 

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Former WWE star opens gym in Tampa

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

TAMPA – These days you will find former World Wrestling Entertainment champion Dave Batista on a different kind of mat.

He’s hung up his wrestling tights – for now – and has taken up mixed martial arts.

“I really just found peace in here,” the 42-year-old Batista said Saturday afternoon of his transition. “I just love it.”

Once one of the biggest names in professional wrestling he left the WWE last year. Since then Batista has been training MMA style which mixes wrestling, striking and jiu-jitsu. He’s gearing up with hopes of signing on for his first professional MMA fight.

“I’m a martial arts practitioner; I want that experience of going through a training camp and leading up to a pro fight,” he said of his current plans. “I’m able to do this now, five years from now I won’t be able to.”

Saturday also marked the debut of Batista’s new business. Instead of fighting an opponent he’s sharing a goal and has opened Gracie Fighter Jiu-Jitsu Gym on North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

His partner in the endeavor is famed mixed martial arts trainer Cesar Gracie.

“It has actually turned into something bigger than I imagined,” Batista said at the facility’s grand opening to the public. “At first it was going to be a private guy for me to train, but we realized that we had such a great facility and I felt like this area could use something like this.”

The six-time WWE World title holder says his gym is for everyone, even the little guys.

“Martial arts is about discipline and respect. We can teach everything from bully prevention to self defense,” said one of the facility’s assistant trainers Hoon Park.

Training, teaching and traveling is taking up a lot of Batista’s time currently and that’s ok with him. While he hasn’t ruled out a return to the WWE, he has one goal in mind.

“My dream is to become a Cesar Gracie black belt,” he said.

And who’s going to argue with him?


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Strikeforce’s Josh Barnett digs into pro-wrestling repertoire for inspired speech

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 17, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

DALLAS – Josh Barnett is either bored, having fun, or he’s completely lost it. Maybe a combination of the three.

Open workouts are usually the time for fighters to elevate their heart rates and answer questions from the media. Of course, with only two days remaining until fight night, there’s not much left to answer, and a lot of the same ground is covered.

Instead of subjecting himself to the usual routine, Barnett chose to cut a promo straight from professional wrestling that was directed at Brett Rogers, whom he meets in the opening round of the heavyweight grand prix at “Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum.”

The event takes place Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Its main card airs live on Showtime, and the preliminary card airs on HDNet. A non-title, quarterfinal-tournament fight between Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum headlines.

Barnett, a longtime fan of pro wrestling who’s often worked overseas in Japan in worked wrestling matches, used the struggles of his recent career as fodder for the monologue. Still breathing heavy from putting on a “match” moments earlier with professional wrestler Erik Hammer, he pretty quickly quieted the room.

Here it Barnett’s speech in its entirety:

“I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, sitting there watching everybody go out and fight. Hard times have been on Josh Barnett. Dealing with athletic commissions. Everybody saying, ‘You did this, and you did that. You’re the problem for this.’ That’s hard times. Hard times for my family. Hard times for my friends. Hard times by me. Hard times not being able to get a fight. Hard times is the company, waking up one day, is saying they’ve been sold out to your competitor! Not knowing what the hell you’re going to do. Where’s my contract at? Where’s my money? Where’s my security? Who says I’m going to get that shot now? Having that on your mind? That’s hard times.

“And then you get this big old Brett Rogers in front of you. He thinks he knows what’s tough. He thinks he’s going to make a name off of my head. So I’ve got to get up every morning, break of dawn. I’ve got to get those running shoes on. I’ve got to hit that concrete; I’ve got to get those miles under my feet. My knees are aching, my body is sore. I’ve got guys like ‘Hammer’ beating on me every single day. I’ve got body breaking down, my mind getting pushed, feeling the effects of 14 years of fighting – feeling the effects of trying to put yourself in the best condition you can be in. Waking up every day having to deal with that? That’s what hard times is about.

“I’m going to tell you what Brett Rogers. Come Saturday, American Airlines Arena? I’m going to give you a lesson in hard times. I’m going to take all that anguish, all that pain, everything that I have been through, everything all my family has been through, everything all my coaches have been through – I’m going to put that on you, Brett Rogers. I’m going to show you exactly what hard times is about. Who wants to see that? Not you, Brett Rogers. You do not want to see that.”

After a few beats of stunned silence, there was applause from some of the media.

Then, Mr. Barnett left the building. It’s been 11 months since he fought for real. He obviously can’t wait.

For more on “Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum,” stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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