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AEW Navel-Gazing Thread Number Two


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Apologies to all those who dislike this kind of discussion, but I wanna talk about Rick and Morty, The Simpsons, and South Park and I don't think it quite fits in to the main thread. At least, if you don't like it, it's easier to skip if it's in its own thread.

My first exposure to Rick and Morty was this: I was working security at the big annual Halloween party in Osaka. There were three separate groups of younger gaijin "year abroad" teachers who showed up in Rick and Morty gear, including a very elaborate Pickle Rick costume. They were all nice-enough people, certainly none of them caused any trouble that night. However, they all seemed pretty self-satisfied w/r/t being "in" on Rick and Morty. As I found out soon after, this was at the height of the "To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty" meme culture and they seemed to all be into that in an un-ironic way. It kind of put me off of ever watching the show. 

But then a very good friend of mine, the guy who'd given me a full set of Futurama DVDs when I moved back to Canada from the Czech Republic, started encouraging me to watch Rick and Morty. He said it was like Futurama but weird and dark and leaning way harder into hard science fiction. So...

I loved it. I still love it.

What the hell has that got to do with pro wrestling? Well, my first exposure to The Young Bucks was from gaijin wrestling fans visiting Japan, wearing t-shirts from Hot Topic, and they all seemed pretty self-satisfied at being "in" on the Bullet Club. Friendly enough people, but not my kind of people and they kind of put me off getting into modern New Japan. At that time the prevailing online take on the Bucks was that they were no-selling spot moneys, and I chose to just accept that and move on with my life.

*********

Man, I used to love The Simpsons. There was a time at Uni, living with a group of awesome friends, when that was all we watched. No cable at that time, but we had a TV and a VCR and a box of VHS tapes with the first four seasons of The Simpsons on them. Our jokes and references were 90% Simpsons-based and some of the happiest memories of pop culture consumption in my life are of watching The Simpsons with my friends.

But, oh boy, has that show ever gone down the toilet! When I moved back from the Czech Republic I couldn't wait to see some new Simpsons episodes... and I ended up heartbroken at how formulaic and unfunny the show had become. 

I remember reading stories about the Simpsons actors' strike that made much of how the corporate d-bags at Fox were literally laughing at  what a huge cash cow the show had become while screwing over the talented people that made it happen. So, I stopped watching, other than to re-watch old episodes or check out something recent that was highly pimped by friends or online... and this thing I used to love is now at best occasionally OK. But I still have those happy memories of what it used to be, at least. 

What has that got to do with pro wrestling?

**********

You know what got me to get over myself w/r/t The Young Bucks? It was South Park! I have a good friend, another Gaijin living in the same part of Japan, who loves modern NJPW. He invited me to come watch a show on satellite at his place, and because I enjoy his company I accepted. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it.

Before going over there, coincidentally, I watched the season 14 "Okay, Grandpa" episode (where Kyle is upset that Ike and his friends would rather watch youtube play-alongs than actually play games) and/or the season 15 episode "You're Getting Old" (where Kyle gets really cynical and starts literally seeing and hearing everything as crap).

 

Whichever episode it was (maybe both) it helped me to pull my head at least part way out of my own ass w/r/t the very particular issue of demanding that modern pro wrestling be what I want it to be instead of trying to accept it on its own terms or at least trying to meet it half way. 

So I was able to watch and enjoy that modern NJPW card with a more open mind, and the Bucks actually told a whole story around body-part selling (I think one of them was working an injured back angle) and...

I loved it. I still love it.

**********

So I am glad that AEW is the way it is and that I was able to meet that half way (or better) and can enjoy it now.

And, just to torture the analogy a little further and tie it back in to "free will and self-expression through creativity" I think AEW is better off being the Rick and Morty of Pro Wrestling rather than trying to be The Simpsons in that they are probably better off being a successful TV show that takes a lot of risks (not all of which pay off) and playing to their existing hardcore fanbase, rather than trying to be the number one promotion, playing things too much by the book, and potentially becoming a neutered lumbering corporate monolith.

Lots more to say, but that's enough for now.

Please feel free to chime in, even if it's just to yell that modern wrestling sucks and/or that you are not a grandpa.

Also, please feel absolutely free to post any and all additional, non-related, AEW navel-gazing thoughts here too if you'd like.

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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To start, my laugh emoji is because you used my "navel-gazing" quote so thank you @El Gran Gordi. You're the best, man. Much love. 

Anyway, you've created an interesting parable here. In Rick and Morty I dislike the storyline of "sociopathic uncle harasses broken family" that seems to repeat over and over. There seems to be no variation, and the negativity makes me feel bad (this is from someone that practically thrives on pessimistic shit btw). That and The Simpsons could be WWE, both are way more Simpsons in their structure. Repetition is a mainstay. AEW is definitely South Park however: varied, hits you with a curveball every once in awhile, but still has a general standard that is typically based on grand gestures and chaos. 

As it is I try to take my interest in wrestling on a match-by-match basis anymore. We're not gonna get a perfect company. I have no problem watching all kinds of bad wrestling and laughing at it; I don't consider it hate-watching because I seriously do enjoy the humor of it. If you can't laugh then GTFO. The matches that I consider good or even great, they hit a certain emotional level where I stop analyzing them and just turn into a big old goofy fan. I like to write about what I see and explain what I feel but when it really matters sometimes, words escape. AEW wouldn't be what I would book, though I don't seriously bemoan anyone working there; even though I said I'd take Joe over some of their guys I don't wish any of those guys to lose their jobs. But AEW is fun, and that's all I can ask of any company. My fun is not always your fun but it's always fun to bitch about it, right? 😉 Point being... well, I dunno. Perhaps we should all be more lenient in our opinions of others' opinions and take our own with a grain of salt as well. 

It's late and I'm drunk and rambling. Good mi'night to ya

Edited by Curt McGirt
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7 hours ago, El Gran Gordi said:

Whichever episode it was (maybe both) it helped me to pull my head at least part way out of my own ass w/r/t the very particular issue of demanding that [ . . . . . ] be what I want it to be instead of trying to accept it on its own terms or at least trying to meet it half way. 

my own experience with this also relates to cartoons. You see, i am a humongous fan of 80s and 90s cartoons. Transformers, GI Joe, He-Man, Thundercats, TMNT, all of that. I know i'm not alone in this, and that's why these big budget live action movies get made. but man, i hate them. Transformers where they change the look of all the characters and make them all sharp and shiny and shit? no way. GI Joe featuring the Rock? get outta here. TMNT doing giant oversized turtles? they're ruining my childhood!

Except they aren't. TMNT is what made me finally come to grips with it. if the 90s live action TMNT movies had switched places with the 2010s live action TMNT movies, i would still love the ones that i grew up (which would now be the 2010s ones) with and hate the now-new ones. i'll stick with the OG animation, which was made for me. kids growing up now can stick with the new CGI live action films, which are made for them. we can all enjoy the same franchises in our own ways. 

this has carried over into other parts of my life and fandoms as well, including pro wrestling.

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14 hours ago, El Gran Gordi said:

And, just to torture the analogy a little further and tie it back in to "free will and self-expression through creativity" I think AEW is better off being the Rick and Morty of Pro Wrestling rather than trying to be The Simpsons in that they are probably better off being a successful TV show that takes a lot of risks (not all of which pay off) and playing to their existing hardcore fanbase, rather than trying to be the number one promotion, playing things too much by the book, and potentially becoming a neutered lumbering corporate monolith.

It's difficult to read something framed this way as anything other than a false choice. 

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I never thought of the analogy with AEW="Rick and Morty" and WWE="The Simpsons"  I don't know if it perfectly matches up but the more I think about it the more it makes sense.  If anything if somebody not aware wanted a quick answer to what AEW is I think I have a solid response for them now so thanks.

But if we're going with that analogy does that mean that TNA/Impact is "Family Guy"?  It had its own issues at first but then had a big upswing after it was back on the air.  But the longer it went the more irrelevant it ended up becoming despite <2 million people still watching it.  And doing a quick search it appears it could be the end after season 21 which is kind of like how people thought TNA would close throughout the years.  It might not be as good of an analogy as yours but I think there's enough to link the two.

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5 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Impact is now fine while Family Guy gets worse by the year. 

After posting it I realized I was a bit harsh on Impact as they are in a better spot.  Now if we were focusing on before the Broken Matt story where Impact started to recover after a low point for TNA then the analogy would fit better.

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On 4/21/2021 at 7:18 AM, Curt McGirt said:

Impact is now fine while Family Guy gets worse by the year. 

ROH is Family Guy. Big in the mid-00’s but I don’t know anyone that watches now!

Rick and Morty fits better with NXT for me. Everyone tells me constantly how much I would love them, but I find them both insufferable when I do eventually watch them.

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On 4/28/2021 at 1:29 AM, Ultimo Necro said:

ROH is Family Guy. Big in the mid-00’s but I don’t know anyone that watches now!

Rick and Morty fits better with NXT for me. Everyone tells me constantly how much I would love them, but I find them both insufferable when I do eventually watch them.

Ooh, yeah, ROH is definitely Family Guy. Your description fits perfectly.

I would almost say that at one point NXT would be American Dad, but now NXT feels a little like Solar Opposites.

AEW is...hell...I don't know what AEW is. I was tempted to say Futurama, but Futurama was cancelled. I don't think Rick and Morty is appropriate either. 

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Posted (edited)

For me, AEW compares to Rick and Morty in two ways:

1) I was initially put off of The Elite/Rick and Morty due to encounters with members of their fan-base who just seemed a little too self-satisfied that their fandom proved something about them... but, in both cases,  when I tried it for myself I was surprised to find that I really liked it.

2) I think that a real strength of both AEW and Rick and Morty is that they can be free to go to weird places and try to do things a little differently because they both have enough hardcore fans to support them as a viable enterprise and those fans generally embrace the weirdness and are tolerant of the "a swing... and a miss!' moments. 

 

I think, though, that I might have found a better overall analogy for AEW:

 

Letterkenny!

It hit me while reading this interview with members of the cast: https://www.cbr.com/letterkenny-cast-interview/

 

It was these quotes, and others like them:

 We had good feelings about it from the start, and we all got along so well and worked so well together. So it definitely felt special. But then you just never know how other people are going to receive it. Right? So you just hope for the best. And we've been very lucky. We're all very thankful that people feel the same way that we do about it.

 We were joking in Season 1 that it was the most fun summer camp that we’d ever been to before. And we were hoping to go to summer camp again and again. 

 What makes this show different for me than other shows is getting to hang out with the people that I would want to hang out with even if we weren't working together. You get to work together and make something fun and have a bunch of laughs. That's different from any other show that I've ever worked on. You're not just in for a couple weeks' shoot and then gone. It's just like, “Yeah well this is now going to be six years of us doing this together.” So the camaraderie there and working with your friends, man, that's what's different about it. And that's what puts me over the moon on it.

Presumably there's no need for me to over-explain why that also made me think of AEW while I was reading it. 

For me, that is very much a huge part of the charm of Letterkenny (and AEW): That these young men and women genuinely seem to be having a really good time doing what they are doing. 

And AEW and Letterkenny are in the perfect position where they have had enough success and are making enough money to keep doing the thing that they love doing in the manner that they enjoy doing it, to allow a whole lot of people to make a living doing what they love, and to keep on making their fans really happy. 

I know there are people (many of whom regularly and unironically refer to pro wrestling as "product") who don't think it's important that performers should be happy in their work, who think that the only purpose of running an enterprise it to dominate the competition and be the undisputed #1 top dog, and even people on these very boards who vociferously defend the right of  giant corporations to treat their """""employees""""" like garbage. 

But, to me and to many many other, it's a very good thing indeed that there are TV shows and wrestling promotions and boogie-woogie combos and puppet theaters and roadside attractions where the people working their asses off to provide us with entertainment and diversion get along with one another and are treated well.

I tend to really love certain weird and specific and niche music and books and video games and comedy sketches and so on. I'm happy that, from time to time the people with enough originality and creativity to make those kinds of things can make a very good living without having to lowest-common-denominator their art in order to appeal to the widest base possible.

I appreciate the big swings and attempts at something new, even when they miss or fall flat. On a continuum, I often like it when things are pushed more toward the fringe than when they remain firmly in the middle of the road. 

It's kind of weird that I am a big AEW fan. I am the same guy that started the Clubbering thread on these boards, and Ishii vs MiSu is pretty much my favourite current pro wrestling match-up. I don't need blood or gimmicks or fancy-Dan moves to get into a match. Sometimes I find that those things can get in the way. I'm in many ways a guy who prefers his pro wrestling without a lot of frills... 

But...

I like when nice people get to express themselves honestly through their creative work.

Letterkenny is literally a weird minor little Canadian youtube show that managed to find an audience that loves it. AEW more or less literally grew out of "you bunch of unknown=over-here big-in-Japan youtube wrestling stars could never draw 10,000 people to a stadium without the promotional power of a big multinational promotional conglomerate behind that effort. 

Hats off to Letterkenny! Hats off to AEW! Please keep doing what you love until you no longer feel like doing so. 

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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Rick and Morty lost me real fast. It's a broken family with a sociopathic grandfather. They do crazy shit while self-destructing, nothing ever gets better, rinse and repeat. I like dark shit but it's missing a hook for me, and I think those self-important fans identify with Rick being a sociopath too much.

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Was looking at an NFL thread from a few months ago on the reddit and was immediately reminded of this thread, lol

Quote
Quote

In all honesty AEW started as something that I wanted to succeed despite knowing it wasn't my cup of tea because I thought the competition would be a net positive for the wrestling industry. Now that it's been around a while, I just think their fanbase is incredibly annoying and wouldn't give a shit if the whole thing died tomorrow.

The Rick and Morty of pro wrestling.

https://old.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/l6lpu5/jaguars_owner_shad_khan_owns_2_pro_sports_teams/gl2qkfy/

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Speaking of Letterkenny:

I think that AEW would be very well served by taking about 20% off 'er, there.

In other words, I wish they didn't feel the need to go quite so big quite so often.

For me, the Exploding Ring Death Match and Blood and Guts were both great matches that were in a sense sabotaged by disappointing  endings... but what I'm talking about isn't so much the risk of a big stunt turning into a wet fart, or a bad camera angle making a big stunt look less impressive than it should have. 

My thinking is more along the lines of: Even if the big explosion and Jericho's big bump had both been pulled off and caught on camera flawlessly, even if they'd gone exactly as planned... I don't think those matches needed that much extra. Rosa vs DMD, a no holds barred type of match that was dialed back about 20% from the Kenny vs Mox Unsanctioned Match and the Exploding Ring match was much better than either of the "cranked up past 11" Mox vs Omega extravaganzas. 

I think maybe Rosa vs Baker is the exact right level of violence and spectacle for AEW. More than that isn't better in my opinion. You get into diminishing returns pretty quickly. 

A blood and guts match that finishes inside the cage is, in my opinion, likely to come across as better than one that has to go on top of the cage. 

We've seen that already. Foley took it as far as it can be taken, and frankly it never needs to be done again. Ersatz Foley ends up feeling more like Shane McMahon...

as @sydneybrown put it in the "Cody vs QT edition" thread: If Jericho isn't going full Foley, maybe not book a  Foley finish? 

as @Goodearsaid: The lay out was good!  The closing idea of someone quitting to save someone else in the Inner Circle was good! They just overreached and could not stop pouring dressing on the salad. The most effective stuff they did involved the two rings and the cage and they just had to keep adding elements they didn't need.

I posted a similar sentiment a while back where I compared AEW's tendency to go too big to an ice cream parlour that wants to drown their excellent, delicious ice cream in way too many toppings.

We love the ice cream! We love the salad! We love the steak! Toppings are OK, dressing is OK, sizzle is OK... but it's not what we came here for. 

Or is it? 

In the same thread we've got @twiztor talking about B&G as a top-5 all time AEW match and @The Natural saying he'd rank it around 8-12 all time... Is that despite them finishing the match on top of the "box like structure" or because of it?

And: I loved Stadium Stampede and Arcade Anarchy.

So, what do you think? Is my desire to see AEW taking about 20% off 'er just me being a pro wrestling grandpa? Or would AEW be best served by not trying to go so big so often?

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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I agree with the general point, doubly so with random Dynamite matches, but there is no greater spectacle in wrestling than an exploding ring death match. It's the coolest and they should've absolutely gone for it. 

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Posted (edited)

@El Gran Gordi: Yeah, there were things I liked about Blood & Guts: the violence, #FTR, Guevara, Santana and Ortiz. Things I didn't, everything outside the cage. I rarely do. The three exceptions are Sting/Madusa in WarGames '92, Shawn Michaels/The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell, by far the best at it and Undertaker/Mankind, King of the Ring 1998. Blood & Guts is a hard match to rank for those reasons. The likes and dislikes. It's in the 8-12 bracket of my top 20 Best AEW Matches Ever. I won't be doing an update yet with the devastating news about my dog, Rayven's terminal cancer which has left me in bits.

Edited by The Natural
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5 minutes ago, The Natural said:

@El Gran Gordi: Yeah, there were things I liked about Blood & Guts: the violence, #FTR, Guevara, Santana and Ortiz. Things I didn't, everything outside the cage. I rarely do. The three exceptions are Sting/Madusa in WarGames '92, Shawn Michaels/The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell, by far the best at it and Undertaker/Mankind, King of the Ring 1998. Blood & Guts is a hard match to rank for those reasons. The likes and dislikes. It's in the 8-12 bracket of my top 20 Best AEW Matches Ever. I won't be doing an update yet with the devastating news about my dog, Rayven's terminal cancer which has left me in bits.

Damn, my friend, I am truly sorry to hear about your dog. I appreciate you taking the time to answer me here while you are going through something like that. Please take care.

Very much agree, by the way, about B&G having a lot to like but also a couple of obvious flaws.

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To be fair, to be fair, 🎶to be fayyyyyhhhhhhr. 🎶

I really didn't want to make a point just make the reference.

I'll fake it.

The issue AEW has with being "20% more" is that it doesn't leave them anywhere to go when they need to progress something. This is why Omega's dastardly using of the microphone to win the World Title was such a laugher since they will do far worse than that in lower midcard feuds. It's why Tony being obsessively pissed at MJF makes no sense for biting someone after he got stabbed with a fork a dozen times. They save nothing.

Take Tay Conti for example. Tay busted out that DEVASTATING senton on Maddi across the turnbuckles on Youtube for a nothing match. It wasn't the finish. Maddi was on offense a moment later. How any agent saw or heard about that move, approved it and laid out the match the that way is psychotic. When that thing was conceptualized, they need to immediately put a hold on it and either reject it for being too dangerous or tell Conti to save it for something meaningful. As it was, it wasn't even meaningful in the match it was in! 

The idea that you're pointing to Baker-Rosa as a dialed back match is a bit crazy as it had tons and tons of stuff in it! Ladders, tables, crutches... more and more and more. I'm honestly of the opinion that restriction conversely helps creativity. When you can do whatever you want, you just add element after element. This is characterized by Blood and Guts where they had barbed wire and no one saw it and it was never referenced on television! Then why have it!? How much better would it have been instead of a chair, baseball bat, barbed wire, fork and everything else... they just used the cage and nothing else? Wouldn't they have to think about everything they could do instead of just throwing everything at the wall?

They've escalated to the point to actually hurt someone (not really hurt them, hurt them in storyline) they need to cut off their heads because Darby will take something worse next week and it will get washed away in the next crazy thing he does. Darby's taken a decades worth of signature bumps in 2 years and they've all been washed away in the deluge. So either you raise the stakes even higher (which would be even more dangerous) or you "cheat" and involve crash pads and tricks to make it look like you have.

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4 minutes ago, El Gran Gordi said:

Damn, my friend, I am truly sorry to hear about your dog. I appreciate you taking the time to answer me here while you are going through something like that. Please take care.

Very much agree, by the way, about B&G having a lot to like but also a couple of obvious flaws.

29387107_10155511376813862_6573905826912

Cheers, @El Gran Gordi. I'm heartbroken, my friend. Really am. Rayven's only five.

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@El Gran Gordi i agree 100% with your post. my ranking the B&G match so highly is mostly due to my love for stipulation matches. the spectacle is on equal footing with the execution. i know that's not the general consensus, so maybe one for the HOT TAKES thread?

@The Naturali am also sorry to hear about your dog. my condolences.

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I'd say wrestling in general could use a good 20% dialing back. Personally I feel kinda burned out on constant gimmick matches. I'd be fine with no more crash pad bumps (WWE did one at Halloween Havoc, does anyone even remember that), nobody's eye getting gouged out. plus I find myself agree with Cornette that things like weapons in a cage match or an I Quit match in a hell in a cell are a "hat on a hat". And I agree that putting limits on things can help with creativity cause you have to figure out how to work with what you have instead of just more, more, more

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