Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: wrestling

Prompted by my shame in never having watched any AJPW, today I started with an engaging video essay series on classic King’s Road matches > YouTube #tweet

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Jushin Thunder Liger and Ebessan action figures, boxed for display

Look what I just picked up from the post office @Liger_NJPW @kikutarosan > @MacDara #image

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Weaknotes for m/e 5 October 2019

So I let a month go by. That’s why I went with ‘weaknotes’, after all. Bullet points required here, I think — just the highlights, the most remarkable that I didn’t already tweet or blog. Here we go. More…

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A collage featuring WWE wrestler Shinsuke Nakamura

The ‘dream match’ between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34 turned out to be a bit less than what we were sold. But this gallery on WWE.com in the run-up to the event was a nice touch regardless. #image

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WWE Announcers Don’t Think Pro Wrestling Journalism Exists

Which is weird, as there’s an awful lot of good journalism being done about wrestling. Mind you, it’s not really being done by the likes of Dave Meltzer. There’s another question beyond this piece: about wrestling dirtsheets as a branch of entertainment journalism, not sports, and their closer relation to the kind of access and relationships between writers and PR in music and film. But I’d say the same about wrestling as I’d say about issues of potential compromise and conflict of interest in mainstream entertainment: ‘access journalism’ only gets you so far. Look how much it’s ruined political journalism in the US, after all. #link

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What Is WWE Doing In Saudi Arabia?

Here's a good breakdown of tomorrow’s Greatest Royal Rumble (a glorified house show, no matter what people will try to tell me) and what it means, politically speaking. It’s no apologia for ‘cultural differences’, as if that’s some organic social contract and oppression of women and minority groups isn’t a top-down strategy for control. #link

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Roman Reigns Wasn’t Built in a Day

I don’t agree with everything David Shoemaker says here about WrestleMania 34 last weekend (Ronda Rousey grumble mumble) but the central thesis is spot on, and it’s something I’ve felt for the longest time: WrestleMania 31 was the moment to make Reigns, even with such a disastrous set-up, then Vince panicked and broke him. He’s not beyond repair; Reigns more often than not really brings it in the big-match situation, and he’s compatible with more opponents than you might think. But his persona is non grata. Perhaps WWE should take inspiration from Reigns' former Shield teammate Seth Rollins as for what to do with him: redesign, rebuild, reclaim. #link

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Book review — Titan Shattered, by James Dixon

Despite my comments on this book’s predecessor, my distaste for this narrative (and its intermittent misogynist and homophobic sideswipes) grows with my conviction that all of us, the authors included, got worked. Big time. More…

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WWE profiles indie darling, wrestling mega-nerd and NXT returnee Kassius Ohno. Thinking of Ohno as a player-coach, as Johnny Gargano comments here, seems like a perfect fit as this stage of his career. #video

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The Heel Who Flexed: How Jinder Mahal got to the top of WWE

Ahead of tonight’s Backlash PPV, David Shoemaker over-analyses the Jinder Mahal ‘phenomenon’. But it’s strangely fitting, considering the ruckus his push has caused among wrestling Twitter, etc. My take? He’s boring, it won’t last, the end. And if I want to see a real heel in WWE, I need look no further than the conclusion to last night’s NXT TakeOver: a masterful presentation, not just by the wrestlers but the TV production side as well. #link

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Paste magazine on WWE’s slow progress on LGBTQ storylines

“When it makes sense,” said Stephanie McMahon. Which translates as ‘probably never’. We’re not even at the point where, say, ‘Darren Young’ the on-screen character reflects Darren Young the real-life openly gay man. Maybe that’s because he’s a face? WWE tends to save its better character development for its heels. #link

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Ten days left to back the Kickstarter for Rumble Road, a strategy road-trip game managing a group of rookie wrestlers across the country towards their big payday. Update 2017.03.23: the project's been cancelled with a few days to go, as developer Steve Kim wasn't seeing the support he needed. That's a real shame. There's a place for a game like this, and hopefully Kim will find someone else willing to take on the project or share the burden down the road. #video

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Southpaw Regional Wrestling

So this is a nice surprise: an insider-ish parody of 1980s territorial wrestling by the current WWE roster, and one that gets the tone mostly right, being more affectionate than mean-spirited. The gags don’t always land but it’s funnier than it has any right to be. #link

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ESPN on Savage vs Steamboat at WrestleMania III, 30 years on

Pro wrestling is all about exaggeration (all that stuff about a programme between the Macho Man and Shawn Michaels is case in point) but this match is one situation where they’re not wrong: it’s an amazing bout even by today’s standards. Randy Savage brought a playbook mentality to wrestling’s improv culture, and it paid off in spades. (Also, interesting to note they had a subsequent house show feud in chain link steel cages, not the notorious ‘blue bars’ cage introduced the year prior.) [c/o MetaFilter] #link

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You know it’s fake, right?: How WWE constructs reality

It’s from 18 months ago but it still holds in terms of explaining why I’m into wrestling. Though I have to say, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I persist when I’m not getting now what I got out of it in years past. That’s something for a longer post. #link

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Wrestling with Demons: The Story of Chyna’s Final Days

Chyna’s story needs to be told, beyond the exploitation of the woman, Joanie Laurer, and her memory. But what also needs to be said, amid all the historical revisionism, is that there’s a reason she was billed as ‘the ninth wonder of the world’: like Andre the Giant, she was booked as a novelty, a freak-show attraction. Any boundaries she might have broken for women are only in hindsight, or out of context. Few are willing to address that; wrestling remains deeply problematic. #link

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Vice Sports looks inside WWE’s ‘unlikely business empire’

I won’t say it’s not gratifying that more mainstream outlets are finally grokking what makes WWE so compelling, and not purely from a ‘business’ standpoint. I’m talking about investigating things often glossed over or even missed entirely by fans or fan media, like Vince’s compulsion to inflate attendance figures, or Shane’s friendship with noted fake memoirist James Frey. (Factual errors aside: Ali didn’t fight at the first WrestleMania; he was a guest referee, being already diagnosed with Parkinson’s.) #link

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The Last Battle of Atlanta, rediscovered

It’s not much of a match; it’s sorely missing the context of Sawyer and Rich's previous battles and weekly TV promos. But it’s heartening to see WWE paying some attention to wrestling history by recovering ‘lost’ tapes such as this. #link

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