Public Relations: Saving the Oldest Olympic Sport

Background 

In Strategic Sport Marketing (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk and Karg 2014) the authors present a case study which centres on the removal of amateur wrestling as a sport from the Olympic games. In this case study the authors suggest that the eventual survival of wrestling as a sport, in whole or in part, was due to the intervention of professional wrestling company TNA wrestling. This response considers a number of factors in determining whether the campaign was a success and, further to the authors proposition, what influence TNA wrestling had in the final outcome.

Response

In order to determine the success of this campaign the first requirement is defining what is success and, from this, determining what influence the TNA wrestling campaign had on achieving this outcome. Success in this case would see wrestling returned to the Olympics – a feat which occurred on September 8th, 2013 (BBC 2013). But what influence over this did the TNA public relations campaign have? While the quote in the Case Study (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk & Karg 2014, p. 318) identified Kurt Angle, and his then employer TNA, it also identified the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) – the world sanctioning body under which Angle won his two gold medals – who’s members also made up the international collective Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) (Smith 2016). Following the announcement to remove Wrestling by the IOC the standing president of FILA was removed following a vote of no confidence and, as suggested by other members of the FILA board, part of the removal of the sport was because of his dealings with the IOC (Smith 2016). This structural change allowed the FILA board to develop new ideas and present the sport to the IOC in a new light.

Around the globe national wrestling bodies were coming together in a show of unity, putting on events like the Rumble on the Rails at New York’s Grand Central Terminal (Raskin 2013). During this campaign Kurt Angle was a vocal participant, appearing and speaking out on behalf of the sport however, besides from being introduced as “TNA wrestling’s” Kurt Angle, there was little involvement from the company themselves. As a company with a history of poor management and PR (Murray 2016) – including most recently their failed attempt to have fans name an owl (Rueter 2017) – this seems to be another case of TNA (now Global Force Wrestling) trying to cash in on someone else’s hard work (Konuwa 2017). This evidence then suggests that the TNA public relations campaign had a minimal effect on Wrestling remaining an Olympic event beyond having an employee who happened to be a part of the CPOW. As for that committee, as seen in the evidence provided, the PR campaign they ran was a much more contributing factor to the success of the sports reinstatement.

 

References

BBC 2013, Olympics 2020: Wrestling reinstated to Games, BBC.com, 8 September, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/24009517&gt;

Konuwa, A 2017, ‘Matt Hardy Vs. Impact Wrestling: Who Owns The Broken Universe?’, Forbes, 13 March, viewed 11 September 2017, < https://www.forbes.com/sites/alfredkonuwa/2017/03/13/matt-hardy-vs-impact-wrestling-who-owns-the-broken-universe/#78d648073d92>

Murray, A 2016, 10 Ways TNA Totally Screwed Themselves Over,  WhatCulture.com, 20 October, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://whatculture.com/wwe/10-ways-tna-totally-screwed-themselves-over&gt;

Raskin, L 2013, Rumble on the Rails: USA, Russia, and Iran Embrace Each Other, creativetimereports.org, 20 May, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://creativetimereports.org/2013/05/20/rumble-on-the-rails-usa-russia-and-iran-olympic-wrestling/&gt;

Rueter, S 2017, Let’s help name TNA’s owl mascot, cagesideseats.com, 11 March, viewed 11 September 2017, <https://www.cagesideseats.com/tna/2017/3/11/14893964/name-tna-impact-anthem-owl-mascot>

Smith, S 2016, Grappling with the future: The story of how Olympic wrestling was saved, NBCOlympics.com, 18 August, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/grappling-future-oral-history-how-olympic-wrestling-was-saved&gt;

Shilbury, D, Westerbeek, H, Quick, S, Funk, D & Karg, H 2014, Strategic sport marketing, 4th ednAllen & Unwin, Crows Nest.

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Neoliberalism, New Media & The Political Discourse

With the rise of convergence and social media culture the influence of mainstream media outlets in political discourse is greater than ever before. The public can now engage in live media, whilst simultaneously commentating with their peers, in a way that can influence politics like never before. With the application of theories from Harvey (2005) and Phelan (2014) this essay will explore the development of these changes since the second world war and provide insight on how they have been shaped by neoliberalism. This will be achieved by exploring three key areas. The first will explore briefly the history and use of propaganda and how it has developed since the second world war to modern times. The second will look at the rise of convergence and increased scrutiny of media influence and will briefly analyse the influence of Rupert Murdoch in the modern political landscapes. The third and final aspect of this essay will be to look specifically at the influence of neoliberalism on the media and explain its unique relationship with the public.

Throughout this essay certain specific terminology will be referenced frequently and, unless otherwise stated and appropriately referenced, should be considered with the following definitions in mind. As neoliberalism is a broad term, for the purpose of this essay, will be defined by Harvey (2005, p. 2) as “a theory of political economic practices that proposes mankind is best served by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills, characterized by free trade, strong private property rights and the free market, within an institutional framework created and preserved by the state”. When considering then its application with specific reference to the media the first understanding should be of Phelan (2012, p. 116) who believes that “Neoliberalism is articulated as the general name for the capitalist present… mainstream journalism is neoliberal because it is produced within a corporate media infrastructure governed by the ideology and priorities of neoliberal capitalism”. While these two definitions will form the basis of the discussion other secondary references will also be included and further clarification provided when necessary.

Over the course of history politics and the media have shared the public sphere. The emergence of the fourth estate, the term coined by Henry Fielding in the 1750’s acknowledging the existence of journalists as a collective (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2011, p. 40), has given the media legitimacy within the realm of political discourse. While initially only responsible for providing press coverage and a public record the utilisation of mass media to further political agendas has been prevalent since the Napoleonic Wars (Hanley 2005), however, propaganda as it has become known today was revolutionised by the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels during the Second World War (Diggs-Brown 2011, p. 49). From 1940 onwards the National Socialist regime were able to influence the greater German public with strategically developed film and print media. This media was engineered in such a way to create feelings of jingoism, that would aid the growth of nationalism and strengthen the hold of the regime over the nation (Kallis 2005). Though not the first, the use of mass media to distribute political messages and influence the public in Nazi Germany was the most prolific of its time, so much so that many approaches developed by Goebbels and his party are still utilised today.

Since the end of the second world war the use of propaganda has, arguably, become less sinister however it’s use has also become more prevalent. Considering the legacy of the likes of Goebbels, the term still holds many negative connotations though does still appear in political discourse. In the modern political landscape propaganda is often referred to by more subtle terms, such as spin (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2011), and where Goebbels intended to stir strong feelings of empowered nationalism it is now a means of encouraging constituents to exercise their democratic rights in a way which benefits the party. A contemporary example of this in recent Australian politics was the ‘Children Overboard’ incident, where the Howard government in a push for re-election with policies of tighter border security (Head 2004), alleged that asylum seekers had threatened to throw children out of a boat to secure rescue and entry into Australia (Arlington 2004). While the Howard government were aware at the time that these claims may not have been true (McGrath 2004) they proceeded with making them public to attempt to influence voters. Ultimately, despite the claims later being found to be false (Arlington 2004) the election campaign was a success and the Howard government would go on to serve two more terms. Whether this came about as a direct result of the campaigns propaganda can only be speculated, however, given the political climate at the time it can certainly be attributed.

Considering the implications of the historical development of propaganda and the fourth estate it is easy to see how media scrutiny has developed since the early nineteen hundreds. With the rise of convergence, defined by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (2012, p.5) as, “…the merging of the previously distinct platforms by which information is communicated”, and the dawn of the social media age media scrutiny of political discourse is at an all-time high (Plaisance 2013). The ability for the common person to provide individual commentary to the masses through social media has seen the reliability and integrity of mainstream media called into question like never before; particularly around issues of global politics. This outlet essentially allows any individual to become a member of the journalists fourth estate, even calling into question the legitimacy of this title, now being proposed as the “fifth estate” (Bainbridge et. al 2011, p. 46). How different things might have been even for the Howard government if the children overboard affair had occurred in the age of social media and was subject to round the clock scrutiny from both local and international audiences. On the other side of this discussion, despite this heavy scrutiny, the ability for mass media outlets to share stories quickly over multiple platforms means that information can still be spread quickly and their agendas can be supplied to more people than ever before. As technology advances further already there has been issues raised over the ability to mine data and use geolocation to tailor distribution of political materials to influence individuals (Cadwalladr 2017). Not only is this form of convergence ethically questionable but it gives even greater powers to media owners to dictate what is consumed.

Distribution of mainstream media, despite these recent challenges, has still seen unprecedented amounts of influence in the political sphere in recent times. While part of this can be attributed to the media as a means of mass communication the role of media ownership and control cannot be understated. The most notable example of a media controller with great political influence is Australian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. From his historical support of the Australian Liberal Party (McKnight 2013) to the election of Donald Trump (Rutenberg 2017), there are few political happenings, national or international, that do not have the interest of Murdoch. Globalisation has seen Murdoch become not only one of the richest men in the media industry, but also one of the most influential. By keeping close control over what his interests say and do, actions which were never clearer than in 2003 when he personally wrote his 175 editors and told them to support the US invasion of Iraq (Bainbridge et. al 2011, p. 42), Murdoch has been able to manipulate large parts of the global mediasphere to carry out his personal agenda. Murdoch’s ruthlessly capitalist approach to business is one of the best examples of neoliberalism in the media and cannot under any circumstances be understated.

Considering these initial points of discussion it can be determined then that neoliberalism impacts upon the media to influence the perception of national interest. When looking at Harvey’s approach (2005) the media is essentially acting as a host body to promote the neoliberal agenda of the state. Regardless of the contributor, that is to say whether coming from a Murdoch tabloid or an individuals social media account, at the core of all political debate is the wellbeing of the state. During the second world war Goebbels and the Nazi ministry for propaganda worked hard to achieve a totalitarian nationalist state where the public believed strongly in what they were told by their mass media campaigns (Diggs-Brown 2011). While objectively different in their approach to the distribution of propaganda on behalf of the state the Howard government felt that they were the party to guide Australia through hard times post September 11, 2001 and thus looked for re-election by any means necessary. Despite their substantially different political alignments and ultimate end goals both parties utilised the media channels at their disposal in an attempt to influence national interest in a way that they saw was necessary to maximise their control over the state. Whether or not these approaches were ethical raises an entirely different discussion, however, the success of both parties is undeniable when looking at their successes historically. Without influencing perceived national interest this success would not have been possible.

Similarly elements of the neoliberal impact on the perception of national interest can be seen in the concentration of media ownership and convergent shift towards new media. All media outlets, regardless of ownership, are built with the sole intention of working in the national interest (von Dohnanyi 2003). The problem then comes when individuals prioritise capitalist gains over the fundamental right to free press and sharing of relevant, unbiased information. As per Phelan’s (2012) definition, “mainstream journalism is neoliberal because it is produced within a corporate media infrastructure”. The very fact that the fourth estate, and media as a whole, has developed from a means by which the common person could be kept informed on notable events into a tradable commodity shows how neoliberalism has shaped the industry over the last hundred years. This transformation of the fourth estate from an open source to a tradable commodity has forever changed the media landscape and created a permanent perception of national interest which matches the media owners agenda. Without substantial changes to international systems of government, or significant deprivatization, this perception will not be able to change without the medias permission.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of neoliberalism that can be applied to the media in relation to political discourse is the tightrope that it constantly treads between relative and absolute gains. “Neoliberal institutionalism assumes states focus primarily on their own absolute gains and are indifferent to the gains of others” (Powell 1991, p. 1303). The question of ethics has been raised throughout this essay, as is often the case when discussing neoliberalism (Sugarman 2015), and for good reason when it comes to absolute gains. The ultimate end goal of the media is to succeed in promoting its message. Whether that is to show support for a cause, to discredit another or to sway the mind of the public and, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, impact on the perception of national interest mass media will always strive for an absolute gain. As seen in the analysis of both Goebbels and Howard, while vastly different political figures, the propaganda they chose to promote yielded absolute gains for both of their parties at the time while giving no consideration to any other consequences. Both parties did what they had to do to put themselves in a winning position, regardless of who else may have lost.

This would not always have been the case however; historically, going back to the original fourth estate, the absolute gains for the media would have also seen relative gains for the public as they operated in a time of objective journalism (Fox 2013) for the benefit of the public. Since the rise of globalisation has brought about convergence, and media has become a business, the absolute gains for the industry are now solely based on capitalist profits and little, if any, concern is given to the common man. An example of this, from the earlier case study, can be seen in Murdoch’s support of the Iraq invasion (Bainbridge et. al 2011). In this example, the absolute gains heralded for the individual, and his immediate political ties showed no thought or consideration for the wider public. Further evidence of this can be seen in the conflicts existence at the time of this essay being written some fourteen years later. Were a different approach taken to the management of politically sensitive media, as opposed to the neoliberal methodology of winning at all costs for the sake of the state and capitalist profit fair and objective journalism may once again return to forefront. Considering how new media has risen to prominence in the convergent mediasphere, and brought new scrutiny to mass media, this may eventually become a reality albeit one that will remain in the hands of the media elite.

Whether by definition of Harvey or Phelan, or any one of the other sources mentioned throughout, it can be seen how neoliberalism impacts the political aspects of the mediasphere. From the development of propaganda in the early twentieth century through to modern times, and the overriding agendas of concentrated media ownership, neoliberalism and the desire to use a public commodity for capitalist gains is evident throughout history. Although the recent challenges identified and discussed suggest that mass media can overcome the rise of the new media as society progresses and technology advances it is impossible to say whether or not this trend will continue. Considering the financial involvement and long term commitment to the industry, and the adaptability shown in recent times to embrace the shift towards new media, it is fair to assume that although outlets may change the need to spread information will continue long into the future.

 

 

References

 Arlington, K 2004, ‘Children overboard the most despicable of lies: Hawke’, TheAge.com.au, 24 August, viewed 11 June 2017, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/24/1093246520431.html?from=storylhs&gt;

Australian Communications and Media Authority 2012, Broken Concepts, ACMA.gov.au, viewed 11 June 2017,<http://www.acma.gov.au/~/media/Office%20of%20the%20Chair/Information/pdf/ACMA_BrokenConcepts_Final_29Aug1%20pdf.pdf&gt;

Bainbridge, J, Goc, N & Tynan, L 2011, Media & Journalism, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.

Cadwalladr, C 2017, ‘The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked’, The Guardian, 20 May, viewed 11 June 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy&gt;

Diggs-Brown, B 2011, Strategic Public Relations: An Audience-Focused Approach, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.

Fox, C 2013, ‘Public Reason, Objectivity, and Journalism in Liberal Democratic Societies’, Res Publica, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 257-273.

Hanley, W 2005, The Genesis of Napoleonic Propaganda. Columbia University Press, New York, NY.

Harvey, D 2005, Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Head, M 2004, ‘Australia: Howard’s 2001 election lies return to haunt him’, wsws.org, 25 August, viewed 11 June 2017, <https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2004/08/howa-a25.html&gt;

Kallis, A 2005, Nazi Propaganda and the Second World War, Palgrave Macmillan UK, Basingstoke.

McGrath, C 2004, ‘Mike Scrafton speaks live about children overboard affair’, The World Today, 16 August, viewed 11 June 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2004/s1177463.htm&gt; 

McKnight, D 2013, ‘Murdoch and his influence on Australian political life’, The Conversation, 7 August, viewed 11 June 2017, < http://theconversation.com/murdoch-and-his-influence-on-australian-political-life-16752&gt; 

Phelan, S 2014, Neoliberalism, Media and the Political, Palgrave Macmillan UK, Basingstoke.

Plaisance, P 2013, Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice, 2nd edn, SAGE Publications, USA

Powell, R 1991, ‘Absolute and Relative Gains in International Relations Theory’, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 85, No. 4, pp. 1303-1320.

Rutenberg, J 2017, ‘When a Pillar of the Fourth Estate Rests on a Trump-Murdoch Axis’, New York Times, 12 February, viewed 11 June 2017, <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/12/business/media/rupert-murdoch-donald-trump-news-corporation.html?_r=0&gt;

Sugarman, J 2015, ‘Neoliberalism and Psychological Ethics’, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 103-116.

von Dohnanyi, J 2003, ‘The Impact of Media Concentration on Professional Journalism’, OSCE.org, viewed 11 June 2017, <http://www.osce.org/fom/13870?download=true&gt;

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Final Countdown

Exams are over! Holidays have started! What a time to be alive! And so as things return to normal it seems only fitting, on the theme of closure, that we bask in the final piece of the 6 part series from the archive! I feel like there should be some Green Day playing in the background – in fact, as a last hurrah to the Professional Wrestling for Amateurs series  press play on this and try not to tear up too much as we say goodbye.

Before we do that though lets go back together – yes I am coming with you this time – and take a look at what the whole point of this blog series was all about. Part one gave a detailed account of what it’s like to live as a fan of professional wrestling, the social stigma involved, and the sly comments and subtle digs you have to put up with on a regular basis (see recurring comment; “You do know that’s fake, right?”). From here we moved into Part two where we looked more at the physical side of things – using Mick Foley’s best selling book “Have A Nice Day” as a point of call, not only for evidence, but also as the point where I truly fell in love with the sport as a young child.

As May was world mental health month it seemed fitting that in Part three we touched on some of the confronting mental situations that workers in the industry are faced with regularly – most of which are overlooked by those of you who fail to see past the character into the person underneath. To get a better understanding of this we went out and got some first hand insight from someone who actually gets in the ring with Part four, which is still our most successful part to date, which was a sit down interview with O’Shay Edwards – who is easily my new favourite wrestler (and should be yours too) as he is taking the world by storm. Finally, in Part five, we looked at the growing sub-culture that has developed from the wrestling industry. The common themes that bring people together through wrestlers crossing the threshold within the mediasphere to becoming actors, wrestling approved and associated music, or just the overall sense of camaraderie that is shared between members of the broader wrestling community.

All of these topics were outlined and decided upon as, to date, there was no easily found and up to date source with similar information. The aim was to act as an educational tool for those who didn’t know – or as a point of reference for those who did – and as the series has unfolded I feel like I have legitimised everything that I set out to achieve. Hopefully you feel the same and, even if it is only a small titbit, something that I have said will remain with you long after you finish reading these words.

What started as an ambitious attempt to watch wrestling and pass it off as study when questioned by the wife has now turned into a nifty little blog that I have become more and more attached to and proud of as time goes on. For this reason – while this six part series is done – I will be sticking around to continue enlightening you with more of my quality insight which I am sure you are all growing to love (if you aren’t please try harder) and I look forward to looking back at this project as a collection of wrestling knowledge for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Thank you for reading.


This piece was originally published on June 4th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – What, Culture?

Another week of preparing for the end of term has left me short on time – luckily there is still more to go back to from this original series on the misunderstood art of professional wrestling.  Previously we sat down with an actual, real life, wrestling machine – O’Shay Edwards – for a look at the life of a wrestler as well as touching on the physical and mental commitments and sacrifices that are made by performers. If you haven’t had a chance to read those earlier parts I would strongly recommend them as they are each a literary delight before tackling part 5 of this gripping tale of intrigue and romance.

So far the majority of this series has been looking at things from a wrestlers perspective and trying to break it down for better insight. What has been overlooked, and what will be touched on now, is the way in which the wrestling industry has influenced a sort of sub-culture in the modern world. A place where, thanks to social media, wrestling fans and pundits alike come to pay tribute to the sport they love in many different ways.

As the popularity of wrestling grew through the late 90’s it reached cult status, establishing the careers of many modern day film actors, most notable the likes of The Rock and John Cena. But it wasn’t always wrestlers becoming actors. In fact in 2000 Actor David Arquette became the WCW World Champion in what can only be described as a piece of sheer booking genius from then head booker Vince Russo – the man famous for making everything infinitely better by putting it on a pole.

It was around this time that wrestling and music also began to go hand in hand. Yes, I know Cyndi Lauper was at the first Wrestlemania, but this is more than that – and no I’m not talking about the Macho Man’s foray into rap either (which is pure brilliance if you haven’t already heard it). The surge in popularity of hard rock/post-grunge/nu-metal music saw bands that would not normally get the time of day thrust into the spotlight and if you were to quiz most modern day wrestling fans on the likes of Cold, Drowning Pool and Limp Bizkit they would be able to tell you that in 2002 they were all close personal friends of Tazz.

Moving away from the main stream influence in modern pop-culture professional wrestling has also created a brilliant and beautiful virtual world – sometimes even more misunderstood than wrestling itself. “eFedding”, another term for online roleplaying games based around the sport of professional wrestling, has grown massively as a hobby over the last 20 years from chains of emails, to MSN message boards and into the present day with social media (there are entire rosters worth of characters constantly tearing into one another on Twitter). The attention to detail shown by some roleplayers, or “fedders”, is immense and there are often people outside of the hobbies inner sanctum who mistake them for real people. A more in depth analysis of this subculture can be found here in the essay An Exploration of Social Gaming.

All of these things, be it films, music or games, bring millions of people together every day and unite them with one common trait; a love of wrestling. Whether it is loved or hated the wrestling industry as a whole is a global phenomenon – second only to sports like football (soccer for you Americans) and boxing for global popularity and viewership – and deserves to be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 31st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The View From Inside

And then there were three! Past the halfway mark and ready to go again with another insightful and informative look at the world of professional wrestling. So far in this series we have identified some of the physical and mental challenges faced by the men and women who go out night after night in bars, clubs, halls and arenas worldwide to put on a show as well as some of the stigma that is associated with being a wrestling fan. As always if you have missed any of the previous three parts we will take a moment now to wait for you to go back, catch up and make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

In part 4 (that’s this one) we are going to be looking at some of what life as a wrestler is all about – courtesy of an exclusive interview with American Premier Wrestling’s O’Shay Edwards – and go over some of the points that we have touched on already with someone who has experienced them first hand.

How long have you been wrestling and how long did you train before you debuted?

I have been training since February of 2016 with my first show coming in April.

Whereabouts can we find you working in the ring?

I’m currently being booked for American Premier Wrestling, which has produced its first NXT product (Macey Estrella) and I’m currently in talks with LaGrange Championship Wrestling to start working for them too. I’m excited to see what happens.

How often do you train now – both in ring and general fitness?

It depends on how often I can actually get in the ring. If I can get in the ring 2 times a week I’m usually in the gym one day a week. If I can get into the ring 1 time a week I’m in the gym 2 times a week. What if I can’t get there anytime that week? Then I usually spend 3 days out of the week in the gym.

Do you use your own name, or a character/gimmick name, and if so does your character differ much from your real self?

No, I don’t use my own name. My gimmick name kinda happened on the fly but personality wise I don’t differ much. Its just myself ramped up to a 1000%.

 

What’s the biggest crowd you’ve worked for? Likewise, what’s the smallest crowd you’ve worked for?

The smallest crowd was about 50 or 60 people. The largest crowd so far has been a little over 200. The goal is one day to wrestle in front of a thousand plus people.

Furthest you’ve travelled for a show?

The farthest ever was about 3 hours from Atlanta to Statesboro Georgia.

Do you have a favourite opponent?

So far my favorite match has been wrestling against Iron Man.

Have you taken any bad bumps or botches that have legitimately hurt you, serious injuries etc?

Ironically enough while wrestling Iron Man I took a punch and it landed right above my right eye. It busted open and I bled all over place but we had the match of the night.

Finally, what do you do when you’re not wrestling?

I’m a full-time Firefighter in Atlanta.

We would like to sincerely thank O’Shay for taking the time to talk to us and answer our questions. Be sure to check him out, and the rest of APW, if you are in Georgia and you have the chance.

Hopefully this interview has given you some good insights into the life of a professional wrestler and will serve as a reminder that you should always be respectful to the talent – regardless of whether you may like the character or not – because, in this case at least, if you live around Atlanta a few boos and a nasty tweet could see your cat stuck up that tree for a little bit longer.


This piece was originally published on May 16th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – The Hard Road

Who would’ve thought that we would be back here again, eager as beavers for part 3 of our wrestling extravaganza? Well, I would’ve (because I’m contractually obligated to be here) but you are here of your own volition and I must say that is very much appreciated.

In case you new to the blog, and this series in particular, previously in parts one and two we have touched on the stigma that is sometimes associated with the professional wrestling community as a whole and the physical side of the business that is often discredited as being fake – but what about the mental challenges that are faced by male and female wrestlers all over the world.

Right now, as you read these words, there are literally thousands of professional wrestlers around the globe waking up or going to sleep in a cheap motel somewhere, thousands of miles away from their families. Ordinary people, who like the other 99% have a job that they get out of bed for – the only difference being that they don’t have the luxury of sitting behind a desk for eight hours and then clocking out and going home to the wife and kids, sitting around the table for a decent home cooked meal and hearing about how little Timmy’s football match went. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Dance Recitals, Dentists appointments, so many different activities – seemingly ordinary to the rest of us – are missed because they have to work a schedule as mentally gruelling as it is physical.

Now, and I can already hear you saying it, they get paid stupid amounts of money to do that and to an extent I would agree. If we were talking about the guys and girls working the big contracts in the big companies to put on the big shows it cannot be denied that, while facing these challenges, they are duly rewarded. But what about the rest?

Like everything in life (and here’s where we digress into politics a little bit) wrestling is like capitalism. The people at the top get all of the money and the guys trying to climb up that pyramid – well let’s just say that they don’t quite get as much. Now to put this in perspective wrestling doesn’t really differ from any other sports; you wouldn’t pay Tom Brady the same money as a rookie kicker fresh out of college. It’s just the way of the world. The guys who generate the revenue and make the franchises are rewarded accordingly with big money deals – but it has to be noted that before they were the big money guys, they were the same ones who were sleeping in dives and clocking up hundreds of miles or catching a red eye flight to another country just to try and get their little suckle on the golden teat.

If we are to look at this objectively – the main reason they do it (as naïve as it may sound) is for the fans. Without the people turning up and paying in to watch them they could be the greatest wrestlers in the world – they still wouldn’t make it. Obviously there are other factors, personal motivation and competitive drive being big ones, but you would be hard pressed to find any man or woman around who would be motivated to succeed when they are spending their birthday away from their partner and children.

Sadly the overzealous outsider, or the casual fan, often overlooks these challenges. Turning on their TV and instead of seeing a person doing their job they see a character they don’t like. So instead of appreciating that person’s hard work they throw a brick at their screen, refuse to watch until something is done about them and tweet them death threats. It’s this kind of abhorrent, short sighted attitude that creates problems for other fans and wrestlers alike. It needs to be remembered that while you can buy in to kayfabe, the characters and their stories, off screen they are ordinary people just like the rest of us – and they should be treated with the same respect.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – Back With a Vengeance

Here we stand back on the front line, trying to to make the world a better place by eradicating ignorance and informing the uninformed. In case you missed the first part in the series it would be my strong recommendation you go back and give it a look (and not just because I wrote it). Once you’ve done that meet us back here to regroup. It’s fine – we will wait.

Honestly, take your time.

Are you ready?

Excellent, now, to finish this anecdote we will have to go back to the year 2001. It was an eventful year for many reasons; the great Sir Donald Bradman passed away aged 92, the Socceroos claimed third place at the Confederations Cup beating both France and Brazil and, most importantly, 10 year old me was taken into a Dymocks bookshop by his mother and told he could pick any book he wanted. I’m sure she was expecting me to come back with a stupid joke book or something similar – which was more of my style at the time – but not on this occasion. Instead something caught my eye on the bottom shelf on the farthest wall of the shop. After a little bit of persuading I left that book shop with my very own copy of Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks – the 544 page epic story of legendary wrestler Mick Foley – and I never looked back.

This was the first real insight I had into the world of wrestling and I fell in love with it instantly. The raw emotion in Foley’s words and twisted humour that he worked into his stories made it a more than memorable experience from start to finish and I still remember carrying it around with me, recounting passages to anyone who would listen. To this day I still have the same copy, though the last 15 years has left it seeing better days. Foley’s insightfully graphic accounts of the injuries he suffered, from the famous ear incident with Vader, to the infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker (most of which Mick himself didn’t remember – unsurprisingly) it showed a young wrestling fan how much punishment these competitors put themselves through and how hard they worked to get to where they were. One particular passage that stuck with me was when Foley went to see a doctor about a scan on his back – the doctor told him what he had to and asked if he had any questions – to which Foley replied he was worried about the colour of one of his discs. It was white, while all of the others were grey. The doctor explained that they were supposed to be white and that the grey colouring was from the constant physical toll that wrestling was taking on his body.

How does this finish off the anecdote from Part One? I’m glad you asked. This is one of the many stories that I used to explain my love for the wrestling industry and to justify the risks that these men and women take on a nightly basis. Some people struggle to appreciate the lengths that competitors go to – often wrestling multiple times a week – for nothing more than the entertainment of the fans and their own personal enjoyment. Professional wrestling may be a scripted story with a predetermined result but by no means can anyone say that what those men and women do is fake in any way.


This piece was originally published on May 7th 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com

 

From the Archive: Professional Wrestling for Amateurs – An Introduction

Professional wrestling. Just the mention of those two little words can divide an entire room full of people. Whether it’s right down the middle or all against one nothing seems to divide opinion as much as wrestling. If you are out on the lash with a bunch of lads and someone says, “did you catch the fight last week?” chances are they are not talking about the Intercontinental Championship match on Monday Night Raw. The inspiration for this blog, and the series of posts that will follow in the Introduction to Wrestling series, was inspired by a situation much the same as this one.

Before I start I will go on the record as saying I do not watch as much wrestling as I probably should (or at least think that I should). I keep up to date mostly with dirt sheets and Twitter and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse – though I’m not going to pretend like I’ve heard of your favourite wrestler from the Independent circuit in Guam. The majority of my actual watching is done via the WWE Network, which essentially means I watch NXT once a week and the monthly Pay-Per-Views.

This is where our story begins.

It was sometime during the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, a brisk Saturday evening, and a handful of friends had called around for drinks. I thought to myself, excellent, we could have a few cans and once the wrestling starts throw it on and have a bit of a laugh. Everything was going to plan; until 10 minutes before the show. Someone looks at me and goes, “Will we have a game of FIFA?” Ordinarily I would jump at the chance to have a few games of PlayStation with someone, especially a visitor in my own home (it would be rude not to), however on this particular occasion I said, “No, I want to watch the wrestling.”

Silence.

Everyone looked around, not really knowing what to say, as I tried to brush it off and get the show on the road. The show started – Roadblock for those of you playing along at home – and as the girls continued to talk amongst themselves, the last man standing (apart from myself) proceeded to grill me.

“Why do you watch this? You know it’s fake, right?”

“Isn’t it a bit gay watching oiled up guys pretend to fight in their underwear?”

“UFC is much better than this shite.”

These were just some of the comments that I remember from that conversation and, while I have been enduring jibes like this since I was about 9 years old, I just couldn’t help myself. I ended up going in to bat for wrestling and its fans everywhere – and that was when it hit me. Is it wrestling that is the problem or is it just a misunderstood art form that people outside of its warming glow don’t understand?

Which brings us here. It was this interaction, for the thousandth time, that was my inspiration to write this piece. Over the coming 5 weeks I intend to go over the wrestling industry in depth, not from the tunnel visioned stand point of a mark – replying angrily to comments on a Facebook post “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT!” – but from a rational and educational stand point. Giving insight and understanding with facts rather than opinions and, hopefully, creating something that will be able to help wrestling fans everywhere. Whether that is by expanding their own knowledge or giving them something to show to their non-wrestling friends the next time one of them says, “You do know that’s fake, right?”


This piece was originally published on May 1st 2016 at http://botchworldorder.wordpress.com