Talking Wrasslin’: All Elite Wrestling – Year One In Review

It’s been just over a year since All Elite Wrestling officially formed and close to a year since their first show, 2019’s Double or Nothing. We’re also several months into their weekly nationally broadcast show, Dynamite. So I figured I’d look at the first year of AEW and provide my thoughts, good and bad, as well as what I hope the future brings for those of us looking for a mainstream alternative to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Initially, my excitement was at an all time high after the success of the indie wrestling mega event All In, back in September of 2018. When I got wind that something bigger was happening beyond that, my excitement overflowed and I was “all in” on what this met for the future of the wrestling business.

However, right off the bat, there were decisions being made that made me question the newborn promotion’s direction and leadership.

First off, executive roles were given to wrestling talent that hadn’t proven themselves in that realm. While I was okay with Cody Rhodes being the public face of the company, due to who his father was and because he had flourished independently after leaving WWE, I was concerned as to whether or not he could effectively co-manage a brand new wrestling promotion with a lot of money pushed into it.

Additionally, when his wife and buddies were also given executive roles, I found that even more perplexing. Not because I’m hating on them but because none of them have had any experience in these sort of positions within a wrestling promotion.

Understanding that AEW wants to give more power and creative control to the on-air talent seems like a good idea in some regard but as history has shown, when active wrestlers become management, it typically leads to a shitty product and if I’m being frank, it’s not too dissimilar from some of their criticisms of other major league wrestling promotions, past and present. So even if they’ve got the best of intentions and are going to run their company differently, it still paints them into a corner. I’ll explain what I mean by that as this article rolls on.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the Young Bucks but I liked a lot of Kenny Omega’s work in Japan and especially liked his matches with Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and Chris Jericho. However, there are distinct stylistic differences between Western and Eastern professional wrestling. That being said, Omega has primarily wrestled in Japan for years but he and the Bucks have been given three of the highest ranking jobs in the company. As far as I know, based off of information that’s been discussed by many over the last year, these guys have their hands deep into the creative side of the women’s and tag team divisions. I’ll also get more into this, further into the article.

The first mistake that these guys made is that they started hiring all their other buddies. This also isn’t too dissimilar to what other wrestlers given power in promotions have done in the past. And while I’m not saying that the talent they’ve hired isn’t good or bad, it feels as if they don’t care either way and they’re trying to hook all their buddies up with gigs because they either didn’t make it big in WWE or because WWE doesn’t want them. From the outside it looks like, “Hey, buds… we’re your saviors! Come on in and let’s party!”

Plus, most of the guys they’ve hired wrestle similar styles to the Bucks and Omega where everything is highspot after highspot to the point that highspots become way too commonplace and lose their meaning and their effect on the psyche of the audience. I’ll also delve into this more.

Additionally, almost all of these guys are small by wrestling standards and even if the game is changing, a roster full of guys that don’t convincingly look tough is detrimental to a product that is supposed to be about kicking ass and being badass. No one is afraid of the hipster asshole that runs the register at Chipotle.

Furthermore, typical Western audiences don’t want to watch two hours of just high-flying shenanigans that are done so much that we’re seeing a record number of spot botches on national television. Anyone can Google “AEW botch” and see a slew of videos and GIFs that make my point for me.

Now there are a lot of good things about AEW too. I generally like the product, for the most part, and it is a decent alternative to WWE. While it’s got its issues, so does the juggernaut WWE, which is why AEW got massive support to begin with.

I think that the writing that’s been on the wall for well over a decade is that Western wrestling fans want to try a new flavor other than vanilla. AEW has answered that challenge but it’s like they took vanilla and added some hot sauce to it. Point being, you’ve got to have a palate in order to be a good chef. It’s like AEW has the palate of a six year-old kid left home alone with a full fridge.

Now I don’t say that to be insulting but the product they’re putting out is just recycling the standard mainstream wrestling formula but trying to overpower it with lightning fast matches, countless highspots, more colorful language and a pretty high emphasis on comedy wrestling. While all of that stuff has its place, doing everything with the volume turned up to 11 is pretty fucking tiresome to experience.

I feel like AEW is just throwing a lot of shit on the wall to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Maybe they’re in a little over their head due to how fast they got off and running and because of the lack of experience running a wrestling promotion. It feels like there is a lack of understanding in regards to the fundamentals of what works on this hemisphere. While Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks were big in Japan, it doesn’t mean that what worked for them there is going to work for them here. I’m personally a big fan of Japanese wrestling, always have been since I was a tape trader in the ’90s, but I also know that my love of it isn’t something that most mainstream normal wrestling fans have on this continent.

It’s like they’re trying to appeal to a niche audience. The problem with that is a niche audience will always be niche and not mainstream. If you’re “in it to win it”, you’ve got to think bigger and you’ve got to produce a product that is enjoyed by the largest audience possible.

That comes down to one simple fact: you’ve got to know your audience. Right now, I don’t know if AEW does. At least not fully and not this early. That doesn’t mean that they won’t figure it out, re-work some things and fix some of these issues going forward. I certainly hope they do because more wrestling is good for everyone.

Diversity between promotions is a good thing that helps build brand identity and uniqueness. However, there can also be too much diversity and I think AEW suffers from that in trying to encompass many things, all at once. But I really hope this is just growing pains.

My point with this is that you can’t try to cover all bases by trying to appeal to every little niche simultaneously. You have to find the balance between them while, again, appealing to the widest audience possible. I think that the solution is to be something between WWE and what AEW currently is.

The best example I can give is the Attitude Era of WWE. No, not because it was edgy with a Jerry Springer atmosphere but because it allowed talent to be themselves, have some creative control and it took chances and had diversity within the content of its segments. At its height, it found a way to take the best elements of the mainstream WWE formula, mixed that with an ECW influence and also adopted some of the better elements of what was working in WCW, at the time.

WCW succeeded for awhile too because it was doing the same thing. Even though they had their own style that slightly differed from WWE, both promotions were just different sides of the same coin.

So since I’ve brought up WCW, I want to go back to my thoughts on wrestling talent being in charge, as that was ultimately a major factor in WCW’s downfall.

Back in the ’90s, when WCW was buying up WWE talent like Beanie Babies, they gave their heavy hitters too much control of their characters and too much power in booking the shows. This led to these guys only putting themselves and their buddies over while younger talent got the shaft and ultimately, jumped ship to WWE, which helped that company recover and win the war.

I know that the guys running AEW know this, as does anyone that loves wrestling and has been paying attention to the business for several years. But just because they probably don’t want to make the same mistakes doesn’t mean that they won’t. Power is one of those things that can change a person and while I assume that Cody, Omega and the Bucks have the best of intentions, who is to say what this will mean over time.

Having now watched AEW for about a year, I can actually say that it looks like they are actually trying to deliberately do the stark opposite of what the WCW stars did. Maybe that sounds good but it isn’t. So let me explain.

First, there needs to be a balance, just like with all things. All four of these execs are four of the absolute best wrestlers in this new promotion. However, they seem to be putting everyone over except themselves. I’m not sure if they are just afraid of being accused of what guys like Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan were accused of twenty years ago or because they think that they’re building up the rest of the roster at their expense. But that’s just it, it’s at their expense.

You can’t objectively look at what has happened over the last year and tell me that Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks’ stock hasn’t dropped. Omega has lost his luster and the Young Bucks should be reigning tag team champions. Instead, Omega has been booked to look like a goof and the Bucks resemble the New Rockers more than the real Rockers.

In regards to Omega, he sucks as a babyface and he was at his best with The Cleaner gimmick. But the guy is sort of awkward and can’t cut good promos, at least not from what I’ve seen. And I thought of the guy as a superstar over the last few years that he was in New Japan. But now that I think about it, I watched his top matches and never really saw him talk all that much outside of press conferences. Also, the style of cutting a promo in Japan is different.

The Young Bucks just do three million superkicks per match and take two million dives to the outside. This reflects a problem I have with modern wrestling where devastating moves that should be finishers (or setups to finishers) are used so frequently that they’ve lost their luster and their impact. It’s like when someone uses a stunner or a cutter in a match and the opponent recovers like it was a simple neckbreaker. It shows a complete lack of understanding of ring psychology and in-ring storytelling. It’s like they’re just playing WWE2K and put in a cheat code to always have finishers active.

While some refer to this as a reflection of the times, I say that modern times suck because no one has time to have a real conversation without looking at their phone every five seconds while only having the attention span to absorb information the size of a tweet. But these people are what this style of “wrestling” appeals to. This is also probably why AEW considers an Ironman Match to be just 30 minutes. That’s more like an Aluminum-Man Match.

In regards to Cody, he’s at least had a main event spotlight on him but they booked him so that he can’t ever compete for the AEW World Championship again. I think that’s a massive mistake and hopefully it is rectified through a storyline because Cody, as well as Omega, should be World Championship chasers when the time is right. In fact, Cody should be the guy to take the belt off of Chris Jericho when that time comes. But I’d keep the belt on Jericho for well over a year because the title needs to build prestige and not be used as just a prop, which has been WWE’s problem for a few decades now.

I also have major issues with how the women’s and tag divisions have been booked. I don’t care how it looks on paper but the Young Bucks, despite my opinion on them, should have been the inaugural tag champs. They were the most famous team in the promotion and they came into AEW super hot after leaving Japan and Ring of Honor. I guess since they run the division, they didn’t want to crown themselves as the kings. That was a mistake and, as I’ve already said, their stock has fallen in the last year.

Now that’s not to say that the Young Bucks can’t recover but they’ve booked themselves into a corner and frankly, I don’t give a shit about them or the division anymore. Hopefully, management finds a way to right the ship.

Looking at the women’s division, despite her in-ring ability, Riho is not believable as the champion. They put the belt on Nyla Rose, who is massive by comparison, and that’s a much better fit. However, having Nyla lose to Riho when they crowned the first women’s champ was a major mistake that hurt the division immensely. People have talked up the quality of their last match but I can’t suspend disbelief enough for it to have physically made sense in my brain. Especially, when Riho’s neckline is below the top rope and she’s skinnier than a stop sign pole.

Beyond just that, the women’s division in general has been booked atrociously with just about everyone looking weak. They’ve ruined Britt Baker, their first female signed to a contract, and they brought in Kris Stadtlander and got her over immediately, only for her to get knocked out of the picture in a matter of weeks.

In a perfect scenario, Awesome Kong should have been the inaugural champion and she should’ve run through the division until management settled on who the top young star should be. Then, only after climbing the ladder to the top, should the new champion have been crowned.

Moving on, AEW also suffers from a lack of creative. Most of the storylines aren’t interesting and the show is carried by just two rivalries. Those are the Jon Moxley v. Chris Jericho (and The Inner Circle) feud, as well as the superb work being done by MJF and Cody Rhodes in their emotional conflict.

Outside of that, nothing interests me. I’m half interested in the Pac v. Kenny Omega Aluminum-Man Match coming up but that’s just because of the physicality of what the match should be and not the actual storyline that’s been booked like a fucking afterthought.

I don’t give a crap about The Dark Order bullshit and they’ve got enough Ministry/evil goth faction ripoffs between The Dark Order, The Nightmare Collective and The Butcher, The Blade & The Bunny.

Granted, The Nightmare Collective have been abruptly cancelled but that also is another problem with creative. You don’t just cancel an angle in the middle of it and say, “Oh, we weren’t feeling that, so whatevs!” No, you find a way to creatively end it within a storyline. How am I supposed to buy into what you’re selling when you can just pull the plug on it at any second? How do I build trust with your brand and the universe you’re building?

I’m not going to really get into my issues with the comedy stuff other than to say that I don’t hate Orange Cassidy like many old school purists do. I find the schtick to be somewhat enjoyable and it has got him really over with the crowd. But this will only work for so long and the character has to adapt and evolve if he’s going to have longevity and not go down as another joke lost to the sands of time. He needs to have something push him into actually getting physical in a non-comedy way. He can still fuck around and be funny but something has to make him actually pull his fist back and haymaker the fuck out of someone. You have to show him break through the character if you ever want him to emotionally connect with the audience beyond just being the doofus sidekick in a stoner comedy.

Granted, I don’t know what he’s actually capable of beyond his limiting gimmick and I don’t have the faith in AEW creative to capitalize on him and strike while the iron is hot. The thing is, you can only tell the same joke so many times before people start scrolling their Twitter feed.

The last thing I’m going to harp on is AEW’s insistence of having win-loss records. This is another thing that paints them into a corner, creatively speaking. No one really cares about wins and losses, they just care about seeing great matches and having the best guys get over. But to truly get the good guys over, you have to have them overcome the bad guys. Usually, this comes with losses and misfortune, only to have them eventually get the upper hand and win the rivalry. But with also including a weekly rankings system, keeping track of wins and losses is detrimental to that, especially when you compare them to the rankings and they don’t make sense. They need to get rid of this shit fast and just focus on stories and booking proper programs and feuds. They said, early on, that AEW was going to be treated like a real sport. Well, they’ve failed in that regard and seeing a guy ranked at No. 5 with a 3-1 record behind a guy ranked No. 4 with a 0-0 record is asinine.

I know it seems like I’m taking a big shit on All Elite Wrestling but hey, I’m still watching it every week and hoping for the best. Right now, I just have to focus on the things I love about the product. Those things are mainly Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, MJF, Cody Rhodes, Pac and Hangman Page, who could be the next massive superstar in the wrestling business. All six of these guys are the absolute highpoints of every show. I’m also really excited to see what Jake Hager can do in this environment, once he gets in the ring.

Furthermore, there are probably some new faces coming in. I’m most excited for what Brodie Lee (WWE’s Luke Harper), Lance Archer, Matt Hardy and The Revival can bring to the table if they sign with AEW.

The Revival are really what the tag division needs, as they can slow the matches down and add a new flavor to the proceedings, as their in-ring style is in great contrast to teams like The Young Bucks.

As far as Lee and Archer go, they would add some real size to the roster, which is definitely needed.

Keeping up with all the behind the scenes stuff, Tony Khan, the real guy in charge, has stated that he’s had some buyer’s remorse with certain wrestlers and that AEW, at least for the moment, are primarily looking for bigger, athletic guys. That shows me that he’s aware of the criticisms and that he’s trying to plug some holes and get the promotion on track.

Also, the commentary team is solid between legends Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. I also like the recent addition of Taz. I’m still not sold on Excalibur, though. He needs to calm down a bit and focus on the action, as opposed to yelling out the name of every move just to prove he’s a human wrestling Wikipedia.

I feel like I’ve stated enough, even though I could go into greater detail on a lot of these points. The thing is, I like AEW and I want it to succeed because real competition benefits all parties involved. I want AEW to flourish and give me something to get excited about. I also want WWE to feel the heat and to start making their product better because they’ve become really fucking complacent at the top for two decades.

I hope that 2020 is the year where All Elite Wrestling finds its groove, works out a lot of its kinks and gives the fans a wrestling show that they don’t want to miss. I’d love for the Wednesday Night War to become as big of a phenomenon as the Monday Night War. The wrestling industry needs its fans to feel the passion that existed during that time. Hell, if you’re a fan and you don’t want to feel that passion again, why are you still watching?

Retro Relapse: Men Or Women: Who’s To Blame?

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

There seems to be a lot of finger pointing these days. It exists on several levels in modern society. People seem to like to lump themselves into groups and have to have an enemy in some other group that they can blame for all their troubles. Most people these days seem to lack responsibility for their own actions and decisions. Pointing the finger and blaming someone else is the easier route to take. Frankly, I’m fucking over it. I’m not talking about Israelis and Palestinians here, I’m talking about men and women.

There are two extreme schools of thought on both ends of the gender spectrum. There are hardcore feminists that see all men as pigs and oppressors that have held them back with an iron fist for millennia. There are also hardcore chest-pounding anti-women males who blame feminism for all their woes and the creation of a culture that pimps equality to the point of mass emasculation. Granted, I can see some of the points of both groups and understand what they feel is their plight but their excessive paranoia is dangerous.

How is it dangerous?

Well, for starters, hating the other side of the equation isn’t going to get you anywhere positive. Going to war brings about death and destruction and painting everyone not like you as the enemy is ultimately going to lead to your own downfall. Besides, creating a gender war is stupid because without one another, we can’t create more of either. It takes men and women to make babies and whether either side wants to believe this, each gender comes with its own strengths to compliment the other. The real solution to the problems that people perceive here, is not further division.

But how does one talk to a woman that’s like “I don’t need no man!” or a man that’s like “Fuck women, I don’t need their bullshit!”? The point is, you can’t. If someone is that far gone and that anti the opposite sex, let them be miserable. If they don’t soon see the error of their ways and they continue down their shortsighted path, they’ll stay miserable and ultimately, never achieve what they want because what they want is asinine and pointless.

And most of this “hating the other gender” shtick isn’t due to being oppressed or feeling that one’s gender is no longer in equal standing, at least not nowadays. Today, people who hate the opposite gender seem to have severe issues in the realm of love and relationships. What I mean is that they are usually bad at them or they just don’t have any luck at courting the opposite sex. Becoming frustrated and lonely often times leads the weak-minded looking to blame someone other than themselves. In this case, they blame the opposite sex. If men or women aren’t into them, then it must be because they all suck. These people usually fill the void by surrounding themselves with other like-minded, disgruntled and undersexed people who also need someone else to blame.

It is time to grow up and look in the fucking mirror because this bullshit is getting old and stale.

Yes, I often times point at how men are less manly than previous generations. Yes, I have talked about how many men of the last few generations have been raised by single mothers, some of them feminists and that the men are more girly, “metro” and grow up harboring crippling levels of male guilt. However, I blame a lot of this on the deadbeat dads who made kids, wandered off or just became shitheads. I also blame the 60’s sexual revolution (not in  a bad way) for changing the dynamic of relationships and creating a much more sexual society. Sure, feminists can take the blame too but the point is, not one thing is solely responsible. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean that in my own life, I don’t take responsibility for my actions, my decisions and how I respond to the things I just mentioned. Answering one extreme with another extreme is trivial and foolish.

People need to move forward but I guess that’s hard to do when people always seem to need an enemy. Tribalism has evolved into a division amongst genders. We should all be smarter than this. In fact, no matter what extreme someone is at, they sound like simple motherfuckers when they speak. It is baffling to me that so many people are so quick to eat up the bullshit and mold their lives around it.

I just don’t see a mass war on women or a mass war on men except led by a few small groups who are insignificant to the rest of society. Sure, some people in politics may espouse this rhetoric but overreacting to it is shortsighted and futile.

Lead by example and that starts with you. Carry yourself in the right way and it will probably rub off on others. Also, work on your skills at wooing the opposite sex. We’re all individuals living in a largely populated world, I get that generalizing and grouping people together is way too easy but don’t forget that we all have our own unique fingerprint.

Retro Relapse: Couples On Facebook

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Side note: I’m really, really drunk.

There are few things in life more annoying than some types of couples on Facebook. In fact, Facebook is annoying enough on its own and I often times question myself for still having a profile. If it wasn’t my only real point of contact with some people, I’d have moved on a long time ago.

Additional side note/update: I actually moved on in 2016.

Some people however, think that Facebook is a tool to put their entire lives out there. They see it as a way to make their lives completely transparent to the public and to build up their ideal persona all in an attempt to paint themselves as an interesting being who others should worship and admire like some sort of mega fun life guru. When two of these people get together in a relationship, the insanity and annoyance factor magnifies a hundred fold.

I’m going to talk about two types of couples here and be forewarned, if you are on my personal friends list and fit the bill, I probably blocked you from my news feed awhile ago, which is why you don’t see me liking and commenting on your posts anymore. Sorry, I just can’t take you and your sweetie’s bullshit shenanigans. Chances are, my level of respect for you is also non-existent at this point.

The first type of couple are the ones who feel it is their obligation to shove their lovey dovey bullshit down all their friends’ throats. You know the type. They have threads of comments in a post telling each other how much they love one another, more or less competing over who loves who the mostestest times quadruple infinity. They are social media’s version of the couple who displays way too much PDA. These are the assholes who sit on the same side of a booth in a restaurant. Some of them even have matching shirts, which the girl most likely picked out.

These relationships are a clear sign of a selfish bitch dominating her emasculated lapdog of an emo boy toy. If these people are over 14 years-old, they are horrible human beings not worthy of even having friends. They need serious psychological help and it is only a matter of time before the female kills and eats the head of the male like some ravenous preying mantis with adorable tits.

Any male who voluntarily subjects themselves to this kind of sick insanity, deserves to not have his balls. You are practically a teenage girl with a penis. Nut the fuck up, man the fuck up and get your shit straight because you are on a slippery slope of shit that is going to lead to a string of horrible females that rule your life. You are basically a child with a self-centered mother figure that dresses you and wipes your ass. And you don’t want to bang your mom, right?

Another type is those couples who have joint Facebook accounts. That right there is a clear sign of a couple that truly trusts each other. Usually it is the chick running the profile though. Often times, once a dude gets in a relationship, he deactivates his profile because he doesn’t need it to scope out the available pussy anymore. The overly attached girlfriend or wife then throws his name onto her account, just in case he wants to check out Facebook once in awhile.

Really, I think this is employed to have one point of contact. This way she can monitor what girls send him. It’s a motherfucking trap! But bitches want to make sure they’re man is in union with them. They are a couple with a hive mind! Why? Because when you’re a couple, apparently you are no longer an individual.

As a friend of people who have couples accounts, I fucking hate talking to them. I never know who the fuck I’m talking to and it’s just annoying because there is some shit I would say to my guy friends that I wouldn’t necessarily say in front of their significant other, especially an insecure control freak chick that would make her cutiepie share accounts with her. Not knowing who I am talking to is a deterrent for me to talk to anyone. Good luck with your trusting relationship, I’ll go hang out with the adults and shit.

And please, stop taking couples selfies! Your whole wall is a billboard for something that looks like a goddamned two-headed monster making duck faces. It’s not cute, it’s gross.

If you are a guy that has a joint couples account, I bet there is a 99 percent chance that it wasn’t your idea. I can also pretty easily assume that you’re not allowed to talk to exes and that you have had more pink added to your wardrobe.

If I offended you because you exist in a world where this is okay, I am fine with that. In fact, I’m pretty satisfied. It is time to stop being annoying assholes and just be normal people. If the guy doesn’t have the time or interest for Facebook, leave it alone. He doesn’t need his name squished next to yours like some fucked up font orgy.

Talking Wrasslin’: Reflecting On My Personal Experience at NWA Hard Times

*I wanted to write this and have it up last weekend but I was dealing with a loss in my family, the hustle and bustle of my trip to Atlanta (for family and to see this show) and then I had to get right back to the real job while fighting off a cold for the last few days.

Being that I have been digging the hell out of the National Wrestling Alliance’s product since Billy Corgan bought them and took over, I didn’t want to miss out on one of their marquee events, as I regretted not being able to make it up to Atlanta for Into the Fire a month ago.

Making the trip this time, I wasn’t disappointed and I plan to go back because the show and everything surrounding it was fantastic. I haven’t been to a wrestling event where the promotion hosting it seemed to care this much about their fans and providing them with a memorable experience.

Also, I haven’t quite felt this level of energy while at a wrestling show since the late ’90s when I used to go to ECW events whenever they came to the southern half of Florida.

What made this even more cool was that it didn’t just feature NWA talent but it also featured some of the guys from Ring of Honor: Marty Scurll, Flip Gordon, Matt Cross and Dan Maff.

The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis is currently in a program with long-time friend and rival Marty Scurll, which has opened the doors for NWA to crossover with ROH (and possibly other promotions). This makes for a really exciting time in the wrestling business for fans that need alternatives to the mainstream WWE content.

Hard Times was built around a tournament for the recently resurrected NWA World Television Championship. The tournament bracket featured eight wrestlers (six from NWA and two from ROH). Well, Ken Anderson didn’t make it to the event, so his first round opponent, Tim Storm, got a bye.

The tournament itself was damn cool to watch, as I’ve always been a fan of wrestling tournaments but have never seen one live, in its entirety.

Apart from that, the show also featured other marquee match ups and there wasn’t a low point. Everything was fun, energetic, engaging and kept my, as well as the crowd’s, attention.

Sadly, due to the loss in my family mentioned earlier, I was only able to go to Hard Times and missed out on the TV tapings for the third season of NWA Power. But for the one night I did go, I bought the VIP pass because I wanted to immerse myself into the product as much as possible.

I’ve got to say, even if you do it just once, the VIP experience is well worth the price of admission.

We got let into the studio an hour earlier, which we were allowed to explore pretty freely. We also got first dibs on seats, got to touch and hold the Television Championship while taking photos with it and we also got to meet producer Dave Lagana, as well as have a Q&A session with on-air personalities Dave Marquez and Kyle Durden. On top of that, we also got treated to a pre-televised “dark match” that advanced the storyline between Eddie Kingston and “The Pope” Elijah Burke.

My biggest takeaway from this was how much the NWA personalities liked us being there and how much they seemed to enjoy shooting the shit with us all. Marquez and Durden were open, personable, held the attention of the small group and didn’t shy away from answering questions on any topic. We even got Marquez setting the record straight on what the difference was between rides and attractions at Disneyland.

After the show, my friend and I waited a few minutes for the studio to clear out a bit so we could soak the place in a bit more before leaving. What I had felt that day was pretty infectious. My friend, who had just watched the show casually up to that point, became a die hard loyalist over the course of the night. We didn’t want to leave but as we went to exit the building, we discovered some seriously badass fan service.

In the lobby of the studio, the merchandise tables weren’t just selling the merch that was displayed before the show. Now most of the tables had the wrestlers themselves there, selling all types of cool stuff. But most importantly, they were there to talk to us, hang out a bit and make us feel like we were appreciated and that we were all a part of the same wrestling family. It didn’t feel like there was an imaginary line between the show and the fans. There wasn’t a guardrail or a curtain surrounded by guards, there was just us and them and just good, jovial times where everyone was happy.

I got to talk to Kamille and the Wildcards, Allysin Kay, Thunder Rosa, Marti Belle, The Question Mark and my main dude, hands down, the “Outlandish” Zicky Dice.

All in all, this was a great experience. I’ve been to dozens, if not hundreds, of wrestling shows in my lifetime and very, very few have ever made me feel the way I did seeing this modern incarnation of the National Wrestling Alliance. I’ve been backstage at WWE, WCW, ECW, old school NWA, indie shows and Championship Wrestling from Florida tapings but my first experience going to the modern NWA was one of my all-time greatest nights as a lifelong wrestling fan. There was just this overwhelming feeling of something right and comforting in my soul.

I was already sold on the NWA and Power is the weekly wrestling show I most look forward to. But what I was feeling before Hard Times has now multiplied tenfold.

Everything that the NWA is doing, right now, is perfect. I just hope that they can win over the hearts of many more people and continue to grow. For those who are already watching NWA Power but haven’t seen any of this live and in person, you really need to make the trip to Atlanta.

With the Crockett Cup returning in April, as the next big pay-per-view event, I know that I have to make the journey, wherever it is held. They’ve already announced that this show will take place in a bigger venue, I just hope it’s at least in the southeast and in a city I can fly to or drive to easily. And by then, maybe we’ll see more ROH talent get involved or even talent from other promotions.

Retro Relapse: Manscaping: Some Guys Do It – I Fucking Don’t

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

I once had a girlfriend say to me, “You know, you really should trim your bush.” I looked her dead in her eyes and laughed. Then I saw that her face meant that she was serious and not amused by my merry response. She then said, “I’m fucking serious. And you need to trim up your body too.” Then I looked a lot less amused and she retorted with, “I keep my bush trimmed for you!” My response, “No, you keep it trimmed because that’s what your stupid girlfriends do and you assume that’s what I want and in fact, I feel weird when I’m going down on your prepubescent looking vagina.” Needless to say, the relationship only lasted about as long as it took me to walk to the door.

The point of this tale is that there are a lot of ideas that people have about how a body should look – especially when it comes to body hair. I’m going to say this, look at Tom Selleck in that picture. Do you think that bad ass mastodon of manliness gives a fuck what anyone thinks about his luscious chest forest or pimp mustache? Fuck no he doesn’t and women still throw their pussies at him even though Magnum P.I. hasn’t been on CBS since 1988.

Look at George Clooney, Sean Connery, Hugh Jackman, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Alec Baldwin, David Hasselhoff, Chuck Norris, Jude Law, Robin Williams, Allen Payne, Henry Cavill, Seth Rogen, Pierce Brosnan and Will Ferrell. All these men embrace their manly body foliage and no one gives a shit because they rock it and they are all sexy as fuck in their own way. And this isn’t me admitting to some homoerotic man crushes, the proof is in the pudding and these dudes have been pussy magnets for years. Not because of fame but because they don’t give a shit what some overbearing chick has to say about it. They man the fuck up and crush life and that is what draws the women in.

Furthermore, with body hair like these guys have, do you think they shave their cock manes? Hell no.

The word “manscaping” is just some idiotic bullshit slang term some girl came up with that her little friends probably thought was cute. It is an abomination of the English language and the word makes me shudder like a chihuahua with his nuts stuck to a frozen Montreal sidewalk in January.

And speaking of lapdogs, that is all a man is, if he gives in to his female’s urges to trim his dick beard away. Hell, if he trims anything at her request, he’s an idiot and actually probably deserves his own lapdog fate for giving in. He may as well finish the job and just snip his balls off and hand them to her.

I will admit though, that I nearly snipped my balls off when I was younger. My girlfriend at the time asked me to trim my pubes. I gave them a number zero with my hair clippers. The next day when she was riding me, she mentioned that it was horrible and it felt like “fucking a cactus”. I told her to enjoy it because it was what she wanted. She never asked me to trim again and I never did, in that relationship or in any of the ones after it.

From a definition standpoint, “manscaping” used to just refer to trimming the sex region. Somewhere down the line, women who obsess over hairless teenage sparkling vampires wanted their men to look like this as well. They envision the perfect guy to basically look like a hairless cat with eyeliner, covered in glitter. Well, to me, the perfect woman has a tighter vagina but I don’t make them wrap a bungee cord around their labia when it’s squeezing my manwurst.

Now on the flip side, women may be getting pissed and want to counter with the fact that men expect them to shave and womanscape their shit.

One: I don’t give a fuck what you do honestly. I prefer some hair on my lady’s vagina but I’m not going to hold a gun to her head. Landing strips are unattractive, bald pussy is unattractive, the Hitler mustache thing is unattractive – I just prefer it to have some hair and be in the proper shape it grows in. Hair is character.

Many guys want bald pussies but many guys also gawk at middle school girls. Stay away from those perverts and don’t help them with their weird preteen fetishes by making your vagina look like a 12 year-old’s.

Also, just because your girlfriends buy into the bald pussy hype, doesn’t mean you need to be a follower.

Two: Does this mean girls can grown hair on their legs and under their arms? I really don’t care but let me keep it real for a second.

I prefer girls to be traditional. No, not caveman traditional but traditional in the sense of shaving the normal parts. I don’t see this shit as hypocritical when girls have been doing this for generations. Does that make me a male oppressor? No, because you can do what the fuck you want. I wont date you for very long but that’s fine. If you don’t like my hairiness and supreme beastly sexual robustness, then don’t date me. It is pretty fucking simple.

Besides, men didn’t force you to shave. Around World War I or so, dresses got shorter and women shaved their legs because they were showing that skin for the first time. I mean, maybe a dude said, “Hey I bet if you shave that it might look nicer.” But seriously, no male agenda suddenly popped up where they wanted women to have bald legs after millions of years of them being hairy. That’s like people deciding to dye the ocean purple for no fucking reason after millions of years of it being blue.

Plus, women did this themselves due to their insane competitive nature with one another. Where men (well, real men) compete with one another in arm-wrestling and wood-chopping, women compete with one another in physical appearance and how much free swag they can collect from their new boy toy. Don’t blame men because you wanted the shiniest and smoothest legs.

Three: Guys being forced to shave their bodies is just bizarre. We’re not supposed to look like women and frankly, I think that any woman that wants a hairless man, really just wants to fuck an adolescent boy. You ladies are fucking weird. You’re the female equivalent to the men who demand bald pussy. All of you need therapy and to be put on a sexual predator list.

Is it possible that women are just mad that men “made them” shave their pits and now they want the ultimate revenge by making their men go hairless? Whatever; grow up. Or don’t grown up and then grow your pits out and grow your cat collection because no dude is growing his boner for you.

Four: Fuck Twilight!

Furthermore, if a chick I’m with wants to go full bush, fuck it, I’ll take the plunge and dive right in.

I once had a girlfriend try to point out that too much body hair or pubic hair is unsanitary. She wasn’t the brightest dildo in her drawer.

The truth is, it isn’t unsanitary – unless a motherfucker never bathes and then his whole body is unsanitary.

In fact, there are more germs on a human face and hands than there are on private parts – like tons more.

Secondly, I take a minimum of two showers a day and usually three because I’m a freak.

Thirdly, this chick had two outside cats that she would let sleep in her bed. And my body hair is unsanitary? Her house also smelled like cat piss and menthols.

The great men of old didn’t even think twice about their body hair or their pubic hair. Women didn’t even think about it either until the last decade or two. Somewhere along the line, like the 1990s or so, women wanted their men to be just as pretty as them. Men aren’t supposed to be pretty. Maybe you ladies are lesbians that haven’t come to terms with your desires or it is easier for you to just make a weak man pretty since he comes with his own built in dildo that doesn’t require batteries?

If you want a man, embrace a fucking man. If you want a doll with a penis, have fun with that. I’ve written enough on the subject and I’ve got some serious muff to stuff.

Retro Relapse: 30 Things You May Find In a Man’s Beard That Aren’t Poop

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Recently, some asshole did some bullshit study about how beards are full of poop. That asshole was immediately put on blast as many came out to debunk that libel against masculine plumage.

Snopes, who fact checks the crap out of everything, even spent time debunking the agenda-riddled claims of a person who is probably a hairless feminist with a grab bag full of phobias (Snopes article here).

The fact of the matter is, if you are into facesitting or other ass-to-mouth sort of activities, you may just end up with some feces in your majestic beard. That also doesn’t mean that you can’t take a shower like a normal person after some intimate tomfoolery. With a good scrubbing, you can have a shit free beard.

The thing is, it is probably pretty goddamned rare that some dude is just going to have some shit chilling in his whiskers.

This is why I have comprised a list of thirty things that are more likely to be found in a manly man’s beard. And if any of these seem unsettling, you aren’t a manly man or wouldn’t be worthy enough to court one. And again, all it takes is a good scrubbing to clean one’s facial mane. Just be clean people.

So here are thirty things more likely to be in a beard than poop:

1. whiskey
2. beer
3. coffee
4. steak blood
5. scales from a devoured Alaskan king salmon
6. piece of a hot dog or sausage
7. a whole piece of bacon
8. tobacco
9. hot sauce
10. mushroom sauce from a schnitzel eating contest
11. toothpaste
12. soap
13. pine tar
14. motor oil
15. hay
16. drywall
17. sawdust
18. scorched bits of hair from blacksmithing
19. precious metals and minerals
20. slobber from our beast dogs
21. cat tongue residue
22. lipstick from an admirer
23. glitter from an aggressive stripper
24. sweat from doing sports or man stuff
25. old baseball cards
26. attractive girls’ phone numbers
27. broken shards from a devoured Rammstein CD
28. wild fur from headbutting a bison
29. diamonds from coal that wasn’t immediately scrubbed out
30. a family of new beards hiding in the safety and comfort of the older more robust beard

Retro Relapse: Bitch, You Ain’t 21!

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

By the title of this piece, you are probably assuming that it is about teen girls trying to sneak into the bar to party with the big boys. Well, you’re wrong. In fact, I am talking about the whole other end of the spectrum. I’m talking about girls in their mid-thirties (or older) that still act and behave like they’re 21 year-olds who have only been able to drink just recently.

C’mon, you know the girls I’m talking about. The ones who show up at the bar, ready to rumble but wearing classier clothes than their early 20s counterparts and order somewhat classier drinks – usually something in a stemmed glass, as opposed to brightly colored fruity shots. They down martinis like a marathon runner grabbing for waters. They dance pretty uncoordinated but do a good job of keeping their balance for the first ten minutes until they break a heel. They also look like a drunk aunt when they hit on the 21 year-old unkempt fellow wearing a hat in a nice club while sipping on a Miller Lite. They are overly impressed with almost any form of flattery. They start handing out their business cards to everyone, even if you aren’t interested in buying a house from them or going to see the dermatologist they work for. Many of them hit a point in the night where they transform into werewolves howling at the moon and shredding everything in sight. Some of them smell like a mixture of Princess Night and cat piss. They are essentially cougars in training that will fail to reach full cougarhood. Instead, they will become the lonely and crazy cat ladies of modern urban folklore.

I get that life is hard and you like to party hard, I’m right there with you. The thing is, when you hit that late 20s mark and going into your 30s, things need to change. Behaving like you did when you were a bar newbie over ten years ago is not only sloppy and unattractive, it is also a clear sign of someone with problems that no real and mature guy is going to want to deal with. If you’re complaining that you can’t find a decent man but you regularly exhibit behavior like this, you are most likely going to continue to struggle with that. No one wants to deal with a drunken mess every time the bar is open. I say this to help and this is coming from someone who has been a drunken mess many times in his day. I’ve also evolved.

You’ve been doing this long enough that you should know your drinking capabilities and your limitations. You should also have enough self-respect to not publicly transform into an insane wildebeest dancing like an epileptic jellyfish while puking on barstools and sweating like a fat man in a buffalo wing eating contest. You’re also making yourself look like easy pickin’s for the date rapists and molly ninjas.

This behavior isn’t going to lead to anything good. Whether it is the quality of man you’ll potentially attract, the DUI you might get or the health problems that will eventually occur, life will never be your bitch. In fact, you will be life’s bitch. The hardcore “fuck it all to hell, let’s party” schtick will do the exact opposite of solving your woes. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have fun and let loose but you shouldn’t make it your life’s mission. You’ve got to have balance and control. And again, you should already know your limitations.

Additionally, all those spin classes mean jack shit when you’re bathing in martinis all night, every night. Also, you are aging really fast. Botox all you want but Joan Rivers looks like a plastic nightmare.

Now being in my mid-30s, I’ve learned the hard way that the body changes and one’s recovery time and ability to bounce back is nowhere near where it was in your 20s. While having a more established life and a real job to go to on a daily basis, I have to plan accordingly. This means no more weeknight trips to clubs or bars out of town, pulling an all night binger, only to have to be back at my desk and functional by 9 a.m. I’ve seen too many people my age get fired from good jobs because they can’t adapt and evolve passed their “party hard” nature.

Earlier, I mentioned the quality of mates one would attract exhibiting these traits. In most cases, women like this take home that young guy, which sounds pleasing to some but ultimately, he just wants to fuck you and will tolerate your bullshit as long as he is getting laid. The truth is, and as you all should know, most of these young guys won’t stick around very long and while the action is good, you’re left empty and back to square one. It’s a cycle that won’t end until you break it. I also see many girls taking home dudes in their 20s that they wouldn’t have even talked to when they were in their 20s. As time goes on, they downgrade their game and bring home guys they previously wouldn’t have given the time of day. And the ones that do stick around are usually emasculated lapdogs that will put up with your shit and take your abuse but they’ll never give you the fulfillment of actually being with a man. In fact, once you cheat on them, in front of them, they’ll probably just put on their headphones and cry to Snow Patrol.

The harsh reality is that there comes a time in life where you need to grow the fuck up or get left the fuck behind.