International Object Podcast 125 – Robbie Dorman

Robbie Dorman and Sawyer Paul talk podcasting nerdery (00:00), then pivot to the G1 Climax, (20:00), watching way too much wrestling, Juice Robinson’s character motivations (32:00), cursing in English on Japanese programming, NJPW airing at exactly the wrong time of the day for North Americans, good match flow and an overview of the G1 (37:00), sports entertainment and Toru Yano (42:00), most impressive performances in the tournament (48:00), English commentary (57:00), and finally, Ibushi & Omega (63:00).

Jinder Mahal on Meteoric Rise in WWE

Ryan Dilbert:

Mahal was a young boy when Singh prowled the rings in Calgary, Toronto, and beyond. But when Mahal decided to enter the squared circle himself, his uncle helped guide him. Bad News Brown, Gerry Morrow and Singh all had a hand in training a young Mahal.

After winning the WWE title from Randy Orton at Backlash in May, the new champ’s celebration didn’t end in the ring. He showed off his newly won prize with a man he views as a mentor and father figure.

Terrific write-up that humanizes Mahal and makes you want great things to keep happening to him. I was mainly impressed with how Mahal’s “xenophobia-inducing villain” persona doesn’t come up. He’s just a guy with a dream and a close connection to those who helped him along the way.

Why is John Cena’s win/loss record so bad at Summerslam?

Jeremy Lambert has a couple of theories:

One theory is that it’s colder inside the SummerSlam arenas. WrestleMania is typically held outside in warm environments. Cena thrives in this environment because your boy is so hot that he’ll never be caught in the next man’s sweater. He also enjoys laying people down for the 3-second tan.

The lights inside the arena make it impossible to tan (they are not bright enough or close enough to the person tanning) and also increase the need for Cena to borrow the next man’s sweater.

Those are pretty good.

Seriously, though, I think Lambert hits it here:

Other wrestlers look at facing John Cena at SummerSlam for the World title as the second biggest match they could possibly achieve…and enter said match accordingly. Cena just sees it as another match.

I think in the back of Cena’s mind, he knows he made the wrong decision in 2010 against the Nexus, where he alone buried seven newcomers before they ever got a chance. It’s one of the worst blights of Cena’s career, and the prime example people talk about when they discuss Cena being bad for WWE. Ever since that event, Cena has used Summerslam as a place to put an up-and-comer over (I understand that Brock Lesnar (2014) may not seem like an up-and-comer, but in many ways that match rehabilitated Brock after a year-long story with HHH. It was the debut of the character Lesnar has to this day: a man only interested in hitting a few suplexes and his finishing move, because that’s apparently enough). It might have been a coincidence a few years in a row, but it’s been six Summerslam’s in a row where a wrestler looking to prove themselves to the WWE audience goes up against Big-Match-John. It’s also been six in a row where Cena feels the need to do what’s right for the company.

Having said that, I hope he squashes Baron Corbin in 30 seconds. I hate that guy.

 

Robbie Dorman on Ibushi/Omega

From Robbie Dorman’s Newsletter:

For all wrestling does as an art, boldly displaying male on male intimacy is something
rarely openly discussed. Being used in a storyline is rarer still, especially in a mainstream
company. Those subtexts have always been there for those who looked, but this is not
subtle. Hyper-exaggerated emotion is part of why wrestling is so great, but romantic love,
especially between men, is usually used as a punchline.

A moment like this is stunning. Toxic masculinity has been synonymous with wrestling,
despite the aforementioned male intimacy. When two of the best openly embrace care
and comfort as part of a story, not as a punchline, not as a joke, but as a moment of
drama, it normalizes it, and helps move wrestling forward. A simple hand on the heart.

Couldn’t have said it better.

Thoughts on G1 Climax 27

Like a lot of wrestling fans, I watched more of the G1 Climax this year than any other. It’s not that I haven’t been aware of the G1, but there have been two factors preventing me from seeing more of it in past years. The first is distribution and presentation: NJPW World, their equivalent to the WWE Network, is easier than ever (not to mention a gloriously modern and clean website). On the presentation side, I’ve always had trouble keeping up with shows recorded on a single camera. This year’s Super Juniors lost me a little because most of the events were performed in small rooms with only one camera streaming the event. I know lots of wrestling fans don’t mind this, but I do.

The second thing keeping me from watching more G1 in previous years was the absolute glut of content. Nearly three weeks of daily wrestling is exhausting. I still cherry picked, but this year I’d watch what people recommended hours after it aired instead of weeks. This is absolutely due to Wrestling Twitter being up really early, so my “In Case You Missed it” section was filled with recommendations. All in all I think I watched about 30 of the tournament matches, which was about a third of the tournament proper. I skipped the non-tournament matches entirely, even though I might go back and catch up on the ones people are still talking about (it’s not that many). Anyways, here are a few thoughts from a longtime wrestling fan on the 27th G1 Climax.

Too much good wrestling is a very strange problem

NJPW has a phenomenal roster of great performers, and the G1 feels like showing off. It’s honestly something I’d love every wrestling promotion to do, as it makes for a great primer for what the show entails. WWE doesn’t have anything like this, except for perhaps the Royal Rumble. The G1 reminded me a bit of the Rumble in how it interweaves various stories through a singular event, except everyone fought everyone and it lasted a month.

The NJPW heavyweight style is exhausting at this scale

Strong style” is captivating and cathartic. It can take it out of you emotionally to watch, and since this is a heavyweight tournament, you end up watching a lot of it. In NJPW, wrestlers tend to hit one another way harder than you’d think fake wrestlers ever would. Near the end, I was sick of seeing lariats. And I love lariats.

I could have used more sports entertainment

I know NJPW works a little differently. The bad guys don’t cheat as much. There aren’t as many “bullshit finishes” or nonsense. But one of the reasons I love pro wrestling is the nonsense. I love creative cheating. I love novel outside interference. I love the drama that unfolds when a well-executed plan goes awry because someone unexpected showed up. The G1 featured very little of this, and I think to its detriment. The main reasons that gimmicks, cheating, and interference exist in wrestling is to break up the monotony. This much wrestling in such a short period of time could use a little bit more “sports entertainment.”

But it’s also funny and sad

Thankfully, some of the C-plots provided breaths of fresh air from all the super serious matches. The subplot involving Takahashi and his therapy cat-doll, Darryl, was handled with impressive subtlety. He wasn’t even in the tournament, but I’m going to remember the Darryl story forever. And I was so glad to have Toru Yano in the tournament, as there at least got to be ten matches involving some fun cheating. Yano also got to go all the way with his bits, as his match with Omega was beautifully bizarre and has to be the comedy match of the year. For more on that, listen to this podcast episode with Chelsea Spollen.

But this is undoubtedly the best wrestling I’ve seen this year

While watching the three finale matches, I thought to myself that it truly isn’t fair how spectacular these wrestling matches are. We don’t deserve wrestling on this level. I’ve often said that the winners and losers of wrestling matches don’t matter if the match itself is incredible, and this equation came very true in the G1. I didn’t actually love the “booking” of this tournament when it came to who won and lost, but it really didn’t matter. The matches themselves were so good, I forgot about about politics, story lines, and the fact that all of this is made up and the points don’t matter. Pro wrestling, by itself, can be wonderful.

One last thing

After the finals, Kenny Omega slumps backstage. He’s held up by his teammates The Young Bucks. In the hallway, Kota Ibushi stands, perhaps waiting for Omega, perhaps not. Maybe it was a coincidence, but there sure are a lot of cameras, and a lot of history. The Young Bucks hold everyone back while Omega approaches Ibushi. Ibushi places his hand on Omega’s heart. Do they say anything to one another? It’s unclear. You can watch it yourself. Omega walks past Ibushi, and drops his towel. The Young Bucks pass Ibushi and continue to help Omega out of the arena. Ibushi continues to watch Omega leave, and picks up the towel. Cameras switch between Omega walking away, and Ibushi watching. It’s a heartwrenching moment, but one that leaves us with lots to talk about.

Another view from Smackdown in Toronto

BoomanShames:

One of the biggest things I noticed were the amount of cameras set up around the arena that you wouldn’t even notice unless you saw the monitors. one of the biggest takeaways from that was that there was a camera underneath the big screens at the top of the arena pointing down to the stage that is almost never used unless its for a PPV video package. While I was there, I didn’t see the screen labelled “Vince’s Spy”, which is a camera that points at the two agents (or HHH/Vince) sitting at the table in Gorilla. Instead, there was a camera that was set up that showed ALL of Gorilla.

Cool detail.

Kevin Pantoja on Naito in 2017

Kevin Pantoja:

Nothing against Kenny Omega, because he’s been fantastic this year, but I think they HAVE TO give Naito his WK main event. He reinvented himself, is now insanely over, became one of, if not the top wrestler in NJPW, and got cheated out of that spot a few years ago. It all needs to come full circle. I really, really hope it does. Naito deserves it.

Tough to argue with that. I’ve greatly enjoyed Naito in 2017, and it makes loads of sense to have Naito vs Okada. But NJPW is a slower-burn show than most, and there’s plenty of juice left in Omega vs Okada too.

GLOW has been renewed on Netflix for a second season

Thuy Ong:

In very welcome news, Netflix’s wrestling comedy GLOW has been renewed for a second season, and will feature ten new episodes. Netflix’s GLOW has been heralded for its writing and break out characters that coupled with theatrical aesthetics and performances, has attracted a wide range of viewers — from women, to men, liberals, and gamers.

I’m not surprised, but I’m still so happy there’s going to be more of this. Season one has become the first thing anyone should watch about wrestling.