Tuesday, December 30, 2014

THE RAW REVIEW (12/29/14)


The last RAW of 2014 was a good representation of the entire year.

Some good performances, some progressive booking, some stilted performances, and some incredibly regressive booking.

2014 has been a good year for the WWE, despite the flaws, with several younger performers slowly rising to a place of prominence and, in so doing, reinvigorating some of the veteran talents. While fans have had to endure a truly disheartening stream of advertisements on an overlong flagship show and angles that seem booked and built by a blatantly out-of-touch board of directors, they’ve also been treated to an overall sense of increased hope and positivity and signs of legitimate change in the wake of significant events in the WWE fiction and in the actual WWE company.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, though.


RAW kicked off with a somewhat stiff opening segment between Edge and Christian. Sadly, their late 90s/early aughts schtick just doesn’t seem to resonate any more, either because they had to repackage their gimmick into a script or because today’s generation just doesn’t understand who they are and what they’re referencing.

The intensity picked up when Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar entered the scene.


When Lesnar and Heyman enter the arena, standing together as a truly villainous, all-powerful duo, I feel as though I’m watching a good scene in a good movie. These performers become forces of nature in an old-fashioned yet timeless tale of good versus evil - Brock is the brawn and Heyman is the brains. Thanks to Heyman’s oratory skills and Brock’s steely, serial-killer eyes, their threats to babyfaces like Edge and Christian are actually convincing.

Cena came to the rescue and settled into his traditional Cenaisms.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE WWE IN 2014: A RETROSPECTIVE


Writing weekly reviews of two WWE shows along with the occasional editorial is sometimes daunting (if the shows are bad), but almost always nourishing and energizing.

Each week, sometime around Sunday afternoon, my mind resets and I become excited for RAW. This would happen even if I didn't write about the show, but because I write about it, the prospect of building a new RAW REVIEW for a new week, trying to keep it as fresh and as-engaging-to-read-as-possible is an enjoyable, personal challenge. My focus is always on trying to keep these reviews and these editorials fresh and engaging for myself, first and foremost. Because if I write from that place, from a center of passion and interest, then it will show in the work and be more enjoyable for you to read (hopefully).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE MYTH OF JOHN CENA: SHEDDING THE NEON SKIN


John Cena has been the "top guy" in the WWE for over a decade.

This is an unprecedented run that has inspired legions of fans as much as it has inspired legions of detractors. The character, and the performer, will consistently elicit a strong reaction one way or the other, but his existence also leaves room for more complex reactions.

For example, my feelings about the character have evolved from 2005 (when I first became aware of Cena) to the time of this writing.

I've loved Cena, I've "hated" Cena, I've liked Cena but simply been frustrated with the creative surrounding Cena, I've rolled my eyes at the sound of his entrance music, I've smiled and leaned forward at the sound of his entrance music, I've groaned at his bad jokes and his babyface shtick, and I've been moved to tears by his best promo and the way he interacts with the children in the WWE.

My feelings about a particular performer in the WWE have never evolved in such a radical way. I usually either love a character or loath a character, or my childhood disdain for a heel evolves into a form of respect for that heel's excellent performance. But, as an adult, I've never gone from fan, to "hater", and, ultimately, back to fan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

PAUL HEYMAN'S PERFECT RAW PROMO


Paul Heyman's promo this week at Raw Tulsa was the best four minutes of the broadcast. And he wasn't even in the building.

The promo received a passing mention in The Raw Review because, at the time of writing, an in-depth praise or analysis didn't feel in keeping with the particular theme of that review. But it's a promo, and a segment, that is due further examination and celebration.

His visage towered over the Tulsa audience, his voice radiating throughout a silent arena, enlightening the masses, in more ways than one, on the significance of the ongoing narrative-thread featuring his client, Brock Lesnar, as well as the importance of effective promo-work.


Michael Cole asks Paul Heyman to address the new stipulation that should John Cena lose to Seth Rolins at TLC that he would no longer be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

STEVE AUSTIN INTERVIEWS VINCE McMAHON


After watching Stone Cold Steve Austin interview Vince McMahon live on the WWE Network for his podcast, I had only one thought:

Steve Austin just performed a public service for professional wrestling.

Before I demonstrate how Austin did so, I will go over the substance of the interview for those who weren't fortunate enough to see it on the Network.

The mere concept of a legitimate sit-down interview between Austin and McMahon is entertaining in of itself. In reality it's a pure joy to watch. McMahon has represented that "big fish" for Steve Austin Show listeners, quite possibly the most wanted guest in the show's history given the relationship between the two.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ENLIGHTENMENT IN I AM SANTA CLAUS


"Helping children be better is relatively easy. Fixing broken adults is a lot harder."

With these words, Rob Figley, the "Swinging Santa", gets at the heart of what I Am Santa Claus is about.

The film chronicles the year of five men who perform the beloved mythological holiday hero, Santa Claus, during the Christmas season. Their lives revolve around this eagerly anticipated time of year, those precious two months essential to their financial and emotional livelihoods.

With honesty and respect (and a great sense of endearing humor), director Tommy Avallone doesn't simply give viewers a glimpse behind the proverbial curtain, he gently holds the curtain open for you and invites you into a fascinating Santa Claus-themed world populated by fascinating individuals.

Not only will you walk away from the film with a deeper understanding of the practicalities of life as a Santa (these men spend their days like anyone else; they look for work, they try to pay bills, they have long-distance relationships, they support their families, they meet at conventions, and they struggle to get contracts from agents), you will walk away with a deeper understanding of humanity, and why the Santa Claus character is such a universally beloved, inspirational idol.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

STONE COLD CALLS WRESTLEMANIA 13


(NOTE: BE SURE TO VISIT THE NEW HOME OF THIS BLOG AT www.workofwrestling.com)

“I’m laying in a pool of blood. This is the greatest feeling in the world."

You might read that quote and be unsettled, maybe even concerned for the individual who spoke it.


But, if you listen to Stone Cold Steve Austin call his WrestleMania 13 match, and especially if you watch the match while you listen to his call, when it comes time for Austin to speak those powerful words, you will understand that, “I’m laying in a pool of blood…this is the greatest feeling in the world” is nothing more than the satisfaction one experiences when they’ve done their job exceedingly well and accomplished something very few ever could.

Austin explains, "It was something I looked forward to anytime a booker or promoter asked me, because I enjoyed getting color in a match. I'm not condoning cutting or any other silly stuff, but with respect to pro-wrestling back in that time period, I enjoyed bleeding when it was time to bleed. And it was Bret Hart's idea to bring color into the match."

"Getting color" is a time-honored tradition in pro-wrestling where the athletic performers will cut themselves or their fellow performer with hidden razor blades so as to enhance the drama of the fight. In the case of this match, the color not only enhances the drama, it helps elevate the match to a place of violent beauty.

Austin's words, "this is the greatest feeling in the world", come to represent the satisfaction of a group of individuals working together to create a masterpiece; a true work of art that is as worthy of representation in the halls of the most prestigious museums on this planet as any famous sculpture, painting, or art installation.


From the moment Austin enters the arena through a wall of breaking glass to the moment he slowly ambles out of sight, an incredibly complex story is told by a collection of incredibly talented people - all of whom want you to believe in pro-wrestling.


I do not use the word “masterpiece” lightly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

ART VS ENTERTAINMENT IN THE WWE AND THE WORLD

 
There is a feud in the WWE that is larger than any two performers, a rivalry as significant and potentially powerful as the greatest we've ever seen.

That feud, on the surface, is between the WWE's past and the WWE's future.

Hell in a Cell, the WWE's latest pay-per-view, epitomizes this battle.


Let's begin with Randy Orton and Seth Rollins, characters that literally embody the feud.

Orton is the heel of the past and Rollins, the self-described "living, breathing future of sports entertainment", is the heel of the future. In the present, these two characters will clash, symbolic of their contrasting places in history. The caveat for the Orton character is that, inevitably, time always wins and Rollins (or some other heel should Rollins not succeed) will one day ascend to Orton's status as top villain in the company, and the fiction the company presents. The future is guaranteed to win this fight on a literal level (of this everyone can be sure) simply due to the nature of bodily decay.

The battle between past and future was also represented in the Hell in a Cell "double-main-event".

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THE WWE 2K15 TRAILER: THE STYLE WRESTLING DESERVES


Earlier this week WWE 2K Games released the following trailer for the eagerly anticipated WWE 2K15.


In just one minute, this genuinely moving trailer presents a modern, intense, and captivating aesthetic that, if adopted by the WWE for the company's main programming (even in the slightest of ways), could revolutionize professional wrestling.

The WWE currently exists in what has been dubbed "The Reality Era".

That term has only been mentioned on RAW a handful of times, used primarily outside the WWE fiction by the fans and pro-wrestling analysts to help define the current product. The need to define pro-wrestling "Eras" is instrumental in understanding and sustaining continuity in the product - the definition of a stretch of time helpful in producing cohesive content.

I've written and talked at great length already about why the company should more fully embrace the concept of a "Reality Era" and what embracing such a concept might actually look like.

This is what it would look like:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

STONE COLD CALLS WRESTLEMANIA X-7


On his latest Unleashed podcast, Stone Cold Steve Austin called his WrestleMania X-7 main event match against The Rock for the WWE (then WWF) Championship.

To ensure I experienced his insights in the most effective way possible, I synched his audio recording with the match itself as I watched on the WWE Network.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MICK FOLEY: A WRESTLER FOR ALL MANKIND


Mick Foley, otherwise known as Dude Love, Cactus Jack, Mankind, Santa Claus, and Mick Foley has earned a rightful, deeply significant place in the pantheon of professional wrestling art and popular culture.


He exists as a self-described "supporting cast member", a truly innovative talent whose range and subtlety is deservedly appreciated perhaps now more than ever.

If Foley and his various iterations ever were "supporting characters" then they were supporting characters in the same way Heath Ledger's Joker received second billing in The Dark Knight. Ledger might not be first name on the marquee, and Batman might get all of the cool action sequences, but Ledger's Joker is the reason you lean forward in your chair and pay attention to every gesture and inflection.

DEAN AMBROSE vs SETH ROLLINS: HELL IN A CELL PREDICTION


DEAN AMBROSE vs SETH ROLLINS

HELL in a CELL 2K14 PREDICTION SIM

Seth and Dean aren’t just enemies. They’re brothers who have been ripped apart by greed and fear. One believes he must destroy his former brotherhood so as to ascend to a place of lone significance in the WWE. The other is a mad dog, unleashed and hungry for vengeance, because without his brother he has no other guiding principle, and no hope.

At its heart this is a love story.

Seth took Dean’s only family away. And they’re both going to pay for it.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CM PUNK: THE LOST REVOLUTION


The following clip is from the July 11th, 2011 Monday Night Raw.

CM Punk returned to the WWE following a week-long "suspension" for his now infamous Shoot Heard Round The World.


Perhaps now more than ever, this is a fascinating segment to observe.

It begins with Punk's eloquence.

Monday, August 25, 2014

PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT TO DO WITH IT

 

Professional wrestling is often compared to film or soap opera.

John Cena, the stalwart face of the WWE has even stated, rather eloquently, that the WWE produces "mini-movies each week".

While that assessment of the WWE's product rings true in many ways, likening professional wrestling to film or other long-form television shows ultimately does the medium a disservice.

One would not suggest that a Picasso painting is a movie or that a novel is a song. To do so could result in a kind of artistic identity crisis that permits the audience, and the artists working within a particular artistic form to misunderstand that medium.

It's good for the arts to influence and inspire one another, but to do so in a potentially all-consuming fashion, for art to be monopolized by one particular winning formula is detrimental to artistic expression and the culture.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

THE GOOD WORKER SHOOTS on NEW WWE LOGO & SUMMERSLAM


Here it is, fellow fanatics, the latest shoot podcast from The Good Worker.

Definitely the best episode thus far.

Topics include:

New WWE Logo

The Attitude Era

CM Punk

Brock Lesnar

Dean Ambrose in a WWE Film

and SummerSlam

Enjoy, and subscribe so you never miss a new one!


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

CENA VS LESNAR: SUMMERSLAM PREDICTION VIDEO


There have already been (and will continue to be) many write-ups predicting the match-outcomes of the 2014 SummerSlam pay-per-view.

Instead of adding yet another written projection to the mix, The Good Worker presents a live-action realization of what may happen on Sunday between John Cena and Brock Lesnar through WWE 2K14.

Unlike other sports-video-game predictions that typically present a straight-forward, unedited video-feed, this third episode in the Caught From The Crowd Series was created with the intent of mirroring the real-life emotional and theatrical qualities of a wrestling match, as well as the real-life YouTube videos uploaded by WWE Universe audience members.

Enjoy:


Come back tomorrow for a new NXT Report.

You can subscribe to Good Worker YouTube by clicking here.

And to WWE 2K14 Champion and "Face of the Good Worker" Maximus' Twitter by clicking here.

How do you think the Cena/Lesnar match will go down? Do you have a favorite? Would you like it to reflect this video?

Let us know in the comments.

Have a nice day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

JOHN CENA VS BROCK LESNAR: EXTREME RULES 2012 ANALYSIS

Extreme Rules 2012 Analysis

Enjoy watching John Cena vs Brock Lesnar at the 2012 Extreme Rules pay-per-view in anticipation of SummerSlam, and then read the brief analysis below.


Note: The following was originally posted on The Good Worker's Facebook page where you should definitely be following! Ewwwweyeaaaah!

While some will surely point out that John Cena performs only a single wrestling move in this entire match, and continue to bemoan his very existence, this one-sided fight is still an excellent example of pro-wrestling story-telling.

This match is more accurately described as a dramatic scene, akin to the climax of a film where the villain gains the upper hand on the hero and relentlessly punishes him or her.

Observing this match from that perspective and not with an overly critical focus upon balance, execution, and move-variety, and instead focusing on what the story actually is and the strengths of both performers on full display, it's incredibly immersive.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

PRO-WRESTLING PODCAST: IS WRESTLING ART?


Here's the latest shoot from The Good Worker.

This episode examines what pro-wrestling actually is as a medium, and how modern wrestling journalists, reviewers, and writers have failed to adequately critique it.

This sums up the purpose of The Good Worker in a frank, conversational way.

Enjoy!


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Thursday, July 31, 2014

CM PUNK VS. MAXIMUS: CAUGHT FROM THE CROWD

CAUGHT FROM THE CROWD 2

The second in the "CAUGHT FROM THE CROWD" series features WWE 2K Champion CM Punk defending his title against The Gladiator Maximus.

Filmed and edited to emulate real-life YouTube videos uploaded by wrestling fans at live shows, this compilation highlights the various exciting spots in dramatic fashion, accompanied by Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".

There's an emphasis placed upon realism, the pace of a real-life, excellent match that CM Punk and Maximus might have, with the footage become increasingly complex and theatrical as the video progresses.

Enjoy! And subscribe to our YouTube Channel and our Facebook Page!


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Monday, July 21, 2014

THE GOOD WORKER SHOOTS: BATTLEGROUND REVIEW

THE GOOD WORKER SHOOTS: EPISODE ONE

 
The following is a detailed review/analysis of Battleground 2014 in podcast form.
 
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All unsourced photos via WWE.com and WWE Network screen-capture.

Monday, July 7, 2014

SANTINO MARELLA and THE THEATER OF PRO-WRESTLING


Santino Marella recently announced his retirement from in-ring action due to sustaining yet another debilitating neck-injury.

After reading a post on Mick Foley's Facebook about Marella, I discovered the following video of a great Battle Royale moment in Santino's career.

Enjoy:


This one-minute video is one of the best representations of pro-wrestling as theater that I've ever seen.

Typically, unless we attend the live events themselves, fans experience the WWE as a very meticulously edited television show. In that editing process, the live event is transformed from an organic, theatrical experience, into a purposeful narrative, highlighting specific moments, accentuating spots with quick zooms, quick cuts, and commentary - focusing the audience's attention and perception.

That process is essential to the television experience, but it does detract from the theatricality and live-performance-art-quality of a pro-wrestling show.

In the above video, the single-camera perspective permits one to observe a series of emotions in a pure and complete way.

First, we are treated to the Santino Marella character puffing his chest, approaching John Cena and Triple H. He undermines their bravado, as if reminding those characters that they too exist in an absurd world, a world where men and women leap off of ropes whilst wearing their underwear. The structure of a Battle Royale permits this fusion of the sincere and the absurd in a wonderful, comedic, and uplifting way that assists all characters in defining their place in a brief, but excellent story.


The crowd mimics our emotions, delighting in Santino's small triumphs; first his exaggerated approach and then his rebound off the ropes (an unexpected turn as Santino is typically the sort of character to immediately get tossed out of a Battle Royal). We find ourselves cheering him on because he's a buffoonish, and simultaneously heartwarming character - he displays effort and resolve in the face of insurmountable odds. At first.

The crowd, having been warmed up after a few amusing exchanges, is finally treated to a rewarding finale - Santino's acceptance that he cannot exist any longer in the world of men like Triple H and John Cena, and his tossing himself out.

Apart from his excellent miming of being thrown out of a Battle Royale, what makes this moment not just funny, but emotionally rewarding, is that Santino took matters into his own hands. This is a triumph for the character, in an ironic way, and certainly a triumph for the performer, who pops the crowd several times, each response increasingly uproarious.

And then, after his exit, thanks to this single-camera perspective and the viewer's ability to choose what they see, a natural transition into the dramatic and more serious back and forth between Triple H, John Cena, and the remaining wrestlers continues. Each of those performers is due praise as well, for they supported Santino's big moment, and their immediate return to serious brawling accentuates the juxtaposition, taking the audience into a new emotional high as Cena and Triple H initiate and counter their finishing moves.

The audience's emotions sway like a pendulum, keeping time with the actions of these excellent performers.

This is athletic theater at its finest. This is Santino Marella at his best.


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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Introducing first: THE GOOD WORKER!





Welcome to TheGoodWorker, the best wrestling blog in the world!

Each week you will be provided with in-depth analyses of the wonderful world of professional wrestling.

From the latest wrestling news to reviews of the latest WWE programming, you can expect the art and craft of wrestling to be approached from an analytical, sincere perspective here on TheGoodWorker.

Our beloved pastime and passion is as viable an artistic medium as film, literature, and the like, and so it deserves more voices that present it as such.

That is the mission of TheGoodWorker - to cover pro-wrestling with a blend of journalistic and literary analysis, and encourage others to recognize it for the craft that it is.

So stick around smarks, IWCers, and casuals alike, and let's celebrate this uplifting and exciting medium, and the men and women who risk life and limb for our entertainment each and every night.

Be sure to come back soon for Money in the Bank coverage, The Raw Review, The NXT Report, and The SmackDown.

And follow WWE 2K14 Champion Maximus The Gladiator on Twitter @MaximusWrestler!