Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tommy's fourth ankle grab

My favorite bit of reading so far has been in Ole Anderson's Inside Out excerpts-- I thought the description of the building drama between Tommy Rich and Abdullah was remarkable. I loved the extension of the drama from one match to the next/ the insistence on the rematch, and the character and relationship development. Wrestling is such an amazing and unique performance venue, in that the drama is physical, dynamic, and develops over time, week to week, city to city. When I was working in dance and choreography, it also involved intricate and coordinated movement and extreme physicality, but there was never a rematch... the relationships set up in the choreography could never hope to extend to the before and after in the way they can in wrestling. Every movement in the ring has meaning that is built over time and compounded by it's implied continuation.
I was especially gripped by Ole's description of Tommy, badly beaten for the third time by Abdullah, grasping at the winner's leg: "Tommy grabbed him again. Abdullah kicked him one more and tried to leave. Tommy grabbed the leg a fourth time, and Abdullah went nuts! We didn't overdue it. Abby didn't kick him for an hour. He just gave him a few boots" (177). This description is beautiful; it describes a brilliant performative coordination of dramatic effect... What strikes me is the specificity of the choreographer-- in effect the promoter/ booker who decides the finishes inhabits the role of choreographer/ movement designer. I never realized before how much agency the promoter has, not just as a money-maker and entertainment coordinator, but also as creative director and designer of the action.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

I think Ole's sudden articulation of a very nuanced physical performance is part of what makes him such a fascinating historical character, forgotten in some ways because of how things went down with McMahon, as we'll focus on much more later.

But here you have Ole, a self-proclaimed SOB and straight-shooter who seems to care only about money and what gates he draws and doesn't seem to like much of anybody or all of this...all part of his persona...and yet he is planning out these very subtle performances. Again, not "overdoing" it grants a degree of intelligence to the fan, doesn't it, that they don't have to be slapped in the face with an obvious angle and that they have the capacity to understand the story being told without having it screamed to them.

Ole's stories, and the work Scott Teal did to help him put the book together, is one of the reasons we're reading several short excerpts from Inside Out throughout the course. I strongly recommend the whole book for further reading for anyone interested in the era.