Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Higher Power Revelation

Besides being an iconically hilarious moment in wrestling for me personally, the Ministry of Darkness and Higher Power storyline is an interesting example of the shattering of the ideal nuclear family that Sammond discusses within the WWF and some of the most outlandish writing in any storyline ever. The Monday Night Wars saw some interesting content, but the Undertakers gang of Satanic revolutionaries takes the cake for me. With the revelation that Vince McMahon was the much-anticipated Higher Power in control of the Undertaker and the Ministry of Darkness, a many-months-long storyline was rendered nonsensical. Vince's reasoning was that he wanted to demonstrate to Stone Cold Steve Austin that he would stop at nothing to piss Steve off. This apparently includes ordering the Undertaker to "kill" his bodyguard the Big Boss Man, kidnap Stephanie two times (the 2nd time theoretically with the knowledge that Steve would step in to save Stephanie before she was married to the Undertaker so he could take over the WWF), and ruin Vince's relationship with his wife, Stephanie, and Shane, the latter making it very unclear whether he actually was in on the schemings or not. This storyline is a classic demonstration of the spectacle of excess (to riff off Barthes) that characterized the Monday Night Wars: rampant Satanic references, the eschewing of family values, and shocking violence and melodrama all coming to a completely nonsensical crescendo. To me, it is the most "wrestling" moment in all of wrestling.

Edge, Lita, and Jeff Hardy

This is an example of the line between reality and kayfabe getting blurred perhaps a little too far from 2006. The clip is really not as important as the storyline, but I had trouble finding a clip more illustrative of the storyline. Lita joined the Hardys in the early 2000s to form Team Xtreme, and dated Matt Hardy off screen. After Lita got involved with Edge, she and Matt split. This was then incorporated into the storyline while it was happening, leading to Lita becoming Edges handler. Upon Jeff Hardy's return to the WWF after a vacation relating to the drama that was unfolding in real life, he has to wrestle Edge and incorporate all this real-life unpleasantness into a performance alongside a person with whom he was probably not at all pleased. This is reminiscent of the storyline with Goldust in which he was divorcing his wife both in real life and on television. Mick Foley talks about having a kernel of truth incorporated into ones angle to make the acting easier and the storylines more believable, but at this time there seems to be more emphasis on realism and less accounting for the emotional cost on the wrestlers. This is probably in large part due to the internet and dirt sheets allowing fans to be way too knowledgable of the wrestlers private lives. The technological revolution gave the public unprecedented access to information and ultra-realism is a reaction to that.

Edge's Inappropriate Pin

This is a more straightforward presentation, and the length of the video reflects that. In 2006, the ECW was briefly revived for a series of matches, including this six-man tag with Edge, Mick Foley, and Lita versus Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beulah McGillicutty. Edge decided to cover Beulah in an explicitly sexual fashion, while she is apparently unconscious. While this may have been planned as part of the ode to the old days of ECWs rampant inappropriateness, it really underlines some of the issues that we have looked at in terms of treatment of women, particularly invoking for me that part of Wrestling with Manhood where they look at the storyline with Vince and Trish Stratus and question the audiences approval of the spectacle. Here I think there is less of a justification for the act, because there is no eventual storyline payoff, just Edge apparently taking advantage of an unconscious opponent to mime a sex act. In Wrestling with Manhood it is asserted that the fans took pleasure in watching Trish be subjugated by Vince; here we see hard evidence of fans taking pleasure in questionable material without evidence of self-awareness. The title of the YouTube clip is "Wrestling Best Pin Ever." When I first saw this match it really disturbed me, not only because it was the first time I really had to confront the treatment of women in wrestling, but because of the (to me) unjustifiable nature of it. To this day it stands in my mind as the most egregious instance of misogyny I have seen in wrestling, which is a little ironic given my admiration for Edge as a wrestler.

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