El Pasco Texas: To be or Not to Be (Offended by Chairshots)

How I felt writing this article

You know how all politicians, bloggers; old guys who sit on benches in malls, protestors, and anybody with a tumblr always talk about “apathetic voters”. The kind of people more concerned with socializing than social security. Those people who worry about pop culture as opposed to population control.  People who’d rather watch Kittens on the internet, than take a minute to register to vote?

That’s me.

I know I should care, but I just can’t. I’ve been criticized by friends, by family, and by some dude who came into work one time to buy a shower radio.  He gave me a lecture as I tried to give him a sweet deal, for shame. I should care, I really should. I’m fully aware that the world around me is slowly burning, but I can’t help but care more about the financial situation in Pawnee Indiana than the one in our country. I look at it like this, Gandalf once said the wise speak only of what they know and so when it comes to political matters I keep my mouth shut. I’m relatively uneducated on the subject matter, but unlike the Che Guerrera/Sean Hannity inspired friends of mine on Facebook I don’t speak to hear the sound of my own voice.  It’s about as foreign a concept to people as the Mexicans they love/despise. It seems like my Facebook is a collection of people who take their political views from either God or the Internet.

I believe neither exists.

Despite my lackluster political views, I have dipped my feet in the ideological water a few times in an attempt to define myself. I do find it difficult though, as much like a boyfriend who doesn’t want to be made fun of for dating a chubby girl…I’m just not into labels man. However if you have a gun to my head, and if you do please don’t kill me, I guess I’d have to identify myself as a Libertarian. Much like my Ron Swanson, I believe that people should basically do whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt me. I don’t really see the difference between somebody injecting heroin into themselves, and Two and a Half Men being continuously renewed by CBS. Both destroy society.  I believe in the ability of man to think for himself, even though I never have faith that he’ll make the right decision. It’s a really arrogant stance thing to think you know better than other people. It’s a dickhead move to sarcastically give them freedom to do whatever they want. I’ve e always been more of a dick then cocky (Phallus Humor!)

Enter the unprotected chairshot.

Much like the Amur Leopard, Kavan Rhino, or the quality of Adam Sandler films, the unprotected chairshot in professional wrestling is rapidly dying out. We’re long gone from the era of Raven tied up against a cage and Tommy Dreamer braining him with a steel chair.  It seems like it was decades ago when Mick Foley got his skull bashed in by The Rock at the Royal Rumble.  I do miss the pro wrestling chairshot and it’s for my own selfish reasons. So much of my defining pro wrestling memories are moments of complete brutality like The Rock chairshot. Hell, I even made a list for Mike and Tom Present about my favorite unprotected chairshots.  We all know why the chairshot isn’t used anymore, but how much of that is based on science and how much is based on emotion? We’re going to have to go back to the catalyst for all of this to find out.

Chris Benoit.

I’m not too thrilled that we’re going back to this shit again either… Before the Chris Benoit murders, concussion awareness and brain trauma was really not that significant in the mind of pro wrestling fans.  I’m enough to remember the outcry on the internet when the WWF banned the use of non Undertaker piledrivers. We cared about the wrestlers, but they knew the risks they were getting themselves into and so we all sort of watched gleefully as they killed each other. I mean, Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka made their careers by attempting to concuss the other one. I can honestly said that between my Mark Awakening (sounds unnecessarily sexual) and the post Benoit world (sounds unnecessarily douchey) I don’t really recall ever having a moment of concern for a wrestler. Hell, I watched Mick Foley get thrown off a cage and my first reaction was about how that was the awesomest shit ever and when Rikishi got thrown off the Hell in a Cell years later, my first reaction was who cares.   I was apathetic to the situation because these were guys who knew what they were doing.

After the Benoit murders, things just changed. I’m going to say something that’s probably asinine and stupid, but it’s just a matter of my opinion. If somebody like Billy Gunn or Test or somebody not lauded throughout the professional wrestling world had done the exact same thing, it wouldn’t have been as big a deal.  Believe me it would have made headlines and all that, but it wouldn’t have shocked the world to its core. Here was a guy who was widely considered the greatest professional wrestler of his generation. A dude who had worked his high impact style and traveled the world and won the respect of any fan who ever got on a computer? I don’t think people are aware of it, but when you joined the internet wrestling world you needed a screename, a password, and a favorite Chris Benoit match. NOBODY on the internet ever seemed to bury the guy. You know the old Airheads joke about Lemmy is God? Well that’s how it was for Benoit. So when Benoit killed his family, it really devastated a lot of people and a lot of people looked for answers. Hell, there are people on YouTube who still think Kevin Sullivan did it. For every action there is a reaction and the eaction to the Benoit murders were a hardline stance on the things people felt like contributed to his mental decline more than anything, which was steroids and concussions (key word FELT like).

It’s harder to watch a man bleed when he tweets about picking his kid up at the bus stop.

I think the other catalyst on the matter has been the rise of social media. We’ve entered a really weird era in pro wrestling where there isn’t as much of a disconnect between the performers and the fans. In the case of a website like Twitter, it’s made certain wrestlers more likeable. It is genuinely a lot harder to watch a dude like Rhett Titus get cut open and dropped on his head after you read tweets of his where he talks about hanging out with his son.  The unprotected chairshot has become the moral stance that professional wrestling fans seemed to have taken against the wrestlers themselves.  Fans don’t want to see the careers of their favorite wrestlers shortened and watch them lose themselves like Chris Benoit.

I’m not a man of science so I’m not going to act like Chris Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute Research is wrong. I know people who complain about the pussification of football and hockey, but I’m not one of them. It’ isn’t hard to convince me that 250 lbs of solid muscle running across a field and going helmet to helmet in a tackle might jar your brain a little too much. Those are athletes who are million dollar investments in the NFL. Sure accidents happen in contact sports, but the league has a responsibility to the safety of its players.

WWE has taken this stance as well, and has banned unprotected chairshots in their ring. The issues seem to arise when chairshots are done on the independent level, which is where we finally get to the crux of the matter of my libertarianism.  It seems as though people take deep personal offense when it comes to these chairshots in professional wrestling, and this all came to a head after ROH’s Final Battle 2012. Between the Steen/Corino and World’s Greatest Tag Team/Briscoes match, there was enough chairshots to launch a million arguments. The Young Bucks took to twitter with a defense of chairshots while Kevin Steen defended chairshots by pointing out that it’s his life and he knows what he’s doing. It seems like a bit of a line has been drawn between the performers and the audience about the subject.

Professional Wrestling is an exhibition and not a competition, and who are we to really sit and pass judgment on what young men and women choose to do to themselves. I am not in any way shape or form, advocating an All Unprotected Chairshot PPV, but I think this is an issue that comes down to the old wrestling cliché “How much does a fan’s opinion really matter”. I hate the wrestler response of “Well you don’t do it so you can’t judge” because it’s fucking stupid (That’s a whole article coming next week). However, if a wrestler decides to take the risks in an attempt to feed his family than who are we to tell him no? If an independent contractor decides to risk his body in an attempt to gain a bigger reaction, than at what point do we draw the line. Is one chairshot worse than all the botched dives to the outside we’ve seen, or the amount of necks we’ve witnessed all nearly being snapped? I can’t think of something in pro wrestling that had such valid arguments on each side. I feel like an asshole for even writing all this and acting like I have a semblance of knowledge. I’m just trying to figure out where I stand on all of this. I just want wrestling to be simple and violent again.

Man, Fuck Chris Benoit

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