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Opinion

3 Things I Learned from Ep. 1 of “Rhodes to the Top.”

Tommy Starr breaks down a few things he’s observed from “Rhodes to the Top”.

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*Trigger warning: Controversial opinion coming.*

The pilot episode of “Rhodes to the Top” was eye-opening for many reasons, and while it would be simple enough to piece together some form of a standard review of the show, that alone would not do this show a proper disservice.  While watching this show from start to finish, I was incredibly dumbfounded with recognizing just how low the bar has been set for the standards of the wrestling business in 2021.  Perhaps, it was my ultimate revelation that my perceptions and visions as to how professional wrestling should be conducted are far removed from the reality of what modern wrestling fans crave.  In a bizarre, arbitrary sense, modern wrestling lives in an artificial dual reality where today’s fans will claim that they want “behind-the-curtain” peaks into the personal lives of the individuals behind the wrestling persona, when in actuality, we could not care less about the personal lives of those individuals.  However, this revelation of mine was roughly facilitated after watching this program, not necessarily “learned.”  These are the the three REAL things I learned from Ep. 1 of “Rhodes to the Top:”

1. Cody is the greatest “worker” in wrestling today.  

In other words, Cody has successfully “worked” everyone in the business into buying the propagandist notion that he serves more value to AEW than he truly does.  This includes, not just the fans watching the product and buying the tickets and merchandise to support the company, but also includes the people IN the business itself.  He dresses the part of the executive, he proclaims his love and passion for the wrestling business (kayfabe), but in actuality (real life), his bona fide life does not reflect this in anyway.  His primary focus is to become a TV star, plain and simple.  We see this in the current reflection of AEW’s television shows; his on and off screen absence, his perceived input on the direction of the product vs. actual input on the direction of the product (i.e. Cody’s decisions vs. Tony Khan’s decisions), and the growing fan resentment all paint the picture of what the genuine and authentic Cody Rhodes is– professional wrestling’s modern day grifter or “worker.”

2. Brandi is a product of feminized “blank slate equality.”  

The dynamics of social norms relating to gender differences and race relations in modern western culture have been at war for decades.  So in essence, I can not wholly blame Brandi Rhodes for her adopted ideologies, as her familial upbringing and education probably had a profound impact on the way she views the world.  As the title suggests though, the result of Brandi’s educational fostering is to see the world through the lens of blank slate equality (link to article on this is in the cited sources).  An example of this became apparent right out of the gate within the first two minutes of the show when we hear Cody explain that Brandi is the, “first black female executive in wrestling history.” This is something that we, the audience, are intended to view as a landmark accomplishment in the record books of professional wrestling.  However, at no point in the hour long episode does anyone explain her position as Chief Branding Officer, whether or not she is qualified for this position, or how her position significantly moves the needle of the product.  So in short, it would seem that we are supposed to adopt the notion that Brandi is qualified for this position solely based on her gender and skin tone as opposed to her qualifications and business credentials.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”  And when it comes to this subject matter, Brandi is quite ignorant of the reality she is in.  In fact, her authoritative power over individuals is quite dangerous, particularly the wrestlers.  Why is Brandi better suited or qualified to influence the female wrestlers to act or perform a certain way simply by having an artificial “label” attached to her?  Why is she qualified to govern a female wrestler that has more experience and skill than her?  The final point when it comes to my revelation about Brandi Rhodes is her mission to force women’s wrestling as a focal point of the programming and establish it on a level-playing field as the men (hence the term blank slate equality), despite the lack of fan interest or marketability with the majority of the women’s roster to warrant that decision, as well as the simple truth that historically speaking, women do not draw in wrestling to the level that the men do.  Regardless of the social propagandist notion that this is due to “sexism” or “misogyny,” we can merely pinpoint this fact down to wrestling’s targeted audience and preference for content.  Women are AN attraction in pro wrestling; they will never be THE attraction.

3. Modern wrestling LOATHES Kayfabe.

Kayfabe has been dead for over thirty (arguably forty) years, but the evolution of the internet and insider leaks about the business present modern wresting fans with a natural craving for behind-the-scenes and exclusive content that may have not been as prevalent or accessible during wrestling’s heyday.  Much of the episode is dedicated to this exclusive content realm.  There is blatant and open discussion on how promos work, heels and babyfaces mingling with one another (i.e. Brandi & Jade Cargill being bitter rivals on TV vs. coexisting friends in reality), as well as the flagrant and shameless disclosure as pro wrestling being “fiction-based,” while simultaneously trying to maintain the realness of promos and wrestling bumps.

Much of this discussion stems from David Hume’s argument that “You can not derive an ought from an is.”  It is equivalent to saying, “Just because things are a certain way, it does not mean that it should be that way.”  In the world of kayfabe, the argument is, “Kayfabe IS dead, therefore we OUGHT to have access to the inner workings of the business (i.e. terminology, character breaking, story/plot explanation, promo breakdowns, etc.).”  The incredible thing when it comes to kayfabe is that the same rule never applies to magicians, carny workers, and politicians, who are among the greatest “workers” we have in society today; they have the capacity to perfectly blur the lines between “fake” and “real” without exploiting the real truth.  It is what makes their art so appealing, and if that art is ever exposed (intentionally or not), it loses its appeal.  It is absolutely mind-boggling to see how this dynamic has drastically shifted in the world of wrestling to the point where now, modern wrestling actually craves the destruction of kayfabe.  Whether it is the dirt sheet sites, the behind-the-scenes access, and even podcasts, both the fans AND the wrestlers themselves actively destroy any and all notion that wrestling can be believable in any way, shape, or form.

Conclusion:

In many ways, “Rhodes to the Top” has given me an authentic, genuine perspective about where we are in society today, not just from the fake world of wrestling, but the real world of how divided our cultural norms and values are.  However, it is my belief that the impact of this “reality-based series” will truly reflect itself on AEW programming in the future.  For a “reality” TV show that tries to portray Cody and Brandi as the two most likable individuals on the planet, the true “reality” is the how their fan reception plays out on the wrestling show.  In essence, the argument will then be centered around Cody and Brandi’s perceived “real world” vs. the fans’ perceived “real world.”  That will probably be the most damning thing about this entire project.

Sources:

  • The Blank Slate: The modern denial of human nature: Forum for the future of Higher Education. Forum for the Future of Higher Education | A community of academic leaders and scholars who explore new thinking and ideas in higher education. (2017, June 9). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from http://forum.mit.edu/articles/the-blank-slate-the-modern-denial-of-human-nature/.
  • Jenkins, S. (2017, July 24). David Hume and deriving an “ought” from an “is”. The Ought. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://theought.com/2017/07/10/david-hume-and-deriving-an-ought-from-an-is/.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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