From Paul Heyman to Mike Quackenbush, Philadelphia has given birth to some pretty amazing professional wrestling promotions. In the late 1990s, ECW brought a hardcore, grunge aesthetic to sports entertainment. Since 2002, CHIKARA has been bringing more focus to storylines, characters, and amazing matches.
Because the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association is holding the annual conference in Philadelphia in 2020, we here at PWSA would like to put a panel together looking at ECW, CHIKARA, AEW, and other non-WWE promotions for how they have shaped professional wrestling and popular culture.
But let’s not stop there!
We’ve got the third season of Netflix’s GLOW out, and we are seeing more attention paid to women’s wrestling from AEW to NXT. Also, given the interest displayed on our Twitter account about a GLOW anthology, this panel may be a good place to start that conversation!
So let’s also think about proposing a panel on GLOW: the original series, the Netflix series, and what it has meant for women’s wrestling since the 1980s.
If you are interested in being on either panel, please send to CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (firstname.lastname@example.org) a proposal for what you would present. Please send a 250-500 word proposal, a title, and your contact information. These proposals should be sent by October 1st to be considered for the panel. If you have any questions, please contact CarrieLynn at the email above.
The President of the PWSA invites submissions for the association’s inaugural PWSA Symposium: WrestlePosium I.
This virtual symposium will happen online on Saturday, April 4th, to coincide with WrestleMania. That week has become a touchstone for all of professional wrestling, not just the World Wrestling Entertainment’s signature show. As such, the PWSA seeks to bring academic scholarship to the festivities by connecting wrestling scholars around the world to present their research and ideas.
can be given live, via a videoconferencing tool, or be recorded and collected
for viewing during that day. Additionally, all live presentations will also be
recorded and collected for later viewing. Presentations and videos will be no
longer than 15 minutes, but applicants can also submit ideas for roundtable
discussions and complete panels. Sessions will be scheduled during the day
based on the proposals.
Interested applicants should submit a 500-word proposal outlining the purpose and scope of their presentation, roundtable or panel. Proposals should include titles and contact information for all speakers. Submissions should be sent to PWSA president CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (email@example.com).
The deadline for submissions to the symposium is December 31, 2019.
The Professional Wresting Studies Association invites submissions for the inaugural issue of the Professional Wrestling Studies Journal, an open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal.
We welcome scholarly work from any theoretical and methodological lens that is rigorous, insightful, and expands our audience’s understanding of professional wrestling past or present as a cultural, social, political, and/or economic institution.
All submissions must be original scholarly work and free of identifying information for blind review. Written articles should be submitted as Word documents and no more than 8,000 words, inclusive of a 200-word abstract and a reference list. MLA citation style is required. Any images that are not original require copyright clearance. Articles will be converted into PDFs for publication, so hyperlinks should be active.
For multimedia productions and experimental scholarship, please contact editor-in-chief Matt Foy (firstname.lastname@example.org) to verify length and proper format in which to send the piece.
The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2019 for an April 2020 publication.
Please email submissions to email@example.com.
In 1957 Roland Barthes famously said, “The virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess. Here we find a grandiloquence which must have been that of ancient theatres”. In fact the histories of professional wrestling and theatre are deeply intertwined, from the music hall where wrestling pioneers such as George Hackenschmidt and Eugen Sandow plied their trade to the contemporary showbiz performance of the WWE.
Nick Ahad’s Glory, produced by Britain’s leading radical theater company Red Ladder in Spring 2019, both builds on this legacy and swerves it.
I caught it in Leeds, Red Ladder’s home city, in a dusty old industrial space, the Albion Electric Warehouse, which had been transformed into a chilly, rundown gym: no “grandiloquence” here! It tells the story of faded wrestling star Jim Glory, a bigoted but not entirely unlovable throwback to the days of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Under his wing he takes an unlikely trio of Dan (a Chinese British young man, fighting back against the racism he experiences in his father’s chip shop), Ben (an ex-squaddie, traumatized by his experiences in Afghanistan), and Sami (a Syrian refugee, who arrives in the UK having endured an unimaginably horrific journey). The three battle with each other, their desire to be wrestlers and, indeed, their own demons.
Glory is both all about wrestling and nothing about wrestling.
On the one hand, the actual physical combat in Glory is pretty impressive, orchestrated by fight director and wrestling fan Kevin McCurdy. Indeed, the Albion Electric Warehouse audience (predominantly theater rather than wrestling fans) was visibly shocked at the brutal slams and punches. Glory also confirmed wrestling’s theatricality: its liminal identity as both a sport and not a sport, a theatrical spectacle and not a theatrical spectacle. At one point Jim turns to the predominantly artsy crowd and claims wrestling as “our Uncle Vanya”; the “our” here connotes Northern working class, perhaps male and white. Glory, and I suggest professional wrestling more generally, confronts what we define as art, as theater, as legitimate.
But wrestling also makes for a compelling backdrop for Glory.
During its history, wrestling has both validated offensive racial stereotypes and challenged them. Glory uses this tension. Director Rod Dixon, to whom I chatted before the show, cites the unique actor-audience interaction of professional wrestling, which makes it the perfect “vehicle to challenge the refugee narrative.” An uncomfortable example: Jim grabs the mic and makes up a story about Sami coming to “take your jobs and your women.” He tries to lead the audience in a chant of “Send him back, Send him back.” This deeply provocative moment exploits the fact that there is no fourth wall in wrestling, jolting audience members to have the shock of experiencing narratives currently advocated by mainstream British newspapers.
When I asked him to define Glory’s genre, Dixon described it as a “State of the Nation comedy,” and certainly in these uncertain times, seemingly defined by discord — particularly racial discord — the tough, challenging Glory stands as both a depressing revelation of Britain’s endemic bigotry and a hopeful beacon of potential friendship.
Watching Glory, it occurred to me afresh that the most beautiful thing about professional wrestling, despite its appearance, is its reliance on cooperation and collaboration. The Squared Circle is a space of learning and meeting. For Ben, Dan and Sami, wrestling provides a forum to overcome xenophobic prejudices and deal with their histories. Watching them celebrate in the ring at the end, I left feeling that wrestling might symbolize some political hope in troubled times.
Calls for MPCA/ACA 2019: Wrestling Studies Division.
Deadline: May 15, 2019
With so much to talk about in professional wrestling right now, we’re looking forward to papers that cover a range of topics: from women’s wrestling in WWE to All Elite Wrestling to Southern style wrasslin’, we welcome any submission on any topic.
In particular, we are looking for submissions that tackle the intersections between politics and professional wrestling. A number of scholars are addressing this topic in an upcoming anthology and panel at ICA, so we’d like to look at it more from a popular culture perspective as well.
If interested in participating this year at the conference in Cincinnati, submit your abstract via this link.
One night while working on the Ciampa/Gargano slash project i.e. reading fanfic and luvin it), I realized how all these fanfics are not attempts to recode the Ciampa/Gargano (CG) NXT story (e.g. characters, plot points, facts) but to recode the emotions of the stories as those emotions play a role in how fans decode the stories.
For these fans, their emotional reactions to wrestlers are important, and Ciampa and Gargano have encoded some pretty powerful emotional beats into their NXT story. Even before their break-up, fans had a lot to decode about their bond, and the fanfic pre-break-up explores those emotions. The fanfic post-break-up explores different emotions, but also tries to reconcile the negative feelings between the duo to reunite the pair. Being faithful to the story’s facts doesn’t matter as much as exploring the emotional text and subtext of these wrestlers.
To understand how the fans are decoding and recoding the emotional beats encoded into the story, I decided to go back and chart Ciampa and Gargano’s matches across NXT. I wanted to plot the emotionality of their matches, both as a tag team and as singles, to understand what the fans are reacting to with their stories.* And, as a fan myself, it has been fascinating to go back and watch these matches. Especially for their first matches, I didn’t have the emotional investment in them then that I do now (like, seriously, I haven’t loved a “fictional” character this much since David Tennant’s run as The Doctor). This means I am rewatching matches I only vaguely remember with my complete love for them.
While I do not remember the beats, I do remember the results. And knowing what happened does make it easier to pay attention to peripheral aspects of the match, like how they act on the apron or their facial expressions. Those moments are what I focused on to chart the emotional beats — and boy am I finding out some interesting things, like how much of a hugger Ciampa was!
Because there are so many matches to cover since their debut, I am breaking this timeline over several posts. This first one focuses on their work leading up to their tag team win against the Revival in 2016. Basically these are all the matches to build up the duo and the fans’ love for them.
2015: In the Beginning…
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano are introduced in backstage segment on September 2, 2015. They appear with GM William Regal to set them up as participants in inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and to set up the comedy-team of Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey. In this segment, neither man displays any real emotions other than intensity — even when Regal mispronounces Ciampa’s last name.
Their emotional bonding starts during the Classic. In their round 1 match on September 9, where they win to advance. There is emotional intensity from Gargano on apron trying to get Ciampa to give him the tag, which interestingly sets up a recurring theme of a hot tag from Ciampa to Gargano — like Ciampa needs to be saved by Gargano. More importantly, they hug after win and keep their arms around each other when facing the hardcam during their post-match celebration. They also get down on their knees on the ramp before exiting, with commentators saying how they cannot believe their luck. There, Gargano hugs Ciampa again, basically cradling Ciampa’s head to his chest. This motif would be a recurring aspect of their hugging, with one (usually Ciampa) cradling the other’s head to his chest (see the example below).
Their next match is in the second round on September 16. In their first promo, they respond to Baron Corbin/Rhyno, again bringing intensity. They receive a decent pop with their entrance, given how new they are, and during the match start to show more teamwork. Both men are definitely playing to the crowd and getting crowd behind them. The commentary positions them as faces and underdogs from the beginning. This match also has their first knee/kick move, which would come to be called the Meet in the Middle, but not as a finisher. Importantly, the commentators talk about their chemistry. The crowd is really into match, hoping CG would win. After losing, Ciampa goes to check on Gargano, who got the End of Days from Corbin, and stays at his side, checking on him until the end of the clip. This show of care and concern would become a motif in their matches.
After losing the tournament, they started doing singles matches. The next time they are on NXT together is October 30, only to be defeated by Chad Gable/Jason Jordan. Once again, CG have loads of crowd support, especially for how Gargano interacts with the crowd and his expressions. The match got “This is Wrestling” and “This is Awesome” (x3) chants. CG show teamwork, but perhaps are also the heels in the match given the types of tandem attacks they performed — as well as the intensity of their expressions. This character works suggests NXT was still trying to figure out who CG were in their roster. After loss, Ciampa rolls in pain in ring, with no sign of Gargano. Then the clip shows Ciampa outside the ring next to Gargano, both in pain. No real sign of emotional bonding between them in the match — which, if the goal was to position them as heels, makes sense.
This feeling them out also explains the singles work they did, that were pretty unspectacular, which is why I am not interested in discussing them here. The goal here is to understand how these two men interacted with each other on NXT, and their evolution as a tag team demonstrated that their strength was going to be through their relationship in and out of the ring. Once NXT realized that as well, CG would light up the arena.
2016: Becoming Official…
Ciampa and Gargano signed their Tier 2 WWE contracts on April 2nd, 2016, meaning that they could still go on indie dates. And they did so through summer 2016, which was great for me, as I got to see them a couple more times at AAW.
On April 13, 2016 they take on the Vaudevillains, and the commentators said they are reunited. By then the Vaudevillains had already appeared on SmackDown, so of course they were leaving. While waiting in the ring to start, Ciampa pats Gargano’s back, which is a move he does a lot over the year. The commentators said Ciampa had seemed out of his mind but seems relaxed now, and that they both seem relaxed together, being more confident and comfortable. Gargano demonstrates how very skilled he is at showing pain, and got a power-up chant from the crowd. Otherwise the crowd is so quiet I can hear Ciampa trying to encourage Gargano. Hot tag to Ciampa. CG wins, but they just do their cornerpost poses, with no other interaction in the clip.
On May 25 they faced TM-61. When they pose together in corner, Ciampa pats Gargano’s back. Commentators in this match describe how TM-61 are people who really know each other because of wrestling together for so long. This positioning helps establish the relationship for CG: if they can defeat established teams after recently reuniting, then it means they are great. Ciampa calls for crowd support for Gargano. Miscommunication leads to CG collision in ring — they are still new to this, after all. First time they use their finisher as the finisher for a win. High-five after win, then sign of respect to opponents, clapping for them.
Their June 1 is their first match against The Revival. The Revival starts the episode by cutting a promo in-ring against Gable/Jordan (aka American Alpha), the current tag-team champions, but CG come out to support American Alpha and push themselves. Ciampa and Gargano show their mic and burn skills. CG kick Revival out of ring, leading to a match. CG poses together in corner when they come out in a show of unity. The crowd is behind CG, who often call for support, with Revival as the clear heels. A hot tag to Gargano and a quick cover by Gargano to win. Then Revival attacks both separately, with Ciampa attacked more, but saved by American Alpha. No sight of CG after the champions arrives.
At this point it is clear that CG are very good technical wrestlers and able to create matches that are unlike anything seen on Raw or SmackDown, especially for tag-team matches. Their emotional relationship is really just starting, and it would take the next two big matches featuring them both to cement their relationship as central to their NXT story.
CWC and TakeOver II…
In 2016, the WWE produced the Cruiserweight Classic (CWC), which led to reinvigorating the cruiserweight division on the main roster. On June 23, during the first round of the CWC, Ciampa and Gargano created an instant classic.
Now, leading up to it, the WWE produced a package for the match that questioned if their friendship survive. Gargano talks about being thrust into the tag team with Ciampa, but how something clicked instantly. Commentators say CG has chemistry. Ciampa talks about the past year of traveling and rooming together and depending on each other, which has led to their bond growing. He even mentions being in Gargano’s upcoming wedding party, saying “we’re as good of friends as you can get at this point.” The package shows them hugging on the ramp from their first win. Gargano confesses how he perhaps talks to Ciampa more than his fiance. Ciampa discusses how sometimes you hit family harder than others. Overall, the package does a great job summing up the relationship CG has been building and really foregrounds that aspect of the duo to create tension for the match: will they still be friends after one loses to the other?
Their pre-match interview adds to the package when the interviewer asks how being partners affects the match. Gargano says it matter if Ciampa is his partner or like a brother, and Ciampa is upset on how all he ever hears is people talking about “Johnny Wrestling.” They both posture about who is going to win, with Ciampa saying he will hurt the other, to which Gargano says “You do what you gotta do.” This exchange basically foreshadows Ciampa’s heel turn in 2017.
The match itself — is simply amazing. It is their first time fighting each other in the WWE, and is the main event of the episode. Being the main event also foreshadows the one-on-one matches they would have in 2018. Interestingly they are wearing the same colors: black, white, yellow. At the start, Ciampa is reluctant to shake hands and is intense, according to commentators, who call his attacks on Gargano vicious. Tommaso mockingly chants Johnny Wrestling to the crowd (again, foreshadowing his heel turn). The commentators play up Ciampa’s Psycho Killer history and position Johnny as the underdog, under assault, weaker, less intense. The commentators are worried about Gargano getting so many shots to the head, and are surprised he is taking so much violent punishment from the brutal Ciampa.
Ciampa routinely performs violent moves on Gargano, who keeps kicking out, making Ciampa frustrated. Commentator worried about the glassiness of Gargano’s eyes while Ciampa takes down knee pad to knee the other in head. But Ciampa pauses as commentator says these two are a tag team. Gargano looks back just in time to see Ciampa hesitate and question what he is doing, potentially to his friend, allowing Gargano to rest and then superkick him.
Ciampa comes back with vicious lungblower, but Gargano again kicks out of pin, making Ciampa scramble away with shocked look and leaving Gargano completely dazed. This leads to a “This is Awesome” chant as Gargano struggles to get up and an annoyed Ciampa questions what to do. Gargano legit looks like a wounded deer as he reaches out for Ciampa as both men lay on the mat — and Ciampa looks like a mountain lion. Commentator says how much it means to win this CWC if two friends are willing to beat each other up. They are also getting a “Fight Forever” chant.
Ciampa chops Gargano, spits in his hand to chop the other again. Gargano gets angry. Ciampa grabs Gargano’s jaw to force him to stand, as Gargano just stares at Ciampa. Ciampa shakes his head in disappointment, giving Gargano the opening to slap his face. Then Gargano has the opening for the pin.
Immediately after the match, Ciampa is visibly upset in the middle of the ring, while Gargano has retreated to corner. Ciampa still upset when referee raises Gargano’s arm in victory. After the referee leaves, both men are still in the ring, with Gargano kneeling and Ciampa standing. Gargano gets up, looks at the other, who doesn’t make eye contact with him. Gargano extends his hand for a handshake of respect, looking at the other who still won’t make eye contact. Ciampa walks away, shaking his head, and goes to leave the ring as Gargano sits on the mat.
Ciampa stands on ring, hits his own head, then goes back in. All the while the crowd is chanting to try to get him to go back to Gargano. Ciampa sits next to Gargano, grabs the other’s head and pulls Gargano to his chest in a hug as the crowd cheers. Ciampa then raises Gargano’s hand, and it is then that he makes eye contact with Gargano as they nod at each other. Then Gargano hugs Ciampa, who is visibly still upset about his loss. They shake hands as they get up, and then they hug again. Gargano then raises Ciampa’s hand.
In their official post-match interview, Gargano is asked what his victory means for their partnership. Ciampa comes into the interview when Gargano starts talking about him as a best friend. They just make eye contact. Gargano asks if he had to hit so hard, to which Ciampa responds with just “Johnny Wrestling” and walks off, to which Gargano laughs and says “that means he loves me” and says he considers Ciampa like a brother. Fraternal love cannot be easily broken.
Then, on August 20, the duo would make their first NXT TakeOver appearance at TakeOver: Brooklyn II versus The Revival for the tag-team championship. This match would go on to be voted as one of the best matches of the year.
Before the match, backstage, Ciampa gives Gargano the #DIY shirt, says its because they do things their way. This announces them as being finalized as a tag team, and sets up their relationship as being foundational to their story and success. In a pre-match package, when they meet with Regal after the CWC, he says he hopes the CWC match won’t prevent them from acting as a team. Ciampa said that most teams don’t get to chose, but they do, and that he chooses Gargano every day. Saying this just drives home the point they are not brothers, but are not just friends. They seem to be something more, and they are going to tell their NXT story their way.
They come out in their new shirts and Ciampa puts his arm around Gargano, pulling him in, as they take in the scope of where they are and what they are about to do. Throughout the match, the crowd is loudly behind them, chanting “Let’s go Ciampa” and “Johnny Wrestling.” At one point in the match, both Revival guys are chasing after Gargano but Ciampa jumps into the ring to stand by his side and face down the Revival. The commentators say CG are long time friends who know each other very well, billing CG as they have done for past tag teams, thereby cementing them as officially working together as partners.
And then it seems like Johnny has pinned Dash Wilder after a Meet in the Middle, but Dawson puts Wilder’s foot on the rope and the referee calls it a two-count. Meanwhile Ciampa hugs Gargano to celebrate, so before they are made aware, CG are hugging in the middle of the ring as the crowd goes crazy over the supposed win. CG are holding each other in celebration when the referee informs them they didn’t win.
The Revival goes on to hurt Gargano’s knee, which was injured from the CWC. The Crowd tells him not to tap to Dawson’s figure four submission hold, but Johnny, in agony, does. As the Revival celebrates, CG sit in the middle of the ring, heartbroken. Ciampa gets up as Gargano’s hands are over his eyes, despondent. Ciampa then leans down and hugs Gargano, helps the other up, and keeps his hand on Gargano’s back as they thank the crowd. He then helps Gargano walk out of the ring. Outside the ring, Gargano says I’m sorry, and Ciampa pulls him back in for another hug, with his head to Ciampa’s chest. Ciampa keeps his hand on Gargano as he leads the other up the ramp.
With the CWC and TakeOver II matches, CG cement their abilities as in-ring storytellers, able to create emotional moments as they react to their opponents — even when those opponents are each other. In moments of loss, they are able to show their love for each other by being concerned for how each other is doing. Ciampa, in particular, demonstrates a level of tenderness that seems contradictory to his Psycho Killer persona. Ciampa seems to legit care for Gargano, so much so that he is willing to risk not winning the CWC match, and he is not going to hold Gargano responsible for losing the titles. The relationship between the men is becoming more important than winning.
Dusty Rhodes Redux…
The last couple matches to note in this post are not terribly noteworthy as they do not do much to build the emotionality of their story. In the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Classic, CG have a first round match versus Tian Bing/Ho-Ho Lun on October 26, which is really only important for noting it as the first time they came out to #DIY entrance theme. After winning, they moved on to the second round on November 2 versus the Revival; but the match never happens as Dawson came out on crutches, claiming a severe knee injury, and the Revival forfeited so they don’t have to face DIY in the match. The third round on November 9 was against the Authors of Pain. In one interesting moment, as both AOP are about to attack Gargano, Ciampa comes in to stop that double teaming, just like he did in TakeOver II. At the end, DIY has AOP beaten when The Revival shows up from underneath the ring and attack Johnny, but the referee didn’t see it, leaving Tommaso to be pinned.
Essentially this string of matches was just meant to further the rivalry between The Revival and #DIY, which led to the championship match between them at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. That match began #DIY’s championship reign, which would then lead to their breaking up, and the darkness that followed. Those matches will be covered next, in part two of this series.
*One thing I also need to chart is the transmedia nature of this story, as both Ciampa and Gargano did a lot on Twitter to build up their characters and relationship. They posted about living together, for example, and their work with Bobby Roode and the Glorious Bombs created a meme that still plays out today. What I have in these posts are just the NXT tapings, but these online appearances are definitely a part of this emotionality timeline.
The Professional Wrestling Studies Association announces its inaugural Executive Committee and Editorial Board
The Professional Wrestling Studies Association [PWSA] announces its inaugural Executive Committee, under the leadership of President CarrieLynn D. Reinhard. The PWSA also announces its inaugural Editorial Board for its blog and for its journal. The Association represents 100 scholars from a multitude of disciplines across the globe.
The PWSA Brings Academics and Fans Together
Reinhard is associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Dominican University, where she researches audience, media reception and fan studies. “Professional wrestling has been around for over a century, and seems now more popular than ever. From the standard-bearer WWE to the new AEW, professional wrestling touches upon all aspects of our lives and our world.” Reinhard has led the work to build the association since 2017 and discussed that work at length on her podcast, The Pop Culture Lens, https://thepopculturelens.podbean.com. She co-edited the book Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle, from Routledge this March.
The Association connects scholars and fans across continents. The Board includes a nonacademic member from East Sussex, UK, in scholar Luke Flanagan. “The creation of the PWSA is an exciting moment. It is recognition of professional wrestling as a topic of enquiry. However, the PWSA is about more than academia. It must be a forum for fans to share their experiences and insights. The PWSA is a community for everyone to make a contribution to our understanding of and appreciation for professional wrestling.” Flanagan’s work can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dr_lukeflanagan?lang=en
The PWSA Brings Interdisciplinary Work in Professional Wrestling to the World
The PWSA makes scholarship visible via its blog and via an ambitious program of peer-reviewed research. The PWSA sponsored a special issue of the Popular Culture Studies Journal on Wrestling [see http://mpcaaca.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Volume-6-Number-1-2018-.pdf] and looks forward to the first issue of its journal. Until then, the PWSA Blog is a resource for scholars and fans of the squared circle.
President: CarrieLynn D. Reinhard
Vice President: Jack Karlis
Membership Officer and Treasurer: Lowery Woodall III
Member-at-Large: Melissa Jacobs
Non-Academic Representative: Luke Flanagan
Student Representative: Christopher Olson
Chief Website/Blog Editor: Dan Mathewson
Chief Journal Editor: Matt Foy
Reviews Editor: Christopher Medjesky
Managing Co-Editors: Aaron Horton, Steven Gonzales
Editorial Board: Eero Laine, Darrin Coe, Christian Long, Robin Hershkowitz, Tyson Platt, David Beard, Cenate Pruitt, John Hooker
About the Professional Wrestling Studies Association
The Professional Wrestling Studies Association unites scholars, professionals, and fans interested in the critical and learned appraisal of professional wrestling. The PWSA gathers scholars to disseminate knowledge of professional wrestling and the PWSA identifies new research areas within professional wrestling. Finally, the PWSA encourages experimentation in the teaching of professional wrestling as art form, cultural form, business practice, and social commentary.
The editors for the Professional Wrestling Studies Association are happy to celebrate this year’s Wrestlemania week with the new special edition of the Popular Culture Studies Journal on professional wrestling.
This special edition can be accessed for free here. The essays contain work from a variety of scholars on numerous topics related to professional wrestling studies. All academic discussions were written to be accessible for the widest possible audience.
Along with the scholarly work, the collection contains an essay from a fan on New Japan Pro Wrestling, reviews for various pro-wrestling media (from a documentary to a podcast), and interviews with pro-wrestling indie stars on how they view social media in their profession.
You can see the full list of articles and contributors below.
PWSA would like to thank editors Garret Castleberry, CarrieLynn D. Reinhard, and Christopher J. Olson for overseeing this special edition, as well as reviewers David Beard, Matt Foy, Charles L. Hughes, Jack Karlis, Dan Mathewson, and Catherine Salmon.
Over the summer of 2018, we at PWSA will be working to organize our own open access, free journal to coincide with each year’s Wrestlemania. If you are interested in this journal, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Area: Wrestling Studies
Area Co-Chairs: CarrieLynn D. Reinhard and Christopher J. Olson
The 2018 Midwest PCA/ACA conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis in Indianapolis from Wednesday-Sunday, October 4-7.
Call: Indie Wrestling
Since this year’s conference is in Indie-apolis, we are looking for papers and presentations that focus specifically on some aspect of indie pro-wrestling. Along with other submissions about any and all aspects of professional wrestling, we are particularly interested in having at least one panel that addresses indie promoters and wrestlers. Some topics to consider for such a panel would be, but are not limited to:
History of independent pro wrestling
Identity politics of the indies
Business practices of the indies
Transcultural, transnational nature of the indies
Power and agency of indie wrestlers
Critical focus on a particular indie promotion, wrestler
If you have any questions, contact CarrieLynn D. Reinhard at email@example.com.
Submit paper, abstract, or panel proposals (including the title of the presentation) to the Wrestling Studies Area on the Submissions website (http://submissions.mpcaaca.org). Individuals may only submit one paper, and please do not submit the same item to more than one Area.
Please include name, affiliation, and e-mail address of each author/participant. A preliminary version of the schedule will be posted on our website around July 2018. The final version will be distributed in hard copy at the conference.
Deadline for abstracts (250 words): 15 March 2018 Contact: Sharon Mazer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Provoked by the disruptive performances of Donald Trump as candidate and president, and mindful of his longstanding ties to the WWE, this edited book will look at the infusion of professional wrestling’s worldview into the twinned discourses of politics and populism. In so doing, contributors will consider the ways that professional wrestling as an embodied, cultural practice might be seen to perform, represent, model, interrogate, and even resist diverse manifestations of populism across the political and national(ist) spectrum in the USA, Mexico and Latin America, Britain and Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
This book project began as a cross-disciplinary conversation – theatre, performance studies, anthropology – presented first in a panel (‘Rasslin’ in the Trumpocene: Politics and Pro-Wrestling in the 2016 Campaign and Beyond’) at the American Anthropological Association’s 2017 conference. The editors wish now to expand the field to allow a wider range of perspectives and voices to weigh in on the question of how professional wrestling might be implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether Trump-inflected, right wing and reactionary, or indeed leftist and socialist. Publication in the ‘Enactments’ series, edited by Richard Schechner (Seagull Books), is scheduled for 2019.
Proposals are invited for chapters (approximately 6000 words). Topics potentially include:
The introjection of professional wrestling’s power dynamics and its constructions both of the ‘Other’ and of anti-establishment stances into the political arena;
The ways the Trump administration has leveraged various forms of social consent, negotiated power, and recast or silenced oppositionalities to create a new normal in politics, in the USA and beyond;
The staging of masculinity and violence, power and ‘truth’ in populist politics as in professional wrestling;
Feminist readings of the relationship between professional wrestling, populism and politics, including professional wrestling’s simultaneous complicity and questioning of masculinist power;
The connection between the popular and the populist, between the mediated and the live, and between the quotidian and the exceptional in professional wrestling as in contemporary politics;
The (dangerous) practices of representing race, immigrants and other Others in professional wrestling as in populism and politics now and in the past;
The ways key concepts, such as kayfabe and heat, can be seen as invocations of the various commercial and fictional worlds and universes that inform and create our politics today;
The reflection of the ‘rigged game’ in the fixed fight of professional wrestling.
March 15, 2018 – abstracts (250 words) due
August 15, 2018 – draft chapters due
December 1, 2018 – final chapters due
January 31, 2019 – book to press
Heather Levi is an assistant professor of anthropology at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations and Mexican National Identity.
Nell Haynes is a visiting assistant professor in anthropology at Northwestern University. She is currently completing her monograph, Chola in a Choke Hold: Remaking Indigeneity through Bolivian Lucha Libre.
Eero Laine is an assistant professor of theatre at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is one of the co-editors of Performance and Professional Wrestling and is in the process of completing his monograph, Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage.
Sharon Mazer (Auckland University of Technology) is author of Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle. Her article ‘Donald Trump Shoots the Match’ was recently published by TDR.