Wordsmith Graps #1

This is my time for a title shot

For unorthodox references involving my talent for words

I had to book myself for the challenge since no one would hand me an opportunity on a silver platter

This isn’t some kind of backyard attempt for a lyrical scrap

I did everything I could not to tap out in my training

My wordsmith tekkers will allow me to progress as I enter any ring with honor

Making an impact whenever I have a pen or a keyboard, but I’m not a keyboard warrior in that sense (Salutations, Mad Kurt…)

Whoever thought an avant-garde artist would try such a challenge let alone channeling such references in a “gimmick” if you will.

I will create a resurgence or possibly an empire with my skills in this field

Call me wavy, gnarly or the pride of Wordsmith Graps

I will make sure whatever my constant opponent of self-doubt gets down for the three count

Representation Matters Pt. IV: That One Time When I Felt Inspired By an Indie Pro Wrestling Show Of All Things (Yes, Really.)

Here’s one of the most out of left field posts I’ve ever done regardless of my Representation Matters series. Feel free to check out my older posts with parts 1, 2, and 3.

This post might give some people whiplash if they know anything about me. I wouldn’t blame you if you raised an eyebrow. I’m actually going to talk about pro wrestling on this blog. Yes, even I’m shocked, too. Think about it, I, Curtis AKA Ospreyshire…an avant-garde spoken word artist/musician, film critic of random obscure international films/anime/documentaries, DIY author who writes deconstructive fiction, geography nerd, African history/culture enthusiast, and someone who likes a good amount of art that could be considered “highbrow” actually has an interest in the indie pro wrestling scene even if I don’t consider myself super knowledgeable about it. Before I get to the core of this article, let me clarify a few things.

1. I know it’s a pre-scripted and predetermined form of entertainment.
2. People have no right calling it “fake” when they watch reality shows let alone movies or other TV programs. Besides, even real sports events have had moments of being rigged/fixed like boxing and MMA at times.
3. It’s stage combat and one could make a case pro wrestlers are actors who do their own stunts with no chance to re-edit the videos if you really think about it.
4. I’m not a fan of WWE especially currently, and I’ll get into that later in this post.
5. Yes, I know there can be stupid stuff in pro wrestling which causes me to facepalm, but don’t act like your interests are lacking in idiocy at times.
6. I also have a small affinity for some real sports outside of this field, thank you very much.

My interests really are eclectic even if it seems random or partially contradictory, right? Hahahaha! 😛

My history with pro wrestling is a strange one. I wasn’t allowed to watch it when I was a child, and I grew up around the time when it was insanely popular with WCW and back when WWE was called WWF (The pandas would win against Vince McMahon in that lawsuit in the early 00s!). Some of the biggest names at the time were the NWO, Sting, Stone Cold Steve Austin, DX, and The Rock long before he became a Hollywood household name. I knew the names of a bunch of them, but I never watched it. Of course, I also grew up during the time when Macho Man Randy Savage was in those Slim Jim commercials, so these wrestlers were everywhere despite not seeing these TV shows or live events. I had friends and eventually coworkers who were knee deep in that interest and they would tell me about a bunch of things even to this day, so I had some knowledge even if it was secondhand. Some online reviewers I used to watch made some videos about this subject from time to time, so I had a tiny bit of familiarity early in my adulthood.

For those who follow Iridium Eye, some of you might remember me reviewing the documentary Eddie Dennis: A 5 Year Old’s Dream last year. It was part of my portfolio of atypical topics I’ve covered in documentary form on the blog like how I’ve also reviewed Paralympic fencers (Beatrice), the Asexual community ((A)sexual), or an experimental band who uses faith-based lyrics while wearing matching nurse/doctors outfits (Danielson: A Family Movie) just to name a few. Eddie Dennis is a Welsh wrestler who used to work as a math teacher at a boarding school (I’m not making this up). He quit his job to wrestle full-time and he eventually got a contract last year. It was an interesting watch even though it wasn’t my favorite film, but it opened up a rabbit hole into this immersion of the UK indie wrestling scene AKA BritWres over the past several months where I was exposed to multiple smaller feds and indie wrestlers. That’s how it got started. I was then exposed to the Nottingham-based promotion Wrestling Resurgence in my research. They do all their shows in art galleries and museums. One of the owners is also a university professor who has an immense background in avant-garde art, ballet, and theater. I can’t make any of this up to save my life. I saw some matches from that company and liked what I saw. The thing that REALLY caught my eye involved just two words…

Everything Patterned.

Everything Patterned Picture

This was a show curated by South Londoner wrestler “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson. Everything Patterned was a major event of it’s kind since it involved a majority black card featuring wrestlers from England, America, Jamaica, and Uganda. This was to commemorate Black History Month in the UK where it’s celebrated in October (How come they get more days than us in America who only celebrate it in February even when the UK has a smaller black population compared to the US?). It was considered a big marketing risk, but the event was sold out when it was hosted in Leicester. I bought a digital copy of the show from their Vimeo page (the link is above the poster image) and thought it was great by seeing this positive representation going on. The matches were fun. It was awesome seeing the Rhio/Blaze match and seeing two strong women who are talented athletes that don’t resort to ratchet behavior. The main event between Johnson and Rampage Brown (not featured since he was a last-minute replacement for the then-injured O.J.M.O.) was a great heavyweight match where it was two guys fighting and you can take them seriously. There wasn’t an ounce of buffoonery in the headlining match. The Omari/Warren Banks match was insane in athletic prowess and would put so many cruiserweights to shame. Both of them are roughly 6’4″ and can pull off moves that one would expect only shorter wrestlers to do. I know the bloggers who know about my taste in movies are going to notice this, and I’m going to say this right now. No! I surprisingly didn’t freak out when one of the tag team matches involved a team called The Lion Kings. Long story short: One of the members of the LKs actually thanked me for telling him about Kimba the White Lion or how bogus Disney was with the Hakuna Matata trademark when I emailed him and we had a great discussion about Africa. There were serious moments, some funny moments, and some good in-ring action. It was a breath of fresh air not seeing any racist stereotypes or shucking and jiving going on like multiple cases of mainstream wrestling. Vince McMahon wouldn’t have the balls to pull something like this off (Yeah, I said it!). I wish nothing but success to everyone involved. It would also be phenomenal if at least one of the wrestlers from the Everything Patterned show could start their own promotion/federation in the near future.

Here are the videos that promoted the event as well as highlighting different perspectives of representation among other important factors in the context of wrestling.

Roy Johnson:

The O. J. M. O.:

Chakara:

Darius Lockhart:

Sugar Dunkerton [Context: Kofi Kingston was still holding the WWE World Championship at the time it was filmed]:

I found their insights to be quite fascinating and I legitimately never thought about those things in that realm of athletic entertainment. Sugar Dunkerton’s video about Kofi really hit it home when it came to why representation matters with that Ghanaian wrestler being the first (fully) black WWE World Champion. I’m not counting The Rock since he always hypes up is Samoan lineage constantly and only talks about his black side when he does a movie with Kevin Hart, but I digress (and this is coming from a guy who also would be considered biracial!). I know this is an unrelated video, but Dunkerton also made an awesome video with such brutal truth to it. If you’re black, then you will DEFINITELY relate to this video. If you’re not, then consider this a moment of learning and I’m not just talking about how the word “urban” can be a dog whistle term that’s offensive.

Suge D, you kept it so real. This also transitions into my point about how there’s racist crap that still goes on to this day in wrestling. Exhibit A: ACH FKA Jordan Myles. ACH is a black wrestler who made his career in the indies and eventually got signed to NXT (WWE’s developmental system kind of like a AAA minor league feeder promotion to make a sports comparison). He went under the name Jordan Myles and eventually got this T-shirt with his now former WWE moniker in 2019. Weeks after Everything Patterned, this T-shirt would prove Resurgence’s supporters and the wrestlers involved right in realizing why a show like this was needed…

View image on Twitter

DO YOU SEE WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?!?

That t-shirt just SCREAMS minstrel show imagery! The fact that they pitched this to a black wrestler by masquerading it in a white and gray design before publishing it in black is maddening. This is the same crap that got Gucci and Prada in trouble in recent years when they tried that with the racist blackface sweater and sambo figurines respectively. ACH blasted them on Twitter and eventually quit working for the WWE. I know that company knows better. While some could argue that ACH could’ve handled the situation better, he had every right to put the WWE on blast for doing such a stupid and bigoted stunt. I applaud him for standing up for himself even when that company shifted the blame onto him for the whole thing. It’s bigotry like this that made me sigh in relief that I never spent a penny on their product. Besides, I don’t even like Raw or Smackdown. I’m not even watching NXT or even NXT UK (Sorry, Eddie) because of this garbage. I’ll save whatever fun money I have on promotions treat their roster with dignity regardless of color/creed/gender/etc. and for various indie wrestlers.

Sorry that this was a strange post given what I usually talk about or the things I create. I wanted to let you know how I was unexpectedly inspired by a UK wrestling show of all things. I actually bought some merch from some of the people in Everything Patterned and not only that, but I even got into fitness far more often as an indirect result. My December goals in exercising have been working so far and I already feel healthier. If you would have asked me years ago that I would make a post like this anywhere on the net, then I would’ve called you insane.

With all that being said, I thought it was amazing seeing someone like me being taken seriously in this field. I’m getting healthier, I’m slowly gaining self-esteem, and my sense of well-being has improved so far. So what if some people would insult me because of this recent interest? This was something inspiring in ways I didn’t even imagine.

Thank you, Wrestling Resurgence and everyone involved with Everything Patterned.

I hope you liked my journey explaining the different facets of my Representation Matters series on the Ospreyshire blog. Thank you for reading this and my other posts on the subject.

All images and videos are of “fair use”.

The Everything Patterned videos are courtesy of Wrestling Resurgence’s YouTube page.

SUGE. Number 3. is property of Sugar Dunkerton’s YouTube page.

The photo of Roy Johnson is from Twitter and is property of Wrestling Resurgence.

The Everything Patterned poster is from Vimeo and is property of Wrestling Resurgence.

The Jordan Myles T-shirt is from Bleacher Report and property of the WWE.

Representation Matters Pt. I

I thought I would make a multi-part post series about representation. Some of you know that it’s an issue that is dear to my heart. Recently, I’ve been having some revelations from likely and unlikely places when it comes to this particular situation.

Let me tell you a personal story and how things correlated to a study I found out about with a video and a separate site.

I’ve always struggled with low self-esteem even to this day. When I was a child, I have to admit that I watched more TV than I should. Sure, I read a lot which certainly helped, but when I wasn’t in school or reading, I’d check out the TV. I watched a lot of cartoons and live action shows. One thing I wondered was that there weren’t many heroes who looked like me. There were a few token characters here and there, but none were really compelling. They were either the token best friend or comic relief. Some characters that I did find very interesting would only be there were only in a few episodes. One I can remember was Bishop from the X-Men cartoon back in the 90s. He was the first black male superhero I ever saw and I thought he was cool with his time traveling ability while also being legitimately tough. I’m sure I had an action figure of him amongst other heroes of different races. Even though I didn’t have cable until I was in high school when my family moved, I still watched the basic TV shows and I saw the cable stuff when I was at my grandparent’s house or at a friend’s place. As someone who would be considered an ethnic minority in America, it was tough finding positive representation in mainstream media. Sure, I have a white dad, but someone like me is obviously not considered Caucasian and I’m not just talking about my skin tone, but I digress. Some idiots have said online “Why don’t you make your own characters?” years ago. Oh wait, I’m a freaking indie author and I’ve made multiethnic casts in my stories. Just saying.

What really caught my eye was a video I saw that had a slideshow as part of it. The featured image is a screenshot from said video that featured statistics from different ethnic groups of children watching TV. I wasn’t surprised about some of the statistics when it came to the ratios despite not thinking about the numbers or hours. What really floored me was the last stat as shown in the picture: “Children’s self-esteem generally decreases as TV watching increases; except for white boys.” The rationale makes perfect sense especially in Western media. Most protagonists are white males where they are the lead characters, the most desirable, most heroic, and the most idealized characters in the show. This surprisingly applies to villains, too. Even they have agency in their stories and they may have some strengths like being legitimately threatening, powerful, smart, etc. The Joker certainly comes to mind among other examples. This is not meant to shame anyone, but the stats can really speak volumes on how impressionable children can get their values or see their own worth (or not) depending on their race or gender. Here’s a bit more information on that issue: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tv-children-self-esteem-black-white_n_1616957.

Anyways, I will be talking about this sporadically (hopefully once a week) about positive representation in the media. I never realized how much of a psychological effect it had on me and I want to share these findings mixed with my own personal experiences.

The screenshot is property of Jabari Osaze from the video “Seven Little White Lies” on YouTube.

I Longed For Someone Like Me

When I was in front of the silver screen or the tiny screen
When I immersed myself in hardcovers or paperbacks
I felt empty on the inside, but didn’t even know it then
As a child, I was impressionable
The others found their heroes (however fictional)
While I looked for others who didn’t look like me
Grasping for something to boost my esteem
As I died on the inside while being oblivious
The others found their heroes or morals
When they NEVER applied to me
The others assumed I was a villain
Who deserved to be punished at all costs
Even when I minded my own business
No prince, no superhero, no fairy tale protagonist
Looked like me
Years later, I was forced to create my own worlds and heroes
While it was constructive, I wished I did it sooner

Reki

I was looked up to by so many in the community
The de facto leader of sorts for them
I was there to show them the way and to learn about the town
After so many hours of being in front of others
I had to retreat to my studio

With canvases, brushes, and paint
I had to express myself when I wasn’t around the rest
While I was seen as the big sibling around
I felt so insecure
Like I was constantly being stepped on
Or having a train racing through my direction

Was I truly ready for flight no matter how small my charcoal feathered wings were?
I hated to admit this, but I needed to be rescued