Saturday, August 6, 2011

Your Favorite Wrestlers Ever: Trey Irby

Now that my own favorites list is out of the way, I posed the question to some of my colleagues in the fan/writer community. Who are your favorite five wrestlers?

This special weekend entry comes to us from Trey Irby of the Wrestling Theory blog. He's on the younger side, his point of view comes from a later time. However, he's a really good writer and has great perspective. Here's his list.

Trey's #1 and #3
Photo Credit:
1. Steve Austin - But of course, Austin is the touchstone. I don't want to discuss his personal life (though, ironically, his ex-wife Debra, of marrying Mongo and unfortunate abuse fame, lives currently in my hometown of Tuscaloosa). And honestly, I don't think I turned on him the way I turned on so many others simply because the situation being so long after my pure adoration went away but being so long before I realized the horrors of domestic violence. In a weird way, Stone Cold was like the redneck dad of the south. While I felt my dad and I were such polar opposites (me as overweight nerd vs. him as drug-addled biker), I still wanted adoration. Stone Cold was Dad as a character, but one who didn't take shit and kicked ass. I never got that sense of relating to my dad, but if I had, I would have wanted him to be Austin and to stop every threat that was in my way. But maybe it was kind of perverse to think of him in a domestic fantasy situation knowing what we've known about him for years. Still, Austin bloomed my love of wrestling, his promos were as emotionally responsive as could be, and he really holds that favoritism in my mind.

2. CM Punk - I don't care if this is early. If Rock got me to listen to his words, CM Punk got me to buy into them in a literal and figurative way. Money in the Bank 2011 was my first social pay-per-view experience (as well as the first purchased one I've ever seen live) and I felt that I had to give money to that effort. Punk's words are things I'm sure will get decried as "taking the words from the internet fans' mouths" but I wouldn't listen to Joe Q. Fan tell me that WWE has problems. Hell, I get tired of it when "journalists" in the business use their platform to compare EVERY SINGLE RAW to an event from the past that proved WWE "don't know what they're doing." But CM Punk saying those words changes things. Punk evokes a personality that we all want to be, and yet one that's shockingly normal. Whenever Punk sounds jaded, he admits that he is jaded then makes an aside that completely slays you. Punk picks at the things that every wrestler alive perceive as normal but he realizes the mainstream would find completely odd. And as he said, he's been the best total package in the business for years, and one that I totally believe in. I'll even buy that shirt when money comes in.

3. The Rock - If you smell and whatnot. The Rock was such a cool character that it's perfectly fine that his entire schtick was dick and vagina and ass jokes. That's the beauty of the Rock character, he always brought some sense of brilliant captivation. I remember showing his comeback promo to class (while doing a presentation on pro wrestling, go figure) and in the midst of the catchphrases (which EVERYONE IN THE CLASSROOM WAS COMPLETELY FAMILIAR WITH), Rock spoke in this eulogizing style. His brow-beating of John Cena almost became religious, and later even invoked religion as its target interest. Whether Rock intended it or not, he was playing up traditional metaphor to such a captivating extent that it was hard to not feel excited. Then Rock never showed up except via satellite and that was that, but Rock instantly proved time
and time again that it really is the promo that is as much the heart, soul, and interpretation of the business as the bumps themselves.

4. Chris Jericho - I don't remember if I watched the Jericho debut on WWF television when it first happened or not, since my wrestling memory is oddly like the memory of a concussed man. I just don't seem to have it, excepting Wrestlemania 2000, which might not be the best thing to remember. But man, doesn't it seem like something that would? I loved Jericho in WCW, even though I have no recollection of anyone in the cruiserweight division not named Guerrero and Malenko and probably just wanted to watch Goldberg (an honest number 6 on my list for kid me alone). And when he came to WWF, I sort of followed. Obviously, Jericho's second book gives a story about why it wasn't smooth sailing during his first stint and some of his best promo work kind of has to be forced through the non-PC nostalgia filter. But that second stint, god. Jericho really took his concept of an Anton Chigurh monotone bad guy and made it brilliant, as well executed as it could be. The Jericho/Michaels story was the saving grace of an era that kind of rushed through story to story, with a coup de grace being one of my personal favorite
matches at No Mercy 2008. And for that alone, it got me loving Jericho.

5. Chris Benoit - This is going to be controversial especially after posting a work about how I wouldn't pay tribute to Benoit. But truth is, in a kind of sad way, Chris Benoit got me back into wrestling. I barely watched the programming despite wasting away my sad high school years on the internet, discovering concepts like satire, oh, and porn. And it was somewhere around the infamous 2007 Draft Raw where Benoit went to ECW (after losing to Bobby Lashley in a great TV match) and I was excited. I knew that some good wrestling was to come on ECW and I always wanted to see where he went from there. Then we know what happened, and I realize how much taint could be over his matches. But I've looked back and I maybe just don't have the part in me to realize what is cringeworthy, but there's still a sense of extremely solid work to what he did. I was never a big "technical wrestling" guy, but Benoit always had this way of using the style he was given to tell a great, physical battle. A shame he never was able to fight off the mental battle.

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