Sunday, August 30, 2015
Seth Rollins New Chick And WWE NXT Diva Zahra Schreiber Was Caught With Nazi Imagery On Her Instagram Page
“I like history ha”
“haha it’s not a big deal! I can hang whatever photos I want in MY room or MY instagram.”
“The swastika means prosperity and luck. It was around way before hitler turned it into an icon. Take it how you want I could careless. This is too funny.”
“Believed what way? Lol one of my best friends back home is black and another is married to a black man. I dislike people for their actions not their race. If it happens to be a black, Asian or white person so be it. Mind your business. I’m not all on your shit for things you say that I have no respect for.”
“I don’t really give a shit what it means to other people Brendan”
“I said that referring to her saying the swastika symbol deserves to be spat on. It has other meanings also. Fuck off. I’ll take interest anything I want. If you look next to it is a photo of an actress who refused nazism and was awarded right to America. I’ll put whatever i want on wall. Get the fuck over it.”
Friday, August 28, 2015
Uproxx: I don’t think it’s breaking news to say that most black wrestlers in the history of WWE (and pro wrestling in general), have been saddled with stereotypical and degrading characters. Black wrestlers are asked to play caricatures and are rarely — if ever — given opportunities to be themselves. I was raised on a voodoo guy, a pseudo-black nationalist group, a fat Rachel Dolezal and Koko B. Ware. Nobody on TV who looked like me really acted like any black person I’ve ever known.
It’s easy to point the finger at Vince McMahon and Michael Confederate Flag Hayes, but that’s an easy way to ignore the way a large portion of America portrays black culture. Look no further than the stories told about victims of police violence and how stereotypes are used to justify murders of black boys and girls to know that there’s a substantial belief that Cryme Tyme is an accurate portrayal of black culture. So, simply blaming Vince allows fans to exonerate themselves from their complicity in contributing to stereotyping black characters. Combine that with the fact that wrestling only portrays the lowest common denominator of any type of character, and it’s no surprise that it’s been frustrating to be a black wrestling fan.
But things are changing in WWE, and it’s beautiful to watch. Nowhere is the change exhibited more than in the instances of Sasha Banks, New Day and a failed gimmick that got dropped almost immediately.
Ratchet To Ruler: Sasha Banks
It’s really hard to call white liberals out on racism. I’ve had to talk to racists about racism. A lot. And I’ve had to talk to white liberals or “allies” about their racism, and I’ll take talking to actual full-on bigots any day of the week. White liberals can sometimes wrap themselves in a protective shield of “I don’t say the n-word” or “I don’t listen to Iggy Azalea” that makes them feel impervious to slipping into privilege and spouting something that’s racist or plain ignorant. Calling them out on these affronts are so shocking that their initial reaction is to fire back because their comfort zone of not being racist is under fire. It happens a lot of times when I write for “liberal” sites and get blasted in the comments. Hell, it might happen in the comments to this post.
But here’s the thing: No matter how liberal or understanding a white person is, he or she will always be speaking from a place of privilege that won’t ever go away. And sometimes that leads to moments of insensitivity and even racism. As a man, I share this same privilege over a woman and have slipped into misogynist rhetoric without even knowing it. It happens. And being called out on it sucks. Sometimes resulting in rage-filled self-defenses that don’t solve anything. Just ask Wyatt Cenac.
I say all of that to say this: The “Sasha’s ratchet” chant is racist as sh*t. I know that people sort of say it now because they’re so used to it, so I’m not necessarily blaming the people who yell it without really knowing anything. But, like, that first guy who thought to call Sasha Banks ratchet? Yeah, he’s doing some racist sh*t. I don’t know the technical definition of ratchet, but it’s basically a way to describe a ghetto ass woman of low class, which wouldn’t be chanted at towards anyone else but a black woman. I know there have been ratchet chants for other people, but it started as a way to demean a black woman. And it was done by the most liberal, hipster “post-racial” audience this side of Chikara. The gimmick imposed on Sasha Banks was “ghetto black chick.” Again, this wasn’t done by Vincent KKK McMahon or Blackface Rock Helmsley. No, the ratchet chant was perpetrated by the crowd. The most “progressive” crowd around.
The ratchet chant could have killed Sasha Banks. She could have fully embraced the audience-imposed gimmick and gone “ratchet,” wrestling as Halle Berry in BAPS and using press-on nails as foreign objects or something. Instead, Banks flipped the “ratchet” moniker on its head and became a woman who felt superior to the audience. If they’re lame enough to grab a buzzy slang word they heard on their black friend’s Lil Boosie album and start chanting it at the first black person they see in the ring, then maybe they are inferior to Banks. Sasha turned the “ratchet” chant into “I’m a boss.” Banks became the real-life version of the black women whose tweets I follow. She’s using the vernacular of “snatching wigs” and “snatching edges” that feels authentic.
If I’d have told you months ago that the black women’s champion came to the ring in an Escalade, you’d roll your eyes and say “typical WWE.” But it happened and it was totally authentic. Sasha rolled to the ring — security in tow — in her Kanye shades and four-finger ring, doing her dance and owning an arena. She’s black culture, devoid of any pandering stereotypes.
Of course, when she got to the main roster, she was summarily grouped with the other ethnic divas faction. But I’m telling myself that’s a function of her needing to be part of a heel faction and just a coincidence. Regardless, if the Brooklyn crowd is any indication, Sasha Banks is going to be the breakout star. WWE may want Charlotte to be the crowned queen of the Divas division, but Sasha Banks has it and the fans are behind her. And she’s done it by being herself. A woman of color. No games. No gimmicks.
Interlude: The Love Song Of Angelo Dawkins
Angelo Dawkins debuted with a new gimmick on NXT in April 2014. He came to the ring dressed in a “black guy” costume from Party City and looked like a flyer to SAE’s “East Coast vs. West Coast Totally Not Racist” Saturday night beer bash. He came to the ring with his Beats headphones, a shooting sleeve and a backpack. He dougie’d all the way to the ring. He goddamn moonwalked on the apron. He danced and jigged in a way that made him look like an idiot. Compare his entrance to Sasha’s at TakeOver. He looks even more stupid.
Dawkins is the gimmick we’re used to seeing in wrestling. There was a universal eye roll when his match with Tyler Breeze started. I don’t know who to blame for his gimmick. Maybe there are tone deaf people still in NXT who came up with it. Maybe Dawkins felt like that was the only gimmick that would get him on TV because he’s watched wrestling long enough to figure that it was the only representation of blackness he could represent. Whatever the case, he failed. And his failure is as much a sign of progressiveness as any wrestler of color’s success.
Fans crapped on Dawkins and his dougie entrance. Black wrestling fans across Twitter bashed him. NXT crowds sat on their hands. And his shuck and jive gimmick lasted two NXT episodes before he was sent back to the drawing board. This was important because it showed that these gimmicks aren’t going to be tolerated anymore.
The Fall And Rise Of New Day
I always believed in the New Day. I really did. The talent was undeniable (even though I was skeptical over Xavier Woods), and I felt like they’d overcome any gimmick they were saddled with. But I can’t pretend like my confidence didn’t waver a bit when I saw the vignettes; each member acting like a black preacher backed by a fake Baptist choir. At first, I thought they were so campy that a heel turn was part of the plan from the beginning. And, according to the group, Vince’s original plan was for them to be popular as babyfaces the whole time. They never stood a chance.
When New Day turned heel, they were able to be themselves and they’ve been the most entertaining faction on TV every single week. Now, they’re as popular as anyone on the roster. Here’s the beauty of the New Day: They are just more exaggerated versions of people who look and act like I do. It’s hard to quantify how welcoming it is to turn on a TV and know that I’m going to see people who represent me and my culture. One day, they’re doing the viral “dunk on you” video. The next, they’re yelling “WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE” on RAW. They’re telling joke I tell. They’re bringing conversations I have with friends to life. They feel like me. They walk to the ring making jokes about hip-hop and yell “Peace up, A-Town down.” I’ve never seen anything like it on wrestling.
As we know, black culture pushes the rest of American culture, so of course the New Day is crossing over to become as popular as anyone in the entire roster. The beauty of New Day is that their blackness is just part of who they are. They’re not a group defined by black stereotypes. They’re a group of guys who reflect black culture. And they’re over. That’s a revolution.
The Televised Revolution
SummerSlam weekend was full of popular black characters who weren’t degrading or stereotypical gimmicks. On top of New Day and Sasha Banks, there’s Prime Time Players, with one member crossing his arms as a sign of LGBT pride, and another who goes on commentary and talks circles around JBL while repping his fraternity every time he goes to the ring. There’s Apollo Crews who, despite the fact his name came from Black Guy Name Mashup Generator, is loved for basically being LeBron James in the ring. And of course there’s Mark Henry, who may have started the damn revolution with his fake retirement angle that made him a legend a couple of years ago.
I’ve never seen this many popular wrestlers of color in the WWE, and none of them make me want to boycott things. The WWE is touting the Divas Revolution by yelling “this is a Divas Revolution” and not giving people any personalities besides “women who hit.” The Black Revolution happened organically and over time by having people show their personalities beyond their reproductive organs or skin color. So, whether it was intentional or not, the revolution is happening. And it’s being televised.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
#WWWF #WWF #WWE #WRESTLING #WRESTLEZONE #SASHABANKS #INJURY #NEWS VIDEO CREDIT: @tyler41 A Video has surfaced of a nasty bump Sasha Banks took during her NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn championship defense against Bayley, which may explain why she hasn't wrestled since SummerSlam. During the Banks-Bayley match, Bayley landed a reverse huracarana from the top rope to the mat. At the time, the camera angle presented made it look like both competitors came out unscathed, and Banks managed to keep going after the spot. Banks would go on to finish the match, but as it turns out, the move didn't go as smoothly as it originally looked. An Instagram user named Tyler Johnson posted a slow motion crowd shot from the match, which shows Banks taking the move on her head. Banks wrestled the following night at Summerslam, but her team barely made it past six minutes in the three-team elimination match. Banks also took a rough bump to the outside of the ring in that match, and her team was eliminated shortly after. Banks didn't wrestle on Raw or Smackdown, but did appear on Smackdown. This led to many speculating that Banks is either injured or is awaiting clearance. The Banks injury rumors are completely speculation, and we have no confirmation of them at this time. Either way, Banks was very lucky to emerge from the spot relatively unharmed.A video posted by Wrestling Wizard (@wrestle_zone) on
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
VIA: Ahead of the biggest weekend of her life, The Boss opens up about her rise to the top.
The biggest moment (so far) in the career of Sasha Banks seemed to be improvised. The current NXT Women’s Champion won her jewel-encrusted belt last February, during a grueling Fatal Four-Way match at NXT TakeOver: Rival. In it, she faced off with Bayley, Becky Lynch, and then-champion Charlotte for a shot at the most prestigious women’s belt in professional wrestling. The match’s climax occurred in minute 13, as Banks locked Charlotte into her trademark Banks Statement submission hold, torquing the champ’s head backward beyond a normal human’s breaking point. It would not have surprised many to see Sasha become the champion with that move, but longtime wrestling fans understand these types of matches rarely end so simply. And so, instead of relying on the move that got her there, she used the leverage that she had gained over Charlotte to roll the exhausted champ onto her shoulders for a quick pin. Thus began the reign of The Boss.
That’s Sasha Banks: charismatic, brutal, and creative enough to separate herself in a crowded women’s division that sees considerably less on-air opportunities than their male counterparts. She’s "The Boss,” a self-appointed title that nowadays feels more like a coronation than narcissism. That’s not how it always was for the 23-year-old born Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado. She arrived at NXT in 2012 with some impressive indie federation cred—she was the longest-reigning women’s champion in Chaotic Wrestling, based out of her native Massachusetts—but was stuck in NXT’s lower rungs, serving as a stepping stone for the “more important” talent surrounding her because her acting skills and connection to fans were not as developed as her in-ring pacing and physical abilities.
To become the protagonist she is today, Banks worked with the legendary Dusty Rhodes, a.k.a. the American Dream,
channeling her frustrations at being passed over for important programs into her persona. The best characters in wrestling are the ones that take the performer’s real personality and crank it up to 11, and this was certainly the case for Banks. Already confident that she was the best, she transformed herself from “Sasha Banks, Anonymous Wrestler No. 4,” into The Boss. And it worked.
In the last year, Banks has been constantly in the spotlight as women’s wrestling receives a much-needed overhaul. As part of NXT’s Four Horsewomen (a non-canonical stable featuring the four women from the aforementioned Fatal Fourway match), she has elevated not just the technical wrestling quality of women’s matches, but also the storytelling. Following the lead of her childhood idol, Eddie Guerrero, Banks developed a cult following as a heel too talented to be truly hated. Instead of lying, cheating, and stealing like Eddie, however, she focused on throwing shade left and right, turning old friends into hated rivals. Her match with Becky Lynch at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable is arguably the greatest WWE women’s match ever, a brutal clinic in attempted arm-mangling (at one point, it looked like Sasha was going to rip Becky’s arm out of its socket) and technical proficiency that had the wrestling world buzzing about a true revolution for women in wrestling.
This Saturday, her two-year running feud with Bayley culminates with a match for Banks’ championship, and it’s hard to name a story as powerful or elaborately built as this on any wrestling show, not just NXT. Additionally, Banks was promoted to the main roster of WWE last month as part of an ongoing “Divas Revolution,” which hopes to change how mainstream wrestling fans think about women’s wrestling. The climax of that story takes place this Sunday at SummerSlam in the form of a massive nine-woman, triple-team elimination match. Despite the inclusion of both Becky Lynch and Charlotte, the only constant between NXT’s biggest night and WWE’s second-largest pay-per-view is Sasha Banks, and for good reason: She’s the baddest diva in wrestling, and she’s not afraid to let you know.
We caught up with Banks a few days before her double feature and discussed her meteoric rise, her role as a role model for young female fans of WWE, and what it’s going to be like to wrestle in both the “WrestleMania of NXT” and her first-ever SummerSlam.
Big week for you, with TakeOver and SummerSlam. How are you feeling?
Honestly, I feel like I'm on cloud nine. I am extremely nervous, excited, beyond the moon. I have so many mixed emotions, because I have two big matches back-to-back and I'm so nervous. I'm so excited for TakeOver. I can't wait for my match against Bayley and the next night, I get to have my first SummerSlam, so I'm beyond blessed right now.
Only you and Kevin Owens are pulling double-duty those two nights, which shows how much trust WWE has in you. They're just throwing you guys out there and seeing what happens.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It just shows that they put faith in me, especially as a woman. That's just beyond crazy to me. Even [this past Monday], to have my match against Nikki Bella, I'm just like, "My life, it's unbelievable right now." It's like so many things are happening and it just keeps getting bigger and better.
You mentioned the match against Bayley. Obviously, NXT is growing, but there are still people that are going to tune in for the first time this weekend. What should they expect from Sasha Banks vs. Bayley?
What should they expect? They should expect the greatest women's match they've ever seen in their whole life. That's the match I'm going to have this Saturday. It's crazy how far we've come, because me and Bayley started with each other.
My first real feud at NXT was against her, all of my matches were against her. To see how far I've come from 2012 to 2015, it's almost full-circle that we're coming back to this place and I get to have this match against her, and in our first Pay-Per-View outside of Florida, and it's sold-out.
It's going to be at the same place as SummerSlam, and it's just like, "Where is NXT going?" It's so crazy to see how far it's grown and how big it's getting. The fact that they put trust in NXT, that we can have a sold-out arena like this, it's unbelievable. This is just a start, who knows how big it's going to get? I'm so excited to be a part of it and I'm so excited to watch it grow and to be the NXT Women's Champion for them.
Speaking of Bayley, you said you guys came up together. That really shines through, not just in the ring, where you guys have really good chemistry, but also with your characters, which play off of each other really well. What is it like working with her, building up to this huge match? How is that preparation going?
God, the preparation...I feel like we've been waiting for an opportunity like this for a very long time. When it came around that me and her were going to have a TakeOver match, we just said to each other, "This is it. This is our spotlight. This is our moment to show that we are two of the best female wrestlers in the whole world."
We just want to leave our mark to be the next Lita, the next Trish. Just to have fans remember us for a lifetime, and just to watch this match and be like, "Holy shit." That's what I want the reaction from the fans to be when they see this match. I want them to know that NXT is where it's at, and we are making a name for women's wrestling and we're bringing it to the main roster.
To have this moment with Bayley, I say this a lot, there would be no Sasha Banks if there wasn't a Bayley. We are legit superheroes, like Superman and Batman, I would have to say. We're just such opposites that it works so well. We have the fans either liking me or hating me and the fans just absolutely love her. I can't imagine the reaction when she's going to come out. God, I have goosebumps just thinking about it. I'm so stoked. I feel like these are my WrestleMania moments, so I can't wait.
It does feel like the “WrestleMania of NXT.” Related: I know you're a fan of Japanese wrestling, so getting Jushin "Thunder" Liger to show up, even if it's for one event, that's huge. That is as big of a sign of NXT arriving as anything else. What's the buzz around his appearance, and of Tyler getting to wrestle him?
When I find out that Jushin Liger was coming, I was so excited. I am such a fan. I couldn't believe it, I'm like, "What?" That's how cool NXT is. We're getting people from all over the world and they want to come and be a part of our company. Jushin Liger's coming to our company to face Tyler Breeze, and just talking to [Tyler], he was so excited. I cannot wait to see that match.
The buzz is crazy. We have Samoa Joe, we just have the best wrestlers in the whole world. It's unbelievable.
Is there anyone else you want to see jump over to NXT, even if it is just to have a match?
There's a lot. I think it'd be so cool if we had Manami Toyota come over. I would love to wrestle her. Really, though, I say just bring everybody, why not? It's really cool, the opportunities that NXT brings. Who would ever thought that Jushin Liger would be in this company, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn? It's crazy. Man, I don't know, bring anybody. I want to wrestle with everybody. Even I want to wrestle Jushin Liger, so I'm jealous.
That’d be a great match! Now, in terms of WWE, is there anyone that you haven't worked with yet that you really want to? Or a type of match that you haven’t done?
To me, my dream is just to have it all. I would love to be the first woman to have a ladder match, the first woman to have a Money in the Bank match. That's just a dream of mine, but that's such a far dream that who knows if that's going to happen?
Can it be a guy that I want to wrestle? Can I choose a guy or does it have to be a woman?
Yeah, you can choose whoever you want.
Okay, I would absolutely love to wrestle Sami Zayn, because he's absolutely one of my favorites to watch. I think me and his style would just work. That would definitely be a dream match of mine.
The biggest dream of mine, though, is to wrestle Bayley at WrestleMania. We'll have that WrestleMania moment this Saturday at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, but I want that WrestleMania, too, that's also a big dream of mine. I'll make it happen one way or another.
Moving to the in-ring product, there’s been a noticeable shift towards submission wrestling from the women in NXT: you swapped from the "Bankrupt" to the "Banks Statement." Becky's got the awesomely named "DisArmHer," Charlotte has the "Figure 8.” How did that happen?
Honestly, I don't know how that happened. I remember looking around and everyone had a submission. I knew that I wanted my finisher to be unique and something that I've never seen before, and I had never seen the combination of a backstabber into a crossface.
I'm like, "This is pretty cool," but looking around, a lot of the women have submissions. It's always good to have in your back pocket, to have a submission and also just a regular finisher to pull out of nowhere. You might see something new at NXT Takeover, so be prepared for that.
Do you think that also came as a result of working with Sara [Amato, the assistant head coach] in NXT? What is it like working with her?
Oh, absolutely. She's just been absolutely incredible to work with. We've got two- working with Sara and Norman Smiley, those were the two big factors that have helped women's wrestling grow and helped our training grow.
When Sara came in, it just seemed like everything just started to change. For a long time, they were telling us just to wrestle like Divas. We were so confused, we were like, "What does 'wrestle like Divas' mean?" I just remember them saying, "Just hair pull, and don't strike. Don't do punches, just be girly." We were just like, "Uhhh...no."
When she came in, she just started training us just like the guys. I think that's the big factor that helped us and just with Hunter, too, giving us the opportunities to have these matches and then have the fans talk about them. They wanted to see what we can bring to the table.
When they started the buzz around having these longer matches, the opportunities just kept arising. Anything they handed to us, we just took and tried to make it ten times bigger than what they gave to us, so a huge thanks to Sara, and a huge thanks to Norman. There are just so many people that had a helping hand of where the women are going now. It's crazy to see what's happening in the world today with women wrestling.
It's not just in the ring that you guys are, to use the buzzword, "revolutionizing" the industry, but also NXT characters are more fleshed out, they have more time to grow. "The Boss" is a perfect example of that. You went from, in the last two years, being a member of the BFFs, to then being Charlotte's rival, to then being Bayley's rival, to being the champ and now being on Raw. When did you realize that “The Boss” was your character, your calling card, going forward?
I just remember that when I started at NXT, I had no character. I had nothing. I was just so excited to be here and just to be a wrestler. Opportunities weren't happening for me. I would sit back and I would watch NXT and I would just ask myself, "How come I'm not on? How come the fans are not connecting with me?"
I didn't have a character. I didn't have nothing that they can get behind, so I really sat down and I thought, "What does NXT not have right now? What are they missing?" I just thought, this cocky, arrogant person who thinks she's better than everybody else.
I remember when I first started and I started to come out with the glasses and the jacket and the bling and fans would just be like, "What is she wearing? What is she doing?" Then, finally, it just clicked. I just kept working on it with Dusty [Rhodes, who worked in NXT before his passing this year], and with all the coaches at the Performance Center. I just clicked and everything just started to flow into pieces.
I just kept getting bigger and bigger and eventually, I became the NXT Women's Champion. It's just crazy to see how far my career has gone from when I first started at NXT. I remember being at FCW [the precursor to NXT] in this little warehouse, getting to train for three hours a day and then just leaving.
Then we moved to the Performance Center, which has been absolutely amazing and has helped my career so much, because we have such a great place to learn. You cannot not succeed when you come to the Performance Center, because we have it all.
The biggest thing for me was having that character. I remember always sitting down with Dusty Rhodes and working on promos and being able to watch my promos back and watch my matches back and see what I can do differently. And now, here's The Boss today, made her debut on Raw, got to wrestle Nikki Bella last night on Raw. The opportunities are endless when you put in the work.
How has your rise over the last year impacted your day-to-day life? Do you get recognized? Do people yell "Sasha's ratchet!" at you in public?
Actually, yes. It's so funny. This weekend, we had live event shows in South Dakota. I would go to the gym or Walgreens and people would know who I was. I was just like, "Wow, if people know who I am in South Dakota, out of anywhere, it's crazy." Sometimes I almost get weirded out by it, that people know who I am. I don't know, I'm still getting used to it.
My day-to-day life, it's gotten so much crazier since I made it to the main roster. I'm home one day a week, I pack my bags and go to the next town. It's an absolute dream. This is what I wanted since I was a little girl. It's just crazy that I'm a part of both. I'm a part of NXT and WWE.
I don't know, there hasn't been a stop for me to really think and realize where I've gone so far. I made my debut on Raw, I had a pay-per-view match, I had to go do Tough Enough. I had to go do NXT, I had to do live shows. It's just going on and on. I can't stop, I just love it.
It’s noticeable, on social media especially, that you guys are very active in engaging with a lot of your younger fans, whether it's re-tweeting, regramming, or even just talking with them. How important is it to you to be this role model for a lot of younger fans, especially a lot of young girls, who haven't always had that in their lives via wrestling before?
Oh, it's very important. When we started, when we were younger, we didn't have all this social media. To be able to interact with fans and just to let them know that we care and we see what they're saying and what they say to us, it really means something, especially when it's good things, not so much the bad things.
It's cool to know that I can be that role model, even though I play the bad guy. I have a lot of people be like, "Because of you, I'm confident. Because of you, I stand up for myself. Because of you, I do so-and-so."
That's so cool to see and just to know that, because of me, their lives have changed, it's really crazy. I know, when I was younger, I looked up to Eddie Guerrero, that was my role model. Being a role model to little girls, it's really humbling to know that, because something that I did or something that I said, that will change their lives forever. It's awesome.
You mentioned Eddie Guerrero, which reminds me of the Jericho Podcast you did last week, where you told that story [of being at Eddie’s tribute show and not knowing he had died], which was heartbreaking.
Yeah, and the craziest thing is I told that story just a week ago on Jericho's podcast and that was in Minnesota. Then, I had the go-home show for SummerSlam [on Monday], in Minnesota at the Target Center.
I was just like, "What is my life? This is insane." I just remember, I was sitting in the ring, and I looked up where I used to sit when I was a kid, and I just went from the nosebleed seats to sitting in the ring. It's just so crazy how life works and how it comes full-circle. I told that story, and now that I’m in Minnesota and got to wrestle Nikki Bella, Champion vs Champion. Life is so crazy. It's crazy, how it works.
The timing of that could not have been more perfect.
Exactly. I thought about that last night, too, like, "My life is so cool."
Here’s something a bit different: Are you aware of how much your theme song is loved by NXT fans? It’s almost like a cult hit with fans of the show.
I definitely get a tweet about that every day, that my song is really cool. I remember when they first played me my theme song, I hated it. I absolutely hated it. I was like, "Oh, my God, I don't like it."
Then, I just remember I turned it up way loud in my car and I was like, "Wow, this is actually a really good song." I listened to the lyrics and it's actually everything that I preach, so even I work out to my theme song at the gym. It's so good.
Finally, what do you think is next for both the Divas Revolution as a whole, and specifically for Sasha Banks, after this weekend?
I'm here to lead my team to victory and just to show the world that I'm here to be the best. What's next for Sasha Banks? I want that Divas Championship. I want to be the NXT and the Diva's Champion. That's what I'm looking forward to.
Definitely, [on Monday], beating Nikki gave me a lot of confidence that I can do that and I can chase that dream. I'm actually really excited to see what's going to happen for the Divas after SummerSlam, because I don't even know what's yet to come.
I've just been so focused on my match with Bayley, that I can't wait until that's over, so I can think about the SummerSlam match. I don't know, I'm excited. I don't know what the future's going to hold, but I just know that it's going to be really great things. We'll find out after SummerSlam.
Monday, August 24, 2015
If they can't ride bikes, they'll ride horses on Penn and Fulton pic.twitter.com/BtndcKdHnp— Jasamine (@Bmorebizz) August 24, 2015
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Nikki Bella is the WWE Diva's Champion, a reality TV star and a low key sneakerhead. This Sunday, she'll continue to lead the divas revolution as part of a 9-woman tag match at SummerSlam — and she'll have a special pair of kicks for the occasion.
Nikki, who typically wrestles in Nike Dunks, linked up with renowned customizer Mache for her SummerSlam sneakers. Mache brought "Black Toe" Air Jordan 1 styling to Nikki's custom Dunks, adding Bella logos and her "Fearless" mantra to the hand painted panels.
Along with the photo of the sneakers shared on Instagram, Nikki added the caption, "King James, Kanye, Eminem, O'Neal and more...Whatcha think?!" referencing past Mache custom recipients.
Friday, August 21, 2015
VIA: Grown men wept when Brock Lesnar pinned The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 in April 2014.
The Superdome in New Orleans settled on a stunned silence as a collective response. After 21 straight victories, professional wrestling's version of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak was finally over. The Undertaker was 21-1.
Sixteen months later—an eternity, given the frenetic pace the WWE sets in order to fill five hours of prime-time television every week—the two behemoths will meet again Sunday at SummerSlam. But despite the long absence, based on recent appearances, feelings among fans are still very raw. This match matters, in a way wrestling matches in 2015 rarely do.
"Because the streak was something very special and everyone wanted to believe it would be the exception that defines the rule," Lesnar's advocate, Paul Heyman, told Bleacher Report. "That something in the world of sport or entertainment or sports entertainment could truly live on forever. People are still legitimately pissed off because so many people look to live vicariously through the personas and the characters in WWE because it's a fantasy world.
"And all of a sudden, the fantasy world of WWE got b---h-slapped into waking up from their dream, because, much like everything else in life, the streak came to an end. And no one likes it when their fantasy is burst. No one."
The rematch with Undertaker cements Lesnar's status as wrestling's biggest contemporary star. It's been an amazing journey—but one you won't hear about from Lesnar himself. With the exception of the occasional television spot at ESPN, Lesnar simply doesn't do press. Any press.
"It's not that WWE doesn't allow you to talk to Brock Lesnar," Heyman explained. "Brock Lesnar doesn't want to talk to anybody. Brock Lesnar lets his performances speak for themselves. And when there's something to say, he has an advocate. And that's how I earn my living."
With or without Lesnar, it's a story that should be told. And like most stories about modern wrestling, the best place to start is Stamford, Connecticut—home to wrestling's last remaining powerhouse promotion, the WWE.
Lesnar is the biggest star in all of professional wrestling. That's been his destiny since the moment he first stepped into the WWE ring in 2001. But it all began not on the mats at the University of Minnesota or on a dairy farm in tiny Webster, South Dakota, but with a man who happened to sit down in front of his television in Connecticut and tune in to ESPN for its annual broadcast of the NCAA wrestling tournament.
Life is about opportunity. And opportunity, though we tell ourselves otherwise, is often a product of chance.
"I saw Brock wrestle his junior year in the NCAA tournament," then-WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross recalled. "It just happened to be that I was watching TV and, you know, I tuned in at the right place, the right time, and I saw this big kid, a Golden Gopher singlet, Minnesota singlet. And I said, 'There's magic in this kid.' I didn't even know his name.
"He made it to the finals, and he actually lost. But he had such presence. He had the 'it' look, the 'it' factor look. One of those star-powered guys that you couldn't take your eyes off of."
Ross, of course, was far from alone in that assessment. With his 56-inch chest and 21-inch biceps, Lesnar turned heads wherever he went. Even the great Dan Gable, America's most legendary wrestling coach, a man who had seen wrestlers in all shapes and sizes, couldn't help but stare in awe.
"When Brock Lesnar strips off his warm-ups," he joked, calling the match for the Iowa Public Broadcasting Company, "he turns more heads than Cindy Crawford in a thong."
He'd certainly turned Ross' head. And Ross wanted to know more. Tasked to rebuild the WWE's aging talent roster, Ross had found tremendous success with former Olympian Kurt Angle. Why not, he thought, try to replicate it with another amateur wrestler?
"I told Jerry, 'This Lesnar kid from Minnesota has got something special,'" Ross said. "'Now, look, I don't know what kind of guy he is. I don't know if he has the aptitude for entertainment. I don't know if he wants to, if he's even interested. I don't know anything about him other than what I see is pretty extraordinary.'"
Jerry was Gerald Brisco, a former wrestler who worked behind the scenes at WWE. While fans of the Attitude Era might remember him best as one of the Stooges, a character comically devoted to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, he was actually an important cog in the WWE machine. And he happened—and here's chance once again inserting itself into the equation—to have been a college wrestling teammate of University of Minnesota coach J Robinson.
At the time, that was a big deal. For decades, a secret war had waged between amateur wrestlers and professionals. There was significant bad blood between the two groups: Amateurs held their noses in the air and were proud to be "real" wrestlers, while professionals were all too happy to deposit checks in the bank every week after performing in front of thousands.
Brisco helped bridge that gap with Robinson, who agreed Lesnar was a great prospect for wrestling. He was happy to help—so long as the WWE waited one more year to let Lesnar take a second crack at an NCAA championship.
"He's a laboratory guy. If you put all the elements that you wanted in a pro wrestler in a lab, out would walk Brock Lesnar," Ross said. "We would have loved to have signed him after his junior year. And I think we could have if we would have pushed the issue, but to be honest with you, we wanted to build a relationship. Jerry's friendship with J Robinson was worth more than rushing to judgment and signing this stud from their team who was ready to go make money.
"I told Jerry, 'Have J tell Brock that the WWE is very interested if he wins the national championship next year. If he wins the national title next year, we are very interested in signing him and he will be very happy, we think, with the arrangements that we would present.'"
Whether it motivated Lesnar or not, we don't know. But he did go back to the NCAA finals in 2000, this time winning the championship in a thrilling double-overtime battle with Iowa's Wes Hand. The future was limitless.
But though a run at Olympic gold seemed the natural move to most in his insular world, Lesnar explained in his book Death Clutch that he was done with wrestling—or at least wrestling of the amateur variety:
I knew guys who were chasing the Olympic dream. They were driving up to the gym in their broken-down cars, working nine-to-five jobs to support their training. I had already been doing that my whole life. ... I was done paying my dues. It was time to cash in. ... I hadn't even watched five minutes of pro wrestling in my whole life. All I knew is that I was a poor kid with student loans and I was being offered more money than I'd seen in my entire life. Brock Lesnar was off to join the circus.
A fierce bidding war erupted for Lesnar's services. Rival wrestling organizations staked their claims, as did the University of Minnesota football coach Glen Mason, who cited NCAA rules that would allow Lesnar to return to campus for one season on the gridiron. Tony Dungy, who was then coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, offered to give him a tryout, according to the Associated Press' Dave Campbell, via the Peninsula Clarion.
In the end, according to Ross, the WWE offered him the largest rookie contract in the company's history. Lesnar was on his way to New York—a far cry from where his journey began.
You could call Webster, South Dakota, a town in decline, but that would suggest glory days that never existed. For all of Lesnar's life, Webster has been slowly dwindling away.
He grew up on a dairy farm as the youngest of three brothers who were dreaming of athletic glory. Many of the kids in his class weren't allowed to participate in sports at all—there were too many chores to do just to keep afloat.
"All I wanted to do was get big and strong," Lesnar told B.J. Schecter of Sports Illustrated. “I was amazed by guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I'd always be doing pushups and pullups at home. On the farm I tried to be a workhorse because I knew if I could cut it on the farm, I could cut it anywhere."
Unlike most athletes who make it to the top, Lesnar was not an immediate success. Tall and skinny, he barely resembled the monster of a man who would go on to sell millions of pay-per-views.
"From early on we found that he couldn't cut weight very well...he got really ornery," Lesnar's high school wrestling coach, John Schiley, told biographer Joel Rippel in the book Brock Lesnar: The Making of a Hard-Core Legend. "So we just decided that he was going to be a big guy and kept feeding him."
He started his high school wrestling career at 152 pounds. By his senior year, he would be the school's heavyweight but barely—he was still lithe enough to double as the football team's halfback at 210 pounds.
"Looking at me now, it might be hard to believe that I didn't even have hair in my armpits when I graduated from high school," Lesnar wrote in Death Clutch. "I guarantee you I was the last guy to go through puberty in my class."
Lesnar, often outsized, still managed to finish third in the state at heavyweight, falling to eventual winner Brian Van Emmerik, a future University of Wyoming football lineman, in the semifinals. When the ink dried on Lesnar's high school career, he received a grand total of zero offers to wrestle at the Division I level.
But he never stopped working. More importantly, perhaps, he never stopped lifting, making the weight room his second home. By his sophomore year at Bismarck State, where he won the national junior college championship, he weighed a lean 258 pounds.
"He's got a very devoted worth ethic because that's how he was raised," Ross said. "When you're raised on a dairy farm, people have to understand, those cows are milked every morning and every evening every day of the year. So when you're raised on a dairy farm, you understand the word 'commitment' and nose to the grindstone, for lack of a better term.
"And that's the environment that he knew. That's all he knew. So I think that has helped him establish his character, his integrity, as far as how he approaches his vocation."
His musculature and feats of strength were so absurd that Robinson had him tested for steroids when he arrived on the campus of the University of Minnesota, according to Schecter. He passed, as he has every subsequent test in his athletic career.
"All that talk is jealousy. I don't need anything to get me up at the gym other than Metallica and AC/DC," Lesnar told ESPN.com's Wayne Drehs in 2004. "When it comes down to it, bring your little piss cup and I will fill it for you."
When you picture the world of professional wrestling, you probably see Hulkamania running wild or the Granddaddy of Them All, WrestleMania, with tens of thousands of fans cheering the performers' every move.
What you likely don't picture is a warehouse across the river from Louisville in Jefferson, Indiana—a tiny box packed with a ring and more than a dozen wrestling prospects of varying degrees of promise. But what Ohio Valley Wrestling lacked in world-class facilities, it made up for in world-class instruction.
Danny Davis, a former wrestler, handled the physical side of the training. Jim Cornette, a Hall of Fame manager and promoter, handled the psychological aspects of the business. Together, they created a slew of wrestlers who were ready to contribute in the big leagues.
Lesnar's class included athletes who would become the future of the industry, including John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton. It wasn't competitive athletics, not exactly, but it awoke something within Lesnar and pushed him to learn this new business at an astounding speed.
"Lesnar was not a pro wrestling fan, but he was so competitive that every drill he wanted to be the best at," Ross recalled. "If he saw somebody do like a moonsault [a backward flip off the top rope] even though he's 300 pounds, he thought, 'Well, there should be no reason I shouldn't be able to do a moonsault.' And athletically, there wasn't any reason, certainly. You know he could do anything he wanted to do. There's nothing anybody else could do in the ring that he couldn't do."
His time in the minor leagues was short, and his time paying his dues was nonexistent. He made his WWE debut in March 2002. Six months later, he beat The Rock for the WWE title, becoming, at 25, the youngest champion in the promotion's history.
"Brock Lesnar is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, a once-in-a-lifetime performer, a once-in-a-lifetime attraction," Heyman said. "I've never seen anyone pick up the nuances and the idiosyncrasies, and the big picture as well, as quickly as Brock Lesnar picked it up."
At the time, Heyman was a key player in WWE's creative structure, and he made promoting Lesnar his mission. While most WWE wrestlers win some and lose some along their path, Heyman helped make sure Lesnar always looked strong, demolishing everything in sight. Although wrestling matches aren't on the level, winning still matters, especially when a wrestler is new to the scene and fans are trying to decide where to slot him among his peers.
"If you don't have someone who will champion your cause, it is certainly an uphill battle to break into the main event level," Heyman said. "Because when the decisions are always being made at the top by one man, if that man doesn't hear your praises being sung by several people, or at least the influential ones, then he has to second-guess himself sometimes.
"But when Vince McMahon sees it, and influential people around him also say, 'Hey, you see this, don't you?' 'Of course I see it.' 'You see it too, right?' 'Yeah, we see this too.' It just makes the investment in that human being, let alone the character and the persona, much easier."
The match with The Rock was a turning point in Lesnar's career. Not only did it establish him as the industry's next big thing creatively, but it was the first time he lived up to his potential in the ring. Both before the match, in a series of workout vignettes opposite The Rock, and then in the ring, Lesnar more than held his own.
"You've got The Rock, who's a bona fide made man. And then you got the new kid on the block, who's the new young bull. Rock created a good deal of energy and excitement," Ross said. "But the other guy he's dancing with ain't bad. This thing ain't done a cappella.
"If you're a fan of any sport, how do you not look at those two guys and say, 'Those two guys are legit'? Just look at their bodies, look at their athleticism, look at how quick they get up. They get down. They can get up. They move. Their feet movement, hand and eye coordination, everything. Everything."
The Rock vs. Lesnar was a match that easily could have been the future of the wrestling business, a new generation's version of Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat or Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage. Instead, the two wouldn't meet in the ring again on pay-per-view. The Rock was off to become Dwayne Johnson again, transcending wrestling for a career in the movies.
And Lesnar? Despite his rocket-ship rise to the top, he was slowly falling apart, a victim of every wrestler's most fearsome opponent—the road.
"Brock just wasn't built for working as a full-time professional wrestler," David Bixenspan, lead writer for Figure Four Weekly, told Bleacher Report. "The constant travel wore him out more than most. He hates airports, to the point he bought a plane and hired a pilot.
"And while he's clearly not someone who has issues with pushing through and dealing with pain, pro wrestling is different. A wrestling match is like having multiple low-speed car crashes each night and takes its toll. He's been pretty open about having hazy memories of his original two-year WWE run because he was constantly washing down painkillers with vodka. He was and is an incredible performer, but he's not someone who can do this four times a week."
A long trip to South Africa in 2004 was the last straw for Lesnar. He was already exhausted and bored with his career as a wrestler—and looking around the locker room at wrestlers in their 50s like Hogan and Flair made it clear the wrestling business was a treadmill you never truly climb off.
"You get so brainwashed," Lesnar told Maxim's Nate Penn in May 2009. "You're on the road 300 days a year, and that's why guys get so messed up. This life becomes a part of them. It's not real, but some guys who are still in the business think it is. You look at Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler—he just couldn't let it go. You live a double life. I was tired of trying to be who I was in the ring and then coming home for two days to be normal. They didn't allow you to be. The guys who get out are the smart ones, really and truly."
On March 14, 2004, less than two years after making his WWE debut, Lesnar walked away from a record-breaking contract and wrestled his final match at WrestleMania XX. He wouldn't step into the WWE ring again for eight years.
Not content to rest on his laurels, Lesnar decided to pursue a dream. Although he enjoyed the physicality of pro wrestling, he felt he still had something to prove as an athlete. His 1999 opponent in the NCAA championship, Stephen Neal, had become a mainstay on the New England Patriots offensive line.
Why, Lesnar reasoned, couldn't he make a similar leap?
"This is not some half-assed shot to see what I can do and try to make the NFL," Lesnar told Drehs. "For me, this is balls out, 100 percent. And I plan on knocking the snot out of somebody."
In tryouts, Lesnar wowed teams with a skill player's speed (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and a lineman's performance in the weight room. He spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings, but in the end, his measurables couldn't make up for a lack of football sophistication. Coaches suggested his football knowledge was less than a high school kid's thanks to his long absence from the game. He even had to be instructed how to assume a three-point stance, according to Drehs.
"Is his first step up to par? No. Is his footwork up to par? No. Is his hand speed up to par? No. He's just raw, just as raw as they come from a football-playing perspective," the Vikings' director of college scouting, Scott Studwell, told the Associated Press, via ESPN.com. "He's not raw from an athletic standpoint."
With his NFL dream dead and a motorcycle accident pushing him right back to the Vicodins he thought he'd left behind with professional wrestling, Lesnar did the unthinkable—he gave up and went back to McMahon and the WWE, asking to return.
They said they didn't want him back.
"All of the sudden my problems were mounting," Lesnar wrote in Death Clutch. "I missed the NFL by an inch. IRS problems...No money coming in, and not that many options left because I signed that stupid no-compete clause with WWE. I had no one to blame but myself."
After a protracted legal battle with WWE that saw Lesnar unable to pursue pro wrestling or mixed martial arts in America, the two sides finally reached a settlement. Two months later, he made his MMA debut. MMA fans didn't know quite might to make of the convert, according to the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer:
You had a number of diametrically opposed schools of thought. He was a fake pro wrestler who was going to be humiliated by the real fighters in UFC. He was a freak athlete with great wrestling ability, strength and speed, who when he learned to fight, was going to be difficult to beat in a year. He was the worst thing for UFC, made UFC into a joke, and if he would bring in more fans, those aren't the kind of fans we want. Or, he was the best thing for UFC, would expand their audience and be one of the biggest draws the company ever had.
Lesnar was a hit right out of the gate, somehow managing to wow the fight world in his first UFC bout against former champion Frank Mir despite losing by submission in 90 seconds. His size and ferocity, once tamed with fighting science, were clearly going to be too much for most heavyweights to handle.
In just his fourth fight, he beat Randy Couture to become UFC heavyweight champion. While his game lacked polish, Lesnar simply overwhelmed opponents with his raw athleticism and wrestling prowess.
“If you haven't worked out with him and felt that athleticism and explosion, it's hard to comprehend," Lesnar's former training partner Cole Konrad told the Houston Chronicle in 2010. "As big and strong as he looks, he actually feels more powerful and more explosive. It's hard to believe."
While his rise was meteoric, Lesnar's fall was gradual, like a balloon slowly leaking air. Two battles with diverticulitis, including surgery to remove 12 inches of his colon, left him a changed man physically. He fought just three times in his last two-and-a-half years in the UFC, retiring on the last day of 2011 after a loss to Alistair Overeem.
In the end, Lesnar's 5-3 record does paltry justice to his impact on an entire sport. His charisma and worldwide fame from pro wrestling helped propel the UFC to new heights. According to MMA Payout, he topped 1 million pay-per-view buys three times, including a promotional record at UFC 100. But at just 34, his time as a competitive athlete seemed over.
The obvious next move for Lesnar was a return to wrestling. And while WWE was the logical choice, all the problems that existed the first time around were still there. Worse, from WWE's perspective at least, Lesnar was long on money after his UFC run and short on flexibility. If a deal was going to come together, McMahon would have to concede to the big man on every point.
"It proved to me that despite all those people who love to stand on their soapbox and talk about McMahon's ego, that he still is gonna do what's best for his company that he's built from the territorial smoky arenas to the global brand that it is," Ross said. "It has been built on his back. And he's had to eat a lot of s--t over the years.
"That was one of the things he taught me when he promoted me to be in charge of the talent roster and to retool it and to try to change the personality of the locker room. He said, 'You have to learn to eat a lot of s--t.' He said, 'You'll never like the taste of it, but you'll get used to it.'"
The day after WrestleMania 28 in 2012, Lesnar made his return to WWE. The crowd, which had booed him out of the building in his final night eight years earlier, treated him like a conquering hero. Much as his pro wrestling success had elevated his status in the world of MMA, his time as UFC champion added something special to his WWE persona.
"The first thing he did in his first match back was take John Cena down and legitimately slice his head open with elbows," Bixenspan said. "That's not what WWE-style pro wrestling is supposed to look like these days, and that's the point. Even though you know you're watching entertainment, when you watch Brock, you feel like the match is, if not real, something that shouldn't be happening, like it's about to go off the rails."
Now treated as a special attraction, returning just a few times per year to wreak havoc and generate excitement, Lesnar has finally found the formula for wrestling success. Despite, or perhaps because of his abbreviated schedule, Lesnar always looks sharp each time he leaps onto the ring apron, with rust seemingly never an issue.
After a brief flirtation with a UFC return earlier this year, he signed a three-year deal with the WWE that all but ended his legitimate athletic career. Lesnar, finally, is a wrestler in truth—and one just coming into his own.
"His timing is impeccable. He knows what he's doing," Heyman said. "He is a world-class global athlete in his prime yet understands how to maximize the money he will make based on the exploitation of his persona.
"Brock Lesnar is not done yet. Brock Lesnar has not accomplished all that he wants to accomplish yet. And there are still things that Brock Lesnar wants to do that the public is going to be in awe of. We're just getting started here."