RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Monday, July 9

MOTYOTD: Backlund vs. Adonis (January 18, 1982)

So let’s be honest here – wrestling is gay. And I honestly don’t mean that as a pejorative against it in a toxic masculine way, but the homoeroticism hidden (or not even hidden) just under the surface of professional wrestling has always been there, all the way back to the days of black-and-white Gorgeous George spraying perfume and prancing about the ring in the classic days. But also before it admitted it was show, in the mid ‘80s, that homoeroticism played out in weird ways, where the forced morality of good and bad enforced toxic masculinity in order to repress the very homosexuality the theatrical exhibition was likely spiking increases of. Lolol, pro wrestling is mad problematic, but so is life, so fuck it – embrace the problematic nature of existence and try to find good ground to exist upon that doesn’t fuck up anybody else’s potential good ground.
I never cared for Bob Backlund. He’s a middle management looking body builder fucker from up north, perfect khaki pants and white polo shirt demographic that would’ve been my supervisor but now is being phased out because the overlords have figured out they actually don’t need middle management any more, so the khaki pants and white polo shirts are becoming radicalized as internet foot soldiers in nationalism/racialism/sexism/allsortsofism. Thus they are now are postmodern bad guys, obviously. But back in 1982, they still had solid middle management jobs, were working towards retirement, drove a Camaro or Mustang, or fuck man Corvette if they really came up and was doing it right (and white). And they were WWF champion, which was still an F not an E because it was sport not entertainment, and panda bears hadn’t armbarred the trademark away yet.
Backlund was a late “real” era champion, in that he was a good guy to the crowd (who it must be remembered is always trained, throughout the decades in pro wrestling – whatever the crowd likes, they have a certain amount of say in it, kind of, but mostly they are being trained, and neurological triggers are being activated; it is called “psychology” by marketers but it’s neurology, the science is getting there to back this up) because he was no-nonsense, simple wrestling jackets normal ass trunks, came out and wrestled goddammit, no funny business. None of that gimmick bullshit, but once Hulk Hogan came about due to Vince McMahon cocaine visions of world conquest, it was like Nirvana video on MTV making hair metal obsolete. Backlund was done for.
But he was still on top at this point in our chronological romp through these Wrestling Watcher Matches of the Years project, and he was very much not about that stupid shit, and also not about that gay shit. Which brings us to Adrian Adonis, who hadn’t yet become the overweight “Adorable” cartoon he would later become famous for. At this point, he was a bad ass biker daddy, which also flirted more than just a little with gay man stereotypes. Between him and Adrian Street, the name “Adrian” was always marked as likely sexually experimental in my young brain, which probably thought “gay” in derogatory way back then, to be honest, because that’s how I was trained back then. But at the same time, lolol I was really into wrestling, and I also was always very artistic, and I’m almost certain my dad thought I was maybe gay at one point in my early adulthood because all I did was write poetry and do collages and weird shit like that, not work on chainsaws and shoot things. And also I’m thankful we don’t see homosexuality as this on/off switch any more and know it’s more of a spectrum, because no lie, I’m not attracted to men much at all, hardly ever – I mean I see a man, and think he’s handsome from time to time but never do I want to hug on a dude. But a woman doing things to me and playing with my ass? Hey man, I’m not complaining. But by 1982 standards, that means I’m gay.
Well, what I’m getting at here is in a public spectacle that below the surface appeals to unexpressed sexuality at that point, Adonis as bad guy in leather daddy get-up is hella triggering. He is managed by Freddie Blassie, in sequined outfit of all evil managers, poisoned by their own vanity, and is the number one challenger to simple normal Bob Backlund. Normal good ole guy next door who works down at the hardware store and drinks a couple of beers a week not too much just enough to be a normal good ole guy Bob Backlund. So leather daddy Adonis, a literal Adonis, is not only challenging for a fake world championship, but he’s challenging sexual norms. “Bob Backlund, one of the finest conditioned athletes in the world today,” says a young Vince McMahon, who just wants to get to work, and has already taken off his simple green jackets, and is loosening up. But Adonis takes his time taking off his leather in stalling way, and already is bad because he doesn’t get right to work.

Adonis is not normal, and you can hear catcalls and whistles from the crowd, mockingly suggesting Adonis is a beautiful woman. This is repressed homosexuality releasing itself like a tea kettle in toxic spectacles. It is Backlund’s job to repress this homosexuality, and Adonis’s job to degenerate the proceedings away from societal norms. Man, I fucking love wrestling. It is the most beautiful trash culture to anthropologize on Earth.
They have multiple collar-and-elbow lock-ups that no one man wins, and the ref hilariously tries to get in the middle of them physically when on the ropes, and it is the force of American law attempting to separate normal American men from homosexual urges. But this is America, and we claim there is freedom, so normal American men in the form of Bob Backlund must be confronted with this degenerate temptation, and they must conquer it, without resorting to breaking the law, at least in ideal. Sexual deviants don’t become champions, at least not in 1982.
[The irony of having a trash degenerate President who openly embraces his heel status, all while pretending to speak for the Backlund class of middle management normies, in completely pro wrestling performative way, is not lost on me. I feel like it was a natural parallel that the Reagan Era of global corporatism happened the same time wrestling essentially admitted it wasn’t “real” but entertainment, but went on with the show anyways. The show was more important than the reality, and in the mid ‘80s that was shocking for wrestling to admit, and in fact many other promoters hated Vince McMahon for embracing that line of business tact. But 30 years later, with the petri dish of digital communities allowing all our degenerate neurologies to go full-bloom, everything is performative. The show is always more important than the reality, for all of us in most every fact of our lives, to the point we stage pictures of food, use hashtags to activate algorithms for random ass thoughts to be carried into other people’s “streams”, and reality itself has been warped to where what is reality is no longer always very real.]

In terms of wrestling, Adonis is a masterful staller and exaggerated flop arounder, which works great with vanilla ass “I’m a real wrestler” Backlund, because an armbar by a bodybuilder is nothing without the recipient waving his other arm around crazily and kicking his legs up in giant steps trying to escape only to take a face plant onto the mat. There is literally a six minute segment of this match that is simply Backlund applying a wristlock and armbar on Adonis, who bounces around and rolls on the mat and tries to get out the ring and never escapes anything. Is Backlund attempting to force Adonis wrist from showing any signs of effeminate limpness? I don’t know. I doubt the depth of homoerotic repression was that consciously deep, but one can never tell with pro wrestling, because it is the most illegitimate art of all – decades of deviants and carnies combining their mad creative skills into cultural kimchi which you could not figure out how to explain to aliens if they arrived on this planet and decided to ask you why you were watching this shit in your living room.
After a brief moment of Adonis trying to get on the offense, we are back to Backlund tugging on Adonis left arm, doing sit ups, with the crowd counting, and hoping he rips the gay guy’s shoulder out its socket. Adonis rolls over and takes command, but almost immediately loses it back, because Backlund – just a normal guy who the crowd loves – moves out the way of a corner charge, and then is right back on that same left arm, the odd arm, the submissive arm of this leather daddy freak sullying up this noble wrestling sport. Backlund is also bleeding from his nose, it should be noted, so this is no easy battle. There is collateral damage to normalcy for having to repress deviancy. Normalcy becomes ever so slightly less normal.
Adonis finally catches Backlund with a hard left fist, knocking Backlund down, but Adonis immediately, nice and slowly, in exaggerated motion with ever so slight touch of effeminacy, shakes the hand like “wow… that really hurt.” It really is amazing heeling going on here by Adrian Adonis, in ways far too subtle and slow-boiling to work nowadays, with our shorter attention spans and need for immediate gratification, not to mention overall sensory desensitization due to overstimulation.

Well goodbye subtlety, because that bastard Adonis ends up busting open Backlund, and our hero our champion OUR REGULAR FUCKING DUDE NEXT DOOR is a bloody mess, being manhandled by this man of questionable intent. Is this part of his deviancy? Is non-procreative sex not enough for this horrible Adrian Adonis? IS HE GOING TO BEAT OUR GOOD GOD-FEARING JUST DONG HIS JOB WHITE CHAMPION INTO SEXUAL SUBMISSION?
No. No he is not. Backlund finally flips out, tosses aside his legal behavior, and begins pummeling Adonis viciously with closed fists. The ref is trying to break them up and get the ref to take a look at Backlund’s cut, because 1982 wrestling was still real, and there was a ringside doctor who might call the match. In fact, he does, and the bell is ringing. But Backland is still attempting to repress Adrian Adonis, still refusing to have been bludgeoned by this deviant. Doesn’t matter, the law has been tested, and though Backlund remains champion, his normalcy is blemished, his image has literally been bloodied.

This is liberal progress – Adonis has won the match, and tarnished Backlund’s golden image, but Backlund remains champion. Lolol, wrestling is so fucking twisted. As our we. Neither of these things will ever change, no matter how woke we become. To be human is to be a true and living problematic fave.


jtron said...

So glad you're writing about wrestling more/again/(oh fuck did you not stop, and I just lost track?)

Raven Mack said...

dear jtron,
who even knows at this point? it's all a blur of blips and bloops.