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  1. #1
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    May 2018

    Ben and Mystic Getting it done in 500 Words, More Or Less, Anyway: The Fall is Rise for Flip Gordon and the NWA

    Ben and Mystic Getting it done in 500 Words, More Or Less, Anyway: The Fall is Rise for Flip Gordon and the NWA

    Mystic: The first assignment I’ve given to first-year college students in my classes for the last five years is a conflict paper. The paper, which I created, is based on a J. Cole song, “Let Nas Down.” The song comes from the aftermath of J. Cole, a conscientious rapper, getting his first radio hit. Did he compromise his values, content-wise, to make that hit? Probably. Has everyone else probably done the same? Of course. Yet, it got back to J. Cole that his idol, Nas, after hearing the radio single, said that the song was “shit.”

    “Let Nas Down” became a song where J. Cole vented about his frustrations over trying for two years to make a radio hit, finally making one, and hearing the criticism. During the song, J. Cole uses the conflict to so define who he is and who he wants to be that he says, “If I should pass, please let this be my last essay.”

    And that’s what I tell students: write this letter about a conflict in your life, current or recurring, and write it as if this is your last chance to go on the record about it, to think it through, to face it. And while nobody has to see it, we go through with choosing an audience, and we choose the audience who will bring the most urgency to the words we plan to write.

    Here is what I know. There is no good storytelling without conflict, and there is no good storytelling without immediacy. There is no good storytelling without audience, without often facing the very audience that makes your work most difficult.

    In other words, tension leads to rise and rise to more tension.

    There is another 10 lbs. of Gold video out, and we write these words at or around the one month mark of the September 1 show that is, without exaggeration, one of the most daring and organic events of our lifetimes.

    The latest video follows Flip Gordon before and after his match with Nick Aldis.

    If Flip were in my class and he were going to write a conflict letter, I’d urge him, even going into the match with Nick Aldis, to acknowledge that his audience is not actually Nick Aldis.

    It’s Cody Rhodes.

    It has always been Cody Rhodes, and until this All In situation is resolved, it will always be Cody Rhodes.

    So, imagine, in the splendid storytelling of Dave Lagana, the NWA, Ring of Honor, Cody Rhodes, and All In, we find out from Flip Gordon that he has been invited early to Nashville, because Billy Corgan wants to meet with him.

    We watch them, in an empty building, having conversation.

    Sometimes my students don’t want to talk about certain conflicts in their lives, because they are too personal or too big. What I tell them is essentially the principle that makes this 10 lbs. of Gold video so compelling: it doesn’t have to be the biggest or most personal topic in your life, if it has any urgency, it will bring about rich details.

    These details, Flip in an empty building with Billy, where he emerges telling us that Billy told him that if he wins the NWA title, he can come across the street to the rock concert, stand on stage with Billy, and be presented as NWA Champion, add one more layer to the story of Flip Gordon.

    These are the rich details of authenticity, of urgency, of conflict, of immediacy, that makes a story worth investing our time in.

    And then we go back to audience.

    Flip’s audience.

    Cody Rhodes is at ringside for the match with Nick Aldis. Cody is that close, and I can only imagine what that does to Flip. Flip, instead of yelling about the NWA title, is yelling in the ring about All In. The fans are behind Flip, and Flip is winning.

    But Flip will lose, with his foot on the rope.

    And Cody will help have the match restarted.

    And Flip will lose again, injured leg, maybe passing out.

    And then, at the end, Nick Aldis will reach an arm down, to pull Flip up from the mat.

    And then, at the end, Cody Rhodes will reach an arm down, too, and help Nick Aldis help Flip from the mat.

    Then they will leave the ring to Flip.

    There isn’t anyone who can tell me that we’re not in a boom era in Independent pro wrestling, which is to say, we’re in a boom era in pro wrestling.

    But with Cody Rhodes and All In, with Ring of Honor, NWA, with Nick Aldis, with Flip Gordon, isn’t somebody going to lose here?

    Doesn’t someone, anyone, risk being screwed or coming out the least?

    Yes and always.

    But ask yourself: If Nick Aldis defended the NWA title on four continents and never lost the belt in ten years, but didn’t have the All In exposure, is he better for it?

    If it weren’t for All In, would anyone care about whether Flip Gordon beat Nick Aldis?

    We are only made better by the potential of loss. And, often, we are only made better in actual loss.

    You don’t write one conflict letter and never have to write another. Our lives are a series of conflict letters. The question is: can we make them matter enough, combine them with the right people, places, and things, where someone will actually want to read along with us.

    One month out of All In, I submit that when guys like Cody Rhodes experience a trampoline bounce in the wrestling industry, you have to raise the safety net, too.

    Which means that even those involved who lose, who fall, are landing higher than they would had they never embraced the conflict.

    Ben: Let’s carry this conflict after the loss. Let’s feel the weight of concrete in our heads. Losses are heavy and hard, especially two in one match. While Flip sat in the silent room, what chatter warred in his mind? Did a soft voice of Billy promise him he’d be on stage? Did this recollection of Billy promise and disappear? Oh, the steel his ass bones pressed into aint a rock concert. It’s the lonely chair. How many times did he hear Cody, the audience, say this is bad business? What a powerful one word syllable that Flip must hear and hear and hear. “Bad!”

    When Flip ran and dove onto Aldis, did he hear “bad” before landing on his knee? All In, the NWA title, and the rock concert, but how could Flip--how, overnight--could Flip actualize this? Did he think he’d buy the whole damn house with one payment? And when the referee restarted the match, because Cody counseled that Flip’s foot lay on the rope, did the match really restart? Did Flip have a fighting chance when the bell rang, or did he just lose his face?

    Flip must have battled the words of Cody and battled the ridicule of Aldis and battled through a hurt knee. And he fought and fought until he passed out.

    When he awakened his critics lifted him. They let him be. But when he sat in the lonely chair did the criticism prior to his loss echo? Did he hear “bad?” Does this conflict have an odor? Does it stink like the sweat and the dirty socks of the lonely locker room? Does it look like the lockers he stared at? Did he wonder why Billy wasted Billy’s own time with lyrics that would never be put to music, promises of letting Flip show the Title at a Smashing Pumpkins concert? Or did he remember Billy’s most important word: “build”? Did he realize he didn’t build the house in a day but he damn sure laid a brick?

  2. #2
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Creating conflict, creating immediacy, filling it with those rich details... that's how you make great wrestling. I've probably said before that I don't much care for Aldis or Flip, but in this context I can't help but follow what they do next, because it all seems to matter so much. You guys are doing a wonderful job covering this, I can't wait to cover the show itself. It's gonna be something special, one way or another.

  3. #3
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    I have really enjoyed this series so far. It is really getting me hyped for All In.

    One of the interesting things you said was that pro wrestling is in a boom period. It is funny that fans are in almost unanimous agreement that it is a particularly poor stretch for the WWE and yet outside of the WWE things have never been better. Logic would suggest that independent wrestling would require a strong WWE to be able to thrive in its own right however they have found a way to make it work better than it ever has since the 80s despite WWE's struggles. I think a lot of it comes down to the communication boom on the internet that has allowed wrestlers like Cody, Aldis & Flip to tell their stories in such an engaging way.

    I wonder what is next for the NWA title after All In. Does it fade back into relative obscurity or will it retain its prominence?


  4. #4
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    mizfan - It's unbelievable what good storytelling can do. Like the Bible says of love, it can cover a multitude of sins. Even Flip's.

    Sam - We are taking these as 10 lbs. of Gold presents our content, but you are reading my mind about what is on my mind. What happens next with the NWA? This is a hell of a thing. I feel like the NWA and Cody Rhodes, should they take advantage, have happened into a most advantageous moment. A company that is making itself relevant again, in part, by telling compelling stories in video happen upon the son of Dusty Rhodes, who also has reinvented his career with the same type of videos and storytelling. It's so perfect that I wonder if they will fuck it up. If you put the NWA title on Cody, those 10 lbs. of Gold videos are now FOLLOWING THE SON OF DUSTY RHODES AS HE TRIES TO REVITALIZE THE NWA! For god's sakes, what more can be asked? And if the right deals are in place, does the NWA title get defended at a sold out Madison Square Garden? For god's sakes, what more can be asked?

    Thanks for noticing the bit about Indy wrestling, too. I self-corrected in real time. I had the sentence that Indy wrestling is in a boom but, you know what, if this many promotions are in a boom, then PRO WRESTLING is in a boom, whether or not WWE is part of that or not.

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