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Rikishi Kayfabe Commentaries YouShoot Review

Since I’m usually overly hyped about Kayfabe Commentaries, I avoided a couple of interesting ones (Raven on ECW, Jim Cornette, Booking with Gabe and Kevin) and went to one that I had mixed feelings about.

Rikishi brings up images of the worst aspects of the “Attitude” era: a more comedic wrestler, a fat guy sticking his butt in other wrestlers faces, and all that “Kiss my ass club” that just made wrestling gross and disgusting and often unwatchable. Yeah, the dancing was entertaining and Rikishi was always a fan favorite* (in part because of his antics, undeniably because his tactics, and grudgingly-to-admit, that thing where he backed up in the wrestler laying in the corner).

*(Until that heel turn that didn’t quite go as far as he would have liked. And that forgettable Sultan run, and the even more forgettable TNA run).

When I saw Rikishi’s announcement for the WWE Hall of Fame, it made me wonder on a few levels: what is the criteria? What achievement did Rikishi accomplish? Or was it an “in your face” inclusion, just to show who’s the boss at the WWE?

Not that I dislike the man or his talent. Despite the comedic overtones, Rikishi is a well trained talent that has the knack for the in-ring and the entertainment aspects of the business. But even Rikishi’s own words on the Hall of Fame – that everyone should be included – seems to me more of a diminishment of the achievements of others rather than an award of merit.

But debating the Hall of Fame is well beyond beating a dead horse.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this YouShoot. I got a lot of what I did anticipate – the videos and questions by modern day wrestling commentators that make me cringe, a further appreciation of Sean Oliver’s handling of the more serious and/or insightful questions, and a solid understanding of the person doing most of the talking.

As always, there’s a lot of history, a lot of great storeis, several swerves and twists and interesting insight into the life, career and family of the wrestler in the spotlight. Remember Rikishi as a member of the Samoan Swat Team? I sure do, but forgot all about the WCCW days.

All that is in there, and much, much more.

In the end, this was a very pleasant conversation by a guy who knows a lot more about wrestling than he often portrayed in the ring, a lot of stories about the vast Samoan family over the past 30 years or so of the business, a lot of personal stories and a better appreciation for who Rikishi is and how he is guiding the next generation of Samoan professional wrestlers.

What’s amazing is the talk about Rikishi not always being in agreement with the writers, and his obvious understanding that there are a lot of writers that just don’t have a clue about the business.

What’s scary is that Rikishi said there were things he refused to do.

I don’t have that kind of imagination to conceive of things he could have refused, or things the WWE hasn’t done, that they might have wanted to do.

What’s funny about Rikishi is his take on the classic Samoan “no sell”. Here, he’s completely indifferent to several lines of questioning about that “stinkface” move. He does explain where it came from and who egged him on, much to his career’s benefit. Rikishi also “no sells” any comments about a few of his friends, some for obvious reasons, others for no apparent ones, including a weird beginning of the discussion where he names some names he didn’t name during the Hall of Fame speech.

Strangely, Rikishi has a combination of amusement and indifference to the ongoing insanity of the video question clips. He also plays along to the classic YouShoot games, although I don’t remember the one about marrying and killing being played. Somehow Mrs. Rikishi must have been on the big man’s mind.

On that subject, the family focus is definitely on display, especially in regard to training.

Rikishi’s stories about getting trained (by his Uncles, the Wild Samoans) and how he got slapped around when he laughed at others is really odd. What do Afa and Sika think of him now?

Oh, yeah, I think it’s in there.

Rikishi is now training, and his star pupil thus far is that Russian guy in the WWE, Rusev. Which of course is odd, because Rusev is anything but an entertainer in the ring, and has the basics in believability, selling and presence that trace back to the Old School stuff I greatly appreciate.

Which tells me Rikishi has a lot more inside his head than what he showed in the ring with Too Cool.

Rikish’s impact upon his kids (the Usos. I’ll let the reader watch the video or google for the meaning of the name) are very much interesting and shed a lot of light on the Anoa’I Family. It seems like the big man isn’t doing a lot of training of his own kids, and keeps his advice simple, but best to hear it from his mouth.

Like he says, he doesn’t know the current agents or the people doing the training these days…

His remembrance of his late brother Umaga (Eddie Fatu) and how his children continue to pay their respects to him take this YouShoot to a more serious level. Odd that one of the Uso’s was on TV the other day, with the half-painted face which reminds one of Umaga.

Odd, even more, the serious side takes center stage in the end, so much so that it becomes awkward at the conclusion, with talk of family, expectations and a potential great he’s training as the next generation superstar of the Samoan Family.

Overall, it was enjoyable and another must-see chapter in the excellent (but often awkward) YouShoot series.

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Joe Babinsack

Joe Babinsack can be reached at [email protected] Thanks to Eric for giving me a platform to talk about my passions, and look for reviews (like Vintage Quebec wrestling) coming soon.

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