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All Elite Wrestling Entertainment at its Finest

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  • All Elite Wrestling Entertainment at its Finest

    ‘Sup, Lords of Pain? When it comes to writing a wrestling column in 2021, it was always going to happen at some point but even I didn’t think I would get the itch this early into the year. For some strange reason however there have been two words ingrained in my mind since January 1st. These aren’t the two words that you are accustomed to coming from a massive DX fan on a wrestling forum. I am still away from watching WWE. I’ve not gone back to watching AEW. WrestleKingdom is not even on my radar. Those two words that have me dusting off my keyboard are “Strike First”.

    As I have flown through the third season of Cobra Kai on Netflix, I have realised something. The enjoyment that it brings me isn’t like any other television show. There are plenty of comedies that I love. There are plenty of dramas that I love. There are even shows that combine both really well. However there are lots of other boxes that I like to have ticked and historically, it was only wrestling that managed to hit them all. Even then it is rarely done to perfection for any extended amount of time. Cobra Kai has changed that and has delivered three seasons of everything that I love about pro-wrestling. The reaction to the show among wrestling fans is no coincidence but it is my intention to strike first with a column celebrating the similarities between the Karate Kid spin off and the art form that brought us all to LOP. Fair warning, beyond this point there will be some spoilers. If you have not watched Cobra Kai yet, I strongly suggest heading to Netflix and binge watching it. If you still haven’t caught up with season 3, I will see you back here as soon as you are done.

    I first heard about Cobra Kai as Netflix signed it up last year. As a child of the 80s, I watched The Karate Kid a lot. We didn’t have multiple channels, catch up and internet back then so if it was on TV a lot, you’d watch it over and over. It was never my favourite movie but an enjoyable one. Seeing Macchio and Zabka’s cameos on Entourage and HIMYM gave the movie a bit of buzz in recent years so the idea of a show looking at the two kids 30 years later intrigued me. But I never thought I would get addicted to it from the get go. It’s the type of show that is almost always destined to fail but it was clear that they were going to be the exception to the rule. Nostalgia is obviously the key to getting eyes on the show but they aren’t trying to make you relive the glory days of a plucky Daniel Larusso taking on an evil karate dojo. They gently lean into the idea that Johnny Lawrence was actually the good guy and Larusso a grade A dick. And this sets a tone for almost every character in the show. The makers aren’t presenting conventional heels and faces. They are presenting a bunch of people with feelings and flaws. It is left up to the viewer to pick a side and choose a favourite. Over the years WWE have loved to try and push talent down our throats as good guys and as heels but the product is just so much better when the roster is shades of grey. The Attitude Era was a perfect time for this. The superstars were less concerned with being good guys and bad guys and the focus was on being characters who were developing as they reacted to everything going on around them.

    Cobra Kai has a phenomenal cast of stars who are all intriguing in their own way. I am actually already contemplating a follow-up column where I really dive into the characters and their best pro-wrestling comparisons. We will see the reception for this piece first but I will touch on the evolution of the show’s stars a little. I can’t think of one member of the main or supporting cast that doesn’t have progression throughout the show. Some are having subtle changes in motivation, others are turning back and forth like the Big Show. This is something you rarely see in a TV series outside of pro-wrestling. It makes for very exciting entertainment where I am literally oohing, ahhhing and shouting at the TV multiple times an episode. Once again, a reaction that normally only wrestling can bring.

    Zabka’s portrayal of Johnny is what leads the show. He somehow manages to pull off the role of cool heel while being totally out of touch and the butt of a lot of jokes, especially with the kids. That is where the magic is. The nostalgia act is strong and loveable but while he will win some and lose some when onscreen with the Karate Kid originals, Johnny is always putting over the youngsters in the show one way or another. While he will bury them with his trademark zingers, it will often lead to motivation and character growth rather. This is somewhere WWE has really fallen over with in recent years. Lawrence has a lot of DX about him but it isn’t resulting in burials the likes of the Spirit Squad and The Revival tasted. It is closer to what they almost did for Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase (and would have done had the rubber match gone the other way). And as annoying as I find Larusso, he does the same thing on his end in a very different way. He is like the serious and douchey face who thinks a little too much of himself but once again, his character is all about progressing the new generation of stars.

    It is that generation who really bring the show to life. You have a daddy’s girl in pretty much every way possible with Sam Larusso. Every bit as annoying and preachy as her old man, she thinks she is the pioneer for good when she is really a bit of a knobhead. The girl can fight though and finds herself as a star-crossed lover not once, but twice as she falls for not only the star student, but also the son of her father’s long term nemesis. Miguel is to Cobra Kai what Daniel was to Karate Kid. The picked-on new kid who is molded into a champion. This time however it is by Johnny. He is the closest thing the show has to a pure babyface but even he has his unlikeable moments. This in contrast to bad kid, turned good kid, turned bad kid Robby. The seed of Johnny’s deadbeat years is in desperate need of a good male role model and he seems to constantly be jumping from one to another. I am sure plenty of people like the kid but it’s just not in me to root for someone named Robby Keene. Then just to complicate matters a little further, we can chuck in the bad slasher from the wrong side of the tracks Tory, who turns the love triangle into a love square. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. By far the best character for me is Hawk. His progression from good guy dweeb to absolute shitbird badass heel who is a thing of beauty and his transition back down to earth from becoming the very thing he hated is a classic wrestling trope that is rarely performed as well as Jacob Bertrand does on the show. And there are so many more side characters, fresh faced or from the original movies who provide the drama, comic relief or just simple badassery.

    I know a lot of wrestling fans take offence to the term “male soap opera” but I’ve always thought it was right on the nose. A good soap opera can really tap into your emotions despite how silly a lot of the storylines are. Add in some matches and that is essentially pro-wrestling. Change those matches to fights and you have Cobra Kai. The motivation for these characters to jump down each others’ throats can range from jealousy to spilled food, from revealed secrets to being part of the wrong tribe. And half of the time there is a higher power pulling the strings. The writers have totally tapped into what makes an entertaining reason for a feud and left a lot of the bad ones on the shelf where they belong. And once these feuds are kicked off, they progress in the same way they would on Raw or Dynamite. We get escalation, we get training montages, we get vignettes, we get promos. I don’t know who is writing the Cobra Kai trash talk but if they were doing these infamous scripted promos WWE love, I think we would all be much better off. We’ve all heard about Vinny Mac’s love for a Hollywood writer. Maybe he is just hiring the shit ones.

    Of course the talking eventually comes to an end and it is put up or shut up time. The fight scenes in Cobra Kai are off the charts levels of awesome. I challenge anyone to bring a better fight scene than the season 2 finale school brawl. I was up on my feet, jumping and yelling the whole time. This what a marquee wrestling match can do however when it comes to comparing the two things, I do get this is where it becomes a bit of a stretch. I probably would have bailed on the analogy at this point 5 years back. Choreographed stunt doubles spending a day to shoot 2 minutes of action can’t really compare to the magic that wrestling’s finest can pull off in the squared circle. Despite the changing industry, that is what pro-wrestling still boils down to and that is where the AEW and WWE stars shine the brightest. The rise of the cinematic match makes it a lot easier to stretch the similarities in the pay-off however. As more matches become an extended fight scene from a show or movie, you can at least begin to say they are in the same ballpark.

    I’m not here to convince you to buy into Cobra Kai being pro-wrestling. Po-tay-to, po-tar-to and all that. How people define things is up to them at the end of the day. I mean some people will try and tell you Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie so you can never speak for everyone. For me however, the show has filled that wrestling shaped hole in my heart and given me the same feeling the WWE has given me over the years but has been missing for at least half a decade. And for that, right now Cobra Kai feels like all elite wrestling entertainment at its finest.

  • #2
    I don't remember being that big a fan of Karate Kid back in the day. It probably won't surprise many to hear I preferred Crossroads, which if memory serves (it's got to be 30 years since I've seen either film) was essentially the same story but with guitars replacing karate. That means all my recent knowledge of Karate Kid comes from recently watching all of How I Met Your Mother, where Barney talks about he bad guy being the good guy etc. I always presumed that was a joke made up for that show, the way you mention it makes me think it was a genuine thing that they crossed the lines with in the movie(s?).

    One specific point I do want to pick up on though:
    We’ve all heard about Vinny Mac’s love for a Hollywood writer. Maybe he is just hiring the shit ones.
    I believe this to be very true. Hollywood as a rule hates WWE. Sure, they love it when a star is born there (namely The Rock), but despite WWE creating some of the best cinematography and documentaries etc you never see them up for any genuine awards in those fields. I think it's safe to say that all the good Hollywood script writers have absolutely no interest in working there. And I suspect those who do work there struggle to be taken seriously elsewhere when it plays a significant part of their résumé.

    New Column: Pre WrestleMania Thoughts & Predictions


    • #3
      Mazda! I haven't yet seen the show so I skimmed this to avoid spoilers, but I think I get exactly what you're talking about here. My favorite wrestling show in years was Lucha Underground, which wholeheartedly embraced the possibilities of wrestling on TV in a new way that worked so well. There are these possibilities of fresh presentation out there that far too few are taking advantage of. You've got me feeling real curious about the show, by the way, so I may just have to check it out soon!

      The '92 Rumble! The Brain's Finest Hour!


      • #4
        Unfortunately not going to be able to read as I haven't seen Cobra Kai and still harbor hope that I might one day. But just wanted to pop in to say good to see you around and hope you're doing well.


        • #5
          Absolutely nailed this and you could not be more right. I havent been able to stop watching that show. It ticks all the boxes wrestling fan LAW used to love


          • #6
            Get bent, tosser.


            • #7
              I liked the comparison and the way you laid it out and compared the two was logical. I've never got around to watching the show just yet, but now that I've read this I wouldn't be surprised to picture this column in my mind while watching the show!


              • #8
                You spoil us with a return column... that contains spoilers to a show 90% of us haven't seen yet. Well done, Maz. I'll be back to bump this thread in 3 months once I've actually watched the series.


                • #9
                  You gotta be pretty special to write a column about a show that has taken over your wrestling interest left and assume that people who are still watching the million hours of actual wrestling content out there will have seen it!!! Smooth move, Maz!

                  I do love you all though and appreciate you coming by to read and feed. I will say definitely go check it out however. There are a lot of wrestleheads all over my social medias who adore it as much as me so it should work for you guys. Great to see you all, especially Mavs as it seems like forever! Not TO though. Screw TO forever.