A Song for Whoever: Last Tango on Telly

…..and so it ended. After six weeks of making me swoon like a chick at a Michael Bublé concert, Chris Jericho crashed out of Dancing with the Stars. Oh the sadness, and yet, the show goes on without him. My only outlet for extreme girliness on this blog was dashed away with one really lacklustre tango. I didn’t get to see the jive I knew would be awesome. I didn’t even get to use my next Chris Jericho crush-face. It looked like this:

Unfortunately I watched his tango like this:

And when I woke the next morning and realised he’d been sent home, I did this:

My ever-changing ethnicity is a blast, by the way. You should try it!

There comes a moment in every series of Strictly Come Dancing (and it appears Dancing with the Stars too) where the pack splits. There are three or four good dancers who suddenly become great. Within one episode the rest just look rubbish. Chelsea, Romeo and Hines were all amazing. The judges even brought out the ’10′ paddles! Much as it pains me to say it, Chris Jericho was the weakest performer last week.

Kendra Wilkinson was lucky in that she was given the samba and, EVEN THOUGH HER BOUNCE ACTION WAS AWFUL, she managed to shake her tits and arse with such ferocity, the judges forgot to watch to see if she was executing the tricky samba bounce action correctly. It was….eye-popping. I imagine millions of men forced to watch the show with their wives had to reach for a cushion after she had performed. Jericho was unlucky in that he was given a dance he struggled to both understand and execute the week after he’d been top of the leaderboard.  Pressure to be the best two weeks in a row is a killer. I’ll let you decide for yourselves, but to the judges (and to myself as the fourth and most important judge) it wasn’t sharp or focused enough at all.

So what have I learnt from these six weeks? I’ve learnt that despite ABC making a surprisingly good job of copying the UK show, I still prefer the British version. The incessant gimmicks killed it for me. The show is about people who’ve never danced before trying to learn how to ballroom dance in 12 weeks. THAT is the gimmick. There’s no need for Guilty Pleasures Week, American Week, Grieve for your Deceased Relatives Week, Dance with your Pet Week blah-blah-blah. It’s patronising if you do it every week. Having said that, if any wrestlers *cough*Edge*cough* decide to be a contestant next series, I’d be more than happy to drool over it a second time.

Thanks for indulging me with these posts. Thanks for letting me swoon, talk about pretty dresses and comment on dancing like the armchair expert I am without a single “THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WRESTLING!!!!1!!1″ comment. So, wrestling fans, as you’ve been so kind you can have Chris Jericho back now and I’ll go back to writing about sweaty wrestlers. But before I check my girly self at the door, one more indulgence. This one’s for the jive I never got to see, and also because it’s a bloody miracle we’ve run this feature for so long without me choosing a single Bublé track. I guarantee there will be more. Enjoy!

Tough Enough: Rollerskates make me nostalgic so please excuse all the references

Everyone likes to think they know the score when it comes to professional wrestling. Hell, we attempt to predict the results of every WWE PPV here on the site, usually with mixed success. We all know what’s going to happen: who will win, who’ll get pushed and who is in the proverbial doghouse. The same is often said about Reality TV: it’s easy to think that the whole thing is stage-managed (especially in a show with no public vote system) and that the people who will provide the most publicity or the most controversy will always stay in to the end. This is despite both genres constantly pushing the idea that “anything can happen!”, “nobody is safe!” and “expect the unexpected!

After arguably the best wrestler (Matt) was eliminated and the funniest/most quotable contestant (Ariane) went in the first week, I thought we were getting a handle on the way Tough Enough was going to work. I figured that Miss USA would bring so much publicity (and let’s be honest, a touch of “eye-candy”) to the show that she would be in to the end, and pretty much guaranteed a contract by the end of it. So, how do I feel now?

This weeks episode opened with the usual recap, followed by Rima making her way back to the house after last weeks elimination, much to the surprise of Christina. Although she wasn’t as surprised as I was by the fact that Christina can actually talk! It’s only taken her 4 episodes but now she’s got a speaking role!

"ooh... rock me Dr Zaius!"

Strangely, while Rima was telling the other contestants what was happening in the elimination, nobody seemed to have mentioned the fact that Donny Osmond Martin seemed to have won a new foot on the Hook-a-Duck stall at the local fair. If my goldfish owning childhood taught me anything, that new foot will have died before the week is out…

Then Ryan returned, much to everyone’s shock, and did the whole “look at me! I’m stealing somebody’s bed!” schtick that Mickael had done previously. This sadly interrupted Ivelisse, who appears to transforming into a blonde version of Geena Davis in Beetlejuice – maybe she should have something more nutritious than uber-generic brand COLA drunk with a spoon.

It's like a modern day Portrait of Dorian Gray

Now, remember last week Rima asked Bill DeMott for some one on one training? Well, that old saying about being careful what you wish for came to mind when she was confronted by a 12 inch pianist (sorry, wrong joke.) She was summoned to the training ring for a hard midnight session (this time you can add your own joke.) After the initial faux-pas of calling the training session a date, Rima was keen to impress Bill in any way she could, from wearing one of the multitude of Tough Enough t-shirts everyone seems to have been issued, to, well… see for yourself

Bill’s made of sterner stuff, and he didn’t let Rima’s shameless self-promotion put him off his stride. Instead he started with what appeared to be a relatively simple exercise. A training dummy was laid in the middle of the ring and Rima had to roll over it without touching it. As far as I could see (with my self-confessed lack of any training ever) it was a pretty easy thing to achieve: roll onto your shoulder on the far side of the bag and the rest of your body will follow. Now I know it’s easy to make fun of beauty queens as not being the most intelligent people in the world, but you don’t get to be 2nd runner-up in Miss Lebanon Emigrant 2008 without having something about you…

You might think this is funny, but Bill didn’t find it Hugh Morrus. (Look, I’d apologise for that joke but you should think yourself lucky I didn’t go with the Hugh G Rection joke with that earlier image of Rima grabbing her boobs.) After more training with Bill they sat down for a heart to heart where Bill basically explained to Rima that wanting to be a WWE Superstar isn’t enough. After all, if we could all do what we wanted, I’d be Spider-Man. Now, time for a brief Naturewatch interlude…

Thanks Ollie... back to the show

Time for this weeks guest. Who could it be? Someone with the personality of John Cena? Someone with the amazing stature of Big Show! With the vast range of amazing personalities that have graced a WWE ring, both past and present, it has to be someone who can really fire up the contestants.

Or maybe just an old version of that bloke that bought Mr Burns mansion

We all know Bret Hart is a legend, and he had an amazing amount of skill as a wrestler. But for some reason he’s never held any interest for me – sorry, but he’s just someone who passed me by. Still, the contestants all sat rapt, gazing on at him as he said something or other about wrestling so I suppose that’s the main thing. After Bret left, they started the daily training exercise which involved jumping over the top rope a few times. Now was the perfect time for the extra training Rima had recieved to start paying dividends. This was her time.. her opportunity… her one big moment… her…

ah, OK then...

Well, to be fair, that whole “jumping over the rope” thing probably wasn’t something that Bill went over with her the night before. After all, that would have been giving her an unfair warning of the task ahead. Still, there was still the wrestling drills to come – this must be where the payoff comes…

eek

Maybe the life lesson will be more her thing. The contestants were given “negative ten minutes” to meet Trish who was waiting at Frisco’s Bar & Grill with a mysterious woman. Frisco’s has waiting staff on rollerskates so the contestants were being asked to serve food (and dance) while wearing skates, all the while being watched carefully by Trish and the WOMAN OF MYSTERY! Seriously, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who she was or what her role was.

Only kidding. Of course I looked at her boobs and read that she was one of The Producers. I think holding off on a rousing chorus of Springtime For Hitler was probably for the best though. After dressing up in very fetching pink and black outfits (so that’s why Bret Hart was on this week!) the contestants had a crash course in rollerskating before they had to start their shift. A crash course that of course looked like this…

Regardless, the contestants all did pretty well at serving the food. There were no major incidents, and even the group dance at the end went relatively well. The only major issue was Eric falling and nearly killing a woman and her baby, but this was explained away by Jeremiah. At least I think he was explaining it, I could never understand Boomhauer in King of the Hill either.

In fact they did so well that they were handed a free bar and, in the immortal words of The Clash “enough rope” to hang themselves. With a skills challenge the morning after, maybe a level of restraint would have been advisable (although not advice I’ve ever been known to take myself of course.) Not for these guys though, on this night of booze + contestants = dancing! Not quite the Chris Jericho jive that Boss Lady Ray had been waiting for, but each contestant had their own niche moves to impress.

OK. Here’s the bit where we would normally have the patented Wrestlegasm “Wall O’ Elimination Screenshots”, but this week was slightly different. During the meeting to determine the final three, this happened:

GUEST POST: King of Trios – A journey into the heart of hilarious high-flying wrestling

Sidekick Andrew: As we may have mentioned in passing briefly (here, here, here, and here for example) it was CHIKARA’s annual King of Trios tournament this past weekend. Now, being based on the slightly more civilised side of the Atlantic, it wasn’t possible for us to attend personally; but we did manage to secure the services of a special reporter for the weekend. Matt Jones (follow him on twitter, like him on Facebook and buy his t-shirt… something like that.) Enjoy the article: feel free to comment and be nice, or there’ll be trouble. Oh, and don’t forget to click the link at the bottom of the article and buy the DVDs – I’ve a feeling you won’t regret it

PS. Images are Matt’s own, unless otherwise stated

Riding in a cab through dingy South Philadelphia, it looks like somewhere to go if you had a deep-seeded desire to get mugged. For someone who hasn’t been to a major city in a while it looks like something out of a Batman comic.

But in this odd location a throng of very friendly strangers line up outside the reformatted bingo hall that was the ECW arena (now called the Asylum Arena). Walking in, the place is almost unrecognizable if you’ve only seen the dingy 1990′s videos of Tommy Dreamer or the Dudley Boys throwing each other off balconies, or of Chris Benoit breaking Sabu’s neck. Actually, given the claustrophobic camera work usually employed, the Arena is bigger than I expected.

Nonetheless, once the passionate fans of a promotion like Chikara file in, the atmosphere becomes absolutely electric. And make no mistake, Chikara’s fans are extremely passionate, and this is their biggest event of the year. To fudge a Hunter S. Thompson quote – In some circles, King of Trios is a far better thing than the Superbowl, the Kentucky Derby, and the lower Oakland roller derby finals all rolled into one.

The show opens with the lights going low and Chikara’s roster coming out around the ring- a tribute to the recently deceased “Sweet n Sour” Larry Sweeney. Some wrestlers like Mike Quackenbush and Eddie Kingston weep openly as the bell tolls ten times. Then the lights go out and a Sweeney video package plays on the big screen. When the lights come back on, a pair of Sweeney’s trademark sunglasses are in the ring, and the fans chant his name. A bittersweet beginning, to be sure, but absolutely necessary. Sweeney touched the hearts of fans and wrestlers alike in his time.

The mood picks up immediately as we’re thrust into the bizarre world of Chikara, where anthropomorphic ants have kickass wrestling matches with old timey baseball players and marching band leaders.

The contest between Team Osaka Pro (Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada and Ultimate Spider Jr.) and The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield, Sugar Dunkerton and Matt Classic) is almost strictly comedy. Kotoge and Dunkerton have a race which ends with the referee ordering free throws for Osaka Pro on an improvised hoop made of Dunkerton’s arms (Kotoge sinks his first, but misses the second). Classic, a send-up of old school wrestlers, admonishes his teammates for their comedy, insists they join him in Hindu squats and spends much of the match performing the Harvard step test à la Bob Backlund. Not to be outdone, Ultimate Spider Jr. gets into the act, using invisible spider webs to perform Irish whips on Dunkerton and Hatfield. Maybe not the most coherent wrestling match ever, but certainly one of the most entertaining spectacles I’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, the match featuring Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw and Manami Toyota taking on The Maximos and TNA’s Amazing Red is almost all action. It’s a little odd seeing a female wrestler like Toyota battling men if you’re not used to it, but she fits right in and performs as well as, or better than, any of her male counterparts. After ten minutes of fast paced wrestling, Jigsaw scores an emotional win for his team with Larry Sweeney’s “12 Large” elbow drop.

The main event of the evening brings it all together in match featuring, unquestionably, the most mainstream performers of the weekend. Team Michinoku Pro is comprised of legends in the industry, particularly in their native Japan- The Great Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki and Dick Togo. Their opponents are Team Minnesota- Chikara regulars “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon, North Star Express member Darin Corbin and, in some ways the oddest name in the event, Sean Waltman, better known as X-Pac and performing for the first time since 1996 as the 1-2-3 Kid.

The knowledgeable Chikara fans give every participant a great deal of respect (which visibly moves Kid, who is seen wiping away tears). The match features not only exciting high-flying wrestling and solid mat action, but also some great comedy. In what stands as one of the most surreal moments ever, The Great Sasuke and Corbin engage in perhaps the first ever bout of slow-motion hardcore wrestling.

Corbin is well known for breaking out slow-motion in his matches, but seeing a legend like The Great Sasuke partake defies description. The effects are not limited to Corbin and Sasuke, either. Referee Bryce Remsberg and all the wrestlers on the ring apron get in on the act (Togo’s exaggerated, slow-motion cheering is a highlight), as well as the fans who chant veeeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyy sloooooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyy. Soon, Sasuke sets up Corbin on a chair and ascends to the top rope. Upping the ante on the comedy, Corbin’s teammate Cannon suddenly shakes off the slow-motion and screams “Darin, stop screwing around!” to huge laughs from the crowd. Corbin complies, and Sasuke crashes through an empty chair.

Slo-mo wrestling is the best wrestling.

In the end, Togo performs a beautiful flying senton on Corbin and scores the win for his team. The fans give a standing ovation to the participants, chanting all of their names at various times. An amazing match to end a top-notch night of wrestling, but the weekend is just getting started.

Saturday afternoon sees the Fan Conclave, Chikara’s equivalent of WWE’s fan festival Axxess. It’s here where it becomes clear what King of Trios really is- the Woodstock of independent wrestling. Legends rub elbows with relative rookies in the industry and all are available to the fans for pictures and autographs. They are unfailingly friendly, and happily chat with fans in an incredibly positive atmosphere (the exception being F.I.S.T.’s Icarus, the most hated wrestler in Chikara, who wanders through the crowd insulting everyone he sees).

There are numerous heart warming scenes. As my girlfriend takes video of the Ant Colony roaming through the fans, Ophidian of the Osirian Portal limbos in front of her and drops to the ground. He begins reading a note written on nice stationary that I notice begins “Dear Ophidian.” He sits and reads for a few minutes before dropping all of his serpentine movements and wrapping a nearby girl, presumably the author of the note, in a big hug.

And even aside from the chance to meet your favourite ants, snakes and (Ultra)mantises, there’s a lot going on. There’s a chance to commentate on matches, a contest where fans and wrestlers attempt to bodyslam Tursas (and the Colony’s Green Ant begins his transformation into Lex Luger), a dance contest hosted by the Osirian Portal, and a concert by Stan Bush. Nobody enjoys it more than “Rock and Roll Ring Announcer” Gavin Loudspeaker, who dances and thrashes around when Bush plays “The Touch.”

A few hours later, the second night of action begins, which sees surprises, thrilling victories and bitter defeats.

One of the most engaging contests of the entire weekend is the first qualifier for the Rey De Voladores, which features El Generico, Zach Sabre Jr, Marshe Rockett of Da Soul Touchaz and the BDK’s Pinkie Sanchez (who sports both some of the funniest facial expressions I’ve ever seen and some incredibly gnarly back acne). The referee for the match is BDK’s Derek Sabato who’s biased officiating allows Sanchez to eliminate Sabre and Rockett. Sanchez has the victory in hand when Chikara’s Director of Fun, Wink Vavasseur enters the arena. Wink forces Sabato to wear a standard Chikara referee shirt, symbolically stating that the BDK will no longer have their own referee. The crowd bursts into the biggest cheers of the weekend, so far, when Generico then drills Sanchez with his BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! (picture a top rope brainbuster, driving the opponent head-first into the top turnbuckle). Sabato begrudgingly counts a slow three, but he could count to 100 – Sanchez is out cold.

The BDK’s night doesn’t get any better as their team of Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeir and Delirious, accompanied by Tursas, face off against the Colony. In a thrilling, come from behind victory, Green Ant completes his transformation into Lex Luger as he finally succeeds in bodyslamming Tursas (causing Gavin Loudspeaker to literally leap into the air with excitement) and forces Hammermeir to submit to a torture rack backbreaker.

Other notable contests include a heart-wrenching and hard hitting tribute bout to Sweeney by Eddie Kingston and Arik Cannon, a sensational main event where Team Michinoku Pro defeat Quackenbush, Toyota and Jigsaw, and the 1-2-3 Kid winning the other Rey de Voladores qualifier, setting up a match with Generico for the final day.

The crowd seems a little thicker on the final day, with more little kids. Or perhaps it’s simply that a new vendor is here selling a wide variety of wrestling masks, making them much more visible. In addition to the handful of youngsters with Fire Ant, Jigsaw and Osirian Portal masks from the first two days, there’s now a cadre of kiddies running around in brightly coloured Rey Mysterio masks. The cutest, though, is a father and son both in El Generico masks.

No time is wasted as the semi-final matches are held immediately. The match between fan favourites The Colony and The Osirian Portal conflicts the crowd. When the standard duelling chants of “LET’S GO PORTAL!/CO-LO-NY” begin, many fans are chanting both names. The Colony picks up the victory (via a spectacular top-rope neckbreaker) and advance to the finals.

The crowd is remarkably respectful and sympathetic. Handshakes before and after matches, clean breaks and stalemates are all met with cheers. The fans get into the show and cheer their favourites after losses as would little kids- they want to let them know its okay and that they still support them. Chikara is also likely the only place you’ll ever hear wrestling fans chant “SAY YOU’RE SORRY!” as they do during the Colt Cabana vs. Archibald Peck match. Hell, the fans even chant “Holy Poop!” instead of “Holy Shit!” because of the kids present.

The Colony’s opponents in the finals will be F.I.S.T., the 2009 winners, who manage to eke out a victory over Team Michinoku Pro. Chuck Taylor blinds Sasuke with baby powder and rolls him up for a pin (which one imagines was a real “mark-out” moment for Taylor). Icarus hate is at an all time high. One spirited fan in particular screams at Icarus to tap out every time he’s in a submission move, as well as when he’s performing a submission, or is just standing at ringside. He also earns several chants of “PLEASE RETIRE!”

The Rey De Voladores final is a hard hitting and exciting affair that has fans on their feet as Kid and Generico exchange deadly manoeuvres and nearfalls. After kicking out of a top rope version of Kid’s X-Factor, Generico hits the BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAHH!!!!! for the win, and the roof nearly blows off the arena. Kid is completely overwhelmed as fans chant his name. He takes to the microphone and pays tribute to Generico, Chikara itself and the fans. He notes some of the questionable things he’s done in his career, and the fans chant “WE FORGIVE YOU!” He announces that this will likely be his last year in wrestling, and that this may have even been his last match. If it was, he says, he couldn’t think of a better opponent or better fans to go out on. He’s given a long and loud standing ovation from the crowd, and then another from the wrestlers in the back that can be heard all through the arena.

For Sean Waltman, King of Trios meant redemption. After all, he doesn’t exactly have a great reputation among fans. It wasn’t long ago that he was so hated in wrestling that a term was invented to describe it (“X-Pac Heat” – when fans hate the performer, as opposed to the character, and don’t want to see him anymore; some fans say Icarus has the same sort of heat). He’s been seen as a talented performer who pissed it away with drugs and other poor decisions. He was that guy from the sex tape with Chyna, who politicked his way to the top of the industry with his Kliq buddies and never gave anything back- a selfish failure. Some fans were speculating, based on past behaviour, that he wouldn’t even show up for the event.

But at King of Trios a strange thing happened: the man became the Kid, and the kid became a man. Waltman busted his ass in three great matches. He put over his opponent in the ring and on the microphone. He paid tearful tribute to the fans and the company. And if that was Sean Waltman’s last wrestling match, he certainly went out with a lot of class.

That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone who’s name has so often been used in the same sentence as “Chyna’s gigantic clitoris.” Well done, Kid.

Speaking of redemption, that’s what the King of Trios final is all about. After losing in the finals of the tournament last year, and then losing Green Ant to an arm injury, 2010 was a dismal year for the Colony. The crowd (other than a handful of 3rd row, die-hard F.I.S.T. loyalists) desperately want the Ants to win this one.

After all the comedy and Lex Luger parodies of the weekend, the main event is old school wrestling booking at its finest. F.I.S.T. ground the Ants early on, with Chuck Taylor bashing Green Ant’s arm with a chair during a fracas. That arm becomes the target and F.I.S.T. pound on it mercilessly. The Ants rally, however, and take advantage after Taylor’s baby powder to the face backfires and hit his teammate Johnny Gargano. The match goes back and forth many times, manipulating the crowd with multiple false finishes, bringing their excitement to a fever pitch. Finally, after twenty minutes of tremendous action, the Ants unleash unheard-of offense – a top rope version of their Antapault move. They launch Green Ant ludicrously high into the air for a splash on Icarus that wins them the match and the tournament.

The crowd explodes into cheers: justice has been done. But it’s about more than that. The fans have been feeling the wrestlers’ pain all weekend. As mentioned, they’ve offered sympathy to favourites like Team Quackenbush, The Spectral Envoy or Team Michinoku Pro after their in-ring losses. Moreover, they’ve offered their sympathy for real life losses, as in Kingston and Cannon’s tribute match. After all that, it’s not just the Colony (and Generico, for that matter) who deserve this victory- the fans do too.

After the show is over, there’s one thought that sticks out in my head- Monday Night Raw is going to suck in comparison to this. I’ve been to a show that was family friendly, yet engaging for fans of all ages. A show that saw long suffering heroes finally vindicated as they faced impossible odds. I saw one of wrestling’s pariahs redeem himself, and several legends put over the next generation as they wind down to retirement.

For fans like me, watching the WWE can be an angsty experience. We fret and we fuss over who deserves better, who’s holding the young generation down, who could help the whole company out if they would just be booked to show more weakness, etc etc. These concerns are miniscule, if they exist at all in Chikara. It’s a whole different animal. It’s ridiculous and fun and over the top, but very old school as well (not just Matt Classic either).

Wrestling fans, you owe it to yourselves to check out Chikara. There’s no better wrestling product for kids, but between the humour and the action they can appeal to anyone. Give them a chance. Maybe we’ll see you at King of Trios next year.

Sidekick Andrew: All three nights of King of Trios 2011 are available at www.smartmarkvideo.com – in just another example of awesomeness, the DVDs were released within 24 hours of Sunday’s final! We’ve ordered our here in the Bunker, we suggest you do the same.

Dancing with Jericho: Part Five

Depending on how you feel about my Dancing with the Stars posts, you’ll either be really pleased or really disappointed this one is much shorter than usual. This week was American Week and apart from our Chris Jericho making a lovely job of the Viennese waltz, the whole show was a giant puke-fest of gaudy Stars & Stripes inspired outfits, outrageously inappropriate music and displays of patriotism so overt it would have made me bilious even when I was at the height of my love affair with the USA. So rather than subject both myself and the faithful readers to a 1500-word sociological commentary on patriotism, or a huge rant on how much I hate the need for random gimmicks on this show, I’ll just say nice things about Mr. Jericho’s dancing.

There. I’ve cheered up already. As I explained previously, the Viennese waltz incorporates waltz steps with rotations around the dancefloor. Clearly those 18th Century Austrians liked a challenge. Just like Simon Cowell on X-Factor, the judge everyone wants to impress is Len Goodman. If you get a wink of approval from Len, you know you’re doing it right. Chris Jericho was feeling the pain of not getting more than a seven from Len and asked Cheryl to help him achieve it. He did this while speaking in a mock English accent. It was more Ozzy Osborne than Len Goodman, but I’ll keep him out of the Dick Van Dyke Club for Awful British Accents because I like him so much.

Not only was Chris feeling the pressure of dancing to  America the Beautiful, he was also incurring the wrath of the dreaded Viennese waltz motion sickness. His nausea is represented in this dainty move:

What’s most pleasing is that Chris is fed up of coasting through the competition in the middle of the board. He’s ready to start reaching for the big glitterball and win this bitch! Or in wrestling terms, he wants to get bumped up from being a mid-carder to main eventing for the big titles.  Let’s waltz Viennese style…..

Even though I’m saving the upgraded crush-face for another dance in protest against a truly terrible episode, Jericho was pretty special during this dance. Dreamy, even. To make the Viennese waltz look effortless takes a lot of skill and control. He definitely pulled it off. Bruno and Carrie Anne thought it was fantastic and Len gave a tentatively positive judgement, ending in “Yow’ll ge’t an ayt when yow dee-zerve an ayt.” And if you understood that, I applaud you. Score time!

Sit tight, darling. I’ve got a good feeling about these scores.

Yay! Very well deserved indeed. The American people clearly agreed. Our hero has sailed through to week six, while lovely Petra Nemcova went home. Next week is apparently Guilty Pleasures Week. How this will translate to the dancing, I have no idea. I suspect it will involve Kendra Wilkinson slutting about in a tiny samba skirt and getting upset the following week because people were looking at her legs. The great news is that Chris Jericho will be the first celeb this series to do a tango. Time for him to bring back his serious, Latin face, and for me to dust off the Chris Jericho crush-face I refused to pull out this week. More dancing, less faffing next week. PLEASE!

Dancing with Jericho: Part Four

We hope you enjoyed our pre-King of Trios interviews immensely, but we recognise that not all our readers are familiar with the likes of Green Ant and Co. Don’t panic. Let me appease your unfamiliarity with the glorious spectacle that is Chris Jericho on Dancing with the Stars. Oh and before I cover you in sequins and feathers, you’ll be thrilled to know that Chris made a video from his training room this week in which, as well as appealing for DWTS votes, he announced that he’ll be returning to the WWE once the series is over. Sit tight, kids. He’s on his way.

After all the unnecessary added emotion of last week’s show, the fourth week of Dancing with the Stars promised a respite from having to dance to songs which remind contestants of their departed mothers and the like. This was Classical Week. A live orchestra, brighter lights, louder crowds. I initially thought this was the DWTS equivalent of Blackpool Week, where the remaining couples travel up North to the spiritual home of ballroom dancing, eat chips from polystyrene trays and coo over the honour of dancing at The Tower. Not so. Classical Week is exactly what it says on the tin. There’s an orchestra to provide live renditions of masterpieces by Tchaikovsky, Bizet etc, and well-known classical stars to belt out operatic favourites. I love this idea. One of my main gripes about both Strictly and DWTS is the incessant use of inappropriate music. I despise seeing people quickstepping to Katy Perry.

Romeo danced first, with a paso doble. As I mentioned last week, this is the bullfighting dance. Generally, the choreography is built around the male dancer being the matador and the female dancer being his cape. Sometimes she can be the bull instead. It requires feist and aggression. Romeo did quite well. He managed to summon up plenty of anger, although his bizarre basketball dribbling step was far too silly. Stop with the gimmicks, American Strictly!

Kendra Wilkinson did a Viennese waltz. This is much like a standard waltz but the steps are carried out while spinning and rotating around the dancefloor. It regularly causes motion sickness. It seems strange they’re bringing it in so early in the competition and before they’ve done a regular waltz. Anyway, Kendra continued her trend for annoying me. First she gags while listening to Time to Say Goodbye, which happens to be one of my most favourite songs of all time. Not a good start.  Then she proclaims that she thought all the ballroom dances were over. No, darling. Then, on hearing that Time to Say Goodbye is sung in Italian, she immediately decides she’s going to make the Viennese waltz the “Mafia waltz, baby” – complete with gangster outfits. I give the eff up. Bruno has a conniption because she ‘kills the dance’, Len sympathises with her novice status and Carrie Anne suggests she’s afraid of elegance.

Exactly.

Sugar Ray Leonard made a sloppy job of his Viennese waltz and ended up being sent home. Petra Nemcova, despite being one of the loveliest girls there ever was, danced a surprisingly spirited paso. The Karate Kid turned his standard waltz into a depiction of Romeo and Juliet. He did a stunning job. I still don’t believe he’s 49, by the way. He looks younger than I do and I’m, ooh, decades younger than 49! Nothing I’d seen so far, however, was better than Hines Ward’s paso doble. In fact, I believe I said “Blimey, that was a bit good!” out loud. There was nobody else in the room at the time. See? They should absolutely hire me as the fourth judge.

From something that pleased me greatly to something that divided me. The chick from the Disney Channel pushed my buttons again. Shocker! They danced to the music from Harry Potter and their outfits were suitably spooky. Fine, no problem with that. But while the way she danced was outstanding, the choreography was odd and definitely not very…..Viennese. At one point Mark looked like he was about to dry-hump the dancefloor. Len took umbrage with this and started shouting about how they should have respected the 300 year-old dance. Stop inflating your ego, Mark, and teach this girl the dances the way they’re supposed to be. It’s not about you.

Look how angry they made Len!

If you’ve read the first part of this post, thank you. I appreciate this is a wrestling blog and the only person you care about in these dancey posts is Chris Jericho. Like I said in the very first one, it’s rare that any of my other interests combine with wrestling. It’s usually a very solitary entity.  For humouring me so diligently I’ll curtsey at you in a big puffy dress. You know I write these posts while in full ballroom clothing and make-up, don’t you? It makes my critique feel more authentic. Alright, I’ve bored you long enough. Shall we proceed to Chris Jericho’s very swoonworthy paso doble? I had high hopes for Chris this week. If there’s one thing he knows it’s how to get angry, aggressive and ferocious. He is, after all, the man with a lion’s heart. RAWR!

Brilliant Paso-Face

In training, Chris isn’t being feisty enough. Cheryl regularly has to ask him to be angrier. Come on, Chris. You need to stop being the fun-loving ayatollah of rock & rolla and start channelling the arrogant, disdainful bastard you were after your heel turn.

There you go. Much better.

Dressed in bronze and with a newly grown beard and moustache for full Spanish effect, our boy was ready. Let’s paso doble……..

I repeat….

RAWWWWWWRRRRR!

Just to make sure we knew he was only playing at being mean, Chris proceeded to grab at one of the plastic vines on set and pretended to swing across the dancefloor.

Always with the tomfoolery

Carrie Anne and Bruno loved it. They said his connection to music was superb. Well he is a rock star, doncha-know. By the way, the music was In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg, if you’d like listen again and pretend you’re doing the dance with him. Only sad people would do that though. *COUGH*SHIFTY EYES*. He did an amazing job. There were a few moments where Chris’s movements didn’t seem quite sharp and snappy enough, and Len thought he’d lost a bit of the paso attitude towards the end. Otherwise, rawr.

Oh Len

Kirstie Alley finished the show with a waltz, during which she lost her shoe and put it back on while sat on the floor. She had also picked up a hip injury during the week, which scuppered part of her training time. This woman is the queen of haphazard dancing. Next week Chris leaves the Latin alone and goes back to Ballroom with his Viennese waltz. Assuming it’s a traditional one, I can tell you in advance that I’ll definitely be upgrading the Chris Jericho crush-face. I’m getting an attack of the vapours just thinking about it.

CHIKARA King of Trios: Bryce Remsburg interview

Not sure if I’ve quite managed to get this across over the last couple of days, but I’m really excited about the CHIKARA King of Trios this year. Actually, I’m really excited about it every year, but the line-up is especially strong this time around

One of the (many) things I love about CHIKARA is that every last person involved just seems to “get it.” Whether its The Batiri offering the bronzed skulls of The Colony for sale on Craigslist or the guy who decided to update the Paypal account to list WMDCorp, nothing is left to chance.

This also goes for the referees, in particular Bryce Remsburg – a graduate of the first class at the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory and probably the best known referee on the independent circuit. Remsburg can sell a move better than most wrestlers, a skill which makes him an integral part of any match he officiates. Bryce was kind enough to answer a few questions for us in our third EXCLUSIVE (yes, still all caps, like MATTHEW used to be) King of Trios interview.

Bryce Remsburg, thanks for the opportunity for an interview. Could you briefly introduce yourself for readers that might not be familiar with you?
I am just a dude who loves me some wrestling from Philly. I referee, commentate, and it is my opinion that I make an excellent wedding date.

How would you explain CHIKARA to someone who may not have seen any of the shows before?
CHIKARA is everything wrestling should be: athletic, colorful, compelling, and overall FUN. Its a comic book come to life, and it takes spandex playfighting to a whole new level.

King of Trios is the biggest show of the CHIKARA year, possibly the largest in the world of professional wrestling. How big a deal is it for you to be part of the show again this year?
It is my privilege. This is the one weekend a year the wrestling world is watching us, and we all know it. Everyone is set to make an amazing lasting impression with our best foot forward. It is without question our big show, without all the acromegaly.

Who are you most looking forward to officiating for during the tournament?
A 10 year kid who lost his mind when the 1-2-3 Kid pinned Razor Ramon will be standing in a ring with him tomorrow night. 28 year old Bryce has not fully processed this yet, for fear of imploding before the tournament concludes.

If you could pick a fantasy Trio of any three wrestlers, alive or dead, who would you pick?
Hmmm… I would like to think the trio of Andy Kaufman, Orange Cassidy, and Max Moon would be entirely unbeatable, NAY, invincible. Sidekick Andrew: Is there any indie wrestler who doesn’t love Orange Cassidy? Not sure I see the appeal myself…

CHIKARA’s DVD covers are incredibly popular with fans due to their comic book homages. If you could be a comic book character who would it be?
I would be Guy Who Doesn’t Read Comics Man. He never loses, and gets to make out with all the pretty ladies. I do enjoy our DVD covers though.

Of all the CHIKARA DVDs you’ve appeared on, which you recommend as really showing Bryce at his best?
Oh heavens, my dance movez (the z means its real) are on display in our Season 10 premiere, “Chaos In the Sea of Lost Souls“. This will erase all doubt that I make an excellent wedding date.



Overdone Tough Enough question: other than the obvious Alicia Fox vs Melina 5* epic, what is your favourite match of all time?
Wow, I gotta say, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart from WrestleMania X has a special place in my heart. No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little one.

As we are also interviewing Jakob Hammermeier for the blog, which member of the BDK do you respect the most?
Meh, I say an all-way tie for none of them. Definitely not that used car salesman moron Derek Sabato. Sidekick Andrew: would you buy a used car from this man?

You’re also part of the improv comedy group Secret Pants – if you could choose any member of the CHIKARA roster to join you for a sketch who would it be?
Well, Colt Cabana has performed with us, and that was great. But I think I’d like to see Eddie Kingston in a sketch comedy universe. The thought of it is funny already.

You’re also one of the favourites at the CHIKARA Commentation Station – who has been your favourite commentating partner over the years?
Probably UltraMantis Black. He has an uncanny knack for catching me offguard and making me crack up. Also, he smells nice. Sidekick Andrew: My UltraMantis Black crush is pretty out in the open, but *SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON*

Any final words for the Wrestlegasm readers?
Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, and if you don’t come to King of Trios, we’re gonna club a baby seal. No pressure. Now that I’ve completed my Wrestlegasm interview, I may need a cigarette. See what I did there?!

And on that seal-clubbing, post-coital cigarette advocating note, I would like to say a big thank you to Bryce for the interview. Alongside Jakob Hammermeier and Green Ant, that wraps up our (wait for it…) Trio of interviews. Get it? Trio? Hahahaha!

CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament is being held on April 15, 16 & 17 at the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, and quite frankly if you’re in a position to attend and you don’t then I’m not sure I want to know you. As well as the CHIKARA and BDK regulars such as Mike Quackenbush, and my man-crush Ultramantis Black, there will also be Japanese legends Manami Toyota, Dick Togo, Jinsei Shinzaki and The Great Sasuke, as well as ex-WWE star the 1-2-3 Kid.

Tickets are still available at the official CHIKARA store as well as DVDs of the previous tournaments, every last one of which is worth watching.

Dancing with Jericho: Part Three

As the Sidekick explained yesterday, last week we were all about getting over our Wrestlemania jetlag and cooing over the triumphant return of Tough Enough. But there’s one more thing we need to address before we start a whole new week of…. entertainment; Chris Jericho’s ever so sad tribute to his mum on Dancing with the Stars. God, I love when Canadians say mum instead of mom. It feels familiar and homely yet still foreign. Know what I mean? The Brits will understand.

This week, as well as having to learn an elaborate dance routine, contestants also had to dance to a song which meant something important to them “emotionally speaking”. My first reaction to this was to roll my eyes and scoff. Oh America. Must you try so hard to make everything a soppy, tear-drenched drama? We don’t do this exercise at all on Strictly Come Dancing. Stiff upper lip and all that, old-boy. To ask the celebrities do it in their third week of dancing also seems ludicrous. They’ve barely begun to think of themselves as dancers, now you’re going to make them even more nervous because there’s a personal connection to the dance? Oh America. On the plus side, this will at least teach them that they need to feel connected to every dance they do, much like X-Factor contestants are implored to connect with the lyrics of every tune they bark out.

The implication is that they’ve been given the freedom to choose any dance they like. Not so. My cynical guess is that they’ve been given the dance but they get to choose the music. The schedule of who dances what in which week is far too complicated to allow them to choose whatever dance they feel. Alright, let’s get on with this thing before I start getting into the muddy waters of televisual trickery.

Wendy Williams decides to dance to a song about how she got started in the media. i.e. radio. She cries a lot during her training video but considering some of the other heartbreaking stories coming up, she doesn’t raise even a tiny tickle in the corner of my eye. Her foxtrot is clumsy and far too loose. Chelsea Disney annoyed me further in her training clip by complaining again that the judges didn’t like her jive the previous week. SHUTUP! IT JUST WASN’T A JIVE! She decides to dance a Cha-Cha-Cha to a song written for her and about her by her ex-boyfriend. I wanted to hate it, but I couldn’t. It was brilliant. She was brilliant. The judges loved it, as did I, the fourth and most important judge. You see what happens when you play by the rules, kids?

Chris Jericho tiiiiiiime! Up until this point the show had been full of merriment and frivolity. That’s enough of that. Put your serious faces on right now! I had quite a fragile week, last week. It’s nothing I want to discuss, but let’s just say that it wouldn’t have taken much prodding to make my eyes leak. This was bad news when Chris Jericho chose to dance a rumba to Let it Be in tribute to his now passed away mother.

Don't let his tomfoolery convince you it's going to be a happy dance.

If you’ve read Chris Jericho’s first book you’ll already know the story of how his mum got into an accident and became wheelchair-bound. If you haven’t read it, shame on you. Thankfully, Chris retold the story for everyone unaware of his personal tragedy. It breaks my heart to see grown men cry at the best of times, but especially one I’m very fond of. It triggers an intense maternal instinct to nurture. This isn’t going to end well for my tear-ducts.

As if by magic, a stool and a park bench have appeared in the middle of the training room for ‘Story Time.’

Chris, choking back the lump in his throat, tells the story of the accident, how much his mum enjoyed dancing and how much she loved the song he’d chosen. I’m slightly concerned that he’s dancing a rumba. The rumba is the most intimate of all the dances. It’s a dance of love. It’s not the floaty, romantic love of the waltz or the foxtrot, but an I-NEED-TO-HAVE-YOU-RIGHT-NOW love. But it can’t be slutty. I absolutely loathe this word. It makes me gag. But it has to be sensual. If you’re not watching it and fanning yourself with your hand by the end, they’re doing it wrong. It’s also the most difficult dance for the male celebs. They spend a lot time out of hold and they find the vulnerability and intimacy of it uncomfortable. Cheryl decides that they’re going to make it soulful rather than sensual. Good call. I mean, who wants to be sensual for their mum, right? *gag*

I think I can watch this without weeping….until he mentions the fact that this week he’ll be announced as Chris Irvine instead of Chris Jericho. He’s being his real self FOR HIS MUM! Oh dear. I’m already sunk. Time to dance. And by the way, kudos to the set designers here for their part in making everyone sad.

Excellent mood setting. I really like that sideboard, by the way

He places the stylus on the record, presses a finger-kiss on his mum’s photo and hot-foots it down to the dancefloor. All of a sudden I miss the crackle of vinyl. Let’s rumba…….

Speaking as a Chris Jericho Irvine fan, he moved me to tears. He also made Carrie Anne smudge her eyeliner. Every second was heartfelt and at a certain point he spun Cheryl with such conviction I involuntarily held my hands to my heart and tilted my head in a way only usually executed by Disney princesses.

Speaking as the fourth judge, I agree with the other judges that his upper body was a little too rigid and it interfered with some of the fluidity of the dance. Overall it was a good try for a bulky guy and the great news, wrestling fans, is that he’s got the trickiest dance out of the way without too much bother. I was initially outraged that he ended up in the bottom two on the Results Show, but I’m reliably informed that, unlike the British version, the bottom two aren’t necessarily the two couples with the lowest number of votes.

I miss Strictly

Shall we race through the other dances? Alright then. If you insist. (YAY!) Kendra’s rumba crossed the line between sexual and sensual *gag* a little too much for me, but I think I have to accept that she doesn’t really know where that line is. Romeo lost his cool in training and claimed it’s because the song is too emotional for him. I knew this would happen when people started dancing for their deceased relatives. He also felt too emotional during the dance and made lots of mistakes. Oh America. See what you’ve done to these poor boys? Luckily, Hines Ward cheered everyone up by dancing a spectacular samba to an Earth, Wind and Fire track. I defy you not to listen to EW&F without wanting to shake something. Petra Nemcova decided to dance a waltz suitable for a real Disney princess to You Raise Me Up, for all the charity work she’s done in tsunami stricken Thailand. It was very pretty.

Sugar Ray Leonard did a Paso Doble, the first we’ve seen so far. I hated it. They gimmicked that thing to the hills and didn’t explain the dance at all. In the Paso, the man in a bullfighter and the woman acts as his cape. The choreography is built around that premise. What you’d remember about it though is that Michael Buffer got a pay-day and Sugar Ray came out with his boxing gloves on. Bleurgh. The actual judges thought it was great. We can’t agree all the time.

Just happy to be out on a Monday, to be honest

My loathing of Kirstie Alley’s self-obsession was tested this week when she danced to Over the Rainbow to commemorate the memory of her mother. She recalled how she got her big Hollywood break within the same few weeks that her mum died and her father was seriously ill. I’m a sucker for Over the Rainbow anyway, but when Maks pulled his quad, dropped Kirstie and struggled to carry on, my heart went out to them.

Aww

The Karate Kid did what I thought was a pretty boring rumba and the judges were so divided on how well they thought he’d done, they ended up squabbling.

I'm with Len

Wendy Williams was eliminated. She made some kind of excuse about having a child and a marriage and a career to hold together. Meh. Haven’t they all? You weren’t a good dancer and that’s OK. I have no idea which dance Chris Jericho is doing this week. He never replies to the tweets where I ask him. My mission to get him to reply to my tweets is ongoing. If I can get him to do it before the end of this series though, my life will be complete.

Dancing with Jericho: Part Two

The Dancing with the Stars results show is back. This means I can’t wait until Sunday to appraise you of Chris Jericho’s dancing performance. Come Sunday we’ll all be concerned with a ‘Big Dance’ of a completely different kind. Let’s jump straight in.

During the first week nobody was eliminated. This gave everyone a chance to show the other side of their dancing prowess. Whoever did Latin last week, did Ballroom this week and vice versa. Chris Jericho did a Cha-Cha-Cha last time, which meant he had to switch to a Ballroom dance this week. He was given the Quickstep. We’ll return to Chris a little later. First let’s give his dance some context.

Sugar Ray Leonard did a rubbish jive. Sure, he was enthusiastic but he was also off the beat and his moves were unfinished. I don’t know why boxers are all such bad dancers. Their job actually involves lacing together combinations of sharp movements. It’s a mystery, I tells ya! On to Kendra Wilkinson, the former Playboy chick. She’s got the Quickstep and is finding being graceful a challenge. Being ladylike is apparently very stressful. She ends up slumped in the corner sobbing about how she isn’t beautiful. Wah-wah-wah. Poor you. Maybe if you hadn’t spent five years living in the Playboy Mansion everyone wouldn’t ‘think you’re this Playboy sexy girl.’ Stop trying to manufacture your own Pygmalion story and just dance! Her Quickstep was decent considering it’s week two, and Len referred to her baps as chesticles. Game on!

Chelsea the Disney girl was infuriating. She and her partner came out dressed like circus freaks (a nod to the butchered Panic! at the Disco track they danced to) and danced something more akin to a GaGa video than a jive. You can’t just stick a few jive moves in and call it a jive. It has to embody the essence of the jive. THERE WAS NO ESSENCE. I blame the pro-dancer for getting ideas above his station so early on. Let’s move on to Mr. Jericho and his Quickstep. EEP!  Once again the Sidekick watched it before me and once again he suggested I might need to steady myself before watching for fear of fainting. He was right.

So the thing you need to know about the Quickstep is that it’s elegant, fast and you have to be extremely light on your feet. You pretty much have to dance as if you’ve got springs in your shoes like Tigger’s tail. This means if you’re muscular, chunky, bosomy or you’ve just got a fat arse, you’re going to find this dance tricky. Chris Jericho should find this dance tricky. He, however, seems to have a fantastic teacher. A good teacher will pace the dance so the celeb doesn’t look like they’re flagging. This is also a very smiley dance. You need to grin like it’s your wedding day even if your shoulders are about to crumble from holding the posture too long. I have no fears for our guy in that department.

First of all, the outfit was hot. Didn’t I tell you last week his Ballroom outfits would be sexier than the Latin? Vintage elegance rocks my world.

Swoon

What about the perma-smile? Let’s see how he’s doing there…….

Poifect

And the dance? Oh my. The dance. He was wonderful. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit even to myself and each time I grin like a child on Christmas morning. When I decided to start recapping Chris’s dances, I promised myself that I’d be honest. If he was terrible, I’d say so. I wouldn’t let the fact that I love him dearly and that he’s one of my wrestling heroes colour my critique. I can honestly say, hand-on-heart, that he made a brilliant job of the Quickstep. Considering this was his first Ballroom dance there’s a good chance Jericho will go a long way in the competition. Great news, wrestling fans!

The audience were in raptures. Mrs. Jericho and Jericho Jr. were ecstatic and Maryse, who appeared to be the only wrestling groupie sent by them on high in Connecticut this week, was especially impressed (even if she did look a little….plonked.) Go Team Canada! I’ll come back to “the little guy in the dapper suit” at the end for a very good reason.

For now let’s marvel at the fact that Len Goodman wore Chris’s hat out of admiration. Len never wears anyone else’s hat. In this confusing world of sparkles and spray-tan, that is a mark of respect.

As for the scores……TWO EIGHTS IN WEEK TWO, PEOPLE! This bodes extremely well indeed. I think you’ll allow me one more EEEEEP!

I’ll quickly fill you in on the rest, although I won’t hold it against you if want to bail now that I’ve covered Jericho’s dance. Petra Nemcova did a surprisingly decent jive. Surprising because the jive isn’t the easiest dance for tall people. It’s tight, compact, fast and with snappy foot flicks. If you’ve got long legs it takes a lot of control to stop yourself looking like Bambi on ice. Incidentally, being short and chunky, Jericho’s jive is going to be AMAZING. America, make sure you keep voting long enough for me to see his jive. I’ll never forgive you if I don’t.

Once again, Kirstie Alley spent the entire VT (which stands for Video Tape) talking about how much weight she’s trying to lose. For some reason the audience are just as obsessed with Kirstie Alley as Kirstie Alley is. I don’t get it. Considering her frame she did a pretty good Quickstep, although not nearly as good as the studio audience would have you believe.

That's enough about me. What do you think of me?

Psycho Mike stomped through the jive with the co-ordination of boozed-up freshers high-fiving each other. He ended up being sent home this week. Apparently he’s not as popular in America as his charisma suggested.  I worried for Romeo when he asked if the Quickstep was a sexy dance. No, no and no. Also, this look doesn’t say Quickstep, does it?

He was better than expected, but I question making them Quickstep to any song from Grease. Grease = jive. Wendy Williams struggled with boob-ache during her training. Get this woman some bespoke corsetry, DWTS! She had a good go but it was more Slowstep than Quickstep. The Karate Kid’s jive was so full of energy I wanted to jump up and join him. Len was right. He pushed too hard and it was far too hectic, but he’s a very good dancer. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t there at the end.  Hines Ward, who I think might be one of the sleeper contestants, did a lovely Quickstep. Very impressive indeed.

So that was this week. More Chris Jericho Dance-Watch next week (with everything else chucked in for good measure). I mentioned earlier that we’d come back to Jericho Jr.  I suggest you read Chris’s blog post on his dance this week. If you don’t involuntarily go awwww and it doesn’t make you love him a little bit more, we’ll never be friends. After this week’s dance, the Chris Jericho Crush-Face has been upgraded to this: