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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The March 2006 entrée: Tim Ellis & Sue-Anne Webster » » WWE » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Tim Ellis
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Many of you out there might know I'm a mad WWE wrestling fan. I even wrote an editorial for MAGIC on how magicians can learn from the WWE.

http://www.magicunlimited.com/PubAttitude.htm

Last year I actually got to attend WRESTLEMANIA 21 in the Staples Center in LA, but even better than that Scott Robinson (brother of Charles) presented me with a Smackdown T-Shirt signed by over 30 Superstars (including the late-great Eddie Guerrero.

My question is this:

Who else outh there in Café-land is a wrestling fan and what have you learned from watching the WWE that you have applied to magic?
IT Magic
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Invisible text? I had to highlight the page to read it.

Brendan
Magic, Illusion and Data Management
www.stardockmagi.blogspot.com

I picture a world of love and peace, a world without war where people live together in harmony.
I also picture us attacking that world 'cause they just wouldn't expect it
Tim Ellis
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Don't start that again! LOL... I'm actually fixing it as we speak.
Tim Ellis
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And after all the nice things you said about me making the website too... Smile
IT Magic
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Oh you text hider you.
Magic, Illusion and Data Management
www.stardockmagi.blogspot.com

I picture a world of love and peace, a world without war where people live together in harmony.
I also picture us attacking that world 'cause they just wouldn't expect it
Philipp K
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Tim,
since I've been a wrestling fan back in the 90's (my heros were Razor Ramon, Diesel, Doink the clown, Yokozuna, Brett the hitman, Bam Bam Bigelow and many others) I really enjoyed reading your article and it's a lot of truth in there that we (magicians) can learn from.

But,
I personally think one point has been left out, which to me is important.
It's the attitude the audience approaches a magic show with.
The entertainment part of wrestling doesn't start the moment a wrestler approaches the arena, it's long before that, it's a long time project to build up that excitement which explodes in emotions at the point the actual wrestling takes place.
So if we wanted the same excitement in our audiences we would have to create another image of magicians first. I too think that exotic or odd names and nicknames would help a lot. But when we hear "The great ...", "The amazing ..." or "Magic ..." our minds close the door for seeing new images before the show, because we have seen so many "normal" (maybe even non-exciting) magicians with those titles in their names that it's difficult for us to believe that particular artist will be different and rise apart from the rest.

What wrestlers have done correctly is they adapted to modern time and thinking which created a whole new image.
If someone thinks of a magician they still see a tuxedo wearing rabbit-out-of-the-hat-puller.
If you look at the evolution of wrestling you will notice in what short time they've managed to rise apart from average entertainment and into something completely new.
Magic seems to evolve too, but in small steps instead of big changes, we will get there someday too, it's just our decision how fast we'd like to arrive.


Since I'm "only" 18 and this is just a thought, I could be terribly wrong, but that's something one has to decide for himself.

Anyway, - LONG LIVE WRESTLING - WHOOOOOOOOOOOO (Rick Flair)

Philipp
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Tim Ellis
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Philipp, you may be "only" 18 but you make some excellent points!

Imagine if someone like Kurt Angle were to appear on the wrestling scene, then every second wrestler we see is an Olympic medallist... ridiculous! Yet I see that type of evolution happening in magic. One "original" character like David Blaine emerges, and every second magician is suddenly wearing T-shirts and stubble and doing "street magic". The same happened when Doug Henning emerged, when Copperfield emerged etc...

I do like the 'good vs bad' soap opera aspect of the wrestling. The way that the involvement of an interesting storyline elevates a good display of skill into an emotion-filled drama. The tension that can be created with a series of near-pins can have you on the edge of your seat. How can magic generate that level of excitement?



But seriously... Doink The Clown! Smile
Philipp K
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Quote:
On 2006-03-07 06:49, Tim Ellis wrote:
I do like the 'good vs bad' soap opera aspect of the wrestling. The way that the involvement of an interesting storyline elevates a good display of skill into an emotion-filled drama. The tension that can be created with a series of near-pins can have you on the edge of your seat. How can magic generate that level of excitement?


A good example for the above would be cutting the aces by Vernon. When told convincingly the story can be breathtaking.
I think giving routines a personal meaning (in stories or through other ways) is essential for transmitting that tension.
By adding conflict to your performance the audience can be lifted into a higher/different level of excitement.
It's the same as in wrestling where people think and sort of care about their stars:
"Gosh he's going to lose. I hope he can get up again. He's up .... but no he's been slammed down once more. Maybe if I keep my fingers crossed ..... yes it works, it works, he's back."
By this back and forth action the audience gets involved even more in the stories every time their expectation becomes reality than by just watching it happen. They can not only see it but actually feel what the performer is going through. It's that power struggle that keeps everything interesting.
Doc Brown : If you put your mind to it , you can accomplish anything .
Caleb Wiles
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I've actually been involved with the independent wrestling scene for a few years now. Those not familiar with the term "independent wrestling" would probably consider the organizations I work with to be the minor leagues. Mostly, I've acted as a referee, but have also done my share of ring announcing and hotline hosting. I've worked with a lot of guys on their way up (Abyss, Wildcat Chris Harris, CM Punk, Colt Cabana) and met a lot of big stars on their way down (Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Grand Master Sexay, King Kong Bundy, Public Enemy, Jimmy Valiant, Demolition Ax).

You guys are correct that there are a lot of similarities between pro wrestling and magic. I always tell this joke while performing for magicians...

"As many of you know I'm not only a magician, I'm also a professional wrestling referee. In fact, the two fields are very similar. After all, both involve psychology and deception.

Over the years, however, I've grown sick of all the backstage fighting and bickering in the wrestling business. You see when a wrestler invents a new way to perform a body slam or a piledriver, it's a matter of personal pride. When he sees another wrestler performing his move in front of a crowd, he obviously becomes very upset and fights always occur.

So wrestlers are constantly fighting over who created what move and whose move is just a variation, etc. I basically got so sick of this bickering that I got out of the wrestling business and decided to become... a magician"

Caleb
Mark Martinez
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Caleb,

Very nice, Funny!!! Because we all know Magician never bicker over who created what!!! Smile
Magically,
Mark

Success comes before work only in the dictionary. - Anonymous
Tim Ellis
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Caleb, aren't you the one who started the WRESTLING FAKERS page?

ORIGINAL - Superstar Billy Graham
NEW WRESTLER - Hulk Hogan
Caleb Wiles
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Sorry, Tim. That wasn't me.

Are you a fan of TNA (Total Nonstop Action)? I've worked with a few of those guys for years before they actually made it to the "big time." While I'll always be a fan of the WWE, the matches you'll find on a TNA show are more my style. Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, etc. are simply awesome.

Caleb
Tim Ellis
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We don't get TNA here in Australia. They screened it for a little while on Pay TV but it was mainly old episodes, and in the wrong order too. I've heard good and bad reports about TNA, and I keep up to date by reading http://www.pwtorch.com and http://www.prowrestling.com

I've heard their product is getting better and better though.

I've also heard Paul Heyman is doing wonders with OVW. I wouldn't mind seeing that on TV. Apparently he's really creating some great storylines.

Samoa Joe and AJ Styles came out to Australia last year, but I was out of town and - to be honest - I actually enjoy the wrestling on TV much more than I do live. (Though Wrestlemania 21 was something special!)

Wrestlemania
Corey Harris
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Hey Tim, I am actually an Independent Professional Wrestler. I have been a fan for as long as I have been into magic(since 88). I am only 23 though. I actually just released an ebook called "On the road with Tanker" It documents most of my career up until I broke my back last may.
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Tim Ellis
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Back breaking seems to be an occupational hazard in the life of a wrestler... all magicians ever have to worry about with their backs is finding kinives in them.

Seriously though, did your time as a wrestler taught you lessons in showmanship and presentation?
Corey Harris
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I would have to say yes. You have to have a certain presense in wrestling. So I think obtaining that same presense in magic is very helpful. Unfortunatly I cant bring my whole character over because I am a bad guy. I am working on my return Vignette right now. I go up to a sweet little old lady and say "Excuse me, maam?", "Did you know you were late.", "Your funeral was 2 weeks ago, we cant have dead corpes walking around by themselves now can we!"
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Tim Ellis
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You are definitely a heel! LOL

I just watched RAW last night and it was a good example of what we've been talking about. Virtually none of the matches had any backstory to them.

KANE vs TRIPLE H as a "Wrestlemania rewind match" - so what? No other reason as to why these two should be fighting each other, and it was a dull, dull match.

The only storyline that was progressed in the whole two hour show was McMahons vs Michaels... and they'd "poisoned" his drinking water so though the story was interesting, HBK couldn't wrestle so we got all story with no action... that didn't work either.

Such a simple lesson, if the audience don't CARE about your trick, don't waste their time and yours by doing it. By the same token, don't give your trick a really interesting build up only to have a weak pay-off.
Brad Burt
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What Philipp said above and an application. First, off it's brilliant. Setting the mood for a piece of magic in advance as they set the mood in WWE is something that I have argued for, but I admit on a limited format. I see it's much wider application now, but here is an example for folks. The Balducci Levitation to be truly powerful needs a build up in my opinion. For the few times that I used it I only used it in casual circumstance and built up to it for at least an hour. Either the topic of the Lev came up and I inserted myself or I would attempt to get the conversation onto the topic. From there once folks asked me to do it...then the build up starts: Oh, I don't do it too much anymore as the energy needed is .... Understand if I attempt this that I can only do it for 1 or 2 people and that's pretty much it for a week or more .... You ge the idea? I am not only setting up the parameters for the performance I am building up EXPECTATION OF SUCCESS in the minds of the audience. I am also inserting suggestions that will enhance the eventual effect and affect of the performance on those I select to be the witnessess to the 'feat'. I am also watching the audience and looking for one or two persons, generally woment, who I believe will be the most suggestable and most amenable to belief in what I will do.

I talk about Hindu Yogi's, Levitation as a skill long practiced in the orient, etc., etc. You have to build your own rap and also be able to deliver it with skill and conviction. The Balducci is a brilliant piece of magic, but it is not something that you can toss off and get all that is available from it. Build up is everything.

I know at least one magician who following this formula had a spectator faint dead away as he reached the top of his levitation. He called it disconcerting! But, his performance for just two people became the topic of conversation for pretty much the rest of the night! (He also got bookings...)

It would be smashing if we could figure out how to build up our show before we walked into a living room to do a 30 minute stand up show for a private party. Wouldn't it? How would we do that? We can't afford to do tv commercials...how would we target the people who are going to be there?

What if you could send a DVD about your show to everyone who is going to be at the show as part of the invitation? Cost picked up by the folks booking you? What if you had several tv playing your build up for 1-2 hours before you were introduced? I don't know, just noodling here.

Ever notice that when some new idea comes along all the first ideas on how to solve it are always costly and/or complicated? Best,
Brad Burt
Tim Ellis
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Very true Brad, and as a very simple example I think we all know how much easier it is to perform a show when the audience is expecting you, they've heard about you, maybe they've even paid money to come to see you.

At a corporate event, when you are unexpected and announced, you're a nobody who has to win the crowd over with your skill. But the show always has more impact if you've been built up throughout the evening, even if it's just the MC telling the audience a little bit more about you and how excited he is that you'll be appearing, each time he says anything during the course of the night.

Another tactic is to have "programmes" on the tables. So people can read a little about you before the show begins, but the best build up is word of mouth from people they trust.

Think about it. If a violinist came out to perform at your company dinner, he'd have to be pretty good to get your attention. But if, all work, the office was buzzing with the word that you had the world's best violinist appearing at the dinner, there would total attention and anticipation as soon as he was announced.

We often do "package" shows where we do close up over cocktails, then the show after main course. It's always so much easier to get their attention when you've been able to introduce who you are and what you do to them earlier. Often I'll say "If you liked this, you're going to love what we've got for you after dinner."
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"I think we all know how much easier it is to perform a show when the audience is expecting you, they've heard about you, maybe they've even paid money to come to see you."

Compare the audience of a rock concert - people who know the band, wait hours for it to start and have paid good money to see theem ... there is the complete pre-show vibe bordering on group think mentality. By the time the show starts most audiences are at fever pitch ...

Compare this to the magician with zero pre-show "sell" and as Tim mentions you've got a long, hard battle ahead of you to win them over.

Having said that I'm also wary of too much hype ahead of show time - because this tactic also gets so over used. And when your end product never matches the hype - you've got serious issues !
Michael Sullivan
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Long Live the BUSHWACKERS!!!!! ARRRRRRRRGGGG
Elly May Drudge
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Aaaahh, Michael...

My little pumpkin.

I was wondering how long it might be before you made your way to to the WWE yarn, string, thread (whatever they call it) where I KNEW I'd find you, eventually.

I heard through my ultra sonic detectors that your computer's been down...
Tim Ellis
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LOL Michael!!

Back to what Brad & Mitch were talking about, Craig is right, sometime the build up can be counterproductive. I'm thinking of the "mega-illusions" featured on magic specials. That sort of hype is quite different to the kind the WWE can generate on a good day.

For example, I just watched Fit Finlay & Bobby Lashley brawl uncontrollably again in Smackdown and, though the wrestling is virtually non-existent in their "tear apart" encounters, as a fan I really want to see these guys get the chance to "settle the score". There's LOTS of emotional hooks in that battle. Whereas Gregory Helms vs Chris Benoit... why are they fighting... no idea. Finlay & Lashley have a score to settle.

This sort of energy can be translated into magic.
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I'm waiting for a magician rassler who revives the original shiek's flash paper flame to the face to immobilize his opponents....... Smile ...
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." (Einstein)...
revlovejoy
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I am surprised how much I took away from this thread. I read it with suspicion, since I loathe "pro" wrestling. Just not my think. Not making judgments on those of you who do like it, but I just cannot get into it. I tried years ago.

That being said, the parallels in the theatrical devices you all are discussing is worthy food for thought with or without a love of the particular entertainment.

I can however, smell what the rock is cooking. It's curry chicken.
Tim Ellis
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It's interesting you should mention that Joseph. I've been told that Vince McMahon really likes magic and the idea of a magician wrestler (or maybe even a magician manager) would be a big possibility in the WWE if someone pitched it to him.
Tim Ellis
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Rev it's true, inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places!

To paraphrase Siegfried's Roy: "Look for the magic that is around you in nature, flowers, and all the wrestlers that share this planet with us."
Dave V
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I was a fan of the AWA when they had "real" wrestlers back in the late 70's. Vern Gagne and his son Greg. Greg Gagne and his partner Jim Brunzell were the "High Flyers" and were considered "technical" wrestlers rather than the show biz kinds you find on television today. The AWA wasn't nearly as flamboyant (well, except for Lord Alfred Hayes) which is probably why they never transitioned to TV. I watched people like Nick Bockwinkle, the Iron Sheik and Oly Anderson (father of Arn Anderson?) I even got to see Andre the Giant wrestle when he was still around. And who can forget (you haven't forgotten, have you?) Ivan Putski and his nemesis Baron Von Raschke.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Tim Ellis
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I think we all need a good nemesis in magic.


Who can forget URI GELLER vs JAMES RANDI for the Inter-Lectual Championship of the World!
revlovejoy
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OK then, David Blaine vs Criss Angel in a steel cage match.

David comes down the concourse, making girls cry with rising card decks.

Criss Angel is dropped into the ring suspended my meat hooks. MINDFREAK blasts through the speakers. Korn is live in the stadium.

Blaine's manager Leo DiCaprio is in a 3 piece suit, yelling at Angel's t-shirted brother who just can't BELIEVE he's doing another dangerous stunt.

The cage is lowered. Blaine levitates 6 inches or so to get to the bottom rope. Angel flies straight up and clings to the top of the cage like Spiderman.

David steps into a block of ice and disappears while Criss blows himself up.

David bites the heads of quarters, half dollars, and then live bats. Ozzy Osbourne shows up out of nowhere and throws a chair at Blaine for stealing his act.

Banacheck and Todd Robbins step in and declare the fight a win for Angel, who, at the last second, plunges his hand into a spectator's drink cup and pulls out the keys to the Dodge Viper that he was supposed to find on Blaine.

Everyone exits the stadium, complaining that they "have" the same "tricks" and could be famous too with a TV contract. Older magicians complain about lack of style. Who spells "corn" with a "K" anyway?

Blaine is left in the ice for 48 more hours. The janitorial staff finds him later.

Match goes to Angel. He gives the car to his mom, and flexes his rock hard abs one last time surrounded by 10 women with the same rock hard abs.

And in the lobby, Tim Ellis is freaking out the whole lot of em eating razorblades.
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