…or hotdogging, grandstanding, racism, etc.
Why, in The Times of Israel, might I spotlight a group of three Irish lads with a loyal fanbase of nearly 200,000 strong on YouTube? Furthermore, how, with their prominence in pro wrestling spaces, might a connection to the plight of Jewish people be made?
The interconnectedness runs deeper than you think.
An exploration of the history of Israel and both amateur and pro wrestling would more than fill the margins of an article itself, but consider this:
The Goldberg of His Day
Rabbi Rafael Halperin–think of him as the Bill Goldberg of his day–was a legendary Israeli athlete with stories for days. Halperin organized–and won–the first Mr. Israel bodybuilding event in 1950 and was a national karate champion. Wrestling as “Mr. Israel” and “The Rasslin’ Rabbi” he is reported to have won a Bill Goldberg-esque 159 consecutive matches.
Any article, much less a paragraph, isn’t nearly sufficient space to recap his illustrious career.
Ireland, Modern Friend to the Jews
Famed Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell once proclaimed that “Ireland…is the only country that I know of unsullied by any one act of persecution of the Jews” and while that is an oversimplification of the mixed history of Jewish persecution throughout history and in Ireland, many moments also portray a mutual tolerance.
To wit: William Annyas, a Sephardi Jew, was elected Mayor of Youghal in 1555. Furthermore, records indicate that Jewish individuals around the world provided some of the greatest aid to Ireland throughout the Great Potato Famine from 1845 to 1851.
The historic moments of magnanimity towards Jewish people has extended to present day, where three Irish pro wrestling reviewers blend wit with bombastic proclamations and denounce antisemitism when they see it.
Jay Hunter, V1, and OOC: Calling It Like They See It
From Irwin R. Schyster (IRS) to the use of footage of Auschwitz in a promo video for this year’s WrestleMania 39 event that received an apology every bit as hollow and insincere as a New York Times deflection of multiple instances of antisemtic symbols in their puzzles, the boys from OSW Review are quick to say, “F— the f— off” to Klan members and the like.
“We’re equal opportunity piss-takers,” Jay Hunter says with a laugh. “We’re pretty easygoing guys and want to share our love and enthusiasm for pro-wrestling, a refuge from the contestable environment you see on social media. We try our best to improve other people’s day, and good people with the same mindset vibe with us.
“If something drastic goes unsaid or important information is quelled, we’ll break the joviality to educate our viewers–like Jimmy Snuka’s charge with the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino, or more recently, Ted DiBiase and his children stealing millions meant for Mississippi welfare. But our primary goal for us (and hopefully the audience) is to have good times with old wrestling.”
And as the pathetic and haphazardly thrown-together story featuring an offensive graphic of a few Jewish wrestlers behind a menorah indicates, the WWF/E has a rough history of targeting Jewish stereotypes to rile up its fans.
Take, for example, Jamison, the Jewish-stereotyped character portrayed by “comedian” John DiGiacomo. As a sidekick to the Bushwhackers and lamented by the OSW Review crew in their 1992 Royal Rumble video, the grating voice, whiny demeanor, and “punchability” were clear signs of what the WWF – more specifically, Vince McMahon – thought of his Jewish fans.
“[What the] f— is this s—?” Jay says to the vocal support of his co-hosts as Jamison’s antics make cringeworthy an understatement. “Just looking at you through the tv and I want to stab ya…I’m not a bully, and I want to bully you.”
Co-host V1 chimes in: “I hated him. The second he opened his mouth I wanted a lighting rig to fall on him,” he says, and after checking his notes, recalls: “I want this Jameson bloke to die…slowly.” (For balance, the measured OOC opines that, “It’s [so] bad…[I’ve] gone past giving a s—.”)
For good measure, in their review of Summerslam 1992, held in London’s Wembley Stadium, Jay makes clear his thoughts on the insufferable character: “Thank Jesus they didn’t spring for Jamison’s airfare.”
A Legion of Fans Emerge
The three have come a long way over the last decade, and their ever-increasing fan base have taken note. The show is extremely well-polished while still retaining the boyish charm that resonates with the early subscribers to the show. With a library of videos spanning the decades from WWF’s Hulkamania era forward (and with witty lingo and inside jokes to boot) the OSW website provides new fans with its own dictionary to catch up to speed.
“Our lexicon is a happy accident – just things that crop up from doing so many shows that fans latch on to,” Hunter explained. “It’s a running theme to have unmarketable, inappropriate running gags because that’s where the humor is, from talking about [boy stables], to our Patreon itself, which is named after the Swedish ice cream Nogger bar. [I’m] laughing at the incredulity and tone-deaf nature of it. It’s preposterous, isn’t it! The show was never supposed to make any money or become popular. I’m still shocked anyone watches the show!”
Indeed, from wrestling fans around the globe offering their own takes on who would comprise the best “boy stable” to wrestling announcers referencing the OSW Review-coined “Aloha Arn” and “Brett’s Rope” terms, the show has transcended the boundaries of the Internet itself.
“[One] of my proudest accomplishments is having OSW terminology in the general wrestling vernacular,” Hunter said, citing:
- ‘Lesbian Pollen’ (“when female wrestlers temporarily pretend to be gay for a short storyline – the explanation being there must be Lesbian Pollen in the air!”)
- ‘Bret’s Rope’ (“the middle rope, where almost all of Hart’s aerial offense comes from”)
- ‘Aloha Arn’ (“referencing Arn Anderson – the act of trying to steady yourself after a sunset flip by waving your arms about, similar to a hula dance”)
“Smaller stuff like re-popularizing “hotdogging and grandstanding” (showboating), ‘Pearl Harbour’ (a sneak attack, coined by Gorilla Monsoon) and “schmoz” (brawl, usually on the outside) is so freakin’ cool.”
The love from fans is noteworthy at a time in which Internet anonymity makes pointless bickering and trolling in YouTube comments and Reddit threads ubiquitous. The show’s co-hosts note on multiple occasions the kindness and positivity within OSW Review social media spaces, and fans have likewise offered stories of how following (and rewatching) the show has gotten them through dire times.
“It was a bit weird at first but I feel quite passionately about making the show, and my hope is that others do too,” Hunter said. “It’s very freaking cool to hear we lift people up; it’s something that empowers me to keep going, and that what I’m doing isn’t a giant waste of everyone’s time! It means a great deal to me that people take time out of their day to tell us.
“For the longest while I just thought they’re just being kind, or my dad put them up to it or something. Like, we’re just guys who love wrestling and talking bollocks entertaining each other. We’ve been friends for 20-plus years now and the show is quite selfish – it’s the show I wanted to watch but no one was making. It’s fortunate that others enjoy it too.”
A Bunch of Marks
The three aren’t shy about the wrestlers – and moments – for whom they “mark out” (i.e. are passionate fans of) just as well as the moments they believe to be overplayed. To hold this degree of expertise to speak knowledgeably about the history of wrestling over the last four decades, the three have enjoyed live events over the years.
“I haven’t kept count but I never got to go as a child,” Hunter confessed. “My first one was Insurrection 2003 in Newcastle, England. I remember the crowd shouting “WHAT?!” along with Stone Cold was so loud I couldn’t hear the rest of the promo. At a house show in Dublin I brought a sign [that read] ‘My Boy Coach’ for Jonathan Coachman, a commentator who wasn’t on the tour! My favorite wrestling event was TNA in Liverpool in 2008; when they were just breaking out and gaining a lot of momentum, and ourselves and the crowd wanted so badly for them to succeed. That was with my co-hosts years before the show started. We talk about it in episode 116, complete with 2008 disposable camera photos!”
I then pose several hypotheticals to Jay, interested to discover the nuances behind his fandom even beyond the personal nature of the videos.
- Question: The future of OSW is on the line. Which WWF-era and WCW-era wrestlers do you want to defend you?
Answer: “Wrestling is full of carnies. The sport has its roots with carnival charlatans staging rigged contests, so any wrestler would probably swerve and beat us up! Probably The Genius (RIP) because at least we could get a nice poem about us beforehand. WCW-wise, Ronnie Garvin would be the most trustworthy!”
- Question: Who would win in a tables, ladders, and chairs match: you, OOC, or V1?
Answer: “The winner would be the least likeliest to take a bump, so OOC!”
- Question: What are some of your dream matches if you could hand pick guys across eras and promotions?
Answer: “I wish we could see Bret Hart vs Kurt Angle (two of my absolute favorite wrestlers) put on a half hour clinic. The mix of intense mat-wrestling, crisp execution and storytelling, culminating in a knock-down, drag out fight…it would be wonderful. Daniel Bryan vs. a prime Mr. Perfect would be similarly electric. I’d love to see how MJF would fare in the Attitude Era. The dude is just 27 and the greatest heel in wrestling right now. What if he was knocking around when the Kliq were running things?!”
- Question: All-time favorite WWF/E pay-per-view and WCW pay-per-view?
Answer: “I’m a sucker for 90s WCW, so the Halloween Havocs (‘93, ‘96-’97) are a great watch. The early Superbrawls, too. WWF-wise: 2002 was such a fantastic period of change for WWE, as it was just after WCW and ECW closed, so they had an influx of talent as well as creating their own. I highly recommend SummerSlam 2002, which has banger after banger.”
“We wouldn’t still be doing it without our fans’ support, so every time a new episode drops, YOU, reading this, are to thank,” Hunter says with a smile. “It’s why it takes about six weeks to produce an episode; I wanna give ya the absolute best! That’s why we work with so many artists, musicians, animators and video editors, [because] you deserve the best, and I’ll try my best to give it to you.
“Listen, I’ll keep making them until OOC and Steve tell me to sod off. It’s been 12 years now and they haven’t yet! See ya in the funny pages and sláinte!”