Made it to level 44!
Took about fourteen days. I’d love to say that they went great for me and I got a lot done and am feeling very hyped and encouraged, but, well, life had different plans for me . I’m still here, though, and I did actually get a fair amount done, but there were some major roadblocks in the way as well.
The first was a positive one: my brother was visiting, and I got more or less only bare minimum studying done while he was here. He left right before AEW’s All Out pay-per-view started on September 4, and I thought, “Great! I’ll be able to get some studying done tonight after the show!” Wrong!
The show itself was fairly average, as far as AEW PPVs go. Not their worst, not their best. Then the post-show media scrum happened, and that’s when all hell broke loose…
I’m not sure we’ll ever actually know the full details of what happened that night. It’s looking to be this generation’s Montreal Screwjob. But let me tell you, the dirtsheets (which feed the wrestling rumor mill and which are written by the closest thing pro wrestling has to actual reporters) had a very, very busy week, and I got very little sleep and did not have a very fun Labor Day .
Last month, I wrote a post in the pro wrestling thread where I rambled about mostly TJPW stuff, but also touched on a repeated metaphor in AEW, where the wrestlers known as the Elite are figuratively referred to as the “walls” of All Elite Wrestling. Well, on September 4, those walls were seriously shaken, and it was the biggest threat to the company’s existence that they’ve faced so far. For a company that survived a pandemic that happened in its literal second year of existence, that’s saying a lot.
I’m going to put a longer explanation under a cut so that people who don’t care about wrestling drama can skip it. Yes, this actually is important context for my Japanese language journey!
Here’s, like, the shortest possible explanation I can give. It’s still long .
In August 2021, AEW managed to convince the retired wrestler CM Punk to join the company after he’d spent seven years out of the wrestling industry due to WWE leaving him physically, mentally, and emotionally burned out. Him joining AEW was A Big Deal. They sold out an entire stadium for his debut based on the mere rumor that he would be there. In the few months that followed, the company reached new heights of popularity that it has yet to reach since, including getting some major ratings victories over WWE, their main competitor and the global industry juggernaut.
CM Punk was from an era of wrestling that was well before my time, and even while he was at AEW, my main focus was on other stuff, mainly Kenny Omega’s ongoing storyline, and then all of the sideplots that sprung off from that while Kenny was out of action for many months to recover from a bunch of surgeries and lingering injuries he’d had.
But I did start paying more attention to CM Punk when he had a really great feud with MJF, a wrestler I don’t typically like, and then Punk went from there to challenging Hangman Adam Page for the AEW championship. A bit from that feud is alluded to in the post I linked above, but basically part of the crux of the story was that Hangman essentially said that he, as someone who built the walls of AEW along with the rest of the Elite, was going to save AEW from CM Punk.
But it was not to be. Hangman lost to Punk, dropping the AEW title to him, and then before Punk could do anything with the belt, he got injured and had to step away from the ring for a few months to heal while they crowned an interim champion. Punk came back just a couple weeks ago, and right after he returned, he lost within minutes to the interim champ Jon Moxley in the match to unify the titles. The week after that, Ace Steel, Punk’s old friend and mentor, was introduced to the audience when he cut a rousing promo in the ring to rally Punk and convince him to challenge Mox again at All Out, the PPV that weekend.
So Punk vs Mox happened again, and this time it was a proper match, and Punk managed to win! MJF, who’d been away from the company for months as part of a worked shoot storyline (a blend of real and fake), came back at the end of the show to challenge Punk, evoking some lines from one of Punk’s most famous promos in Ring of Honor years ago.
The media scrum started pretty much immediately after the show. Punk still had blood on his face after his match. Right away, things started going off the rails. Punk went on a tirade about his former friend Colt Cabana, with whom he had a very public falling out with many years ago, and then he started to lay into the EVPs of the company (who are the three core members of the Elite: the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, who had coincidentally just been crowned AEW’s first trios champions that night), as well as Hangman Page and MJF. He made all of them as well as the company as a whole look very, very bad. Notably, at one point later in the scrum after Punk’s part is over, a security guard can be seen absolutely booking it out of the room.
After Punk left the scrum is when everything imploded. All the details we know were reported second or third hand through the dirtsheets, so the specifics are probably not quite right, but essentially the EVPs went to confront Punk in his room, bringing with them the head of legal and the talent relations representative, and things devolved. Punk punched Matt Jackson (one of the Young Bucks), and Ace Steel knocked out Nick Jackson (the other Buck) with a chair, and then bit Kenny (who’d reportedly saved Punk’s dog and then ran back into the room to try to break up the fight only to get bit by a human man).
It’s one of those cases where I didn’t even believe it was real at first. A press conference devolving into violence is one of the oldest wrestling tropes in the book, and a literal chair getting used as an actual weapon is just incredible. The whole conflict was also exquisitely foreshadowed, with basically everything every single one of Punk’s opponents said about him coming true. Someone on reddit actually predicted the whole thing (as an intentional storyline) almost flawlessly, and with Punk’s “You stupid old man. I’m a snake” line getting repeatedly referenced, it just seemed almost too perfect. And with MJF already doing a worked shoot storyline, and with Punk having a history of doing them as well, it all seemed to point toward this just being a very messy and complicated work (i.e. a storyline and not a real altercation).
But, well, I guess it just turned out that the reason why it was foreshadowed so perfectly is because the wrestlers were bringing real stuff into it. Hangman’s conflict with Punk was real. Punk’s threat to AEW was also real. Maybe repeatedly hearing all of that from all of the wrestlers he feuded with, even though it was kayfabed, made Punk feel like he could never escape the narrative that was told about him, so he just gave into it.
Reportedly most of the locker room is very angry at him, and it seems likely that he will be fired (if he doesn’t quit first). He actually got injured again in the title match at All Out, and won’t be able to wrestle for several months regardless. Currently, his status with the company is unclear. The status of the Elite, too, is unclear. It’s possible that they leave the company, or get their EVP jobs stripped from them, or they could come back fundamentally unchanged.
The “fracas”, as the dirtsheets are referring to it, is currently under investigation, and all of the wrestlers who were part of the altercation are currently suspended while they investigate, including Kenny (right after he just came back, too, ), and Punk and the Elite all had to vacate the titles they just won. It’s a tough time to be a fan of the company, because it feels like in many ways a betrayal of what AEW stood for at the beginning. Punk brought with him a deep bitterness and resentment that festered within him until there was nowhere else for it to go but out.
As of right now, this is all we really know. AEW is at a bit of a crossroads. Maybe Punk gets fired, and the wrestling world goes back to being a world without him in it, only this time he’s reviled as a villain instead of hailed as an anti-establishment hero for the people. Or maybe Punk and the Elite manage to mend fences somehow, and the whole thing becomes a legitimate worked shoot using this real conflict as a springboard.
Pro wrestling is a weird world where people hating each other can actually generate a massive amount of hype for a match and sell loads of tickets. But it’s also a world that requires immense trust between opponents (who quite literally have each other’s lives in their hands), and wrestlers have said over and over again that their worst matches are with people they don’t like (because there’s no trust there), and their best, most brutal and most spectacular matches are with people they actually love.
This is why Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi is the only match other than a G1 final to sell out Budokan Hall in the past 15 years, and they did it twice. Wrestling is at its best when the wrestlers genuinely love each other. Hate sells tickets, yes, but I think love actually sells more.
I’m extra bummed because this is the second major obstacle in the Golden Lovers storyline this year that stems from depressing shoot (a.k.a. real) stuff happening in their companies. I’m sure that they’re still determined to continue the storyline if at all possible, and I have faith in them finding some way, somehow. But it has been a very long 3+ years.
Obviously I missed Punk’s first, second, third, etc. go at things in the wrestling world, but at the same time, I feel like I got to live the entire CM Punk Experience, contained in this tiny microcosm of a year. I get why people hated him. I get why they loved him. It’s hard to fully unravel my emotions concerning AEW because its timeline matches up almost perfectly with my own timeline as a wrestling fan, and I’ve been following the company for essentially its entire existence, through its (many) growing pains and all of its biggest triumphs as well as tragedies.
But, well, I’m still here. And wrestling is still here. AEW is still here. The Golden Lovers are both still here, reaching constantly for a reunion that’s always just out of their grasp. I guess for me, the lesson is that, as always, you just have to love the things that you love while you still have them. Nothing is unshakable, and just because something is good now doesn’t mean it always will be. プロレスは諸行無常.
On a more positive note…
I used my Japanese ability to help out a real life friend! I also had my first actual conversation (in writing) in Japanese! So despite falling behind in some aspects of my studies due to all of the distractions, I did manage to actually use Japanese in some really cool and productive ways this level.
My burned item count as of the beginning of this level: 3963 (and 2852 on KW!)
Fun encounters with Japanese outside of WaniKani:
One of my friends was doing some genealogy research, and she discovered that one of her ancestors appears to be a Japanese woman who had a love affair with an American soldier during the Korean War. My friend was trying to track down more information about this woman, but all she had was a name, photo, and an address (written in romaji) from old letters. My friend asked me if I could help her track down more information about her. One of the biggest obstacles is that “Margie” is what her name is on the letters, and no one is sure if that was her actual name or just what he called her.
It was hard (and frustrating, haha) working with only romaji, but I think I did manage to translate it into an actual usable address, thanks to my kanji knowledge from WK. But Kokura City changed pretty significantly in the 60’s, and it looks like the neighborhood and establishment where the woman lived no longer exist. My friend was super grateful for the help, even though it feels like I actually did very little. I hope it’s enough to at least give her a place to start when looking for other resources.
Figuring out the city and district wasn’t too hard, but I was initially confused with “Ryokufuso. Tonary.” Then I realized that it was probably saying she lived next to, “隣”, an establishment called “Ryokufuso”. The one thing I couldn’t figure out was “Ōsonocho”. I wasn’t getting any results for おうそのちょう in that area, so my best guess was that it referred to the block or the street where she lived, which seems to be no longer there. I wondered if maybe it was “おうそ の 町”, perhaps “大曽の町”. I offered to help my friend with it some more if she gets stuck again. Hopefully there are English-language resources out there to help people who are trying to do this kind of research. In any case, having at least the prefecture/city/district/etc. pinned down should at least help her figure out who to ask to get more information.
In other news, I spent a bit of time looking at posts from Japanese fans regarding the AEW stuff. There are a few fan accounts that translate English-language wrestling news and occasional promos and such.
One of the most popular fan translation accounts made this tweet in reaction to the news that Kenny Omega had been suspended along with everyone else, and that the Elite had to vacate the trios titles. It actually really helped me understand the concept of 建前 haha, and it taught me the word/concept of 本音 in contrast to that.
On the surface (建前), the fan was talking about giving credit to AEW’s president for punishing both sides, because as an EVP, if Kenny doesn’t take responsibility if he caused trouble in some way, that sets a bad precedent for the other wrestlers and staff. But the fan’s real thoughts (本音) were dismay and disappointment that it had to happen haha. Judging from the number of likes, this was a relatable sentiment among the Japanese fanbase.
The episode of AEW after the media scrum was a pretty important one because it established the immediate direction the company is taking after all of this. A few wrestlers cut promos that were super vital, and I’d worried a bit that the Japanese fans might be missing them, especially if Michael Nakazawa isn’t going to be subtitling the episodes while he’s suspended. So I was really happy to see at least one fan translation of those promos circulating.
I ended up scrolling through that fan translator’s account and I found this essay they wrote on MJF and his AEW story. Reading the full essay is still a little bit out of reach for me unless I dedicate a lot of effort to it, but I was super impressed with what I did read. I read a lot of wrestling essays of this type written in English, but I hadn’t had much luck finding that same kind of essay in Japanese. I was really happy to see this one.
MJF is probably the most inaccessible wrestler in AEW for non-English speakers, in my opinion, since his main skill is his ability to talk (in-ring, he’s more or less just okay). Following his story this year has all kinds of additional complications because of the way that it blends work and shoot, and getting the full picture requires at least a little bit of awareness of what’s being reported in the dirtsheets.
It’s hard enough as a native English speaker to navigate the labyrinthine mine of rumor and myth (and frequent mistranslation) that is the wrestling dirtsheets. I can’t imagine trying to do it as a non-native speaker.
So I was super impressed by that essay because it weaves together MJF’s onscreen storyline with some of the backstage rumors that inform it, as well as incorporating a bit of CM Punk’s Ring of Honor history from well over a decade ago, which keeps getting referenced and paralleled in AEW’s shows. Writing an essay of this type requires a deep understanding of English-language wrestling history and fandom, not to mention the ability to translate MJF’s frequently slang-loaded and kayfabe-breaking promos. I’m glad that Japanese fans are getting to experience this story a little better thanks to this person’s efforts.
I ended up reaching out to this person with my TJPW translation account because I wanted to tell them how much I appreciated their work and offer some solidarity as another fan translator coming at this from the opposite side. And I had my first actual conversation with another person in Japanese!
I noticed after the fact that I’d made a typo in one of my tweets haha (that’s what I get for composing it while I was also watching DDT ), but the person was super appreciative and really encouraging. They said they saw my TJPW blog, and I did great . They said, “東京女子プロレスの情報を発信されているということで、応援する団体は違えどもお互い頑張りましょう.”
I wasn’t exactly sure what level of politeness was appropriate for this kind of interaction, so I went in with what I understand to be sort of “default politeness”, a.k.a. using です/ます. The other fan responded to me with even more polite speech haha which was honestly above my level of understanding . But overall I think the interaction went very well! I feel less scared talking to someone who is also learning English, because I feel like we’re sort of on the same level, and there’s a lot of forgiveness for mistakes.
I had a bit of a hard time figuring out how to word this (I learned that a verb cannot in fact be passive and potential at the same time): “MJFの話を訳するのは特別に難しいので、日本人のファンも感動れられてもらうことができて特に嬉しいです！” A few hours after I sent it, it occurred to me that I had made the mistake of posting a public tweet with notorious vanity searcher MJF’s name in it. But I think the tweet being in Japanese saved me haha.
So, yeah, there was at least one positive thing that came out of the whole mess.
Another thing that was amusing to me is that Mugiko Ozaki, my favorite wrestling interviewer, talked about the English language diaries she’s doing with her English teacher, and she mentioned that her teacher is also a wrestling fan, so they spend a lot of time talking about wrestling haha. She wants to get better at English so that she’s able to conduct English-language interviews and such. She’s very dedicated to wanting to spread her love of joshi wrestling. One of my friends has been translating all of her interviews into English, and Ozaki is so delighted by this.
In non-wrestling news, I enjoyed this cup that someone shared on twitter. This was actually the second time I saw the word 珈琲 written in kanji that week. The other time was on the packaging for a fancy coffee accessory that my brother owned, haha. I don’t think I saw the word spelled in kana a single time on the packaging, only the kanji. Neither of those kanji are in WK, and I guess now is as good of a time as any to add them to Anki. I remember reading some debates about this word in the forum before (probably since it was included in a WK example sentence), with at least one person arguing that 珈琲 is rarely used in everyday life.
Yet another lesson that you can’t really make absolute statements like that about Japanese .
みんなの日本語 Lesson 39 – Lesson 40
I was lucky to get any textbook study done at all this level . But I did finish lesson 39 (though I was technically a bit late…).
I don’t think I have anything in particular to report about this level, except that I used some of the grammar in this right away haha in my aforementioned twitter interaction. So I guess it came at a good time after all.
I think lesson 40 was the first level where I knew all of the kanji in the vocab? It’ll be interesting to see the numbers when the spreadsheet is complete.
I updated the MNN kanji by WK level spreadsheet with the lesson 40 kanji!
Spanish (Reading: Antes de Ser Libres) (Listening: Duolingo podcast and La Casa de las Flores)
I made it 100 pages (out of 184) into Antes de Ser Libres by the end of the read every day challenge. I’d been hoping to get a lot more read, but, well, life had other plans . I did manage to faithfully read at least something every single day, though!
When September started, I got back into watching La Casa de las Flores! Since I’m refocusing on listening for a bit, I resumed where I left off in season two of the show. It’s still going pretty well, though I’m still missing a lot. It’s kind of funny because I’ll be pretty sure that something is happening in the show, but won’t be entirely certain that I understood it correctly, and then I’ll need to wait until the climax when everything comes together to find out how well I picked up on what was happening, haha.
I think I might honestly be at a point where I could move on from the Duolingo podcast? I’m not going looking for something else quite yet, because I do like the podcast, and figured I might as well listen to the remaining episodes, but I don’t really have trouble comprehending it at this point. That’s pretty cool!
I finished the summer read every day challenge with a perfect score! Didn’t miss a single day with either Spanish or Japanese. Click that link to read my recap post for the challenge. Those past two months were by far the most productive months I’ve had so far. I finished 11 show translations, and I think I translated more than 37,000 characters total.
When September started, I hopped back into the listen every day challenge for the off-month (again aiming to do both Spanish and Japanese). I’m not really doing anything particularly special to practice this time, except I am making an actual effort to watch every single TJPW backstage comments video and follow along with the shupro transcript. I’m a bit blown away by how much my listening has already improved since the last time I tried that challenge, honestly! I guess all of the translation work I’ve been doing has really been paying off.
No additional reading done this level on 大海原と大海原 or 新日本プロレス英語入門 or anything else. I couldn’t even get my bare minimum translation work done!
Finished just two show translations this level. The August 28 women-only show was another long one!
2022.08.27 TJPW PERFECTION — (4 words added)
2022.08.28 TJPW Go Girl 3～女性限定無料興行～ part 1 and part 2— (15 words added)
My wrestling deck is up to 978 words total. Still not all in circulation yet, mainly because I put a pause on adding new cards while I was busy. I’m on track to catch up within the next few weeks and be able to easily keep up with future additions from the shupro transcripts. I’d considered adding cards from other sources, possibly non-wrestling ones, but I think I’m going to hold off until my job situation is more stable, and until after National Novel Writing Month at the very least.
Depending on how things go, I might have to take it easier with Anki until I’m done with WK, if I do end up getting a full time job. Thankfully the wrestling cards do seem to be somewhat tapering off, partially thanks to me choosing not to translate the actual match/show recap parts and only translating the wrestlers’ comments, which use a more limited set of words.
New resources (pronunciation-related):
No progress here yet again! Too busy/distracted with other stuff .
New resources (not pronunciation-related):
Here are a few Japanese-English translation resources, which I have not actually looked into at all yet, but wanted to hold onto the links regardless. I still have no interest in doing this as a career, but I’ll take any resources I can find.
And here’s a book that seemed interesting: 江戸文化から見る男娼と男色の歴史 (“History of Male Prostitutes and Homosexuality Observed Through the Edo Culture”). Definitely not something I have the ability (or the time) to read currently, but I do like reading historical information about LGBTQ people in various cultures, so I might try picking it up a few years from now.
I’m really hoping that this next level is less eventful for me. I’m going to have to spend a decent amount of time working on a job application, but I’m really hoping that’s the only distraction I have to deal with besides normal work stuff.
My main goal is to be actually caught up on the TJPW translations by my next update. From there, I actually can start to think about other projects again. Of course, we’ll be heading into October, and I usually try to do some sort of drawing challenge during that month, haha, so my time for Japanese might be a little more limited, but I’m going to try to work with the time that I do have.
Onward to level 45! 行くぞ！