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Cody says his American Dream promo was workshopped & focus group-tested

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On the May 12 edition of AEW Dynamite, Cody Rhodes cut a long promo to hype his Double or Nothing feud with Anthony Ogogo.

Most of us thought this was a program between Cody and the prize student of a man who betrayed him. But in a long speech about from Rhodes, we learned it was actually about America vs. her enemies. That was why, for this one battle only, he would take his father’s nickname and fight as the American Dream.

This was quickly a hot topic on the wrestle web, as most of us thought it was the personal issues between Cody & his Nightmare Family stable and a group that betrayed them, led by the head traitor QT Marshall, Ogogo’s mentor. It was also a promo many, this writer included, found to be rambling, and that needlessly and clumsily injected race and politics into the story for no good reason.

Given that reaction, you’d think that someone backstage at AEW would have given Cody some notes on the segment before he went to the ring with a live microphone. Or perhaps he just came up with it on the spot, which as an Executive Vice-President of the company he probably is allowed to do.

No, Rhodes told GameSpot’s Wrestle Buddies pro wrestling podcast the segment was throughly analyzed long before May 12:

“This is probably gonna sound not cool, because a lot of wrestlers—especially wrestlers from my dad’s era—will lie to you and say, ‘Oh, I just came up with that promo right there on the spot,’ which is bullshit.

“But whatever. I workshop my promos heavily for weeks on end. We have a full focus group for them, as crazy as that sounds. This is a data-based company, so I workshop everything I do. And because my promos have been held to a really high standard—people pick at them and find things in them and they put a microscope on them, which I love.”

What sounds crazy to me is that in weeks of workshops and focus groups, nobody said “this doesn’t really match up with the story you’ve been telling, and also it’s rambling. Oh, and another thing! It is really gonna rub some people the wrong way.”

Maybe it’s because Rhodes sold it to the members of the focus groups the same way he did to Wrestle Buddies. Because what he told them trims the fat from the promo we got on Dynamite. It still adds a bunch of stuff at the last minute to a feud that was just “Cody vs. a guy who punches hard” – but it does a better job of justifying the American Dream angle.

“When I was just thinking about what the story really is, Anthony is living the American dream for real. All the wrestlers, like Bruno Sammartino, who I referenced in my interview, who have come over, have lived the American dream here.

“[With] what [that] stands for and [it being] Memorial Day weekend and fans coming back and just all that beautiful synergy and kismet, I ended up saying it once. ‘He won’t be wrestling the American Nightmare. He’ll be wrestling the American Dream.’ And when I said it, I just couldn’t move past it. I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s the ticket.”

Cody also explained the father/son aspect of using the nickname in a way that resonated – and not just because his Batman and Robins analogy spoke to my geek heart:

“I’m a big Batman reader and all the characters I love in Batman are all of the screwed up Robins. Damien’s a killer. Dick is pretty much the only one with his head on his shoulders. Jason, obviously is Red Hood, Tim, etc. They’ve all got problems. And that’s what it’s like being a second-generation wrestler. We’re a bunch of broken toys and this is one of those times where it feels like putting on the cape and cowl. If anyone can do it and do it justice and do it with honor, it could be me. Maybe not full-time and maybe not long-term, but for one night I’ll be the Batman.”

Which sounds great! Batman tales like “Prodigal”, “Batman Reborn” and “Superheavy” where a sidekick or supporting character has to don the cowl for a time are compelling stuff. But it wasn’t earned in this case, either by Cody’s story leading up to May 12, or the promo he delivered that night.

If only someone in one of those workshops would have mentioned that to him…

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Here’s What You Should Know

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The Railway Men Release Date: YRF Entertainment has announced its first web series The Railway Men which is a tribute to the unsung heroes of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

What is The Railway Men about?

In 1984, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred on the night of December 2 when methyl isocyanate (MIC) spilt out from Union Carbide India Ltd’s (UCIL’s) pesticide factory and turned Bhopal into a gas chamber. At least 30 tonnes of the lethal gas killed more than 15,000 people and affected over 600,000 workers. The Railway Men revolves around the workers at the Bhopal railway station who saved thousands of lives.

The tragedy is often touted as the world’s biggest man-made industrial disaster. In fact, the toxins have also seeped into the water of Bhopal and it was only in 2011 that the rehabilitated people started getting clean water.

“The leak affected boys in our bastis, many are impotent and those who have fathered children have kids with some kind of disability. Nobody wants to marry girls from our bastis, too.” said Shehzadi, Activist, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal said.

Star Cast

The cast of the movie is led by R. Madhavan, Kay Kay Menon, Divyenndu Sharma and Babil Khan. It is directed by Shiv Rawail.

Akshaye Widhani, senior VP at Yash Raj Films said, “The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the world’s worst industrial disaster that has impacted scores of people since the tragedy struck the city 37 years ago. At YRF, we are constantly trying to develop the best compelling stories for audience and this is our tribute to the unsung heroes of the tragedy who, despite saving thousands of lives on that fateful day, are still unknown to people across the world.”

When to watch The Railway Men

The Railway Men started filming from December 1st, yesterday.


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India’s daily Covid-19 rises for 2nd consecutive day amid Omicron scare | Latest News India

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The daily Covid-19 tally of India increased for the second consecutive day on Thursday as the country reported 9,765 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the numbers updated on the Union ministry of health family welfare’s website. On Wednesday, there were 8,954 cases of infections, a jump of 1,964 cases than Tuesday’s, when it had logged 6,990 cases. It was the lowest in the last 551 days.

The active caseload remained below the 1 lakh mark and now stands at 99,763. Active cases account for less than 1% of total cases, currently at 0.29%. It is the lowest since March 2020.

The recovery rate is currently at 98.35%, the health ministry also mentioned. According to the data, 8,548 people were recuperated from the disease in the last 24 hours, pushing the total recoveries to reach 34,037,054.

Notably, the daily positivity rate (0.89%) has been less than 2% for the last 59 days, while the weekly positivity rate (0.85%) is less than 1% for the last 18 days.

The country has conducted 64.35 crore total tests so far, the health ministry also informed in its daily health bulletin. On the vaccination front, India has administered 124.96 crore doses so far.

The uptick in cases comes as the country along with the world is facing the threat of Omicron, a highly contagious mutation of the coronavirus, first detected in South Africa. On Wednesday, six international passengers tested positive for the Covid-19 out of 3,476 passengers from the countries designated as “at-risk” by the Indian government.

They were tested on arrival at airports across the country as the Centre’s revised guidelines for Covid testing came into effect. The samples of all six have been sent for whole-genome sequencing to confirm Omicron infection.

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A million frontline Covid workers demand govt improve pay, work conditions

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Dressed in pink, the women have gone door to door for months, persuading people to get Covid-19 vaccines in some of India’s remotest corners, hinterlands and crowded urban slums, often risking their own personal safety.

For their trouble, they make about $40 a month, a wage barely enough to make ends meet. More than a million of these frontline healthcare workers across the country — pivotal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of inoculating the nation’s entire population and reviving the $2.6 trillion economy — are soon about to snap.

Called Accredited Social Health Activists, or “Asha” the Hindi word for hope, these women are teaming up with trade unions with muscle to step up their fight against what they call chronic official apathy toward their complaints about poor pay and dismal working conditions.

Nine Asha workers Bloomberg News interviewed across India said authorities who earlier assured them better wages, personal protective equipment and safe working conditions haven’t kept those promises despite a two-day stoppage last year. Even worse, some say they haven’t been paid for months.

The All India Trade Union Congress is planning protests in New Delhi when the nation’s parliament is in session through Dec. 23, said General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur. “We are talking to other trade unions and are planning a national strike in December for all scheme workers,” said A.R. Sindhu, national secretary for the Communist-linked Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

The threat of another walkout by the workers comes at a critical time when India is still struggling with its vaccination targets. Only 32% of India’s 1.4 billion people had received two shots, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker Wednesday, while Modi has an ambitious goal of getting all adults fully inoculated by the end of the year. A strike could also deal a blow as the omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a new risk to recovery efforts around the globe.

Bridge to Communities

Asha workers are crucial to Modi’s door-to-door Covid-19 vaccination campaign launched in November. They have detailed knowledge of their neighborhoods, and they are far more likely to persuade residents to get the shots. They act as a bridge between health authorities and local communities.

Created in 2005 as a stopgap arrangement to help provide more than 55 health-care services to people, especially women and children, in far-flung areas, the Asha program has been instrumental in eradicating polio from the developing country. Now the workers have the added burden of Covid-19, all for a paltry activity-based honorarium, which averages about 3,000 rupees ($40) a month for most of them. If lucky, some can earn double that amount.

But they want the government to set minimum wages for them, like farm hands or cleaners, some of whom can make as much as $260 a month.

“Time has come to give them minimum wages because now they have become crucial to the system,” said T. Sundararaman, New Delhi-based global coordinator for the People’s Health Movement. “When they were created we were talking about 12 hours a week. Now the whole burden of primary care has shifted on them and they are working more than the regular staff.”

The concerns being raised by the Asha workers aren’t new. Besides the issue of pay, two years into the pandemic, most of them still continue to work without gloves, masks or sanitizers. Those who need to travel far don’t have access to a safe place to stay overnight, or shelter when temperatures soar or dip.

Women in Pink

Irked at being ignored, the women in pink are escalating their stir, demanding minimum and timely wages and better working facilities. They joined other workers’ unions in September for a one-day strike, and the protests have gathered momentum since.

On Nov. 10, Asha workers in Kolhapur, a town about 230 miles south of Mumbai, stopped vaccine-related work over non-payment. In the northern state of Punjab, where local elections are likely early next year, they have stayed away from all services barring emergency care such as child birth since Nov. 25, according to Balbir Kaur, 51, who is the chief of the union in the district of Ludhiana.

“Since the assembly polls are nearing and they are seeking votes, may be they will now listen to us now,” said Kaur, adding she hadn’t been paid for months. A spokesperson for the state government did not reply to an email seeking comment.

As a result of the protests in pockets of the country, some experts are already starting to see a dip in the pace of vaccination. Vivekanand Jha, executive director for India at the George Institute for Global Health, said ignoring their concerns may undermine the fight against Covid-19.

“People who are marginalized would suffer,” Jha said.

Beaten Up

Poonam Pandey, 35, said when she and her associates had gathered in Shahjahanpur, a small district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, to present a letter of demands to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at a political rally, police beat them up. A spokesperson for the state government did not respond to a text message asking for a comment. The spokesperson for the federal Health Ministry also did not return a call and message asking for their response.

“We were called corona warriors and we did everything the government asked us to,” Pandey said on the phone, recounting the horror she endured. “Now we are being beaten up for asking our dues. I demand justice, where will I get it? They are the government, they can do anything. What can we do?”

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