Tuesday, 3 December 2013
I felt really sorry for Richards in the first few years of his ROH career, as his increasingly stellar performances were overshadowed by some terrible booking. He had a couple of cracking singles bouts with Samoa Joe and El Generico, but was lumbered with the hapless No Limit Soldiers Remorse Corps for the majority of the year. As the company nose-dived in 2008, Richards became ROH’s most consistent performer – but again was hampered by first Gabe and then Pearce’s hapless booking, most notably having to job to Brent Albright. Then came the American Wolves.
Now, hindsight is always 20/20, and given that the Wolves became one of the best tag teams in the business, most would call their formation a booking masterstroke. In fact, it was a huge step backwards for Richards at the time. Edwards was struggling to get over at the time, while Richards was a top-singles guy waiting to happen. Therefore the formation of the Wolves was a massive stroke of luck for Edwards: not so much Richards. Still, he made the best of it, feuding with Kevin Steen and El Generico for most of 2009, and he also had some very good singles outings with Tyler Black, Claudio, Aries and KENTA, as well as a super-stiff Anything Goes match with Kevin Steen.
The Wolves dropped the tag belts at the end of 2009 to the Briscoes, and Richards by now was set for an ROH title run. The problem was however, that they were still getting around to putting the belt on Tyler Black – by the time Black got the belt at the 8th Anniversary show, arguably his moment had passed. In the meantime, Richards had stated in a number of interviews that he was quitting wrestling at the end of 2010 in order to spend more time with his family and to train to be a fire-fighter. However, a couple of things then happened that would change the course of Richards’s career. Firstly, Richards split with his wife over the summer of 2010, meaning that retirement was off the table. That summer also saw Tyler Black announce he’d signed up to have a two-year spell in WWE developmental. The onus now was to get the belt off Black: his final appearance was slated to be Glory By Honor 9, and there was only one viable candidate to take the belt off him. Richards had already wrestled a couple of classics with Black over the summer of 2010, and it would have been the perfect blow-off to the feud, as well as Black’s ROH career.
There was just one problem however: Richards wasn’t booked at GBH9, as he was already booked to wrestle for New Japan when the show was scheduled to take place. I don’t think it’s a exaggeration to say that this had an adverse affect on ROH and Richards in the long-run. ROH had to resort to putting the belt on Roderick Strong: a talented wrestler, but in no way a guy capable of holding the top belt. Strong vs. Richards was then made for Final Battle: a classic example of booking yourself into a corner. To have taken the belt off Strong so soon would have been to cut him off at the knees; but for Richards to job clean to Strong wouldn’t do much for the latter either. In the end Strong beat Richards via stoppage in a match that was hurt by going longer than it needed to and having too many near-falls; something that was to become an increasing feature of Richards matches.
Richards announced that if he didn’t win the ROH title in his next attempt, he would leave the company. A fairly stupid booking move, given that Richards had just reneged on one retirement pledge – which obviously was a good thing for the fans – but to threaten it a second time made him look a bit like the boy that cried wolf (no pun intended). It also made it a foregone conclusion that Richards would win the belt in his next title shot. To further complicate matters, ROH decided to book a surprise title change, putting the belt on Eddie Edwards at MM4. So it would now be Wolf vs. Wolf at some point: and the match took place at Best in the World 2011. Richards went over in a match that I enjoyed, but a lot of people didn’t. Incidentally, what Edwards three month title reign achieved or was supposed to achieve has never been explained.
So Richards finally had the top prize in ROH; but what should have been a big moment in the end turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax. Sadly, things would get worse from there. Following the purchase of the company by SBS, ROH spent most of the summer on hiatus – a fairly underwhelming way for the champion to start his reign. Furthermore, Richards missed Death Before Dishonour again due to Japan commitments, something that did him no favours at all. Moreover, the rest of 2011 was spent building towards a rematch with Edwards at Final Battle. The problem was that Richards had beaten Edwards clean at BITW, so there wasn’t really much of a jumping off point for a rematch. And indeed, the build was pretty much awful – Cornette was booking by this point, which probably tells you all you need to know. If memory serves Dan Severn was involved in the build-up to the match, despite the fact neither Edwards nor Richards particularly wanted him there in real-life. The bout itself was awful: a forty minute effort that seemed to go on forever and it largely consisted of two wrestlers pretending to be MMA fighters. Once again, Edwards lost clean – 2011 was definitely not his year.
2012 turned out to be a pivotal year for Richards: he hit his lowest ebb, but also made strides towards redemption. By now ROH as a company was dying under the booking of Cornette, and Richards was inevitably associated with it. Kevin Steen was supposed to be a heel; but his taunts towards Richards of being Jim Cornette’s “Ju-Jitsu jackoff” were resonating with a large section of the ROH audience. In the ring Richards was still producing the goods: he had a cracking match with Elgin in Florida, before dropping the belt to Steen in Canada in a super-heated matchup. But 2012 saw Richards rapidly develop a reputation for being unprofessional: he pulled out of a New Japan tour at the last minute following a car accident, as a result of which New Japan stopped booking Richards. Then there was the infamous “Team Bandits” incident: Richards and his cronies/partners Kyle O’Reilly and Tony Kozina ripped off a promoter to the tune of $350 and later bragged about it on the internet, labelling themselves “Team Bandits”. Internet backlash later saw Richards return the money, but the damage was done. Richards once again made noises about retiring.
But a tour of Europe in the summer of 2012 seemed to reinvigorate Richards. He returned to ROH in the autumn of 2012 and made a mea culpa in the middle of the ring, saying he was ashamed of the person he’d been outside of the ring recently. He seemed a lot more relaxed; realising that not every match had to go 20-30 minutes. At Final Battle 2012 the American Wolves reformed, and Richards spent the majority of 2013 tagging with Edwards again, as well as wrestling in singles bouts here and there.
Truth be told though, Richards had pretty much done everything there was for him to do in ROH, and it was time to move on. But sadly, he’s not going to get the farewell match he deserves. No-one’s quite sure what happened behind the scenes: but given the corporate direction ROH has taken in the last few years I’m more inclined to believe Richards statement that they dicked him about. But in a way it kind of sums up the way Richards ROH career went. In my mind he’s up there alongside Joe, Dragon and Punk as a true ROH legend. But many would disagree – and given the man’s undoubted talent, it’s sad that the matter should be up for debate.
Monday, 2 December 2013
However just when I've got the whole thing laid out and about to write it up, I then find out that Davey has decided he's done with the company. Most fans know that the American Wolves have spent time at NXT as enhancement talent, which earned them the new nickname from some fans of the American Interns. Part of spending time down there isn't just about staring at the ceiling but finally convincing the WWE and Triple H especially that they are worth signing.
The good news for them is that the WWE are specifically looking for tag teams, the bad news is that although their wrestling talent cannot be denied. They are both small by the WWE standard and they are not blessed with great charisma. You also cannot tell me that size no long matters in the company, Daniel Bryan is an exception, a clearer and more valid example would be the decision to release Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) who I would say has far more upside to him than either Davey or Eddie.
Anyway back to ROH, it seemed to be pretty evident that the American Wolves would finish up with the company at Final Battle. They would do the job, hopefully have a great match and endorse the remaining talent and leave to great applause. Sounds pretty simple? Not with Davey around.
The Wolves spent most of the year involved in a battle with the redDragon tag team (former protégé Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) who got the best of it and as I write this are celebrating their second run as ROH Tag champions. They weren't really involved in the biggest feud in ROH that being the feud against SCUM and the anarchic talents of Steen & Corino.
Davey on Facebook posted the following message "With a heavy heart, I can announce I announce that myself and ROH have parted ways for good and I will not be at Final Battle. Please continue to support them and the incredible talent they have, Thanks for the memories. It was an amazing ride."
It sounds that the split was amicable and it was down to the timing of events that he wasn't able to complete his ROH run at Final Battle as most expected.
There is also the fact that he cancelled a tour with NOAH this month so that gives an indication that all he's doing his clearing his diary and ready for the challenge of the WWE in 2014. That though does not take into account comments about ROH he made to the UK's Total Wrestling.
He was very critical of ROH's booking of both the World Title and Tag Team Titles over the last several months and said that he felt they had lost a lot of their importance and prestige. He also lambasted the company for the failure to get internet PPV's right, saying "If they can't get their crap together, that's their problem. I just worry about showing up, doing my job in the ring, and they can do whatever they want with that stuff. It's their deal."
So when he made his return to ROH they were not exactly thrilled with his less than glowing praise to the company that is employing him. Davey on the defensive went with the tried and trusted method of claiming his comments had been taken out of context. Sadly it appears that ROH aren't buying it and Davey has failed to follow the golden rule when talking about your employer. You should praise them in public and criticise in private, watch any Premier League manager on MOTD to see how it's done.
So it appears that the relationship between ROH and Davey Richards as come to end after more than seven years together, where they gave him the opportunity to showcase his talents and in return he gave them dozens of great matches and sterling performances.
To me it's a shame that Davey and ROH couldn't keep things together until Final Battle, it would have been a nice finale to the fans to see him end his time doing what he does best which is wrestling. Instead it all ended with a message on social network site amid accusations and recriminations. He is still listed on the ROH roster page, but his scheduled match for Final Battle as been removed from the show listings. So we will have to wait and see if this is really the end of this particular journey.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
It never fails to amaze me how many people blame Vince Russo for anything they didn't like during his time there but those same people never seem to give him credit where credit is due for all the great moments he helped create. If you look at WWF/E before and after Russo was on the creative staff you can clearly see a difference by what was been seen on TV and that he helped put everything into place for the year that was 2000, the best year to be a WWF fan.
One of the biggest stories on the wrestling internet (which I was not apart of back then) in late 1999 was the creative jump of Vince Russo (and Ed Ferrera, buts nobody remembers him) from Vince McMahons WWF to their Monday night ratings competitors in Ted Turners WCW. This was what WCW needed at the time as they were struggling to respond to WWF taking back the title of the number 1 wrestling promotion, from the very first show that Russo was apart of for WCW you can clearly see a change from what WCW had been doing in the stale year that was 1999.
In late 1999 the ratings in WCW began to rise once again and we began to see an edgier look to the product as a whole which culminated in the New World Order being brought back from the dead this time being led by then WCW champion Bret Hart who had not had the best of times in WCW since making the famous jump two years earlier. This new version of the infamous nWo would featuring Bret Hart as the leader instead of Hulk Hogan back in the original nWo who had of course been lingering in mid card ever since joining WCW, the band was also joined by Jeff Jarrett this time who had of course previously been apart of WCW years earlier but left for better things. If you go back and look at the difference in quality and entertainment factor in WCW from before Russo came in to after you will see that WCW became a much better product, this would all change in January of 2000 when Vince Russo was forced out of WCW by the old guys scared of their spots being taken. This dismissal of Russo from WCW also led to the walk out of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn and Shane Douglas (who would return a few months later) which was such a huge blow for the promotion as The Radicalz (Malenko, Guerrero, Benoit & Saturn) went on to lots of succes over in rivals WWF.
In April of 2000 Vince Russo was brought back in as WCW had gone back to what is was before Russo was initially brought in, stale and boring. This time he was not alone as Eric Bischoff, the man behind WCWs most successful period was also brought in to work along side him. The product of WCW would once again be changed as WCW was to take a new direction in talent as the focus of the promotion would be on younger wrestlers, most of whom would come from WCWs own training facility the Power Plant. These wrestlers that would be brought in to be the future of the promotion were the likes of Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, Chuck Palumbo, Sean O'Haire, Mark Jindrak, Elix Skipper, Johnny The Bull and many more. During this new direction in the WCW product we saw the old wrestlers being moved aside to make way for the future and wrestlers who had been apart of WCW for years but had never been given a shot such Scott Steiner, Booker T, Ernest Miller and Chris Kanyon being given bigger pushes, we also saw ECW wrestlers such as Mike Awesome and Lance Storm being given a decent push.
Despite all the progress in pushing the future of the promotion there was problems from those veterans whose spots were being taken which lead to Bash At The Beach 2000, a creative control card being played by Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo refusing to bow down to his wishes. Russo went out on a live PPV with a live microphone to give the biggest pipebomb in wrestling history and tell the world what we all already knew about Hulk Hogan but nobody ever dared to admit, this incident then went on to allow Booker T to go and finally get the main event push so I guess every cloud would have a silver lining.
All in all I would that Vince Russo is a hugely talented creative writer and I do not think he gets anywhere near the amount of credit that he deserves for the key part he played in the greatest period to be a professional wrestling fan. I will not be commenting on his time in TNA as I really am not a fan of the product and I haven't watched enough of it to really judge.
If you would like to read a what if scenario regarding Vince Russo making former UFC star Tank Abbott the WCW world heavyweight champion then please go to www.callingspots.com to check out the latest issue of this great fanzine.
P.S. I liked the decision to put the world heavyweight title on David Arquette lol.
Thursday, 28 November 2013
My favourite wresting company this year has been New Japan Pro Wrestling. I've always been a fan of Japanese wrestling back to when I could watch a highlights show that was broadcast on Eurosport back in the 90's (gives you an idea as to my age!) Since making the decision to broadcast worldwide on iPPV, NJPW has been easier to access and keep up to date with. From the excellent Wrestle Kingdom in January to the awesome G1 Climax tournament (possibly the best booked tournament in wrestling history) NJPW has consistently put out quality shows over this year, to the point where even their weakest shows outshine the best PPVs put out by the American companies. However one thing that does not seem to be clicking at the moment is their tag team division. The Junior tag league has been dominated mainly by Forever Hooligans and the Timesplitters, having faced each other for the belts in most of the ippv output. Thankfully the Young Bucks have recently been brought in to inject some new blood, having already become the new champs. The heavyweight tag division seems in worse shape though (the reasons for which I shall get to later)
With that in mind, I thought I would offer a preview of their next big event, the World Tag League, which started today (23rd November) The concept is essentially the same as the G1, but with tag teams. Two blocks filled with seven teams battle it out for the most points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss). In the event of a tie, the win-loss record over the tournament comes into play. The team with the most points in each block face the runners-up from the other block, with the winners of those matches facing each other in the finals.
Both the finals and semi's take place on ippv on 8th December. The winners receive a tag title shot at Wrestle Kingdom in January. Bear in mind that certain wrestlers have already been booked in matches for that very event. You may notice a trend as I preview the teams and their chances of winning.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan
For those unfamiliar with Tanahashi, basically he is New Japan's top guy. Puts on incredible matches with anyone he's against and the main reason NJPW is the top Japanese company. CNJ is essentially NJPW's version of Cpt America and a comedy jobber. If this team wins a match, Tanahashi gets the win. If they lose, CNJ does the job. They won't win as Tanahashi is already booked for WK against for the Intercontinental Title.
Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club)
Devitt is Jr Hvt Champ and leader of the Bullet Club faction, with Fale as his bouncer. This faction is the most prone to cheating in the most obvious of circumstances, almost to the point of parody, which is a shame as the moment when Devitt turned heel and formed the club was one of the top moments of the year from NJPW. This team will pick up a few wins, maybe going to the semi finals, but ultimately Devitt is booked at WK against Kota Ibushi and Fale looks to be facing Togi Makabe at the same event, so they won't get the shot.
Manabu Nakanishi & Strong Man
This team should not be anywhere near this tournament. Strong Man is a roided up Scott Steiner wannabe and Nakanishi is the slowest guy on the roster due to injuries and age. If they even get any points, I'll be shocked
Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takakashi (The Complete Players)
This pair have been a team off and on for a good few years and might be a favourite in this purely because neither are currently booked at WK. I've a gut feeling though that they'll be third or fourth in their block
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (GBH)
A very popular and physical duo. If it was up to me, they'd be at least semi- finalists. But due to the buildup to the singles match between Makabe and Fale, Honma will be doing the jobs for most of the block
Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (Chaos)
This team is Block A's Chaos representatives and my favourite team in the whole tournament. Nakamura is a crazy mix of rock star arrogance and deadly strikes, while Ishii is a cult favourite on the tail end of his break out year. Both heavy hitters and very popular, I see this team being definite semi finalists, maybe even finalists, but they won't as Nakamura has a date with Tanahashi
Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer (Killer Elite Squad)
The difference that Japan has made to these two is incredible. Both were made to look like jokes in WWE and TNA, but now they are 2-time tag champions and one of the most formidable teams there. I gather that, as the champs already, should they win the whole thing they can invoke the right to not defend the belts at WK, but that wouldn't be much of a payoff. A possible outcome is that they get to the semi finals only to lose to the team that takes the whole shebang
Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima
These two have had a tumultuous year. Halfway through the year, they beat K.E.S. for the belts but soon after met misfortune. Tenzan suffered broken ribs during the G1 climax, while Kojima aggravated a shoulder injury while wrestling Okada for the Heavyweight Title at Destruction. During this time, the titles were not defended nor vacated. At the recent Power Struggle event, each man took a fall in a 3-team, 2-fall, double-title match. This tournament may be this team's final hurrah and I don't see it ending well for them. Of course, the opposite might happen where they win the whole thing and challenge K.E.S. at the Tokyo Dome for one last shot. But I doubt it
Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano
The sneakiest villains in the block, they are there simply to make up the numbers. Despite their tactics, they'll get no more than 2 points, which will give Iizuka plenty of time to think of new ways to torment that poor commentator
Jax Dane & Rob Conway
This team are there to strengthen the cross promotion between NJPW and the NWA yes, they still exist). Even though Conway & Dane are the NWA tag champs, they don't stand much of a chance here, especially if Conway ends up defending the NWA title at WK (Kojima perhaps?)
Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows
The second Bullet Club tandem, this is a possible semi final team. Anderson won this league with Hirooki Goto last year, so has the experience. Gallows, of course, was Luke Gallows in WWE and Doc in TNA. Putting the names together makes him sound like an evil 7th dwarf. However Anderson is quite a big deal in NJPW, so look for this team to go far
La Sombra & Tetsuya Naito
Well isn't this a pointless team?! I don't mean that to disrespect the wrestlers themselves. La Sombra is an immensely talented luchadore and has had great matches with Nakamura over the IC Title. Naito is a great athlete and in the midst of a huge push. After all, he won the G1 and is on his way to the Heavyweight Title match at WK. AND THERE'S THE PROBLEM! Why is Naito in the tournament if he's already in the main event of the biggest show of the year?! This tandem will get a few wins but have no chance of winning it.
Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (Chaos)
On the flip side of the above tandem, here's the other utterly pointless team in the tournament. For the reasons stated above (Okada being the defending champion) and for the fact that Yoshi-Hashi is awful. I haven't enjoyed anything I've watched him in. At least Nakanishi & Strongman are entertaining for the wrong reasons. Yoshi-Hashi is just appalling and he, like CNJ and Honma, is the fall guy for his more established partner.
Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin (Suzuki-Gun)
This tandem might be the ones to take the whole thing. Suzuki has a ton of credibility and, even in his mid-forties, is one of the best performers in the company. Benjamin is pretty much as good as he's ever been (ie you have your opinions of him and they won't have changed!) and he's been a mainstay of the midcard since his arrival. And no, I don't know why he has an "X" in his name now. The potential storyline here is that they could win and go on to face their stablemates K.E.S. for the belts, causing a rift in the stable.
So there it is. This tournament is a wounded warrior in the march towards Wrestle Kingdom. With several of the top names here already booked in huge matches, the remaining teams just don't seem to give off that spark that makes a big tag title match. If it was my booking, I'd have Nakamura and Ishii winning the whole thing, but as it is, I see Suzuki and Benjamin taking it for stable-breaking encounter with Smith and Archer. Whatever happens, I just hope it can live up to the standards that New Japan has set throughout 2013.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Now before I being this rant or what ever you would like to call it I must stress that I am not affiliated with any performer mentioned, any promotion mentioned and that no offense is intended by my passionate and somewhat crazy ramblings.
Right, so the first thing I would like to talk about here is imported professional wrestlers in British wrestling. I have no issues with these wrestlers what so ever, they are very talented individuals and they are entertaining to watch. My problem is that the British professional wrestling scene is not like it is in North America, South America and Japan, the British professional wrestling scene is pretty small time in comparison so it bothers me to think that our very talented workers busting their butts over here aren't getting the chances they should be getting because an established star from elsewhere is getting that spot.
When people talk about the old days of British wrestling they talk about Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Mick McManus etc and it 20 to 30 years from now I want to be telling my Grandchildren about Kristopher Travis, Martin Kirby, Grado, El Ligero, Sam Bailey etc but if British wrestling becomes flooded with the overseas wrestlers then I will not be able to do that because the British wrestlers won't get the chance to be immortalized in that way as the past UK guys have been.
In my personal opinion I think that the UK has a much larger talent pool than the US independent scene does but the only difference is their scene is wider televised and advertised so more people get the chance to see what they can do. They have maybe a handful of super talented workers but overall I think the UK scene has a far superior group of talent that needs to be seen, that needs to be advertized and that needs to be the focus of the shows. I know a lot of people disagree with what I have said on this subject and that is fair enough but I think that is mainly because they want to see these guys come over here because the promotions they work for do not travel outside of their own countries. In closing on this subject I will say that I want to see British wrestling big again solely because of the talent we have over here which is more than capable of doing so rather than overseas wrestlers taking credit for helping it, If you look at the best promotion in the UK, ICW they have made themselves as big as they have purely down to home grown talent so it does work.
The next topic I would like to discuss is the argument regarding wrestling vs sports entertainment. In my personal opinion professional wrestling and sports entertainment are the same thing, I know that when I watch professional wrestling I want to be entertained. If I wanted to watch wrestling in the purest sense of the word then I would watch amateur and Olympic wrestling not professional wrestling. The fact is WWE is the biggest promotion in history because it gave people what they wanted to see, those fans who say they watch wrestling to only see wrestling are a part of the minority because if pure wrestling is what people wanted to see then amateur would be huge and those fans would be watching that instead of pro wrestling. All of the biggest incidents in the history of pro wrestling have had nothing to do with what went on in the ring, the nWo, Roddy Piper & Jimmy Snuka, Marty Janetty through the window, the Austin vs McMahon angle and the CM Punk shoot angle. The highest rated professional wrestling TV show ever was the episode of Raw that featured Mankind doing The Rock "This Is Your Life", so if pure wrestling is indeed what mass audience of pro wrestling fans want to see then the small US independent promotions would become huge. I know what made me become a pro wrestling fan at the age of 5 or 6 was not grappling, it was seeing Sting with his bright coloured face paints, flashy ring gear and energetic personality. When I watch pro wrestling I see it as watching a movie or going to the theatre, it is more me entertainment and I fucking love it, I watch it for the drama, the comedy, the action, the athleticism and the storylines that suck me into buying what I am watching.
A well written and well worked storyline is what I want to see when I watch wrestling, I really do not guys being thrown together just for the hell of it especially when they act like they hate each other during the match, that is bad ring psychology. My favorite TV show of all time is Buffy The Vampire Slayer which incase you haven't guessed by the title is about Vampires along with other such creatures which of course is just a show but because of how is it written and presented to me I buy into what is happening and care about the characters, this is how pro wrestling is supposed to work. We all know it is a work (not fake, I hate using that word as it is an insult), it is all done for the entertainment of the audience and we as the audience are supposed to care what happens between these people, we are supposed to be pissed off when the bad guy wins and cheats then cheer when the good guy gets their revenge. Look at some of the biggest names in wrestling history, they were not good 'rasslers when you really think about it, Ric Flair, The Rock, Sting and of course perhaps the biggest name ever Hulk Hogan, none of these guys had loads of moves but they had the personality and the ring psychology to make you give a shit about what you were watching before they even did one single move. In my opinion sadly ring psychology and selling your character to an audience is dying in pro wrestling these days especially on the independent scene and is being replaced with these spot fest style matches which may be fun to watch but they do not make me care and do not draw me into the product I am watching.
Finally to close I would like to give a big shout out to a relatively unknown performer on the UK scene by the name of JG Nash, here is a guy that has worked hard on his gimmick, is it original? No probably not but he lives it and it is an extension of who he is in real life. Is he an amazing in ring talent? No probably not. Can he entertain the masses? Fuck yes he can.
Honest how this guy doesn't get bookings outside of the West Yorkshire based promotions I do not know, maybe its because of the bad reputation that some of the promotions have I do not know but I have been in attendance for many shows that this man has been a part of and I can tell you he has always had the crowd in the palm of his hand. For what he lacks in 'rasslin ability he makes up for in microphone skills and his general comedy wrestler performance. Out of all the guys working on the West Yorkshire scene right now if I had my own promotion outside of the county I would snap this guy up in a heartbeat to book on shows. He would make a guest ring announcer which is something he has the experience in doing, he would be very entertaining in any comedy match as he has always been and in my personal opinion he would make a great colour commentator which is something that I would love to hear him do.
You can follow this underrated wrestler on Twitter under the handle of @itsJGNash
I don't expect anybody to agree with what I have to say but all I wanted was a platform to say it on so thank you Stuart Rodgers for giving me the chance. If you are interested you can also follow me on Twitter under the name @Craig_Jarrett and also if you wouldn't mind checking out and sharing the following Youtube playlists that feature nothing but British wrestling then that would be great:
"British Wrestling Rules" and "British Wrestling Still Rules"
Friday, 22 November 2013
Anyway, after going off on one for a moment, there have been many guys that have been signed by WWE that I was a big fan of on the independent scene such as Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castignoli & Chris Hero and more recently El Generico & Samuray Del Sol (I have not forgotten about CM Punk I just wasn't the biggest fan of his during his Indy days) and when they got signed I was gutted in a selfish way because I knew we would be losing some great workers and miss out on some great matches but on the flip side, I am also chuffed for the boys because, it maybe a dream of each and every wrestler to make it to the WWE and if so for the Wolves and the other guys I've mentioned then that's great but the way I look at it is a wrestlers career is only short in the most so if they can go and get some big money where in a few years they can just walk away and still be fit and healthy then that is amazing and I am nothing but chuffed for the guys and like now, will remember fondly the matches they gave us on the indies. So in closing on Richards & Edwards, I know you'll probably see this but I just want to say, thanks for what you have done guys and I hope you have great future going forward.
Onto another independent contractor, I also hear Colt Cabana, who of course had a run in the WWE in the past under the 'Scotty Goldman' name was also in Florida for a try out on Thursday and I have not heard if it was as a wrestler, commentator or another type of personality and if you listen to me on The Indy Corner podcast you'll know I'm not a fan of Cabana in anyway, shape or form so if the WWE have signed him or plan to I'll be very glad indeed just so he doesn't stink up the indies.
Until next time.....
Thursday, 21 November 2013
Gargano made trips to Europe in August 2012 and April 2013, and here's some of the matches that Johnny had on those two trips.
Follow Johnny on twitter @JohnnyGargano
1) vs. Noam Dar - PCW Spring Slam 2013 (26/04/2013)
I've seen Noam Dar wrestle live and also on DVD on a number of occasions and always been pretty impressed by him. He has good charisma and an ability to know how to get the reaction from the live fans. This usually comes from a cocky little heel that you want to get slapped.
Here though he's a babyface and we get to see him match Gargano with some really nice matwork and nice reversals and cradle attempts. Gargano has proven himself over the last couple of years to me than an annoying heel which was how he was presented to DGUSA fans originally.
He gave a strong wrestling performance here and Dar was certainly able to match him. Among the highlights was a suicide dive by Gargano, which was later followed by a dive from Dar. They also had a nice spot where both avoiding one another coming off the ropes which finished with a superkick by Gargano and then throwing the unfortunate Dar into the turnbuckles.
Dar though would get the big win following a stamp from the top, a great dropkick to the knee which led to securing the win with a kneebar. ***1/4
2) & Kevin Steen vs. The LDRS - wXw Hasta La Victoria Siemdre Tour Finals (27/04/2013)
This is quite the tag team match, it starts with Gargano and Zack Sabre Jr doing some great mat wrestling until both men make the tag. Marty Scurll decides to kiss the referee and the official decides to beat an hasty retreat.
After finally being encouraged to return to the ring by Steen, the match becomes a good standard tag team encounters with the LDRS getting the heat on Gargano. That being said the crowd are just waiting to see Kevin Steen as he's treated as by far and away the biggest star.
Among the highlights is Steen doing a double Samoan Drop, Gargano hitting a slingshot spear followed directly into a suicide dive onto Zack. But the regular tag team of The LDRS are not to be denied when Gargano gets caught with a dropkick into a falcon arrow for the loss. ***1/2
3) vs. El Ligero - Southside Wrestling Risky Business 2 (28/04/2013)
This was a good example of seeing Gargano's lucha talents as it matched well with Ligero's general style. The match was a very fast paced encounter with lots of great mat based wrestling, slick armdrags and dropkicks a plenty.
They even managed to even include a dive which was pretty remarkable considering how close the audience was to the ring. What did frustrate me was that on the DVD the match was edited down and in some cases it seemed to have been edited for a couple of seconds at a time. It was a pretty maddening experience.
However that did not distract from the fact that this was another entertaining affair where Gargano and in this case El Ligero where able to showcase their talents. Gargano again experienced the bitter taste of defeat as he took another pinfall loss. ***1/4
4) vs. Jonathan Gresham - Fight Club PRO International Tekkers (24/08/2012)
So let me get my complaint out of the way, I absolutely hated how this match was shot. I also can't say I liked the fact the fans are stuck beyond a metal wire fencing, which encouraged the fans to bang on it constantly as it was a major distraction.
That being said this match was excellent, and was the first time I'd actually seen Jonathan Gresham wrestle. Again there is a real consistent thread of the talent producing some strong and very skilled mat wrestling with the odd big move thrown in.
This is also where Gargano defends his DGUSA Open the Freedom title so it kind of gives you the result before it even starts. That doesn't stop the fans really getting into the match and willing both men to victory. There is a full review of the show on the WLH website by Derrie Catton if you look back to August 2012, so I'm not going over it all again.
What I would say is that it is a really well paced and exciting match which I would encourage you all to check out. Gargano wins when he hits his Hurts Donut finisher twice to get the three. ***3/4
5) vs. Zack Sabre Jr - Revolution Pro Summer Sizzler 2012 (26/08/2012)
I knew from the tag team match that they had in wXw that these guys had great chemistry and were worthy opponents for one another. They did not disappoint, Sabre Jr is one of the best mat wrestlers that I've seen in a long time and while he doesn't particularly look that impressive as a physical specimen his ability to wrestle cannot be questioned.
Watching these two match holds and reversals reminds me of watching Nigel McGuinness in ROH during the mid 2000's and I say that as a major compliment. Among the highlights was Gargano while in submission hold but still being able to dump Zack over the top rope to the floor and then following with a great running dive.
Towards the end there were so many great transitions and cradle attempts that could easily be compared to anything that Malenko and Guerrero did in ECW in the Summer of 1995. Again though Gargano failed to beat his British opponent as Zack used two Dragon Suplexes for a close two count but quickly followed with the running penalty kick for the pin. ****
All the matches I've mentioned where all entertaining and were held in front of very vocal and enthusiastic fans who all seemed to being having a great time. Gargano is a very good wrestler and excels when he wrestling on the mat but his various opponents were all able to carry their share of the different matches and this points to the UK scene does not have to solely rely on US or Japanese imports but can use them to improve and highlight an already good product.