Sunday 14 October 2012

5 Forgotten Points About WrestleTalkTV By Adam James Bullivant

I’m starting to feel like the black sheep of the Wrestling Last Hope team sometimes. It’s been a while since I last posted something, as it’s been a frightfully busy few weeks. But I’m back now. You lucky lucky people… Even though it’s about the often debated topic, I wanted to officially throw my 2 cent on the issue of WrestlingTalk TV.

WrestleTalk TV is to British Wrestling, depending who you talk to, either the anti-Christ or the shining light. And no, I’m not talking about Stevie Knight…

For the people among you who don’t know what it is, WrestleTalkTV is a former internet wrestling chat show, now running bi-weekly on Challenge TV after being commissioned by the channel itself. If you want to know more than a quick Google will do. Now, about a week ago, fellow Wrestling Last Hope columnist Robert Shade did an in depth piece on the matter. It was a pretty negative view on the product. And although I understand and agree with many of his points, I do feel, as a whole, a lot of wrestling fans are missing a few vital points about this show. A few technical points I wish to run through now. Before I begin, I should state that this information is based on my knowledge from certain sources/understanding. It may not be 100% correct in certain details. But I believe it to be so. Either way, let’s begin!

1) It is a “Wrestling Chat Show”.
A point so often forgotten when people actually talk about it. It’s a chat show. If Challenge TV wanted a show that featured full UK matches, that is what they would have commissioned. So often, on many sites/blogs, I’ve heard “If they showed full UK matches on there, it could really help built the credibility of the BritWres scene”. And however much I agree with this in principle, they can’t. It’s that simple. The UK has some truly world class matches to be seen, that is without doubt. When just an independent Youtube series, they had the choice to show UK matches (If given the copyright by the company to do so). But choose not to. Because they were, for all intents and purposes, trying to show television channels what kind of program they could have on their network if they commissioned them for a series. Or more likely, given the assumed shared contacts between Alex Shane (show creator) and TNA, showing Challenge alone what they can offer. That being what Challenge wanted, which, if over 20 year of absences shows, is not British Wrestling matches. At least not at this point anyways.

2) They can’t plug events.
Legally, due to those strict TV regulations Charlie Brooker famously just loves to rant about, they are unable to plug upcoming events. Simple as. Or to be more precise, I believe, it’s any upcoming events that are being promoted by an individual or company intended to make profit from doing so. It could be even more strict then that. Which is why, they can’t, even they wanted to, highlight all the premier UK based events happening up and down the country most weekends. Luckily we have Fighting Spirit Magazine to help on that front.

3) They can’t plug websites.
Like point two, they are not actually able to plug any other website then their own, I have no idea why this is, but I know it too be true. However much I would love to see them plug great UK companies’ websites, they can’t.

4) Choice of guests.
This one is more aimed at a certain point made in Robert Shades piece, which I will quote now:

“We could have chats with people who work within the business and how they got into it, what does a show day mean for them, why did promoters set up their promotion, why did a wrestler get into the business”. – Robert Shade

Two points here. Firstly, promoters. Now, I have to be careful how I word this. Mostly, because knowing a handful of promoters myself, they all pretty much have the same story anyways. They loved wrestling. Never wanted to be, and/or gave up trying to be, a wrester. Wanted to make the wrestling scene better. And brushing any element relating to ego or “wanting to be one of the boys” under the rug, for the sake of professionalism, that really is about it. Plus, to horribly generalise an entire profession, promoters tend to fall into two camps. They either love the sound of their own voice or are very sharp, very on the ball, but not all too engaging when put in front of a camera. Whichever side of the fence they fall, it’s more than often just going to lead to cringe worthy viewing.

Point two, wrestlers. They do interview wrestlers, and they tell them about their life story anyways. Mark Haskins spoke about how he broke into the business, admittedly in a Youtube extra. At least with someone like Leroy Kincade, who I can’t say I’m personally a huge fan of myself, he comes off as a pretty interesting bloke. Plus, he looks the piece. When it comes to what I would like to present to the world as “A British Wrestler”, he fits the bill at least half decently. He is jacked to the high heavens. He is well dressed. He is confident with only a mild sense of egotistical, which for a wrestler is pretty good really. He can string words together better than your typical sports personality. And the “Paranormal Investigation” stuff will always interest a certain group of people. Even if I think it’s a load of codswallop. Wrestlers are people. I don’t really want to hear Leroy, or anyone else, spend twenty minutes talking in kayfabe about their feud with “insert wrestlers name here” at “insert company name here”. Wrestling fans have evolved past that. With the landscape of entertainment as a whole in 2012, I honestly believe most people prefer seeing entertainers as the human beings behind the gimmicks. Probably why Colt Cabana’s “Life Podcast”, The Art Of Wrestling, is so hugely successful. How dull would The Kings Speech have been if it was just about him being a King, and not about the troubled stammerer who just so happens to be King? The story is with the human, not just the wrestler. Kayfabe is dead, and I’m quite OK with that. As long as it’s not thrown in my face.

5) Everyone is skint.
They might have a show on Challenge, but if commissioning budgets in general TV have been hit as hard as Animation one have in the last few years , animation being the industry I am currently studying to enter, then that is probably a lot less then what you are all thinking. Now, one has to be careful when talking wrestling and money, and all this is assumption based on basic research. But this is probably why they are using your own clique of people. I’d love to see a mainstream TV personality host this show. Let’s say Ant & Dec. It would be better than that Red & Black rubbish they are currently peddling. But clearly finance is not going to allow that to happen. Now maybe I’m somewhat biased, having rose tinted memories of a childhood listen to JK and Joel on local Hull radio station Viking FM on a daily biases, but for the level of experience this crew is working with, I think they have done quite well bagging Joel Ross in the role as lead presenter. Read his wiki page, it’s surprising where and who he has actually worked for. However, the shared view of most is that Patrick Lennon is, to put it nicely, not overly likeable as a presenter. I’d love to see someone like stand-up comedian and Progress Wrestling’s owner Jim Smallman take over the role. He was excellent in his guest role on the original Youtube series. Again, if/when this program makes a decent long lasting profit (which I can only assume is not yet), then maybe a switch about in its cast is possible. Bringing in professionals to fill roles that are, at the moment, being filled with enthusiastic amateurs. For time being, that is probably not an option.

Other few quick points. The set. I’d actually like the set, if they just removed the bloody t-shirts from it. The big TV in the middle is nothing but a distraction to me. Playing the same 6 clips of famous wrestlers we have already seen multiply times. The sound editing and lighting could do with a bit of work, but that has improved since the first episode and can only assume will continue too.

The show is not perfect. At all. Sometimes, the show is not even very good. From the two TV shows I’ve seen, it’s pretty hit and miss. Saying this, where else am I going to see clips of great talent like Kris Travis, El Ligero, Martin Kirby, Nathan Cruz, Stixx, Dave Mastiff and the alike? It’s a platform. One British Wrestling has not had in a long time. I guess, for us “insider fans”, how much you like WrestleTalkTV, along with such past projects as the British Wrestling Council, the rebirth of FWA and the “was that even a thing?” Jobs In Wrestling, depends how much you like or respect Alex Shane and his clique. I like Alex. I don’t agree with everything, dare I say most things, he has done in the last few years. But I give him respect for at least trying them. This latest project included. In closing, I don’t think it has any negative effect on the British Wrestling scene. No matter how certain people like to think. It can only improve, given time.

Adam James Bullivant can be found at:
Twitter at @TME_AJB (for banter)
Tout /adamjamesbullivant (for pointless videos)
Facebook /adam.james.bullivant (for Reffing & Design Work)

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