Sunday 14 October 2012

Cynical, Disillusioned and Honest AKA The Long Awaited Rant By Shaun Nichols

As hopefully you can tell by this blog's heading I am not particularly in the best of moods and I have been thinking over the last couple of months of writing something similar to this. As a lot of contributors to the site and Stuart himself will probably disagree with a lot of what I am about to say, so this could be the end of an era as I have been a major part in WLH dating all the way back since 1999. So what I am going to go on about? Well read on.

Over the last 12 months regular visitors to this site will have noticed that the vast majority of blogs and articles that have appeared have been glowing reports about the UK scene. But when you read blogs that are always positive with only the most minor hints of criticism than you have to wonder are these blogs actually telling you the truth or do they have an agenda?

Wrestling fans especially those who write for blogs or are major contributors to the various wrestling forums tend to be a particularly closed circle, a clique if you like. If you’re not in, then you’re out of luck. It reminds me very much of my time in University when I lived in Halls if you are not considered 'cool' then you’re not going to enjoy it.

Dragon Gate UK sent WLH copies of the three shows from last year, Stuart asked me to review them. To be honest the time as long gone when I enjoy reviewing shows as you have to take lots of notes while watching the show which takes away from enjoying the DVD and then doing a fairly lengthy review. Still it gave me the opportunity to watch the other two events without actually buying them so fair enough.

The first show from Broxbourne which was called 'Dragon Gate UK Invasion 3' I gave a very positive review and overall gave at 8.5 out of 10, the Nottingham event 'Shingo vs Yokosuka 3' was even better so I scored it 10/10 which was because it really was an all time great event which in my opinion was even better on DVD than live. Finally was the Beeston show called 'Dragon Gate vs UK' this was the weakest of the three but still had some very good stuff on it and I scored it 7/10.

You may think then that Mark Sloan would be a very happy man to get such positive reviews especially about the first two events. Well not exactly, he was happy with my review of the Nottingham show, thought that I nearly got the Broxbourne review right and thought I was very negative on the Beeston show. That tells you a lot when someone thinks that 7/10 score is too critical and negative.

What Mark obviously wanted was all three reviews to score 10/10, well if he wanted that then there is an easy option he can write his own reviews and post them. But then wouldn't that by a little bit suspicious to the buying public? Recommending all three events which in essence is what I did was not enough. I think that if any fan watched both the Nottingham and Beeston shows then surely they could tell that the Nottingham show was the better show, they would also know if I scored both shows the same then I would be full of shit trying to push a particular line. I wasn't going to do that instead I was going to be as I always am which is honest.

I don't have any issue with Mark, I've never spoken to him but I'm not going to give a false assessment. Which brings me onto the UK shows I've been asked to review.

Normally when I'm sent a UK show to review it usually comes with phrases such as 'try and be kind', 'put over how it's got a great atmosphere', 'say wrestler x had a really strong performance'. This is before I've even had an opportunity to put the DVD into the machine. Some shows are easier to watch than others and only once have I actually refused to do a review but I couldn't in all seriousness say that it was good show. The best thing about the DVD was I could use it as a coaster. I'm not going to name the promotion in question as that wouldn't be fair.

There are so many previews, live show reports etc which indicates that you the public are missing out on great wrestling shows. And I understand that fans, promoters and bloggers want to get the word out and build the fanbase up. But on many of these blogs they forget that you have to be realistic otherwise you run the risk of making out that these wrestling shows are better than they are. New fans go into the show with false expectations and when they are not met which will generally be the case. What happens? The new fan who could have been turned into a long term paying fan feels letdown and doesn't go again, doesn't buy the t-shirt or the DVD.

You may have noticed that while I did a review of PROGRESS Chapter One, there was no review for Chapter Two. Well it certainly didn't see the light of day but it was something that I did. The fine people at PROGRESS wrestling were not overly happy with some of the comments I made about some of the show and therefore said they would prefer if the review wasn't used. Stuart decided to pull the review. On the plus side, I got a copy of New Japan Dominion 2012 which was an excellent show that you should check out.

What puzzles me is that after the Chapter 2 show, there were two extremely positive reviews of the live event which was posted on the WLH site. So I really don't see what harm a more balanced DVD review would have caused, there were quite a lot of positives to the show which I identified. Also in the scheme of things I would be very surprised if whatever review I gave the show caused PROGRESS to gain or lose DVD sales.

Still this is yet another clear indicator that while those of us contribute to sites like WLH can be critical of WWE, TNA, ROH or UFC if we feel the need to be, than the UK scene is all together different animal. Though no-one as actually being able to explain why this should be case. Everything should be judged equally on its merits not where it comes from.

One UK wrestling related topic has come under some scrutiny including on this site and that is WrestleTalk TV. Now I did a review of the show a while back and said that in my view wasn't something you needed to go out of your way to see. But in Robert Shade's recent blog he was critical because it wasn't doing enough to promote the UK scene and instead focused on the upcoming TNA Bootcamp. There is a very obvious reason why that would be the case, both Wrestletalk TV and TNA Bootcamp when it starts in a couple of months will both have the same TV home which is Challenge TV. If your not expecting the hosts to talk and push the Bootcamp than frankly how blinkered are you?

People also have to realise that WrestleTalk TV as to try and appeal to the broader wrestling audience it can. The general wrestling fan in the UK is a WWE fan and it's quite likely that they will watch TNA as well. Especially for WrestleTalk TV show as they follow TNA Impact on Sunday nights. What most UK wrestling fans don't have much interest in is anything else whether that be US promotions like ROH, PWG, Chikara, DGUSA or CZW, UK groups like Fight Club, PROGRESS, SWE or PCW or more international scenes like Japan or Mexico. If they spent more time away from WWE or TNA then they will lose viewers and if that carried on they would likely be cancelled.

The popular view that the UK is the small leagues was also illustrated by the recent Channel 4 documentary about the Knight family called 'Wrestling with My Family' which followed their efforts to put on shows but also followed the children's efforts to get a WWE contract. The son Zak was rejected, the daughter Saraya (who wrestled as Brittani in the UK, and appearing on WWE NXT as Paige) was signed on the spot without actually doing any wrestling or any promos. What became clear is that to the entire family doing the rounds in UK is very much the minor leagues, the parents want their children working in either WWE or TNA because that is that they class as being successful.

On a final note on TNA's British Bootcamp, am I the only one who is struggling to undertstand how this concept is going to work when they have 3 participants in Marty Scurll, Rockstar Spud and the Blossom Twins? Surely in reality shows like this you need at least 10 competitors, after all could you see WWE Tough Enough getting picked up if all they were offering was 4 contestants and a coach. Can't see it lasting as a series, it would have been better as a one-off special.

If you want to comment on any of the points that I've raised please feel free as always.

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