Friday 28 November 2014
Undoubtedly everyone is going to have their say over the CM Punk appearance on Colt Cabana’s podcast; so I only intend to add a few words here. What struck me mostly about the interview is that it was primarily interesting not for providing much new information; but rather, for confirming some stuff we already knew/ suspected. For instance:
• Vince is massively out of touch with popular culture – witness his shocked reaction to hearing about women’s MMA. I’m sure I read somewhere years ago that the most recent Bond film he’d seen had Roger Moore in it.
• Vince is only interested in Cena – again, this chimes with what others have said in the past: I think it was Raven who said Vince only cares about the top three or four guys, and the rest are pretty left to the writers.
• The practise of treating wrestlers like horses – work them until they drop, then shoot them – is alive and well. No wonder Vince is so high on Cena – a guy who gets a five month prognosis for an injury and usually comes back in two.
• Not for the first time, HHH comes across as that kid in school who desperately wants to be liked, but just isn’t – he reminds me of Martin Prince in The Simpsons.
• Considering being part of the WWE is supposed to be the pinnacle of a wrestlers career, all too often it comes across as a miserable and dark place.
Tuesday 25 November 2014
Sunday 23 November 2014
Injuries in wrestling, it's one of these things, we as fans hear about it through social media, we see it live or we see it on Botchomania.
Now as a fan, I respect everything wrestlers do in the ring, the workrate, the training, the cardo, there drive and there passion to succeed in an industry that can be as cut throat as a lionsden but what happens when something goes wrong within that ring.
Personally, a few weeks ago I was injured, broken bones, badly hurt but that isn't relevant, it had me thinking about wrestlers, what happens if they were in the situation I was, bedridden, out of action, unable to do anything and as a fan, my understanding of the injuries within the industry is knowledgeable but the depth of my understanding not as much.
I mean if anyone has bought a WWE dvd or tape we would have seen the two minute clip of injuries, then the message "don't try this" at the end before then dismissing the message, clicking play for reason you bought the DVD in the first place.
If I saw someone get injured in a wrestling match, I'd sympathise with the situation but I wouldn't think about it afterwards. Wrestlers, well they don't have that luxury.
Recently as I saw clips from youtube, the videos specialising on seeing countless wrestlers getting injured with soundtracks and "comical motifs", I started to think, about there lives, how are they going to continue doing what they do? How are there lives going to change? And how can fans chant, "you fucked up!" when you see the wrestler is in agony.
Am I overthinking this, I don't think so, if you have seen the movie 300, there is a scene where King Leonidas says to the Arcadians:
King Leonidas: You there, what is your profession?
Free Greek-Potter: I am a potter... sir.
King Leonidas: And you, Arcadian, what is your profession?
Free Greek-Sculptor: Sculptor, sir.
King Leonidas: You?
Free Greek-Blacksmith: Blacksmith.
King Leonidas: [turns back shouting] SPARTANS! What is YOUR profession?
Spartans: WAR! WAR! WAR!
I imagine this with wrestlers, they may work in a call centre, coffeeshop or some place during the day but deep down they are wrestlers. It is there passion, ingrained within them and when they get injured, the pain - extreme the uncertainty - shocking, infront of there fans - heartbreaking. Then to return, if they return, the courage they have is to be not just respected but admired.
In an age where the letter of wrestling is being pushed, prodded and bent to levels at times where fans want to see blood and hardcore wrestling extra care and work must be used to make sure everything is being done to minimise the risks being taken, yes, risk comes with being within the ring and yes, they are trained professionals but all it takes is one slip, one hard shot and one failed moonsault, then something deverstating happens.
As fans we love to encourage wrestlers to go one step further, case in point, WWE Hell in a Cell event, John Cena vs Randy Orton, ignoring the fact it was rematch 100 plus between the two men, they used every weapon they could find and gave as much hardcore action as they could within the Cell, afterwards fans were complaining about the fact that there was no danger, no one falling from the cage.
Next match, Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins, from the start top of the cage, wrestlers fall off the cage and the match is brutal throughout. Feedback, some fans complain about the ending ruining the whole match. In the case of Hell in A Cell matches does it take matches of the like Mick Foley vs Undertaker for some fans to be pleased with what they have seen? I hope not.
My point being is this, yes they are trained professionals, but at what point is the risks too far? Is broken bones too far? At what point is the injury and the sacrifice that a wrestler makes too far?
Does blood?, someone falling off the ladders? the cages? Even fire? Does it make it a more believable storyline in a match, I'll agree it makes its more exciting but there has to be limits.
Now fans reading this don't think that I'm going on a rant and wanting wrestling to go back to the way of World of Wrestling in the mainstream 80's because I don't, my point is this, the hardcore, the extreme and the death-defying matches should be used on the rare occasion and planned out to make sure the minimum can go wrong.
But in the world of wrestling everything a wrestler does within that ring could result in injury, so respect them and if they are perform a move that you don't think is that exciting, think about the last time you hurt yourself and think could you do what they do in that ring in front of everyone with the risks provided. I think not.
Then theres the people that distance themselves and say its fake, my advice to anyone who has a friend like that take them to a live show that thought will change very fast, the final words on this subject should be left to a legendary commentator,
"Where do you learn how to fall off a twenty foot ladder!" - Jim Ross.
Sunday 16 November 2014
When I listen to podcasts be it The Swerve or any others I usually switch off in my head when they talk about TV ratings. Russo is very proud of the ratings swing that took place in WCW when he was there writing the show with Ed Ferrera back in the day and again, I guess it is something to be proud of but it's not something I am interested in. However, a point that is brought up during the interview is Reynolds says one of the reasons WCW went under was because they (WCW) were not selling enough tickets to house shows, they were not having good enough PPV buys and they were not selling enough merchandise. So Reynolds' opinion is, as Russo (with Ferrera) was writing the flagship TV show, Monday Nitro and in his opinion the TV show should be a vehicle of sorts to drive the house show attendance up, the PPV buy rates up and merchandise sales up, and the fact WCW went out of business, Reynolds would say this was Russo's part in killing the company. Russo, clearly says when he was in negotiations with WCW before coming in at no point, house shows, PPV buy rates and merchandise sales were never discussed with himself and Ferrera so, the fact they went out of business, Russo washes his hands of any responsibilty for the demise of the promotion.
Now, in my opinion, and that's what it is, I believe the role of a TV show which has an end product like a PPV should be to build up interest in said PPV so the fans watching the TV show will want to go and buy the PPV. Same with house shows, fans should look at the TV show and think the product is good and want to go out to a house show and buy merchandise while they are there. Again, this is my opinion, I'm sure Russo will have his own and you will have yours.
In closing, I have no idea who is responsible for the death of WCW, there were 5 people on the cover of the original book (Russo, Bischoff, Hogan, Hall & Nash) but Russo believes if anyone would be responsible it would be a TV executive by the name of Jamie Kellner. I am interested in your thoughts on this subject, hit me up on twitter @WLHSTU
Visit Vince Russo's site http://pyroandballyhoo.com and subscribe to his podcast, The Swerve on iTunes. And as mentioned earlier, RD's website is http://wrestlecrap.com and you can buy the revised version of the book The Death of WCW from Amazon and if you're in the UK, use this link - http://tinyurl.com/WCWBook
Thursday 13 November 2014
Recollections from a lifelong wrestling fan.
In the weeks and months to come I will hopefully be (shoulder) tackling some of the big issues surrounding the business that is wrestling…but first I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and see what brought me to where I am now.
I think the first time I was aware of wrestling, would be sat on my dad’s knee on a Saturday afternoon watching World of Sport. As a child of 4 I was fascinated by the more larger than life heavyweights, and sad to say, my first real wrestling hero was Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree. My father, who had spent a good part of his childhood at the Liverpool stadium, always cheered on the heels, especially the more athletic smaller guys like “Crybaby” Jim Breaks, and his absolute favourite Mark “Rollerball” Rocco (who my dad would never fail to remind me, was the son of “Jumping” Jim Hussey, who was a favourite of my dad’s growing up). My grandfather was also a big fan, and he would regale me with tales of watching Ricky Star and Billy Two Rivers while we sat and laughed our heads off at the antics of Les Kellet or Catweazle (my granddads two favourites).
So yeah the bug hit me pretty early on, and for the next 8 years or so, I would not miss the wrestling on ITV. I supplemented this by watching the odd show that mades it’sway to our local theatre (Queens Hall in Widnes), were I finally got to see the likes of not only Daddy and Haystacks, but people like Johnny Saint, Alan Kilby and Alan Dennison. We had a caravan in Towyn, so most Wednesdays during the school holidays, we would make our way to either Rhyl Town Hall or The Colliseum, to take in shows put on by the local legend Orig “El Bandido” Williams. We saw a smattering of TV “stars”, like Tony StClair, but supplemented by local guys like The Mighty Chang.
Then one day back in 1986..everything changed I spotted a copy of a magazine called Pro Wrestling Illustrated in a newsagents in Abergele. It was the fabled “supercard show” edition, and featured not only Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy fighting in a cage as part of Wrestlemania 2, but also pictures of NWA champ Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes, fromStarcade. The centerspread also featured a picture of Bruiser Brody taking on Terry Gordy in a barbed wire rope match, from WCCW Parade of Champions..this bloody image fascinated me and I decided I had to see that bout, and all of the other stuff featured within the magazine.
Bizarrely at almost the same time World of Sport run a show that featured 3 matches from the WWF. I must have worn the videotape out as I watched and re-watched the show. It started with The British Bulldogs going against the Hart Foundation in the Boston Gardens, and then there was a squash featuring Kamala taking out Salvatore Bellomo, and then finished with a Lumberjack match of Hulk Hogan v Randy Savage, from Madison Square Gardens. I was hooked!. There were a couple more 'WWF specials' before WoS closed it’s doors for the final time, but WWF continued being broadcast through the night on ITV Granada (before switching to WCW a short time later).
My dad had found a regular supplier (in the strangest of places) off not only PWI, but all of the “Apter mags”, and alsomags being published by George Napolatano. Speke market in Liverpool had a stall that sold magazines that were a month old (I am guessing back before the days of “sale on return”), and every week would pick up different wrestling magazines for the princely sum of 20p each..I was in wrestling heaven, and soon my bedroom was filled with pictures of The Road Warriors, Ric Flair and others..by this time I had moved on from my Big Daddy love in and favoured the likes of The Four Horseman and most of what the NWA was doing over WWF. I would spend hours poring over the results section in PWI and scoring the matchups and then setting my own in a precursor to playing “fantasy league booker”.
Around this time Satellite TV was becoming the next thing, and although we did not have it, I used to give tapes to my friend who would record WWF from sky, and also numerous channels like Screensport, Lifestyle and Eurosport, which featured the likes of NWA, AWA, Stampede, WCCW and a number of other promotions. After endless months of badgering my dad finally broke and purchased Sky..truth be told, I think it was a cheaper option than supplying me with multiple video tapes each month to get friends to tape shows!
The next significant moment I can remember was the announcement that the WWF was coming to the UK for a show at the London Arena (situated in the delightfully named “Isle of Dogs”). Again after a prolonged period of badgering of my father he agreed that we could go. So after a long old car ride we made our way into the arena for a show headlined by Hogan v Savage. My dad was pleased to see both Rollerball Rocco and Skull Murphy, who featured in a dark match. But for me, seeing the likes of Hogan, Savage further cemented my love for the sport.
My dad bought a newspaper on the way home called “The Sunday Sport”, and surprisingly it featured an advert to buy videos of various wrestling shows, and before too long I was the proud owner of the first Royal Rumble, and inaugural Survivor series. I run copies of the shows of to my mates, who were also bitten by the bug..this would become my first experience of “tape trading”, although I did not have anybody else to trade with!.
Fast forward a couple of years (literally using VHS!) and the UK got it’s own wrestling magazine in Superstars of Wrestling..it was awesome to read letters from other fans, and what really peecked my interest was the section were people could post adds. It was here that I come across such names as Glen Radford (or “Mr Illiterate” as my mum dubbed him, due to his indecipherable writing) and Rob Butcher, and my thirst for wrestling was quenched in the form of badly photocopied A4 sheets listing page after page of wrestling shows, that could be bought for £8 for 3 hour tape or £10 for 4hour tape. I quickly filled my bedroom with tapes from companies like W-ING, FMW and a young upstart company called Eastern Championship Wrestling.
An advert for a shop located at a place called The Coliseum in Manchester made me take what would become a regular pilgrimage to Manchester. I become friendly with the owners Mike Hough and Keith “Ruffneck” Colwill, and before long I was supplying the store with tapes of lots of shows I had purchased from various tape traders, at the same time I started trading myself..this would be just as VHS was being usurped for the sleeker, clearer smaller new kid on the block DVD.
The internet was also in its infancy and people were starting to talk about and trade wrestling shows on line. One of the first people who I dealt with was Dave Pick, who turned me on to IWA-MS and CZW. Over the years Dave would take more money from me than is decent to say, but I had an awesome room filled with Tapes and DVD’s from promotions from the four corners of the wrestling world. The next ten years would be filled with so many awesome memories of both attending shows (ROH at the Olympia in Liverpool, multiple quality shows at 1PW), and with discovering amazing promotions like PWG, Chikara and so much moreover the information superhighway.
All of which brings me to the last couple of years. I started attending a local promotion called Infinite Promotions, and after the first couple of shows, I approached the owners about maybe getting involved with running a merchandise stall at there shows..by this point I had so many DVD’s, I had run out of room to store them, so by offloading some shows, it would both free up room, but also give me more money to buy.morewrestling shows! (it really is like a drug at point!). So that was the latest flagship moment/memory. I have worked closely with both UK based and International talent, have pictures with tons of workers, have had Davey Richards and Mike Elgin tell me I had “lots of cool shit”, and now also supply shows to a number of British workers. I now run merch for HXC based in Manchester, working with my old friend Mike Hough and love every minute of it. Recent I have started writing show reports that get posted on The Indy Corner, which for a technophobe like me is a big thing..even talking of doing a bit of podcasting in the near future!.
The Indy wrestling scene in the UK is at the healthiest I have ever seen it. As a north west based fan, I have managed to see the likes of CZW, ICW and shortly ROH come into my region, and the likes of Infinite Pro, HXC, Tidal and PCW all put on awesome cards using both home grown talent and imports. I am watching and enjoying more shows than at any other point in my life.
So there you have it, my journey from there to here and the significant points along the journey. Would love to hear your own tales of the significant moments in your wrestling fandom life…so please post your replies, and lets all take a moment to wallow in a bit of self-indulgent nostalgia!