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!
Thursday, 2 October 2014
With the entrance video containing Devitt's new name barely mastered, numerous fans were flying off the handle and frothing at the mouth in disgust at WWE creative’s “unimaginative” decision.
“How dare they fix something that isn’t broken” was the general, asinine view from internet keyboard warriors, who were (predictably) up in arms.
I agree “Finn Balor” doesn’t have the same ring as Prince Devitt, but what does it matter? It’s just a name. A moniker. A brand new identity. It’s hardly a disaster of Sampson proportions, is it?
Removing Fergal and replacing it with Finn doesn’t mean he won’t be able to pull off a double foot stomp.
Swapping Devitt for Balor probably won’t slow him down, or drain every last ounce of strength in him. It’s just a name. Deal with it.
The impertinence and lack of logical thinking of some wrestling fans truly astounds me. Yes, people are entitled to their opinions, but at least give the character a chance before reacting in such a childish manner.
A few things came to mind when I heard about the anticipated re packaging of Devitt.
Firstly, taking on the Finn Balor identity should mean he’ll no doubt get to keep the “Prince/Fergal Devitt” naming rights. If this is the case, this is a very intelligent move from a business standpoint.
Let’s say Fergal is future endeavoured somewhere down the line, then what? OK, he won’t be able to run with Finn Balor in the indies/Japan/TNA/wherever, but Prince Devitt is his. No one can take that away from him. Not HHH, not Stephanie, not even Vinny Mac.
Then there’s “the method behind the madness”, being the rational and (in my opinion) genius thought process behind Balor.
Hands up if you actually know much about Irish mythology. No?
Neither did I. That was until I heard where the name Balor originates from. Truth be told, it was quite a surprise to discover how sinister and methodical Balor - king of Fomorians - actually was.
The WWE did their research with this one and when you look at the bigger picture you might just agree that they've unearthed another gem of a character.
Here are a few things that have sprung to mind.
Fergal appeared at shows dressed as evil, calculated characters such as; The Joker, Hannibal, Freddy Krueger & Venom.
Due to copyright laws, Devitt clearly won’t be able to get all (fancy) dressed up as famous fictional characters. Nevertheless, as Balor, there is no doubt in my mind that the body paint will remain – not as movie characters, but numerous designs which depict and reflect the dark personality of this mythological creature.
Anyone who has seen Devitt on a regular basis may agree that his facial expressions and mannerisms aren’t exactly face-like.
I for one have no problem with the name change, nor am I wary of how he'll be positioned.
Wrestler characters have been repackaged/recycled for decades, as have gimmicks. Granted, some have been buried faster than you can say Phantasio, but did anyone complain when the Dingo Warrior, Ringmaster, Rocky Maivia or (more recently) Husky Harris characters were shit canned? Didn't think so.
Here's another thing. If Devitt's in ring name was, I don't know, Paddy McNamara and was changed to Finn Bolar, would people still lose sleep over it? Same goes for other repackaged guys like Kenta, PAC and El Generico.
Again, I cannot stress this enough - it's just a name.
I'd understand all the butthurt if Devitt was on top in somewhere like WCW for 5-10 years, then being completely revamped in the WWE, because it would be almost as if they're disregarding his past achievements.
Of course the name change doesn't just benefit Fergal's future development.
Imagine the volume of WWE Mattel figure sales of a villainous character, who has numerous styles of body paint.
Think of all the Cena shirts that have been sold. I'm pretty sure there's been a "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect" release for every colour of the rainbow. You think no one in their marketing department hasn't thought of this already? Come on!
I believe that this new character is a future monster heel and could maybe, just maybe have a similar effect like the Undertaker did when he first appeared on our screens.
Remember, Taker didn't talk until his mic and promo skills were ready for TV, so don't be surprised if we hardly hear Balor speak for the first year or so.
The only worry I have for Fergal is whether or not he can get over with the American fans.
Audiences in rowdy, intimidating, cities like New York, Detroit and Chicago will appreciate Fergal because of his in ring ability, persona and aura. It also helps that a lot of these fans are smark, who are part of the IWC and know who he is.
However, its the smaller cities where he may find it difficult to get over (at first) because they're more invested in guys who are on TV more.
Ultimately, what it boils down to is merch sales and crowd reaction.
I guarantee the WWE Europe shop will sell out of Balor TShirts in no time. They may be even more popular in the Irish communities Stateside.
All in all, I wish Fergal the best of luck out there and hope he's a huge success.
Having spoken to many people who have known him for many years on a personal level, they haven't got a bad word to say about him.
Its always nice to see good people do well, especially in such a tough industry.
Sunday, 28 September 2014
In November 2013, Dixie Carter stated in an interview with Sports Illustrated that TNA “has been cash flow positive for the last four or five years”.
I’m no economist, so I thought I’d try to find out what “cash flow positive” means.
http://businessdictionary.com defines this as;
“Normal situation where the cash inflows during a period are higher than the cash outflows during the same period. Positive cash flow does not necessarily means profit, and is usually due to a careful management of cash inflows and expenditure. Persistent and large positive cash flows may indicate the firm is not keeping enough stocks of raw materials or finished products, and might be losing sales due to shortages.”
A lot of this confuses me because, while I’m not an economist, I’m also not the CEO of a wrestling company and don’t know “how things are done”.
However, what I DO know is that Dixie didn’t use the word “profit”. As the above definition suggests, just because a company is cash flow positive, it doesn’t make it profitable.
TNA’s yearly outgoings could be, say, $5M – but if they’re only taking $3M, then how are they making up that $2M just to break even?
Let me think…Loans? Or could it be “The Bank of Daddy”, Dixie?
Well, Dixie then went on to say;
“After that point, Panda (Energy) stopped putting money in the company”.
Ummm, OK, so a company invests its money into a new venture for four or five years, just stops pumping money into it when it becomes profitable? Am I the only one who thinks this makes no sense?
Why on earth would you stop investing your money into a profitable organisation? Surely you’d invest more, with the aim of obtaining a bigger return on investment?!
Here’s another question.
If TNA were so cash flow positive, then why would Universal Studios grab them by the scruff of the neck and escort them off the premises?
Wouldn’t Universal be begging TNA to stay, if they were such a successful company?
Coincidentally, TNA and Universal went their separate ways two months after Dixie’s interview with Sports Illustrated.
So, TNA decided to go on the road from January 2014. What happened next? Five months later, TMZ Sports reports that Spike would not be renewing its deal with TNA.
Again, why would a big network like Spike drop a cash flow positive organisation like TNA?
After all, a cash flow positive company suggests that its successful – and in this case, TNA would be quite prosperous.
Sponsors would be queuing up to pay for ad time during peak hours, given that TNA’s ratings are so high, as a result of such a groundbreaking and original product.
Don’t make me laugh!
I have no problem with TNA and I really hope that things change for the better.
The industry in America needs more than one successful company, so that viewers and fans have something to look forward to watching.
I also hope TNA stays in existence, as its not nice to see and hear about talented Wrestlers being out of work. Sure they can explore the indies, but lets face it – being on national and global TV is a dream for all of them.
I’m glad TNA are exploring the UK and showing a genuine interest in the talent out here. However, if the winner of TNA British Bootcamp 2 is to be a success out in the states, he/she will need a massive amount of attention, i.e. vignettes, mic time and a respectable gimmick.
Let’s hope Dixie can make fans feel more positive about the company.
I guess it’s now safe to say that the butthurt over Brock Lesnar ending the Undertaker’s streak has passed.
Even now I cannot understand what all the fuss was about. Granted, Mark Calaway will go down as one of the greatest Sports Entertainers of all time, but the IWC’s reaction to his Wrestlemania loss is and was beyond pathetic.
For years Wrestling has taken its fair amount cheap shots and endless criticism from “non believers” (its still real to me dammit!), and the PG era hasn’t done much to ease off the “its fake” jibes.
So the moment Vince – or Mark Calaway himself, as many rumours suggest – decide to end the streak in a legitimate manner, people lose their shit!
OK, I get it, the Undertaker is “The Phenom”. He’s supposed to have superhuman powers. No one is supposed to beat him cleanly.
All of this worked in the early 90’s because it was original. The bookings were very well done and the character made kids (myself included) shit themselves.
Times have changed. Most fans are smarks and don’t appreciate being patronised by unimaginative script writers who produce predictable, mundane storylines.
Some were angry because they wanted CM Punk to end the streak. They thought he and Daniel Bryan were the future of the company. Well, we all know how that panned out, don’t we?
So, who else could have ended “The Streak”? Some time ago (around 2 years ago), on this very web page, I suggested a storyline between Taker and Dolph Ziggler (link here: http://tinyurl.com/ZigglerAndTaker).Unfortunately, Ziggler’s career has taken a nose dive and he’ll probably be future endeavoured next year.
Who does that leave then? Orton? Seamus? Batista? Big Show? God forbid Super Cena ends up being the one to take the title from Brock.
Roman Reigns is still green at the moment and is nowhere near to being a main event guy, so who else could it have been??
It had to be Brock Lesnar. There was no other option. It was a no brainer. I mean, why wouldn’t you have the toughest bloke on the roster beat the Undertaker?!
He is a former UFC Champion for starters, so I don’t think you can get more bad ass than that.
Also, many fans will remember that Lesnar was in the WWE prior to joining Dana White’s MMA platform. Therefore, it’s more than likely to rekindle interest in the company of those who lost faith a while ago.
For those of you who are saying “but, but, he’s never on TV. He only turns up every now and then” – so what?! I would rather see Brock Lesnar make an appearance on TV maybe 2 or 3 times a month, as opposed to every RAW and Smackdown.
You people forget that as RAW is 3 hours long, one F5 from Lesnar will be replayed 9-12 times per show! Then there’s Superstars and all the other recap shows.
His character becomes stale and people lose interest and on top of that, by bringing him on TV from time to time keeps him relevant.
I’m pretty sure most of the guys in the locker room could kick the shit out of Mark Calaway in a real fight. After all, here we have a 49 year old man in a 65 year old’s body – but for legitimate (there’s that word again) purposes, Brock Lesnar was the only realistic choice.