Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 2011 (un-edited look at wrestling and entertainment)

What follows is an un-edited look at professional wrestling and pop culture in July of 2011 - 2 years ago. It was an exciting time to follow wrestling. In June of that year CM Punk had delivered his sit-down pipebomb promo in Raw and TNA was on an upswing. I also got to meet several grapplers including Sgt. Slaughter and Luke Gallows.


Friday July 1, 2011

The anti-climatic is coming. The earth-shattering CM Punk “Shoot” promo Monday got the WWE production machine adding music and effects- hell at one point Punk’s earth-shattering peak behind the curtain morphed into Max Headroom. This potential goldmine is just another fumble. Mark Henry continues to throw temper tantrums- this time attacking the sound desk and depriving the at home audience a couple of entrance themes. Sin Cara looses to Christian and Sheamus attacks Randy Orton during the contract signing. If there is one gimmick I skip until the violence occurs- it is the bogus contract signing.

 

Saturday July 2 , 2011

Went to a SPW house show/ TV taping at their training facility tonight- it was still very hot in the facility- another fun evening of indie wrestling and once again after the show several grapplers and patrons spent time talking about current wrestling stuff from the CM Punk promo to speculation about the quality of the upcoming Destination X PPV. The highlight of the ring action was a huge brawl between the Veteran’s Administration and every other SPW wrestler- it was pretty fun- brawls like that are better in person than on television.

  The ongoing saga of the Scope tapes was mentioned by one of the workers and they expressed their sadness that their debut performance is currently in limbo. Basically the SPW Uprising show at the Scope Exhibition hall was taped for the promoters – but due to a misunderstanding between the videographer and the promotion team –  the current status of the tapes are in limbo- this is a huge snafu. Currently SPW is filmed at their training school in what looks like 2-3 storage spaces strung together in an area otherwise known as the Birdneck Business Center- it is not a bad space for a school and kudos to management for expanding the room for the tapings- hopefully it will read a little better on television. My father-in-law saw a previous show and said it looked like there were 9 people in the audience. Now it will like 30 or more- but either way- I grew up on studio wrestling – Mid-Atlantic with some of the best workers in the business probably taped in front of 50 people tops for the television taping.

 
Sunday July 3rd, 2011
 

Thank you to my friend Kevin for taking me on journey thru time-no his PT Cruiser ain’t the Tardis - instead we went to the GXW Fourth of July Bash with Sgt. Slaughter in Petersburg, Virginia in the old town civic center- that felt more like a legion hall that occasionally held an all ages hardcore show or more than likely bingo and BBQ functions. It was a fun card mixing regional talent like the Set and Mitch-a-Palooza alongside former 7 time TNA tag champion Chris Harris (who managed to win the GXW television strap on this afternoon.) and WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter. Also Brian and Earl Hebner worked as refs for a couple of matches while Dave Hebner manned the merch table. It was a funny and charming moment as Earl Hebner berated his son Bryan Hebner for missing a chance to sign and sell a picture. The crowd was a mix of locals(including one older man that had to be warned by security to calm down- I think he either thought it was real or may have been there with a group of special needs folks that were sitting next to him ) , and  folks from Richmond and other surrounding locales. It was quaint and to quote Melissa Coates “a cute setting”. It was like Mayberry meets  Rocky Mount, Virginia – in other words small town America( no chain stores in site). Families with kids, wrestling fans of all ages having a good time enjoying the action. I am glad the wrestling portion of the 7 hour event was inside and only 2 hours – because it was nasty hot outside- I went outside to grab a hot dog but was guilted into buying a couple of spring rolls from a dissatisfied Asian vendor that repeated several times that the expected turnout was supposed to 500 to a thousand- instead maybe 200 souls gathered to watch the rasslin’. I was drenched with sweat during my trip outside to grab food. I lost my bet with Kevin- I would have put even money on funnel-cakes – but I did not see any offered. The crowd had a good time and cheered almost non-stop for the babyfaces and everyone seemed to be wearing their flags on their sleeves. It was a slice of Americana that I thought was lost living in the slightly bigger area like Hampton Roads- but it is only a 90 minute drive away.
  It was my most patriotic fourth since seeing the Beach Boys on the Mall in the nation’s capitol as a child in the 70s.
 
 


 
Monday July 4th, 2011
I can’t even escape wrestling at the in-laws- flipping channels to some countdown of top hot dogs in sports and they show HHH talking about Aaron Rodgers touchdown celebration.
Although Vince McMahon did swell in his role as the boss- the resolution of the once hot CM Punk angle left me cold and the crowd that sat through 2 Raws in a row was rather dead for the confrontation between Cena and Vince McMahon. Once again I was more interested in the story of the funky 70s band the Ohio Players then the spoiled results to Raw.
 
ArenaChicks Volume 1
 
A solid collection of women’s wrestling featuring competitors like Divina Fly and Kristen Flake. The commentary is a little dry- almost like they are just happy to have a promotion going and always praising the talent. I am happy that the talk was respectful and not all screams of puppies and calling the women sluts like other lady promotions do. Although they did introduce one character Creepy Cecil who announced while being slightly pervy. The best match of the compilation featured Sara Del Ray versus Alison Danger in a good back and forth tussle. If you are looking for a respectful female promotion that ain’t all about the T&A check out this DVD. The DVD features one bonus match and an awkward skit with a “date” between Creepy Cecil and Sassy Stephie.   B

 
Tuesday July 5th, 2011
The Casey Anthony verdict came in

I have not followed this case nor do I follow most stuff that ends up padding the airwaves for Nancy Grace- but apparently it has crossed over and is clogging up the social media with outrage and whatnot. Sometimes the court of public opinion leads to a lynch mob mentality – check out the classic Spencer Tracey movie Fury . Obviously if this person is guilty of the crimes she needs to prosecuted- and it looks like a legal blooper that the prosecution did not convince the jury. What passes for hard news is mostly entertainment- in other words producers of the news shows cover what they think will garner ratings- is the Anthony case the only instance of  a horrific murder of a young child right now- I would wager no- but this case has legs since the defendant is attractive and the deceased is so camera friendly- it is appalling that this gets so much coverage but the multi-front war on terrorism gets pushed to the back pages because of a combination of war fatigue and apathy. Since the beginning of the year we have followed Charlie Sheen’s rants and subsequent firing from Two and a Half Men ,  Pipa Middleton’s hind quarters , and other silliness- no the murder of a 2 year old is not silly – but the over the top coverage can be. Basically to me if the accused is guilty- lock them away. Do I need blanket coverage to convince me that it was an atrocity? No. Lately it feels like the media is judge, jury and executioner and the public is fine with a system of justice that resembles the Salem Witch Trails rather than reason – that troubles me.
   It is easy journalism – something that everyone can agree on – murder of your child is wrong- I understand and totally agree with that. But it is preaching to the converted – so everyone can feel smug in their superiority to this party girl that failed her matronly duty. The facts of the case and the trail could be covered in the span of an hour- but due to the macabre nature of the case has littered our airwaves for days and weeks- I know I am not better- having read and watched many documentaries on the Manson family , the Benoit murder-suicide , the Nazis, Jonestown and more- I just don’t think the media pile-on serves any bigger purpose than to attract eyeballs and I hope this does not end up in some weird vigilante justice- eventually karma will come calling for the guilty.
 
 
 

Wednesday July 6 , 2011
Does comedy belong in wrestling – of course it does. Today I watched for the first time in 25 years or so the scene from a Cheech and Chong movie where they grapple with an invisible man- sure it did not have me in convulsions like it did when I saw it at the Rocky Mount movie house during the Reagan administration- but I still enjoyed it.
Sometimes the defense mechanism of wrestling fans employ is to take everything too seriously- am I the biggest Santino Marella fan- no- but on occasion the Cobra can be funny. I loved the Bushwhackers and their goofy antics in the WWF and I loved Norman Smiley and Ralphus when they were teamed up for a short while and Chris Jericho and the trip to the library of congress looking for the wrestling rule book, Al Snow and Mick Foley in Vegas, Head-cheese , HBK super-kicking a brat while working as a short-order chef at a commissary. The rough and brutal chase for gold needs a breather at times- the musical chairs segment from WWE Raw was one of my favorite segments of all time- of course when you have Ric Flair, Stacey Keibler and Tajiri – it was destined to be gold.



 
Thursday July 7, 2011
I finally caught the McMahons on Bloomberg Enterprise- talk about a puff piece. Melissa Long mentioned competition for the WWE and was quickly dismissed by Vince McMahon when he mentioned defeating Ted Turner, that it felt like WWE was the only company presenting wrestling on the planet( sports entertainment- entertainment-whatever). The Chris Benoit thing was tossed aside with the same postal worker quip Vince used on Larry King a few years back. Basically it felt like an infomercial for their plans to launch a TV network. It was funny seeing the minor gaffes in the production- when they talked about a good guy- they showed Alberto Del Rio(who has been a heel since his debut) and it was funny watching the reporter no-sell some of HHH’s jokes.
 
 

I am finally watching the 2011 NCAA wrestling finals from PA. The first match is Anthony Robles taking on Matt McDonough in the 125 division -Robles is missing his right leg from the hip on down. He wins the match in dominating fashion. Robles seems very humble after the win. The commentators state he is retiring from wrestling and getting fitted for a prosthetic limb. I can see Vince and company wanting to recruit this young athlete. Bubba Jenkins from Virginia Beach won the 157 division with a pin- the crowd pop was great- huge response and this without any promos before the match.
  Amateur wrestling is the basic foundation of what we see in pro wrestling- I guess- you have collar and elbow lockups, pin-falls- but no punching or submissions. My amateur wrestling was limited to 2 days inn my freshman year of high school. I was recruited to the squad because I broke another kid’s leg in a PE class taught by the wrestling coach. I was not trying to hurt him and probably just fell on his leg wrong- I am very competitive- so I was trying hard- but not maliciously. Anyhow the cardio needed for wrestling was beyond my country strong means- I was in better shape then- but had no interest in amateur wrestling and turned my attentions to music and girls.
    Today the Murdoch empire decided to shut down the UK paper News of the World versus deal with the phone-hacking scandal- the world of print journalism is shrinking rapidly.
  Wrestling seems to take over my DVr tonight as it captures Mud-Wrestling Smurfs and The Wild Boys (Steve-O and Chris of Jackass fame) doing some lucha stuff oh and wrestling matters on Spike TV.
    Luckily wrestling fanatic Jesse was not on the season premiere of Big Brother.

I am happy to report that it was another solid episode of Impact Wrestling- featuring a 4 corners match between RVD, Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels- with RVD getting a clean victory after a five star frogsplash. The real highlight of the night was another excellent X-Division showcase match with Jack Evans (AAA/WSX,etc) getting the win after an exciting match with a 630 splash. Sadly ODB and Miss Jackie lost their match to Velvet Sky and in storyline they are supposed to be leaving the company- although the announcers said it would probably not stick and ODB said the same thing after the match- one thing that TNA is terrible with- having so many stips and then not enforcing them. I think Ken Anderson turned heel- but he was never a true babyface- more of a tweener- but with him joining Immortal- I guess he is a bad guy-I don’t know what it is about him – but I find myself wanting to change the channel when he is on- his promos tend to bore me at this juncture.
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday July 8, 2011
British newspaper News of the World is closed down after it is revealed that the paper had hacked the phones of hundreds of people.
 
 
 
Saturday July 9, 2011
Went to Big Sam’s on Rudee Inlet for Tiki Time today- 50 cent wings and under 4 dollars for a half pound of shrimp- plus they have Mountain Dew. I also did some trades with Vinyl Daze- yes in 2011 – there is a new all record/vinyl store in Virginia Beach- although surfing the crest of a trend (vinyl resurgence) – the prices in the store are pretty decent.
   I just finished Smackdown from last night- the Sin Cara tussle with Tyson Kidd was a solid TV match- and it looks like the Sheamus yo-yo is going up right now. Sheamus has a unique look and is rumored to be good friends with HHH – but his stock seems to rise and plummet like the tides, if there is someone they should protect from comedy booking and make consistently strong – it should be Sheamus.
  R.I.P. Wurzel the former guitarist of Motorhead.
 
 
 
Sunday July 10, 2011
Went to Season’s Best Bakery at the Farmer’s Market today and then ended up having Frosted Flakes for breakfast. For the first time this year and probably since Bound for Glory 2010 I am really looking forward to a TNA PPV. I have already ordered the event and purchased the popcorn so I will be ready at 8 pm EST to sit and watch the event.
 
“A lot of people lost faith in TNA because there is no more wrestling. Like TNA built it’s name on the X-Division. It was a budding sprout of what WCW was back in their heyday- yeah they had Luger, Hogan,Sting – but it was the cruiserweight division that did it/ It was Jericho , Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrerro, Rey Mysterio, Juventud, those are the guys that brought the ratings to the show – but after that it was the heavyweights took over the show.” -Rob Fury
TNA Destination X from the Impact Zone in Orlando Florida
After a video package hyping the main event and the X Division we get a solid opener with Kazarian beating Samoa Joe with a sloppy looking rollup after Joe was arguing with ref Earl Hebner- Samoa Joe was very over with the live audience. I am so glad they did not have pumped in crowd noise- because they don’t need it. The commentary for the event was hampered when Jeremy Borash sat in for Taz – not only did Tenay and Borash prattle on all night- they were boring and never let the actual ambience of the hot crowd get through without their verbalization.

  The second match featured Douglas Williams in an open challenge match( in my mind I was hoping for the return of Sonjay Dutt or Jay Lethal) – instead British newcomer Mark
Haskins came out and had a decent match except for missing a couple of spots. Williams won the contest with the second rollup of the night.
  Backstage we see Christopher Daniels arrive in a mid-level rental car and then a comedy spot with Curryman , Suicide ,Eric Young and Sharkboy.
 The promo of the night occurred when Austin Aires called out Stream Watchers and  said “ I hope you choke on whatever unhealthy food you are eating”. While I did order the PPV – it made think twice about the buttered popcorn I was eating.
   Gen Me lost a tolerable match against EY and Sharkboy.
The Ultimate X match followed as Shannon Moore , Robbie E , Alex Shelly and Amazing Red fought to be the number one contender in the X-Division. While Amazing Red was the crowd favorite- Alex Shelly prevailed and celebrated with his Motor City Machine Gun partner Chris Sabin after the match.
   The crowd is at a fever pitch for the RVD and Jerry Lynn match- of course most of the crowd noise was muffled by the monotone commentary provided by Borash and Tenay. It was a solid match from 2 veteran performers. Jerry Lynn is still amazing.
   My favorite match of the night was the 4 men fight for one contract match as Low-Ki took on Jack Evans , newcomer Zema Ion and Austin Aires in a match filled with intensity and tons of high flying. At one time Jack Evans decided to celebrate with a break dance move and was rewarded with a  roaring elbow by Austin Aires. Another well done spot from the match was when Low-Ki and Aries taunted each other while applying dragon sleepers to Ion and Evans. Aries won the contract- but I agree with the crowd that chanted Sign them all.
   Brian Kendrick defeated Abyss to win the X-Division strap- this match featured the only run-in of the entire night- when the X-division grapplers thwarted Immortal’s attempt to assist Abyss. The main event of the evening concluded when AJ Styles hit the Spinal Tap on Christopher Daniels. This was my favorite PPV of the year (that I have seen this year) and my favorite PPV for TNA since Lockdown 2010. This event is worth checking out if you missed it.
 
 

“Sunday was the most fun I ever had in the business. It was really good for me. The crowd and the matches and the highflying stuff for me as a photographer-it’s fun, it’s challenging. It’s a lot of running around- I actually lost 7 pounds that night because it was so hot in the building. It was a full blown workout. It reminded me of the Nashville vibe – early on- the crowd was just so into it.” – Lee South(TNA photographer) talking about working Destination X 2011
 
 
 
   Also tonight a new episode of the Mongo Wrestling Alliance cartoon debuted on Adult Swim. This episode featured a challenge for a golden pig in a swamp, voodoo and Rusty seducing a Medusa like female to help the grapplers escape the bad guys. Rusty ended up impregnating the Medusa-like femme and they showed his son being born. MWA is ridiculous but fun.
 
 

The WWE released the trailer for WWE Brawl which looks like their attempt @ WCW’s Backstage Assault – well no not as limited- since the Brawl will take place anywhere besides the ring and the WCW game was in various backstage areas. Why does WWE always want to muscle up the guys even more when it comes to videogames and action figures- it is disturbing- I bet they even put muscles on the gonads of the guys when creating them. Sure it is ideal looking to be in shape and have bulging biceps- but in games like WWE Superstars the wrestlers look freakishly large. When I started watching in the 70s and 80s – wrestlers like Tony Atlas  and Ken Patera were the exceptions to the rule and except for Superstar Billy Graham most bodybuilder types did not hold major belts and the story told by announcers and the magazines was one of the guys who could wrestle could usually overcome somebody with more muscles due to acumen , knowledge and flexibility – obviously that was thrown out years ago.


Monday July 11, 2011

I was behind the 8 ball with CM Punk-I mean I didn’t start to notice him until ECW stir-fry- but had seen him in TNA and had other stuff on indie DVDs. But right now today- he is in the eye of  the hurricane- worked shoot or whatever- the closing segment with the contract negotiation between Vince McMahon and CM Punk felt legit- it felt like Punk had the crowd in the palm of his hand. McMahon did great in his role- that of a spurned parent who feels like they are doing the right thing – even though everyone else thinks they are out of touch. But Punk carried the segment and even got WWF Ice Cream Bars to be a trending topic – if only he would have mentioned the Bruise Cruise.

 

 

Tuesday July 12, 2011

 

Sadly most of the modern graffiti on the wall when it comes to wrestling is reduced to name calling and bad grammar and atrocious spelling. I was pleasantly surprised to read this today when surfing the net from a fellow fan.
 
 
 
 
“I’ve been a wrestling fan all my life and I’ve noticed how the business side of it has changed so much since the 80's and funny thing is people still cant get over the fact that its not just about the wrestling anymore and is actually more about the entertainment part of it. In today's world nobody wants to see the same boring stale matches where 2 guys go at it for 10 min or more and all they do is the same couple of moves. Wrestling is like a soap opera and it has to include storylines that sometimes have nothing to do with actual wrestling itself. The storylines is what gets us to go to the shows and watch on TV. The only downside to wrestling is the writers can’t seem to get it through their heads that they need to change up the storylines after about a month or 2 and they tend to sometimes drag on for over a year like the whole anonymous gm crap. This is the reason that most shows go off the air, cause not much changes from day to day or week to week. The only difference with wrestling is the fact that it has some of the most loyal fans and we all know that no matter how much we whine about how boring or stupid the storylines are we are going to  continue to watch and find out what (if anything else) is going to happen next...”             – Mark Barrett
I don’t agree with everything that Barrett states and I am one of those fans that wants more wrestling than not- but I want variety in what I see – I loved gimmicks like the man with a thousand holds that Dean Malenko utilized in the 1990s. But wrestling is trying to compete with a myriad of competition and not every fan in the arena is interested in athletic sport or the spirit of competition. Baseball was one of the first sports with such pioneers as Charlie O. Finley (owner of the A’s in the 60s and 70s) and Bill Veeck ( owner of the St Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox at different times) to start finding something besides what was on the marquee to keep the crowd entertained- so instead of being entertained with a scorecard and a pencil- now you had raffles and sound bites and contest –every half inning- non-stop intrusion- and that mindset has  infused WWE since the rock and wrestling age.
 
  Today a pollster called the house- after 8 minutes- I was done- every question was a leading question and every topic about the budget is more complex then a simple yes or no answer- GOP or not- one huge problem with our country is the national dialogue has devolved into several shouted monologues with everyone swearing they’re right and the other side is un-American or worse. Of course the news led with the continuing standoff between the president and congress regarding money. The NFL may cancel their season and the NBA is also talking lockout- it is frustrating and infuriating listening to millionaires and billionaires quibble about how they are going to slice up the pie while so many folks struggle to get mortgage paid.
 
 
Wednesday July 13, 2011
The new documentary Card Subject To Change: Wrestling’s Underground had an announced street of July 12  - well I went to both FYE and Best Buy in town and it was not there- it was the system for both chains- but not in stock- so I guess I will order it over the net. By the end of the summer Card Subject to Change was available on Netflix streaming.
  I ask people over and over again- what got them into pro wrestling- the responses vary- I wonder if anyone will site the Muy Macho episode of the Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place or Mucha Lucha or Sin Cara- the man who stands up for those that can not stand up for themselves.
   The Rock dropped another youtube promo on John Cena- responding to Cena calling him out for not being there every single night. I really like the Rock pointing out that he is not an employee
 
 
Card Subject To Change : Pro Wrestling’s Underground
(2011 Cinema Libre Studio)
More Wrestling Riot- less now-
Kevin Sullivan , Bill Apter, Superstar Billy Graham, Billy Gunn, Lacey Von Erich, Sheri Martel, Rhett Titus, Terry Funk,Tom Prichard , Jim Cornette, Corvis Fear, Necro Butcher ,  Sabu and more are captured in this well made documentary. From the debut match of
Sgt. Storm to the veteran Kevin Sullivan lacing them up, we see the matches, the set-ups- the wrestler hopping up after doing a stretcher job front of the house. The late Trent Acid is one of the grapplers profiled in this movie, Kamala and Percy Pringle III are reunited after 28 years- weird hearing Pringle’s actual voice( Paul Bearer in the WWE From the charming scenes of Rhett Titus playing with his son to the sad scenes of an indie wrestler shooting himself with steroids this movie is trying to capture all side of the indie wrestling scene in the Northeast. We see backstage arguments between workers, the promoter booking talent and even giving directions to the venue, pre-show locker room pep talk , sick footage from death matches and more. The realistic finale was a lackluster turnout for a show at a minor league ball park was followed by watching footage of Trent Acid wrestle. After the Animal House catch-up on the wrestlers featured – we get several folks discussing the title of the movie and then a song sung by Kamala. And after all the credits run- we get Ox Baker crooning the “Wrestling Blues”. This is a worthwhile introduction to wrestling scene that is not on national television week after week.  A
 
Thursday July 14, 2011
Impact Wrestling – the first show after an excellent X-Division PPV- how do you follow up. Well you start off with another dreadful Immortal promo. “I think Russo would take the ring out if he could and just have them cut promos all day.” -Tony Givens. After the promo Sting comes in after a blackout and messes with a poker table while threatening to send in the clowns… in the rafters. Things pick up with a solid 3 way match for the Bound For Glory series between Robert Roode , Samoa Joe and The Pope. Roode wins by pinning Joe while he is tapping out – Earl Hebner saw the shoulders – not the tap. Austin Aires wins his first match under contract by using the chain of DILLIGAF on Shannon Moore. We also see a commercial for Bound For Glory in Philadelphia- a well produced spot- not anticipating that Ric Flair would be in trouble with the company. Also they show a highlight package from the Sunday PPV- with every spot intact and no freeze-frames – is TNA totally giving up PPV buys? The main event was a solid title match between the champion Mr. Anderson and the challenger Sting. Sting wins after Kurt Angle delivers some clown justice. So one week after joining Immortal – Mister Anderson is no longer champion- so I guess this leads to some turmoil in that group. I don’t know and I don’t care- Anderson has joined Hulk Hogan in the fast forward club, fast forward club.
 
Friday July 15, 2011
 Somebody asked me yesterday if I was a writing a tell-all – NO! What is left to be told? Blading, drugs and bad family relations were covered in the Oscar nominated The Wrestler directed by Darren Aronofsky and there are plenty of books that cover the murder/suicide situation with Chris Benoit, Nancy and young Daniel. Wrestling with Shadows covers the Montreal Screw Job way better than I could ever hope to and whenever something negative happens CNN will decide that wrestling is topical again. Do I think wrestling is perfect- no – I think the wrestlers need a union or someway to help preserve their health and sanity. I know the wrestlers are adults and make their own minds up to be a part of this industry- but the structure leaves them without any sort of a net. Jim Wilson did a great job talking about the struggles of getting a union started in his eye-opening book Chokehold. I don’t want anyone to die simply to entertain me or anyone else- I am not into snuff films nor do I want to see snuff wrestling. Guys that have put in time – like a Ric Flair should have a pensions set up for them and not have to constantly hustle working the autograph circuit and still work matches if they don’t want to or if they are not physically fit to compete- that is just my opinion- one that I have believed in for a long time.
 
As usual the divide between shoot wrestling and kayfabe is very pronounced- on the shoot side I am reading New Jack’s facebook wall and seeing him break up in public with Terri Runnels and also checking out the superb CM Punk interview with GQ magazine online and on the kayfabe side I just finished watching a re-run on the Hub of the made for kids TV show Honey I Shrunk the Kids( starring Peter Scolari) from 1998 with a guest appearance by Bret and Owen Hart- talk about different worlds.
 I finally got my hands on Hooker by Lou Thesz with Kit Bauman. Thankfully Crowbar Press has reprinted this hard to find book. After forwards by his widow Charlie Thesz and co-author Kit Bauman is one of the most impassioned and intelligent introductions to any work I have read- Lou loved what he did for a living and was passionate about it- you can tell from the first paragraph – I can see why so many cite this autobiography as the best or one the best books written about professional wrestling.
 
Saturday July 16 , 2011
For once there is a buzz on a PPV weekend- well the first real buzz since Mania week.
 
“Wrestlemania should've felt like this. For a regular PPV this is a great build up going in
-          Hines Buchnanan discussing the anticipation for Money In The Bank 2011
 
“I haven`t looked forward to a b levels shows like this for a long time. Kind of a WrestleMania feeling”-
  -Darren Elvis Holland
 
What would be awesome - but would probably never happen - IS THIS - Punk beats Cena- then Del Rio or whomever wins a briefcase challenges him to a match - and Punk wins with help from Luke Gallows and Scotty Goldman and then leaves- I know that is crazy talk- but that would be awesome- would love to see the reaction to that scenario. With all that being said I have yet to watch Smackdown.



 

Sunday July 17, 2011

  Big day for sports and entertainment- this afternoon the US versus Japan for the Women’s World Cup and tonight WWE PPV Money in the Bank. The World Cup game was aces- specially with the shoot-out- good stuff- congrats to Japan for their win.

In preparation for tonight’s PPV I woke up and watched Friday’s Smackdown from end to end- well except the diva match. Kelly Kelly is generic and unwatchable.

Smackdown starts off with another Christian and Randy Orton verbal debate- nothing worth repeating or seeing again. Big Zeke makes Ted DiBiase,Jr tap out to the rack. After ref Nunzio raises Big Zeke’s hand in victory, we go backstage and see Cody Rhodes mocking Teddy 2 and telling him he put a bag on his head if he continues to be a looser.

Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan have a solid match( the WWE even put together a video package showcasing their rivalry). The match is overshadowed at times when Cody puts a bag on his head doing commentary. Cody wins the match after kicking Daniel Bryan off the top rope from the corner. Somewhere during the match I learned that Booker T was a drum major in high school.

   More backstage segments occur as Jinder Mahal bullies a photographer for not focusing on him only during a photo-shoot with him and the great Kahli. Christian proclaims innocence for vandalizing the Orton cruiser- all the while making sure to show the graffiti.

   The Blue Light special follows as Sin Cara beats Sheamus with a rollup. Wade Barrett joins in on commentary and claimed that he studied the tapes- really in 2011 – still with the tapes? Wade Barrett attacked Sheamus after the match.

   Bookerism of the night – “going Mondo y Mondo.”

Henry and Big Show discuss the best all you can eat buffet in town- no they are “mad” about something and will be a part of tonight’s PPV. Johnny Curtis is shown backstage in a segment with a guy that looks to be Ralphus ( Jericho’s man Friday in WCW).

  Justin Gabriel beats Heath (One Man Rock Band) Slater with a 450 splash. Another tag team goes kaput- these 2 smaller sized guys are now just hanging out until the next round of cuts.

Christian taunted Orton all night – from making light of the recent Orton STD (straight to DVD movie) to gambling with Orton’s money and more. The abbreviated main event had World Champion Randy Orton  loose via countout to Kane because he was distracted by Christian.
     The show also featured a CM Punk commercial- it vaguely tried to be like an old N.W.O. commercial- but felt like your typical WWE produced segment.
    Smackdown did a good job getting their feuds and contests over for tonight’s PPV in this decent episode.

Money in The Bank 2011

From Chicago Illinois , home of the challenger for the WWE championship CM Punk- it is the second annual Money in the Bank PPV. Originally Money in the Bank was a specialty match at Wrestlemania- but then WWE wanted to have gimmicks for their secondary PPVs and took this concept and made it a new yearly event.

  Things start off with the Smackdown Money in the Bank match- the usual mix of highspots occurred- but the first surprise of the night occurred when undersized competitor Daniel Bryan won the match and a briefcase that entitles him to challenge for the World Championship when he feels the time is right within one year. Watching Daniel Bryan in WWE versus watching Brian Danielson in the indies- it is the difference between watching a Picasso or a paint by numbers sketch by a 3 year old The crowd erupted at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Virginia Beach that I watched the event at. The bump Sin Cara took thru the ladder was brutal. This was the best turnout for a PPV at this location since Wrestlemania this year.

 

“I really think that if Daniel Bryan was able to be himself and just let him do his wrestling work inside the ring and that speak for itself – I believe in a matter of no time people would start to respect that. “- DJ Kendall

 

 

  After a solid opener Kelly Kelly retained the diva strap by beating a Bella. Mark Henry beat Big Show in their grudge match and then he Pillmanized Big Show’s ankle after the match.

  The Raw MITB match started with every competitor having a ladder and fencing with them – just like the Smackdown match there are plenty of interesting spots. Miz falls awkwardly from a ladder. One of the bigger pops occurred when he ran down limping later in the match – he did not win. Alberto Del Rio won after he unmasked Rey Mysterio
Jr.

  What followed where 2 matches- the first seemed predictable- but wasn’t. Christian beat Randy Orton for the World Championship after Orton got disqualified for hitting Christian in the gonads.

   The next match was the match the wrestling world was buzzing about- CM Punk – who promised to leave WWE and take the WWE strap with him against John Cena – who was threatened to be fired by Vince McMahon if he did Punk wins.

   The crowd was solidly behind CM Punk- both in the arena and the bar- after a slow paced and at times sloppy match CM Punk won the match. Vince McMahon asked for someone to cash in their MITB contract- Del Rio sprinted to the ring but was kicked in the temple for his efforts. CM Punk grabbed the title and headed into the stands.



 
The reaction at the bar was priceless- the 20 some-things - a table of about 13 of em - were celebrating like it was the Super Bowl or something- that was cool and I also loved all the signs for Punk at the arena
 
If this were a sporting event- I would be dancing in the street- because regardless of how Christian and D Bryan and Punk won their matches- they won - and Del Rio- every match I cared about had a result I wanted.
 
Language is a funny thing. I ordered the corn dog nugget appetizer and the guy I was sharing the table with asked if he could try one. I was like sure. Then he asked to try another one- I mean it is a corn dog nugget- what did he miss in interpretation of the food item in the first one that he needed to revisit it one more time. Yeah he probably meant can I have another- but it struck me as funny.
 
It is reported that the event did 195,000 buys up 30,000 from last year.
 
 
“I thought the PPV was one of the best I have seen in a long time, the match quality was really good, the angles were really good. Cena looked better than he usually does, a lot of it was because of Punk. Punk was the star of that pay per view. He’s been the hottest guy in the company in the last few weeks.”- Mike Mooneyham
 
The DVD presentation for the event was lackluster- the only extra on the DVD is a post match interview with Daniel Bryan conducted by Matt Stryker.
 
 
 Monday July 18, 2011
Monday Night Raw ended with a bang. After a placeholder tournament that made the events of MITB seem meaningless – sure the matches were fine with good wrestlers. But it seemed to undercut the lineage of the title. How gone is CM Punk- not far in the current age of social media- showing pics of him at the old ball park and putting the strap in the fridge on twitter are pretty funny and keeping the net talking. Imagine if Brian Pillman had Twitter when he was playing both ends against the middle in the 90s. Or Ric Flair when he left WCW with the belt in 1991-CM Punk is this year’s WE WANT FLAIR Chant!
   The storyline with an old out of touch Vince McMahon being replaced by HHH makes sense and opens up the boss versus the employee angle to matches between Punk and HHH.
 
 
Tuesday July 19, 2011
 Sin Cara the blue light special- I mean the high flying Mexican sensation has failed his drug test and is being suspended – So far both of HHH’s big signees have been instant sensations but not lasting- of course Kharma (Awesome Kong ) cut an amazing promo and will be back after her pregnancy comes to term- but Sin Cara (Mystico in Mexico) has been inconsistent in the ring and rumors persisted that since he was HHH’s project that they were going to import Averno to be his opponent. Speculation and wrestling- hardly a new combo.
 
Wrestling’s Most Controversial Moment
(2011 Kayfabe Commentaries LLC)
 
Featuring a nice mix of wrestlers discussing and  counting down 5 controversial moments- instead of a roundtable discussion with people talking over each other- each person responds separately to each moment. The panel includes Barry Darsow , Bill Apter , Chyna ,Danny Doring , Honky Tonk Man , JJ Dillion, Kip James , Maria Kanellis ,Masked Superstar , Matt Bourne , Road Warrior Animal and Tammy Sytch.  Moments include Vince Russo winning the WCW strap and Vince McMahon admitting that wrestling is entertainment and more. This is an entertaining hour long program- the DVD also trailers for other events including a 4 minute long trailer with several guffaws for the Jim Cornette roast.  B+
 
Wednesday July 20 , 2011
Wrestling is 90% hype. And with all the hyperbole that gets thrown around(less refined folks call it BS) – we tend to get caught up in the moment and regardless of the admonishments of Public Enemy –we believe the hype. Currently I hear the phrase thrown around that everyone is talking about CM Punk leaving WWE with the title- not so much- no one approached me at the store with tales of CM Punk partying in the windy city the night after Money in the Bank- not one magazine at the checkout counter featured any picture or mention of Punk going AWOL with the strap- nope it was pics of Pipa and Kate and Katie and other skinny gals beaming over headlines about diet and whatnot- the usual stuff. There rarely is an everyone moment anymore – pop culture and the diversity of choices have seen to that-  Why settle for something that vaguely interests you when you can find ,stream or download exactly what you are looking for within seconds or if you have a slow connection –minutes. I sometimes think there are so many entertainment options to keep us distracted from the important news of the day- and no I
don’t mean the screaming tabloid headlines – I mean wars, economic downturn, environment ,etc. Ally McBeal was a hugely popular and if rumor is to be believed water cooler show in it ‘s time- but I never saw a moment of the show- just did not care to- I watch the car crash audition segments of American Idol- after that it becomes static to me- I know guys that don’t watch sports and others that almost plan their social calendar around the NFL- btw it looks like the strike has been averted. Wrestling while having legions of fans from around the world is not at the forefront of the zeitgeist – if there is even one at the moment- but I am digging the angle with CM Punk and will tune each Monday to find out more.
 
  Today is the anniversary of the passing of Bruce Lee- truly an iconic figure in martial arts. When I saw the movie Dragon about his life it motivated me when I was heading into one of my most productive periods as a concert promoter.
 
   My order from ROH came in today- kudos to ROH for filling a 6 disc order in only 3 days.

Thursday July 21, 2011

 Brilliant move by WWE to have CM Punk invade a WWE promotional stop at Comicon  in San Diego- this type of fluid promotion is how to manipulate social media and be competitive . “Right now I have a few friends that the CM Punk situation has peeked a little bit of interest whether that remains or not, I don’t know.” – Blake Chadwick

 

 

 After a subpar Impact wrestling last week- I really enjoyed tonight’s show. We start off with a typical but short enough promo setting up the main event with Sting and Angle taking on Bully Ray and Anderson Anderson from Immortal in a tag bout. This is followed by RVD pinning Big Poppa Pump with a rollup to secure a victory in the Bound for Glory series. The knockouts take over center stage as Mickie James and Velvet Sky do the typical  mutual respect promo before their face versus face confrontation scheduled for later in the evening. Winter and Angelina Love break up the hug fest and say they don’t care who wins because they will take the strap at the next PPV.

    Tara and Miss Tessmacher win the TNA Knockouts Tag Belts in spite of Madison Rayne’s attempt to distract Tara.

 

   What follows next is a superb 4 man ladder match between AJ Styles , Samoa Joe , Gunnar and Matt Morgan. While AJ and Samoa Joe have some excellent spots in the match –Matt Morgan secures the win and points in the Bound for Glory Series.Was this an all-time classic match that will be talked about for years to come like the ladder match at Wrestlemania X between HBK and Razor Ramon – probably not. But for free (well partially free- not PPV- but cable costs money each month) this was entertaining and worth keeping to watch again.
 
 


 
   Eric Young confronts D- Lo Brown in a convenience store – first he calls him Cee Lo and mentions the Voice- really not funny- but I always like anything that takes place out of the ring and I liked the roll-up and D-Lo getting irritated with EY for the ambush.
 
    A solid X-Division match follows with Brian Kendrick retaining the title with interference from the newly signed Austin Aires. After taking a stiff looking Sliced Bread variation on the apron- Kendrick kept the title when Aires waffled Shelley with the belt.
Aires continues to be an entertaining arrogant heel- I loved him lying next to ring with his shades on after he completed the dastardly deed.
 
   Beer Money confronts Mexico America ( yes that is a faction) and cut a very good although jingoistic promo to set up the tag title match at the July PPV.
 
  The contest for the Knockouts strap never takes place as current knockouts Angelina and Winter jump miss Hardcore Country and Velvet. Things get elevated to the next level when ODB and Miss Jackie come out and take out the knockouts , TNA security and finally get cuffed and taken away by local police. My favorite Tazzism of the night is when one of the nameless security guys gets kicked in the sack and he goes “she just played Yahtzee with his yambag” . Crude but funny
 
   The Main Event was the typical do you trust your tag partner who will be your foe at the PPV match – when Sting and Angle teamed up to beat  Bully Ray and Mr Anderson from the heel stable Immortal.
 
   Maybe not an episode for the time capsule, but this show was enjoyable disposable entertainment.

Friday July 22 , 2011
 The highlight of tonight’s Smackdown was a solid promo by Daniel Bryan when he indicated he would not cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase until Wrestlemania next year. Beyond that Smackdown was nothing worth writing home about or recapping here.
 
Saturday July 23 , 2011
 
“Unfortunately a lot of the IWC are stubborn bastards that'll NEVER give TNA a chance. Despite WWF/WCW/ECW and every other fed doing the exact same thing, they'll never give them a chance. I'm also sick of reading WCW 2.0. It's complete BS. Heck the final Nitro got a 3.0 rating. Even 'shit' WCW was getting 3.5's. 
I read forums and 'the other show' page and it boggles my mind at how retarded they are. I'm all for a different opinion, but their reasoning for disliking something is asinine. Most don't even have a valid argument. TNA gets bigger ratings here in the UK than BOTH RAW and Smackdown combined! But the excuse is "TNA is on free TV". Oh how I laugh at that. WWE is part of a subscription service, but even the BASIC package has a crap load of WWE stuff. Recap shows etc. 
I prefer TNA over WWE for the most part and I could EASILY give my reasons for doing so, but being told to 'Kill myself' or something equaly as stupid just makes me hold my head in my hands and say "No wonder wrestling fans get such a bad name".”
-Ricky Duggan

 
Singer Amy Whinehouse passed away. Another music person dies at the age of 27 she joins a club that includes Jimi Hendrix , Janis Joplin , Kurt Cobain and more. Being a music fan can be similar to be a wrestling fan- so many of the performers die young.
 
 
 
PWG 8
 
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is an example of an AMAZING wrestling promotion. Founded by 6 Southern Californian independent wrestlers, the PWG product is fresh and fan friendly. Top independent wrestlers from all across the world, as well as local talent, are billed for their entertaining events. The promotion is a combination of humorous entertainment and serious wrestling. If I had the choice between attending PWG or a WWE event, hands down I’d choose to travel out to Reseda, CA and attend a PWG show.-Jennifer Solis



Sunday July 24, 2011

 

Today I took a detour of a sort. I went to a minor league baseball game. The AAA Tidewater Tides took on the Braves AAA team. Jerry “The King” Lawler was on hand to throw out the first pitch and then sign autographs and take pictures. It was muggy hot- not as hot as the last 3 days- but my wife and I left after an inning- luckily my friend Kevin Johnson had given me his tickets. It is odd – I can recall a time when I would not leave any game and watched the game of the week every week on NBC with Tony Kubeck and Verne Gagne (ok not Verne but Joe Gariagolia looked a lot like AWA Champ Verne Gagne). I used to love to go to Tides games and root against them- now I can’t since they are the Orioles farm club. But the Orioles have been so lackluster for years that I am apathetic about baseball at this point. After we left the ballpark we ate at Lola’s in Ghent a nice but very empty Caribbean eatery.

 

 

 

 
Monday July 25, 2011
 
R-Truth was a guest on the Hampton Roads show on Fox 43. I found out when my wife woke me up after my best friend had called to inform us of the impending interview. There was nothing special about the appearance although it seems odd to send a heel to do your glad-handing. He was very cordial during the 3 minute segment but did say a couple things about Little Jimmy.
 
Went to Monday Night Raw at Hampton Coliseum tonight, the same place I saw the world’s greatest rap concert (it was billed as such and had acts like Public Enemy and Salt N Pepa on the bill) , Depeche Mode and of course other WWE events like the Raw when DX invaded Scope.
 
  En route to the event I got so hungry I ate at IHOP- the exact same place I almost passed out from ingesting a tough fatty steak filled with gristle the wrong way while laughing after a night at the defunct NSECT CLUB. NSECT CLUB was a short-lived concert venue that I booked shows for in the mid 1990s – I booked a variety of acts at the venue including the Offspring, Dick Dale , Southern Culture on the Skids , Marilyn Manson and the Jim Rose Sideshow Circus. One time I got the bright idea to hire a local wrestler named Big Slam to be the MC for a show with a band called Killdozer- I thought it was fun and the crowd liked it- but I heard later that the band was not thrilled with the notion. I was such a mark and had no idea of what the wrestling pay-scale was – so I paid this guy almost 3 times what most guys make for indie shots now and gave him a case of beer. Also Jim Rose had this one act called the masked grappler- basically it was a contortionist that managed to maneuver his body through a tennis racket- I always thought that one of the major wrestling promotions should have used that as an aside on a show.
 
 Of course it is hard to reminisce because the NSECT building had been bulldozed years before and now is the site of a Walgreens.
 
 
After a subpar meal we headed to the parking lot. Luckily we beat the rain- but it was funny seeing WWE trucks with the likeness of MVP who was released last December and the Hart Dynasty who broke up sometime in the last year.
 
I got us aisle seats- of course my view was obstructed more than once by an usher or vendor. The people behind us were funny- the gentleman behind me had me cracking up all night- he was complaining that the wrestlers during the dark match were garbage wrestlers. I thought it was a solid match between Primo and Bo Rotundo- but some people need to see celebs to be entertained. Celebrity is the American equivalent of royalty. Of course this always the case- I used to loathe when pitching a good movie to a patron at the video store when they would hear the plot and all they cared about was who was in it.
 
 Superstars was solid and entertaining – I admit I have not watched a moment of this program since it got moved from WGN and went to the internet- which is a shame – because Superstars was one of the few  WWE shows to consistently feature longer wrestling matches versus plot and storyline.
 
  Raw started off strongly with a title match between the Miz and Rey Mysterio,Jr for the WWE belt. Rey won the strap and the crowd celebrated his victory. It was a hot crowd that seemed to want to cheer every chance they got- it was a fun atmosphere. I don’t know how it played on television but in the arena it was a night where the excitement of the fans felt contagious. I have been to several live events and this has to rank up there as one of my favorite live experiences. Tonight also marked the return of Jim Ross to announcing, Jim Morrison to active competition and another loss by the annoying Michael Cole to Zack Ryder- I think his biggest fan was sitting behind me as he would occassinally chant Woo WOO WOO and appeared to erupt with joy when Ryder simply appeared. The lady in front of me was simply shaking and shrilly screaming when Cena finally appeared for the main event. I am glad I went to this event and I will be honest I don’t always feet that way when going to most live events- but the first night of the HHH administration was fun .
 
It was an entertaining evening highlighted by a good match between Rey Mysterio,Jr and John Cena for the WWE Championship- yep HHH asked Rey to wrestle twice and he lost the second match- this led to CM Punk coming out and stating he was back on the microphone as “Cult of Personality” by Living Color played. The lowlight of the evening was Santino using a green-sleeve when he goes for the cobra.
 During the main event every time someone hit a big move the man behind stated “HE’S DONE” and then started a countdown at 11 as though the match would end at 11 pm EST – WWE loves it over-runs and aren’t stopping just because they are playing the same place featured on the cover of a Phish album.
 
The Miz was named the number 1 wrestler in the world according to the annual Pro Wrestling Illustrated top 500.Gino Martino was the 500th grappler on the list.
 
The owners and players of the NFL finally hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement saving the 2011 season and setting up the nation’s top sport for the next 10 years.
 
 



 
Tuesday July 26, 2011
Today was sort of an off day from the project- so we went scavenging to Border’s for the so-called 40% off sale- off course every item I put my grubby paws on was only 20% off – I snatched up the latest conspiracy book from Jesse Ventura and Countdown to Lockdown by Foley along with a book about the SS and a DVD called Explosive Cinema featuring drive-in and tv movies from the 60s thru the 90s. I remember before the shopping center was built and there was a trailer park in that area- of course the city wanted to “beautify” the hilltop area and put in a nice open air mall type thing. Now the corner store and the biggest is going under. Packaged media seems to be slowly going away- I mean some trends  counter that thought –like the resurgence of vinyl- but video stores and book stores and record stores have been disappearing at a rapid rate in this area.
 
I enjoyed last night’s Raw in person – I am curious to watch it back later today. I do think it was too soon for CM Punk to return- I thought it was a brilliant marketing ploy to have him show up at different pop culture happenings and be an outsider with a chip on his shoulder, but um “he’s back”…. Oh well- let’s see how this all plays out.
 
 
Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century
(2011 WWE)
96 minutes on disc one with short myth building profiles of every superstar covered – really no negativity or any mention of anything that does not make each performer seem like the best superstar ever. In a confusing moment – one of the talking heads was Daniel Bryan who supposedly does not have a television but who was very aware of the recent history of the WWE. This set does include two other discs that have several matches with the grapplers profiled on the first disc. To be nitpicky the set does not have the approximately 9 hours indicated on the back but closer to 6 and a half hours worth of action. This is a fluff piece- sure it is nice to see profiles of grapplers like Booker T and Brock Lesnar- but this is not essential or worth seeking out. C-
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Plea for the Business 
By Smith Hart
 
I have had a lot of time over the last while to reflect upon the differences between WWE & TNA.  Having had the privilege to see both products up close and personal as well as having spent my entire life in this business, I feel I am well qualified to speak on this topic.  Over my brief period of internet presence, I have noticed a trend of internet fans condemning WWE & praising TNA & ROH. I must say this not only perplexes me but more so vexes me.
 
I must start by saying I respect anyone who puts the effort into being a full time pro wrestler. Lord knows, this is not the easiest profession to get into or work in. (I also want to note that I am not writing this to bash any wrestler/s but more as a concern for the state of the business.) I don’t know why, but it seems to me anyone who watches the business for even 5 minutes , fancies himself an expert in wrestling and thinks by association, his creative ideas are superior to anything WWE or TNA could ever come up with. In this respect wrestling is an anomaly. I’ve never understood the disrespect of telling people who have worked their entire lives in an industry that because you watched at home that you know better. I realize not everyone can agree 100% on what is best for the business, but at least have the respect to acknowledge that it takes a lot of skill to put together a show the caliber of WWE & TNA.
However, having said that, as someone who has dedicated his life to wrestling, I feel I have a responsibility to show the true difference between the quality of WWE and TNA. I ask a lot of fans why they prefer TNA over WWE and never once have I been given a logical argument as to why.  The most common reason given is that TNA has better, younger workers. This is statistically untrue as I recently deduced: 30% of the current TNA roster is over the age of 40, while only 25% is under the age of 30.  Some of the names over 40 may be higher level draws such as Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner but also include such lesser quality names as Kid Kash, Tara, Jacqueline and Christopher Daniels. You might think then that there big investments are under 30, but this isn’t the case, either.  In fact, 30 years and under in TNA are the rarely used names like Rosita, Miss Tessmacher, Robbie E, Amazing Red, Okada & Crimson. Meanwhile, only 12% of WWE’s roster is over the age of 40, while 41% are under the age of 30.  You’re probably thinking that the 12% are oversaturated, and you may be right, but WWE’s over-40 list is almost entirely the novelty, un-replicable characters such as Undertaker, Kane & Mark Henry, while WWE’s under-30 list shows a true investment for the future with talents that are well marketed today, such as Jack Swagger, Ted Dibiase, Sin Cara, Evan Bourne, Cody Rhodes, Jinder Mahal, Kofi Kingston and of course my lovely niece Natalya. So really, which company has the younger and better talent alternative?
 
The alternate argument I occasionally hear is that TNA has a more old school effect like my brothers and I use to work. To any supposed fan that would see the stunt show spectacle that is TNA and consider that to be the same sport my brothers, brothers-in-law and I competed in, I say please have your head checked.  Don’t get me wrong, TNA does have a few strong, respectable wrestlers: Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Sting, Beer Money, Ken Anderson and Matt Morgan, for example. But by far and large, many TNA wrestlers are undertrained and underdeveloped.  I take exception to the notion that someone can do 50 flips a match, put their bodies and their opponent’s bodies through hell with multiple devastating moves, and then finish a match with a rollup, and consider that good wrestling.  It’s NOT. Any comparison to or duplication of a generation ago is simply coincidental.  I don’t necessarily claim that WWE is perfect either, but at least there is an understanding of the less is more mentality. I’ve heard complaints that WWE holds various talents such as Evan Bourne back, which may or may not be the case. But recently at the MITB PPV, I saw Evan Bourne showcased to his absolute best capabilities.  What fans may not realize is the taxing toll that level of performance puts on a body.  Sure, Evan Bourne could do that every night of the week in the main event, but if he did, two things would happen. A) Fans would become desensitized to it and continue to demand more elaborate stunts and greater risks. And B) The toll to Bourne`s body would readily shorten his career.  I feel that by him performing those high risk tactics, just a few times a year makes them more special.  Less is more.  Yet at the same time, that self-preservation will prolong the young man`s career and indeed, life, so we can enjoy his stupendous skill and style for a much longer period of time.  The constant clamouring by the wrestling audience for more impact moves or for higher and greater risks and the constant demand for blood at any cost in exchange for higher ratings is the same spectator mentality that led to my brother, Owen’s 80-foot free fall from the top of Kemper Arena to his sudden death.  It’s the same mentality that retired my dear brother-in-law, Dynamite Kid, to a wheelchair by age 35, and the same mentality that put my brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith, in such constant pain that he became addicted to pain killers and lost his life by the tender age of 39.  It’s the same mentality that recently ended the great career of Edge, and will most likely cause a premature end to the career of Rey Mysterio. For the sake of all those who sacrifice their bodies every day in pro wrestling, I implore: appreciate a headlock, appreciate a character, appreciate the simple things, appreciate that WWE values its fans and its workers and makes every effort it can to protect those that work for them now.  I don’t mean to condemn TNA, but I see little or no logic in anything that has been produced in the hours I have spent giving them that chance. I don’t believe in bashing WWE or TNA for no reason, as they both provide hours of entertainment for millions around the world, but when logic is brought into the picture there simply is no comparison, WWE is the unsurpassed leader of this industry and perhaps with the new WWE regime in place, logic and use of talent should only continue to improve, if not excel beyond our imaginations.
-Smith Hart

 
Wednesday July 27, 2011
 
Synergy and synchronicity took hold this morning as I popped in a shoot wrestling tape for UWFI(by the way the snug competition was a work) – the very same short lived promotion that Lou Thesz was hyping up in the book Hooker that I just finished last night. Hooker is excellent and I want to thank Crowbar Press for re-printing and updating this invaluable look at the wrestling business from the 1930s thru the 1990s and to Sheldon Goldberg for letting me know it was available again. Olympic wrestler Henry Cejudo appeared briefly on the Today show hyping up the 2012 Olympics. The Today show is an odd thing to watch from the wretched pop schlock of  Three Doors Down to the obvious NBC owns the Olympics televised rights hype stuff to follow-up on the horrific camp shootings in Norway and the National Debt to beauty products, etc.- our morning psyche must be confused.
  None of this seems consequential or important- I must admit things are quite tense in the household as my father in law goes under the knife today for bypass surgery. He is a world traveler who was at Super Bowl X and saw Led Zepplin play at Knebworth and managed to get into Studio 54.He is a devoted family man and business owner, a man of ideas and enthusiasm. I am very lucky to have him in my life He is in good hands at a nationally respected hospital- but it is still a lot to process.
  CM Punk was on ESPN.com for The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons and he talked about using “Cult of Personality” by Living Color as his new theme song, while it was actually his theme in Ring of Honor. He discusses that although it would have been fun to be out for longer, however with Summer Slam just around the corner he had to come back to main event against John Cena. I admit I had hoped that the angle would have lasted longer- but he is right with Summer Slam being the second biggest PPV of the year- he needed to be on the card.
  Online reports are indicated that Spike TV may be changing it’s direction in marketing if they loose their UFC programming. What does this mean for TNA (Impact Wrestling) – I am not certain- but I feel like the ghost of Jamie Kellner is in the air.
 
 
 
 
Thursday July 28, 2011
My father in law is still under- asleep. Not a coma but still recovering from bypass surgery- he is slated to be up and around tomorrow.
 
 In less important but wrestling related news – Jesse the muscular buffoon from Big Brother has signed a contract with TNA. I wonder if TNA realizes that Jesse is very unpopular and has go away heat in this household in particular. I don’t care how many vetoes he wins- I want him evicted from the Impact Zone before he shows up – where is the Chen-bot when I need her?
 
  Today’s escape from the sport of kings was a trip back in time, a trip to Norfolk, VA and the Colley Cantina on Colley Avenue in Ghent. We went for a picture exhibition of bands from the old music scene from almost 20 years ago- I saw members of Antic Hay, Ant Man Bee , Buzzard , Sproing and the crew from the new movie Hardcore Norfolk as I dripped sweat and tried the lump meat crab taco and drank Sprite. I also talked to a couple of friends that worked the Monday Night Raw show. One friend said that it takes something special to quiet 14 thousand drunk rednecks and that you could hear a pin drop when one of the wrestlers spoke. He said it was like a city backstage. Another friend talked about pressing the wrinkles out of Kelly Kelly’s dress and how he was amazed about how many people they had on payroll for the production.
 
  Impact Wrestling was nothing special. The show started off with Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan cutting a typical promo. “The main reason I tuned out of TNA was Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.” – Matthew Shipp
Then Gunner and RVD had an ok match with RVD picking up the win and points in the Bound for Glory Series. Bound for Glory Series and the method that TNA is using to promote it are excellent (they actually show footage from the house shows- a good way to promote the house shows and make them seem relevant.). I loved Bully Ray cutting a city and day specific promo on AJ Styles – it reminded me of the studio and territorial days.
 Austin Aires cut another good promo. He is an excellent heel- the guy that is so arrogant that you want to beat him up – but he knows and you know he will kick your butt- an element that wrestling needs. Kendrick responded with more of his delightful wordplay- these 2 have good chemistry and if there is one match I am looking forward to at Hardcore Justice – it is this contest-which will also include Alex Shelley from the Motor City Machine Guns.
   Matt Morgan let the audience know he is out nursing a torn right pectoral muscle. Winter beat Tara to set up her title shot at the next PPV. Brian Kendrick beat Abyss in an ultimate X when he used Abyss as a ladder to snag the dangling X. ODB and Miss Jackie had a verbal confrontation with Tracey Brooks and Velvet Sky. Sting ran around with a cage while wearing a red suit. The main event was a cage match between Angle and Mr Anderson Anderson. Angle won when there was animosity between Bully Ray and Anderson.
   I still don’t feel like ordering this upcoming PPV- book or no book I have not been sold.
 
Friday July 29, 2011
 
Today started with a phone call, something about a lost credit card being found.
Later on we went to visit my father in law in the hospital as he recovered from multiple bypass surgery. We almost got lost in the hospital and even got directions sending us in the wrong direction- oh well I guess that was my cardio for the day.
 
 After a successful return visit to Lola’s in Norfolk and a decent final game of Call of Duty it was time for the Dragon Gate USA PPV.
  I had already pre-ordered the PPV and I was simply waiting to push play and start watching the event- sadly we did have enough purchase credits so I had to call the cable company and get them to activate the order for me- so I missed part of the first match. It is not the first time I missed part of a PPV due to a snafu with the cable provider- at least it was not 30 minutes sitting on the phone or longer- it actually got resolved earlier enough that I saw the finish to the opening 8 man freestyle match.
 
Singer and composer Gene McDaniels passed away in his home at the age of 77 among his many excellent songs is “Compared To What” – that I discovered when a version by Les McKann was used on an episode of Lost although I had heard the same song i in Casino years earlier.
 
Dragon Gate USA Uprising
Sami Callahan won the opening contest with a submission victory. That was followed by a promo in Japanese with subtitles. Brodie Lee defeated Tony Neese in a fast paced brawl after getting help from Cima , Ricochet and Austin Aires. Austin Aires lost a solid match to Susumu Yokosuka that featured him heeling it up and chewing up scenery like Faye Dunaway bitching about wire hangers in Mommie Dearest. After the match we see the D.U.F. stable drinking beer and cursing talking about their goals for the evening. Cima won an exciting 4 man freestyle contest. Masaaki Mochizuki defeated Arik Cannon in another solid contest. This was followed by a terrible attempt at a babyface promo by Johnny Gargano and Rich Swann.
   Things picked up when A R Fox and Akira Tazawa tore it up with a fast paced and breathtaking match. Things continued full throttle for an excellent main event when Ricochet defeated Pac and Rich Swann in another superb encounter.
  This was a solid event with a good card, several good matches and a good crowd. I liked the fact that the announcers did not speak during the entrances for the wrestlers – but was disappointed with the terrible fidelity for the music during the entrances and middling quality of the sound during promos. Overall this was an entertaining event and I wish I could have seen the entire opening bout.
 
   Smackdown from Philadelphia started off with the new boss(HHH) taking the ring and cutting a promo. Christian interrupted HHH and then R-Truth interrupted them- of course this set up a couple of matches later in the night . There was a sign in the front row- a fan had made a sign saying We Want to Meet Sin Cara. I guess they don’t know that he was erased from the opening to the show and serving a 30 day suspension for a wellness policy violation – that may end up being his pink slip.
   HHH also makes Zach Ryder  Teddy Long’s assistant. Christian defeats John Morrison. Jinder Mahal and The Great Kahli are watching the divas wrestle from a box seat.
  Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett cut a superb promo talking about Nexus and the blue briefcase and more. Justin Gabriel returns to his home country South Africa and we see a nice segment about him in his native land.
  Zack Ryder’s first action as assistant to peanut head is book Bobby Howard as cannon fodder for Mark Henry. Henry is insulted and demands competition. Sheamus steps up and they tussle enough to set up either a PPV match or a match on the next Smackdown.
The New Nexus retain their titles after dispensing of the Usos. I zoned out watching the main event between R-Truth and Randy Orton. I think Orton flipped out when I passed out or something.
 
Saturday July 30, 2011
 
Jason Alexander just released a funny video for the Netflix Relief Fund- giving perspective on the overwrought reaction to the Netflix price increase while making me laugh. Of course I wish that Netflix did not raise its price- but I understand- they are the monopoly and can set the price- hey they got us hooked now they want to get as much as they want.
 
 
 
VCW Liberty Lottery 2011 @ Hampton High
It is still summer time and it was hot in the high school gym. Before the bell I could see local promoter Travis Bradshaw putting out extra chairs for the ringside seats and he was sweating like everyone else.
  Amazing that a weekend event probably a 10 minute drive away from Hampton Coliseum can not fill up a high school gym – but the WWE sells out a Monday Night show for 14000 folks. Although one devoted grandfather drove almost 2 hours from Reedville to see the event- his grandsons saw a postcard at a Roses in Norfolk and kept asking to go – so he relented and took the kids to the event. The effect of the WWE is felt not just in Virginia but all over, former TNA ref and wrestler Shane Sewell discusses the changes in Puerto Rico
 
“Wrestling used to be great here – we used to Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and twice on Sundays. Now we are lucky to wrestle once a week. We used to be so proud we were the last territory along with Japan, England, and Europe. It’s the same thing that happens everywhere- WWE moves in with their product. They put there product on TV- then they come down and start to do shows. The people are amazed by the lights, the explosions and the superstars they have and rightfully so. And they come do their show and then they leave and they don’t help build new stars here. When things were going well here back in 2006 Richard Quinones and Savio Vega used to have a connection with the WWE. They used to bring the WWE superstars down here and the local wrestlers got to wrestle with them so that automatically gave them a rub. So there would be a night where it would be me versus Kane or the Undertaker and stuff like that really helped not only myself but the other guys from around here.
Really we have no new stars and I think the only way to build those new stars If the WWE is going to come in here and run a monopoly here on the island. They just have such a great product, the show is great, it is so Hollywood it is what the people want. If you’re going to run a show bring in the local wrestlers to wrestle on the show to help build the new stars. It’s not the same. If you had a guy like John Cena or the guys who are on top now to come down and wrestle against the young wrestlers here to help give them a little bit of a rub or a little bit of a push. It makes a world of a difference and it just doesn’t happen anymore. There is no connection with the WWE anymore and it’s just sad because it just killed our local product. Our product is now just local wrestlers. Once in awhile you get the guys that were fired by WWE or left WWE that come in here for a week or 2 and it does well. But it’s not the same as back in the day when we would have people come in every week and Carlos Colon would wrestle against Flair or other stars that were on top in the states. It just doesn’t happen anymore and it has hurt the business down here. It is a small island and we have so much great history here in Puerto Rico. It would never die but it is sad to see when we used to do 10000 people on a Saturday to now we are lucky if we do a thousand people. It just really hit rock bottom right now. It would really be nice to see it get back on the page and it would be nice if Vince and WWE would help out the island .It sure would be nice, but I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.”
-Shane Sewell discussing the impact of the WWE on the Puerto Rican wrestling scene
 

 
VCW Liberty Lottery continued
 
  Billed as weighing 32 bags of Skittles – Paul London kicked the evening off with a burst of energy and creativity- running through the bleachers in an orange NASA jumpsuit – he was there for the fans all night long- seriously a nice guy and a class act with all the fans and his enthusiasm. He captured the Liberty Championship from John Kermon in a fun back and forth match. Chatch and Krotch beat a different version of the West Texas Hangmen in a hardcore match to become number one contenders for the VCW tag straps.
  Momentum came to a crashing halt when Gremlina , Travis Bradshaw and George Pantas had a battle for apathy- I mean control of VCW. The upside of this snafu- I snagged George’s seat for the remainder of the evening at ringside.
  The Hall*Stars assisted in putting the boots to Pantas and then their drummer turned on them after Pantas was escorted from the premises. Chatch helped the skinny rock dude gain his freedom from the Hall*Stars- I don’t know what any of that means- but there you go.
 Damien Wayne and CW Anderson had a solid match – plenty of solid punches and chops- basically they both wanted to be number one contenders and this match was a compelling and hard fought battle between two worthy competitors..
  Up next was an intermission with several kids swarming the Paul London and Luke Gallows table and both guys were very gracious and open with the fans.
 
“When I was a kid I had this vision of myself with long blonde hair and a full length sequined robe – then I grew up to be Festus.” – Luke Gallows
 
 
  This changed when Gallows cut a SES promo and bought out heel manager Spenser Chestnut to help him with his match against the platinum icon Phil Brown. Phil Brown managed to feed on the home town energy and keep the VCW strap.
 
 
“I remember being in San Francisco and I started the promo and then Punk took over and he’s the master of the microphone. It was like late 70s Puerto Rico heat – they were throwing quarters and batteries at us. It was crazy. They really took strong offense to what we were doing.” – Luke Gallows talking about the fan reactions to the Straight Edge Society with CM Punk and Serena Deeb
 
 
 
  What followed was the liberty lottery – think Royal Rumble with the crowd picking the order of the combatants. It was a fun battle royal with heel and the initial entrant John Kermon walking away with the win. The match had the usual spots- people resting in corners, group team ups to take out the super heavyweight, etc. One thing that was different was a Hall Brother doing chain wrestling stuff with the homeless luchadore on the floor- amusing- but odd.
  I ended up taking the long way home –I took the wrong exit and ended up en route to Suffolk instead of Hampton- I got home –eventually.
 
 
“We’ve all been spoiled by the WWE’s production and that’s what people have come to expect. If you don’t show them a little something, something then they are not going to spend their hard earned money on it, especially right now when it is very tough out there and not a lot of people have money.” – Shane Sewell discussing the WWE effect on indie shows
 
 
Sunday July 31, 2011
Is there irony in watching the Money in the Bank DVD while the congress is trying to keep the nation from going broke?
 
 
 Adam Pearce captures his 4th NWA World title by beating Chance Prophet, Jimmy Rave and Shaun Tempers.
 
 

 
 


 












 
 

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