Shade’s Weekly Shoot On Wrestling
For those of you unfamiliar with my thoughts on the crazy world of wrestling I shall introduce myself.
I like so many people got drawn into this world of sport’s entertainment many years ago by the crazy colourful larger than life characters such as Hulk Hogan and the sadly recently deceased Ultimate Warrior, I gasped with wonder as Hogan slammed Andre The Giant in a physical feat that as a lanky teenager I considered to be totally impossible and when Warrior pinned Hogan I sat in open-mouthed amazement not to dissimilar actually to last Sunday at Wrestlemania when Undertaker lost his legendary streak.
I followed WWF as it was then as best as I could do, from memory I had to sit up like many other’s into the early hours to follow it on ITV, with no SKY TV or Internet in those days this world of immortal super hero’s felt like they were from another planet, I mean how many people on the average high street did you see who were the size or power of the likes of Hogan et al let alone dressed in such wondrous colours and then talked with such vibrancy.
In those days I was sucked in hook, line and sinker by the storylines, the moves, the feuds, kayfabe was an unknown term then I think to all of us let alone myself and in all honesty wrestling was much the better for it both for the fan and also I would imagine the wrestler (I am not going to use the term worker here as that is an in-house piece of terminology and I always want to be purely a fan and let myself get lost in the world of fantasy and hope that I am even at the age of 44 sucked into storylines so powerfully written and played out that it still feels real damn it!!).
I really did think that Ted ‘Million Dollar Man’ Dibiase paid Virgil for protection and could never work out though why as looking at them I’d back Dibiase to take Virgil in a fight any day so why pay for someone smaller and weaker looking to take care of you.
When Danny Davis performed his dastardly deeds and started to wreck matches with his heel antics I literally wanted to climb into my small barely colour portable television set and give Mr Davis a slap and please do not get me started on Jimmy ‘Mouth Of The South’ Hart, even my rather laid back demeanour back in my teens (before real life hit me!!) was stirred by his work and interferences in matches and I wanted to do more than give him a slap!
Then after WWF disappeared from our TV set’s I think in the late 80’s but am happy to be corrected ( I have some hazy recollection of WCW at some point also!) I lost touch with it until I got SKY TV in 1999 when I fell back into it as passionately as I had done originally.
Moving forwards to 2014 and away from what I guess must have been around the mid 1980’s when I first discovered this magical world of colourful giants I still love wrestling as much as I ever have done despite now being a middle-aged badly overweight father of two with various issues of life hanging off me 24/7, wrestling provides my escape from reality, it is the one aspect of life which I can disappear into and forget for a period of time real life issues, it allows me to emotionally become that lanky and spotty teenager again and it permits me to throw off the stuffiness of real adult life and just immerse myself into this world of pseudo reality and simply have fun!
In 2012 I discovered quite by chance that a UK Scene existed and I attended a show from a promotion which no longer exists in Birmingham called New Scene Wrestling which was a superb show, the line up included the likes of Matt Morgan, Rockstar Spud, Noam Dar, Mark Andrews, Marty Scurll et al and even though bar Morgan those names meant nothing to me that night I was blown away by the quality in the ring and the strength of the storylines and the passion of the crowd – since that day myself and my son Liam have attended at a rough estimate approximately 120 UK shows and my lad has also become a trainee at The House Of Pain and we both absolutely love it!
Random question time do we think that the descriptor of Sports Entertainment a fair one? I know that it grates with some and for other’s they feel that it is an apt description.
For me I view wrestling as in what I watch and not the amateur version which is true sport, as it has no pre-defined outcome as sports entertainment – the sports aspect derives from the fact that the guys and girls who do this DO have to be supremely fit, they do take some enormous physical risks, they do require speed, strength and agility, I am sometimes at the celebrated House Of Pain Academy watching my son train and I see myself just how hard these guys work, it is incredible, I hold tremendous respect for them, hour after hour after hour in the gym, in the ring, eating the proteins etc, total dedication to their art and I for one respect the hell out of them for that.
However entertainment is also an important aspect of all of this, after all with the pre-determined outcome, if you were watching a match purely to see who wins, I fail to see how you could consistently get too much sustained enjoyment out of that when you realise that any win or loss is not actually a real one – I love seeing the acrobatic element, I adore the humour, I respect the hell out of them and my adrenalin pumps when a hard-hitting bout takes place but I guess that my personal favourite is when a strong storyline is taking place and as I mention further down in this piece a match such as the Wrestlemania one between Bray Wyatt and John Cena was outstanding in this respect, the outcome to me never felt that important as they were telling a brilliant story of how Cena is being really pressured by Bray Wyatt to show his true self, Bray telling the world that the Cena of hustle, loyalty and respect is not the real Cena but a fake one, one who plays that part to sell his merchandise and to be the top face but actually the real Cena is a monster, an aspect of the Cena personality which Wyatt claims to have seen and promised to show us and for moments in this match we did see flashes of a side to Cena’s character resembling a more angry side, his face contorted with rage with Wyatt mocking him, imploring him to hurt him with a chair or have a free attack at the start, Wyatt celebrating even when Cena was beating him down because Wyatt was unleashing the beast.
That to me was storytelling of the highest value, I was bemused by comments I saw afterwards of people moaning about Cena winning, how this apparently destroys Bray Wyatt and it is Cena being selfish again at the big event to the detriment of younger talent – for me people thinking in that way were watching from the wrong pair of eyes because they misunderstood the match for what it was and tried to view it as a technical exhibition and not every match is about that, such a shame but for me such a joy.
If you look at the main modes of entertainment in The Middle Ages then you will see types of entertainment listed such as Mystery Plays,Jousts, Tournaments with the people who provided the entertainment being called Jesters (Mad Man Manson), Mummers who were people in masks (El Ligero) acrobats (Robbie X) and troubadours who were like poets and musicians (Aiden English) – so is wrestling that we love simply a modern-day extension of the old-fashioned entertainment back in the day before electrical devices became the chief source of entertainment?
In the past week like so many of us I have experienced the real rollercoaster of emotion, in my case it commenced with an outstanding British show from a promotion celebrating its second anniversary but for me a new promotion called Shropshire Wrestling Alliance.
When I entered the building I encountered a crowd which probably numbered around 180-200 people who were lively to say the least, the show from top to finish was really well done, a series of solid matches with some innovation in terms of the match types, clearly some strong storylines running and whilst the main event which was a good match featured the technical genius of Doug Williams, the highlight of the show for seemingly everybody I have heard from since the show was the incredible tag team match up between The Hunter’s who I am very familiar with and The Hooligans who I personally had never seen live previously.
This match was off the scale, from the moment that The Hooligans arrived the crowd simply erupted, 200 people suddenly sounded like considerably more, the Hoo Hoo Hoo chants were getting louder and louder by the second, The Hooligans entered the ring and they were the faces in this match and they instantly surprised me with their speed, I had for some reason got into my head that they were two big brawlers and whilst I am absolutely certain that they will be superb in such a role what stunned me was their speed, agility, technical skill and their ability to get the crowd pumped was second to none of anybody I have seen on the British circuit.
Retrospectively of course I was the fool, The Hooligans of course are the Knight boys, son’s of Ricky and Sweet Saraya and brothers to the now WWE Diva’s Champion as well as NXT Diva’s Champion Paige so to think in advance that brawling was all that they would be about was an error on my part of monstrous levels, I would also point out that The Hunter’s played a really good role in this match, I have seen them many times and have always enjoyed and rated their work, this was the first time I had seen them as heels which was great and the match which was so so good of course could only be that good if The Hunters as well as The Hooligans were up to it.
I moved on from that show totally pumped and did not really need the diesel to fuel the car back up the M6 and M42 back home so full of adrenalin was both myself and my son Liam from the show and particularly that match but that of course then in turn led to WWE and Wrestlemania XXX.
A little note here as in I was due to attend the Triple XXX show in Coventry but sadly personal circumstances ruled that out but I would like to thank Nick Bakewell the promoter of Triple XXX for allowing me to carry forward to their next event our tickets and incidentally that next event carries a main event of Zack Sabre Jr vs Low Ki, do I fancy a bit of that? Absolutely Yes Yes Yes!
I would also like to mention and congratulate Nick Ashberry and EAW on what appeared to be a hugely successful Retribution Show in Rushden, this was a 350 sell out days in advance and amongst many other matches included the conclusion of a feud which has run for possibly more than a year between Ultra Mark Massa (a criminally underbooked guy in my opinion within the UK – if you want a viable big man then he is it) and The Heavyweight House Of Pain Stixx, this was in a cage and from all accounts was an outstanding conclusion to their feud.
Back to Wrestlemania XXX I am not going to talk in detail about this as it is well covered elsewhere just my personal thoughts are that it was my favourite Mania of all time, yes some others run it close but I think for the overall package including the momentous occasion of having Stone Cold, The Rock and Hulk Hogan in the ring together to the Undertaker losing his streak in addition to the wonderfully well done long running story leading up to Daniel Bryan winning the title in the main event as well as what I thought was a brilliant piece of storytelling between Bray Wyatt and yes John Cena put in a great performance showing real character – it just made it the number one for me.
Then onto RAW of course the great angle with Daniel Bryan and The Authority continuing along with The Shield finally going totally over as faces, Paul Heyman cutting one hell of a promo, I mean when can you recall a promo just that good?? I would advise any managers in the UK including the better known ones such as Jamie Kennedy and Harvey Dale amongst others to watch that if they have not already done so, it was an act of execution of the role he was supposed to play performed to a level of a master.
Strangely later on RAW Mr Heyman then became the new manager of Cesaro, I loved the sequence and I also love the idea of him managing Cesaro but it is certainly interesting that he is now managing the biggest heel in the company in Brock Lesnar as well as Cesaro who is most definitely in a face turn – is this a novel concept, is it a show of faith in the skill of Heyman that he can actually perform both very distinct roles simultaneously or is it actually leading to a Lesnar vs Cesaro feud with Heyman management of Cesaro being very short-lived?
We also of course had the title triumph of Paige, this was brilliant and what a day to choose to do this with such a large British contingent in the crowd, the only quibble I have here is the character that Paige was playing was seemingly more of a cowardly almost uncertain person – I thought that she played this to a tee and what a testament to the skill of Paige as that character is so different to the one played for some time on NXT however for what happened it made the character development on a show such as RAW extremely short-lived as in a matter of about two minutes she went from showing this side to her character to becoming the champion? It will certainly make it interesting moving forwards but again congratulations to Paige a real talent and a real credit to Mr & Mrs Knight.
In the week that I am looking at I was also involved in fundraising for Callum Murray a very poorly little boy who my very good friend Dean Mitchell who runs British Wrestling Radio succeeded in raising over £500 for Callum, I would also like to thank for their help and generosity on the night all of Ricky Knight, Stixx and Harvey Dale.
Finally in my wrestling week of course is the very sad passing away of a true legend The Ultimate Warrior, I have mentioned earlier the impact which he had on my childhood and then really the influence that has had on me even writing this piece now as without his inspiration along with Hogan I would never have been so immersed in wrestling as I am.
There is a lot of speculation as to whether or not Warrior and/or WWE were aware of some medical condition that was going to lead to his demise any time soon, obviously I have no idea what the truth of that is but whilst truly saddened by the man’s passing I am very pleased that in his final few days on this planet he publicly made up with WWE and also got his Hall Of Fame moment and his final appearance on RAW, there is no more fitting tribute to a true wrestling legend then to finish his public life in such a way.
My moment of the week I think with some seriously tough competition has to be The Undertaker losing his streak, many amazing moments to consider across the board including a decent match between The Wyatt’s and The Shield on Main Event but that point of pure shock, the display of absolute emotion, the execution of a moment that pretty much nobody expected where they purposefully held back the playing of the victor’s music, the outpouring of real emotion since the event, the mainstream media coverage of the shock outcome all combined to make that moment when the world appeared to briefly stop when the referee counted three and I stared at my laptop where I was viewing via the excellent WWE Network in complete disbelief, that is a moment for the ages.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this, I intend to write this column weekly, besides watching WWE and TNA on a regular basis I typically attend British shows the majority of weekends and I shall bring you my honest unrestricted thoughts upon whatever has taken my interest in the week of wrestling.