I Heart Wrestling āOne girlās love affair with pro rasslinā
Too often Internet fansāus smart fans out thereāand online writers get maligned for being Debbie Downers and overly analytical of the product that is being offered.
Hereās a little secret: thatās okay. Thatās our right as paying customers. It happens in nearly any business. Iām self-employed as a hair stylist. I get new clients every week who tell me all about their previous hair salon and how their last hair stylist screwed up their hair. Guess what? They told all of their friends and coworkers to avoid that salon and the girl who butchered them like theyād just been on the receiving end of Brutus Beefcakeās hedge clippers. Granted there are some clients who will never be pleased and they expect nothing short of a miracle. In those cases I do my best to give them what they want and to accentuate the positive. Thatās my job. If they donāt like the results, trust me, Iām sure theyāll tell me. Women arenāt shy about that. Or maybe theyāll even go to another hair salon down the street. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Right?
Ever see a movie you didnāt like? Ever read a review where the film critic blasted the movie? Did the film studio issue a press release saying the fans were wrong or that the critic wasnāt a true writer, but a hack who just wrote for the local paper? Probably not. Itās just not professional.
I know thereās magic to pro wrestling. True, genuine magic. There are things that I will never completely understand or grasp, no matter how much I watch, because Iāve never stepped between the ropes. But Iāve never made a Hollywood blockbuster either, and I can still have an opinion about those, right? That magic, when itās done right, when itās made to look easy, so easy anyone can do it, like itās effortless and the smoke and mirrors are seamless and invisible (and even sometimes when itās not done perfectly, but still with passion), is exactly why I love going to a house show, or watching Monday Night Raw, or a TNA pay per view. It becomes pure escapism entertainment, which is often the same reason why I pay to go to the theater to watch a movieāfor that experience.
My goal writing this column with Josh and future installments of āI Heart Wrestlingā for PWInsider is to hopefully prove that maybe thereās just a common misconception about wrestling fans: weāre not haters. Weāre just a very passionate bunch, and we love wrestling. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and show our love on our Sharpie-upāed poster boards at live events.
For all the things you might want knock about, for example, the latest pay-per-view that you dropped $45 dollars of your hard earned money on, thereās still a decent amount of things to love about the art of pro wrestling (to steal a page from my favorite man of many hats, Colt Cabana). Or else you wouldnāt be reading this. If itāll take a miracle for you to be a fan of this larger than life spectacle again, well, maybe thereās nothing anyone, myself included, can say to convince you otherwise. But I do have a pair of hedge clippers if you need a haircut. ;-)
So can I tell you about a few of the things in the world of pro wrestling that Iāve been enjoying lately? Trust me, Iām not shy like that. Because I heart wrestling.
Josh says: I foresee myself commiserating with āWildmanā Marc Mero in the near future and I have Dave Lagana to thank for creating this monster.
Itās not a coincidence that Iām going to start my list with ROH and their āBest ofā DVD compilations. If you follow me on Twitter, you know Iām very vocal about ROH. Youāre probably aware that the fans and the promotion both have been taking it on the chin lately. As a fan, I donāt want to see any more set backs for this company, whatever the cause is behind it.
Now that weāve got that out of the way, letās talk about these āBest ofā sets that ROH has been rolling out. Whether itās āKenta: Go 2 Sleepā, āNigel McGuinness: An ROH Career Retrospectiveā, or #DemBoys Demselves, with āBriscoe Brothers: Since Day Oneā, I canāt get enough of these.
Are you saying āThose were the good olā days, Jillybeanā? Those days werenāt good, they were great. Punk, Danielson, Joe, the Kings of Wrestling, Colt (#ColtMerch), El Generico, Tyler Black. However, I was at the ROH show in Pittsburgh over the summer, and that roster was pretty damned impressive in its own right: Kevin Steen, Kyle OāReilly, Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, Mike Mondo, Eddie Edwards, BJ Whitmer, Charlie Haas, Michael Elgin, Jay & Mark Briscoe, Jimmy Jacobs, Rhino, Mike Bennett, and Roderick Strong, among others.
Donāt become so jaded reminiscing about ROH circa 2003-2005 or infuriated over the iPPV fiascos that you canāt appreciate the current line-up. These guys are busting their butts. Do you think itās too corporate these days? Youāre entitled to your opinion. Just remember, these guys are still major league workers with the drive and hunger of indy workers.
Josh: Preach on!
I heart Chris Daniels and his appletinis.
Josh: āNuff said.
I heart Marty DeRosa and Colt Cabana, who, along with Highspots.com, produced their masterpiece, their Citizen Kane of so-bad-itās-good wrestling, the live iPPV, ā$5 Wrestling: A Train Wreckā. I can honestly say I havenāt had this much pure, unabashed fun watching a show since Money In the Bank 2011. Iām not being even the slightest bit ironic. Everything on this show was perfect in its own way. The Burke County Boys, Jimmy āthe Snakeā Roberts, Dyn-O-Mite, Macho Fatness, Freight Train, and even Mr. 1859 himself, Cliff Compton, theyāre like wrestling versionās of Howard Sternās Whack Pack. This show was sublime and Mary and Coltās joy and passion for their project is infectious. If one can award the prestigious 5-star rating to a $5 Wrestling show, well, boys, let me be the first to say, welcome to the prestigious 5-star club.
I heart Johnny Gargano. The first time I saw him wrestle was against Bryan Danielson in the Cleveland-based AIW promotion (during Danielsonās brief āvacationā from WWE over the Justin Roberts/Nexus/neck-tie incident), and Danielson cut a promo saying Gargano was a fantastic worker. When Danielson has high praise for another performer, well, thatās about the best praise you can get. Since that match at Absolution V, Iāve been able to see Garganoās work grow in leaps and bounds in AIW, DragonGate USA, and Evolve. Danielson was right: Gargano is one to keep your eyes on.
Josh: Gargano is the beesā knees, indeed.
I heart Smart Mark Videoās āThe Chris Hero Story: Deluxe Editionā. I was captivated by this, so much so, that I watched the entire thing, all 7.5 hours, over the course of a single weekend. It was fascinating to see a shoot interview with a very young Chris from 2003, juxtaposed by the shoot interview conducted in 2011 with a more seasoned, world-traveled, polished performer on the verge of breaking through to the mainstream. The 2011 shoot interview may be the best shoot Iāve seen conducted, on par, if not better than the Highspots shoot with Ric Flair.
Thereās no denying Chrisā potential to be a star in the WWE, and if youāre a fan of his work like I am, youāre just waiting for the day when you can cheer him on at a WWE live event or on a WWE PPV. I honestly believe he has the potential to be a main eventer with WWE, and with WWE high on the guys with roots in ROH (and who can blame them), Iām far from the only one who feels that way. Chris Hero had an awesome career on the indies. Consider this double shoot set, along with the bonus matches, the ultimate retrospective of Heroās indy days, and something to hold you over for five years or so until WWE releases their first Kassius Ohno āBest ofā DVD set.
Josh: Chris is one of a kind. You canāt āmass produceā a guy like this. He deserves to make boatloads of cash with WWE. His match with Akira Tozawa from PWGās BOLA a few years ago is on my āTop 10 Matches of All Timeā list.
What have you been digging lately, guys and gals? Do you heart wrestling? Let me know over on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Jillybeanjab
Special thanks to @Lagana for the encouragement, and Mike and the crew at
PWInsider for this platform.
Josh: This column is dedicated in loving memory to Lancelot.