I Heart Wrestling –One girl’s love affair with pro rasslin’
Too often Internet fans—us smart fans out there—and online writers get maligned for being Debbie Downers and overly analytical of the product that is being offered.
Here’s a little secret: that’s okay. That’s our right as paying customers. It happens in nearly any business. I’m 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 they’d just been on the receiving end of Brutus Beefcake’s 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. That’s my job. If they don’t like the results, trust me, I’m sure they’ll tell me. Women aren’t shy about that. Or maybe they’ll even go to another hair salon down the street. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Right?
Ever see a movie you didn’t 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 wasn’t a true writer, but a hack who just wrote for the local paper? Probably not. It’s just not professional.
I know there’s 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 I’ve never stepped between the ropes. But I’ve never made a Hollywood blockbuster either, and I can still have an opinion about those, right? That magic, when it’s done right, when it’s made to look easy, so easy anyone can do it, like it’s effortless and the smoke and mirrors are seamless and invisible (and even sometimes when it’s 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 movie—for that experience.
My goal writing this column with Josh and future installments of “I Heart Wrestling” for PWInsider is to hopefully prove that maybe there’s just a common misconception about wrestling fans: we’re not haters. We’re just a very passionate bunch, and we love wrestling. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and show our love on our Sharpie-up’ed 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, there’s 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 wouldn’t be reading this. If it’ll take a miracle for you to be a fan of this larger than life spectacle again, well, maybe there’s 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 I’ve been enjoying lately? Trust me, I’m not shy like that. Because I heart wrestling.
Josh says: I foresee myself commiserating with “Wildman” Marc Mero in the near future and I have Dave Lagana to thank for creating this monster.
It’s not a coincidence that I’m going to start my list with ROH and their “Best of” DVD compilations. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m very vocal about ROH. You’re probably aware that the fans and the promotion both have been taking it on the chin lately. As a fan, I don’t want to see any more set backs for this company, whatever the cause is behind it.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about these “Best of” sets that ROH has been rolling out. Whether it’s “Kenta: Go 2 Sleep”, “Nigel McGuinness: An ROH Career Retrospective”, or #DemBoys Demselves, with “Briscoe Brothers: Since Day One”, I can’t get enough of these.
Are you saying “Those were the good ol’ days, Jillybean”? Those days weren’t 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 O’Reilly, 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.
Don’t become so jaded reminiscing about ROH circa 2003-2005 or infuriated over the iPPV fiascos that you can’t appreciate the current line-up. These guys are busting their butts. Do you think it’s too corporate these days? You’re 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: ‘Nuff said.
I heart Marty DeRosa and Colt Cabana, who, along with Highspots.com, produced their masterpiece, their Citizen Kane of so-bad-it’s-good wrestling, the live iPPV, “$5 Wrestling: A Train Wreck”. I can honestly say I haven’t had this much pure, unabashed fun watching a show since Money In the Bank 2011. I’m not being even the slightest bit ironic. Everything on this show was perfect in its own way. The Burke County Boys, Jimmy “the Snake” Roberts, Dyn-O-Mite, Macho Fatness, Freight Train, and even Mr. 1859 himself, Cliff Compton, they’re like wrestling version’s of Howard Stern’s Whack Pack. This show was sublime and Mary and Colt’s 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 Danielson’s brief “vacation” 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, that’s about the best praise you can get. Since that match at Absolution V, I’ve been able to see Gargano’s 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 bees’ knees, indeed.
I heart Smart Mark Video’s “The Chris Hero Story: Deluxe Edition”. 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 I’ve seen conducted, on par, if not better than the Highspots shoot with Ric Flair.
There’s no denying Chris’ potential to be a star in the WWE, and if you’re a fan of his work like I am, you’re 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), I’m 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 Hero’s indy days, and something to hold you over for five years or so until WWE releases their first Kassius Ohno “Best of” DVD set.
Josh: Chris is one of a kind. You can’t “mass produce” a guy like this. He deserves to make boatloads of cash with WWE. His match with Akira Tozawa from PWG’s BOLA a few years ago is on my “Top 10 Matches of All Time” 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.