Hey guys, welcome to Duckman’s Declaration of Independence – your one stop shop for all your independent wrestling news, opinion and comment here on Wrestling Rambles! Thanks to everyone who left feedback on my last article and welcomed me back into the WR family after a few months away. It’s very cool to be back.
Due to a log jam of kick ass articles by the rest of the WR team and various other timing issues the column I wrote last week wasn’t published. Unfortunately you guys missed what was, without question, the greatest piece of writing on indy wrestling in the history of mankind. Lucky for you then that I saved it and can rework it for this week! And even more lucky it means this week’s DDI is a bumper edition with TWO WHOLE WEEKS worth of indy news and comment! Let’s get to it.
Duckman’s Headline News.
***Wrestle-Con 2013 announced – IWC (the independent division) collectively skeet all over their keyboards in excitement.***
Everyone knows that Wrestlemania weekend is the biggest weekend on the pro-wrestling calendar. Tens of thousands of wrestling fans from all over the world converge on the host city like a swarm of wrestling devouring locusts. They’re in town for sports entertainment but there’s also a hunger for proper, good old fashioned wrestling. The kind you only find on the indy scene. It’s the perfect time of the year for independent companies to take advantage of having so many wrestling fans in the same place at the same time.
In recent years ROH and Dragon Gate USA have been at the forefront of bringing the Mania fan collective the very best in independent wrestling during WM weekend. It’s become an annual tradition which gives both fans of WWE and also fans of independent wrestling the chance to enjoy something slightly different from WM itself. For the promotions it’s open season to attract new fans, while also giving the fans of their favourite indy promotions the opportunity to brag to WWE fans about how good independent wrestling is.
Next year the ante has been officially upped. WM weekend 2013 in New Jersey will see the inaugural Wrestle-Con extravaganza – a smorgasbord of the very best in independent professional wrestling which will run from 4th – 7th April 2013 at the Meadowlands Expo Centre in Secaucus, NJ, a couple of miles from MetLife Stadium where WM will be held.
As well as all the usual expo type activities throughout the three days (legends meet and greets, vendors, exhibits, fat dudes dressed up like their favourite wrestlers, bored girlfriends looking for the exits) there will be six shows in three days as Dragon Gate USA (2 shows), EVOLVE, CZW, CHIKARA and Shimmer will all be hitting the ground running and showcasing so many diverse styles of professional wrestling that if you can’t find something to enjoy, you really do need to find a new hobby.
Personally I’d sell a limb (not my own as I’m a coward) to get a chance to attend this event. The expo itself will no doubt be a ton of fun but it’s the shows that are the real hook for me. You’ve got the best of the independent scene, all under one roof, all vying to be the most talked about company at the end of the biggest weekend in the wrestling year. Only greatness can come from that scenario.
Wrestle-Con has all the potential to be the best showcase of independent wrestling talent in the world. If it become an annual tradition it could really help other indy promotions get brand recognition and also attract new fans to their products. As the event is being spearheaded by Gabe Sapolsky and the WWN IPPV network you just know this is going to be one of those events that all true fans of independent wrestling can’t afford to miss. Indy-mania is hitting New Jersey and if you aren’t excited by that, then there’s a good chance you’re dead from the neck up. Man I need to get to these shows. Anyone got a spare limb I can sell?
***PWG celebrates 9 year anniversary with Threemendous show.***
If there’s one promotion that always entertains it’s PWG. They are, without a doubt, my favourite wrestling promotion in the world today. While I’ll always love ROH as the promotion that took my indy cherry all those years ago, PWG is the hot young thing I’ve hooked up with during my wrestling midlife crisis. I watch a PWG show and I laugh. I gasp. I cheer. I cringe. I’m never bored. I see something new every time. There’s a freedom that allows the wrestlers to go out there and work and talk in ways you don’t see in mainstream wrestling anymore. Their booking is simple but effective and most importantly logical. In ring wise it’s neck and neck between PWG and DGUSA in the ‘holy f’n shit that match was insane’ stakes. Where PWG outshines them all though is the fun element that is prevalent on each and every show.
I have watched every show PWG has produced in the last eighteen months and every time I come away feeling that I have got more than my money’s worth. I also curse myself for getting to the party so damn late! To see them celebrate their 9th anniversary and to read the stellar reviews that have come in, has got me insanely hyped for the show when it’s released on DVD. Expect a full review here as soon as the DVD wings its way across the Atlantic. Well done PWG. You do wrestling the right way and here’s to nine more years of blistering in-ring action, highly entertaining commentary and more crazy names for your shows!
***DGUSA delivers two great IPPVs/Johnny Gargano re-signs for 2 years***
A very busy few weeks for the guys in DGUSA as they put on two IPPV shows last weekend to celebrate their 3rd anniversary as a company. I watched both shows and was thoroughly entertained. As usual the in-ring action was innovative, intense and at moments absolutely breathtaking. While I don’t have space this week to review the shows in detail I would urge you guys to go out of your way to see CIMA/AR Fox vs. El Generico/Samuray Del Sol from the Saturday show. It’s pretty much a given that if El Generico is involved in a match it’s going to be a cut above the rest but this unbelievable tag team encounter surpassed even Generico’s usual high standard. A sure fire match of the year contender.
The weekend also saw some top action with Johnny Gargano vs. Akira Tozawa; CIMA/AR Fox winning the Open the United Gate tag titles against Ricochet/Rich Swann; YAMATO vs. Ricochet; Akira Tozawa vs El Generico and YAMATO vs. Jon Davis being some of my personal highlights. Jon Davis continued his streak of recent impressive showings in DGUSA and his current angle of leaving the promotion if he loses a match is starting to catch on. Davis is a guy who has improved leaps and bounds since I first saw him as part of the Dark City Fight Club in ROH.
One of the main matches of the weekend saw Johnny Gargano defend the Open The Freedom Gate Title against former Ronin stable mate Chuck Taylor in a brutal I Quit match. This was the culmination of their months long feud. This is one of the matches that is not for the fainthearted. Some of the bumps the guys took (especially Gargano with his recent history of back injuries) were the kind you’d question the sanity of doing in the main event of Wrestlemania let alone in front of a couple of hundred fans on the indy scene.
Still, that’s what makes guys like Gargano, Taylor and all the other indy wrestlers so special – they will risk their bodies to entertain no matter the size of the crowd or the pay off involved. It’s an admirable trait but the risk/reward calculation doesn’t really add up for me. In a business where you rely on your body as your main source of income, putting it through the kind of trauma these guys did doesn’t seem like a great long term plan. Granted this was a big time grudge match and there’s a certain level of intensity and violence that fans expect in a match like this. I still couldn’t help worry for the guys long term health as I watched the match unfold. Maybe I’m being a pussy but I don’t want to see any wrestler end up injured on any show.
The weekend was also noticeable for the announcement that Gargano had signed on for a further two years with DGUSA. There had been a lot of rumours swirling that he was about to sign for WWE and head to their developmental system in Florida. In the end Gargano announced he was staying with DGUSA and was looking to help rebuild the indy scene which is struggling this year due to poor attendances across the board. Gargano is another guy who has honed his craft over the last few years and his climb from opening dark match to holding the top title in DGUSA has been one of the best success stories in indy wrestling for the past couple of years. If anyone can guide DGUSA to a higher level it’s Gargano.
***Everyone hates Davey Richards…apparently***
From a guy in Johnny Gargano who loves wrestling to a guy in Davey Richards who seems to be rapidly falling out of love with his chosen profession. This week all the talk (online at least) was about Richards and his fellow Team Ambition members Kyle O’Reilly and Tony Kozina. Instead of the stories being about their in-ring work it was the uglier side of indy wrestling – promoters screwing wrestlers, wrestlers screwing promoters, money being stolen, matches being no showed and somewhere in amongst all of that a 16 year old kid was beaten up for real and choked unconscious in a match for not showing Kozina or the business in general the ‘proper respect’.
I didn’t witness any of the events that took place in Iowa. I’m not going to sit here and say who was right and who was wrong. There’s been enough of that over the past week from both sides. What I do want to comment on is the reaction to this situation and to Davey Richards in particular. Whenever wrestlers and promoters disagree over money or a booking fans are quick to jump to the defence of the wrestler. In this case a lot of fans seemed very quick to put all the blame on Richards and his crew.
Davey has never had the easiest of relationships with wrestling fans. Many fans feel Davey takes himself too seriously and that he works only to put himself over. Of course that’s personal opinion but if there’s one thing the IWC has never been shy of it’s sharing their opinion. Personally I think a lot of the heat on Davey has come from the usual poisoned chalice of becoming ROH World Champion, which in the eyes of some ROH fans meant he was now public enemy number one. No, I don’t get it either, but they did it with Davey and Nigel and Tyler Black…
It’s no secret that Davey’s attitude towards the profession in recent years has been very up and down. He has gone from loving the business and cutting impassioned promos about it, to saying he’s going to retire and how he never wrestles for the fans, he only wrestles for himself. His in-ring style divides opinion like few other workers. On one hand you have people who love the intensity and the hard hitting MMA inspired strikes that Davey incorporates into his work. On the other hand people hate that his matches tend to be very long and with little in the way of traditional wrestling psychology being apparent.
At the end of the day whether you love or hate Davey Richards is irrelevant. Only those who were present in Iowa know exactly what went down. Accusations have flown around and money has been returned. Fingers have been pointed, names have been called and everyone has had their say on the situation. Either Davey and his crew are a bunch of bullies who acted unprofessionally. Or a promoter mishandled a situation with a group of guys who hold themselves and those they work with to a very high standard.
At the end of the day the only thing I can comment on is the footage I saw on You Tube of a 16 year old kid being beaten up and choked out by Tony Kozina, a man with decades of experience in wrestling. No matter how much of wrestling is based on respect there has to be a line drawn somewhere and in my opinion Kozina stepped well over that line. There’s a difference between teaching respect and beating up a kid until he is unconscious. There’s no justification for it.
I’m not a wrestler. I never will be. There’s a lot about the business I don’t know or understand. But I’ve always been of the belief that what makes wrestling so special is the trust between the guys in the ring. They are putting their bodies, careers and potentially lives in the hands of a fellow professional. They are relying on the other guy in the match to keep them safe and allow them to put food on their families table.
Now while this kid may have been a disrespectful little turd. His still just that – a kid. You don’t teach a child right from wrong by beating the crap out of them. You don’t teach them how to respect their elders by cutting off the oxygen supply to their brain until they pass out. You don’t allow them to put their trust in you only for you to physically abuse them. Any decent human being knows that. Just because this kid wants to be a wrestler suddenly none of that matters? Bullshit.
The whole story from Iowa is unsavoury, unfortunate and at the end of the day no one has come away from it looking good. It’s just a shame that the majority appear to be putting the blame firmly at Davey Richards door when in fact the real asshole in all of this was the grown man and decade long professional wrestler who choked out a kid to prove respect to a business that in moments like these deserves anything but.
Sorry to end on a down note this week but I call ‘em like I see ‘em.
That’s the indy news for this week here at Duckman’s Declaration of Independence. You stay classy San Diego.
Next week join me for a full review of ROH’s Boiling Point IPPV which takes place tomorrow night Saturday 11th August featuring a highly anticipated match which is sure to be stiffer than Kevin Nash acting. It’s the ROH World Champion Kevin Steen defending his Title against Chikara Grand Champion Eddie Kingston!
Thanks for reading this week folks and don’t forget if you’ve got ears and you enjoy wrestling, which I’m sure you all do, you can hear me and my partner in crime Sir Ian Trumps discuss all things WWE and TNA on the MFX Podcast. Just head over to http://www.mfxpodcast.com and check out our latest show. And as soon as we get the embed code working (my bad) you’ll be able to find MFX right here on Wrestling Rambles!
But that’s not all. Next Friday 17th August I will be interviewing the current ROH TV Champion Adam Cole for the first edition of the Rambling Personalities podcast here at Wrestling Rambles. We were supposed to do the interview a couple of weeks back but scheduling conflicts meant we’ve had to put it off until next week. I’ve emailed Adam and we’ve got everything set up this time…promise! Be sure to check that interview out when it goes up.
Ok, that’ll do for this week. Remember to keep supporting indy wrestling and remember, if it ain’t on Wrestling Rambles, it ain’t worth talking about!
Until next time…