Welcome back to Duckman’s Declaration of Independence here on Wrestling Rambles. This is my semi –regular look at the big news stories in the world of indy wrestling. It’s vaguely entertaining and occasionally insightful which in today’s world of wrestling writing is pretty much all you can ask for.
Thanks to everyone who left feedback last time, it’s much appreciated. Unfortunately I suck at leaving feedback on other articles here. I’m a forgetful and lazy s.o.b. That’s no excuse and I am working to change this bad habit. I know how important feedback is to writers. Especially the needy ones like me.
Well, it’s been a busy few weeks since my last article, with shows from EVOLVE, CZW, ROH, PWG and CHIKARA’S King of Trios (more on that next time). Let’s find out what’s been going down in the latest edition of Duckman’s Headline News.
Duckman’s Headline News.
***Adam Cole wins PWG Battle of Los Angeles Tournament***
My love for PWG is no secret. I write about them every chance I get. Even when I’m not writing about wrestling I’ll crowbar in a reference to PWG. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there is no more consistently entertaining wrestling promotion in the United States than PWG.
On 1st and 2nd September PWG held their annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament. BOLA is a two night, 16 man, single elimination tournament, with the winner earning a massive bowling trophy and more importantly a shot at the PWG World Champion at a time of their choosing. The line up for BOLA 2012 was a who’s who of top indy talent with the likes of Kevin Steen, El Generico, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Roderick Strong, Ricochet and Michael Elgin appearing in the tournament.
This year all the talk was about the booking of the tournament and the surprise winner Adam Cole. Prior to the show a lot of fans thought they knew how the tournament would play out. It’s safe to say from the fan reaction after the shows that PWG more then delivered on the shock and surprise element that a tournament like BOLA thrives on. The difference with this kind of swerve, compared to the infamous Russo penned pieces of crap of days gone past, was that it wasn’t done just to fool people or ‘work the boys’. A new main event star was built in two nights and fans were left both surprised and entertained.
BOLA 2012 was the night Adam Cole became a serious player in PWG. A win in BOLA solidifies your spot at the top of the card. Cole has only appeared a handful of times in PWG as one half of Future Shock with Kyle O’Reilly. Each time they’ve appeared they have had one of the matches of the night. On the recent Threemendous III show they were one third (along with the Super Smash Bros and The Young Bucks) of one of the most spectacular ladder matches of recent years.
After beating El Generico, Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan, Cole made it to the final where he defeated young powerhouse Michael Elgin. This wasn’t the usual tale of the plucky young babyface fighting against the odds to get to the final. Instead Cole subtly shifted into a persona he’s more famous for during his great heel run in CZW – the Panama City Playboy. Cocky, arrogant and well aware of how much the ladies want to screw him and the guys want to hurt him, Cole is a revelation in this role. His natural charisma shines through and it must be a shock to those fans who only know him as a clean cut babyface in ROH to see this version of Adam Cole.
After Cole’s win PWG World Champion Kevin Steen hit the ring to cut one of his trademark heavily sarcastic promos about how pretty Cole is and how he wasn’t going to beat Steen for the World Title. Cole didn’t wait long before kicking Steen square in the balls, smashing him in the head with the PWG World Title and taking off with both the BOLA bowling trophy and Steen’s PWG World Title in his possession!
Steen is loved by the of fans in PWG. He’s their World Champion. He has a long history with the promotion and is the most consistently entertaining guy on the roster. He’s also an asshole of the highest order but an incredibly likeable asshole. The kind of asshole that makes you laugh when he’s ripping on someone else, then makes you laugh even harder when he starts ripping on you. Even when he’s insulting fans directly to their face they cheer him.
So when the arrogant pretty boy used a cheap shot on the beloved Steen and stole his World Title belt it was a recipe for instant heat. The follow up backstage promos by both Cole and Steen were excellent and set the tone for their eventual World Title match. It would be great if the Cole/Steen issue was drawn out into a longer feud. There’s so much potential there for great matches and money promos.
PWG’s BOLA 2012 was an example of great tournament booking. The reports I’ve read of the in-ring action describe two nights of insanely good and entertaining professional wrestling. Be sure to check out BOLA 2012 when it is released on DVD, by all accounts it’s one of the best shows of the year.
***EVOLVE/CZW run double header IPPV***
On Saturday 8th September EVOLVE and CZW ran a double header (EVOLVE at 5pm, CZW at 8pm) on IPPV. I only saw the EVOLVE show which, while hampered by a small, quiet crowd and some poor lighting, was an entertaining show from an in-ring point of view. Although their colour commentator Bryce Remsburg needs to tighten up his game. I’m all for stoner humour but it needs to be funny. He was pretty damn horrible for the majority of the show. Or maybe I just didn’t get his shtick. Thankfully the always awesome Lenny Leonard was on hand to bring a bit of order and focus to the commentary.
The opening match between Jon Davis and Johnny Gargano was a hard hitting affair that ended with a Davis heel turn. The turn was punctuated by a post match awesome bomb on Gargano who was sent backwards over the top rope and through a table on the floor! Jon Davis has been nailing his promo work in recent weeks and his heel turn should be a focal point of EVOLVE moving forward. He has a great intensity and believability to his work and could be a big player in EVOLVE. He stands out physically among the plethora of skinny white guys on the EVOLVE roster. It was also another strong performance by Gargano who is the ace of DGUSA and EVOLVE.
In the seemingly obligatory ‘let’s beat the crap out of each other for real’ match Sami Callihan came out on the losing end to Masada from CZW. Sami was returning to EVOLVE after a ban and his welcome home gift, apart from his win in an entertaining six man tag, was a singles match with Masada. For those of you who don’t know Masada is stiffer than a 14 year old boy’s bed sheets. Sami also isn’t afraid to lay in the shots.
This one was extremely intense and in a lot of ways they went too far, especially Masada, who hasn’t quite worked out that this stuff is only supposed to look like it hurts the other guy, not actually hurt him. Plenty of guys have worked stiff but smart down the years. Masada is not one of them. This was just brutal. By the end of the match Sami’s mouth was busted open, he may have sustained a concussion and his ribs were messed up. He was hurt enough to not be able to do much later on during the CZW show. Sami is an absolute warrior and he suffers for our entertainment. But let’s be honest here, no one needs to get hit for real in wrestling. Unless you’re called Garrett Bischoff.
AR Fox and Ricochet had a solid match. The moves and the fluidity of both guys are always impressive. But large portions of the match did feel like a gymnastics exhibition rather than an actual fight. I’m not saying they need to start working a MMA style and drop the high spots. They just need to slow things down and sell the effects of big moves. They are both awesome athletes but as this match showed, a crowd won’t always react to flashy moves without some semblance of a story to the match.
The main event of Samuray Del Sol against El Generico was a great ending to their brilliant three match series. A highly entertaining blend of lucha and traditional US style wrestling, this match is one that is worth going out of your way to see. Generico is hardly ever in a bad match and once again he delivered. Del Sol gets better with every match and will only improve working against guys as good as Generico. I would love to see them compete as a regular tag team somewhere.
The other big news coming out of the show is the announcement of an EVOLVE Title, something fans and wrestlers alike have been pushing for. I never understood why EVOLVE didn’t have a Title from the off. It just seems weird not to have a Title. I guess getting to the top of a leader board is cool, but you can’t sling that leader board over your shoulder and swagger to the ring as the top dog. Or sneakily smash a dude in the head with a leader board to win a match. The introduction of an EVOLVE Title is the right move all round and I’ll have more on this in the coming weeks.
***ROH Death before Dishonor marred by more IPPV technical issues***
Another month and another IPPV screw up from ROH. I can’t believe I’m writing about this again. But I am. For those of you keeping score at home that’s 4 out of the last 6 IPPVs from ROH that fans haven’t been able to watch live from start to finish. Why a promotion OWNED BY A TV NETWORK can’t produce a live IPPV, when smaller indy promotions do so regularly with ease, is one of life’s great conundrums.
The technical issues aside my real grips is with ROH’s response to the situation. It’s been nothing but a kick in the teeth to a loyal fan base who have had their goodwill stretched to breaking point. Each time this happens ROH show little to no understanding of good customer service. Their silence is deafening when things go wrong during the broadcast. This time round fans were told everything was fine (when it clearly wasn’t) and they should try hitting refresh on their browser. Very helpful.
The vague and unhelpful updates on the night are usually followed by a grovelling press release a few days later with a long line of excuses, followed by an apology, some ass kissing about ROH fans being the greatest in the world and then an offer of the next IPPV free or a free DVD. They kept that tradition alive but this time put an unreasonable and unfair time limit of 24 hours for fans to respond to get their 4th ‘make right’ in six months.
The less said about the utterly ridiculous blog on the situation posted on ROH’s website the better. It’s like something you used to read in an Apter mag in the 1980’s. They do understand the majority of ROH fans are smart, right? They know all about the internet and won’t be swayed by an intelligence insulting fluff piece that is more of a joke than an explanation of what went wrong. It’s literally one of the dumbest things I’ve read in 20 years of following wrestling and I’ve read a lot of dumb shit down the years.
The whole situation is unprofessional, embarrassing and disrespectful to the fans who have paid hard earned money for a IPPV that ROH seem incapable of providing.
The most telling factor in all of this was the notable members of the ROH roster – Kevin Steen, Jay Briscoe and Tommaso Ciampa in particular – who were extremely vocal on Twitter about the situation. When your employees start complaining in a public forum you know you have a problem. Something urgently needs to change in ROH when it comes to their response to IPPV technical problems and how they treat their fans when something does go wrong.
From all accounts the show was the usual decent, if unspectacular, ROH fare. The stand out matches being Adam Cole vs. Mike Mondo for the TV Title, Jay Lethal vs. Homicide and Kevin Steen’s usual weapon filled ROH World Title brawl, this time against Rhino.
In other happenings on the show, Steen’s buddies Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs were crowned the new Tag Team Champions after winning the Tag Title tournament. Matt Hardy appeared on the show on commentary to set up what appears to be a program with Adam Cole. The ROH fans were not exactly welcoming to Matt. Davey Richards also returned and cut a promo about his recent actions and attitude. He also confirmed he would be taking part in this year’s Survival of the Fittest Tournament. The show ended with Michael Elgin breaking away from the House of Truth and setting up his World Title shot against Steen at Glory by Honor in Toronto next month, live on IPPV. We’ll see…
Whether or not more than a handful of people actually got to see the whole show live is up for debate. Another very disappointing night for ROH and many fans have now lost all faith in their ability to present a live IPPV in its entirety and free of technical problems. It will take a considerable amount of time and effort for ROH to regain the trust and support of their fans when it comes to live IPPV broadcasts. Given their actions this time round it looks doubtful that will ever happen. The lack of understanding the importance of good communication, PR and customer service from the top brass at ROH is mind blowing.
***WrestleCon announces Bret Hart will appear***
Here’s something a bit more cheerful to finish off this week – WrestleCon have confirmed that WWE legend Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart will appear at WrestleCon on Sunday 7th April! A major signing for the convention and a major attraction to those lucky enough to attend WrestleCon during Wrestlemania weekend next year. As if you needed another reason to go, now you’ve got it! Be sure to check out the WrestleCon website for more news and information on Wrestle-Con 2013.
That’s the headline news for this week. You stay classy San Diego.
That’s a wrap for this week folks. I’ll be back next time with a look at CHIKARA King of Trios as well as all the usual indy news and opinion you’ve come to know and tolerate from yours truly. If you’re so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter which is @MFXDuckman. You can also hear me and my partner in crime Sir Ian Trumps every week on the Marks for Xcellence podcast, where we take an alternative look at the week in WWE and TNA. You can find all the details for the show on the Wrestling Rambles podcast page or over at www.mfxpodcast.com.
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Until next time…