NOVA Pro Wrestling: Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Hey, they were back in my neighborhood, so I stopped by. DVDVR already reviewed this show, but I was there so I wanted to join in. As a note, I am reviewing the DVD of the show, to make sure I didn’t miss anything when taking notes. This show is available on SmartMarkVideo, and I cannot recommend it highly enough – as you’ll see, holding the show on Black Friday allowed for an all-star cast to show up.

From Fairfax, VA.

Your hosts are Kevin Ford and Emil Jay.

Read moreNOVA Pro Wrestling: Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Inside the Indies — September 2012 Edition

Your favorite semi-regular column on the world of independent wrestling is back, gentlemen. Inside I have news for you on CZW’s return to iPPV, ROH’s plans for the next TV taping schedule and their involvement in the forthcoming CM Punk DVD, news about the misfortunes of the National Wrestling Alliance with companies bailing from the organization, the line up for Tommy Dreamer’s first House of Hardcore event, and more. Join me, won’t you, as we go Inside the Indies…..

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–I’d be remiss to not apologize for my absence with recapping ROH. I’m having issues with my service provider again, and right now all my gadgets are running slow and having a hard time with video. We’re going into a cycle of Road Rage episodes anyway, as right as I type this ROH is running another taping at the DuBurns arena. And in fact, they are starting their annual Survival of the Fittest tournament. The matches booked:

– Mike Mondo vs. Kyle O’Reilly
– Roderick Strong vs. Homicide
– Adam Cole vs. Tadarius Thomas
– Jay Lethal vs. QT Marshall
– Michael Elgin vs. Rhino
– Davey Richards vs. Mike Bennett

Kind of a mixed bag there. I’m always glad to see Homicide in action and he & Roderick have a good track record. Elgin vs. Rhino is one that will probably be inconclusive, as those two seem to be building to something bigger and they’re running that match in other indies around the horn. Also glad to see Davey Richards back in action after a little break for some rejuvenation. However, the inclusion of the useless QT Marshall and the one-note Tadarius Thomas is something I question. I’d assume they’re just there to job but I’d rather see someone who can hold up their own end of the match in there than either of those two. I put money on either Lethal or Mondo as the front runners.

–In other interesting ROH news, footage from CM Punk’s time there will be shown on his DVD, set to hit the shelves next month. A whole chapter will be dedicated to his time in ROH, including his return to the ROH Academy (which, sidenote, will be relaunching on Oct. 22nd with head trainer Hunter “Delirious” Johnston), and his series of matches with Samoa Joe. Yup, Joe on a WWE release. Won’t be the full matches I’m sure but I’m glad Punk used his leverage to get that part of his life included there, and I’m glad he’s helping keep the door open for friendly ROH/WWE relations.

–Speaking of companies that run iPPVs, CZW has their next iPPV event tonight as they present Redemption from Delaware. Details on ordering are available at CZWrestling.com. The matches are:

-DJ Hyde vs. Matt Tremont – Squared Circle of Fear: No Ropes, No Canvas, Everything in Barbed Wire.
-CZW champion Masada vs. Joe Gacy,
-CZW Tag Tean champions The Nation of INtoxication vs. Rory Mondo & Ron Mathis – Light Tube Madness.
-Devon Moore vs. Alex Colon – Street Fight.
-Rich Swann vs. Dustin Rayz.
-Dave and Jake Crist vs. Greg Excellent and Shane Strickland.
-Latin Dragon vs. Mr. Tofiga.

More of the slash and burn hardcore that CZW is known for, basically. I don’t fault anyone for not being interested in that style of wrestling, but thankfully CZW has leavened it with a handful of decent wrestlers throughout their time as a stalwart of the indie scene. Still, one would think for any of these guys that may have a future, they need to find a middle ground where they can do hardcore and still work on their ring skills and character. I’m sure that the dream of every hardcore wrestler is to be Mick Foley, but most of them aren’t even guaranteed the same success as Necro Butcher. CZW likely realizes that, as they are soon to be bringing in Bob Holly to help coach some of the workers, a role that the likes of Tommy Dreamer and Kevin Nash have filled before.

–From the “How the Mighty Have Fallen” department, promotions are leaving what remains of the National Wrestling Alliance left and right. There was some sort of lawsuit from NWA board members that accused the former NWA president Bob Trobich of insurance fraud, and that basically forced NWA’s hand in selling ownership to International Wrestling Corp., LLC. As a result of that, a number of the promotions who were affiliated with NWA are leaving the alliance. Chief among these is Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, usually called NWA Hollywood in shorthand. This is one of the higher profile indies on the West Coast, sharing a lot of their roster with PWG and others. Also bolting from the NWA are the former NWA Wisconsin, now called Wisconsin Pro Wrestling, and the Mach-One Pro Wrestling organization. Pro Wrestling Revolution is severing their ties with NWA and joining up with Masked Republic, working mostly Southern California. The NWA as a name has no draw value anymore, and there isn’t much of a reason to be affiliated with them in today’s non-territory system where most indie guys won’t be traveling between companies anyway, so I’d say it’s a good move for these companies. These are bleak times for what’s left of the old NWA, but this isn’t the 70s and it makes no sense for a young indie to join up with the NWA just to say they were a part of it.

–Tommy Dreamer has opened up a new wrestling school and promotion, called House of Hardcore in tribute to his ECW past. This is not to be mistaken with Shane Douglas’ Extreme Rising events. Despite the name, Dreamer’s company seems to be more about featuring current wrestlers and wrestlers from the past and nothing really specific to trying to get the old ECW band back together. Their first event is October 6th and is said to be a tribute to wrestling’s glory days, with a red carpet tour of wrestling memorabilia and photos being offered in addition to a full card of matches and appearances by the Steiner Brothers and Edge. A few of the matches include:

-Rhino vs. Sami Callihan
-Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. The Young Bucks
-Jazz vs. Winter
-The former Chris Masters in a $500 Open Master Lock Challenge

Also appearing are Mike Knoxx, Tony Nese, Mikey Whipwreck, Big Daddy V, Tommy Dreamer, Carlos Colon Jr., Eddie Kingston, Hale Collins, Shawn Daivari, Luke Gallows, and The Sandman, in addition to the aforementioned Steiners and Edge. Offhand I’d definitely be willing to see Rhino & Sami Calliahan tear it up, and I’d bet London and Kendrick vs. The Young Bucks would push the higher star limits. Dreamer is one of the more beloved guys in wrestling and with his experience in
WWE developmental as well as helping run ECW, I’d bet he can make a successful promotion with the tools he has at his disposal.

As a side note, thinking about all the success Dreamer has had in his career made me think back to 1993, when I went to my first pro wrestling show and a young, unknown, blonde and suspender-clad Tommy Dreamer was the first wrestler that walked to the ring, to take on Surfer Ray Odyssey. Odds are for a lot of people the first wrestler they ever saw make an entrance live was someone who maybe never became a success in wrestling, or probably someone most of you don’t even remember now. I saw Dreamer at one of his last TNA house shows last year (which I recapped for the blog, if you’ll remember) and mentioned having seen him wrestle near here nearly 20 years prior, when I was just a 7 year old kid and he was just a rookie with his whole career ahead of him. He later mentioned having come through this area in his promo that night, which I thought was pretty cool. So I thought it would be an interesting subject of discussion around here: Does anyone remember the first wrestler they ever saw come through the curtain at their first live wrestling show, and was it anyone notable? Leave your comments below.

–That’s it for this edition. I gotta give myself a cheap plug and tell you to keep your eyes peeled on our sister site Inside Pulse, specifically in the Music zone, where I will be putting up a new Chart Transplant column shortly and hope to continue to add music news, columns, and reviews more and more. Hopefully I’ll be back with an ROH recap soon, and if not keep your eyes peeled for something special I might be working on. Until next time: be it wrestling, music, theater, or upside down juggling, whatever, get out there and support your local scene. 

Inside the Indies Special Edition: Getting To Know Your New Developmental Prospects

Big news keeps hitting the net today that WWE has signed or is looking to sign a whole slew of indie workers to developmental contracts. After a few years where the policy seemed to be rooted more in signing untrained guys based on their look and breaking them into WWE style, the new NXT is shaping up to be a breeding ground for the hot indie talent in the country right now that are hoping to follow in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan’s footsteps. Since, as always, I’m a proponent of independent professional wrestling and the talented men and women who have made it their life’s work, I’d like to take this opportunity to give anyone who isn’t familiar with these workers some insight into who they are, and what qualities to look for when they become the stars of the future.

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–To start with, one person who signed back in April and is just now breaching the world of FCW/NXT: “Big Rig” Brodie Lee, who will be known in developmental by his infinitely less interesting name Luke Harper. Who gets the feeling someone was reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” there? Anyhow, Harper is a Rochester native who differs from most indie standouts: he’s 6’7 and 280 lbs. He’s got a great physique and does a decent mix of power moves. He has that great aura that combines a little bit of redneck swagger with a darker side; he at once could remind you of Diesel (hence the truck driver gimmick) or The Undertaker (hence the awesome choice of entrance music in the indies, Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. ) I think now’s a great time to start using him. Everyone by now has heard about the awesomeness that is Bray Wyatt, the former Husky Harris’s Waylon Mercy-esque character. Unfortunately, Wyatt just tore a pec, and he’ll be out for roughly six months. They also just let go his former lackey Eli Cottonwood. And honestly, the thing everyone loves about Bray Wyatt is the creepy promos, not Husky’s ring work. Easy solution here is to just make Bray Wyatt a manager for the duration of his injury and let him back Luke Harper. You keep the Wyatt character fresh, you give Harper some of the rub from that, and when Wyatt’s healthy again you have an evil Southern Gothic tag team ready to go. Wins all around. Check out some Brodie from his time in CHIKARA:

–Also from CHIKARA, as well as SHIMMER, Jersey All Pro, and formerly of ROH, they’ve signed Sara Del Rey. Del Rey is probably the top female wrestler in America right now, or at the very least in the independent scene. She’s made her mark by being a dedicated student of wrestling, and has spent time training with Daniel Bryan. She’s also been notable for competing in intergender matches, even challenging CHIKARA champ Eddie Kingston. At one time she was aligned with the Kings of Wrestling in ROH, better known as current Smackdown superstar Antonio “Claudio Castagnoli” Cesaro and NXT star Kassius “Chris Hero” Ohno. (Now they should sign Shane Hagadorn as, like, a referee or something, just to get the complete set). It’s hard to say what role she’ll fill in WWE, but she’s damn sure going to be one of the most talented Divas they’ve had. Check her out:

–“The Man That Gravity Forgot”, PAC, is another signee. Hailing from Newcastle-upon-Thyne, England, this man is without a doubt one of the most insane high flyers working today. While he’s not very big, his acrobatic moves are crisp and really unique, something that will set him apart from all the other high flying cruisers. Signing to WWE will have one benefit for him: He can ditch that stupid name. “PAC” makes you think of 2-Pac, X-Pac, or Pac-Man, not necessarily a British cruiser who’s whiter than Sheamus and most likely doesn’t eat ghosts. However, “The Man That Gravity Forgot” has that really epic 60’s sci-fi, Philip-K.-Dick-by-way-of-Flash-Gordon vibe to it, and they should think about letting him keep it. Other than that, his best bet in WWE is if they actually launch the all-cruiserweight show. If not, he needs to bring a move to WWE that has never been seen there before and really blow everyone away. His corkscrew shooting star is a personal favorite, but I gotta say, it’s high time someone brought the 630 Splash to WWE. Clear a spot for your jaw on the floor and check out PAC:

–Matt Taven has been appearing in ROH lately, and has made a bit of a name for himself around the indie world. He’s one of the latest signees to developmental, and of all of them, he’s the one who could benefit most from some developing. He’s got a good look, and some of his offense looks great, but he doesn’t have a huge moveset yet and he needs polish. He does, however, have the Shawn Michaels-style underdog face selling routine pretty well down, where every offense move he scores looks like it was out of desperation. And that ain’t bad. Take a look at Taven, especially if you like arm drags:

–Mercedes Martinez is allegedly on the bubble for getting signed right now. She’s another SHIMMER alum who’s worked for a variety of companies, including ROH, Afa Anoa’i’s WXW, Jimmy Hart’s Wrestlicious, and many others. I’m not going to lie, I’m not an expert on Mercedes but I’ve heard a lot of good things. She seems to be another woman who’s very dedicated to professional wrestling and she brings a little Latin flavor to the table. I could see feuds with some of the other Hispanic Divas, such as Eve, Rosa, and even Vickie Guerrero in her future. Let’s all take a look at what she can do: 

                                    
                                   
And two more names that I’ve heard are rumored to be in talks with WWE:
–I hyped up Johnny Gargano last week in my Inside the Indies. He has a goofy charisma that he backs up with some serious skills in the ring. As a member of F.I.S.T. he’s part of one of the top heel teams of CHIKARA, and he’s made his name in DGUSA/EVOLVE and plenty others. He’s another maybe for the all-cruiserweight show, although he has the ding against him of vaguely resembling Trent Baretta, who’s supposedly a John Cena pet project. Baretta’s awesome but still, he’s not The Bee’s Knees, The Cat’s Pajamas, and The Whole Shebang:

                                 
 
–“The Callihan Death Machine” Sami Callihan has been all over the indie & international scene in the last few years: CZW, ROH, PWG, EVOLVE, DGUSA, PWS, AAW, WXW, 2CW, Big Japan, Fight Club Pro, and even Wrestling Retribution Project. With that kind of pedigree you know this guy is no joke. For a young guy he has a decent pedigree, having trained with Les Thatcher in HWA and working with the likes of Jon “Dean Ambrose” Moxley, Chad Collyer, and Nigel McGuinness. He’s done hardcore as well as technical wrestling, and he’s developed a great Goth gimmick for himself without going too far over the top. He’s got a great future ahead of him if he does get signed to WWE, and at only 24 he’s got plenty of years to hone his craft and work on his physique (he’s only about 200 lbs., but he looks like he’s got the kind of frame that can accommodate more muscle.) Given some seasoning he could be a solid mid-card hand or more. His Headlock Driver, from the corner or the ground could be a great finish for him that he could do to anyone.

                              
                                    
–So that’s the current crop. Of all of them I think Brodie Lee has the best chances for success because, well, he’s the big one, but all of them are talented wrestlers who have something to offer WWE. Until next installment, remember, support your local indie scene.

Inside the Indies — 6/23/12

–From the bingo halls, flea markets, and high school gyms of America, here comes Inside the Indies, your BoD look into the world of independent & developmental wrestling. This week we take a look at the lineup for Ring of Honor’s Best in the World: Hostage Crisis and give some predictions, plug a few live events going on this weekend, and, for the first time, we take a look at The Underground, a YouTube show that exists in the universe of Jeff Katz’ much-hyped Wrestling Retribution Project. All that, plus a look at some of the top names the uninitiated need to know on the independent wrestling scene…

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–ROH’s iPPV Best In The World: Hostage Crisis can be seen (we hope) tomorrow at ROHwrestling.com. Fingers are crossed that people are actually able to see the show they’re paying for this time around. Regardless, here’s the card, and my predictions:

–  ROH champion Kevin Steen vs. Davey Richards – Anything Goes in Richards’ last title shot. I can’t really see the Steen storyline falling apart so quickly, so I imagine that Steen retains here. I’m not exactly sure where they go next, since rehashing the same feud with Davey & Steen would get a little dull. My best guess is that they’ll milk the “last title shot” stip for a while and let Davey build his way back up, and Steen will face Eddie Edwards for a while.

– ROH
Tag Team champions Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas &
Shelton Benjamin) vs. The All Night Express (Rhett Titus & Kenny
King).
I think that ANX are destined for the tag titles at the end of this feud, but the feud needs more time to develop, so I imagine that WGTT retains here through sketchy means. Ether again, maybe?

Fit Finlay vs. Michael Elgin. Elgin is the future, and Finlay is just basically collecting a paycheck and putting some people over in this run, so Elgin most definitely retains. I definitely think he’s going to end up on the outs with House of Truth before too long, and a hard hitting feud with Rhino is most definitely in his future, followed by finishing business with Roderick Strong.

ROH World TV Champion Roderick Strong vs. Jay Lethal vs. “The Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa – Three Way Dance.  This feud has been all about Ciampa and Lethal, and Roderick as the champ is just kind of afloat. I really get the feeling Strong was only inserted here to give him something to do, and so that it isn’t just Lethal vs. Ciampa over and over. I think Ciampa wins it here, however I don’t really see it leading to anything regarding Strong.

Eddie Edwards vs. Homicide. It really kills me that Homicide keeps doing these little spot appearances in ROH but is never involved in the TV show or any angles, because he’s someone who would mean something to ROH and would be an excellent foil for Steen. Eddie wins it here to continue the Die Hard Challenge series.

Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The Guardians of Truth w/ Truth Martini. I don’t really have a good prediction as to who the Guardians of Truth are supposed to be, so I can’t really say for sure. If this is the start of a Briscoes vs. HoT angle (or, rather, a continuation of it, since they had issues months ago that only kind of blew off) then I imagine the Guardians of Truth win it to milk things.

Hybrid Fighting Rules: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly. I missed the build to this one, but I assume Hybrid Fighting rules involves some kind of MMA. Clearly that’d be up KO’s alley, but this is wrestling and in this kind of situation, the babyface needs to beat the heel at his own game. Therefore, Cole wins.

— Enjoy the show if you’re ordering, I won’t be because that lineup doesn’t really blow me away. And I like to actually see shows I pay for. Maybe if word is good I’ll order the replay.

–I had initially assumed I wouldn’t be seeing BitW because I’d be watching CHIKARA’s Smack In The Middle live in Syracuse, NY tomorrow. Looks like I won’t be going, but if anyone so happens to be in the central NY area tomorrow I recommend checking it out if you can get tickets. Eddie Kingston will defend his title against Dasher Hatfield, El Generico teams up with Gran Akuma and 3.0 (Scott “Jagged” Parker and Shane Matthews) to face F.I.S.T (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, and Icarus) and Ophidian, Soldier Ant of The Colony takes on the evil assailANT from the evil doppelgangers The Swarm while their respective partners Green Ant and deviANT square off, Jigsaw takes on HIS evil doppelganger in The Shard, The Spectral Envoy take on the Bravado Brothers, Sara Del Rey and Saturyne stand up for women everywhere by taking on Tim Donst and Jakob Hammermeier of Bruderschaft Des Kruzes, and in the Young Lions Eliminator 4 way bout you’ll see Ryan Rush vs. Mark Angelosetti vs. Tripp Cassidy vs. one of my upstate wrestling scene local favorites in “Juggernaut” Jason Axe. Can’t really beat that for the price, and doors open at 4pm at the Pastime Athletic Club. I wish I could be there but I’ll leave it to the readership to make me proud and represent the BoD.

–The Underground is a YouTube series from the forthcoming (eventually, although I guess we still don’t know when) Wrestling Retribution Project universe created by Hollywood insider Jeff Katz. I gotta say, I like the look & feel of this. It’s theme is an underground wrestling fight club, where the competitors are mainly competing to work toward cash prizes. I love the setting of it, mainly. That abandoned warehouse is a cool atmosphere, especially with the fans standing in the upper decks like background characters in a Street Fighter game. This particular match features PW3, a.k.a Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks (or Max Buck of Generation Me, if you prefer) facing Hayashi. One of the themes of WRP is that they act as though no other wrestling exists, so they don’t acknowledge PW3 as being a former TNA & indie star, as well as not acknowledging that Stone, the “Prodigal Son” they show watching from the outside, is actually Nick Jackson/Jeremy Buck. At the end we get to see some of the future characters of The Underground, all of whom seem very young and small but have an attitude more suited toward a teen/young adult audience. However, much like the main WRP roster (which we’ll see, someday, I’m sure of it, on Netflix), these guys suffer from Stupid Name Syndrome: 1600, Dread, Jobs? For that matter, what the hell is a PW3? Anyway, here it is, judge for yourself:

Investigating The Indies

This is a feature I’m introducing where I give you a little idea as to who some of the big names in the indie wrestling world are, for those who maybe haven’t checked them out yet. Let’s start with a few of my favorites, AR Fox, Chuck Taylor, and Johnny Gargano.

AR Fox

–Fox is one of the breakout stars in Dragon Gate as well as EVOLVE and CZW. He briefly trained in FCW, as well. He’s a former CZW Wired TV champion and has won a number of fans favor with his innovative high flying style. Gabe Sapolsky is said to be very high on Fox, considering especially that he nearly decided to stop using him in EVOLVE after missing a Canadian show due to border crossing problems. Check out a sampling of his work:

            
 Johnny Gargano

–“The Bee’s Knees, The Cat’s Pajamas, The Whole Shebang”. With a nickname like that, you know you’re in for something good when Johnny Gargano is involved. He’s a charismatic guy who makes the rounds between Dragon Gate USA, CHIKARA, EVOLVE, and others. He’s a sometimes partner, sometimes foe of Chuck Taylor, and he brings a sense of fun to his moveset with names like the Hurts Donut and the Garga-No-Escape. Check him out as he takes on “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross:

Chuck Taylor

— Also known as “Smooth Chucky T” and “The Kentucky Gentleman”, Taylor has been involved in an assortment of different teams and angles all over the indie scene, from DGUSA/EVOLVE to CHIKARA to PWG in California. He’s been a part of F.I.S.T., he’s been a member of The Fightin’ Taylor Boys, and for a while he was doing a 90s-Nickelodeon type gimmick, calling his Omega Driver finisher the Awful Waffle (from Salute Your Shorts, of course) and coming out to the tune of “Hey Sandy” by Polaris, the theme from Adventures of Pete & Pete. He also does the move Gail Kim calls Eat Defeat, only he calls it Sole Food, because apparently that move can only be done if its name is a pun. Here’s Chuck’s top ten moves from YouTube:

–Anyhow folks that’s it for this week. Til next time remember: support your local indie scene.
 

Inside the Indies — June ’12

— Well folks, it comes down to this: I’ve been having some massive problems with my internet provider regarding speed, and until I figure out where the problem is coming from or find alternate means, I’m gonna have to suspend ROH TV recaps. Since that’s my only means of watching the show, and I’ve been getting it up maybe a day sooner than most people view the following week’s episode, I don’t want to end up being completely behind the times when it comes to the show. Fortunately, I can make more-regular my semi-regular news & opinions recap about the world of independent wrestling and developmental, Inside the Indies! Plus I can still cover the big angles in ROH and yet never have to recap another fucking Mike Mondo match. Win-win. So join me while I go over the upcoming ROH Best in the World iPPV, reveal which ROH talents will not be featured for at least a few months and which one is considering retiring before the end of next year, some more about which former ECW talents will be attempting to show up sober for Extreme Rising, and a brief piece about the ongoing future of the former FCW, now known as NXT….

 

–To start off, word hit the net this week that Ring of Honor has decided not to use The Young Bucks or TJ Perkins for, quote, a few months. This is because all three men live in California, and ROH can’t really afford to fly them out for every show. This is a sucky situation all around. Sucky for ROH because the Bucks have a little bit of star power from their time in TNA as Generation Me, and they were some of the more interesting people in the tag division, and Perkins was just starting to build a name for himself and could have been a big star for them. It sucks for Perkins & the Bucks, because the indie scene in California is still not as vibrant as the scene on the East coast, with NWA Hollywood featuring regional TV and PWG barely being able to afford to run shows. And because, obviously, they aren’t making quite enough in ROH that they could afford to move East, and it’s somewhat inconvenient for them to work the Northeast indie scene (most of which is locked up with people in the DGUSA/EVOLVE/CHIKARA/PWS circuit anyway) and then also do ROH shows in relatively-out-of-the-way Baltimore. And it sucks for ROH fans because that’s one less guy in the singles division and one less tag team, and they’ll likely be replaced by castoffs from the Baltimore area. I guess another option for these guys is Mexico, though in Perkins’ case he’s already moved on from Lucha Libre USA/AAA and sold his Sydistiko gimmick to Paul London. It’s hard to say what lies in the future for any of these guys, but it’s ROH’s loss.

–Speaking of possible ROH departures, Davey Richards told Inside Wrestling magazine that he plans on retiring when his ROH contract is up sometime before the end of next year. Richards has made these claims before, planning to retire from ROH and become an EMT in 2010. The word is, that was mainly due to his wife at the time begging him to get out of the business, and when they divorced he reconsidered. Now it seems as though Davey is really ready to retire. In some ways, it makes sense: he’s wrestled for a number of years and had large amounts of success in the indie scene and in Japan, and he’s been considered one of the best in the world by a number of people. I doubt he’d ever make sense as a WWE wrestler and who knows whether he could make a go of it in TNA. He’s pretty much achieved all there is to achieve as an independent wrestler, the same position Bryan Danielson was once in before he went to WWE. The problem is, Davey is cut from the same mold as D-Bry but he doesn’t have the political clout that Bryan’s association with Shawn Michaels has brought him. In the end it’d probably be best for Davey to go out on his own terms and find a life outside wrestling where he can keep his health in check. But knowing him, he’s just likely to end up doing MMA.

–On a last ROH note, here’s the current updated card for next Sunday’s Best in the World iPPV:

* Kevin Steen vs. Davey Richards for the ROH Title
* Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin vs. The All Night Express for the ROH Tag Titles (If Hass and Benjamin get DQ’d they can lose the titles)
* Fit Finlay vs. Michael Elgin
* Roderick Strong vs. Jay Lethal vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a three-way for the ROH Title
* Eddie Edwards vs. Homicide
* Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Call me negative, but that doesn’t sound to be a very enticing card. Most of those matches are rematches, and of course many people are still fishy about ordering an ROH iPPV after the Border Wars fiasco. My initial plan was to be at CHIKARA’s “Smack In The Middle” event in Syracuse, NY that day, but that’s up in the air right now. I still don’t think there’s really enough on that card to make me want to order it. Glad to see Homicide back, though.

–Not that it’s really ever truly been “independent”, per say, but the new NXT that has risen from the ashes of FCW has more of a WWE footprint on it: the first 4 episodes will all feature matches involving Smackdown semi-regulars such as Antonio Cesaro, the Prime Time Players, Drew McIntyre, and Justin Gabriel. No appearance by Kassius “Chris Hero” Ohno, since he’s still out from an injury suffered at the hands of, ironically, his former partner Antonio Cesaro. You will see the awesomeness that is Bray Wyatt (and word is, his flunky Eli Cottonwood has been granted his release from developmental), as well as Bo Dallas (aka Wyatt’s brother Taylor Rotunda), Richie Steamboat, Leo Kruger, The Ascension and Racquel Diaz, aka Eddie & Vickie Guerrero’s daughter. Also, Seth Rollins, who is involved in something I don’t want to see involving someone else with long hair. It’s good to see that a lot of this crop of talent have basically been grandfathered into being WWE superstars, because I would not be surprised if, in 5-10 years time, this developmental crop mirrors the OVW class of 2000-2002 in terms of future star talent.

–Since apparently Shane Douglas is hell bent on making sure Johnny Ace doesn’t outdo him in terms of being Dynamic Dudes involved in Wrestlecrap-waiting-to-happen this year, Sabu is likely going to be a part of Extreme Rising, the sequel to Extreme Reunion, if he is out of rehab in time. Sabu, if you’ll remember, was so fucked up he had to be rushed to the hospital at the last event, and Justin Credible was tweeting pictures of Sabu passed out in a hotel room before being thrown out of the show himself. So now Sabu gets try number two at making lemonade with Douglas’s group. Also, Raven is not as of now booked for the upcoming shows, although it was initially expected that he would be there to follow up on the angle from the first show where he trashed it and didn’t wrestle despite being advertised. I had quite the hunch that there was more shoot to that than let on, if only because it doesn’t make a whole ton of sense for a heel to get heat by saying a show sucks when that show hasn’t even established any fans yet. I can’t really blame Raven for not wanting to get involved, but on the other hand, who else is booking him? I don’t think one match a year at Gathering of the Juggalos is going to keep the bills paid while he attempts to get his stand up comedy career off the ground.

–One last quick note: Billy Corgan claims he’s in the process of launching a reality show for his Resistance Pro Wrestling group out of Chicago. Some of the bigger music sites were mocking him for this, since it seems weird if you don’t know Billy’s involvement with wrestling. I think it could be a really cool show though. Like them or not, stupid shit like the Hogan wrestling-reality shows and Half Pint Brawlers found some kind of audience, and this show would have one thing that neither of those shows did: Corgan himself. Corgan himself is a compelling figure to watch, and also a complete anal retentive psycho. Seeing him chew out his former band members and Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis was one thing, seeing him pull his controlling routine on a group of pro wrestlers whose own egos might get bruised when they butt heads with Billy could be top-quality trash TV. Get it on Sundance or IFC and you can add at least a veneer of hipster-cool to it and confuse people into thinking the show is classier than it is. I swear, if reality TV  had been around at the time that Smashing Pumpkins broke out, Corgan would have Tommy Lee’s career.

Well folks, that’s it for now. Until I figure out whether I can watch ROH weekly again or whether I really want to, I’ll be seeing you again with this one. Remember, go out and support your local indie wrestling scene.

Inside the Indies — May ’12

–Since, for whatever reason, ROH TV is running really slow and laggy on my end, I’m going to bow out for this past week’s show (featuring Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett and All Night Express vs. The Young Bucks) and focus on some news & views in the world of independent wrestling and WWE developmental. How about some discussion on the new ROH champion, Kevin Steen, and his possible injury, who the bookers are hot for in EVOLVE as well as FCW, plus comparing the two biggest iPPV disasters in recent history: ROH’s Border Wars and Extreme Reunion. Plus the end of FCW, and an update on a possible Dean Ambrose injury….
 

.

— Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I’m not drunk for this one. Monday’s a holiday, though…

–Anyone following my Border Wars live thread knows that, in terms of broadcasting, it was a complete fail. Most fans were greeted with a screen declaring an inability to keep up with the amount of traffic, and weren’t able to view the show. Evidently they didn’t anticipate so many eyes being on their show. Maybe they should have, considering it’s the show where they put Kevin Steen over as their new World champion. I’m glad to see them move in this direction, rather than wait forever to pull the trigger on a switch like they did with Davey Richards and Tyler Black before him. I haven’t read any of the spoilers for the upcoming ROH tapings, but from what I hear, the direction they are moving in with Steen as champ is a little unclear. He should, by all accounts, be the big anti-hero babyface, or at least the guilty-pleasure heel.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Steen suffered a legit concussion, and is doing the smart thing and limiting himself in ring until Best In The World. I’d imagine ROH is going to begin to take concussions more seriously going forward. Nigel McGuiness is a big anti-concussion crusader in wrestling, and I’d imagine he has a lot of influence regarding that. (As a side note, do yourself a favor and check out Nigel on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast from a few months back. I’d heard the concussion story as a possible reason why Nigel has retired, but from the sounds of it, it’s more just “concern about multiple concussions” than actual concussions. Nigel appears to be a very smart individual who nonetheless has let his depression and attitude be his downfall in wrestling. He also doesn’t like it when people fart around him.)

Regardless, right now, everything is in flux for ROH. A lot of their fans are being turned off by their unprofessionalism regarding their iPPVs. I’d say their best bet is to run on an hour or so delay, and to hell with the spoilers from fans in the arena. ROH shows are less about the outcome and more about the quality of match, so it really shouldn’t matter if the first few matches get spoiled. In my opinion, for ROH to really make a turnaround and keep their head above water, they need to find a new booker. Most of the storylines have ground to a halt under Delirious, and nothing really seems to be going anywhere. They better find a new solution fast, before Sinclair gives up on them and we lose ROH altogether.

–Relatedly, ROH has sent Gabe Sapolsky a cease & desist letter regarding his rant against the company on Facebook, and a lawsuit may be pending. It’s too bad that someone who was so crucial to ROH for so many years is now in this position with them. Unfortunately, he might not be doing much better himself…

–The EVOLVE shows this month in Charlotte and Concord were both complete disasters as far as attendance, according to reports. Both shows allegedly only drew about 100 fans apiece, which is completely abysmal for one of the companies that’s supposed to be “elite” in the indie world. EVOLVE is one of those places that’s so serious they make ROH seem like CHIKARA, Thankfully they at least book El Generico to lighten the mood up a little. Also appearing for them lately has been Low-Ki, who is the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion but nonetheless won’t be defending that title stateside. If there’s ever anyone who could go back to ROH and shake things up a bit, it’s Low-Ki. Just a strong-style stiff fest between him & Davey would be worth the price of admission. I’d also really like to see his old buddy Homicide forget about this Urban Wrestling Federation horseshit and come feud with Steen. In other EVOLVE news, apparently they are really high on Jon Davis & A.R. Fox right now, whereas a month ago they were ready to stop booking Fox when he couldn’t get into Canada for shows.

–The biggest PPV pooch-screwing of the year featured one of the former Dynamic Dudes, and it wasn’t Over the Limit. It was of course Extreme Reunion, which featured Sabu getting so loaded he had to be carted to the hospital and Justin Credible being so drunk he got kicked out of the arena. Raven also apparently dogged it completely, running some quasi-Flock gimmick and not actually wrestling. Despite this complete mess being a clear and utter sign that someone had failed completely (and I’m guessing this someone wore tassels on his boots), they will allegedly be running another show, this time in NYC in June. This one is said to be taking place in a new venue. Shane, if you’re out there: I loved ECW as much as anyone, but you gotta let it go. ECW’s had more “reunion” tours under various different names than the Grateful Dead, and every time it’s worse and worse. None of those guys are getting any younger, yknow? Try running a show that feels like ECW but features new talent, maybe that will get people excited again. It worked for MLW in 2003 for a while, until it stopped working.

–At this point the goings on of FCW are going to be covered under the NXT reviews, but until then, well, there pretty much won’t be any FCW soon. It was announced at their tapings in Tampa that FCW will be coming to an end, as the show will basically be folded into WWE NXT. Not really a change for the company, and probably a great opportunity for all their talent to shine on a wider scale. I’m thinking I’m going to make watching the Full Sail tapings a more regular habit. I haven’t heard anyone make any comparisons about WWE running their developmental in TNA’s backyard. Kinda bums me out when I think of how much wrestling I’d be getting to see if I still lived in Orlando.

Also in FCW news, internet sensation Dean Ambrose apparently suffered a shoulder injury against Seth Rollins at the recent TV taping. Bad news for him, as he’s been working dark matches against Zack Ryder with the Raw brand and is apparently all but ready to be moved to the main roster. Still, it’s likely that Ambrose will be building his name on promos rather than matches to start out, so as long as he doesn’t need invasive surgery, this shouldn’t derail his career too bad.

The other FCW/NXT standouts that WWE is high on are the Rotunda brothers. Taylor Rotunda was formerly known as Bo Rotunda but is now called Bo Dallas, and he has the look of a rock & roll underdog babyface. Windham Rotunda was better known as Husky Harris but has now completely captured the attention of the internet with his awesome new Bray Wyatt gimmick. Everyone needs to watch the “I’m No White Trash” promo and tell me they don’t think this gimmick will be the new Raven. Even though he’s doing another take on Waylon Mercy, anyone who remembers Waylon Mercy will remember that it never really lived up to its potential before Dan Spivey retired. God bless Husky for trying something new, and I hope he rides this one right to the main roster.

–In the world of fun indie links how about Isys Ephex vs. Jason Axe from the Squared Circle Wrestling show I attended last month in Watertown. I don’t think you can see me anywhere in the video but this match was SIIICK. Even if you’re not into hardcore, Isys’ bladejob has to be seen. The guy blew out the Muta scale, and from up close I can tell you he looked like he carved a huge vagina in his forehead. Also notable was the face-first curb stomp into the tacks. This is not for the weak of stomach.

–Until ROH wants to run for me, take my word for it. Get off your ass and support your local wrestling scene.

Inside the Indies

–No ROH recap this week as the new taping hasn’t aired yet, and instead clipped versions of some of the big matches from Night One of Showdown in the Sun were shown. Since Colin Rinehart did such an excellent job of recapping that right here, I’m going to skip over it this week. I will say that Kevin Steen vs. El Generico looked like a lot of fun, and I actually dug the two spots from the Australian team that challenged The Briscoes, so I’d like to see more of them. So instead, let’s talk about a few of the things going on in the exciting world of independent wrestling, shall we? How about a little news & views on ROH and their iPPV future, the newest WWE developmental signing from the indie scene, an ROH & CHIKARA double-header, the new NWA champion, problems at the border with EVOLVE, and maybe a little on the Twitter war between Mick Foley and Dean Ambrose…

(As a note, I generally get all my wrestling news from EWrestlingNews.com, which is a generally clean-formatted, no-bullshit straight news site where you can find all the latest happenings digested in a simple layout with very little personal bias from Ryan Clark, the webmaster. Most of his stuff comes from Observer and PWTorch, so generally you can assume it’s on the up & up.)

–Let’s start with one I touched on briefly in my last ROH recap: Ring of Honor is, as of now, undecided on how they’ll be airing their next iPPV, but they have said they are done with Go Fight Live. There were massive transmission problems with Showdown, and that was not a problem unique to that show. Now, the safest bet for ROH would be to broadcast on their own website. They already have the mechanism set up to do that from their TV show. Probably they would have an issue airing it instantly, but that might work in their favor in the future: if the show starts early like so many of their big shows do, they can hold off and air it at 8pm Eastern, so they have time to test the transmission and work out the bugs. Plus it won’t be on at some ungodly mid-afternoon hour when no one has time to sit at a monitor and watch wrestling for four hours. So all in all, it’s a good thing that they’re ditching GFL.

–On 4/28 ROH and CHIKARA are running a pair of shows in Chicago Ridge, IL. The CHIKARA event, Hot Off The Griddle, will be headlined by an interpromotional match between Kevin Steen and Eddie Kingston, which ROH has hyped recently. That one should be a hell of a brawl, although big interpromotional matches like that rarely have any kind of a finish so neither guy loses heat. Also on the card is a handicap match featuring Gran Akuma against Icarus and two of my favorite free agents on the indie scene: Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano, better known by their group name, F.I.S.T. Interestingly, El Generico will be squaring off in a singles match against Sara Del Rey. CHIKARA has been one of the few groups pushing the boundaries of men taking on women in even competition, and when it comes to guys with a smaller build like Generico (who, incidentally, is apparently NOT finished with ROH as had previously been rumored, and in fact is the subject of a new DVD from them), it’s interesting to see them have an even, competitive match with the opposite gender. ROH’s show that night, Unity, will play off the “double header” theme by featuring all tag team matches. Davey Richards is teaming with a not-apparently-all-the-way-heel-turned Kyle O’Reilly against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, The Briscoes are taking on the CHIKARA duo of Jigsaw and Hallowicked, Kevin Steen is teaming up with his new ally Jimmy Jacobs (who is now nicknamed, for some reason, “Zombie Princess”) against both men’s former partners and former hated enemies El Generico and B.J. Whitmer. Also in a Lucha Rules 6-man, Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, and T.J. Perkins will take on CHIKARA’s The Colony. It was only a matter of time before, in the ROH/CHIKARA cross-breeding, that the somewhat serious ROH roster members would have to get in the ring and wrestle a bunch of guys pretending to be fucking ants. The Colony aren’t bad workers at all but seriously, someone had to be on ayahuasca when they came up with that gimmick.

–Something else I touched on in my last ROH TV: “Big Rig” Brodie Lee has signed a developmental contract with WWE. This was first rumored last month but has just this week been made official. I saw Brodie wrestle live last Friday in 2CW, and I gotta say, he has ring presence. Having seen bits & pieces of his work on YouTube, I know he’s a capable worker, although he mainly did a few big boots & one rope-flip senton into the ring when I saw him. Despite that, he cut an imposing figure, and the crowd really seemed to respond to the big guy with the appreciably sleazy look and the awesome entrance music. I’m sure WWE is going to have a lot for him to do just based on his height and decent mic skills. I have to wonder though: between Brodie, Claudio Castagnoli, and Chris Hero, when they’re scouting indie talent, do they just bring a big ruler like at the carnival and only sign the ones taller than the clown’s hand?

–Colt Cabana has now won his second NWA championship in NWA Hollywood, from Adam Pearce. I said recently that Colt has become so important to wrestling just from his podcasts, his comedy, and Wrestling Road Diaries that him actually wrestling has become almost irrelevant. Still, I’m glad to see him reaching a level of success in the international indie scene on his own terms, without being able to rely on his short WWE experience to get him attention. He’s said before that his major influences at this stage of his career are Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher, not so much because of the hardcore style of wrestling, but because they became true legends of wrestling and got their names known amongst wrestling fans all over on their own terms, with limited exposure from the national companies. I really think that in 20 years, people will remember Colt along those same lines.

–Speaking of Colt, he recently did commentary for DGUSA, and they were said to be very happy with it. Related to that, the recent EVOLVE iPPV in Toronto saw their lineup changed at the last minute because Scott Reed, A.R. Fox, Bobby Fish, and Cheech all had issues getting across the border. Gabe Sapolsky was said to be very upset about it, because he laid out exactly what everyone had to do to get across and, in his opinion, the ones that didn’t simply weren’t “listening to instructions” and may not be booked in the future (excepting Cheech, who was riding with Fish and only missed the show due to a lack of transport). I’m actually a little surprised by this, since the common knowledge here in a border town is that it’s really easy to get into Canada, but you’ll run into problems trying to cross back over. Any wrestlers on probation or with prior DUI convictions might have some trouble crossing over, though. In other DGUSA/EVOLVE comings and goings, Super Smash Bros. are expected to start with DGUSA soon, and Dave Finlay is expected to appear again, whereas Sabu is done with DGUSA for the time being, and Uhaa Nation will be out with an injury.

–Finally, if you consider FCW an “indie”, the big news coming out of there has been the online-only feud between Dean Ambrose (formerly Jon Moxley of CZW and others) and Mick Foley. Some barbs were thrown back and forth between the two, and the confrontation at Axxess was featured on WWE.com. Foley’s most recent comments on the whole issue were this, reprinted from his website:

“Let me state for the record that I have only spoken to FCW
prospect Dean Ambrose on three different occasions. Following his match
on a WWE
house show on Long Island, I went out of my way to tell him I had
enjoyed his match. The skills and unique qualities qualities he posseses
might very well make him a force to be reckoned with somewhere down the
line. He has supporters in lofty places who feel he might be a huge
asset to WWE
for a decade or more in the future. I’m also told that his interviews (
“promos” as we call them) are compelling, intelligent and emotional;
every bit as good as the top guys in WWE.

My second conversation with Mr Ambrose got quite a bit of attention. I
know there has been alot of speculation as to the nature of this
conversation. To me, it was whatever anyone wanted it to be; a shoot, a
work, or somewhare in the middle – as almost all compelling pieces in
sports-entertainment ultimately are.

I’m far more concerned with my third conversation with the guy. Look,
Ive been accused from time to time of taking some things in the business
a little too seriously. Maybe I do. But like that sailor-man of old, “I
am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” After all these years, there
are some things that just bother me. Remember that “Cane Dewey” promo
from 1995 that so many are still fond of? It actually came from a very
heavy place in my heart, when my wife impressed on me just how sick it
was for any fan to be making a sign advocating the beating (even in
jest) of my 3 year-old child.

That’s the immediate feeling I got when I actually read the Dean Ambrose
tweet that mentioned his dream to seeing me no longer able to make a
dime in the wrestling business – with a particularly nasty mention of
how he wanted to see my home repossesed and my children starved. Maybe
the 1995 Cactus Jack would have cut a promo on the guy. The 2102 Mick Foley
just wonders what would make something say something so stupid,
heartless and ignorant. I felt Dean Ambrose had crossed a line that
shouldn’t be crossed, so took the opportunity before the Hampton,
Virginia Smackdown to ask/tell him to please stop crossing a line that I wasn’t comfortable with. Ric Flair
had once asked a similar consideration of me before a memorable promo
we shared in New Jersey in 2006. Of course I honored his request. Ours
is a business built on trust and respect. I thought Dean Ambrose
understood this. But less than a day after making my request, I saw that
my children were once again the subject of his tweets – a reference to
how I might feel differently about something if my children were in
wheel-chairs. Maybe I would have cut a heck of a promo about it in 1995.
Seventeen years later, I just wanted to get the fuck away from the
whole scenario. It’s not fun, it’s not cutting edge. It just sucks.

Sports-entertainment has to involve a certain ammount of respect and
trust. It’s pretty obvious Dean Ambrose doesn’t have any respect for me,
my requests, or what I have done in the wrestling business. Therefore I
can’t place the slightest ammount of trust in him. Has anyone wondered
if I’m feeling better following the concussion I spoke of in that
December 2010 TNA
Impact promo with Flair? I’m not feeling too much better. I tend to
have two types of days when it comes to that muted, under-water feeling I
spoke of in that promo – bad and worse. I’m just not the same guy who
took 11 chair shots from the Rock in 1999. I haven’t been that guy in a
long time. Given my history of concussions, I would have to be a fool to
place my future in the hands of someone I don’t trust. Perhaps I do
have another decent match left in me. If so, it will be with a guy like Dolph Ziggler, who might well be the best worker in the business, and just needs that ONE little something to allow the WWE
Universe to see how talented he really is. Or a guy like the Miz – one
of the best heels of this generation. Say what you want to about Miz,
but the guy is damn good at what he does.

But Dean Ambrose? No. I may not have the power I once did in the
business, but I still have the power to say no to things that just
flat-out seem wrong. Like trying to put Dean Ambrose on the WWE
map. A few weeks ago, it seemed like an interesting challenge. Now, it
seems like an insult. A few weeks ago, it seemed like cutting-edge
stuff. Now it just seems like bullshit. He is a very good talent. He has
those supporters in high places. Let them wrestle him. Maybe they can
put him on the WWE map. Good luck.”

 So, clearly this whole thing has taken a left-turn. I don’t doubt that it’s probably a work, but they’re breaking the fourth wall a little by bringing up Foley’s desire to work with Ziggler, something that’s mainly known to us smart marks. I see this as being more likely to culminate in a big feud in FCW than to make it to WWE, but it’s interesting stuff. Ambrose crossing a line by tweeting his desire to hurt Foley’s kids is a great heel-mind game tactic, especially when focused on the one wrestler who’s been the most synonymous with “family man” since Ricky Steamboat. Anyone who remembers Foley’s promo regarding the “Cane Dewey” sign in ECW, or Foley writing about it in Have a Nice Day, knows that Foley’s kids are off-limits to him. On the other hand, Foley has written about that stuff with such conviction, and has been known to shy away from things he finds offensive, that maybe he really did back away from the whole deal of putting Ambrose over, and this was just a diplomatic way of walking away while still letting Ambrose get at least a little rub off of having gotten in Foley’s head. I’m definitely curious as to where this will go and what it will mean for Ambrose in WWE.

Well that’s what I got for this week. I’ll probably take next week off altogether, since ROH will be another clip show. Til then, not only should you go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself, but you should go to a show, buy a DVD, and spread the word to support your local indie scene.