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.