Bunch-O-Stuff & ROH

April 16, 2009

Okay I’ve got a lot of stuff to get caught up on so I will try to cover it all here. My week long vacation in Hawaii really set me back, but boy was it worth it. It was our (my wife and I) third trip to Hawaii and like the previous trips it was absolutely awesome. All three times we went to Waikiki and I just can’t say enough good things about that place. If you ever get a chance to go jump at it, we had the time of our lives.

I want to also thank those who emailed me birthday wishes, while I was away. For the record I turned 40 April 3rd. I am looking into a possible loophole however. I was flying to Hawaii on the 3rd and I think since I was in the air traveling back through time zones I might be eligible for “age indemnity” and may still be 39. Paul Lazenby is backing me on this theory so if anyone has a problem with it, they will have to take it up with him.

Alrighty then down to business; I covered my WrestleMania predictions on Tuesday but have still not watched the show. Truth be told, I may not and apart from Shawn – Undertaker I don’t really have much desire to anyway. I missed the RAW afterwards as well but thanks to YouTube, I did manage to see the Steamboat tag match on RAW, which was awesome. I am so jealous of Edge for getting to take both an arm drag and cross body off the tope from Ricky Steamboat. It was great to see the Dragon one more time and even better to know he still has something left in the tank. Anybody out there that wants to learn how to sell, WATCH RICKY STEAMBOAT! I only met Steamboat once, back when I was working in OVW. He came down to work with the talent one afternoon, and what an absolute class act, a true gentleman if I ever met one. He was so respectful and polite to me and everyone else; I cannot say enough nice things about this man. Congrats on the HOF Ricky and thank you for bringing dignity, respect, and class to this business.

Speaking of the HOF I got to see that via YouTube as well. I have to say though that I was really disappointed with the brevity of the event this year. I know the show goes way too long most years, and the first one I attended in NY was at times painfully long, but the really good stories make it all worth while. I thought Bill Watts was great and Steamboat was good (got to love the tie up with Flair) but everything else just seemed rushed or clipped. I couldn’t believe how little time Steve Austin ended up getting. Arguably the biggest star of all time and he sums up and says good-bye to his career in 5-7 minutes. WTF? They need to do this show either Friday night or Saturday after noon and then edit it to fit the telecast. You could give presenters a 15-minute max, underneath inductees a 30-minute max, and let the top 2 guys go 45 minutes to an hour if need be. Here’s a crazy idea too, induct less than 8 guys per year, if you don’t want the show going 4 hours.

I need to jump back to Hawaii before I wrap up. I know before I left, I said that it was going to be a Wrestling free vacation, but that turned out to be tougher than I though. My hotel got HD Net, a station I don’t get at home and one morning while my wife was in the shower I was flipping channels and came across ROH. As you know I’m a big ROH fan so with time to just sit around and wait anyway (my wife takes way longer to do her hair in the morning that I do) I watched ROH on HD Net. I’ve got to say I was really disappointed. Production wise I thought the show looked very bad. The venue and crowd looked small, and the ring looked so small I just couldn’t take the show seriously. I’ve talked to two close friends who have seen the show and both echoed my disappointment, one summing up best: “They've somehow managed to use the increased production values to remove almost everything that made ROH feel unique and special.”

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know the specifics of the HD Net deal but something has to change. ROH just can’t be done with the usually wrestling TV show format. You can’t get these guys over with short TV matches and attempting to do so is just destroying the atmosphere, emotion, and work rate that is ROH. If it were up to me I would completely change the format of the show and post produce and edit matches like ECW (The Original) used to do. I’ve always thought TNA should try this and I think even more so with ROH.

You have to be different to stand out and doing the same basic format of a “live” wrestling show featuring TV matches doesn’t work IMO. You can’t get young new guys over with short TV matches. Even WWE has a hard time with this, which is why so few new guys get over in that company. Paul Heyman was so damn brilliant with what he did on ECW TV. Our show was different it covered and showed highlights of great ECW events, it wasn’t just a TV Show with wrestling matches.

When you have 3-8 minute matches its near impossible to hook the crowd enough to make these matches seem important. When you have super established stars like The Undertaker of Shawn Michaels it can be done to an extent, but when you are trying to introduce audiences to new characters you can’t; the match is over before they get emotionally attached. Matches come off as unimportant and worse yet the guy who loses a 3-5 minute match comes off like such a jobber. Even the guy who wins short matches on TV doesn’t truly get over because how big of an accomplishment is it, if it took so little effort to achieve?

With Heyman’s ECW format guy’s fought long and hard battles and guys who lost put up one hell of a fight, and those who won really accomplished something. Matches were given the time they needed to hook the crowd so by the end crowds were super hot, which made everything seem so much more important and OVER. Paul then edited the matches down to show the best stuff and the parts of the matches where the crowd was really going nuts and on TV everything seemed so unbelievably over. Perception is Reality in this business and viewers perceived the ECW product as being very hot and very over so that became their reality, and shit got over.

Paul got so many guys over by beating them it wasn’t even funny. I won my debut in ECW, and then went on to lose several big matches, which actually helped get me over. I lost a great match to Chris Candito at “As Good as it Gets” and another hard fought battle to Shane Douglas at “Born to be Wired”. These two CLEAN loses really helped me get over because I went toe to toe with established top stars, who had to go all out to beat me. The match length and quality got me over and the loss earned me respect from the hardcore fans. I was paying my dues, and not getting pushed down their throats, and by airing the highlights of the match and the back and forth finish I came out looking like a million bucks and everyone got over. Jerry Lynn lost clean to RVD so many times it’s almost absurd, but because they were such long even matches the fans got so behind Jerry that they renamed him the “New-F’n-Show”. None of this could have been done if ECW used the ‘live’ TV show format and aired 3-8 minute matches in their entirety.

Guys got more over losing in ECW than guys are getting over with wins on TV today. In my opinion post producing the show and airing highlights from great ROH events would give this show a completely unique feel, better encapsulate the ROH experience, provide a better opportunity for guys to get over, and as an added bonus better promote ticket and DVD sales. Airing 7 minutes of an amazing 30-minute Bryan Danielson match will make me wish I was their live when it happened, as well as make me want to order the DVD of the event so I can see the whole match of this amazing wrestler. Seeing him wrestle a 7-minute match in front of a not overly excited crowd in what appears to be a 14 foot ring, makes me think he’s a very small time wrestler who seems to wrestle well.

Had I not already been a huge ROH fan, and this show was my first look at ROH I would have no desire to see ROH again, which I think is very sad. ROH has a great talent roster and the ability to put on some of the best wrestling matches in the Country and I don’t feel this TV show makes that clear to the viewing public. Then again the same can be said for TNA Impact. I’ve been told Impact has actually improved greatly of late, so I intend to tune in tonight and see first hand, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Lance