November 27, 2007

I find myself excited again about watching pro-wrestling. This is a rather abrupt turning of the tide, so to speak. Last week I talked about how the current wrestling product has me watching more and more MMA, but a few things have happened since last week, which has given me new hope, and rekindled my interest.

The most obvious change of events was the return of both Chris Jericho and The Rated ďRĒ Superstar Edge. Itís no secret both of these guys are good friends of mine, but regardless of that fact, they are still two of the best and most entertaining performers in the sport today. Combine that with the fact that both are relatively fresh faces again, after being off for some time (Edge for 4-5 months and Jericho 2 years), and the return of these two guys gives WWE programming a much-needed boost.

Jerichoís return gives Randy Orton a hot baby face challenger and can provide that needed fresh face to RAW main events. Edge on the other hand breaths new life into the Undertaker Ė Batista program and gives that brand the strong Heel anchor it needs. Undertaker and Batista produced exceptional matches on PPV, but baby face programs (IMO) produce dull TV angles, and injecting Edge into this mix should really heat things up and make for some great programming.

As great as these two programs should be, they are but half the reason behind my new excitement in following pro-wrestling. As I mentioned last week, Iíve expanded my local cable TV package to include PPV capability, and in doing so Iíve picked up a few new channels. One of my newly acquired channels is The Fight Network. I know it seems odd that Iíve been writing for the Fight Network website for about a year now and am only just getting their channel now, but I hate dealing with Cable companies and until now didnít know what I was missing.

The Fight Network is fantastic and an absolute must for wrestling fans and MMA fans alike. I now get ROH, and Pro-Wrestling Noah from Japan each week, as well, as a ton of old classic wrestling from Memphis and St. Louis. I get stuff from Puerto Rico, Deep South (the now defunked WWE developmental territory), as well as old UWFI from Japan.

UWFI was big in Japan when I first started working over there, and was for lack of a better term a ďfakeĒ shoot fighting group. Matches were a work but they were portrayed as a shoots and the guys were not permitted to do any moves that required co-operation or could be deemed ďfakeĒ. Fight Network carries UWFI weekdays and itís all the stuff I remember seeing in the Japanese wrestling magazines when I worked in Japan, back in the 90s. Iíve caught about 3 hrs of the stuff so far and canít get enough of it, and some of the ring psychology is amazing.

Iím just starting to figure out the programming schedule and this stuff is very addictive. I likely wonít be able to watch half the stuff I want to, but Iím going to make the effort to copy a lot of it just to have as a wrestling library for my students at SWA to study from. With the blend of the New (I canít wait to start watching ROH regularly) and Old, as well as the International, there is so much to see and something that will appeal to everyone. If you donít have The Fight Network yet you really owe it to yourself to check it out, itís amazing, and Iím not just saying that because I write for their website. If it was crap, Iíd tell you it was crap, and just to prove it Iíll talk a little bit about Wrestling Reality.

Wrestling Reality is a Fight Network original show and is a behind the scenes reality show about an Indy promotion in the Maritimes. I saw one episode of this show and was horrified. It is the epitome of what is wrong with the Indy wrestling scene today and is a disgrace to the wrestling business. The main guys behind the show, and the stars of the promotion (go figure) give us their insight into the wrestling business, like all knowing ďYodasĒ of wrestling, despite their never making it anywhere, or to the best of my knowledge, ever amounting to anything in the wrestling business. It drives me crazy when people think that persistently failing at something long enough somehow extends them veteran status.

While the show may be a fair representation of the Indy scene, it is in no way an accurate representation of the wrestling business, and listening to these guys act like they know what they are talking about offended me to no end. Taking this show seriously would be like filming a documentary at a recreational, beer-league, hockey tournament and calling it, inside the NHL. The average Joe might find the show entertaining, but I found it offensive and a disservice to the wrestling business.

As bad as I found the show, I am certainly not going to throw the baby out with the bath water, Fight Network is quickly becoming my favourite channel, and is just another reason to be glad I live in Canada!!!!

Lance Storm