Posts Tagged ‘indy wrestling’

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by @anarchyroll
10/13/2014

I have written far too little about Ring of Honor. As someone who was a fan of the original ECW, neither of the big two come close to being as good as the ROH product on a consistent basis in my opinion.

If you’re not familiar with Ring of Honor, it was founded by Paul Heyman’s #1, Gabe Sapolsky in 2002. Some of the stars and superstars that ROH has produced to TNA and WWE since their inception are;

  • CM Punk
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Samoa Joe
  • Seth Rollins
  • Austin Aries
  • Cesaro
  • Low Ki/ Kaval

The Ring of Honor product, style, and presentation has also been copied/used to build TNA’s X Divsion as well as WWE’s developmental territory NXT.

Years before either Chris Jericho or CM Punk were inserting the label Best in the World into their promos and onto their merchandise, fans were shouting those words after seeing ROH’s finest matches to the point they named their biggest show of the year Best in the World, which takes place every June.

If you’re an older wrestling fan who liked the Original ECW; then Ring of Honor is the product for your. If you’re a younger fan who likes NXT better than either RAW or Smackdown; Ring of Honor is the product for you.

I saw ROH live for the first time in 2005, during their 3rd Anniversary Show. The main event was Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title. I was hooked. The show stealer was Brian Danielson vs Homicide in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.

Ring of Honor has long been established as the top American independent professional wrestling promotion. They are the ECW of this era. They are about the best between the ropes, bell to bell wrestling on the planet. They are the only product in America that can rival the between the ropes action of Japan. If you like the matches that CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro have been having on WWE TV for the last two years, then you’ll love Ring of Honor.

I have seen ROH live at least once a year, every year, since 2005. The product not only thoroughly entertains me, but consistently restores my faith in pro wrestling. My personal taste is pro wrestling is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I care far less about storylines and characters than I do about fast paced, physical, high intensity pro wrestling matches. I am fully aware that to draw big money like WWE has done for 50 years, the model of success is inverted from my taste.

Since 2010, there are very few who have seen the product who would disagree with the thought of; if ROH had the corporate backing that TNA has had, ROH would be in a much more prominent place in the pro wrestling and sports entertainment landscape. ROH has routinely proven they are able to produce memorable, unique, entertaining characters, promos, and storylines. People like Jimmy Jacobs, Truth Martini, and Kevin Steen have been involved in programs and promos that would have slid perfectly into the WWE’s Attitude Era.

What makes ROH great in my opinion is that in their world/universe, wrestling didn’t stop evolving after the end of the Attitude Era. They didn’t hit the pause, rewind, or erase buttons in the wake of the Austin/Rock retirements, the Chris Benoit incident, or the John Cena PG Era. ROH is what ECW on SyFy would have looked like if Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer would have been allowed to control the product as opposed to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon.

It is important that there be three major pro wrestling promotions operating within the United States. For the purpose of competition, innovation, and evolution of the business as a whole.

  1. NWA, AWA, and WWWF
  2. WWF, WCW, and ECW
  3. WWE, TNA, and ROH

Me and all the other smart marks will keep crossing our fingers and hoping someone with a lot of money decides to invest in ROH. They can make it if money isn’t as much of a limiting issue as it has always been for them. They have manufactured new superstars. They have a unique presentation style. They believe in storyline continuity and character evolution. Their product doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence. The product would fit like a glove on FX, Adult Swim, or Showtime. The product isn’t overly vulgar or obscene. ROH routinely walks the line between family friendly and for adults only, they always have, and have always had the proper proportions.

Without ROH I likely wouldn’t be a wrestling fan anymore. What John Cena and the PG Era did to WWE and what Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff did to TNA were both more than enough for me to do, what so many fans of my generation have done; make a permanent switch to exclusive mixed martial arts viewing. But ROH pulls me back from the ledge everytime I need to be. With their great matches, clean finishes, intense rivalries, straight to the point promos, and continuous evolution I can’t recommend ROH enough to the casual fan whose looking for something different to Super Cena and the not ready for prime time booking of Impact Wrestling.

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by @anarchyroll
7/28/2014

The overall best wrestler on the American independent wrestling scene wrapped up his farewell tour this past weekend and will be reporting to WWE’s developmental territory in Florida, NXT. Kevin Steen has been the “top guy” on the indy scene for several years now. His matches, promos, and marketability have been a cut above anyone and everyone else on the indy scene since 2011. Steen has been a machine producing non stop entertaining matches, interviews, and t-shirts that also rival any wrestler that has ever been on the indy scene. The only thing holding him back from being signed by WWE has been his physique. Once Steen made the choice to start dropping weight, as he has done every month in 2014, WWE signed him to a developmental contract.

Kevin Steen has been a cornerstone of Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) and Ring of Honor (ROH) for over half a decade. His tag team run with El Generico (now Sami Zayn in NXT) and subsequent feud (both in PWG & ROH) put both men on the map nationally by showcasing both as complete talents in need of only a national stage to be showcased on.

If you have seen Kevin Steen live then you know he has the “it factor”. The intangible element that all wrestlers who have gone on to achieve super stardom have possessed.

Steen has also been one of the best handled or booked indy wrestling talents in recent memory. From 2009 forward Steen was presented by PWG and ROH as a big deal both in his tag team work, then as the vicious heel which was so well executed he became a face based on the consistent high quality entertainment value he offered. Good talent plus good promotion equals success in the entertainment industry at every level. Steen, ROH, and PWG are great examples of what good can come of management and talent working together for common goals.

Kevin Steen’s ROH World Title run of 2012-13 was the best thing the indy scene produced since the Summer of CM Punk in 2005. I’m getting goosebumps just writing and thinking about it now. Steen truly was on fire. His title win and every defense was as high level of a match that the indy scene is capable of producing with the talent they have to offer.

The die-hard pro wrestling fans of the independent scene truly love Kevin Steen. It is a type of admiration very few professional wrestlers reach but all aspire to. Steen is not only a great talker and mechanic in the ring, but he is also a money-maker. No one in the last ten years on the indy scene has been a merchandise producing machine like Kevin Steen has been. I don’t think many would object to Steen being given the label; Best Indy Scene T Shirt Producer Ever (forgive me Colt).

In the process of being signed by WWE, Steen laid a blueprint behind him of how to get signed by WWE. It’s called the Take Away All the Excuses Method. One by one Steen took every reason for WWE to not sign him away. Like Daniel Bryan on the main WWE roster, Steen kept improving until he became a complete performer, or as complete as an independent wrestler can become. WWE already doesn’t want to sign indy guys. They want body builders and football players, so if you’re an indy guy, and Steen was THE indy guy, then you have to work extra hard to get signed. Steen showed in 2014 he was willing to do whatever it took to get signed.

Steen had been pumping out great matches and great promos for years. When he showed that not only could he be marketed as well or better than any of his contemporaries, and was willing to get himself into the physical shape he openly lamented for years prior, WWE had no more reasons to not sign him to a developmental deal.

Make no mistake, as great as Steen is (great, not just good), he still needs to be developed. The weight he has lost up to his point in 2014 is only a start. He’ll have to learn how to work the WWE style which is a vast change from his 100 mph high spot centered style (a style I prefer). He’ll have to learn to perform for the hard camera and prove to both himself and WWE that he can cut the same high level of promos he is known for, without the high level of vulgarity that goes with his promos like PB & J.

But not since WWE signed CM Punk has an indy prospect had more potential for greatness on the big stage. If Cesaro, Sami Zayn, and Adrian Neville have gotten as far as they have with underdeveloped mic skills, what is going to happen when the best talker the indy scene has had in a decade gets a live WWE mic in his hands? If WWE is begrudgingly pushing a generation of undersized cruiserweights in NXT, what is going to happen when the most agile heavyweight in recent memory makes his television debut? If creative is having a hard time finding ways to market the growing crop of young prospects in Orlando, what is going to happen when the one man t-shirt machine arrives?

Kevin Steen did it all on the indy scene. He won the primary singles title of every major indy promotion in North America. He helped blaze a trail of leveraging social media as a means of getting over and making real money on the independent wrestling scene. He became so entertaining as a vicious heel that he became the most popular babyface wherever he performed, whenever he performed. He pushed all of the limits and all of the boundaries that can be pushed in the minor leagues of the pro wrestling world. Kevin Steen became the big fish in the small pond. When that happens in the world of professional wrestling, WWE usually comes calling. WWE should have come calling for Kevin Steen and they did.

Kevin Steen has everything it takes to be the next big thing in the WWE. He has earned the opportunity he is getting. Four years ago there wouldn’t have been much hope for Steen to get over on WWE’s main roster due to the full immersion of the PG Era. But in the time of Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose there is definitely a place for Kevin Steen in the big leagues. Here’s hoping management allows him to hit it out of the park.

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by @anarchyroll
3/11/2014

In a recent episode of Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, Dean Ambrose called out the United States independent pro wrestling scene for a couple of things. Each of which was both right, justified, and long overdue. Before he was Dean Ambrose in the WWE he was Jon Moxley on the Indy scene. Jon Moxley was the best thing going on the Indy scene for a solid year, if not two. He was a regular in DGUSA, Evolve, and was champion in CZW amongst many, many others. If there is anyone this side of 2010 who is qualified to talk about the US Indy scene this side of 2009 it is Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose. Ambrose raised the following issues/points;

  1. The Indy scene has too many mark promoters and too many mark wrestlers/talents.
  2. The fans and wrestlers of the Indy scene are too egotistical about the information about the wrestling business they read on the internet and therefore feel authoritative about.
  3. The Indy scene has too many championships/title belts.
  4. The Indy scene is full of wrestlers who are too stiff
  5. ┬áThe Indy scene is full of wrestlers who don’t sell the impact of the strikes and maneuvers they perform on each other therefore making what they do look more fake and unrealistic than the business of pro wrestling is by nature.

Ambrose is spot on in each point he raised. He is not just another worker, he was a highly successful Indy scene performer who based on his excellence received a contract from the WWE in less than half a decade of his debut. That time frame is the exception, not the rule. Dean Ambrose is an exceptional talent and an authority on the US Indy scene. Here is why I think he was right in each point that he raised at the Cabana Compound.

  1. Promoters and wrestlers are marks by nature. If they weren’t marks, they wouldn’t be in the business. The problem is when the inmates run the asylum, chaos ensues. A state of chaos is an apt and accurate way to describe any and every Indy promotion that isn’t called ROH, PWG, or AAW. Wrestlers are supposed to be marks for themselves at least a little bit. Ego and creative success are intertwined. But the promoters need to be a check and balance, not an enabler. The fact that everyone wants to run their own ship shows that the promoters are bigger marks than businessmen. There should be no more than ten Indy wrestling promotions in the US. Three on each coast and six throughout the Midwest, South, and Great Plains.
  2. If you think the fans of the Indy scene aren’t too smart marky for their own good, then you haven’t been to an Indy show in the US in at least eight years.
  3. If you don’t think the Indy scene has too many title belts, then you haven’t been to an Indy show in the US in at least ten years.
  4. The wrestlers being too stiff means they are either too big of marks for their own good or are not properly trained or both and these days on the Indy scene it is usually both.
  5. If you don’t think the Indy scene has a problem with a lack of selling, lack of believability, lack of pacing, and lack of logic in the matches; you haven’t been to a US Indy show in the last six years. Davey Richards got scapegoated for this but he was merely a product of his environment. I could list all the culprits, but then this would be a long form piece. I understand why this has become so pervasive. To tell you the truth, I prefer matches like this to the 80s style rest hold fest that legends and fresh out of academy newbies have on the Indy scene. The problem is that it has run its course and like hardcore wrestling before it, should now be saved for storyline/feud climax matches.

Indy wrestlers would do themselves individually and the business as a whole a favor by dedicating themselves to forming their creative characters and physical bodies to be larger than life as opposed to how many super kicks and clotheslines they can fit into the last five minutes of a match. And for those who don’t care about character development or joining a gym, they should really focus on making their matches as close to a mixed martial arts contest as possible without stiffing the hell out of each other. It’s 2013, not 1987 or 1999. Be either larger than life or relevant to the current cultural landscape not a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of an archetype from the 1960s.

Dean Ambrose is an exceptional talent but what got him into the WWE is not once in a generational, freak talent/ability. If you watch his non death matches from the Indy scene, he is having logical, believable matches. Strikes, submissions, and maneuvers are all in balance. His promos are unique to his character, a character that is unique to him. Ambrose/Moxley is a prototype for anyone out there who wants to be a wrestler in this day and age. He really is. If you are stupid enough to think you shouldn’t be studying old school wrestlers and matches, study him. He has “it”. He certainly is my favorite wrestler of this new generation that is coming up in WWE and the Indy scene this side of 2010.

Every wrestler currently on the Indy scene with no immediate hope of being signed by WWE, which is the vast majority, would be wise to heed his words and study his success.