We also seem to be in pocket where we value wrestling over other theatrics. We don't need a dummy of a cheerleader in a casket with ground beef as brains. We don't need to watch guys go through a plate glass window where that's actually how the winner is determined (glares at CZW). We want to watch a story unfold in the ring and with promos, not with tales made up by ex-writers for soap operas. And don't get me wrong -- I'm pegging some of those problems on WWE because they're the biggest and easiest to target, but they're also the best. You can't argue with their success over such a long period of time. We see that Raw gets a 3.2 rating and we scoff at such a "low" score, when in actuality that's 2-3 points higher than almost every other cable show on TV, and triple the score of their closest competitor, TNA.
And maybe that's why I felt that the Professional Championship Wrestling (PCW) show that I went to a month ago was so poor. To be a company like the WWE, you need money and the best wrestlers in the world. And to try to do that on a smaller scale in front of the same 100 people every week just doesn't work. I went to one of their shos on a recent visit to Texas. Here are links to the results of that show (and others), with a ton of my thoughts after it. And I have to tell you that I'm not one of those negative internet wrestling fans. I tried to enjoy the show and I want to point out as many positives as I can.
- Decent wrestlers -- Aaron Eagle, Jerome Daniels, Mike Foxx, and Franco D'Angelo were quite good in the ring. The Eagle/Daniels match was by far the best of the night. They managed to get the crowd to react more than anyone else all night (excepting the main event, but that didn't really count). In fact, I actually felt bad for Aaron Eagle because he would be much better suited in a fed where the fans seem to care more.
- Matthew Palmer -- OK, this is somewhat biased. This wrestler is actually Destiny's friend from years and years ago. They went to school together all through high school, and we were actually lucky enough to see his first match. And honestly, he was one of the best wrestlers on the show. He did a moonsault off the top rope (but missed), sold like a champ, and had a wonderful babyface comeback. His match was paced far faster than the rest.
- Production -- Everyone not only had an entrance video, but the music was actually produced by a local band. It gives the entrances a unique feel, in that not everyone is coming out to some song by Disturbed or something. A minor downside to that, though, is a lot of the entrance songs sounded similar. Here's their main star Mike Foxx's entrance video.
- Names & Nicknames -- Everyone in TNA has a lame nickname, and PCW tries to copy that. I didn't even realize that the PCW guys were announced with nicknames until after I read the results. "Tim Storm" is maybe the worst wrestling name I've ever heard. "Robert Evans" wore yellow and red...hey, just like the restaurant of the same name! And does someone named Jiggle-O James Johnson really need "Hunk for Hire" at the beginning of his name?
- Overbooking -- Nobe Bryant vs. Brandon Collins finished like this: Collins put on a cloverleaf/grapevine maneuver and had it locked on for at least a minute. Bryant apparently injured his knee during the move so the ref threw up the "X" to get the medics out there to help. Brandon let go of the move and a literal two minutes of awkwardness followed as no one came out to help and no one was named the winner. And then Nobe rolled up Brandon for the quick three. This shouldn't happen at a small wrestling show! Additionally, after Wally Darkmon Canadian Destroyer'ed the guest referee in the main event, it was announced that they would have a Casket Match at the next show. The guy who announced it, Mike Foxx, would be busy the next week in a Cane on a Pole match.
- The audience -- The face is caught in an octopus stretch and can't quite get to the ropes. He's struggling and he needs some help, so what do we do? Clap....clap..clap..clap..clapclapclap! I tried this at least three times during the show and the fans looked at me like I was insane. In fact, for 5 of the 6 matches, the fans basically sat cross-armed and watched as if they were watching on TV. They chanted "YOU GOT NOTH-ING!" for about 10 minutes straight at Nobe Bryant, and then would blindly chant one of the face's names during the main event, even after it had ended. Oh, and the loudest pops of the night were for Steve Austin in a video package promoting Lacey Von Erich's match a few weeks later.
- Busseys =/= Mr. McMahon -- I understand that a wrestling federation may need a commissioner-type role. They can play a part in storylines, but it isn't really necessary for them to be a main character. The Busseys (yes, from the failed TLC show "The Bussey Bunch") are trying to be an important part of these shows. They came out on two occasions: once to set up some matches, and another time to choke a mechanical chicken and berate a fan named Charlie. The chicken/Charlie thing actually has an ongoing storyline now.
- One arena -- They took an old auditorium with a stage and turned it into a wrestling arena. The problem is, though, that they don't go anywhere else. It's as if they're content with what they're doing and just go with it. I got the feel that they really showed no interest in improving or growing larger. I don't understand how it can be worth it to do shows with TLC and Flaming Tables matches in front of the same 100 people every week.
Basically, they're all style with little substance. The wrestling isn't great, the referees are bad, and the audience is just weird. They try to be a company like WWE, with a weekly TV show, extravagant entrances, commissioner-like characters, in-ring promos that go nowhere, and zany nicknames. They're trying too hard to be a mini-WWE, but they don't have the resources or the talent to do it. A lot of the matches just turned into this: do a move, wait 10 seconds, do a move, wait 10 seconds. Oh, and Lance Hoyt is one of their main trainers.
Match-by-match and show analysis:
- Awesome video package to pump us up for the show. Whoever does their videos is fantastic because he makes this fed look great.
- "Hunk For Hire" Jiggle-O James Johnson def. Carrion Arcane -- JJJ's finisher is an elbow drop, but he does a frog splash before he does it. Carrion Arcane is sporting one of Texas' favorite outfits: a black shirt with black jeans that have flames on them. JJJ looks like a guy who could dive all over the place, and had a great opportunity at one point when his opponent was on the outside, but he just let Arcane into the ring. Also, you shouldn't try three Yakuza kicks in one match if you're wearing jeans and you can't quite get that smack sound right.
- "Grim Reaper" Tim Storm def. "The Mind of Wrestling" J.T. LaMotta -- LaMotta comes out pre-match with Dr. Wagner Jr.'s (!) mask, saying that he recently defeated him in Mexico and took his mask. "People with masks stink!" he tells us (paraphrased, by the way). Out comes Tim Storm, who is now wearing a mask because he got his head shaved recently after losing a match (see second "Con" above). So JT is obviously a heel after his deal on the mic...but Storm is also a heel because he won't let us see his new haircut. All I remember about this match is that it was slow, but JT tried really hard to make this entertaining.
- A video was shown to promote Lacey Von Erich's PCW debut on March 22nd. As I said before, the loudest pops of the night were each of the six times Austin appeared in the video. I think the video was from a promo for the Von Erichs' DVD. After the video, Mike Foxx (with Wally Darkmon, also in flamed black jeans and black shirt!) came out and said that the Von Erich legacy was dead, claiming he deserved a shot at the PCW title. Then came out JJJ again to try to help his BFF Wally Darkmon. Next out was Franco D'Angelo, saying that he deserved the title shot, but then Action Jackson came out and said he'd defend his title against anyone, anytime. So then The Bussey Boys came out to settle everything. At the April 12th show, there would be a 4-way, 2-falls match. The first fall would be for Brett Idol's TV title; the second fall would be for Action Jackson's PCW Title. Then they said that the main event of our show would be Action Jackson & Franco D'Angelo vs. Mike Foxx & Wally Darkmon, with JJJ as the guest referee. That's right, Jiggle-O three times in one night!
- The Real Deal" Nobe Bryant def. "The Expert" Brandon Collins in a No Snakes Allowed Match -- This match is the one where the ref threw up the "X" signal. Brandon Collins might have the worst kicks in the history of professional wrestling and I'm not exaggerating. They missed by a few inches every time. You could tell that both of them were thinking of spots of the fly because they constantly looked up and to the left while coming up with ideas. The match lasted way too long and the ending was awkward as noted above.
- INTERMISSION. That's right -- 3 matches in and we're almost done. Only $10 for a seat, though! And for $5, you could get a picture with Aaron Idol in the ring!
- "Essence of Excellence" Robert Evans def. Matthew Palmer -- With a nickname like that, you'd expect Robert Evans to be some sort of pompous, maybe even snooty wrestler. Nope, be comes out wearing red and yellow, a feather boa, and does a funky little dance on the ring apron! Palmer was quite good for his first match; all of those years of being in plays in high school paid off. Palmer's late-match comeback almost got him the win, but after missing a moonsault, Evans hit his finisher for the pin. Evans went to do commentary for the next match.
- "Success Story in the Making" Aaron Eagle b "Flawless" Jerome Daniels to retain the PCW Cruiserweight Title -- Look at that nickname. Probably the match of the night, as Aaron Eagle has the most potential of anyone in this fed. Daniels jawed with the crowd and got us to respond, and Eagle solidly got us behind him through the finish. After the match, Evans got into the ring to try to take out Eagle, only to be laid out by Aaron's "Side Effect"-like finisher. I guess this is setting up the TLC match they'll have on April 12th.
- Wally Darkmon & “Dark Messiah/Main Event”Mike Foxx b "The Beast" Franco D'Angelo & Action Jackson with Jiggle-O James Johnson as the referee -- Wally wrestled under Foxx's directions, although reluctantly. The fans absolutely love Franco D'Angelo. He looks pretty bad-ass, too, so I don't blame them. His picture on the website sucks so don't go by that. In a match with a guest referee, they did a ref bump! After JJJ rolled out of the ring, Mike Foxx used his cane to hit Franco. The instant he tossed the cane down, another ref came to the ring to count the three. After the match, Blackmon Canadian Destroyer'ed JJJ because he is emo or something. The fans kept chanting "WALLY! WALLY!" even though he just did a flip-piledriver to the ref, who is one of their favorite wrestlers on top of that. Then Mike Foxx said that Blackmon vs. JJJ will be a Casket match on April 12th, and there will be a Cane on a Pole match between D'Angelo and Foxx before that. Foxx then his Action Jackson with the cane, and AJ had to be helped to the back. He didn't even move for like 2 minutes so it was really strange.
Ref bumps, throwing up the "X", below-average wrestling, and stabbing mechanical chickens? You bet I'm going back when I visit Texas again.