Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Old Timer Wrestling Conventions

Robert Gibson (wrestler)
Old School- Robert Gibson (1/2 of The Rock 'N Roll Express) signing autographs

In the sporting world nostalgia is big business. It should be as heroes are part of some of the best times in our lives. And in their heyday it is difficult to get around these heroes. But as times goes by and new superstars emerge, yesterday's heroes become more accessible. Many supplement their income by doing autograph shows. It seems to be big business.

For professional wrestlers there are different old-time gatherings that they attend and make themselves available to their fans. It is good to see them at the shows. Unfortunately, these conventions are few and far in between. Having a trade show with memorabilia, pictures, and booths is not that frequent. If one can find them, they should attend. Some old-time wrestlers have websites and lists when they will attend a show. I like to see a tradeshow with Baron Von Rashke, one of my favorite old-time wrestlers. On his site he does have pictures of him at various trade shows.

I haven't been to one of the much smaller fan conventions, and don't know if they really exist. I'm talking about this scene in The Wrestler where Mickey Rourke goes to some event with other wrestlers seated at card tables and they are selling their autographs, trinkets, and videos. Sadly, in the movie there was no one at the show. But that sad scene was an element to make the movie sad. I do hope old-timers do better than that movie scene showed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hulk Hogan On TNA

Add this post to the many reviews of Hulk Hogan's time on TNA. Really, it comes in two parts as this review is late enough to also include the first weeks following the introduction of Hogan to Impact.

The January 4 introduction of Hulk Hogan to see TNA Impact was awesome. The only weakness I saw was Hogan mentioning he was backstage with the talent all-day long, when the show spent a great deal of time and money ostensibly showing Hogan coming to the arena in a stretch limo and an accompanying motorcade. The motorcade was complete with police escort. Other than that it did a good job of introducing new additions to the roster without giving too much away. It was more of a tease of what is to come. Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, The Nasty Boys, Scott Hall, and Sean Waldman were all introduced during the show.

It was also a good strategy to schedule this against WWE Raw on Monday nights. This gave Impact its highest ratings ever. Can't really say it was because of the Monday night maneuver, but it did help make a statement and build buzz.

The subsequent weeks started to show the storylines. Unfortunately, the Nasty Boys are back. They didn’t get over when they were in their prime and these WCW refugees suppose to add to TNA? The same with the NWO line-up with Scott Hall and Waldman reforming with Kevin Nash as The Band. There is hope that Hogan is going to split from them. Hall doesn't look like he could make it three minutes in a ring. Waldman probably will flake out in a few weeks. There is a reason Kevin Nash has been able to keep a career going in pro wrestling. Then there is Bischoff. What does he add? Out of all the WCW retreads, Bischoff is the one that needs to go.

So, after the initial hype it looks like the WCW reunion will probably end with a WCW crash.

Be sure and check out the bbusiness show The Sharktank.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Professional Wrestling And Flying

When one begins to look at professional wrestling as a business or a sub-culture, there are a number of interesting themes that arise. One I see is aviation as it affects wrestlers. Seems many professional wrestling stories revolve around the aviation industry. Commercial aircraft and private aircraft come into play. This is not to say that wrestler are flying about in private Gulfstreams. The only one who could afford to own a private jet is McMahon. I doubt even Hogan at his peak could afford a private jet, but that doesn't stop the stories.

One private aircraft story that comes to mind is Ric Flair being involved in a plane crash. It left him with a broken back but he did recover, obviously. But that same crash did leave Johnny Valentine paralyzed. The reason the wrestlers were flying was to save time and money, as they went in together for the flight.

On commercial aircraft wrestlers currently fly. WWE superstars are given vouchers to fly from venue to venue, and only the top stars like Bautista can get first class tickets. He actually has that stipulation in his contract. This is a change from the old days when wrestlers would travel via automobiles together. This made for some awkward moments when supposed enemies in feuds would be caught together. One of the most famous was Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik getting busted for drugs while traveling together.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old School Indian Wrestlers

Chief Wahoo McDaniels

Since the age of televised wrestling Native Americans have been characters, except for most recent years. I didn’t know how far back as my reference only goes so far as Chief Wahoo McDaniels, Well, the other day I was looking up the actor who played Luca Brasi in the Godfather and found his name was Lenny Montana. He did have some ties with the mob, Wikipedia called him an "associate" of the Colombo family. But he had spent years as a professional wrestler and had feuded with Chief Little Eagle. Reading on Chief Little Eagle led me to Chief Big Heart, and Chief Big Heart led me to Suni War Cloud. This is a whole tradition of Native wrestlers I had never heard of. And the people they feuded with include Grizzly Smith, Dick the Bruiser, Waldo Von Erich, Gorilla Monsoon, Bob Orton Sr. and my favorite Skandor Akbar. Suni War Cloud even got to act in the Jim Thorpe movie about the famed Sac and Fox athlete.

It must have been fun to watch American Indian wrestlers back then. The only downside is they all wore war bonnets. But with a nostalgic look, even that is appealing of a simpler time. I can imagine a promoter telling a Native athlete trying to get into professional wrestling if he was going to play the Indian angle he would have to wear a war bonnet. Then the athlete wondering where the heck he can get a war bonnet. Native American businesses do not sell many war bonnets. They are not a big seller.

Chief Jay Strongbow

In my day there was Wahoo McDaniel and Chief Jay Strongbow. I didn’t get to see Strongbow much growing up, as he was in the Northeastern promotions and I was in the Midwest/South. Then there was Tatanka. Never felt the kinship there as he was Lumbee. Wahoo was Chickasaw and Choctaw and played for the Oklahoma Sooners.

So, I wonder to this day what it would be like if old timers could wrestle in today's Native arenas. There are the big venues like the Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods but there are also a lot of smaller arenas. Places where there is ESPN boxing matches. The Citizen Potawatomi have a large venue that could have smaller pro wrestling matches. Most of the California casino tribes have forums for big events. I am just saying it would be neat to see Native wrestlers performing in Native arenas.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Old Is Cool With The AWA Reruns

It has been enjoyable to watch AWA wrestling on ESPN classics. It's fun to see a lot of young rookies back in the day, having seen a very young Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, and Mick Foley. If it is also good to see the old style of wrestling with old timers like Chief Wahoo McDaniels and Baron Von Rashcke. It does my heart a lot of good.

This period of an AWA wrestling is set in the late nineteen eighties. Just after Wrestlemania III is Verne Gagne's response to the rise of the WWF. It is interesting to see wrestlers who are iconic on the WWF and then wrestle for the AWA. An enjoyable recent rerun was Sergeant Slaughter who attacked by the Iron Sheik, and then to Slaughter's rescue came Guerrero Brothers- Hector, Mondo, and Chavo Sr. Which again shows the generational change since this period of wrestling.

For me personally, I stay up late to catch AWA just for a promo or match with the Baron. They just don't make them like him anymore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Khali Vs. Kane = Good

I have been enjoying this feud been The Great Khali and Kane. It was a bit odd how Kane started it, but it looks like The Great Khali is ready to finish it.

This is a very good fued for Khali as he needs something after his turn to face with his comedic bit of kissing. That was fun and a unique way to turn someone to being a face. Now, we get to see him back in action, I do hope he has worked some on his wrestling moves though. I think it would be good for big men like him to study with old school wrestlers about holds and other tools they use to use back in the day. Face it, Khali will not be in a ladders match any time soon. But if he had a bag of holds he could pull from, then part of the match could be him doing his holds with would be devastating because of his strength. Then the other parts could be his opponents using acrobatics to chop him down.

Of course, this would necessitate him wrestling more MVP's or Shelton Benjamin's, rather than Kane's. But a speed versus strength match is has more opportunities than a strength versus strength match.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TNA Suffocating Homegrown Talent

TNA has run into a long standing problem with crowds. It is easy to draw a crowd, but the way you draw a crowd is the way you are going to keep it. That is why one can buy a crowd, but a bought crowd has to keep being paid. In the case of TNA wrestling, the crowd was bought with the Main Event Mafia. Now, it has a problem because it has to try and grow its "organic" talent- A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, etc. They are cheaper and being younger have the longevity to grow TNA. Main Event Mafia you get what they bring, where they are is the most you will get out of them.

It is unfortunate that it takes time to grow talent, and in the mean time the bills continue. And an investment in ready-made talent does have a short-term payoff. But what has happened is that Matt Morgan, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe are stale with little prospect of any immediate creativity. And with the Main Event Mafia, Sting, Jeff Jarrett, and Mick Foley, TNA singles action is in a stalemate with itself. Only TNA tag-team has any life to it.

A company cannot buy their way into growing, ask the WCW.