Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla

Jake "the Snake" Roberts' last entrance
by Chad Smart

At the end of my previous posting about Wrestle Reunion, I mentioned I needed to rest up in preparation of the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show. I never would have imagined how accurate the statement would turn out to be in hindsight. I’ve been debating how to do this write up. Was going to do a straight forward recap of the show, but if you’re reading this you can go on any wrestling news site or PWG’s own website and find results.  Instead I’m going to give general observations.

The tickets said show time was 8pm.  I read during the afternoon the show was starting at 8:15. My friends and I arrived at 7:45 to find a line stretched from the entrance to the ballroom where the show was being held out to the front of the hotel wrapped around the lobby and halfway back to the ballroom.  Thankfully for us we had reserved seats in the third row and they were letting all non-general admission tickets holders inside.  After a quick scan of the merchandise table revealed El Generico didn’t have any more of his orphanage t-shirts, we found our seats and got settled in for a night of wrestling.

As 8:15 drew closer and closer, we noticed fans were still filing into the ballroom. At 8:30 with music still playing and the light still up, fans continued to enter the ballroom looking for a place to sit or stand. I think it was around 8:55 when PWG’s General Manager (not sure exactly what his title is) Excalibur came to the ring to give his welcoming speech.

Last year’s show was entitled PWG: Kurt Russell-mania. This year’s was PWG: Kurt RussellReunion 2: The Reunioning. I had wondered why the name change for the show. Excalibur said they were going to call it PWG: The Cease and Desist Order. Guess someone at WWE isn’t a fan of spoofs.   At a little after nine o’clock we were getting the first match.

The ManScout
Kicking off the show was an 8-person tag match. One of the wrestlers, Christina Von Eerie couldn’t make the show so she was replaced with the surprise addition of former TNA Knockout, ODB.  One of the other wrestlers was “The Manscout” Jake Manning. This was my friend Adam’s first live wrestling experience. As soon as he saw the Manscout, he knew he was in for something unique. This was a good opening match that the crowd was completely into. Unfortunately, it would be at least an hour until I would be invested in another match.

The second match saw Rey Bucanero against Mr. Agulla. I don’t know if these guys wrestle for AAA or CMLL in Mexico and after watching the match, I’m not interested in finding out. The only things I remember about his match were lots of dives over the ropes and the crowd chanting “lucha libre” the whole time.

Shane Helms
Following the match was a match I thought looked good on paper, Joey Ryan vs. Shane Helms.  I haven’t been to a PWG since Kurt Russell-mania, so I’ve missed the reasoning for the crowd turning on Joey Ryan. Shane Helms has angered the Internet wrestling community with recent twitter comments regarding Shawn Michaels. The fans gave this match no chance. From the moment Helms entered the ring he was greeted with various four-letter epithets.  While Joey and Shane tried to put on a technical wrestling match, the crowd didn’t want to see it and started chanting “Boring.”  Joey Ryan got on the microphone and ripped the crowd apart saying he was putting on a technical clinic and if the crowd didn’t have ADD they would appreciate it. Needless to say, the fans just wanted the match to end. After the match the fans showed their displeasure with Helms by chanting, “don’t come back.” Helms said he respects their right to say what they want, and at the end of the day he’s made millions and the fans haven’t made &%##.

Davey Richards vs. Lo-Ki
After that match almost anything would be a welcomed sight I say almost because the next match was Davey Richards vs. Lo-Ki who was making his return to PWG after competing in WWE as Kaval. I’m in the minority, but Davey Richards is one of a handful of wrestler who if I never saw him wrestle another match I wouldn’t be disappointed. I used this match as a chance to hit the bathroom before intermission. What I saw of the last 10 minutes or so was standard Davey Richards match formula of kicking out of finishing move after finishing move.  Next.

Sinn vs. Snake
The last match before intermission was the retirement match of Jake “the Snake” Roberts. First out was his opponent Sinn “Kizarny” Bohdi. For some reason Kizarny thought it would be a good idea to strap fireworks to a board on his chest and shoot them off on his way to the ring. Since we were sitting in the third row along the entranceway, we were fortunate enough to be hit with a couple of the fireworks. Before the match got started, the fans greeted Jake with a, “Thank you Jake” chant that made Jake get a little teary eyed. Not to speak negatively, but this was a Jake Roberts match in 2011, there wasn’t a lot to it. Thankfully it was kept short with Jake picking up a victory after a short arm clothesline and DDT.  The crowd got what they wanted to see. What more could you ask for.

After intermission was the Legends Royal Rumble. This could have been the only match on the show and the fans would have gotten their money worth. The wrestling wasn’t exactly five stars, but the atmosphere was off the charts.  Before the match, “Mean” Gene Okerlund introduced Paul Orndorff, Harley Race, Mr. Saito (who ran the ropes and got a “you still got it” chant), and Iron Sheik to the crowd. They stayed around ringside during the match.  The match was contested under Royal Rumble rules with a new man entering the match every 30 seconds. The list of participants were “Dangerous” Danny Davis, Mike Graham, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, Tito Santana, Barry O, Barbarian, Rock Riddle, Shane Douglas, Warlord, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Shane Helms, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Cruel Connection, Mando Guerrero, Terry Funk, Savio Vega, Vampiro and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

Piper wins the Legends Battle Royal
As I said, some of the wrestling wasn’t the greatest. But for anyone who grew up watching the majority of the wrestlers, the quality of the wrestling didn’t matter. Just seeing Bob Orton still sporting the arm cast made me a kid again.  The final two were Terry Funk and Roddy Piper. Funk asked for the microphone and told Piper he wanted to say a prayer. A prayer for all the wrestlers in heaven. A prayer for the fans to have a safe ride home. He asked Piper to bow his head. When Piper bowed his head, Funk started praying and finished with, “and God, please, please, … let me WIN” and hit Piper with the microphone. They brawled out of the ring and into the crowd before getting back into the ring where Piper eventually threw Funk over the top rope to win the match.  Piper looked to be in the best shape he’s been in in the last five years. It was now around 11:30 and we still had three matches left.
How do you follow up the previous match? Chris Hero and Kevin Steen had the taunting task of trying to get a spent crowd invested into their match.  While it took awhile, by the end the crowd was solidly into the match.  Near the end, Steen kicked Hero in the face and I’m pretty sure a tooth went flying into the crowd.

Chris Hero vs. Kevin Steen
The second to last match was a 4-way tag team match to name the first team entered into PWG’s annual tag team tournament. The Cutler Brothers vs. RockNES Monsters vs. Fighting Taylor Boys vs. Young Bucks. The match started off like a house of fire with nonstop action. The match was standard highflying tag team action with the RockNES Monsters picking up the victory. After the match Kevin Steen ran in and killed the Monsters. He gave Johnny Goodtime a package piledriver and then gave Johnny Yuma a vicious stuffed suplex through the ropes. I can’t even explain how sick it was. Steen then announced himself as the second entrant into the tag tournament.

El Generico vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Finally at probably a little after 12:30 it was time for the main event title match, Claudio Castagnoli defending against El Generico. While this was a decent main event, I was tired and was getting annoyed by the fans. I’ll get to that in a minute.  Claudio retained the title by making Generico tap to a leg lock. After the match Joey Ryan ran in and attacked Claudio before Chris Hero made the save. Joey and Claudio went back and forth verbally before a few minutes before Joey finally left. Claudio thanked everyone for coming out and that was it.

Overall, even though the first half of the show wasn’t the greatest, the second half more than made up for it. This show reminded me why I enjoy wrestling. There was no overanalyzing why certain guys won and other lost. I simply sat back and enjoyed the action in the ring. If only I could do that with WWE and TNA shows.

Now, with the recap of the show out of the way, let me get on my soapbox and express one of my biggest complaints. There’s a reason I haven’t been to a PWG in a year. PWG normally runs the Legion Hall in Reseda. It’s a small venue and the last time I was there I had to sit on the pool table because there were no seats available. I’ve read they’ve had to turn away fans at some shows. This is good for PWG. But for me personally, I don’t like to be that cramped at a show.

The other reason I haven’t attended a show is because of the fans. During the show last night, the guys sitting at the end of our row constantly got up and left our area about every 10 minutes.  This wouldn’t have been too bad if they didn’t have to walk in front of me each time.  At the start of the main event,
after they returned from another trip out of the ballroom, I heard one of them remark he was on his 12th beer.  Don’t want to be judgmental or prudish, but if you need 12 beers in a 4-hour span to enjoy a show, maybe you should find something else that entertains you easier. If you read the PWG message board, fans are constantly posting about how much they’re going to drink and other ways to alter their mind during the show. I don’t understand the reasoning.

In addition to the needless drinking, during the main event, I got tired of the fans yelling.  Now, I’m all for yelling, or chanting or whatever you want to do during the show. I know I’ve probably annoyed several fans with my random cheers during shows. What I don’t condone or really appreciate is the constant use of profanity. During the main event there was one guy sitting behind me and one of the mega-drinkers to my right who constantly yelled, “Eff you Claudio” and “Claudio you Effing suck.”  Once or twice, I wouldn’t have had a major issue with. Consistently for 20 minutes and it gets old. Plus, sitting in the row in front of me were four kids all under the age of 10.  When did constant profanity become acceptable in public?  Again, I’m support the fans right to yell whatever they want, but it would be nice if there was some common decency.

Okay, PWG reignited my passion for wrestling. Now, will WWE keep it burning with the Royal Rumble?  

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