7.27.2008

GEAR!

I have found that without a single exception, that the first way you notice a wrestler is by how he looks, and more specifically what he wears. Think about it. When you see kickpads and shiny pants you think Indy. This post is about the gear that is truly “iconic”.

First off, the patron saint of the iconic gear. As much as I hate to say it it’s Hulk Hogan. To this day mention Hulk Hogan and the first words out of your mouth will be “Red and Yellow.” And to think he managed to completely blow that straight out of the water with the Hollywood Hogan gimmick later.




Next up is the modern version of this. He used to say this about himself, and it's accurate. While Hogan's gear was iconic in that it was one basic color scheme for the entirety of his run, our next subject was famous because he had about 25 different combinations of the same idera and they all looked perfect because they all fit his gimmick. This man.... is "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. I'm not going to even try to explain this. Just watch and enjoy the magic.


Before we go on further there is a honorable mention. This was contributed by Aaron Glazer of Pulse Wrestling, and he did such a good job of selling it that I decided to put it in. Whether it is his current camo-influenced stuff, or the Superman gimmick he has worked with for the vast portion of his career, Chris Hero has remained where he wanted to be: at the forefront of innovation. He does earn my respect.



And finally... the penultimate Japanese guy for this: Mitsuharu Misawa. He has never changed anything about himself from the time of his unmasking as Tiger Mask II in 1990. Some would argue that this is a bad thing, and it more than likely is.But here is not the place to argue that point. Instead it's to argue that he is the best heavyweight of his era. Thank you Misawa.

7.23.2008

An interview with Pulse Wrestling's Aaron Glazer

When I think of people who know a lot about ROH there are very few people I would speak to before the person I am now, Aaron Glazer from Pulse Wrestling. In fact he’s on the blogroll. This is a live real-time conversation done over IM. Enjoy.


Okori: Ok... here's the easy question I would ask of you. If you had to try and explain ROH to someone who had never seen it before, and in fact hadn't seen much wrestling since the heyday of the NWA, what would you try and sell them on?
AARON GLAZER (7:56:35 PM): That's totally fine
AARON GLAZER (7:58:45 PM): The key things to remember about ROH where it comes off so superior to other products and compares favorably with the past is that the matches are significantly longer and the wrestlers are all treated with respect.
AARON GLAZER (8:00:25 PM): While not everyone is trying to steal the show and ROH will give a complete card, everyone is in the ring long enough to tell a real story with an accurate measure of their skill. The feuds are logical and long term, without necessarily a hundred matches each and as they progress the matches get both longer and more brutal, usually culminating as a gimmick match, rather than a number of gimmicks for gimmicks sake, it all ends up happening for a reason.
AARON GLAZER (8:01:27 PM): With a variety of styles to appeal to all fans, your preference will be highlighted by a number of different wrestlers and while there is comedy, there will not be wrestlers looking like jokes or they don't belong. Even top guys go out of their way to make sure everyone and everything stay credible.
AARON GLAZER (8:01:32 PM): There, that'll do =P
Okori (8:01:39 PM): and what I’ve noticed in my watching of ROH, which goes back to the old remastered versions of Road to the Title and A Night of Appreciation, is that everyone on the roster clearly has something they do that is special... something that they are at the very least quite good at doing. It’s a real good thing to see each wrestler looking like they're all talented and getting some offense in.
AARON GLAZER (8:02:40 PM): Exactly. Squashes are extremely rare. Talent will move on but because of how well everyone fits and is treated finding and just as importantly elevating new stars is made far easier.
Okori (8:07:35 PM): and when I was discussing ROH with a couple of friends of mine it became kind of apparent that the RF-video era ROH was markedly different than the Reborn time and the Reborn time was different than the Summer of Punk, and so on. How much credit for that goes to Gabe Sapolsky, the booker of ROH and how much to the much more fluid top card than there are in the other big 2?
AARON GLAZER (8:15:37 PM): Well, Gabe is generally the best if for nothing else due to adaptability and logic. For ROH every show has to be a ppv caliber to sell DVD’s and doing that with WWE or TNA's limited talent allowed to go to the top of the card, the poor treatment of the midcard would cause the shows to fail. Think of it this way, the mainstream promotions are like movies or television shows, wherein the main characters get all the big plots and cool stuff. If they contact someone below, it’s still inexorably about the main characters. ROH runs more like a sport, where each different team might not be on the same skill, but they're always improving or falling back to the pack. The best teams, like the Yankees, would be like Danielson, usually at the top of the card, but sometimes the Rays, say Tyler and Jacobs, gives him a run for his money and comes out on top. That never happens in the mainstream, because the stars are the commodities. That's just how ROH has to run though. The real brilliance of Gabe is in his adaptability
AARON GLAZER (8:17:49 PM): The main storyline of 2006 was the CZW war. That was originally scheduled as a short feud, but due to outstanding fan reaction, it became the biggest and most memorable feud in ROH history. The same can be said of the huge Briscoes vs. Steen and Generico feud of 2007, based on a breakout performance by the latter duo at a major show, and Danielson vs. Morishima which was all based upon Morishima, quite accidentally, breaking Danielson's orbital bone. In 2005, the Summer of Punk is booking on the fly since there's no way to know Punk gets signed and really, who knows how Aries reign ends besides? All huge successes that make ROH what it is, all due to Gabe's adaptability.
Okori (8:19:30 PM): and to piggyback on that point if anyone had told me that a lanky spiky-haired Brit who was the Euro second banana to John Walters would eventually become the ROH World Champion, a classic jerk heel, and before that the sympathetic babyface.
Okori (8:20:50 PM): I think Nigel, in a lot of ways, is one of the biggest Gabe success stories
AARON GLAZER (8:23:32 PM): Its almost hard to pick just one success story to go with, Nigel's certainly as good as any
Okori (8:26:32 PM): and I think we have achieved our limit of questions in this interview before we go to the stars that moved on. I think while people notice Punk and Joe because of their current stations in their respective companies the first real guy from ROH who people were actually happy to see make it was Paul London. Two-part question: Did you chant "Please Don't Die" at any point during London's ROH run, and have you found yourself missing Paul's babyface work now in ROH?
AARON GLAZER (8:29:04 PM): More?
Okori (8:30:02 PM): more now if he was against a guy like Aries, who despite his current face run still resembles an excellent heel
AARON GLAZER (8:31:14 PM): Oh there's a lot more lol 2 seconds.
Okori (8:31:42 PM): sure
AARON GLAZER (8:35:13 PM): Paul is the ex-ROH guy I'd most want back and, sadly I was a poor grad student back then so I wasn't live for "please don't die." Paul is a special worker. He connects with the fans innately through selling and desire. He had nothing fancy making him stand out; he got over and got to WWE based on pure skill and connecting with the crowd. Shame that's going to waste as the Epic Encounter 2/3 falls match with Danielson is my second favorite ever ROH match. I would kill to see him against current heel Nigel, as well as a long match with Aries and rematch with Danielson. Hero and Strong also strike me as guys who had look amazing against London’s awesome selling.
Okori (8:36:57 PM): you know what? I agree with you. I think I find myself having trouble figuring out who would give London an actively BAD match. And, and this might just be me, but I think that is Danielson's best ROH match pre his return from England
Okori (8:41:05 PM): and that includes my personal favorite ROH match which is Testing The Limit which is Danielson v. Aries
AARON GLAZER (8:41:15 PM): Agreed there, though I enjoy it more than even Unified by a hair. More than anything but that first KENTA match, my favorite in company history.
AARON GLAZER (8:42:15 PM): It took me awhile to really get "Testing the Limit" but its a special match that, sadly, due to its extreme length, is really only for the hardcore
Okori (8:42:57 PM): and strangely enough Testing the Limit is an excellent concept although no one else could do it but Danielson and Aries I think
AARON GLAZER (8:44:24 PM): London could likely and Punk has done similar stuff with Hero (though not as good), but that might be it.
Okori (8:45:13 PM): although for what it is worth Punk v. Hero is an entirely different baby because it's so slow.
AARON GLAZER (8:47:12 PM): Right. That's Hero for you, though. Oh, I really want to plug Danielson vs. Hero from WxW's 16-Carat Gold Tourney this year. The heat is off the charts and Danielson is an amazing heel, while Hero is the conquering face. I can't believe how well it comes together and it’d be MOTY if enough people saw it.
Okori (8:47:38 PM): I own that DVD. A Quack-Saint match on there is epic.
Okori (8:48:31 PM): I actually interviewed him and while it wasn't as good as this one is turning out to be he seemed really enthused about the idea of British wrestling.
Okori (8:50:05 PM): which, funnily, brings us to your favorite wrestler and mine: Bryan Danielson. While you and I both dealt with Glen "I badmouth Puro even though I worked for Toryumon X with Magnum Tokyo and Latin Lover" Gilbertti's idiotic statement that Bryan couldn't wrestle I wonder if you share my opinion that Bryan's run in England made him the really good wrestler he is now
AARON GLAZER (8:50:31 PM): I'm really starting to get into it myself. Someone needs to explain why Quack can't be used as a special attraction in ROH. He changes the dynamics of everything wonderfully.
Okori (8:51:19 PM): I never got an answer from him on it, but I guess he's too busy
Okori (8:52:08 PM): although I agree.... In addition, I’d even like to see him defend his NWA JR. Heavyweight Title against like Aries or Tyler Black
AARON GLAZER (8:55:28 PM): Quack would be great against literally every single person in ROH. And Bryan was going to be good no matter what, he had the desire. It was learning the ins and outs in England that made it happen so quickly and had him a competitor for the best.
Okori (8:56:03 PM): I agree. and you and I both agree: Glen Gilbertti could be considered a moron
AARON GLAZER (8:59:03 PM): Hah, actually, he just wanted attention.
AARON GLAZER (8:59:15 PM): I don't think he meant or cared about a word of it.
Okori (9:01:46 PM): and here's my last question for you, because as someone who lives AND works near a target (Atlantic Center for work, and the new one in the Junction for living) that it can be a transfixing place.
how long do you think it will be before we see more of a Lucha influence in ROH? and if so.... can we beseech Gabe for Cibernetico v. Nigel for the title
AARON GLAZER (9:05:00 PM): Brb
Okori (9:05:06 PM): k
AARON GLAZER (9:20:55 PM): I doubt lucha will influence ROH since he's said it doesn't interest him. Quack was the best hope for lucha influence and that didn't happen. Big Andy Mac sees Claudio taking the belt and getting the face run that was desired for Nigel. Personally, I hope Tyler takes it at the Hammerstein.
Okori (9:21:55 PM): personally.... I agree with you. I think Tyler is going to take it in NYC
Okori (9:25:29 PM): and thank you again for giving me this interview
AARON GLAZER (9:27:05 PM): If you have any more questions I'd be more than happy to answer them tomorrow. This was fun, thank you.
Okori (9:27:27 PM): you're welcome.

7.22.2008

*le sigh* doing this again....

Honestly, Glenn, you make this too easy.

http://www.wrestlezone.com//column.php?articleid=218587680

For the sake of expediency, I’m going to copy and paste everything he said about the “Best Wrestler in the World” Bryan Danielson. And my responses will be bolded. Helps differentiating the idiocy.

I read a few weeks ago on one of the sites that the "best wrestler in the business" had a dark match with the wwe. So I you tubed this guy and checked him out. No offense to him, but I didn't think he was the "best wrestler in the business" from what I saw. He was decent for the style that he worked, but unfortunately, that style caters to a very small niche audience. Here’s a few of the problems.

Whee. This should be entertaining.

Most people watch professional wrestling because it's professional wrestling. I would profess that there is zero chance that you're going to draw from the mma crowd by doing fake mma. I think most mma fans would be more entertained by the disco inferno vs. the honkytonk man, because at least they know they're watching a pro wrestling match and not some hybrid ridiculous let's do the mma moves and pretend that the moves hurt and insult my intelligence style. Wrestling fans pop more for Mr. socko and the people's elbow than they would for a fake guillotine choke hold.
Ok. First off, if someone was drunk enough to put the Disco Inferno and Honky Tonk Man in front of a MMA crowd then they would deserve whatever kind of foolishness would erupt. And if you think that he’s doing fake MMA fine. That’s your opinion, no matter how utterly misguided it might be. However, he’s not trying to draw from the MMA crowd. He’s playing to his own audience, rabid fans of what happens IN THE RING. And I am not even going to respond to your theory on what wrestling fans pop for. Must explain that epic 1.0 rating you’ve been meaning for the past 4 months.

The guy needs a gimmick. I’m sorry, but you can't sell a plain joe to fans that want sports entertainment.

So the concept of a smug jerk of a guy firmly believing that he happens to be the very best wrestler in the entire world who fights everyone in front of him, and occasionally bends the rules to prove his own superiority, is not a good enough gimmick for you? Or, later in his current run, as the top guy in the company who can make a tag team specialist into a star just by coming close to beating him? That a guy in need of a gimmick? Oh that’s right. I forgot. You work for TNA. Jay Lethal’s Macho-Man impersonation there must be drawing TONS of money. And all the WWE guys that instantly get pushed. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, Beer Money is pretty cool as a cut-rate Southern Heel tag team.) Subtlety is to you as profit is to TNA. You don’t know what it looks like because you’ve never seen it.


Also, for as good as everyone says this guy is, tna has at least ten guys better. everybody puts over these roh matches like they're the greatest thing ever, but if you put aj and Christian cage against the motor city machine guns for 25 minutes, and told them that you needed at least four stars, I’d bet my life that it would be better than anything roh has ever put out. Once guys like aj and the mcmg's got out of roh, look how much better they got. There’s something to say about the art of selling, which isn't really being taught to the up 'n comers. It makes matches so much more dramatic. It’s what causes the fans to suspend the disbelief to a higher level, because now they become emotionally involved subconsciously when a wrestler can convey suffering and despair to them. I really should open a school someday and teach people how to work. I actually managed to make a pretty good name for myself by dancing around like some schmuck pretending to be john Travolta for the past fifteen years. I think I know what I’m doing.

So hmmm… who could the “everyone” you’re referring to be? Are they the… gasp…. Internet smart marks? You know, the guys who have blogs about wrestling and sleep in their mother’s basements? Or is it the ever-common you tube shooters? Are they the ones who wax rhapsodic about Bryan Danielson? Hmmm… No. Everyone includes William Regal (who gave the guy his ring boots as a show of respect for how good he thought he was), Shawn Michaels (who trained Danielson), Jim Ross (who said that “I watched ROH’s Bryan Danielson wrestle in Oakland and I told any one who would listen that the young man is a keeper. Great work ethic, unique skills, lots of character, and he wrestles like he is a "star" which is not something all wrestlers can do.), and finally the WWE who offered him a developmental deal.

And on the subject of TNA having at least 10 guys better… go ahead and try. Just go ahead and try. Name them all Glen. I’ll give you a week. But before you do that go and ask Samoa Joe how good he thinks Bryan Danielson is, and Homicide, and AJ Styles, and Alex Shelley.

And AJ being better in TNA than he was in ROH? Hmm….. AJ is equal now in both places. And the MCMG’s had a tag match against the Briscoes in ROH that blows away anything that TNA did back to the AMW-XXX tag match.

Finally…. If you open up a school…. Anyone who trains there should be required to immediately be retrained by Mike Quackenbush at Chikara. That guy knows what he’s doing
.

7.18.2008

The Challenge to Ron Glover and Michael Tillery

Considering your humble scribe recently got roasted over at www.thestartingfive.net in an argument over who was the best player of the early 2000’s I think it only fair that I am going to return the favor here and this one is a much more light hearted thing.

I beseech these men, if they think they have the stones to try, to seek out 3 matches from the following 3 stars each: Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Mitsuharu Misawa, and Johnny Saint. And perhaps even to report on what you saw, and learned, at your own monolithic blog. If nothing else this will be the chance to show you can have fun.

7.10.2008

This one is to help you understand who Misawa is...



this post is for someone who recently favorited this site. Misawa is special, and the video above will show you why. if you can't see it fire me off a comment or an e-mail and let me know.

7.07.2008

Unappreciated: Why Jumbo Tsuruta is the most unknown star of his era.

(Author’s Note: I have deliberately left out certain facts about the legend of Tsuruta. This is more of a worshipful piece to a guy I think gets ignored than a nuts-and-bolts encyclopedia-type article. If that is what you are interested in I recommend these 2 articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumbo_Tsuruta and http://slam.canoe.ca/SlamWrestlingEditorial/may18_molinaro.html .)
As a general rule you can ask most slightly dedicated wrestling fans what they would know about wrestling in Japan. And most answers would be, in no particular order,: Jushin Liger, Great Muta, Antonio Inoki, Tiger Mask. Now what do all of those names have in common? They all competed for New Japan Pro Wrestling, known in the United States for its long-time talent sharing agreement with WCW and the WWF before that.
But, for hardcore fans of the art form known as Puroresu, there is another promotion. One with just as much history, just as tightly woven a partnership with a major American promotion, and just as many epic stars. This promotion is All Japan Pro Wrestling. And for most fans their salad days, if you can even remember the difference between All Japan and New Japan, is the era of the 1990’s where Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue, and Toshiaki Kawada seemed intent on putting on one epic match after another and eventually earned themselves the moniker of the “4 Corners of Heaven”. But who was the guy who made it possible for those stars to become stars? Easy. The most under appreciated puroresu star of his era. Jumbo Tsuruta.
All Japan is different in that most of, if not all, of its main stars stayed home for the entirety of their runs at the top of the promotion. Kobashi’s sole trips to the United States took place after he left All Japan, as did Misawa’s while Taue and Kawada never left. Meanwhile, during the same time period, their promotional rival New Japan Pro Wrestling sent Jushin Liger over to WCW to blow the mind of the gaijin fans with an exceptional series of matches against the American Brian Pillman, and the Great Muta over to do the same thing with the all-American superhero Sting. Even recently, in the past couple of years, New Japan gave American fans Liger one more time by allowing him to be booked in Ring of Honor for a 2-match series.
But, while All Japan was strictly isolationist in its approach, Tsuruta was different. He actually flowered as a wrestler in the United States, having been sent to train in Texas with the legendary Funk Brothers and given the name Tommy Tsuruta. In fact, shortly after his training began, he was thought to be so good that he was put in a 2-out-of-3 falls match with the reigning champion Dory Funk Jr., and even managed to win a fall. After his apprenticeship in the states was done All Japan came calling, and he quickly returned home where he became a tag team champion with the promotion’s top star Shohei Baba. Eventually though Jumbo became the top man in All Japan, and held that title pretty much without interference or contest until 1990.
Because at that point someone new came along, someone the brass believed would be the promotion’s next top guy but needed just that little push. His name was Mitsuharu Misawa, and up until a little while before this point, he had been the second generation of Tiger Mask who was originally portrayed by the freakishly innovative Satoru Sayama.
But, as all fans would soon discover, he was more, much more, than just the next in the Tiger Mask line. And on June 9 1990 that dawning of what Misawa really was became evident. But, as things went on, we learned that while Tsuruta’s time at the top was ending he still had enough left in himself to put on one last epic. And he did just that. Putting on a performance that was so magnificent, so brave, that it left fans in the audience crying Tsuruta went down on his sword, and after that left.
In closing Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, and Taue would not have become what you know them to be without Tsuruta. But hopefully, and with a little love, care, and attention, you have learned a little more about Jumbo than you did before you read this.