Ring Of Honor Debut (Week of 02/24/02)

The following is a republished diary/commentary from ProWrestlingRadio.com.

The Ring of Honor show is not even 12 hours in the books, and I am still so filled with emotions from it that I had to sit down and just express my thoughts. It was without a doubt one of the most unique and special events that I have ever been a part of in this business. I take nothing away from my CZW experiences, but this was on a totally different level for me.

I was approached about being a part of the Ring of Honor announce team with Steve Corino quite a while ago. I was very excited when I was first approached with the idea. I have a world of respect for Steve Corino’s talents in this business. I think he is very underrated in all aspects of the game. Knowing Steve a little bit, the mix of my style and his really got my juices going. As a young announcer in this business, I look it as a huge opportunity. I think it would be impossible to sit in and announce a show with a guy like Corino for 3 hours and not come away learning something. That is something I try and do every time I get the chance to work, and that is to learn. I think the difference in working with Steve, as compared to John House and Jeffery J. James in the past, is that Steve can take me into the mind of the wrestlers, being a wrestler himself and it will give me a great opportunity to learn more about the psychology of the business. To clear up any confusion, I will absolutely still remain a member of the CZW family and continue to announce for them. The ROH guys have been very respectful of my relationship with CZW, as have CZW with my involvement with the ROH.

I arrived at the building about 4 hours before show time. I really did not know what to expect on a lot of different levels. As far as the talent, I was looking at a locker room in which I only knew about 1/4 of the talent. It kind of reminded me of the first day of high school. As a new student, you know a few kids from your junior high school, but the majority of kids are new to you, as you are to them. So, you never know how things are going to go. Kind of funny story, I stopped at the Burger King on the way to the show to use the bathroom. That being said, the BK hamburgers are the best, but I try not to eat that stuff. I saw a group of guys in the dining area, but I just kind of rushed into the bathroom. I looked at them for a second and I knew that I knew them, but was blanking out. As I was driving away I thought to myself, “Da Hit Squad!” Anyway, I arrived at the building and the first guys that I saw were the SAT and Super Crazy. It was great to see some familiar faces immediately. It made me feel more at home, than as someone new to the scene. I was greeted very warmly by Rob and Doug and we talked for a bit. Rather than hang around the ring and upstairs area, I just kind of retreated to the basement, which was where the locker room area. The announcement of my involvement with the ROH would be a surprise later in the show, so I wanted to keep a very low profile.

The first guys I met in the locker room were the Christopher Street Connection. Really nice guys as well, and what a gimmick? Scoot Andrews was asleep in the locker room, which was funny in that Rob and I reminisced about how we once walked in on Terry Funk sleeping in the old Philly Civic Center locker room in 1989 and how we woke him up. Throughout the rest of the night all of the guys made their way to the locker room. I cannot say a bad word about any one of them. All of them were extremely courteous and humble and just very cool guys. It was as much of a family atmosphere as you can have for a first night show. Immediately everyone just welcomed each other and any egos were checked at the door. This goes for everyone, including Eddie Guerrero who could not have been a nicer and more humble guy. Just a true professional.

I was real excited about meeting Christopher Daniels for the first time. I had him on my radio show twice, and developed a small email relationship with him for a while. We kind of lost touch for a while and he was just a great guy and even remarked about how he hoped his match would not let me down, being that this was the first time I have seen him live. Joe L. Maximo and Chris Divine both looked to have lost some weight and looked real good. Steve got there and we talked quite a bit about our plans for commentary and things like that, and he could not have been more easy to work with.

As the show was about to start, the fact something special was going on, really hit me at that time. I just looked around the room at all of this incredible indie talent in the room, and just felt real honored to be a part of it all. The ROH staff did a tremendous job of kicking everyone out of the locker room who was not a part of the show. So, looking around was like a who’s who of indie talent. It was a very humbling experience for myself to just be a part of this elite group, almost like an exclusive club. The buzz in the locker room was just fantastic. I heard several guys remark that they had to go out there and have a kick ass match, just because of the standard that would be set by everyone else. Again, a very humbling experience for myself as I am sure others.

I watched on the monitor, as did the rest of the crew when their match was finished. Everyone was very supportive, as they would constantly pop during everyone else’s matches. When the guys would return, they would get an ovation from the crew. The show itself was just an all around home run for the Ring of Honor. It was run incredibly smooth and timed just perfectly. There was not a bad match on the show. They definitely are taking a risk with the direction in which they want to go, but the risk looks to be worth the reward. Everyone just had a great match from open to close. Just to take you into the minds of these guys, when Eddie Guerrero walked to the back after his match (which was sensational), the guys all gave him a round of applause. I think it was a little more than just for his match, but for his acceptance of us as a professional and his personal battles. Eddie had a big smile on his face and said that he had no choice but than to go out there and work his ass off after watching the rest of the matches on the show.

That is the kind of attitude he has, and that is the kind of ethic that was brought out last night. That said, I will say I have never been more impressed watching someone for the first time than I was with Chris Daniels. I take nothing away from the rest of the guys, because Ki and Dragon were terrific also. But, Daniels is like a ring general who just takes things to a whole new level. He has a big opportunity tonight as he will, along with Low Ki will be spotlighted on pay per view. I would highly recommend ordering the show for these two a lone.

I was very nervous about the spot that Steve and I were doing. So much was put into Steve’s big announcement, if the fans were disappointed that all his big surprise was is that he was working with me on the commentary, than as soon as I walked out I would be crapped all over. Anyone that knows me, knows I try and avoid being the center of attention or any kind of spotlight. Take notice as to when CZW acknowledges John and I at the beginning of the shows and I play it really low key. I was very honored that Steve put me over as he did and I think that helped enormously. To get an endorsement from that guy, is a big endorsement. Also, the way the fans reacted to him, he is still very much a star and a commodity in this business.

I was humbled, surprised, and very excited at the response I received from the crowd when I came out. Quite a few CZW CZW CZW chants, which is always cool. But you never know, I have read just as many posts on message boards from fans that really enjoy my announcing as ones that hate it. As the only surprise of the night, I was just truly honored at the respect Steve, the fans, and the Ring of Honor staff gave to me last night. I have to be honest, and tell you that lately I have been really down on my own announcing. I get in those funks every once in a while, as I can be a very harsh critic of myself. So, lately I have been feeling kind of off on things. But after last night, I could not have bought a better confidence booster.

I am going to be doing the announcing with Steve in the studio in post production. I am so used to doing it live, that I really just wanted to jump behind a microphone and start calling the matches last night. It will be a little different, but it is without question much for the better in the long run. Steve and I remarked quite a few times how hard it would have been because we would have just been saying, Oh my God!” No pun intended of course.

So, in closing I just want to thank everyone involved, including the fans for making me feel welcome and the experience I had last night. It will go down as one of the highlights of my career for sure. I saw some familiar faces on the way out last night which was really nice as well. I was booked for another company, when I was given the date for the ROH. I hate canceling a booking, but weighing both opportunities, I knew I was making the right decision. It had nothing to do with money, because I gave up more to be there last night. But, I do not think the experience I had can be given a dollar figure of worth.

Ok, moving on to the Olympics, I am super psyched for the hockey game today. I watched the Russian-USA game last Saturday and thought that was the best hockey game I have seen in years. That was until they played again Friday night. If you have not watched the hockey games, you are missing out on some of the greatest games ever played. I think it is obvious that the Europeans have surpassed the Canadians in the game. That being said, I look for a USA victory today.

I always talk about 24 being one of the best new shows out there, but I have to mention Bernie Mac. If you have not watched, you have missed out on some of the most cutting edge humor on television today. I saw the Kings of Comedy and movie and hated it until Bernie Mac came on. If you have never seen it, rent it, fast forward about 75 minutes and just watch him. It is one of the funniest comedy performances I have ever watched. The show is great, and I would highly recommend it. Especially at a time of just terrible television shows. You know what is funny, is how in wrestling they say you need a former wrestler to be a successful booker, but how is it in Hollywood that plenty of writers that have never acted a day in their life can write great television? Maybe that is because the theory in wrestling could be wrong.

What do you we do in CZW about WGTW-48? I have never in my life seen a television station screw up a television show 3 out of 4 weeks. I cannot begin to even tell you the amount of money that is lost each week that this happens. The money put into the production of the television show and the lost promotion on our next show is priceless. It is becoming a really big concern in CZW. What do you do if you are CZW? Threaten to pull your product? We really cannot do that, but I have never seen anything like it. I do not see this happening with any other television show on WGTW.

I am just totally jazzed about our next show already. After last night, I am just dying to hop into the announce booth again. I am chomping at the bit and what a show to return too. Jay Briscoe’s return is going to be a huge deal for us, as he has not competed in a CZW ring in several months. Ruckus still has an open contract. Storm-Berk seems to be only starting as a potential feud that could steal some shows. The BSB-VD have had some of the hardest hitting matches in CZW. Anything and I mean, anything can happen when Lobo and Zandig are in a ring together, signed to wrestle or not. Pain and Rives-H8 Club will be a war. And of course, the return of the Messiah to take on another one of those underrated guys out there named Adam Flash. Get your tickets now, as I talked to CZW’s ticket office last night and they said reservations are going fast. with a more personal side of myself for those interested.

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