PW Radio Diary: Week of May 26, 2007

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

It has been a while since I have posted a new commentary or what is commonly referred to these days as “blogs.” I have a lot to cover and a lot of time to make up for, so here goes nothing….

First and foremost I would love to talk about my tenure at PWU. It has been 3 months now since I joined PWU. I really had no idea how much fun I could have again in calling wrestling until PWU came along. This is not meant as a back handed slap at anyone or my former employer, but I really enjoy the atmosphere and spirit in PWU. I think at this point of time in Philly it is the place to be. I think the Maximos are the best heels I have seen in a long time on the indys. For me, they took a huge step at the last event in their match against AMIL. I have known Joe L and Jose since they were rookies back six and a half years ago. I am so proud of them, (and the Briscoes for that matter) at how much they have improved and all of their success. I love the heel presence they bring to the ring with them now in PWU. They had the “good kind of” heat at the last event and the place erupted immediately after they were pinned. They were always great talents in my opinion, but the character has added a whole new dimension to them.

I think that is a big problem overall on the indys. The lack of character development in the wrestlers is completely ignored by most. I look at a guy like Larry Sweeney as something of a throwback wrestler with a great character and great style. Larry may not be the biggest or most athletically gifted wrestler on a show, but everyone leaving the shows that night will remember him. I am still old school and I love a good gimmick and character. I really think it is unfortunate that guys and girls are trained in a lot of different aspects of the business but never as much on character development.

Back to PWU, Teddy Fine is a guy that comes to mind when I think of character development. He has a fantastic character and the crowds love him. As for the rest of the roster it is a great blend of Devon Moore, the Backseats, Pete Hunter (who is going to be an impact player by the end of the year), Luke Hawx (the man!), Zach Maguire, Z Barr, the Angus brothers, TJ Cannon, and Bruce Maxwell. You throw that in with a revolving door of guys that include Homicide, Messiah, the Briscoes, Corporal Robinson, and others and you have a hell of a roster. I am ecstatic about the addition of my former broadcast partner in CZW, Eddie Kingston. I think Eddie is another guy who brings a lot of character with him to the ring. Eddie in my opinion is a breakout star waiting to happen. He has all of the tools and the ability to get the fans to love him or hate him. He is a blend of Steve Austin, Samoa Joe, and Homicide in my opinion and that is a pretty good mix. I think of the potential matches to be made in PWU by the end of the year and it really excites me.

The fans play a really big part in the shows as well. It is great to see someone finally tap into the youthful market of wrestling fans. We have a great mix of young and old which make for a hot crowd. The fans have a great time and they are pleasure to be with. I am truly excited about meeting more of them at the Tailgate Party.

To top it off I think Tod Gordon is the missing ingredient that makes the difference in the end. I was lucky enough to be a part of the ECW locker room and the big difference in ECW as compared to some of the other indys that have gotten hot and tapered off was veteran leadership. I have always pointed to the biggest problem on the indys in my opinion was that you have so many inexperienced guys from the talent in the ring to the promoters themselves running the show that there is nobody there who has been in the trenches and can teach by the lessons of their own mistakes. Tod Gordon is that difference maker in my eyes in PWU. An ironic story and it just goes to show you how sometimes you can travel different roads that eventually intersect together. Back in 1995 I ring announced my first show ever. The show was an ECW show in Staten Island, NY. Tod Gordon was actually involved in my very first spot ever in the business. Tod was wrestling Bill Alfonso that night and they had a spot where Tod hid a cookie sheet under the ring announcers table and on cue, I would hand it to him. The spot went flawlessly and here we are today 11 years later.

I am impressed and humbled at the amount of work Johnny Kashmere puts into the company. I can honestly say that I would not have the patience or time to put into a company the way he does. I have known Johnny for years and its quite humbling seeing the amount of work he puts into PWU. The work is paying off and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Johnny and Tod together really give all of the guys the best chance to succeed without the personal b.s. that I have seen constantly get in the way for nobody’s advantage and in the end personal feelings sometimes become more important than what is best for business. That kind of environment does no good for anyone and PWU in all of my experiences thus far has been all about succeeding.

I watched like a proud big brother as Z Barr wrestled 2 Cold Scorpio last month. I have known Z for over 10 years. As friends and co workers we have been through a lot together. One thing I have always praised is his abilities and I have always told people how talented he was. His biggest obstacle has been the chance at an opportunity. Whether it would be a personal reason or whatever, he never seemed to get that one big chance. I know he went into the match with Scorpio as if this was his Wrestlemania. I don’t care what anyone says, but in my opinion the match was just fantastic. I can only speak for me, but I loved it. It takes balls to go in there and throwdown forearms and kicks with Scorp. I have seen too many guys on the indys or even the big leagues try and throw forearms and kicks that just look weak. To do so against a guy who was one of NOAH’s biggest stars takes balls. The match was tight, it built like an old school wrestling match, and is one of the best matches I have seen for a long, long time on the indys. Not everyone will like it, because there is an acquired taste for the old school, southern build of a wrestling match. To me, it was his coming out moment and how WWE could let Scorp get away is beyond me because he looks awesome.

This will be my first Crazy 8 on June 16. I have heard about the match but I have never seen a full one. I have seen clips and talked to some of the guys about it and the match looks like a ton of fun. This is one of the biggest events of the year in Philly and I am excited to be a part of it. I hope some fans that haven’t really come out and give PWU a chance. The crowds are going up by the month and you can sense the excitement coming to a boil. The energy in the air is something as an announcer calling the show live that I can’t wait to feed off of. In terms of the event itself, I am not comparing it to Best of the Best at all. They are each two different kinds of shows. As disappointed that I won’t be calling a Best of the Best this year, I can’t begin to say how excited I am getting about this show. It’s been a while since John House and I have called a big one and I think we are both real psyched to do so.

I must say I had the craziest road trip recently in regards to doing WEW voiceover and production work. Every 2 months I take a trip up to Peekskill, NY with one of the owners of the company who is also a long time friend. It is usually a simple trip. We meet early, get some breakfast, drive up, I voice over two shows, cut some on-cameras, get a nice dinner, and head home. It is usually down to science. Unfortunately, this past trip would not be the case.

My long time friend, the “Queen of Extreme” Francine would join us this time. Every once in awhile we would be joined by one of the talents like a Tai, Tara Bush, or G.I. who needed to go up and cut some promos as well. Let me say this about Francine.

I think the world of Francine and beyond counting her on a short hand of true friends, and I have always had a world of respect for her as a talent and what she has accomplished. Watch some of her stuff from ECW’s glory years as compared to the girls today and you will see what I mean. As a person, I didn’t know Fran that well when I started ring announcing in ECW. I always was taught to stay quiet, be respectful, and do my job. In that respect, I never went out of my way and still don’t to make friends or hang out with anyone I work with in wrestling. When I started in ECW, every single person on the roster except one guy was cool and helpful. Taz gave me some great advice Shane Douglas gave me some great advice about blocking and the cameras, Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer, etc. Francine though always made me feel welcome and never made me feel as if I was the “new guy” or the “greenie.” Not that anyone else did (except 1), but nobody other than say Tommy was more welcoming than her. Every show that I would show up to for ring announcing she would always tell me how happy she was that I was doing the show and how much fun we would have out there. She was just always so friendly, sweet, and fun and let’s face it, I WAS a greenie and new guy and she never had to be. I never forgot that and we have gone in to become friendly, but that is something that has always stuck with me.

Anyway, I knew there were going to be problems when Fran got lost on the way to meet us from our departure point. I love her, but it just has jinx all over it when you start your day off like that. Things went great once she arrived and we all had a lot of fun on our way to the studio. It is actually a rather easy trip. Slightly over an hour on the turnpike, about 45 mns-hour on the Palisades Parkway, and then over the Bear Mountain Bridge and after a few back roads we are there.

So, we are riding along when it comes to our attention that a “low tire” light comes on. I can kind of feel it starting to drag to one side but I wasn’t sure if it was my mind playing tricks on me. It wasn’t, we had a flat. The SUV could not have broken down in the absolute worst possible place during the trip. We broke down on the Palisades Pkwy. The parkway is in a very mountainous area with a lot of trees and mainly consists of two lanes and no shoulder. We inch our way to an exit ramp which gave us a slight shoulder to park. We figure it’s easy, we will just call our buddy Charlie (where we were going, Charlie of ECW production “fame.”) Well if it wasn’t bad enough we broke down on a road with no shoulder, we broke down in a dead zone. None of our cell phones got cell service. I spot 2 cop cars not that far away. I offer to walk over to them, unfortunately as I open the door the cars pull away. We all laughed and goofed around about it but the bottom line was we are screwed.

So Francine suggests she should get out and flag someone down. As great an idea as it was, I questioned what they could do for us anyway with no cell. So she gets out and of course, she gets someone to stop. Unfortunately it is a couple asking for directions. I come over and ask if we could use their cell phone (maybe it got service). They were kind enough to offer unfortunately they had no service either.

Another guy in a truck stops for Francine of course. I come over and the three of us begin to chat and the man offers to give Fran a ride to the State Police barracks around the corner. He says that the area is a “dead zone” and no cell service will work up until we get to the barracks. Being chivalrous, I offered to go with the guy and suggested Francine stay behind with the driver. I told them both I would go with him, go to the barracks, and come back with a cop who could likely get us a tow truck. They questioned the safety of the move being that the man looked a little like a shorter, fatter Bruiser Brody. I certainly won’t argue I’m the toughest guy in town but I can handle my own, so I tell them I’ll be fine and I go.

Brody dropped me off at the barracks and I met a nice female cop (who despite what Francine says I thought was hot). She drives me back to the car and offers to close a lane while the driver changes the tire. We are making conversation on the way back and I must admit I was attracted to the fact she was blonde, and wearing a gun and handcuffs. So we are talking about her possibly coming to Philadelphia. We get back to the car and the two of them are talking to someone in a truck who looks like Roadkill (the wrestler). I get back to the truck and the first of many debates through the day between Fran and I start as to whether the cop is hot. Unfortunately the mood was spoiled when the driver didn’t have his registration and at that point the cop was not as friendly. So my game goes back to 0.

The experience just gets worse. The cop had someone at the barracks call Charlie (or Charles as they called him) and asked him to come pick us up. The plan was to pick up Francine and I so we could get started on commentary while the driver got his truck situated. The cop also called a tow truck which arrived right away and maybe too soon. The three of us are sitting in the car laughing about this whole thing when all of the sudden the guy starts raising up the SUV and puts it high up on the back bed of his tow truck. We all look at each other like, “WTF!”

We explained to the truck driver we were waiting for a friend to pick us up, so we just sat there on the side of the road. The cop was becoming agitated and told the two truck driver we couldn’t wait any longer and we had to go. The kicker was we had no cell service and couldn’t call Charlie to tell him to abandon picking us up. The other kicker was she knew he was coming, yet made us leave. To think just 20 minutes earlier I had her coming to Philadelphia.

So the driver takes off while we are on the back of his bed, high in the air, and in the SUV. The three of us cannot believe he would let us sit up here considering how dangerous it probably was. Francine was laughing and at the same time threatening to pee her pants out of fear. Those pants probably would have sold huge for her on Ebay! As we are driving I recall that ahead of us is the Bear Mountain. It is more or less a mountain you drive on like a cliff. If you go over, you are going over. I have made the trip on the mountain dozens of times, but never sitting in an SUV, on a tow truck bed.

So we beep the horn before we are about to hit the mountain. We tell the guy our concerns. His response, “Don’t worry I have 40 million dollars of insurance.” I explain to him that it would do me no good if I were dead. He says only 2 of us can go up front. So I tell the two of them, “I don’t know about you guys but there is no way I’m sitting here going over the mountain like this.” We are all laughing and Francine calls me a “pussy,” and I respond, “Call me a pussy all you want, but you’re on your own sister.” I hop out and into the front.

We go over the mountain and I am in the front of the truck. I ask the guy if he has ever lost a vehicle off of his bed. He says that he hasn’t in sixteen years but if they go, they are taking us with them. So I ask if he has ever seen anyone lose one and he responds, “Oh sure.”

We finally make it safe down the mountain and to a garage. We have someone meeting us there to take us back to the studio. Francine again questions my manhood where I respond that I should be applauded risking death by driving with a stranger because I was being chivalrous. So we leave the garage and figure we will come back and pick up the car after production. The kicker to this….the promoter/owner never pays the tow truck driver. We get a call saying, “You stiffed the driver.” In his defense he just figured they would tack it on to his entire bill. But on top of everything like a typical promoter, he tries to get out of paying the bill! Not really, but ironic nonetheless.

Let me just say what an incredible disappointment 24 was this season. By far, the worst season ever. I can’t even begin to explain it. Sure, reality was never strong but this season it was ridiculous. As soon as Morris returned to work an hour after a drill drilled into his arm I knew the season was in trouble. Not to mention Nadia going through torture while being interrogated and yet again, returning to her desk shortly thereafter. Or the President just feet from a bomb who returned to work shortly thereafter. The show completely jumped the shark this season and the only thing it has going for it is that it comes once a year. By the time January comes around I am so hungry for 24 that I always seem to forget how bad the prior season was.

Conversely let me just say how sad it was to see my current favorite show, King of Queens come to an end. I literally watch the show at least once a day if not up to four times. I have all seasons on DVD and it is on television four times a day where I live. How can you not laugh at a man whose top priorities are eating and scamming his wife in that particular order? I can’t think of another show that ended their series with more well written show than King of Queens. I am really going to miss the show, although honestly the newer seasons haven’t been as strong. In the meantime I am really starting to get into Two and a Half Men.

I went back to my roots about a month ago and spent two days doing shoot interviews for RF Video. For those that don’t know, Rob, Doug, and I did a ton of shoots together back in the 90s for several years and really did more with the concept than I think anyone else. To me, it is extremely flattering to see everyone trying to do shoot interviews but I really don’t think anything can touch what we did together. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Barton, Barry Darsow, and Bruno Sammartino. I was pleasantly surprised at Mike Barton. We seemed to get along real well and I had a great time interviewing. It was really cool I thought to get the scoop on MMA from a guy that actually does both. The story behind the scenes involving his Brawl for All tournament win I found fascinating.

Bruno was just a true honor. In the almost nine years of doing my radio show I have been blessed to get to know Bruno on a personal level. He has done my show about 7 times, and we keep in touch between appearances. The brief amount of time I got to spend with Bruno before we even started rolling was just great. We talked a lot about the indys and I was fascinated at what he had to say and how observant he is about today’s wrestling at his age. He is sharp as ever and the shoot was just awesome. It was like one constant high spot. Granted, I had heard about all of those stories either personally or on my show, but it was just a blast hearing him tell them all over again. I think a lot of people who haven’t heard Bruno tell these stories on my show are going to be fascinated at what they hear him say. I hope to do more shoots in person in the future because I really forgot about how much fun they are.

Lastly, I have been bit by the “old school” bug recently. Recently I have been watching old school stuff like crazy. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bunch of old WWF house shows from the 70s and early 80s on DVD. First off, I just watched (actually on the way home on the WEW road trip) Backlund-Muraco last night from the Garden. I have several of their matches on tape but I didn’t recall seeing this one. It was just awesome! The crowd was on fire as it was the third of a trilogy. Backlund worked a headlock for about 15 minutes and just the way he did it even had me totally into the move. Muraco was always one of my favorites and I think really gets the short stick in wrestling history.

Now this all brings me back to Bruno Sammartino for a minute. Bruno’s heyday ended right before I became a fan. Of course his big run was during the time I was an infant and adolescent. Bruno would always tell me on and off of the air about the reactions he would get from the crowd in the Garden. I grew up on the “Hogan chill” when I was a kid or the intensity the Road Warriors would bring to the Philly Civic Center. I watched a match from the Garden with Bruno and Zbysko. I was not so much shocked, as I was in awe of the reaction Bruno got when he came out to the ring and during introductions, etc. The place just went absolutely crazy, more so than any of the Hogan matches I have seen in the Garden. He truly was a legend in his time.

Someone else that has really stuck out to me on these DVDs is Paul Orndorff. I grew up on Orndorff and even vaguely remember his debut on All Star wrestling. Obviously how I watched wrestling back then as compared to now is a lot different. I watched Orndorff from a mechanical standpoint looking at the psychology, the way he moved, placement, etc. The guy is in my opinion one of the top five greatest workers and greatest heels (judging from his heel WWF run) that I have ever seen. Unlike heels today who don’t like to sell, Orndorff sells for his opponent the minute he walks to the ring. Just in the way he moves his body, the way he looks, the way he reacts to fans. No matter who his opponent is, by the end of the match his opponent is over huge with the crowd all thanks to Orndorff. Orndorff, like Randy Savage is constantly working, constantly moving, constantly selling, rarely slowing down, and is just a machine. The guy is just awesome and it is real eye opening watching him from this perspective. I have a whole new level of respect for the man. Sometimes I remember things being a lot better than they were, but in this case I never realized how great of a worker he really was.

Now I could get on a high horse comparing the psychology back then to things today but they are two different animals. One thing I will say though is the way guys worked a match who were booked to have a re-match or keep their feud going is much different than today. Say two guys in a feud were wrestling a match, and the match was going to end inconclusively. The guys usually opened hot, wrestled the majority of the match sometimes including the finish slow and methodical. Once the announcement of the winner/loser was made the guys would start fighting afterwards to set up for next month. The guys would go toe to toe brawling, going nuts, and the crowd was on fire and couldn’t wait to see the two matched up again. If the guys wrestled a match like that, constantly hot, with crazy moves, who would care about seeing them wrestle in a rematch? When the post-match brawl would occur, what would make that any different than the match? A prime example of this was a Steamboat-Muraco match in the Garden. Today, you can see guys wrestle each other all of the time in re-matches on the indys and the majors and nobody cares. Bruno actually talked off camera about this and overall about unlike in his day you could never set up a successful series today because they guys just got all out saving nothing for the next match.

In a bit of self promotion, I would like to invite everyone to come out Saturday June 2 to Reedman-Toll Auto World in Langhorne, PA on Route 1. I will be broadcasting my radio show “Pro Wrestling Radio” live from Reedman-Toll. I will be a part of the day long celebration of WBCB’s 50th Anniversary. I am so proud to be coming up on 9 years at WBCB and I have to think that Pro Wrestling Radio is one of the longest consecutive running true Pro Wrestling RADIO shows. I will have tickets and books and whatever else I can find to giveaway. I will also have an open microphone if anyone wants to get on the air. My live appearances always turn out to be a lot of fun so I hope you can all make it out there between 12-1PM. In addition to my appearance, personalities from WBCB will be in attendance from 9:30-5PM, and there will be free food, giveaways, and prizes. If you can’t make it out live don’t forget to call, as I will still be taking calls throughout the hour.

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