Saturday, 2 August 2008

The evolution of World of Sport

This week, in my pursuit to support wrestling in the local area, I went with a couple of friends to see some wrestling in Rhyl.

Before going, I expected the action to be a bit old-fashioned in style, and the audience to be made up entirely of Scouse families on holiday. I also suspected that this show was run by British (and Welsh) wrestling legend, Orig Williams. Sure enough, the first person I saw as I walked into the venue was El Bandito himself.

The first wrestler who came out was apparently Scottish. Drew MacDonald or something as generically Scottish as that. The first thing I noticed about this guy, other than the fact that he was about 50 years old and somewhere near 24 stone, was his incredible sun tan. Something that I wouldn't expect from a Scottish person. It was such a dark tan that when I jokingly said to my friends "I wonder how he got a tan like that in Scotland" that I felt uneasy for a second while I thought he may not have been Caucasian, and that I was being racist.

Straight away, this guy asked the audience "Who here's from England?". When the entire audience cheered, I realised that this show, rather than exploiting or capitalizing on the tourists, was reliant on it. "That would explain the smell" he continued. I'm sure it was coincidental, but Rhyl Town hall's concert room actually stank of piss. Cue massive booing and a huge cheer for the face who then came in.

Orig was sat at a table at the back of the room with a microphone. The idea being that he started chants and put over the more ambiguous moves ("That looked like a finger to the eye to me").

Earlier this week, Eric Bischoff said that commentary is one of the hardest things to do in the wrestling business (source). And if you were there on Thursday, you'd agree that Orig was backing up Bischoff's words. It was embarrassing if I'm honest. But if you're going to become a legend in wrestling, inhibition has to be the first thing out of the window.

The wrestling itself was slow-paced. It was just like watching an episode of World of Sport. The wrestlers themselves had the most generic of gimmicks. One of the biggest faces was a bloke named "Deano". And that's all he had to his character - Deano the crowd favourite. And this was the company's biggest and most over face. I couldn't believe how over he was.

The quality of the overall product was poor, but not from lack of effort. It's just that none of the wrestlers seemed believable to me. It was difficult to suspend my disbelief for long enough to not think that these were all people with day jobs.

But do you know what? That didn't matter one bit. There were about 300 people there that night, the vast majority were children who do have the ability to suspend their disbelief, or are maybe even innocent and naive enough to think that what they're seeing is genuine competition. They cheered when they were meant to, booed when they were meant to, and shouted at the babyfaces to turn around when it looked like the heel was about to sneak up on them. It was such a hot crowd that every spot got the right pop at the right time. This wasn't because the crowd were humouring the performers, it shows that the performers were doing their jobs properly.

And who cares if I didn't like it? I'm going to keep spending my money on wrestling even if I see something that I didn't enjoy as much as a PWG DVD or some other indy fed's show. It's the kids who made up the majority of that crowd who need to be hooked and need to enjoy it. If they don't enjoy watching wrestling now, then they won't enjoy it when they've got their own money to spend on it and the industry dies.

I couldn't care less about Orig's commentary either. It must be weird for kids who are used to watching wrestling on TV to go to a live show and not hear any commentary. I was surprised to not hear commentary when I went to see my first live wrestling show, and this was when I was 18 years old! It was a security blanket of some sort that did what it was supposed to by hyping up the wrestlers in the ring and bridging the gap between what most of the kids were used to (commentary) and a new experience (no commentary).

It wasn't WWE, and it wasn't trying to be. The basics were done correctly - Deano was only so over because the Scottish guy was such a good heel. Stories were told, and a face won the last match to send everyone home happy.

Orig showed why he's held in such high esteem within the British wrestling scene by getting kids hooked on wrestling - mission accomplished.

I have since learned that Drew McDonald is also somewhat of a legend on the UK scene. I'm quite embarrassed by my ignorance.

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rock said...

Want to read something disturbing Leigh? Of course you do. Here.

I don't freak out easy and the Billy Graham stuff really freaked me out.

Leighsus Christ said...

I remember reading that myself a while back.

I was thinking of waiting until August 18th to see what else he sent him before maybe posting about it.

Absolutely crazy!