“Hooray for Amellywood”
As a life time Pro Wrestling Fan and Comic Book Geek extraordinaire, something very special happened last night in the Barclay Center in front of a large attendance crowd and myself watching at home on the WWE Network (For the low price of just $9.99) WWE hosted their annual summer spectacular: Summer Slam, which is second to only Wrestlemania in terms of yearly importance. Picture if the NFL had two Super Bowls a year and you get the idea. Just like Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon and Co. always try to pad the card with as much action and grandeur as possible. Usually that means bringing in a current celebrity to add some intrigue to an under promoted match to boost interest. Now this does not always go well and I can list a few: Pete Rose, Mickey Rourke, Seth Green, Donald Trump and last night, Jon Stewart. (Although if Trump had hit John Cena with Stewart’s chair it probably would have boosted his poll numbers.)
The point is, that all too often these “Celebrity Showcases” tend to fail expectations. Well that ended last night. I’ve often said that watching the WWE is like watching real life Superheroes battle it out for supremacy in a 14 x 20 ring. So many parallels can be made: the iconic music, flashy costumes, crazy storylines and more often than not, high-flying. True it is not a real sport and should never be considered as such, it is coined as “Sports Entertainment”. It is however born from Greco Roman wrestling which is very real and it pays homage to that amazing art, albeit through acting and pageantry on a grand scale.
With that said, Steven Amell (better known as Oliver Queen/ Green Arrow from the CW Network’s hit show Arrow) gets this. He has a major key component that most “guests” don’t. He is a lifelong fan. He knows the business (terminology, kayfabe, physical demands, etc.) but most import he has respect for the heritage. I have followed Amell since he’s come on the scene with Arrow and watched many interviews with him. He has always said he is a life long fan of the WWE, and coming from Canada that’s no surprise. Like Hockey, so many of the greats have come from the Great White North. (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Edge, Trish Stratus, I could go on but the column would never end) \
When it was rumored that Steven Amell wanted to have a match after he appeared at Monday Night Raw earlier in the year, I was a little worried. My trepidation decreased when I knew whom he would be feuding/ working with: Cody Rhodes aka Stardust. Rhodes is a self proclaimed comic geek as well and this was a breath of fresh air. This had to be done well. They couldn’t take it too seriously and most important of all, it had to be fun. Rhodes current character Stardust is a spin off of his older brother Dustin’s iconic Goldust character from years past.
Where Goldust was more focused using bizarre and psuedo-erotic behavior to disarm his opponents, Stardust is just bizarre on a cosmic scale. For every hero you need an intriguing villain. For that villain to be effective they need to believe they are the hero. Stardust was the perfect foil for Amell’s Arrow persona for this very reason. The feud was predicated on the fact that Stardust couldn’t distinguish Amell’s role onscreen as Oliver Queen to him being a real life fan of WWE. Simple, plausible but Cody Rhodes went above and beyond for the big sell on this. Let’s just say it paid off swimmingly. The build up for this was slow and steady, with Amell showing up on Raw and then Stardust attacking him via Amell’s Twitter page @amellywood (You know like all the tough guys do these days) with both stars going back and forth jawing for months when finally August 10th it got physical.
Amell was there at the show, front row in a fan capacity when he was being taunted and then physically shoved by Stardust. Amell was not to let this stand and in a single bound he sprung to action by leaping over the top rope (which was awesome) and went right at Stardust. The fisticuffs quickly disapated as this was designed to be the tease for the eventual Summer Slam match.
Of course we as fans knew the fight was coming, but for storyline purposes they did not yet have the “green light” for Arrow and Stardust to tangle. However then WWE COO Triple H made the match official and history was set to be made in New York. To add to the entertainment intrigue, they gave each man a tag team partner. For Amell he got red-hot newcomer Neville and Stardust got teamed with the meanest man in England now dubbed “The Cosmic King” Wade Barrett.
When these addtions were announced, I knew WWE was handling this right. Of course many would want a one on one epic showdown between Amell and Stardust, but this was the absolute right call. Amell is in great shape but he is not a wrestler and safety is key when you get in that ring. This is Sports Entertainment after all, not Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Dam. The stage was set and all the players ready, only one question remained. “What would Amell wrestle in?”
Well his entrance made me and hopefully most comic geeks proud. (It would have obviously been a bit too much and probably uncomfortable for him to wrestle in his full Arrow gear, so we got a cool compromise: Leather Arrow hoodie/ jacket and black ring shorts and wrestling combat boots) I have long dreamed of seeing one of my favorite super heroes do “battle” inside a WWE ring, and thanks to Amell and WWE Creative brass I got it. The match itself was exactly what it should have been: a fun little showcase letting Amell get payback on the nefarious Stardust and live out his and our dreams simultaneously. It didn’t go too long or get silly and unlike every single other celebrity guest, Amell didn’t go all “glory hog” on us and actually let his tag team partner get the win and the spotlight. (Right call WWE. Right call.)
Overall it was a great spectacle and was very hard not to get caught up in the hype. It certainly delivered on my end. We even got to see Amell fly off the top rope to the bad guys on the outside! The end result was the good guys getting the win with their hands raised and sending the fans home happy.
Great scene and a classy move from a real true fan. Amell may be the hit star of one of the best shows on TV these days, but I in no way object to him doing more matches in the future. He was natural in the ring and seemed to have a lot of fun. Maybe one day he will join NXT and have Emily Bett Rickards as his manager. (One can certainly hope) Thank you Steven, for showing us that you have more than just acting in your quiver. You’ve done us proud. Take a bow (or bow) sir. You’ve earned it.