Tag Archives: wrestling

WWE’s Linda McMahon Puts a Headlock as Small Business Administrator

linda_mcmahon_creative_commons_attribution-share_alike_2-0_genericRumors have swirled for a while, but President-elect Donald Trump has thrown Linda McMahon into the ring to lead the Small Business Administration. Along with Vince McMahon, she founded what is now known as WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon stepped down from the company in 2009 when she ran for Senate. Trump has appeared on WWE television even grappling with McMahon’s husband Vince.

McMahon is a strong supporter of Republican and Conservative causes having donated tens of millions of dollars over the years. She ran for Senate in 2009 and 2012 as a Republican. She has also donated to some Democrats over the years as well, though with a large gap between the two parties.

McMahon actually had harsh words for Trump during the election saying his comments about women were “deplorable.” She donated to former Presidential candidate Rand Paul’s Senate race, as well as former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s Senate campaign as well as his Presidential campaign. She donated $6 million in August and September to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that supported Trump’s presidential bid though has indicated Trump was not her first choice. She and her husband were the largest outside donors to Trump’s personal charity.

Trump in the decision announcement called her “one of the country’s top female executives” who helped the WWE become a “global enterprise.”

The Small Business administrator is in charge of the federal agency that helps shepherd federal contracts and capital to small businesses. She has embraced her role as a female entrepreneur with a new advocacy group Women’s Leadership Live, which helps women in business. The position is a Cabinet-level position that requires Senate confirmation. Itis likely past controversies regarding the WWE will be brought up during the hearing. Those issues include steroid and drug use, athelete health, sexual harassment by staff, as well as the content on the show and brand. Currently more than 50 former wrestlers are suing the company saying it is responsible for head trauma including concussions suffered that has led to long-term brain damage. There’s also the issue of the high mortality rate of wrestlers that have worked for the company and actual deaths due to negligence. Will she go kayfabe for the hearings or beak it?

BOOM! Studios currently publishes WWE comics. It’s unknown if this will be worked into any of their planned storylines.

Dragon Con 2016: DCW takes over Thursday Night

If you needed any more proof that the popularity of pro-wrestling is growing within nerd communities, Dragon Con was certainly the place to see that. Besides the fair amount of wrestling cosplay (myself as Bayley and Finn Bálor included), it was impossible to go around the con this year without coming across fellow nerds wearing wrestling shirts on the show floor. If I had to wager a guess, The New Day was easily the most popular with variations on and within the Bullet Club being a close second.

Knowing this, it isn’t a surprise that Dragon Con Wrestling saw its biggest turnout since it started 15 years ago this year. And on a Thursday, no less!

DCW pulls performers from all over the Georgia independent scene and beyond to put on a fun and somewhat nerdy tinged show for the audience. This was my first year getting to attend the show and oh boy, what a show it was.

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First of all, the crowd was exactly what you’d expect from what happens when you mix a wrestling crowd with Dragon Con’s drinking habits. One guy even kept trying to get everyone in the front sections to do the wave, even though that’s a huge ‘NO’ at wrestling events. Having to deal with drunk and disorderly in my section tended to take me out of the show in some sections, but it definitely wasn’t a deal breaker.

As for the matches themselves, there was a fun and decent variety to be had. From the first ever match won by submission in DCW history by a crossface applied by Joe Black to Adrian Armour to an intergender tag match for the Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment tag titles, the competitors for the evening were no slouches in the ring. They had the crowd going hard too if the reaction to Why We Wrestle’s Billy Buck getting a very heel win over the Venom cosplaying Stryk Nyn was any indication. Don’t worry, Stryk got him back with a spear to keep the crowd happy going into the next match.

Since it is Dragon Con, there was a LOT of cosplay happening in the matches. Starting with CB Suave’s Rock cosplay, we got everything from dark lords of Satan, Venom, Harley Quinn, Team Rocket, She-Hulk, Mickey Rourke, an ongoing fight between a Peter Griffin and a Chicken, and even a delightful Cheshire Cat inspired wrestler named Manchild. The real cosplay highlight though came in the competition for the Dragon’s Cup where Sith Lord Mikal Mosley defeated the Star Trek inspired Amazing Darkstone with a move that can only be described as a “Force Choke Slam.” I’m surprised I still have eardrums after the massive pop that got.

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The night also brought out the true emotion behind wrestling. Beginning with a certain Atlanta based YouTuber being inducted into the DCW Hall of Fame, the night also saw the final DCW match for veteran Tank. While I was not familiar with Tank before that night, the gruff man’s way of connecting with the crowd during his tag match with Iceberg against the “Genetically Superior” Logan Creed and Bobby Moore was undeniable, especially when he let a man in a wheelchair get in on the action by letting him land a few “hits” on Creed. Plus, it’s always a sad affair when a wrestler has to hang up his boots. He showed his love for the DCW crowd and his “brothers” in the ring and in the back, and the DCW crowd showed their love with a booming chant of “THANK YOU TANK.” Happy trails to you, Tank.

For my first year experiencing it, Dragon Con Wrestling was definitely worth my four hours on a Thursday night. It lives up to the spirit of the con in so many ways while definitely being its own exciting thing. Count me back next year, especially if Mikal and Azrael are facing off for the Dragon’s Cup. I want to see what they do next.

Special thanks to Georgia Wrestling History for their notes on the event.

Loot Crate Launches Their WWE Slam Crate

WWE Slam Crate is a bi-monthly mystery subscription service from Loot Crate for fans of the WWE Universe. Featuring EXCLUSIVE collectibles and apparel that you can’t get anywhere else!

The debut theme is “The Fist,” a celebration of some of the greatest “firsts” in WWE history. Featuring a first-of-its-kind The New Day Collectible, the first Topps card from Austin Aries (some crates will have autographed versions!), and more worthy of a champion!

The new WWE Slam Crate is $29.99 a month plus shipping and handling.

WWE Slam Crate

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Movie Review: Lucha Mexico

LuchaMexico_Poster-7In Mexico, the fight between good and evil has been waged every week for decades, thrilling generations of fans with the spectacle of Lucha Libre. Real-life superheroes and villains, these masked wrestlers put their lives on the line night after night to entertain the legions of fans. Gaining unprecedented access to all the major Lucha promotions, Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz offer an entertaining, no holds barred look at some of the sport’s top performers, featuring the “1000% Guapo” Shocker, Luchador heir Blue Demon Jr, the tragic hardcore wrestler El Hijo Del Perro Aguayo, and extreme American bodybuilder Jon “Strongman” Andersen. Lucha Mexico goes behind the mask, on a journey into the heart of Mexico.

The little I know of Lucha Libre is the few wrestlers that crossed over the US wrestling during the period I was watching it (mostly mid to late 90s). I’ve never watched Mexican wrestling and the larger than life characters are an area I know little about.

This documentary is a fascinating dive into that world, perfect for folks interested in finding out more about this world of masked heroes and villains. The spectacle of Lucha Libre is different than American wrestling, though there’s some things the two share. There’s a long history and love for the two styles, but the mask versus non-masked is an example of something that’s very unique to the Lucha Libre style.

Revolving around a few of those personalities, the film is a great introduction to this world and gives a narrative that’s at times heartbreaking. There’s highs and lots of lows including death. The film emphasizes the toll this type of entertainment has on individuals. It’s an amazing look and one that’s honest and shows these characters before crowds of thousands and crowds of hundreds and at all times they give it their all.

The film has a lot of subtitles, so if you’re not into that, you might want to skip it, but you’d be missing out on a hell of an entertaining and educational film. If you’re a fan of wrestling, even a tiny interest in it, this is a documentary that’s a must watch.

Overall Rating: 8.15

El Mundo Boston 2016: Worlds Collide When Cosplay Meets Wrestling at Fenway

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Who but Gaston??

June 26th 2016

This was be a day that will be remembered for a long long time. As a native New Englander I am certainly no stranger to the hallowed ground of Fenway Park.  I have been able to share in its graces several times over the years. Usually there is a certain feel in the air when you arrive at this place. For anyone who’s ever been here, more often than not during their stay, history is made. Today was no different.

El Mundo is an annual family festival in Boston, that prides itself in bringing all forms of entertainment to its spectators and families in attendance. Like any annual event though the goal is always to make it bigger and better than the year before. 2015 marked the first time that the fun-loving, high energy community of Cosplay was brought to the celebration and the result was quite the spectacle. Children and adults alike got to enjoy the sight of some of their most beloved fictional characters come to life right before their very eyes. Now it’s important to note that just about anyone can throw on a flashy costume, but it takes special people to make it come alive. Thanks to energy and hard work of these young men and women, they make something that could be so very ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary.

So that begs the question, how do you top that? Well for starters how about having a second-year encore and then the added caveat doing something in some place that makes history.

The answer to that question means inviting the larger than life world of Sports EntertainmentTo me the combination is something only so natural. After all these entertainers are similar to the cosplayers in a way that they take larger than life characters and have their story told on 16 x 20 canvas surrounded by ring ropes. When these two forms of entertainment are set apart you get something inspiring. When you put them together, the result is nothing short of epic. 

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As a fan of both these worlds and to be able to view it in such an iconic building to me was pure magic. There was a different feel in the air that day to be sure. Even though there was to be no crack of the bat or hustling to slide into home plate, a championship team still performed. Don’t just take it from me though. I took the time to get the views and opinions of those in attendance just to put the punctuation on what this day meant to each and every one of them.

GP: First off I’d like to thank you both for being here. Today is a pretty big deal as I’m sure you’ve noticed. So I wanted to take a few brief moments and get your thoughts on what Cosplay means to you.

Ruby: Ok, sure.

GP: Individually, how long have you been doing this?

Ruby: I have been doing this now for about 7 or 8 years. It started with an ex girlfriend getting me to go to Anime Boston and I cosplayed and that’s how I got into it. It just clicked and now I have a passion for it.

GP: (Turns to Raven)  What say you? What does cosplay mean to you?

Raven: Well Cosplay means a lot. It’s a big part of my life. I kind of feel more welcomed here than when I am wearing normal clothes. You’re always welcomed in the cosplay community no matter what you wear. I can freely walk up to someone and be like “Hey you cosplay, that’s cool let’s be friends.”

GP: So do you stick to cosplay or are you a fan of the comic book world as well?

Raven: For me I’m a big fan of comic books as well.

Ruby: With me I am more of a fan of the anime and manga, I never really got into the comic book part of it.

GP: Very cool. Well it’s a big day and hope you both have a great time. What message would you have for anybody who feels a bit sketchy about trying this for their first time?

Raven: My recommendation, is you are always welcomed in the cosplay community no matter what. So go ahead try it, see if you like it and if you do, great! We’re weirdos and no stranger to a little craziness. Come be our friend. (laughs)

Ruby: I feel like she said. Just take the leap, you’ll love it. Hey that’s what I did, and my life is better because of it.

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GP: What was the driving force that got you into cosplay?

Grayson: The driving force that got me into cosplay was giving back and making amends. I have seen and done a lot of things in my life. I am a disabled combat veteran. I have been through three tours of combat and there are things that I’ve done and I regret. You might say it’s my therapy for myself.

GP: That is great. I also just want to take a second and thank you for your service.

Grayson: Thank you so much.

GP: Do you do this often or only when there is a Con scheduled?

Grayson: I try to do any kind of gathering or event. I especially enjoy doing charities and of course comic cons.

GP: What does today mean to you?

Grayson: It means a whole hell of a lot. Honestly to be able to slap a kid high-five and see the smiles on their faces, it’s like a high for me. I truly enjoy giving back.

Just some great quotes from some great folks there.

I turned to take my leave and the sound of thunder filled the clubhouse and we were graced by the presence of two Thors. Thor had to make his exit hastily (little did I know he wouldst be doing battle in the Royale later that day) but luckily for GP readers his female cohort was much more obliging in letting her cape down to answer a few questions.

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GP: So it’s not every day one gets to chat with the Goddess of Thunder, I just wanted to pick your brain a few moments.

Moxie: Sure. (laughs)

GP: So how did you come to do this, what is your origin?

Moxie: So I first started when I was in high school. I think it was back in 2000 and.. I’m dating myself by doing this. I want to say 2008. I went to Anime Boston and I really enjoyed it. I saw these people dressed up in costumes and I said to myself “that’s pretty cool, I want to do it” Then the following year I made a costume. Then the year after that I bought one, then I went to college. I took a little bit of a break and I said to myself “Y’know I still want to do this.” I was a math major in college so I sort of had to put my head in my books and stop for a while. After I graduated though I was able to pick it up a lot more.

I do it as much as I can. I go to PAX, Conneticon, Anime Boston, Katsucon and that will be my first far away convention. So it’s mostly been the last two or three years that I really started going all out with cosplay.

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GP: Would you recommend this to others even if they might be scared?

Moxie: Well sure, I mean there are different stages of cosplay. They can start out wearing a geeky T-shirt and jeans..

GP: So my cosplay?

Moxie: (laughing) Ha ha! Exactly. Or you could be L from Death Note and grab a white t-shirt and some black hair looking creepy with a little tiny lollipop and boom, you’ve got a cosplay.

GP: Right.

Moxie: Then there is the other end of the spectrum where if you try to make the armor from Destiny, you might wonder “Why would I do this?” I’m not going to lie, there has been many times I’ve broken down making a cosplay where my friends will push me on and be like “you can do this” “Just finish the paint” then I look at my clock and it’s three in the morning and I’m like “I don’t want toooo.” So sure you’re going to hit those moments depending on what kind of cosplay you decide to make. You just need to remember to budget your time and budget your money. Cosplay can get very expensive, extremely fast.

GP: That’s a great point too. I mean you have to have a high level of passion for this because it’s likely to be something you’re not going to get a lot back from. At least not initially right?

Moxie: Yeah, people probably think those famous cosplayers like Jessica Nigri, and Ivy Doomkitty that they make so much money because you see them everywhere. In reality it’s probably not that way. Which is why they have gofundme.com and kickstarter campaigns. It’s not as easy as people think.

GP: So what are the deciding factors for you when you choose a new cosplay?

Moxie: I choose primarily based on what I’m attending. If it’s a comic book convention, or an anime. Whatever I’m into at the time. At Anime Boston I went as Ayame  from Inuyasha, which was a character I always wanted to do because Inuyasha was actually what got me into anime because it was on late at night on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and I loved it so I endured all the making and sewing. I am generally all around a lover of nerdy things so there are always some type of character that I am interested in the genres. I just try to pick and keep it relevant to what I’m attending that moment.

GP: Very cool stuff. So before I take my leave, who is your all time favorite comic book character?

Moxie: Oh, Thor. I actually collected all the first edition of the series and then last year at Boston Comic Con, I got Stan Lee to autograph issue number one for me while I was dressed as Thor. I even got it CGC graded. It came back with a 9.8. I cried I was so excited.

GP: Wow. That’s awesome. Well thank you for your time. Keep the hammer. You be worthy.

Moxie: Thank you.

You can follow more on Instagram @TheMoxieMegan

 

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I then left Superhero Central and made my way down the cobblestone to the back of the park. As I weaved in and out of the crowd, my sight got clearer and then it was right in front of me. Behind a small metal barricade was something I was pretty sure I would never see at this venue: a wrestling ring. This was it. This was where the day’s performances would take place. I was thrilled. Everything looked great. The entrance way , the ring apron it was all top-notch. I still couldn’t believe it was happening.

It was almost time for the battle royal. It is such a time-honored part of Sports Entertainment to have the bulk of the roster, fill the ring to do battle with each other, friend and foe alike until in the end only one is standing. When it’s done right, it’s quite a sight.

After the smoke had cleared and the victors rejoiced, I returned to the locker room to get some more comments of those in attendance and how the day had profoundly effected them. What I got however was an interesting few moments with the always ever so “humble” Vern Vicallo aka The Selfie Made Man:

(Please note that the Selfie Made Man’s comments do not reflect El Mundo Boston or their opinions. They are also highly veiled in Kayfabe, which means he is being in character, NOT Vern’s real thoughts. So don’t be offended readers)

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GP: So I have to ask what does the Selfie Made Man think about his first foray into Fenway Park?

Vern: Well obviously it was historical, but not for me but for Fenway Park to have the presence of the Selfie Made Man inside. Fenway Park has been nothing but a curse on the sports community since it has been built, but now that it has the greatness of myself, it has become something of worth.

GP: Quite the interesting take there. So you predict an upswing on the home teams record for the rest of the season then?

Vern: I guarantee, now that they will win the whole damn thing. So instead of these fans and this clubhouse raising a banner after another World Series win, they should raise a banner that says : The Selfie Made Man “We thank you”

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GP: So now that this is crossed off, what can we see for the Selfie Made Man going forward?

Vern: Forward? Well more greatness of course. The Selfie Made Man makes his NECW debut Saturday  July 2nd at the Brockton Fair. Then July 16th I defend my LPW Heavyweight Championship in Hudson, MA in a ladder match against Randy Shawn.

GP: That sounds like something to see for sure.

Vern: Definitely.

GP: So let me ask you sir, what is one thing that isn’t about you, that you will take away from today.

Vern: (emphatically) Nothing.

Well there you have it. If you’re missing the kind of narcissism only a thousand mirrors and an endless walk in closet can provide, you might want to follow the Selfie Made Man on Twitter @Vern2Dope

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As I was wrapping up I was able to grab a few thoughts from the man with a plan, Bell Time Club promoter Beau Douglas himself, and here’s what he had to say about the history I just witnessed:

GP:  As this momentous event comes to a close, I just wanted to ask you one question. What did today mean to you?

Beau Douglas:  Today was an amazing day filled with the accomplishment of successfully bringing in a unique brand of Sports Entertainment. I realized since the moment my buddy Dante called me and said “We got this.” it was bigger than the two of us. Not since 1969 has Sports Entertainment graced these halls and that particular show was headlined by my trainer and mentor the legendary Walter “Killer” Kowalski

To me it is such an honor to have picked up where he and the great Bruno Sammartino left off. It was a tremendous responsibility that came with even more pressure. I am so proud that the Bell Time Club which consist of my students, Tim Lennox, Dan Terry, I could go on and on but they  really stepped it up and tore the house down.

It was cool that we had at least one performer from every New England state on our roster and helped provide that level of authenticity to where we were. I am glad that I had the honor to perform but it was an even bigger honor to showcase the talent and peers of our craft. We had an amazing crew and things couldn’t have run any smoother.

One last thing I want to say is that this event proved that people of all different nationalities, religions, and political affiliations CAN come together and become successful as a whole when need be. On this day there were no egos, no racism, no hate. There was only enjoyment, excitement, and entertainment with appreciation for the passions we share. Whether it be in a mask and cape, or boots and tights, today we conquered all! We made history in these walls and I thank every body very very much.

Very well put. Please remember to check out the Bell Time Club in Wakefield, MA if you’d like to see what Beau and his students are up to. I highly suggest you do.

What a day! Ladies and gentleman , if you had told me that I was going to get to see Thor win a battle royal live, front row and center I would have thought, you might have been changing in the wrong phone booth. However that’s exactly what happened and believe you me, it was glorious. (Big shout out to the Mighty Sean Feeney  for his amazing Thor portrayal, even Odin be proud)

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So there you have it. A day that was filled with fun, mystery, wonder and spectacle. In a place where we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969. (hmm reminds me of a song somewhere) It has been said that all great journeys begin with one small step. Today though, we all took one giant leap. 

It was hammer time, indeed.

 

Graphic Policy would like to thank the following: Beau Douglas and the Bell Time Club for their amazing performance, Dante Moon Productions for bringing to life this incredible vision, Sean Feeney for his grandiose portrayal of Thor,  and to all the cosplayers and staffers that made the day worth it. Lastly thank you, El Mundo Boston for allowing this all to happen. I absolutely hope we are all back, bigger and better next year.

More Pop! WWE in August

Some of the biggest names in the WWE Universe are joining WWE Pop!

WWE Diva, Eva Marie, is joined by former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, the seasoned Bret Hart, two-time Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, and Bray Wyatt, head of The Wyatt Family!

Collect them all this summer! These new Pop! WWE are out in August from Funko.

Behind the Curtain. Beyond the Mat. A look at Atlantic Pro Wrestling.

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Hello fellow GPer’s and True Readers! We interrupt your regular scheduled reading to bring you some out of the box entertainment!

If you like action, suspense, flashy costumes and crazy catchphrases then this might just be for you.

A short time ago on May 21st, 2016 I had the distinct pleasure of being  guest at a spectacular local show put on by some very talented men and women who enjoy their craft. It just so happens that their craft of choice is Professional Wrestling.

Anyone of you reading this who may already be a fan of Pro Wrestling, well then I don’t need to tell you that it is a form of entertainment like no other. Any of you who aren’t a fan, still read on, we might just hook you yet.

So my adventure with Atlantic Pro Wrestling started at approximately 5:15 in the town of Newbury, Massachusetts outside a local firehouse. As I arrived you could feel the excitement in the air as droves of spectators were eagerly awaiting the 7pm bell time. I filed past the line and opened the doors to go inside. As I ventured on in, I saw a small group of able bodied individuals setting up the ring which would serve as the center for the evening’s showcase.

Like Barnum & Baileys under the Big Top, so much preparation goes into the evening’s festivities. It’s refreshing to see talent and crew unified as they put together their playground. It is an arduous process to make sure every detail is just right and demonstrates the passion they all share for the same thing.

Walking past the ring, I then enter the backstage area where the talent on the roster are preparing for their matches. The first people I see are the APW tag team champions: “The Selfie Made Man” Vern Vicallo & “Perfect” Dan Terry aptly forming the team of “Picture Perfect.”

Then in my best “Mean Gene” style I open with a barrage of questions to delve into what makes the Champs tick.

Graphic Policy: How long have you guys been wrestling fans?

Selfie Made Man: (proudly)  The Selfie Made Man has been a wrestling fan for well over 20 years. The first time I watched it was when Hulk Hogan won the Royal Rumble in 1990 so I’m dating myself.

GP: Nothing wrong with that. Means you can’t break up with yourself right? (Laughs)

SMM: (Laughs) Oh never! What about you Dan?

Dan Terry: Me? I would say I became a fan of wrestling while watching Wrestlemania 14. I had never really watched it before and when it came to Boston, I won’t tell you what grade I was in but it was a huge deal. All the kids in my class just kept talking about it and I wanted to fit in so I had to see it. I remember the whole thing with Mike Tyson and Stone Cold Steve Austin. From that moment on, I was immediately hooked.

GP: Very cool wrestling moments for sure. So let me ask you, how did you get into Independent Wrestling, individually?

SMM: I signed up to the New England Pro Wrestling Academy which is run by Brian Fury, on May 19th 2012. So I thought to myself I’m not getting any younger so I pulled the trigger on this. I did some research and NEPWA was the best for me and I’ve been running ever since.

GP: Any shout outs?

SMM: My trainer Brian Fury and long time trainer and friend Johnny Vegas.

GP: Very nice and yourself?

Dan: I had just graduated college and was working a few jobs and it really wasn’t going anywhere. So I found the Bell Time Club (located in Wakefield, MA) which is run by Beau Douglas. He’s the guy who taught me so much. I think he’s one of the best trainers in New England.

GP: Lastly, what would you like to convey to fans or really anyone who might want to make this a possible career choice?

Dan: Well first off, there is a lot of training that goes into this as well as tremendous body upkeep. Also people have this misconception that you train a little bit and then boom,  you have your first match. It’s not like that at all. Training is continuously happening. It’s multiple times a week and you don’t just go to the show and have a match. No, if bell time is 7pm you are probably there around 1pm helping set everything up and getting prepared. Likewise if the closing time is 10pm well you probably aren’t getting out of there till say 1 or 2am. It really is a lot of dedication in all forms.

GP: Well we can see that the dedication shows through and pays off. Thank you for your time. Good luck with you title match tonight guys.

Dan: Thank you.

Almost bell time and I make my last rounds before the crowd starts filing in. I spot sitting on a chair in deep thought, none other than Mr. John Cena Sr. Now for those of you who don’t know he just so happens to be direct relative of one John Cena. Maybe you’ve heard of the guy. Well tonight he’s not the man behind “The Face who runs the place” or the father of the 15 World Heavyweight Champion. No tonight, he is  “Johnny Fabulous” who is always ready to jaw with the best of them, and he’s got something to say…

GP: Good to see you again sir. It’s always a pleasure.

John Cena Sr: Thank you as well.

GP: So anything new or exciting in store for us that you can share?

John:  Actually yes. There is a show called “Wrestling for Warriors”  on June 4th in FT Wayne, IN. We got some great stars set for there, Tomaso Champa , Mickey James, Rhyno. We just got a loaded card. It is such a fun time and all the proceeds go to young men and women fighting cancer. I want to tell you that J Fab, John Cena Sr. is going to be there and I can’t wait to see and say hi to the fans. Also with the general manager, who knows there might be an FU in the cards.

GP: That sounds very cool. Wish I could take a trip out there.

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John:  Well if you can’t take a trip you can always contribute to the cause online at www.wrestlingforwarriors.com

GP: You know what? Absolutely.  (Contribute I did.  To my readers I urge you as well, it is for a terrific cause)  Before I let you go for the show, is there anything you think wrestling could do differently? Anything you think that is being done currently that is going backwards?

John: Nothing is ever backwards. I think everything is forwards. When you go forwards, you have to make story lines believable. You have to make characters gigantic, bigger than life. I think that is where they are missing the boat on some of these things. I come from back in an era with Bruno Sammartino and Gorilla Monsoon, Mr. Fuji, Chief Jay Strongbow and Walter (Killer) Kowalski. All those greats were believable. I think that’s due to a few things. One, good guys had separate rooms from bad guys and they filmed it when they came out there. It was believable, it was real. We didn’t have the Wizard of Oz where they pulled back the curtain. That’s the big thing. Making story lines more believable is the best place to start.

GP: I just think that the talent coming up is never ending. Every time you see someone reach the top, someone comes up and tops it. There really is no ceiling. That’s why I like the Indy stuff. The people you see here are the stars of tomorrow. It’s quite exciting.

John: The Indies are the future of tomorrow. People come to these shows, and some of them say “You know, I love coming to the Indy shows more than the big shows because, I am closer to the action and I can talk to the wrestlers.” It’s really a different type of experience. People in the Indy’s today are shooting for the moon. Walter Kowalkski, God rest his soul used to say “Shoot for the moon, and maybe you will grab a star on the way up.”

GP: Wow.

John: So work hard, train hard and believe in what you do and you’ll get there. Stop doing some of these crazy moves that will break your body. Sometimes less is more.

GP: I agree. Sometimes the “illusion” of the big spot is better than the big spot itself.

John: Yup. People need to take a look at Professional Wrestling. We have respect for the young men and women who put their lives on the line, and I mean this, they do. They put their lives on the line each time they are in the ring so people can go home happy. Cheer them or boo them, you’ve got to respect that.

GP: I couldn’t agree more. So anything you want to say about tonight?

John: All I can say is that there will be a lot of surprises. You are at the APW Arena. When the lights go down, the action comes up. We got some great matches and if you’re looking for action and family fun then APW is the place to be.

Shortly after, I make my way to my seat to take in the show. The house lights start to go down and the ring lights pop on. I can hear the crowd getting restless as they are feverishly awaiting the action.  If you’ve never been to a Pro Wrestling show live, there is nothing like it. The atmosphere is electric and it’s where people come to let their worries wash away and just cut loose.

So as I sit, hot dog clenched one hand and a bottle of water in the other, we proceed to get started with some exciting tag team action!  The first match on the card is a 4 corners match elimination match, with the team that wins becoming the number one contenders to face the APW Tag Team Champions “Picture Perfect” later in the evening.  Now not being familiar with the roster, I went in dark on this and just tried to soak it all in with no bias.

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The match was a great combination of traditional and entertaining “spot” wrestling. There was hardly a moment where the ropes were still due to all the bodies flying around the ring. Team by team was eliminated until there was only one team that stood tall. That team was the pair of “Gridhouse” Evan Siks &  “The Prince of Pink” Brendan Michael Thomas.  They were to go on to face the champs later on in the evening. We were off to a great start.

I was able to head backstage once again prior to the next match. This time to get some words with the former Women’s Champion Mistress Belmont (as of writing these she no longer has her belt due to some impromptu shenanigans that took place after the match)

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GP: So for those who want to know, how long have you been wrestling?

Belmont: I have been wrestling shows for 11 years but I trained a year ahead of time so I have been doing this for about 12 years.

GP: Have you traveled all over the country, or performed in a different country?

Belmont: I have wrestled in Canada. I’ve done shows in Montreal and Vancouver once. That’s about as far out of the country I’ve gone. I pretty much keep to New England, I do go to New York, New Jersey but mostly New England.

GP: Very cool. What made you decide you wanted to be a pro wrestler?

Belmont: I always wanted to. Growing up my parents took away our television when I was very young. However when we got sent to the babysitter’s on Saturday morning when both my parents were working, we got to watch wrestling. I never saw women’s wrestling, because back then you only saw that on a special occasion like a Pay Per View. I knew that there were two women in wrestling: Sensational Sherri and Miss Elizabeth. I remember thinking as a young girl, that Miss Elizabeth was useless. Sensational Sherri wasn’t afraid to get in there and tear it up with the guys and do whatever she needed to. I knew I wanted to be like her.

GP: Touching on that, the passing of Chyna, what does that mean to you?

Belmont: The passing of Chyna, wow. Honestly when I heard it I broke down and cried. I always say, I have muscles because of Chyna. I wanted to be a real women’s wrestler like her. When she was with (at the time) Hunter Hearst Helmsely I remember saying “Oh my God, no one messes with her.” She could hold her own and I thought her body was fantastic so I wanted to strive to be like that. To this day, it’s one of the coolest moments and anyone who has been a wrestling fan can identify, about a year ago I found Chyna on Twitter and I tweeted her and said “I have muscles because of you and I love you.” So she re tweeted me and in wrestling terms I “marked out.” 

GP: Oh I have no doubt. How great!

Belmont: It happens very rarely. I even took a screenshot of it. So when I found out she passed away, it was devastating. She had worked so hard and did so much for women’s wrestling. She turned it up a notch and kicked doors in.

GP: She absolutely did. No question about that. She was so different.  What I appreciate more is that you use the term “wrestling” and not sports entertainment. You’re a wrestler, not a diva.

Belmont: Oh God no!

GP: Funny thing is right now the women’s wrestling is more entertaining than the men. The level of talent that is out there now is astounding, and they all want to just wrestle.

Belmont: When Chyna started wrestling, women’s wrestling went soft. We had Sable and the bar was lowered. Chyna picked that bar up and now it’s continuing. It comes with time. You don’t always come out the gate being able to perform at top level. It takes a lot of time to hone your craft.

GP: Would you mind me asking, were you trained by a woman or a man?

Belmont: Sure. I actually was trained by a man. I had another girl at the school and more often than not, we would wrestle the guys. I was always taught if you can throw the guys around then you can throw the girls around.

With that statement being said, I excused myself and let her prep herself for her impending showdown which was moments away.

Now I don’t want you to get the impression that only the guys had the duty of thrilling the crowd, oh no as APW has a Women’s Champion (Mistress Belmont) who had some business that evening. Business in the form of defending her Women’s championship against Davienne w/ Uncle Eddie. Not unlike the Tag Team match which proceeded it, this contest was action packed from the bell. The action took these two ladies all over the arena. They were throwing each other into tables and chairs in what seemed like a very personal grudge match. Once the match spilled into the ring it didn’t get any less personal, champion and challenger alike fought vigorously until only one woman stood tall. Mistress Belmont was able to vanquish her foe and in the end was able to keep the gold. For but a moment. It was an unexpected end but a cool surprise.

Lastly I had the chance to candidly speak with the holder of the APW New England Championship: “Champagne” Joe Moakley. The champ was pulling double duty this evening as he was both promoter and champion. I was lucky enough to get a few moments pick the brain of the man who made this night possibly.

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GP: Tell me sir, for those of us who may not know, how did APW come about?

Joe: Well the big backstory is, myself and Big Woody used to train in Salisbury back in 1999 under Knuckles Nelson. We always envisioned us having a match with one another. Well the school closed down and we took probably about 7 or 8 years off and then eventually we ran into a friend of ours named Derek who owned the ring. So I thought why don’t we run a couple shows. It all started just so we could have that match and the fans loved it, so why not keep going?

GP: Is there anything that you personally or your company is looking to introduce to the Indy Scene?

Joe: Well not really. We have a very good mix of the old school style wrestling and of course the new drama style wrestling with story lines. That sort of movie style atmosphere. You know I have an acting background.

GP: Oh really?

Joe: Yes I actually went to acting school in the city of Boston, so I have that background.

GP: So then, this is pretty natural for you?

Joe: Oh yes being in front of a camera is very natural for me.

GP: Hence, “Champagne” Joe Moakley. I love it.

Joe: Yup.

GP: When people come to an APW show. What do you want them to take home, what is the thing you want them to remember most?

Joe: I want them to have the best night of their life every time they are out here. I like the fact that we are so family friendly. You can bring your ten year old here and not have to worry about swearing and getting hit with chairs. It’s like their best tv show only in live action.

GP: Absolutely. Well I wish you a lot of luck sir. I will be around and look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to do so this evening.

Joe: Thank you and any time.

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The evening for me rounded out with watching the APW Tag Team Champs (my new favorites) retain their titles in an almost “Picture Perfect” defense against their newly christened number one contenders. It was fast paced, exciting and most important of all, the better men won. That’s the great thing about this form of entertainment. Everyone wants to go out and steal the show, everyone wants that big “pop” from the crowd. The thing is, to everyone in attendance, it means something a little different. Be it a “heel” or “Babyface”. Be it good guys or bad guys. In the end they all putt butts in the seats. Each one of the people on that roster give you a reason to be there. Like many other live events the crowd can influence what transpires. Fortunately on this night, the crowd in attendance knew there roles, but most certainly did not shut their mouths. Which made it all the more fun.

So for one who was not familiar with the APW arena or the roster, but knows Pro Wrestling, I found this was extremely accessible. The talent made it so easy to get sucked right into the action. That is a testament to the men and women who gathered this night. Any group of people can get together and put up a ring of plywood and elevator cables and attempt to call it a wrestling show. However only the worthy ones can make it an experience and one you want to relive over and over.

Do yourselves a favor and check out www.atlanticprowrestling.com and see for yourselves.

Movie Review: The Sheik

the sheik 1For decades he has been professional wrestling’s man you love to hate. But a new film recounting his extraordinary life story will fill WWE fans and non-fans alike with nothing but love for the imposing star known as The Iron Sheik.

Now out on DVD, The Sheik is a fascinating documentary, warts and all, looking at this iconic character and the man who played him, Khosrow Ali Vaziri.

Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Iran in 1942, establishing a name for himself as an amateur wrestler, a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, and an athlete representing his home country in the 1968 Summer Olympics. In the early 1970s, following the unexpected and controversial death of his good friend and Olympic wrestling gold medalist Gholamreza Takhti, Vaziri left Iran to pursue the American Dream. His journey to the United States began one of the most spectacular professional wrestling careers in modern history.

The documentary is an amazing one really diving in to the man, his rise to fame, and his impact on wrestling. The documentary does an excellent job not just describing his life, but also putting his rise into the political context of the time, the 70s and 80s. It’s brutally honest in its interpretation of the time and breaks down the brilliant use of the character to not just really launch Vaziri’s career but how it was a key part to make the WWE (WWF at the time) what it is today.

But, the documentary is more than just wrestling, it’s also about Vaziri the man and the mistakes and demons he has. It’s truly the rise, fall, and rise again of the main. I mentioned warts and all and there’s not just talk of drugs but also shows it. The raw look into the life of the wrestler reminds me of another documentary Beyond the Mat which too showed a behind the curtain peak at that life.

The Iron Sheik was wrestling when I was watching during the 80s, and I remember booing him in the ring, but I didn’t know much about the man behind the character. After watching this, I walk away thinking of how complicated he was and his impact on the sport. I went in not knowing much and it was clear within the first 15 minutes this is a man who has an interesting story to tell and an interesting life lived.

Wrestling fans will likely love this film, but even those who didn’t grow up on sports entertainment there’s more than enough there to keep you entertained and also to get you to think at times. The film clocks in at a little over an hour and a half, but goes by quick as it deftly weaves a narrative through Vaziri’s past, present and future. A fascinating film about what turns out to be a fascinating man.

Overall Rating: 8.7

Dark Sky Films provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Steven Amell proved the stars come out to fight at SummerSlam 2015

Arrow_Stardust“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) \

goldust_and_stardust_render_by_simonlee1-d7nmpnxWhen 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.

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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.

arrow-stardust-summerslam-530x298When 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?”

arrow-entrance-ef5bbWell 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.)

CNIirsDUYAAgi4_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.

 

 

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