MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL: Saturday night indy show does it right in ways that nobody nationally has in a long time
Nov 3, 2014 - 5:16:08 PM
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By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch columnist
(This article was originally published four weeks ago in exclusively in the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly Newsletter and on the PWTorch VIP members-only website. Join Bruce and the promoter of this show, Brad Stutts, on today's PWTorch Livecast starting at 7 ET. Listen live or on demand later at www.PWTorchLivecast.com.)
I still don’t think the CWF Mid-Atlantic crew knew what it was they actually did in by-god Gibsonville, North Carolina Saturday night. It wasn’t like I didn’t try to tell them, either, I just couldn’t find the words.
Get this - for three straight hours this little local pro wrestling promotion did what WWE - the industry leader, with the biggest stars and the most famous brand in the genre - can’t do. What TNA - with the resources of both a top cable network and a major energy conglomerate behind them, resources that allowed them to hire some of the top names in the business - never came close to doing. What Ring of Honor never accomplished, television or no television. Nor Dragon Gate USA or Chikara or anyone els.
CWF Mid-Atlantic put on a three hour pro wrestling show that held the complete attention and enthusiasm of the 250 or so fans that packed their Sportatorium for the entire duration of the show. Fans reacted to the story laid before by these troupe of national unknowns exactly as the performers and their creative team laid it out. When those fans leapt to their feet at the moment the show ended, the moment that shocked and delighted everyone there, a moment that had been foreshadowed in the very first segment, they came to their feet with more energy than they had at any other that night.
When was the last time an audience, either live in the venue or watching at home on television, had more energy at the end of Raw than at the beginning? When was the last time Raw ended on its most exciting moment?
This wasn’t a boutique wrestling audience, either, the type that’s picking and choosing what part of the story they’ll buy into, while always critiquing the show. I knew that right from the beginning,
I’d had CWF producer Brad Stutts on the PWTorch Livecast last Monday and I’d made it clear I’d be attending the show that weekend, so I wasn’t surprised when just before the matches started, I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Hey, aren’t you the guy who was here that show last month when I gave that jerk sitting over there in that stupid red smoking jacket a piece of my mind?”
“Oh yeah, sure, who could forget that?”
(CWF had sat Ethan Sharpe. a new sharp-faced entitled type, in the corner of the arena several shows in a row to just look like a snot. He was the trainee who didn’t come to wrestling practice but felt entitled to a spot in the night’s big main event. Green, sneaky, yet glass-jawed, he ended up getting his by the end of the night. Rich mama’s boys Gary Hart and Jim Cornette would have been proud.)
Here are some things I saw Saturday night that you don’t see on any other wrestling shows (at least on this continent).
•The crowd laughing out loud at the Killbillies out-smarting their opponents Jason Miller & Nick Richards.”
•The same wrestlers building to a hot tag for the Killbillies that had the fans cheering and cheering then erupting when it finally came.
•The Killbillies losing their CWF Mid-Atlantic tag team championship due to Miller or Richards injuring his back, but getting an ovation for his “gutty effort.” (The Killbillies, by the way, are exactly the act you figure they are and perfect for the Gibsonville/Burlington area.)
•The best wrestler, and one of the best young wrestlers in the world, Trevor Lee, playing support everywhere he was needed, working better and longer than anyone else in support of everyone else’s story, and yet building to his big spots so well that they tore the house down (and his best one is as old-school as it gets). He’s the great heel that fans are dying to see join their side.
•Brad Attitude’s promo on the big screen marries the reality of signing his WWE Developmental contract one day and the next day losing his mother in a car accident to the story of coming back to the CWF Mid-Atlantic only to have his mentor, Coach Gemini, piledrive his girlfriend in the ring and Coach’s All Stars injure the two of them, and you can hear a pin drop out in the arena. No “What?!” chants. No smart ass comments. No talking, nothing. He had everyone’s attention and he wasn’t even there.
Oh, and where was Brad Attitude, and where was he for the last month of shows? Why, selling the beat-down, what else? It made me wonder why his promo held the fans attention so well, and the biggest name in the business, John Cena, couldn’t hold his fans’ attention anywhere near as well a week after Summerslam. The wrestlers in CWF Mid-Atlantic, to a man, build up to what they do, and then they sell it.
•Brad Stutts, as good as a promo as there is in the entire business with the exception of Paul Heyman, telling the asshole who cut his pony-tail off, Lee Valiant, that he was putting him in the Rumble, because while this was the last conversation they were ever going to have, at the end of the day he believed in his talent, and that’s why he was getting his chance. You just knew Valiant was going on to win then, and Stutts would end up regretting his decision..
•CWF Mid-Atlantic champion Roy Wilkins facing fellow heel Chet Sterling and, because the title was that important, Sterling toned it down and the fans got behind him because, all things being equal, wrestling fans want to see a title they care about change hands. When, in the end, one cheater cheated the other, the champion had another win on his belt and Sterling had another reason to jump his partner, Trevor Lee, when the time comes.
•The 13 year old kid next to me tells me, “You know Trevor Lee is the best wrestler in whole place” when Lee is thrown out, leaving Valiant to just crush the remaining Lance Lude after over an hour of action that never lost the crowd, even as the characters weaved their stories in and out of the ring, or, you know, did their best spot then got squashed like a bug.
Valiant just killed Lude, a weird little character who can pretty much do anything he wants as far as work goes, crushing him from the apron to the concrete floor. “Give up! These people don’t care about you!”
The story was told. The great wrestler went just a little too long. So did the little guy with all the guts. That left the asshole who hated everybody, whom heels and faces alike literally spit on, to taste bitter victory.
Except somehow, someway, that little guy twisted in one last burst and threw the asshole over the top rope and everyone in the crowd jumped up in shock and amazement and couldn’t stop cheering the winner, Lance Lude.
No “Why Don’t They Push Someone Better Like Dolph Ziggler or Cesaro” stuff, no loud chants for someone who’s not coming back, no long stretches of boredom, no overbearing Authority figures getting the last word, no name-brand chants, no comedy that no one laughs at but the announcers, No “This is Awesome, Thank You For Being Stupid Enough For Doing That Spot The Night I Was Here,” no competing for four hours to put on four star matches and never selling. No. It was just a band of wrestlers buying in to tell an athletic story that made sense, and, by God, it worked.
And about that 250 or so fans in that little town who paid ten bucks a ticket to get in - I don’t know what that show means for the promotion, besides a lot of pride, probably that they are going to have to continue to do what they always have to do - sell tickets one at a time. I did notice more reservations on more chairs this time. I know people are beginning to bring their friends.
Consider this, though. CWF Mid-Atlantic outdrew NXT’s show Friday night, and came close to matching TNA’s desultory results at their last-gasp television taping. More importantly, they showed me that if a wrestling company - and wrestlers in it - does things the right way, names or no names, they can still take fans on that crazy, fun ride.
•On another subject, on this past weekend’s Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with Wade Keller, (available at www.PWTorch.com/members) we discussed in-depth the Modern Era Candidates for the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame which I wrote about last week. I encourage you to listen to Wade and I discuss the pros and cons of each candidate for two hours twenty minutes.
(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. His columns appear weekly exclusively in the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly Newsletter. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Monday night in the hour before Raw with Travis Bryant at www.PWTorchLivecast.com. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years. His column archives dating back to 1990 are available in the Bruce Mitchell Library at the PWTorch VIP website.)
Follow Brad Stutts @cwfmidatlantic and @stuttsy and listen to his podcast at www.WrestlingWithOptimism. You can also visit the website of his promotion at www.CWF247.com.
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