Monday, 01 June 2009 08:18
New Experience Wrestling
Episodes 007 and 008
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
Downtown Bruno in a referee’s suit. A classy crowd in the audience, taking in a decidedly Old School version of wrestling, packaged as new. All good things come around again, at some point, but did anyone think it would take a quarter-century for St Louis style wrestling, well, maybe a little older, and a little slower, to appear in a ring in Memphis?
The roster comes from the Nightmare Ken Wayne’s School of Wrestling, and it is decidedly different.
New Experience Wrestling is decidedly that. I’m not so sure there are any very many fans outside of Memphis who have experienced this style, this throw-back feel, this utterly antithetical to Sports Entertainment version of what none of us would be ashamed to call professional wrestling.
I’ll say this. If you’re big into ROH, or the American Indy style that dominates most independent level landscapes, you’re in for a major cultural shock. NEW is slow paced. So slow that you are forced to experience the most minute of selling, and the very fundamentals of the sport: working holds, maneuvering in the ring, telling the story of the match, and paying keen attention to the details.
It’s a far cry from watching guys rush to hit their high spots, and scramble to get all their spots in.
What fascinated me from minute one was the utter dedication of the promotion, the talent and the announcers in putting it all together. This is a decided effort on the NEW management to put a vision into reality. It’s an intensive style that means that the roster must be on the right page. And while the announce crew shows some rough spots, the overall “feel” of the show is more than just excellent.
One thing I’ll definitely give props to NEW about is that they format their DVD as two TV shows.
So many indy promotions, and even ROH if you want me to point fingers, are hell bent on making PPV’s out of their events, instead of creating a formatting that would bespeak a single or series of TV shows. The constructive criticism here is that if a promotion is already geared to putting together a formatted show, then if and when they get TV, whether local or bigger, then there’s practice, focus and a booking mentality already in place.
Instead, so many indies try to cram 10 matches on a DVD, and never once think about the viewer. How many fans sit through a two hour DVD in one sitting? Break it down into true shows, and let the viewer experience the product with a more natural time frame, instead of watching a match or two.
The videos, the intros and the repetition may be called filler by the less informed, but if I may go back to my favorite ECW (original, 1990’s version) reference, let’s not forget that the most awesome TV show of all time was a whole lot of pitching product, a lot of recapping, and a solid format.
I get the impression that as NEW progresses, it would slip readily into those concepts: strong TV format, self-promotional focus, internally logical style and atmosphere.
But the matches are the product, and the product is very good.
Again, this is a slow style, but it is one that can be grasped and readily appreciated. It’s not all about running the ropes and high-octane madness. With NEW, the fundamental base is mat wrestling, and it’s that throw-back to working the leg, working the arm; picking a body part and working and selling and setting up the finish…. which seems a long way to go at times.
The concept that everyone is competitive and mostly even in skill only reinforces the concepts. I’m not so sure that will go over well in the star-power oriented mindset of too many fans, but I found it a mere fleeting distraction. Several matches on the two shows seemed to end rather abruptly, which did enhance the concept that wrestling between two talented guys sometimes does end up with a fluky finish or just by the right move being hit at the right time.
The injury aspect turned the concept up a notch for me.
The style screams physical (without punches, that is) and the announcers play it up big time. As a work, it’s a great feel, because I’m taken back in time to a point where if an injury occurs in the ring, I’m not in the modern mindset of a referee giving the “X” signal, and the crowd somewhat respectfully, more outwardly dubious, looking on as if it’s a surreal situation where you know you should act like you care, but in reality … there’s no emotional connection and no one cares.
With NEW, there’s a quick immersion into the opposite.
We see some inadvertent blood. We see a really weird looking leapfrog (Ok, hardcores, you know the chant, and you’ll call it a botched spot) turning into something that bespeaks an injury angle, but in the way the matches play out , one isn’t so sure.
I’m seeing a guy with a knee injury, and the opponent a little concerned, a little hesitant, and then ultimately opportunistic. Someone’s got to win the match before the doctor can hit the ring.
There’s something quaint about the promos. We get a few minutes of talk before each match, and it’s cool to see the talent given the opportunity to get on the mic and show what they’ve got. A few matches seemed a bit contrived in their promos, responses, and how the announcers worked it into the flow of the match, but again, there’s something to the old formulas that make the competition meaningful.
The roster is mostly guys from Nightmare Ken Wayne’s school, and also includes Derrick King, and WWE developmental talent Byron Wilcott, and local veteran “Golden Boy” Greg Anthony.
Anthony kicks off the first episode against Greg King Jr. (I guess WWE dictates definitely don’t apply here!) Other guys include “3G” Eric Wayne (hmmm, third generation guy named Wayne training at Ken Wayne’s school?) plus Matt Justice and Kid Nikels.
I’m doubly hesitant to do a match recap replete with holds, because this is a promotion not about this and that and the other thing, instead, it focuses on an atmosphere – the “New Experience” – and the tremendous Old School values. And of course, I hate revealing match results – what’s the use? I want you to want to buy the DVD, not just say you watched it.
But watch it you should.
NEW is decidedly different, and the kind of promotion that would be run-of-the mill forty years ago. But for all you WWE types who don’t seem to comprehend that the WWE isn’t exactly what pro wrestling was, let alone what it is, let alone what it can be, here’s your chance to have your world rocked.
“For more information on New Experience Wrestling and the “Nightmare” Ken Wayne School of Wrestling, visit www.nightmarekenwayne.com or call 901-831-4198.”