Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The Wrestling Renaissance

Wrestling is a cyclical business. It gets hot for a few years, then it hits a slump, then we get a resurgence. It looks like we’re on the brink of a major resurgence, both locally and nationally. Last night was a great example of this. IWA East Coast, our own local wrestling federation, put on yet another strong show, with top-notch nationally-known talent. Meanwhile, ECW, the most influential national promotion of the 1990s took another major step in their revival with a very unusual “WWE vs. ECW” show on the USA Network. Also, RCW, the local fed that almost lost their spot on WHCP, got a reprieve, and is continuing with new episodes every Saturday at 4 PM. Things are looking up for fans of watching people hurt each other.

The IWA show was another incredible night of wrestling. Charleston-area fans don’t know how lucky they are to get such a high caliber of internationally-known talent to perform for them. The results, very quickly: Tracy Smothers defeated Blue Meanie in a dance-off that turned physical. “Omega” Aaron Draven won over Zach Vincent in an intense high-flying match. In the first shocker of the night, the Hane Brothers defeated Mad Man Pondo and 2 Tuff Tony in a tag match that went all over the arena. A rematch is already signed for the next show on August 2. Trick Nasty beat the newly-renamed “J. D. Santos”, his former partner. Nasty moves on to face former NWA champ Steve Corino in August. “Giant Killer” Little Spike Dudley, of ECW, WWE, and TNA fame, came up short in his bid to bring down the monster Warpig, but only after a tire iron came into play. The second shocker of the night saw Ashland’s Juggulator defeat Ian Rotten in a “Loser leaves IWA East Coast” match. Fans are really going to miss Ian. Topping off the evening was a bloody conflict wherein “Mr. Insanity” Toby Klein emerged victorious over Brain Damage in a “Cheese Grater on a pole” match. Klein gets a shot at IWA East Coast champ Chris Hero, for the title, at the next show. The photos from last night’s show are swiped from Vengon, who posted links at the IWA message board. Thanks for those!

After the show, there was a mad dash to rush home to catch the end of the WWE vs. ECW special. Many fans are skeptical about how ECW will do, now that it’s not an independent company, but rather simply a subsidiary of Vince McMahon’s WWE. The ECW pay-per-view event this weekend is largely another promotional war, instead of a stand-alone ECW program. Fans will have to wait until next Tuesday at 10PM on the Sci-Fi channel to see what the “new” ECW will really look like. Will it be the real ECW, or will it be like The New Cars?

Last night was the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to go to the post-show IWA gathering at The Tank in Dunbar. It was a bit of a surreal night. I found myself sitting at a table with Melanie and Danny Boyd (whom I’ve known forever), and at different times during the night, Spike Dudley, Blue Meanie, Ian Rotten, and many of the other wrestlers who were on the card. It was a trip hearing Spike tell stories about golfing with The Undertaker, and being treated to Ian’s guinea pig story. It was a real kick, and the guys were really down-to-Earth.

So it seems that we’re poised for a few years of wrestling being “cool” again. IWA East Coast is growing, and putting on one fantastic show after another. ECW, for better or worse, at least proves that there is a demand for wrestling beyond “RAW” and “Smackdown!,” TNA, WWE’s closest national competitor, is starting to branch out and run more shows outside their base studio in Florida. Fans of violence and mayhem may be in for a new golden age as a variety of diverse and creative wrestling programs sweep across the country.

Or Vince McMahon might screw everything up again. Still, it’ll be fun to watch.

1 Comment

  1. BionicBuddha

    Enjoying wrestling is one of the common bonds which has cross cultural appeal and unites people with conflicting principles.

    Thanks for sharing and check out my blog, which also has some wrestling related content…

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