Thursday, July 10, 2014

WCWC: A Wonderful Trip Down Memory Lane Salvages the Episode

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Being the independent wrestling promotion that they are, the West Coast Wrestling Connection has a very small budget which forces them to record multiple episodes of PDX TV in one day. This episode is the third of the four that they taped in early June 2014, and both wrestlers and fans in the audience alike showed some major fatigue. Despite their best efforts the episode lagged, saved only by a segment dedicated to Portland TV of years past.

This week involved more build up toward the DDT Challenge between Danny Duggan, representing The Grappler, and Jeremy Blanchard, standing in for Jake "The Snake" Roberts. While the appearance of Roberts in a WCWC ring has sold tickets and caused the crowd to grow immensely for this taping, it also stalled the creative direction for the entire promotion. This DDT Challenge was the first, second, and third thing that is brought up by the commentators during other matches, and the rules even hadn't even been made clear. It would've been okay if Roberts could still perform on the mic like he did in his prime in the WWE, but unfortunately his voice has become hoarse and hard to understand during in-ring promos opposite The Grappler and in backstage packages with Blanchard.

Despite all of those issues, it was still exciting to see Roberts alive and engaging in the ring again. It became even more exciting to know that he was doing this all the way up in Portland, OR for a promotion that is lesser known among the indies. The angle was clunky and had its flaws, but how much more can you expect from the bookers when they have to come up with an entire month's worth of stories and then execute them in a matter of a few hours? Things change, different minds have different thoughts and there is no allotted time for gauging the interest of the crowd and changing an angle if necessary. The Grappler, Roberts, and everyone else are doing the best they can with this feud, but it is a blessing for all involved that there is only one more episode revolving around the DDT Challenge.

Due to the lack of new material for this episode, and partly to honor the rich history of Professional Wrestling in Portland, a segment from an old episode of Portland Wrestling was shown. Portland Wrestling was the name of the local TV taping that ran from 1953-1991. That show featured popular wrestlers such as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Buddy Rose among others. It garnered a loyal following during its run. The segment that was shown in this episode involved Piper appearing on Rose's talk show segment called the "Rose Garden" where the heel Rose wanted Piper to leave the company forever after taking a sabbatical to film a movie, labeling him a "quitter." The biggest takeaway from the segment was how large of a response these two men generated from the audience. It was a blessing in disguise that there was a lack of in-ring entertainment to take time in this episode, because watching Piper and Rose go back and forth on the mic while the crowd roared its approval was exhilarating.

Being a wrestling fan in my mid-20's, I'm starting to wonder more and more about the Territorial Era and especially the way the crowd marked out for angles and promos. If the "Rose Garden" was a true sign of what it was like in that era, I'm sad I missed out. There is a purity in the work that was done by Piper and Rose (and the few supporting players that they had in the segment) where they were all in a zone. They all knew what would get the crowd to pop, they all knew how to give and receive the remarks that were flying by, and they never broke character. Now I love the "Reality Era" as much as any one else, but there is a joy in seeing someone give their whole being to a performance without having to worry about what lines the writers created for them and not feel the need to add a knowing reference to what is going on in the "dirt sheets" or on Twitter. When performers fully commit, that is when performances become transcendent.

This upcoming week the DDT Challenge finally happens and then the following week the episodes that I was able to attend live will premiere. I hope to add a separate piece in addition to the next review about my experience visiting the "Historic" Bob White Theater on a hot Saturday in July, so look out for that. Until then, keep supporting the indies.