Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Blog: Slammed Is a Hit

Mike Lortz, aka Jordi Scrubbings, is back again with another guest piece, this time on Slammed: Inside Indie Wrestling. The show aired last night, so think of this as somewhat of instant feedback. Also, visit his site, because he's a cool dude.

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Danny Inferno, one of the stars of Slammed
National Geographic aired Slammed: Inside Indie Wrestling last night. Being that it was Wednesday and no other wrestling action was on, I felt it was my solemn duty to watch. I was curious how Nat Geo would handle the subject of indie wrestling. Would the fans be depicted as ignorant rednecks and the wrestlers shown as Neanderthals? Would it even show the promoters’ perspective – a view not seen in many shows or even in the movie The Wrestler?

I have never wrestled, nor have I ever put together a show, nor have I promoted one. Despite that, I know quite a bit about indie wrestling, especially the Florida scene. I have been backstage throughout events at several different promotions and even tried to put together a documentary on former ECW manager Bill Alfonso (long story, maybe one day I’ll write about it).

That said, within the first five minutes, I loved Slammed.

The show starts with an indie fed having trouble with talent showing up on time. Promoter Dapper Johnny Falco of National Wrestling Superstars is on the phone with wrestler Danny Gimondo (aka Danny Inferno). Inferno claims to be lost and that he “found the directions on the website”. Falco then asks another behind-the-scenes guy if the directions were on the website. I did social media for All-Stars Wrestling of Florida, a small indy fed in the Tampa area, for six months, so of course I was curious about the NWS website and their web presence. Like most indie feds, it is poor, very, very poor.

Here is their website (which still wishes people a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”) and here is their Facebook, which doesn’t have any videos of their matches, announcements of new shows or any pictures from their profile. In this day and age, that’s pathetic. The fact that the promoter doesn’t know what’s on the site said everything I need to know right from the start. Why promoters don’t hire local college kids to do their site or run their social media is beyond me. Newsflash: it would look great on a resume. It’s an unpaid internship where you get to be as creative as you want.

But I digress…

After introducing Danny Inferno at NWS, Slammed weaves the story of the wrestler, his quest to re-join the high ranks of wrestling celebrity, the continued story of NWS and their continued attempt to break even – which I now I know is an almost impossible quest for indies nationwide. All this time, I thought not drawing was just a Florida thing.

Along with Danny Inferno – who we learn was once in the WWE developmental – we are also given the story of Michael Paris (aka Shiima Xion/Zema Ion). Both of these wrestlers, one young and exciting, the other the old grizzled stocky veteran, are trying to make the Ring of Honor roster in an attempt to make living wrestling. Slammed shows both men at their home, in training, and then at the RoH tryout, where they are watched by none other than Jim Cornette and wrestling internet community superstar David Lagana.

Meanwhile at NWS, Nat Geo captures an often heard but rarely seen battle of egos between wrestler and promoter as a 150-lb. grappler named JD Smooth is forced to take on two Kamala-looking monsters. Of course, the diminutive hero doesn’t want to be squashed, but the promoter gives him no choice, leaving him with the eternal command of promoters everywhere: “Entertain me.”

After the NWS show, we hear the promoter again lamenting the poor turnouts of his fed. Unfortunately, that’s the catch-22 most indy promotions find themselves in – they don’t draw without a big name and big names cost money, meaning more fans need to show up. Fail to get the required attendance once and you’ll spend months climbing a mountain, wishing the next show will help you finally break even.

Slammed ends with the ROH try outs of Danny Inferno and Michael Paris. Both go well, as we hear Jim Cornette talk highly about both wrestlers. Unfortunately, however, Slammed does not give us a epilogue and tell us that Paris is now Zema Ion of Impact fame and Inferno is still wrestling for NWS (although he is on Twitter and his following is growing).

Overall, I thought Slammed did a great job of showing the independent wrestling scene. Although it was only an hour, it showed that there is much more to pro wrestling than the WWE/Impact and that wrestlers don’t fall out of the sky blessed with the ability to bodyslam. If you are reading this blog, odds are you know pro wrestling is hard work and making it in the business takes determination, luck, and a little bit of crazy. Kudos to National Geographic for shining a light on this seldom seen sliver of sports entertainment.

Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein - Please visit his site to view the plentiful amounts of pictures he's taken for DGUSA, ROH and other indie feds: Get Lost Photography