Sting

CSR Wrestlemania Weekend, California Dreamin’

It’s showtime folks… And so it was, Wrestlemania 31 weekend is in the books. This by far, was the best Chair Shot Reality Wrestlemania takeover, ever… at least since I’ve been part of the show. One word can be used to describe this weekend, hustle. Not John Cena hustle, loyalty and respect, more like Deadicated Clothing’s dream big and hustle hard.

Since early November the planning was ongoing. I would send no less than a dozen emails/texts and phone calls to Justin LaBar each and every day. Hotel, airfare, sponsorships, partnerships, tickets, packages, event planning, and anything else you can think of. It was a fun process, but a tiring one.

No sooner did the wheels touch down in San Jose, that I immediately began “working”. First stop was J Lohr wines to meet Lisa Boissier, her staff, and do a walk through for Saturday night’s A Taste of Reality Hall of Fame viewing party. The facilities are awesome, and they produce and bottle their wine on-site. 12,000 cases each day. 144,000 bottles! Following the walk through, Blake Mitchamore and I were invited to a tasting on the spot, with the goal of setting the 6 glass sampling menu. We sipped and sipped, while Lisa was teaching us how to properly taste. We continued sipping…. and sipped some more! An hour later, our menu was decided and it was time to move on to more business.

We summoned a Lyft and made our way to Rookies Sports Lodge, our central hub for the weekend. As soon as I walked through the door I was greeted with pleasantries and kindness from the entire Rookies staff, led by Jordan and Trisha. Let me tell you, this spot has no faults. I met Michael Hobson, owner, in person for the first time. I exchanged dozens of emails with Michael the entire lead-up to Mania. He was likely sick of seeing my name pop up on email, text, and his phone! Everything was great all weekend long at Rookies. Great venue, great staff, and GREAT food! That can’t be mentioned enough. We squared away everything for the weekend and waited for our first event to kick off, the CSR Wrestlemania Welcome Party.

The first fans and friends began filtering in at 4:15, and the entire Tailgate room was filled by 4:45. We had calamari, wings, pizza, and more. Being Catholic, I chose to refrain from the meats this day. We also had our first surprise guest of the weekend make an appearance, Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs. Let’s just say he brought the nastiness to the party, and an armpit to my face. I went to Nastyville!

After an hour break, Vince Russo arrived for the evening and our VIP meet and greet, uncensored Q&A, and he captured the crowd. He discussed everything under the sun, and more. There couldn’t be an easier person to work with in planning and execution of a guest appearance than Vince. Along with past guests of CSR including Matt Hardy, Matt Striker, and Kevin Nash, Vince brought professionalism, integrity, and passion. Night one at Rookies was in the books.

From there Justin and I made our way to the San Jose Sports Bar for the PWR Kevin Nash party, hosted by David Herro, Dameon Nelson, and Linda Kay. Following some quick “business” affairs (shocker) and housekeeping with Dameon, we were set for the evening. PWR is a first class production with awesome people involved. The night was fun, talking shop with Al Snow, Jeff Hardy, Abyss, and many more. Around 11:20 we were to hook up with big Kev for an autograph signing of wine labels for Saturday night. In the madness of the party, a good madness, I slowly and unintentionally let my emotions get the best of me. Picture 300 people in a small space, lots of noise, and a touch of alcohol, and that’s what my roadblock was. I held the labels, a priority for the entire weekend, to be signed and then- in the midst of it all, drop everything, including this iPad I am typing on. I uncharacteristically became rattled, flustered, and not myself. All the planning, all the time and money spent just to get these labels signed and I felt like I was going to drop the ball, as I did with everything in my hand. Well, in the end, everything was gathered, labels were saved, signed, and secure…. though my iPad now has a minor screen blemish!

After all that, I needed to get away. It was time to get out of the best party at that time of the evening. Even though I wanted to stay, my better senses got Justin and I out of there. It was the best business decision I could have made all weekend. On the way home I lost it, all the stress hit me and I broke down. After some reassuring from Justin, I was back to the room and ready to call it a night. Add that entire scenario to the fact that I hadn’t slept in since Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. and therein lies the problem. It was the end to a marathon 42 hours.

Saturday morning our VIP Experience guests Ethian (not pronounced anywhere near Ethan I later learned) and Jean-Francois (JF) joined Vince, Josh, Caroline, Blake and I for breakfast, while Justin was working Axxess. We had a chance to talk about Friday night and more, even though E and JF were 45 minutes late! Following breakfast, thanks to Trevor and Amber Ellison, we had an impromptu day of fun in the sun, pizza, a few drinks and a lot of NON-wrestling talk (which was nice). Somehow, at the end of it all, Justin, Josh, and I found ourselves in the pool. Once we dried out, we all headed to our rooms to get ready for our Taste of Reality Hall of Fame party at J. Lohr.

I led the charge to get everything ready at the winery but, that wasn’t needed. As Blake and I arrived, we saw WWE balloons, title belts, Hulk Hogan standup cut out, and so much more. This was amazing and a relief to me- I didn’t have to lose my mind tonight. I did make sure everything was ready, looked over the menu, and pulled up the WWE Network. We were ready to roll. Soon thereafter, Justin led in the rest of our team of friends. At 6:00, all guests had arrived, and I welcomed everyone and introduced Lisa to the room. From there, she took over with her team and we were in to our first tasting in the reception room. For 3 hours came wine and cheese/salami pairings, as well as candid Vince Russo reaction to the Hall of Fame. When I mean candid, I mean dying of laughter! As the night continued, I asked Lisa if I could purchase a bottle or two of their Mourvèdre to sample. We are talking $40 bottles of wine and she said “we will take care of that,” in the words of the Miz, awesome! This wine hits the pallet like a Mike Tyson right hook. So hard and so good, and goes well with any wild game meat. It’s so good, I purchased a bottle to take home for dinner this week. I will also be purchasing a case, soon. Only 470 bottles of the vintage remain. We began our final tasting prior to Kevin Nash’s induction, where we presented our special gift- an autographed bottle of special label, collectors edition (25 bottles) Kevin Nash J. Lohr 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Following our final tasting, we gathered for a group toast and pictures to end our evening with applause for J. Lohr.

We then headed back to the hotel to drop off our wine, and headed to the casino for dinner. We were 20 deep, and soon were joined by the PWR team of Herro and Nelson. We always get a group shot at Mania, so we did so for 31! Vince and I sat side by side and had a very special 30 minute conversation over dinner, discussing everything from wrestling to family, career goals, life goals, and so much more. I can’t thank our second package winners John Thomas and Will “The Thrill” McNiff enough for picking up our dinner tab, they damn sure didn’t need to do so. These two guys were awesome all weekend long, had intelligent wrestling conversations, and John had the booking moment of all time, but I doubt WWE will be as smart as he is on booking! Following dinner we retired early for the night, knowing the marathon of a day that was to follow on Wrestlemania Sunday.

6:00 a.m. My alarm went off. I jumped out of bed, full of piss and vinegar, and said to Blake, let’s do this! We called a Lyft and made our way to the gym. We clanged and banged non-stop for an hour. Super setting everything, we covered all muscle groups. It was officially time to play the game. We then walked back to the hotel, all the while I am- you guessed it- working. I received a text from the humble one, Brian Karavlan, that he wanted to purchase our second and final Wrestlemania Sunday package. So, in order to secure his tickets, I was on Eventbrite trying to close ticket sales, not wanting to oversell. It all worked out and soon enough, Blake and I were already back to the hotel. After a shower and change of clothes, it was off to Rookies for our CSR tailgate party.

Bloody Mania’s were the drink of the morning, and that is confirmed by our tab! Once again we were joined by 40 friends and fans, as well as Knobbs. Bob Dunn, formerly of Pittsburgh, also purchased a Sunday package. He arrived and we were officially game on. Also on hand, were Brian and Kate Kelly. Talk about some cool cats, these two were a joy to be around. Down to earth and full of knowledge. They purchased the Raw with Reality package, which included 2 tickets to Raw, Friday night tickets, and Mania after party as well.

As the tailgate continued, I decided to hand out 14 Wrestlemania tickets, making sure nothing went wrong. Zig Daniels, a rockin’ friend, had already picked up his ticket in the morning. The last ticket to give out was Isenberg’s… and the first ticket to go missing and needing replaced was, Isenberg’s! No less than 2 minutes after having it, he lost it! The following 45 minutes wasn’t fun, BACK TO WORK! We fixed the ticket fiasco and were in a car on our way to Levi’s Stadium.

We were there, met the group and made our way in. Of course, drama ensued as Caroline couldn’t take her purse in. We all warned her! Oh well, it was a nice Coach clutch while it lasted. We made our way to our seats, encountering many CSR fans on our way. Took a few pictures, and then took over section 131, row 29, seats 5-20. Justin, Josh, Caroline, Blake, Trevor, Amber, Bam, Zig, John, Will, Brian K, Bob, Trisha, Ethian, JF, and me. I shouldn’t say Zig, he showed up 2 hours in to the show!

Wrestlemania was amazing. Top to bottom, including the pre-show, the 31st edition of the Super Bowl of wrestling was sound. There were a few low spots, but for the most part the night was great. Check out Chair Shot Reality this weekend for full reaction. One match I will detail here though is Sting v. Triple H. Goosebumps and silence, that is all that needs said. The reason I am in the wrestling business, let alone a fan, is because of Steve Borden. His entrance was similar to the grand entrances of his in IWGP and NJPW. He took his sweet ass time to the ring, and rightfully so. This was his one, and maybe only, Wrestlemania moments. The first time I twitched a muscle was his first howl to the crowd, and I was as loud as could be. Next out was Triple H, and his entrance was nothing less than spectacular as well. We immediately got a stare down, a this is awesome chant, and a collar and elbow tie up. Sting’s first bump was a shoulder block from HHH, and Justin turned to me and said “do you see his rope burn already?!” The next sequence let everyone know Sting “still got it!”

After a crotch chop from Hunter, Sting then provided an arm drag followed by a “patented Stinger drop kick” in the words of Dusty Rhodes. The crowd of 76,000 plus went off with a you still got it chant. As the match progressed, no one sat down. And then, in the middle of a scorpion death lock, out comes DX! Of course, it makes sense. And Sting took them down! HHH then nailed a pedigree, and Sting kicked out. And, just before a sledge hammer could be used… NWO! The Monday Night War had been reborn as all hell was breaking loose. After some one ups on both sides, Sting sat down on the death lock again when, surprise, sweet chine music from HBK! At this point I am expecting either Ric Flair or Shane McMahon to come down and even out the score, again. The finale in that scenario would have seen Vince McMahon end WCW once and for all. Though that never happened, neither was the realistic chance of WCW’s all time top draw defeating WWE’s COO at Wrestlemania. As Triple H stood victorious, and the handshake followed, even though Sting lost, he lost in a strong showing. It took HHH, DX, a super kick, and a sledge hammer to the face to keep Sting down. I was very happy with the match and representation of Sting.

The rest of the night played out and those thoughts as mentioned before will be heard on CSR. No sooner did Seth Rollins get the three count, that I said to everyone “I gotta get the hell out of here.” I grabbed Josh and Blake and we were off to hunt down a Lyft. We literally jogged no less than 2 miles, as far away from the stadium we would get to secure a ride. We did find one after some heated moments between Blake and several drivers, and we arrived at Rookies by 9:00 p.m. As we walked in, again I was assured our evening would be perfect and that the staff would cater to all our needs. Michael and Nikayla made sure we were set to go and the food soon came out as the fans began arriving (what a traffic nightmare it was for some). Wings, calamari, chicken quesadilla, chicken parm, loaded mac and cheese, salads, pizza! Holy spread! Vince arrived and we kicked off our final event of the trip, the Hot Tag Reaction with Vince. Great insight from the Godfather of the Attitude Era. As the event ended, thanks in part (all) to Blake, we were able to thank Vince with a piece of San Francisco Giants memorabilia. You can hear more about this at this link https://t.co/81MODvOKcB (first 5 minutes).

Justin and I were the last to leave Rookies and, after a final shot with Michael, he offered us a ride back to the hotel. Needless to say, my eyes were no longer capable of staying open to watch Sting v HHH back in the room. Justin and Blake can attest to this! I was ass-kicked and down for the 10 count.

Upon waking Monday morning, Bam (who is just a great person top to bottom- especially his hair) was hungry! So, already planned, we headed across the street for our Wrestlemania Hangover Brunch. We talked about the weekend, and had some great laughs. Vince, Josh, and Caroline were on their way home already. Our remaining group made our way to San Pedro Square and O’Flaherty’s for an unscheduled Raw tailgate party. We ran in to fans, friends, and had a group shot (both Jameson and picture definition). We then headed over to SAP for Raw! And then, what a mass of disaster outside the arena.

17,000 fans, and 3 lines to get in… Talk about poor planning. I sneaked one in and slipped in line with a CSR fan. I was in the arena for Superstar’s, the rest of the crew barely made the start of Raw. But good thing they did because Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were on a rampage! More on this on CSR.

After Raw, we made our way back to the Square to Blush Sushi. It was a much needed sushi dinner. After another minor mental meltdown from the 4 days of nonstop action, Blake, Trevor and Amber reassured me that all the work I did was worth it and everyone appreciated it all. I needed to hear that. And back to the room we went.

We wrapped up our trip with breakfast at the hotel. We all said our goodbyes to Bam, Trevor, and Amber. Then there were 3- Justin, Blake, and myself. We made out way to J. Lohr to ship some wine home and proceeded to the airport. We got to the airport at 10:15. We went to grab some food not knowing that 2 gates away were Undertaker and Sting boarding a flight to Dallas. This was a YOU’VE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME moment. Why did I have to eat? The pictures that surfaced that everyone was afraid to ask to be in, I would have done just that. If I ever regretted anything in my life, it would ALMOST be this lost chance! C’est La Vie!

We finished eating and all three went our separate ways. I had an hour to kill so I sat in a corner and watched Sting vs. HHH once more. It was at that precise moment in time that I realized “holy shit” – I was there for Sting and Wrestlemania. Of all the ringside seats, Raw’s, Mania’s, and wrestler interactions over the years, this was the crowning jewel. That match, that moment, and that guy was the entire reason was there, that I am in the business, and that I am writing this blog. Everything happens for a reason, Sting is the reason for ALL of this… For meeting Blake, Trevor, Amber, Bam, JF, Ethian, Brian Kar, Brian and Kate Kelly, Kamp, Jose T, Enrique, Bob Dunn, Zig, John, Will, Justin, Josh (working with those two), Vince Russo, Matt Hardy, Matt Striker, Kevin Nash, David Herro, Dameon Nelson, Vic T, all the fans, all the boys, and all the memories. The partnerships with Rookies and J. Lohr, TagMeADate.com, Brad Bohannan, Spirits on Bourbon, the Avenue Pub in New Orleans… Jaime from Maniacrawl, and giving back to Connor’s Cure. Vince Russo said it best, God has a plan (regarding his running in to Bubba and Velvet)- and for me, he put Sting on a TV screen for me to see 27 years ago and, because of that, I have all of this! This I am thankful for.

Most thankful though of all, I am to my wife, Dayna. She puts up with a lot from me and this wrestling gig. It’s one thing to work 50 hours a week during the day, it’s another to sacrifice my space time to work another 10-20 hours on CSR both on screen and behind the scenes. I love it though, and I love her more. She was unable to come this year, but she will damn sure be in Dallas for 32! She enjoyed 30 in NOLA, and she even likes wrestling (a bit) now! Oh, and speaking of Dallas, plans are already in the works for the biggest and best CSR Wrestlemania weekend, ever! More fans, more friends, more special moments, and more CSR!

Once again, thank you thank you thank you – Michael and the entire Rookies Sports Lodge, Lisa and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, TagMeADate.com, Vince Russo, my co-hosts/CSR team, most importantly Justin LaBar. Bro, the potential is endless! All the fans, more of the friends, and all of the memories. Dream Big Hustle Hard!

First, WCW… Now, Sting saves WWE from the Authority

What an ending, the rumors were true (finally). Sting, the Franchise – the Icon, officially made his WWE debut last night at Survivor Series. And, for as awesome a moment it was – I couldn’t speak during or for about 5 minutes after Survivor Series went off the air.

It was the perfect setting – the perfect time, Triple H and the Authority running roughshod over the main event and seemingly nobody in sight to stop the inevitable. At 10:50 PM I tweeted out “I hear voices in my head…” followed by the punch “they’re telling me the WWE trolled us, again” in regards to a Sting debut. It was also a slight bit of anticipation of Randy Orton returning in his hometown to save Team Cena.

So as the inevitable played out and Triple H pedigreed Dolph Ziggler through the mat, it was now or never for a regime change. Triple H proceeded to roll Seth Rollins on top of Ziggler and called for a ref to come out and count the 1-2-3. Cue Scott Armstrong.

Sliding under the bottom rope, Armstrong got in to position as Triple H rolled up he sleeves.

1…

And then I noticed something … The most awkward coil up of an officials arm. It was almost as if Armstrong’s arm was being held back by gravity. “OH SHIT!” I exclaimed… And then the sound of a lightning strike with thunder and a crow’s cry.

I jumped out of my chair and a half, clutching my phone as I proceeded to tweet… “#StingWatch ahahahahhdjfkfjfjrffndksldkfkfjdjdj wooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!”

THE MOMENT I HAD WAITED FOR WAS NOW. Realizing it, the anticipation I had for Sting for years, especially this Survivor Series Sunday, my wife said “just enjoy it” – knowing I would likely be live tweeting it. But even with her thoughts, I wouldn’t have tweeted… I couldn’t tweet. I was frozen. I was in awe. I was reliving my youth – from the 1990 Great American Bash, Super Brawl 1991, Starrcade 1992, Beach Blast 1992, Starrcade 1997… All the matches with Ric Flair, Vader, Ric Rude, Muta, Cactus Jack, and even Hulk Hogan, ran through my mind… AND THEN –

I blinked, and then – he appeared.

For starters, the horror-movie music was a great touch. Part of me wanted his old “Turbo Charged” theme to blast the arena and out would come sting with bleach-blonde hair, but the other part of me said ‘this is right.’

As the cameras got up in his face, followed by a great zoom out – I then began to hear Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL commentate this moment. This was mistake number one, and it was a big one.

Aside from Jim Ross, there should have been no one speaking as Sting made his way to the ring. This should have been a moment to listen to the music, the crowd reaction, and the visual excellence which the production of the moment was. All I would have liked to have seen added would have been smoke or fog rising as he walked through to the ring.

Back to the trio of announcers.

Cole: “Oh my God.”
Lawler: “What?”
Cole: “It’s Sting!”
Lawler: “What!?”
Cole: “Stinger’s here!”

And then, ruining the moment, JBL proceeds to give us a Wikipedia rundown of Sting’s accomplishments.

JBL: “A six-time WCW champion. The two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The Icon, the Franchise.”

Lawler: “But what the hell is he doing here?”
Cole: “The man who’s never stepped foot inside WWE’s arena before.”
JBL: “Well what a hell of an impact he’s made the first time he did. Hoah, God.”
Cole: “But why is Stinger here?”
JBL: “It’s none of his damn business I’ll tell ya.”
Cole: “This is incredible.”

As I watched back more than 2 dozen times already I am more and more troubled by the announcers involvement in the entrance and spectacle of Sting’s debut. Not so much Cole and Lawler (since King couldn’t get a word in), more so JBL.

This was supposed to be a ‘surprise’ moment. A ‘saving’ moment for the WWE against the Authority. Cole set it all up perfectly. He gave us the WOW, Lawler gave us the SHOCK, and then JBL gives us… a resume! As great a wrestler and as storied a history Sting has had, why would it be natural for JBL to tell us his career accomplishments? Then, the next time JBL speaks he says “Well what a hell of an impact he’s made the first time he did.” He hadn’t yet made any impact. He made an appearance. And then after Cole asked why Stinger was here (which I am totally thankful for every time he is referred to as STINGER, since it is his proper character name) JBL bloats out “It’s none of his damn business I’ll tell ya.”

Did JBL know what Sting was doing? Did he know his intentions? How could he speak to Sting’s business when the man literally just appeared less than thirty-seconds prior? Had JBL stayed silent or been muted the commentary would have been.

Cole: “Oh my God.”
Lawler: “What?”
Cole: “It’s Sting!”
Lawler: “What!?”
Cole: “Stinger’s here!”
Lawler: “But what the hell is he doing here?”
Cole: “The man who’s never stepped foot inside WWE’s arena before. But why is Stinger here? This is incredible!”

I am sorry, but JBL took away from the moment for me. But moving on…

Sting approaches the ring and Armstrong comes out to confront him for some reason, not sure why. Immediately, any doubt as to what Sting’s intentions were were erased. If Triple H sent Armstrong to encounter Sting, then Triple H knew he was the intended target.

Sting gets in the ring. Hunter looks unsure of the situation, yet stern in staring in Sting’s eyes. NEITHER BLINKED as the crowd chanted “Holy Shit!” I didn’t chant, I was still speechless, taking in the moment. Everything was surreal. Trench coat, face paint, black and white ring gear – everything was how I remembered it… but then, I blinked. And I blinked again. And again.

This was the first shadow of doubt I ever had with Sting’s WWE debut. My first question – “Is this going to hurt his legacy?” “Does this feel right?” And I asked myself this because it was the first time I saw Sting as a 55 year-old man, in the ring. This WASN’T the Stinger from Starrcade 1997. There was no flowing black curly hair, no youthful face under the paint. Every part of the gimmick was great, but the man playing the part wasn’t who I remembered.

Sure, we all see our hair recede at some point, but I couldn’t get away from this fact with Steve Borden, the man. As I began to pry the doubt away from my mind, Sting then rotated his back to the hard camera only to reveal a very thinning scalp and hair line on top.

The doubt returned… “Is this best for Sting? Is it worth it?”

As the stare down proceeded with NO SOUND from the announce team, I began envisioning the next action sequence… And it began with Triple H clearly questioning “WHAT” Sting was doing, not kindly to say the least (I am sure you can read lips). After a brief acknowledgement from Sting, Triple H pulled back looking to unload on Sting, who ducked the punch – gave a fierce kick to the gut and a seemingly atomic Scorpion Death Drop!

As Sting shot up, he adjusted his coat to the right side on his left knee – got up and rolled Ziggler on top of Rollins. He proceeded to walk past a downed Triple H, through the ropes, and out of the ring as the ref magically appears after being out for 10 minutes to make the 1-2-3 count signifying the end of the Authority!

So, how do I truly feel? How did I truly react?

I felt an adrenaline rush. I felt weightless as I stood in front of my TV, neglect to any of my surroundings. It wasn’t too much, and it wasn’t too little – as far as the spot, it was just right (aside from JBL). Sting didn’t speak words, rather actions. It was the culmination of what Vince said would be a historic Survivor Series at the beginning of the night.

For as happy as I am that Sting has stepped foot in a WWE ring, I am thrown a bit, and only a bit in my thoughts by the fact that it is a 55 year-old version of the man. A month shy of 17 years ago at Starrcade 1997 is the ‘Crow’ Sting I want to remember. I am sure these thoughts of doubt will pass the more I see Sting’s WWE run play out, but I never thought I would DOUBT this moment. And, for a few seconds I did and, might still be.

So where do we go from here? Does Vince kick off Raw tonight and introduce a new authority figure(s)? Does he bring out Sting? Does he reference Sting? Does Sting start the show? Does Cena start the show? Do we see Triple H and Stephanie at all?

The most important question – Does this lead to Sting vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 31? For all the talk about Sting vs. Undertaker – and even Triple H vs. The Rock, is this the match-up we will see in 4 months? If so, I am fine with it – ONLY if Sting wins.

I think this is truly the best option for Sting. He and the Undertaker wouldn’t be as athletic as Sting and Triple H. Sting and Bray Wyatt wouldn’t make sense from a historical standpoint. But the power of Vince McMahon on two fronts – overseeing HIS company and FINALLY signing Sting, makes this match-up much more enticing. I think Triple H can pick Sting up on the big stage and, Sting himself will seize the moment.

I have so many more thoughts on last night and I will join @JustinLaBar on Wrestling Reality – heard of SportsTalk TribLive Radio tomorrow at 2:00PM – SportsTalk.TribLive.Com

THE ONLY THING FOR SURE ABOUT STING, IS NOTHIN’S FOR SURE….

IT’S SHOWTIME FOLKS!

WWE Drops the ‘Bat’ with Sting DVD

The WWE had the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Sting to the WWE fan base, 21-45, while also having an even better opportunity to introduce Sting to the young WWE fans who may have never seen, let alone heard of the Stinger.  This face painted ‘Little Stinger’ was letdown.  I was let down more than the little Hulkamanics were at Bash at the Beach 1996… and that was historic.

The Best of Sting – 3 disc DVD was nothing more than a quick money making venture for the WWE off of the Sting trademark.  Hell, you know you were in for a fraud when Jeff Farmer, aka the NWO Sting, was on the back cover.  Surely the WWE production team didn’t think it was great marketing to place a phony on the back cover of the real thing!  And they didn’t think it- matter of fact, the obviously didn’t care to think or proof the DVD cover to cover.

Aside from Disc 1, the DVD was nothing more than a collaboration of matches that can be viewed on the WWE Network – for only $9.99.  I paid $21 to get this “exclusive” DVD with special footage, etc.  I very much enjoyed the early days of Sting.  Matches from the mid to late 80’s, but then I received a Rude Awakening when nothing more than a few WCW Saturday Night and Nitro matches were on discs 2 and 3.

The biggest transformation of character in professional wrestling history was barely covered.  I wanted behind the scenes footage of Sting preparing to take on the NWO, I wanted the story behind the character change, I wanted to know why the Starrcade 97 main event was an absolute let down.  Sure, I know – Sting came in 10 pounds overweight and pale – but that had nothing to do with his performance in the match.  It had nothing to do with the booking of the match.  It had everything to do with Hulk Hogan being in control of ever aspect of WCW.

I did realize after watching that the NWO Wolfpac version of Sting was very cool and, could have been even better.  He came out of his “Crow” shell – he talked trash and was even ” a little cocky!”  I don’t know what I am reaching for at the end of the day but, I do know I will be reaching for my receipt to return the DVD ASAP!  Someone call me when the REAL Biography of STING is released by the WWE.  I wanted MORE interviews and insight from Ric Flair, Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Vader, Mick Foley, Steve Austin AND, the man called STING himself.  Giving me Sting interviews from 95 and 98 was a joke.  If the WWE is going to parade Sting around right now at Summerslam, do yourselves a favor and interview him for his own ‘BEST OF’ DVD!

If you have purchased the DVD, what are your thoughts?  If you haven’t, DON’T!  You can save $11 by paying $9.99 for the WWE network.  You can also go to YouTube and pull that matches that are on the DVD.  If this were the rotten tomatoes movie review, the Sting DVD would get a 3 of 10… with no Bret Hart restart for a fast – slow, Nick Patrick count!

Disclaimer – I didn’t proofread this post – then again, I don’t think it matters- since the WWE surely didn’t proof the Sting DVD!

 

 

Respect in the World of Independent Professional Wrestling-

I recently had the opportunity, for the second time in 10 weeks, to have an all access look behind the scenes of the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC).  And, for the second consecutive show, I left with a greater appreciation of the atmosphere, the overall production, and most importantly – the boys.

Since February 8, 2013, I’ve taken on this professional wrestling industry as a second career.  From the onset, I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in or how my future in the business would play out.  54 weeks later, through the guidance of Chair Shot Reality (CSR) executive producer, Justin LaBar, I’ve learned more than I ever knew in a very short period of time.

Prior to joining CSR, I was a “casual” fan of sports entertainment.  I was a diehard growing up as a kid enjoying the performances of Sting, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Bret Hart.  As I grew older, I still followed the sport – having monthly WWE pay-per-view parties at a friend’s house.

And then I went to college.

I no longer tuned in to USA or Spike TV every Monday night at 9PM.  I no longer had the time or money to watch the big shows each month.  But, I did still have the itch, the guilty pleasure, and most importantly, the friends who still had a passion for professional wrestling.

It was by chance, when I was a senior at Point Park University, that I would meet a skinny kid with blonde highlights and a love for professional wrestling.  That scrawny pretty boy was LaBar.  I was 23 and he was 18 when our paths crossed for the first time.

Fast forward to Saturday night, December 14, 2013 – IWC’s ‘Winner Takes All’

Thanks to the generosity of IWC owner Chuck Roberts, I had an all access pass that night.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know I wanted to learn.  I desired wanting to learn everything I possibly could in order to have a better understanding of the overall world of the industry.  And learn is exactly what I did.

What I left with that evening was a greater appreciation for the business and everything that goes in to it.   I won’t give all the details, but I will say that behind the curtain, professional wrestling is a work of art.  Some of the art is that of beginners however, much more of the art is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Before John Cena was the face of the WWE, he was learning how to wrestle just as the stars of IWC were on this evening.  He wrestled in a local gym, in front of a crowd of 300, dressing in an open area with 30 others, while rehearsing his match against his opponent in the dark, and at the end of the night was a better performer because of it.

The night of December 14, former WWE wrestler and commentator Matt Striker was the special draw of the evening.  He wrestled a match against Andrew Palace, which was the first in a series of upcoming matches that will crown the IWC Super Indy Champion.  Palace was victorious, but Striker’s feedback to not only Palace, but the entire IWC locker room was worth more than anything they made that evening.

Matt Striker was also invaluable to me as well.

While Striker was in town, he was a guest host on CSR.  Meeting him earlier in the week, I was able to communicate seamlessly with Striker at the IWC event.  In fact, there wasn’t one person on the IWC roster who wasn’t accommodating to me.  They each introduced themselves to me, a total stranger to most, as soon as they arrived at the venue.  One by one they approached me, extended their hand and said “Hi I’m (FILL IN THE BLANK).”

WOW, talk about respect!  I immediately turned to LaBar and pointed out how impressed I was by the professionalism of all the talent.  Not just as wrestlers, but as real life people.  It was this that made me appreciate the boys endlessly.

The night ended up being a great success.  Colt Cabana performed in a triple threat match – which was won by the ‘Neon Ninja’ Façade.  RJ City defeated Shima Ion, and Dalton Castle defeated ‘Big League’ John McChesney to win the IWC World Heavyweight Championship.  It was the dawning of a new era for the IWC!

At the end of the evening all the boys rallied together.  For some, dinner was on the agenda after a night of blood and sweat- adding a beer to celebrate a night well done and successful show by all.

It was at that dinner when Roberts asked me “how was it?”  My response- great!

I further explained to Roberts that I was impressed with everything from start to finish.  I saw what I could only imagine prior to the event.  And, I then reiterated what stood out the most to me- the individual respect and introductions from each and every one of the IWC performers.

I’ve heard horror stories from independent wrestling shows about lack of morale, no-shows, and dead crowds.  I encourage you to visit the IWC website (www.IWCwrestling.com) and pick a show in the near future to attend.  You will get great value for your entertainment dollar.

This past weekend I was on hand once again for the ‘New Era’ event.  I arrived to the venue with LaBar and guest talents of the evening- Luke Gallows and Amber O’Neal.  Immediately, I said to myself, ‘I am going to walk up to each of the boys – and girls – one by one and shake their hands.’  However, before I could even begin that process, they all approached me, again.

It is something I’ve come to expect and greatly appreciate.

This was no fluke, the IWC locker room is something special.  There is only one place this could come from, and that is the leadership of Chuck Roberts.

Observing Roberts more closely this evening, I was able to see the hustle and bustle of the promoter of the company.  His dedication to each and every detail was precise.  He knew what he wanted and made sure all hands were on board.  I can only think that in Vince McMahon’s infant days in the business, he was the same way.  I sure hope so, because I don’t see how the WWE could be where it is today without the tireless effort of its leader.

Chuck Roberts is a leader and, I wish him all the best in one day making IWC one of the biggest draws in the industry.  This evening, in addition to Gallows – Al Snow was on the card.  But IWC is no stranger to top talent.  Several current top WWE stars have performed over the years for IWC.

Cesaro and CM Punk are just two of the many who wrestled in an IWC ring.

Recently, another IWC grad and original, Logan Shulo, began his quest to make the WWE roster down at the WWE Performance Center and NXT.  I was fortunate enough to see Logan’s last IWC show in December and I am certain I will see his first WWE match sooner rather than later.

At the end of the night, there was once again a rallying of all, and the boys were complete once again in blood, sweat and a beer.  And finally, I accomplished what I had set out to do 7 hours earlier, I initiated farewell handshakes with the boys and let them know just how much I appreciated their work.

The IWC stands for International Wrestling Cartel, but to me- it now means- Infused With Class.

OMAHA! A ‘Super’ Idea for the Potential Debut of Sting

In 1999, the WWE embarked on a Sunday that was even bigger than Wrestlemania.  It was during Super Bowl XXXIII that the WWE (WWF at the time) spent $1.6M on a 30 second ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNCwb5yoQtw) that featured The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Vince McMahon, and The Undertaker.

The Undertaker.

Isn’t it ironic that the Denver Broncos took part in the Super Bowl that season, and they once again are in the championship game this year as well.  15 years was a long time ago.  As a matter of fact, that was the year of Wrestlemania 15 and, by my calculations – the WWE is due for it’s every 15-year Super Bowl commercial.

Times have changed though.  This year, a 30 second Super Bowl spot will cost $4M!  That much money can buy a lot of things, it also better have an overwhelming return on investment.

The Undertaker.

At Wrestlemania XV, the Undertaker ran ‘the streak’ to 8-0 by defeating the Big Boss Man inside Hell in a Cell.  This year, he has a chance to go 22-0.  But against who?

REFER BACK TO: Return On Investment.

The rumors are hotter than ever and the opportunity for the WWE to capitalize is now.  It has to be.  I am not sure what Batista is being paid for his current return to the company but, at this time I can promise you one thing – the WWE isn’t seeing a high return.

The Daniel Bryan movement is more than just a WWE thing now, it is mainstream and there is a pretty good chance a YES! chant will break out at some point in MetLife Stadium on Sunday, a place the WWE got their hands on before the NFL could.  Stick with me here, it’s almost time to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Last night on Raw, it’s obvious the WWE did two things; A) Rewrite several possible plans they had for the next 68 days, and B) They trolled the WWE Universe incredible well, specifically HHH in the opening segment.  No matter what the WWE wanted its fans to accept, the response was a resounding NO!  So they must call an AUDIBLE.

Next week, Raw takes place live from Omaha, Nebraska… OMAHA!  But the audible, whether it is in place or not needs to be made soon, and it needs to be brought in to play Sunday during Super Bowl XLVIII.

PIECES: The Undertaker, the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, Omaha (both Nebraska and Audible)… It’s been 15 years since the WWE’s only Super Bowl ad during Super Bowl 33, it’s time to come full circle again, 15 years later.

The Missing PIECE:  STING

Other than promoting the 30th anniversary of the WWE’s biggest event of the year, the WWE is also set to launch the WWE Network, complete with historic and original programming.  One of the major draws in the historic programming section will be WCW.

“The Monday Night War” is set to air on the WWE Network upon its launch.  One of the main pieces of that puzzle itself was Sting (we all know the back story).

For $4M, or $133,333.33 per second, the WWE can promote Wrestlemania and/or the WWE Network on Super Bowl Sunday.  And here’s why they should.

According to Nielsen, last year’s telecast of Super Bowl XLVII on CBS drew an average audience of 108.7 million viewers. The game was viewed in 53 million homes and had a 46.4 U.S. household rating. The in-game blackout, being reported as a separated telecast, averaged 106.6 million viewers.

BLACKOUT, a theme synonymous with both The Undertaker and Sting.

This year’s Super Bowl is estimated to be watched by 115 million people.  Is that an audience the WWE wants to pass up?  115 million people to promote Wrestlemania and the WWE Network to.  And the icing on the cake, the debut date of Sting.

Now, I don’t know for sure whether or not Steve Borden has officially signed with the WWE, but there is good reason to believe he has.  Rumored meetings with Vince McMahon in the past week, including one in Pittsburgh on Sunday at the Royal Rumble.

Next week’s Raw in Omaha also happens to be Sting’s hometown.  I am not sure the stars can align any more for this perfect scenario to play out, that being a WWE Super Bowl commercial promoting Wrestlemania 30, the WWE Network, and the debut of Sting – THE NEXT NIGHT on Raw!

Of the 115 million people watching the Super Bowl, many- if not most, will be familiar with WWE and the Undertaker, and more likely than not, Sting.  Execution is key.

There are several scenarios I have played out regarding how this could be executed.  Would the WWE focus on the WWE Network launch?  Keep in mind, according to SocialGuide’s 2013 Super Bowl Advertising Report, 5.3 million people sent out 26.1 million tweets during the course of the entire game.  That’s right in the WWE Network’s wheelhouse.

Or, would the WWE decide that social media interaction during the Super Bowl will be enough in itself, that they would simply stick to Wrestlemania 30?  Either way, that all important ROI would be mind-boggling, tenfold!

Each second, for the first 21, an image of the Undertaker will be shown on the screen (or a picture of his opponent), in a slideshow/movie tape fashion.  One after another 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0… I think you see where I’m going.

At second 22, a question mark appears 22-0?

At second 23, a Scorpion image flashes in black and white.

At second 24, Stings face appears.

At second 25, the word STING is shown.

At second 26, Wrestlemania XXX is shown.

At second 27, Undertaker vs. STING  is shown.

At second 28, History Is Made is shown.

At second 29, Tomorrow Night is shown.

At second 30, OMAHA- RAW is shown

END OF COMMERCIAL

The buzz generated from something like that would payoff by the end of the game based on social media interaction alone.  The viewership the next night would be the highest rated Raw, possibly ever.

Now I know it’s too late to sell 30 second spots for Raw next week, but the supply for the demand would drive up advertising revenue to new levels for the WWE.  It would enable them to sell commercials on WWE program at a premium for the next 2 months.

At the end of this read, you may be excited for my idea, I know I would be.  But then, just like each week on our show, you have to understand REALITY, as in Chair Shot Reality on Wrestlezone.com.

The reality is the Super Bowl commercial spots are likely already sold out.  If Sting signed in the past 7 days, the WWE surely wouldn’t have been able to acquire a Super Bowl slot on such late notice.  Then again, they may have indeed already secured one to promote the launch of the WWE Network.  That would have been a great idea, and still is.  And, if that’s the case – and the WWE does have a commercial placement on Sunday to promote the WWE Network, I think it’s time to call an audible if Sting is indeed heading “home.”

OMAHA!