NWR GUEST REVIEWER: JEJ Parsons
On January 26th, the so called beginning of the Newfoundland Wrestling wars, I attended OUTRAGE presented by Cutting Edge Wrestling. This was my first time seeing this particular company, as I understand they are relatively new (rebooted?). Is CEW a viable competitor to the newly televised LCW? It is indeed an exciting time to be a wrestling fan in Newfoundland.
I have seen many Legend City Wrestling shows and I have always been at least adequately pleased with the level of entertainment they provide. I had originally planned to see both shows but once they were made competitors on the same night, I simply chose Tommy Dreamer (CEW’s guest star) over LCW’s Gangrel.
I tried to go into OUTRAGE with a completely open mind. To give a little insight on where my review is coming from, I like to think that I prefer the art of wrestling more so than the novelty and “carny” aspects. However, I try not to let anyone sway my judgement on what is good or bad in the wrestling world. I am admittedly a little jaded with “The Big Boys”, World Wrestling Entertainment and tend to gravitate more towards high quality independent wrestling. Therefore, the fact that CEW is seemingly a much smaller company did not bother me in the least.
I have seen Tommy Dreamer wrestle before (in CHIKARA’s King of Trios Tournament) and I knew I was in for some exciting action. It was the rest of the roster that was a mystery to me. I first heard of CEW while living away, in the Canadian Arctic. I watched Youtube videos and instantly knew they were something special. They didn’t have big names from the States; they seemed to have quality homegrown characters that interacted in a compelling way. They were seemingly one part ECW, one part TNA (not necessarily a bad thing), with a dash of Newfoundland showmanship thrown in.
This was when I first called up my best friend and Expert-on-all-things-Wrestling, Dale. I told him I wanted to attend one of these shows when I got home, not for Rhino, Raven or some other attraction, but for the show itself. When Dreamer was announced, it was just icing on the cake.
My first impression was that the Easter Seals House was a seemingly good venue for wrestling. Those working the ticket counter, gimmick tables and concession were all very nice and efficient. However, looking at the 8x10s on the table, I couldn’t believe how small the roster seemed! I arrived simply wanting to see some quality wrestling, would I be disappointed?
By the time the show started, there was standing room only. Me, Dale and our buddy Jesse brought signs that were a joke based on a story Tommy Dreamer told of his childhood. As told on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, Dreamer was a huge mark for Bob Backlund. His first wrestling show his sign was a measly taped up piece of loose leaf saying “BOB BACKLUND #1” for his hero. We did our best to replicate his work.
The show started with the number one contenders tag match. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t have to worry about undertrained kids doing stupid and dangerous things in the ring. The theme throughout the night seemed to be professionalism and not just another ECW wannabe ripoff.
What I like most about the opening contest was that I actually understood what was going on. Many companies run angles where the casual or new fan is left in the dust. While I consider myself a fan of intricate storytelling in and out of the ring, it was nice to be eased into a brand new promotion (to me).
I would like to summarize the rest of the show, just to give my overall impressions instead of a blow by blow description.
First some major pros for the show:
-Great wrestling. Some botches and confusion, although that is to be expected. For the most part, everyone knew what they were doing a played their part. It came off like they knew how to work a crowd, which I would imagine would be one of the harder things for an inexperienced wrestler to do (That isn’t to say they are inexperienced. I have no idea as to any of these guys’ backgrounds).
-Funny and compelling gimmicks. The Gotch Boys have an old timey gimmick which really connects with the Newfoundland audience as well as tips the hat (pun intended) at more devoted fans and historians of the sport. Don Martini is Jericho-esque in his role as champ. I would like to see more of him, as he seemed to take a back seat to Dreamer during this show. Maybe Psycho Mitch should be fleshed out as a character more. I know he’s a main event face. I know he’s Psycho. Show me why. He could really take this gimmick somewhere.
-Great use of Tommy Dreamer in a guest role. He really delivered for the fans. Dreamer definitely connected with the audience and played his role perfectly. I loved the hardcore spots. Safe and family friendly. I don’t know who was chanting “WE WANT BLOOD”, but I certainly don’t. There can be a time and place for blood to play an important role in a match, and this wasn’t one of them. Some modern wrestlers and fans alike are making the case for never having blood in wrestling (Like Nigel McGuiness). Not to mention, I doubt these guys had a physical exam with a blood test before the show. Let’s be safe.
-I think everyone in the main event were tremendous including Psycho Mitch, Alexander Guthrie, Tony King, Scott Gotch and Don Martini. I look forward to seeing these guys wrestle again. Perhaps it was Dreamer playing ring general and organizing everyone, but they all looked like they belonged there. It must be intimidating working with a legend like Dreamer.
-The intermission was overly long, but I was impressed with how efficient CEW was with being able to let everyone have a picture with Tommy in such a short time, considering.
-Most of all, these wrestlers ooze charisma! Between Don Martini on the mic or the ring announcer Travis, all were comfortable and not at all wooden. That can be one of the major drawbacks from these kinds of shows but most everyone pulled off the confidence like pros.
-The best, however, was Dennis Guthrie. He was definitely the star of the show and the man who links this small group together. I haven’t really been a fan of authority figures taking over the limelight, but Guthrie was brilliant. I really can’t stress how much of an effective heel he is.
-It was seemingly for a great cause. You can’t argue with raising money for a charitable organization.
-The crowd was into it. Everyone was marking out, both young and old alike.
Some of the cons:
-I felt that the prices were a little steep.
-The long intermission did take a lot out of the show.
-I know that if the House of Hardcore DVDs were on the gimmick tables at the beginning of the show, Dale would’ve bought one.
-It felt uncomfortable seeing Tommy Dreamer put on the spot to do a Screech-In. With all the alcohol abuse infused in the wrestling industry, it may have been inappropriate especially in front of an audience composed mainly of kids. I understand that it is Martini’s gimmick, but perhaps it was in poor taste.
-Some slip ups in the “trying to do too much” department, but nothing major.
-The psychology in one or two matches left a lot to be desired. What I loved in the opener (knowing all motivations and keeping it simple) quickly spun out of control in one particular match. Whether one of the wrestlers was a heel or face, I don’t know.
-I just wanna say that the small package finish doesn’t really work if it isn’t surrounded by action. You can’t finish a spot, then rest and then go to the small package. It loses its surprise element and looks anticlimactic.
Overall, great show. I do plan on staying impartial during this “Newfoundland Wrestling War” (I see how heated it gets) and I plan on attending both CEW and LCW shows in the future. If CEW expands a little, perhaps brings in a variety of guests, and continues bringing cohesive and in depth storylines, I’ll continue to support. While the show did sag a little in the middle, this promotion has tons of potential and I am definitely looking forward to the next show.