Resistance Pro is one of those companies I’ve always wanted to embrace. Why? Because they’re a local federation trying to make a positive impact on pro wrestling. It takes a lot to put a company together, and the Baron brothers have done everything possible to make Resistance Pro successful. Putting money on the line is one thing, but putting your heart and soul into it is another. The heart and soul was on display in a big way just before the main event. The Thompson family bravely came into the ring for a ten bell salute in dedication to Sam Thompson. I want to refer to him as an employee, but he was truly more than that. He cared about this promotion a great deal. He would have wanted Resistance Pro to run last night and to put on an incredible show. One of the indelible marks of last night was Katie Thompson (his sister) thanking the fans in an emotional and heart-breaking manner. She may have been the bravest person all night.
I mention all of this because it’s important to always remember no matter how good or bad a show is, there are people who work hard and enjoy what they’re doing. That’s what made last night so tough. On one hand, you had an incredible tribute being paid to an important member of the Resistance Pro family. Then there was the actual show. In a way, this show was a representation of everything I’ve liked and despised. Very talented guys are using this as a personal showcase to elevate their own standing in the world of professional wrestling. Then there is the booking, which angers me in the most visceral ways, offending my sensibilities as both a fan and even a human being.
Before diving into the negative parts of the show, let’s highlight the positive. It begins with Lock Up. There is no way dressing up two minorities in prison gear should work. Having a tall white man leering behind them also creates some rather interesting connotations. However, Aaron Epic and Sugar Dunkerton work hard in the ring to make you forget the gimmick. I’ve only seen Epic a handful of times, but he clearly has a lot of in-ring skill that’s worth being showcased in other indy companies. In the beginning and end of his tag team match, Epic shined brightly. Sugar Dunkerton isn’t a top ten talent in the ring, but he makes up for it with charisma and a confidence so many other wrestlers want but can’t quite grasp. Dunkerton wants to be the best. He wants to succeed. Why would he put on the orange jumpsuit required for his gimmick otherwise? It’s one thing to improve in the ring, but in order to truly succeed as a wrestler, you must bring more to the table. This means carrying that passion to the microphone. In a way, Dunkerton used the microphone as his paintbrush. The painting was an incredible promo cut after the match where he talked about living in prison. Of course Dunkeron isn’t actually a prisoner. He doesnt spend 23 hours behind cold black bars. But for those few seconds, he made me believe. That’s really what wrestling is all about, right?
In the aftermath of the ten bell salute, Robert Anthony and Jay Bradley were asked to ride the emotional high of the Sam Thompson tribute and put on a main event worthy of paying tribute to a fallen brother. From the opening bell until the referee pounded the mat for three, these two did a great job. There was stiff action. Lots of great strikes. False finishes that made everyone flinch. How these two men are not signed is for others to speculate on. I don’t know Bradley or Anthony well enough to speak about their outside exploits. All I know is they’re talented guys who can hang with any independent professional wrestler. Calling the match a classic would be an overstatement. Saying it was worth watching on their television show is appropriate.
Another lasting image of last nights show? People holding microphones? There was a lot of talking from people up and down the card. The show started with a promo. Last night felt like an open mic night at a comedy club during some points. All of the talking, particularly in the first half of the show, rendered Lou D’Angeli and Harry Smith’s promos less effective. Smith needs all the help he can get as a heel, not because he isn’t capable but because there were too many other angles going on. These two were getting great heat. However, I can’t imagine people wanting to stand up for an entire wrestling show AND have to listen to multiple promos. Did Nikki St. John have to cut a promo talking about Melanie Cruise before using a kendo stick on Taylor Made? Couldn’t they have done something backstage and shown it on the television show or DVD? Ditto for Robert Anthony, who talked vaguely about getting serious and beating up Jay Bradley but was unclear as to whether the match was happening at the show or next month. There is one more aspect of the show I want to address, and it’s really the part of the show that angered me the most.
To begin the show, Rinaldo Piven came out with visible signs of injuries and a lawyer who appeared to be stoned. As a fan, I wasn’t sure how to respond . Am I supposed to laugh when Piven talks about not being able to make love to women because of an injured testicle? Or am I supposed to take him seriously? When I talk about D’Angeli and Smith’s promo being less effective, this is specifically what I’m referring to. Piven and D’Angeli are way too similar. They’re both sniveling unathletic douchebags (within the context of the storylines). Keeping one around is easy heat. Keeping both is redundant. So Piven is out cutting his promo on the commissioner of wrestler’s safety Chris Nowinski. Nowinski comes out and there’s an extended exchange for which the details are not relevant. Discussion of disabled people and those with special needs leads to Billy Corgan’s legitimately handicapped brother coming to the ring. Nowinski and Piven come up with a match for later tonight. Nowinski, who was the commissioner of wrestler’s safety for only two months, was willing to put his job on the line in exchange for Piven volunteering to leave Resistance Pro for six months. This was convoluted and confusing. It reeked of the worst of TNA and WWE. To have Nowinski, a character just introduced to R-Pro, put everything on the line so quickly reeked of desperation and came off heavy ended. I thought this would be the worst of it. Wrong.
Nowinski allowed Jessi Corgan to pick his favorite wrestler for the match. Excusing the fact that someone who’s never had any known connection to wrestling is allowed to pick someone to represent him. What made it even worse is was Corgan picking Serenity. I’m sure Serenity is a nice enough girl, but she’s never proven herself to be any good in the ring. In fact, she took one of the worst looking vertical suplexes in the history of wrestling during the match with Piven’s selection, Anton Vutton. The match wasn’t as bad as I would have expected, but then Corgan tossed Serenity off the top rope and turned heel to cause Serenity the match and Nowinski his job. Yes, Billy Corgan’s special needs brother turned heel on his very first night in wrestling. It was one of the most repulsive things I’ve seen this year. It would be easy for me to rant and rave about this. But I’ll boil it down to this. There is no possible way to pay this storyline off. Jessi Corgan has no business being involved in wrestling, especially as a heel. Why would a fan want to boo someone who’s handicapped? If I see Corgan coming out with Piven, the only feeling I’ll have is discomfort. This entire angle really hurt the show and left a bad taste in my mouth.
This is what it boils down to. I don’t want to see Billy and Jessi Corgan as characters in Resistance Pro. I don’t want to see an awkward family drama play out in front of the cameras. Some have referred to this federation as the TNA of independent wrestling companies. This again strikes me as an overstatement. Resistance Pro is only six months into its existence. They’re trying to figure out an identity and roster. In a year or two, I’d be far more willing to listen to these comparisons. However, there is a fundamental issue that does need to be addressed.
No matter how much the money the Baron brothers throw into this venture and no matter how hard the wrestlers work, it still comes down to Billy Corgan. He is the creative director and must receive the blame for this show. The biggest albatross on this show was the Jessi Corgan angle. This is the clearest example of Billy’s direction. The idea of this promotion was to be a revolution, a chance to do something new. What have we gotten these first seven shows? Generic heel managers. A Bruiser Brody rip-off. Stipulation matches made on the fly. Short matches broken up by long, extended periods of talking. That doesn’t even take into account ECW literally being used as a selling point for at least two shows and Raven cutting the same promo he’s cut the last ten years at the May show.
A reality show is apparently in the works for Corgan or the promotion at large. Reality check. It’s not going to matter. If Resistance Pro doesn’t want to end up a punchline for every other high profile indy that’s failed over the years, it needs to build a core set of talent. This is who I would consider the core men and women: Jay Bradley, Robert Anthony, Harry Smith, Sugar Dunkerton, Aaron Epic, Darrell Hammett, Melanie Cruise, and Nikki St. John. If they can get ACH to appear regularly, throw him on the list too. As far as I’m concerned, everyone else is expendable or should be gotten rid of. If I were the promoter, I’d focus my entire promotion around these ladies and gentlemen. Everything I did would be to get them over to the audience. I’d make Anthony or Bradley into definitive babyfaces and get them the championship sooner rather than later. I’d find girls for Cruise and St. John to beat for a while before setting up a championship match sometime in the fall. Dunkerton and Epic are an easy choice for tag team champions. I’d create some sort of junior heavyweight title and let Hammett run with that (maybe he could feud with someone like Matt Cross). As far as managers go, I’d pick either D’Angeli or Piven. I’d let Raven walk. And the Jessi Corgan angle? Dead in the water.
There are a number of aspects to the show I didn’t address, including the women’s title match and ACH only going seven minutes with Harry Smith. Neither match was particularly great, but both certainly featured solid action. Both also deserved more time.
Until Resistance Pro makes significant improvements in their product, they’ll never be regarded in a very high fashion, which I take no pleasure in. I truly hope the right light switch can be turned on so R-Pro’s life isn’t just something that was done in vain.