Thursday , 21 August 2014

Where’s Ken and Other AAW Thoughts

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Just imagine if I woke up tomorrow and decided not to show up for work. I didn’t answer my phone, didn’t tell anyone, and just simply stayed put in my bed. Maybe watch some Netflix. Enjoy an indy show. Just make it a personal day. The odds are fairly good I wouldn’t have a job Tuesday when I walked through the door. At the very least, I would get a stern talking to about my unprofessional behavior. But it’s not just about me. People depend on me to do my job. I’m not foolhardy to overestimate my value to the places I work for, but I’d like to think what I do matters.

What happened on Saturday night should never have happened. Ken Shamrock decided that whatever was going on his life in Reno, Nevada was more important than his professional obligations to AAW. The fact that it was AAW is irrelevant for my argument. This could have easily been Ring of Honor, Chikara, or your local independent wrestling company. Stories of wrestlers no-showing have become all too commonplace. At least AAW had the decency to offer refunds to those who wanted them. Mr. Shamrock is the latest example of a veteran wrestler being selfish and not caring about the company who advertised his appearance or the fans who paid their money to see him.

Maybe Shamrock was injured and could not meet his professional obligations. Stepping into a wrestling ring is certainly not easy. It is completely understandable if the 48-year-old isn’t up to wrestling someone with such an aggressive style as Sami Callihan. I’m not begrudging his not wanting to wrestle. What I do have a major problem is with his behavior and lack of courtesy. At worst, he should have informed AAW of his decision to not show up earlier in the week so AAW could have found a replacement. Colt Cabana did that for AAW, and that’s how we ended up with Sabu (for better or worse) At best, he should never have made the decision to wrestle at all.

I was always of a mixed view even bringing Shamrock in. There was clearly a need based on the venue. Bourbon Street is a very popular south suburban bar. Any number of very popular musical acts could have been featured instead of AAW. The promotion took a chance running this venue on Thanksgiving weekend and bringing in an older wrestler who doesn’t typically make his rounds on the circuit. This wasn’t AAW bringing in Honky Tonk Man, Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil, or Jake Roberts. This was someone who has credibility with professional wrestling audiences and MMA audiences alike. He’s made very few appearances involving wrestling since his NWA heavyweight title run with TNA back in 2002. However, there are certainly other considerations to take into account.

To me, it was about two key aspects of success. The first of course concerns money. If Shamrock brings in 600 people with lines out the door, than any question about whether to bring him in is null and void. But for me as a fan of the art, there is a need to have a quality match for Sami Callihan. In order to maintain the high in-ring standards of AAW, Shamrock would have needed to show up ready to work. If the match was terrible, I would have absolutely questioned Shamrock’s value to AAW no matter how many people were in the bar. AAW isn’t a sell-out company living off the past. As has been shown over and over this year, the promotion has pushed the stars of today to great artistic success. They’ve used guys like Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Silas Young, BJ Whitmer, and Sami Callihan better than the bigger indies for which they are contracted to.

Ultimately, Ken Shamrock proved to be nothing but a giant distraction. Instead of being able to focus on some of the aforementioned talent, it was about a name from the past. The tension between bringing a name in and relying on the current stars no doubt exists. However, after everything that has happened with Jerry Lawler (no-show), Scott Hall (personal issues), Dennis Rodman (Hall of Fame announcement), Billy Corgan (wanted control of AAW and started his own company instead), the bWo (added nothing to the shows), Shane Douglas (added even less), and Finlay (bad attitude and didn’t particularly have an inspiring in-ring performance) it’s time for AAW to reconsider the people they bring and evaluate what it’s worth to hold shows at Bourbon Street.

I’m not suggesting AAW stay married to the Berwyn Eagles club either. The limited audience scope and risk of the audience of becoming stale is a real danger. I have nothing against AAW experimenting with new venues in other Illinois suburbs such as Elgin or Palatine. What I do question is the level of talent they’re going to bring in. I have zero interest in watching Sabu drag a potentially awesome Shane Hollister/Sami Callihan down. I don’t want to see people on Twitter posting things like “Fuck Ken Shamrock.” Of course I had some fun on Twitter with jokes and Gran Akuma pretty much won the social media network with his tweets. But Shamrock not being there took away from a potentially fantastic event.

The guys who did bother to show up did their best to atone for the sins of the more famous Shamrock. I had no doubt they would. It was not a perfect show considering the Bourbon Street crowd has never been into the shows as much as even the Berwyn crowd. I have a major problem with Juanthai Miller doing yet another job in under five minutes. Cannon/Jacobs versus Irish Airborne being more of a street fight was a bit odd and jolting, but the effort was at least there. In addition, the right team won, and I certainly hope three of the four participants are part of the promotion for a long time to come. I’ll let you all figure out who the one isn’t.

Elgin and Richards did not have as good a match as the one they had in Florida. Considering the Bourbon Street crowd, it may not have even been as good as the match in Reseda. Nonetheless, it was a very good match with some great exchanges and hot action for all 22 minutes. Very enjoyable cap-off to the evening. I also dug he four way between ACH, BJ Whitmer, Kyle O’Reilly, and Silas Young. The finish fit in well with Young’s character as he held Whitmer’s tights. The tragedy was the match only got 11 minutes instead of 15-18.

Windy City Classic was another very good show for AAW. Because of the atmosphere and haze encompassing the show, it’s tough to really think of this as a top shelf show. However, thanks to the four way and heavyweight title match, this was the best of the Bourbon Street shows. This continued a fantastic 2012 run and certainly could lead to even better shows. Irish Airborne can now lead a real tag team division. Elgin can lead the heavyweight division going into 2013. I assume a Heritage title match or tournament is forthcoming in the new year. AAW also needs to focus on giving all of their undercard matches a purpose. Regardless of who is involved with the promotion, I can almost guarantee Tito Ortiz making an appearance before Ken Shamrock.

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About Jerome Cusson

Jerome Cusson has been a professional wrestling fan since late 1994. Having started out as a fan of WWF, he eventually expanded his horizons into WCW and ECW. After the unfortunate deaths of these two companies, Jerome's interest in wrestling nearly came to an end before he discovered independent wrestling. Let the love/hate relationship with wrestling continue.

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