So, what is wrestling missing? We could spend pages answering that question. It’s missing championships that mean something. It’s missing clear cut good guys, and bad guys, even though some will insist that formula doesn’t work anymore, same with Patriotic American’s vs. foul foreigners. It’s missing heel color commentators. It’s missing rules being strictly enforced, referee’s being respected, and titles having to be defend. It’s missing selling, lots, and lots of selling, and I don’t mean Shawn Michaels over selling. It’s missing finishing moves that put people down for a three count, not kill them. It’s missing those finishing moves ALWAYS finishing the person who was put in it. It’s missing big spots (dives, flips, top rope stuff, etc) being reserved for special moments. It’s missing wrestling matches, looking like wrestling! It’s missing two guys, trying to figure each other out, going hold for hold, to see which one has the better strategy. It’s missing “bad guys” that hide the fact that they are bad from their opponents, and the ref, but letting the fans clearly see their evil ways, so the fans…you know…hate them!
Back in the day (yeah, I’m old, shut up!) wrestling was white hot. For decades it was fairly popular. Almost always appearing on TV from the time my grandfather was a little boy, until now. It’s still pretty popular, but it’s not been able to hold its core audience. We diehards hang in there, but most of us fast forward more of RAW, Smackdown, and Impact, than we watch. Sure, we’ve got Ring of Honor, and a lot of us really enjoy that, but it’s missing something…right? Some of us, turn to independent wrestling. It’s a lot like Ring of Honor, but there are so many indy companies out there, that we can experience any and every kind of wrestling there is. Indy wrestling allows us to see match ups that we could never see in WWE, or TNA, and in some ways, even ROH (you can argue that ROH isn’t an indy fed anymore to some extent).
While I love ROH, PWG, AAW, AIW, Combat Zone (usually), Progressive, House of Glory, and many other indy feds, I truly thought wrestling, and the things I mentioned above, that it’s been missing, were gone for good. I thought the days of having clear cut good guys and bad guys were over. I thought having referees that were respected, and actually enforced rules, would never return. I definitely thought a wrestler selling a big move was very much gone for good! I never even mentioned male managers. I mean outside the rare occurrence, like Zeb Colter, I was confident that would never see the light of day again.
So imagine my curiosity when a friend told me about TCW, or “Traditional Championship Wrestling.” I was curious, because I’ve heard many indy feds claim to be “wrestling” and not “sports entertainment.” Hell, TNA still says that, I think. However; when it comes down to it, many places just try to be just like the WWE. If not, they try to be like ECW was, or something close. I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy big spots! In PWG, when Kevin Steen gave Adam Cole a top rope brainbuster, and Cole fell to the OUTSIDE of the ring, I rewound it, and recorded it on my cell phone, off the TV! I did the same when Matt Jackson, monkey flipped Rich Swann, off the top of a ladder, through a table. I get all excited every time the Young Bucks hit that spike tombstone piledriver! I really appreciate that AAW has no DQ’s and no count outs (mainly because they don’t over use that). While I enjoy all that, I’ve still been missing. I still found myself wishing that wrestling would return to its glory days, which for me, was the early 1980’s. Sorry kids, the Attitude era is not the glory days. To me, that when wrestling went over the top, and then downhill from that point forward.
How can I say that? Especially since I am a ROH, and PWG fan? Look, while I enjoy a good ROH, PWG, DGUSA, or Evolve show, they just aren’t what wrestling always was. The Attitude era, and all of it’s hardcore nonsense, forced wrestlers to have to go more and more over the top to hold an audience’s attention. I see people whine about indy workers being “spot monkeys” but that’s not what I’m saying here. I don’t consider any wrestler a “spot monkey.” Most indy wrestlers have developed a style that gets them noticed. The more daring you are, the crazier your move set, greater are the chances that you will be all the rage, on the indy scene, and as such get more bookings, and thus make more money. Secondly, I feel nearly all of the top indy stars today are great wrestlers. I don’t care who you want to name, I’ll argue that even if they tossed their over the top moves, and “big spot” mentality, you’d still be left with a great athlete that could wrestle a good match. But…what in the world is TCW? What could it mean that their name is “TRADITIONAL Championship Wrestling?”
I quickly went to http://www.tcwwrestling.com and watched the most recent show (all their TV shows are on Youtube). I instantly felt like I had stepped back in time. Watching the first match alone, I thought it was 1982. The only thing missing was a Ric Flair promo. Here were wrestlers, some clearly good guys, some clearly bad guys, but not a single corny gimmick amongst them! No disco dancers, no policemen, no surfers! There were referees, that enforced rules, and wrestlers listened to them! Dear Lord, did I see two stables, run by male managers? Yes, yes I did! Does their Championship title look exactly like the old NWA North American title? It absolutely does! Did I see a match where no one even threw a drop kick, and yet the match was very good? I did! Best of all, did I see every wrestler, in ever match, sell every move he was hit with? Without overselling it? I absolutely did! I saw a spike piledriver put a guy out of wrestling for several weeks. I even saw a leaping fist drop, from the second turnbuckle, used as a finisher, and look good in the process as well! TCW even has an uncle, and nephew tandem, that are billed from Syria, (the Farat’s) and they are underhanded cheats, causing the fans to erupt in USA, USA chants! Al Farat even wears the dreaded pointy toe boots!
TCW’s motto is “Wrestling is back,” and I’ve never seen a wrestling company have a motto that was more legitimate. I’ve watched a few episodes now, and I’m absolutely hooked. So much so, that when I return to ROH, or PWG, I am going to cringe a little, when someone gets up, and keeps fighting, after getting an ace crusher onto the outside barricade, or piledriven onto the ring apron. I enjoy false finishers as much as the next guy, but when Anthony Nese kicks out of a pin attempt, after getting moonsaulted on, while outside the ring, onto a pile of chairs, by Brian Cage…I am going to think about TCW. When Excalibur and Kevin Steen talk about Steen’s wife’s oral sex abilities, on commentary, I am going to think about the awesome job TCW’s two man team does. I am going to think of the appropriate humor they use, and how the clearly describe the ring action, the moves, and make it clear what each wrestler is in that ring fighting for.
TCW will make you realize that wrestling didn’t have to “graduate” to over the top moves. Wrestling didn’t need to become edgier, or more adult. Wrestling didn’t need to do away with the count out, or disqualification rules. Wrestling didn’t need every wrestler to be a cocky, arrogant, jerk, or a silly, comedic, goof. Wrestling didn’t need to rely on ex-models to parade around the ring in their underwear, playing wrestler. Wrestling didn’t need crazy acrobatics, or super high flying stunts, to “get over” with a crowd. I always wondered if wrestling could return to its roots and thrive. I think, no, I KNOW it can. TCW has proven that it can. Will it ever be as big as WWE? Possibly not, but I’m not ruling it out, because I want to believe that people who loved wrestling in the 1980’s, would love it again, if they had the chance to actually see it.
The TCW champ, the guy carrying around that massive, but awesome, belt, is Tim Storm. Tim was a perennial fan favorite for a long time. People loved him. He hugged grandmothers, and kissed babies, but recently turned heel, in a major shocker! He not only turned heel, but joined the heel stable “The Empire.” The Empire is managed by “Loverboy” Matt Riviera. Matt also wrestles, and quite well. He’s a multi-millionaire, that owns part of TCW, and recently required majority ownership, so he makes the lives of other wrestlers HELL! Matt and Tim, are joined by Steve Anthony, a very solid, technical wrestler, and Greg Anthony (no relation) who jut captured TCW’s International title from a big fan favorite Scott Phoenix, in a great match, that saw the “Golden Boy” (fans taunt him by chanting “Golden Girl”) use a pair of brass knuckles, obscured from the ref, to win the title.
The tag champs are a pair of monsters called “The Hounds of Hell” (see if you recognize former WWE roster member, Wolfie D) and are managed by Boyd Bradford. Boyd is an old school Chicago mobster throwback, and plays the role well! He’s a seedy little guy that annoys the hell out of you. He also manages Kinkaid, a crazy, but very technically sound grappler. The “Bradford Family” are always serious threats in TCW.
Top tag team, and challengers to The Bradford Family, are TCW stars, Genetic Perfection. Their fued with Bradfords men will harken back to the Rock and Roll Express vs The Midnight Express. But, imagine if the Rock n Roll also had a manager, because Genetic Perfection does, in Rich Rude! Rude and Bradford even get into locker room fights! Oh how I’ve missed the days of stables, and “families.”
The Junior Heavyweight Championship is held by one of the best rookies in wrestling today, Americos! Adorned like a wrestling Captain America, this guy can fly, and he’s a big crowd favorite. I’ve not seen a bad match from this man. Other awesome wrestlers in TCW include John Saxon, Lance Hoyt (formally Lance Archer in WWE), Sigman, “King” Shane Williams, and Vordell Walker.
Col. Ron Parker is the other guy holding stock in TCW, and he’s fielded a team of Scott Phoenix, John Saxon, Shane Williams, and Tommy Dreamer (yes, that Tommy Dreamer) to take on The Empire, for total control of TCW. Every TCW fan is looking forward to that.
TCW is based out of Arkansas, but holds cards in several different States in the surrounding area. They’ve been around for three years, and I am kicking myself for not having heard of them until recently, but I am going back and watching all their old shows, on YouTube. I naturally had some questions, so I turned to one of their biggest stars, and greatest in ring performers, one half on Genetic Perfection, and decorated singles star as well, Mr. Michael Barry!
PWP- May I ask who the founder of TCW is? I really want to congratulate him on bringing wrestling back!
Mr. Saturday Night: The incomparable Mr. 5.5 Matt Riviera is the brain child behind Traditional Championship Wrestling (TCW), Ive been with the company a little over 3 years and I can tell you that it is a labor of love for not just him but all of us. For all the negative things that people with say about the man I can say without a doubt his work ethic is second to none.
PWP- Why do you think TCW has the cult following that it does? Near 10,000 fans on Facebook, and many positive comments on the YouTube shows? Many claim they are about wrestling, as it used to be, but then copy everyone else. How is TCW disciplined enough to really take it back to the way it used to be?
Mr. Saturday Night: We have a following because of the product. Period. You can see it in each and every one of the wrestlers eyes when they go through the curtain. This is real, we can feel it. That is something that you won’t see a lot of on Monday nights when the cookie cutter underwear models are running through the motions. We have a magnificent checks and balances system, simply put if you don’t think like us…which is “wrestling first” (wasn’t that a motto for one of the big two for a while?) Then you will not last. You won’t last in the ring, let alone the locker room or production meetings. Its relatively easy to keep everyone on the same page when we all grew up on good quality old school wrestling. With that said we love new ideas and new blood, you just won’t see a lot of crash and burn segments that don’t mean anything.
PWP- Do you, or TCW trainers, ever have to train, or teach a wrestler to “calm down?” I mean, do any of your wrestlers want to do too much in a match, the way most indy feds run their matches today?
Mr. Saturday Night: We vet a lot of the people coming in so we don’t run into a lot of that. I think the minimum years in the business that our agents have are 10 years. Refer back to the checks and balances answer, they stay on top of that and find out what’s going on.
PWP- Who are the TCW trainers?
Mr. Saturday Night: We have to stay on top of our game, however it is a double edged sword because i don’t want to work a lot of the lower indies because I am not going to learn anything and opportunity cost of getting hurt isn’t worth it. Mr. Riviera holds trainings and a little known secret is that he brings in the legendary Dave Taylor to work with us about every month and a half and we have Bobby Eaton on full time in addition. TCW also sends people down to different Feds to stay polished like Elite Championship Wrestling down in Louisiana. When you look at the locker room though you learn something overtime you are at a show. I personally pick the brains of the people coming in like Tommy Dreamer, Matt Hardy, Jim Duggan, Chris Masters, and Lance Hoyt who I see every show. We also learn great Tag Team psychology from Rock N’ Roll Express Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson in addition to Eaton. Really you would have to be a complete idiot to not learn something every show from these people. It is an unparalleled wealth of knowledge at your disposal. Could it get any better than that?
PWP- TCW is clearly modeling its self after the old Mid-South, correct? I mean your heavyweight title is pretty much just like the old NWA North American title.
Mr. Saturday Night: Bingo, if you’re going to model yourself off something you might as well model off the best there is.
PWP- TCW is being received very well by my friends, and others I associate with online. They are all excited about the style of wrestling we grew up with, returning. Do you encounter that attitude a lot? Do you think real wrestling can make a major come back? Or do you think the “extreme” style, or the “spot wrestling” has made it too difficult for Traditional Wrestling to make that big of a come back?
Mr. Saturday Night: It honestly is kind of hit and miss, to the smarter more sophisticated fan we get great responses, because they know the art and appreciate what we are doing. To the unimagined we sometimes get negative feedback from the “keyboard warriors” known as the IWO. To each there own, there is a place for everything in the right dose at the right time. I always compare it to a buffet, there is something for everyone. We just like to think we have a high caliber of buffet compared to everyone else!
PWP- What else would you like our readers to know about you, or TCW?
Mr. Saturday Night: Just give us a shot, you might like it. Please check out our twitter at @TCWNEWS and our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/traditionalchampionshipwrestling and me @MSN_Barry and https://www.facebook.com/mr.saturdaynightmichaelbarry and of course Genetic Perfection at https://www.facebook.com/GeneticPerfection.
PWP- Thank you so much, and I look forward to the future of TCW, and speaking with you again about your singles aspirations, and Genetic Perfection’s goals as well!
Mr. Saturday Night: After we recover from the hellacious fights with Hounds of Hell, we plan on continuing to be the best…or should I say, Perfect!
We also heard a rumor that United Wrestling is going to be holding a World Tag Team Tournament, Seems like something we might have to check into…
PWP- Pro Wrestling Ponderings would like to thank Mr. Saturday Night, Michael Barry, for chatting with us! Make sure all of you reading this check out TCW at-
Also, TCW Wrestling is now on the Pursuit Channel every Friday at Midnight CT. The Pursuit Channel is available in over 37 million U.S. households, available on Dish Network channel 240/393 and DIRECTV channel 604.