Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stephen Platinum's last editorial essay for 2010

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Stephen Platinum's last editorial essay for 2010

- from Stephen Platinum

The Landscape Shifts

The last two weeks have brought about big changes in the Georgia (and Alabama) wrestling scene.  I’m going to talk about the major goings on with the bigger promotions in the scene more than the talent/wrestlers themselves because, frankly, the talent situation is very good and doesn’t require a great deal of analysis in my opinion.

I attended a Rampage Pro Wrestling show on December 18th and absolutely loved it.  I can see where they are moving that show towards a more Ring of Honor type of feel, and it works.  If they can get those crowds up to fill Johnny G’s every taping, they’ll be golden.  Their in-ring product was good, but now is getting even better.  Their younger talent blends with the more veteran talent more seamlessly than most anywhere else.  Perhaps the most interesting thing occurred, however, when I found out that Jerry Palmer was stepping away from Anarchy and it was for sale while at the RPW taping.

Anarchy’s run probably ending is a big story, of course.  It’s not much of a secret that it’s been a rough road for Anarchy as of late.  Their devoted talent is second to none in the ring.  There’s no denying that it’s the promotion that has been the one that wrestlers in the area traditionally clamor to wrestle for.  They (especially factoring in Wildside) have the most storied history; they have created the biggest moments…they are the group that is the most copied and emulated locally.  The number of people who have asked if I’m going to buy Anarchy is staggering.  Clearly, there’s a lot of interest and worrying going on about if it’s going to be bought out, and who is going to buy it out.  I’ll be clear about it – I’m going to look at the financials and see.  I would love to preserve wrestling in that building. 

I’m not na├»ve…I know that no matter who takes over, there are going to be people that are upset.  And there are going to be people that are happy.  And there are going to be people that have a “wait and see” attitude.  For me, I’m gathering information…what works?  What doesn’t?  What’s the best way to approach things?  If I were to get to run wrestling shows in that building, I think that I’d be a tough road.  But I know that I’d at least walk in very conscious of what the situation is.  I won’t pretend I know everything about it, but at least I would have the mindset of doing a great wrestling show that is respectful of the style and the history of the wrestling in that area and attempt to preserve those aspects of Wildside/Anarchy.

2010 saw groups on the rise (Rampage, APW and I think Platinum Championship Wrestling) groups on the mend or holding serve (most of the indies in the area) and groups that are going away or clearly hurting (Anarchy and Great Championship Wrestling).

Ah, GCW.  Full disclosure – Taylor McKnight isn’t a big fan of mine.  I’m not a fan of his, either.  But I can say that their set up is prime.  Their entrance, production and location are good, sometimes great.  But it’s clear that they’ve had talent defections that have hurt them.  It’s also clear that Miss Diane who runs the show is their financial backer, but beyond that their biggest liability.  They’re currently taking a month or so off from doing shows, and most people would not be surprised if that was the end of them.  And many if not most would be okay with that.  Believe it or not, I’m rooting for them.  I’ll say that if a number of things happened, GCW could make a successful comeback.

  1. Miss Diane can’t have any say-so as far as the running of GCW goes.  It’s clear that her handling of payoffs, for example, has alienated their talent.  Full disclosure – PCW doesn’t pay for the most part.  But I’ll say in PCW’s defense that clearly nobody is making money, and it’s about building the show.  I haven’t created expectations in that regard and them reversed course on anyone.  At GCW Diane’s handling of money matters have hurt that promotion, clearly.  There are have and have nots there within the promotion, and it’s created resentment.  They have great talent, especially working on top, but there isn’t a team vibe with GCW as there is at other places.  I would imagine that wrestlers not caring for Miss Diane or how things are run contributes (and has contributed) to most, if not all, of their problems. 

  1. Miss Diane can’t and shouldn’t have a say on booking matters.  I have not heard about one positive interaction with wrestlers and Miss Diane.  Her odd rules about how GCW is to be promoted (that is, virtually no promotion that makes sense) and ridiculous presence in the shows themselves must end.

  1. Taylor McKnight.  I don’t think a removal is necessary.  However…there is a problem of respect.  For the most part, much of the talent doesn’t respect him and calls things into question either publicly or, perhaps worse, in private griping.  Of course, I’m not there, so maybe I’m wrong.  Doubt it, though.  It’s not the best locker room atmosphere.  Plus, Taylor’s volatile.  However, as someone who famously screams at the monitor at our shows and has had my share of fallings out with various people (Frank Aldridge of WWA4, for example) I can understand that stuff.  But Taylor by my own experience simply doesn’t know how to talk to people for long without saying something that alienates or causes a scratching of the head.  It’s not about his being too “real” or some such nonsense, it’s the fact that it usually appears like you aren’t dealing with a person mature enough for the position he is in.  It’s clear that Taylor loves wrestling, but equally clear that his booking position in his promotion is amongst the weakest in perception among any of the promotions I’ve talked about.  Insulating GCW and himself with an abundance of WWA4 talent hasn’t helped any of that.  While WWA4 does have guys that can go (Ric King has his moments, as does Nation, for example) it’s safe to say that nobody thinks the current talent at the entry levels of the card rivals that of GCW’s past.  There is a perception that Taylor books out of spite, or plays favorites.  That doesn’t help matters.  However, I think if Diane can back off, and Taylor can be clear and up front with what he wants and can gain the respect of the wrestlers through truly good booking and a professional demeanor, GCW can make 2011 a comeback year.  If that can’t be done, they should close up shop.

What about Platinum Championship Wrestling?  We had a year where we did more than 75 shows.  That’s a big first year.  Sacred Ground: Chapter One was a critical (though not financial) success.  We crowned a champion and created some great moments.  Our Masquerade shows went from 30 paid in October, to 50 in November, to about 100 at this last show.  We did shows at the Jungle, then stopped doing them.  Some home-grown PCW talent is finding its way around the indy scene (The Washington Bullets foremost amongst them) to great acclaim.  At the end of our December 23rd Masquerade show, we ended our first show with our first cage matches (a brutal affair between The Exotic Ones and The Konkrete Gorillaz, and a PCW World Title match between champion Shane Marx and Mason) with MGCW champion Andy Anderson and other MGCW notables attacking Marx and throwing down the gauntlet, apparently for what I said in my article on the PCW title.  It was a great moment – fans actually attacking MGCW wrestlers, some of the boys in the back thinking it was real, and even the MGCW wrestlers themselves worrying that I was actually mad at them.  It’s set the stage for our January show at Masquerade with a title versus title match where there must be a winner and a battle between 5 of MGCW’s toughest against 5 of PCW’s toughest.  PCW wrestlers are slated to answer MGCW’s challenge at their show on January 15th

It’s exciting, and it’s exciting being a player (albeit a minor one) in the Southeast wrestling scene, specifically in Georgia.  2011 is shaping up to be a most interesting year.  Hopefully it will be a year where the various leagues really make themselves distinct – not just from one another, but from the wrestling scene nationally.  It’s fun to look at how different the leagues I’ve talked about are from one another.  I was talking to a wrestler of some note in the area, and he noted that Rampage has the ROH vibe, APW has a Crockett promotions feel, and PCW is the angle and gimmick driven promotion.  I’ll say that the wrestling scene in Georgia is far superior to the area where I wrestled predominantly (Colorado and the Southwest)l.  A number of promotions in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Alabama run shows weekly, or at least twice a month.  The stage is set.  There’s great wrestlers that have veteran status, as well as great up-and-coming wrestlers.  I’m a fan of the video I see of Shadow Jackson and Kyle Matthews.  I like the PCW shows and think our talent gets better and better, and I’ve been careful about who comes in from the outside and for the most part they’ve been great.  I filled out my ballot for the Georgia Wrestling History awards and had a hard time for the best of reasons…there were truly multiple options for each category.  And I ended up voting for wrestlers, referees and personalities from a number of promotions.  That’s a good sign.

As for me, I’ll keep learning and working hard for Platinum Championship Wrestling.  I love pro wrestling, but so do a lot of people.  In the end, saying that I love pro wrestling isn’t enough.  I have a responsibility to look at the wrestling scene in general, note what I can, learn from what others do – good and bad --  and strive to help the scene in general.  If that means fostering a relationship with the other promotions, I’ll do it.  If it means pointing out a bad situation in the hopes that it will get better, I’ll do it.  If it means buying another promotion and returning it to glory…hell, I just might do that, too.

Happy New Year, Georgia and Southeast wrestling scene.  Here’s to a great 2011.

(note: As of 12/28/10, Great Championship Wrestling in Phenix City, AL is no longer in business)

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