"Sorry 'bout your daaaamn luck" -James Storm
Until recently, the writing staff at Podswoggle has had a spotty past when it comes to being present for live wrestling events. The worst experiences have most notably come from guest writer, Andrew Zangre and Podswoggle Editor-in-Chief himself, Chris Mullet. Personally, I feel like I’m shooting better than 50 percent in my own experiences, but this article isn’t about me. This is about a friend named RJ.
Listeners of our podcast may have heard us mention him here and there or hear him in the background of several episodes, but I feel no one truly knows his brief (yet stellar) history of attending live events. All his life, RJ never gave the world of professional wrestling a single thought until he got to college… And met us. Augie Artiles’ article wasn’t bullshitting. We have converted many an unassuming University of Florida student into loyal viewers of "Monday Night Raw."
RJ looked to be just another causality of our drunken ‘rasslin hijinks until this past summer when he went to the improv comedy capitol of the world, Chicago, Illinois, to study in iO's summer intensive class. He also got to go to the 2011 Pay-Per-View of the year. That’s right. The boy’s first live wrestling show and he sees not just a great show up and down the card, but the first five-star match in the United States in more than five years. To balance things out, he had to spend the majority of the night explaining to the fellow improvisers he dragged along exactly who was who, why certain people were fighting other certain people, and didn’t get home until about six hours after Money In The Bank ended, hungover. Little did he know, he probably walked by CM Punk and Colt Cabana celebrating in the streets of Chicago.
Moving along to that fall. CM Punk is scheduled to make an appearance at an FCW show in Kissimmee, Florida. (Never heard of Kissimmee before? Let’s try this: Kissimmee is to Orlando as Burbank is to Los Angles, California.) As a bunch of us make the two-hour trip down, those of us that have been to FCW shows in Gainesville try and talk down everyone’s expectations for this show. When we finally get to the venue and hop in line for autographs, a security guy tells us that we just missed the cutoff. After more than an hour of a very awkward staring contest with that security douche, his boss changes the cutoff and we’re rewarded with a bunch of autographs and meeting Punker himself. The virtue of patience or the presence of the good luck charm that is RJ?
The Rabbit's Foot with CM Punk
In the group that we brought, Mullet, Whidden and I were really the only ones that read the dirt sheets and watched YouTube videos of indy guys. So no one else we were with really knew who the hell Dean Ambrose was, but they were just as excited as we were when he called out Punk and Punk responded in force. And even though Punk agreed to a match later on in the show, no way in hell it was going to be anything of note. For Christ’s sake, the man had a PPV match in two days! (WWE Vengeance – Awesome Truth vs. Sober D-X) Well shit, were we all wrong. CM Punk and Dean Ambrose had a brilliant 20-minute match along with a great post match promo. The hell were the odds of that happening? Coincidence? Or that puffy-haired matt classic magnet, RJ?
That whole magical night is documented right here:
After that night, we all knew we were on our road to WrestleMania. Fast-forward to the end of March and an even larger crowd has made the trip to South Florida.
ROH’s Showdown in the Sun - Day 1 was the first real exposure to the indy wrestling scene for three of the 11 of us that had made the trip. This was the fourth Ring Of Honor show I had been to, and I have always left entertained and impressed with what I saw. This night was no exception and I refuse to give RJ ANY CREDIT for this show.
ROH’s Showdown in the Sun – Day 2, however, I may have to make an exception. Already a more lackluster card than the night before, nobody was expecting nearly as exciting a show. A show that was already weird enough because it started at 1 p.m. ended up being muddled with “brownouts” (which makes me giggle every time), causing the PPV feed to drop, causing the action in the ring to drop. Aside from throwing an ass-ton of streamers, the rest of the highlights were limited. A personal highlight of mine was having the title of “Embarassed ROH Crowd Member” taken from me by our good friend, Dan Karpel. Mine was conveniently taken off of YouTube, but being the journalist that I am, I tracked it down here. At 0:14, I’m the one punked out like a little bitch by Austin Aries. And here is Dan (in the glasses to the right) toppling over like a sack of potatoes when Kenny King comes crashing into the security guard.
But for what was otherwise a show that I was literally dozing off for, the main event between ROH Champ Davey Richards and Michael Elgin ended up being another five-star match for no reason at all. Seriously, Richards and Elgin are going to have the match of their lives in a half-empty shitty War Memorial Auditorium in shitty Ft. Lauderdale at 3:30 p.m. on a Saturday? The sheer randomness of that occurrence, and the fact that he’s seen two five-star matches IN PERSON in less than a year, makes me think there’s more at work here than sheer luck and coincidence. Can you say you’ve seen two matches of the highest caliber in the industry live and in-person? I feel blessed to have seen one! RJ, the pasty ass, lucky Buddha of wrestling strikes again.
The next day was just icing on the cake. WrestleMania was going to be spectacular no matter who was there. But the fact that RJ was in attendance for the very underrated CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho title match as well as the also underrated End of an Era Match is just too much. (Three and ¾ and four and ¾ respectively. Say what you will about Dave Meltzer and his Five Star Rating System… Oh wait, that’s right, watch out Meltzer. Mullet’s comin’ for YOU!)
In a way, I sort of feel bad for the kid. Some people have been flocking to see pro wrestling events for their entire lives and are eluded by the caliber of matches RJ has seen. Seeing shitty wrestling can make you really appreciate the moments that truly are special. RJ may very well be the most spoiled wrestling fan currently.
But what would life be without balance? Where he is blessed in attendance, he is cursed in fandom. After months of soul searching upon becoming a committed wrestling fan, RJ finally set his “favorite wrestler” aim on Evan Bourne. The honeymoon period was pretty good, in fact. With a newly established push of the tag team division, little Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston became Tag Team Champions. Two failed drug tests and a mangled foot later and we have a depressing piece of news about Bourne to post to RJ’s Facebook timeline at least once every 2-3 weeks! The man owns and still wears this Bourne shirt and the Air Boom shirt. The sad bastard.
The argument could be made that we’re maybe in a renaissance of pro wrestling. That the guys that grew up loving the product and sought it out any way they could are breaking through and starting to outnumber the failed bodybuilders and carnie folk. That in an age of social media, the consumer has more influence on the product than ever before, resulting in the guys being forced to bring it. That any weekend you can have a quality show streamed to your computer for less than $5 filled with guys hungry to be full time professional wrestlers. That argument can be made, I guess.
All I know is this: This summer, RJ will be making the trip out to LA and I hear he’s going to visit the Staples Center on Aug. 19, 2012. What could possibly be- OH THAT RIGHT, he’s going to SummerSlam this year. So you heard it here first. SummerSlam is going to be the most amazing, history-making and action-packed SummerSlam of all time. Get your tickets now and figure the rest out later.
Fuck. Did I just jinx SummerSlam? Oops.
Rich Camillucci a good (enough) friend of RJ to still like him but at the same time resent him for the amount of premium wrestling he’s seen in such a short time. Commiserate with Rich on Twitter @RichCami.