Big news, folks. Like, super big.
I finally think I’m going to expand my wrestling horizons beyond WWE.
I know, crazy, right? How many times have people been telling me I need to watch ROH, or New Japan, or Lucha Underground, and I’ve just sat back and smiled, nestled in my WWE Network cocoon. But no longer.
So who should we thank for this nearly-miraculous situation? Who can take credit for showing me the light?
The good people at Comcast, of course.
Without getting too far into tangentia, Mrs. Matthews and I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of our cable for a while now. After our cable box began displaying psychotic tendencies, it forced our hand. In fact, likely before this article is fully written, I’ll be merrily off to the UPS store to send back our cable box and save, each month, about $70.
The main reason I had been hesitating with cutting the cord was that as a member of the New Age Insiders team, it’s usually a good idea for me to watch RAW each week. I had justified not watching Smackdown, but RAW is the WWE flagship - I couldn’t be a “professional” wrestling blogger and not watch that, could I?
Once the Comcast call had been made, I took to Twitter and asked how others get their WWE fix without cable. Multiple people (Tyler chief among them - thank you, sir) directed me to the “Watch Wrestling” website, which apparently would have streams of RAW for me to check out.
Well, I went there, and let me tell you. . . Actually, I’m sure you are well aware of this fact, but for me, just pretend I’m not an old, old man behind the technological times. . . This website is amazing. Not only should I be able to keep up with RAW, but I can watch Smackdown, NXT, and, glory of all glories, Lucha, ROH and even, supposedly, New Japan!
No longer could I hide behind my McMahon safety net, claiming I wasn’t going to pay for multiple wrestling services each month! I have no choice now. I’m going to have to start watching these things.
I decided to start with Lucha Underground, since it’s the newest promotion. Two reasons for choosing this first - The primary reason is that since its so new, I can actually watch all the episodes and catch up. I’m OCD that way - I’m going to want to figure out how I can watch all the ROH TV episodes so I’m not confused coming into the show in the middle.
The second reason is because, thanks to one Liam Stryker, I actually have watched the first half dozen episodes or so, so I’m familiar with the content. Still, being an, as I said, “professional” squared circle journalist (plus, that whole OCD thing), I decided to start from the initial episode once again.
So, and I thank you for sticking through the much-longer-than-anticipated introduction. . .
Rather than sticking to my traditional format (Highpoints, Lowpoints and So What?), for these first episodes I’ll probably pick a single theme or so to extrapolate on.
The pilot of Lucha Underground gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect with its 3 matches - Lucha tradition, something unique (the mixed gender match with Sexy Star and Son of Havoc) and finally what will likely be LU’s calling card - fantastic high-flying wrestling.
Still, that wasn’t what I was most taken by.
Matt Striker and Vampiro reminded us all with this initial hour that professional wrestling announcing is far, FAR more than what Maggle Cole and the gang give us each and every week in WWE. It can be as vital a component as the action inside the ring and the cinematic (sometimes too cinematic) vignettes.
For starters, they CALLED THE MATCH!
I’ve tried, and failed mostly, to get #CallTheMatch trending on Twitter each time I watch WWE. I love that company but I abhor what has happened to the commentary. We ignore what’s going on in the ring to tell “larger stories”, many of which don’t have anything at all to do with the combatants putting their bodies on the line on the TV screen. It drives me crazy!
Not so in Lucha Underground. Striker and Vampiro talked about the action. They discussed what the wrestlers were doing and more importantly, why they might be doing it. They even had a debate as to which move Prince Puma was technically applying to Johnny Mundo - Was it a leg full nelson or a reverse triangle? When was the last time Cole and JBL did that?
The announcers are passionate.
You can obviously tell that these two are wrestling fans, first and foremost. Vampiro, at one point, rose to his feet to applaud the action. This is what you want from commentary - If Jason Moltov, Liam Stryker and Bill Neville were calling a match, they’d likely never sit down, they’d be so excited! I haven’t seen announcers caring this much about the action since Joey Styles did it in the original ECW. High praise for two former grapplers themselves.
If an alien came down from Neptune and watched a single WWE episode, they would assume that McMahonLand is the only place wrestling happens - Rarely do announcers mention promotions or action happening outside of their ‘territory’.
Matt Striker, on the other hand, not only mentioned other styles and forms of wrestling, he practically begged the audience to Google it and watch it. This is how you have informed and passionate fans. You educate them and encourage them to find their own favorites, and because of that, they’ll likely appreciate your own product even more.
THIS is what most wrestling fans have been hoping for - pro wrestling commentators who are passionate and educated, and inspire us to be the same. What more can you ask for?
What do YOU think? Is this how pro wrestling announcing should be? Be Heard.