Hi Scott. This is Zanadude, the number one Blog of Doom poster in reverse alphabetical order.
As you have LITERALLY every other wrestling program in the world already being reviewed on your site, I thought I would take a shot at filling a necessary void and reviewing the last untouched wrestling show available: the Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour. If you think it's worth a go, feel free to put it on your site. If not, hey, no hard feelings, all you're doing is throwing a couple of hours of my work down the drain.
Before we dive into this, a brief history lesson is in order. Southern States Wrestling is a once thriving Tennessee-based indy wrestling territory that was started by wrestler Beau James in 1991. For over a decade they did respectable business in the "Mountain Empire", featuring some names that would go on to main stream fame like Kid Kash, Chase Stevens, Christian, and Edge. Once the Monday Night Wars started cooling down, crowds dwindled from the thousands to the hundreds. But they were still able to bring in a mix of up-and-coming wrestlers like Reid Flair and Chris Richards, as well as some veterans like Bobby Eaton, Ricky Morton, Dr. Tom Pritchard, and Jerry Lawler.
Then the Great Recession hit, and crowds started dropping from the hundreds to the tens. SSW occasionally sprang for some C level legends for the big shows, but for the most part the shows were filled with a bunch of fat old nobodies. In 2012, the promotion shut down for several months, and I thought that they were good and dead. But they came back in 2013, and Beau James tried to build the company around the evil Eric Darkstorm (former OVW wrestler, once managed by Ted Dibiase) and the spunky Kyle Matthews (small but decent indy wrestler, once had a pretty decent match with Bryan Danielson)
As the only two guys in the company that could work, they faced each other five times over the next year, trading the SSW Heavyweight Title as Kyle Matthews fought to earn Darkstorm's respect. He finally did so on the losing end of their final battle, a one hour Ironman match that saw Darkstorm regain the title, earn respect for his foe, and complete the transformation to the hero of SSW...
...which he would remain for about two months, until he split the promotion without doing the time honored tradition. At least he's smarter than Bret Hart!
With the babyface he spent two years building up deserting him and crowds drifting dangerous close to the ones, nobody would blame Beau James for packing it in. Instead, he decided to double down. On the April 27th show, Beau James did a rare show of dropping kayfabe to speak candidly about his company, giving his mea culpa and a promise for the future:
"Southern States Wrestling was built on three premises: celebrate the past, work hard in the present, build to the future. In the last couple of years, we have not done that, and I'm the first one to admit it I'll tell you that right here right now...but I'm gonna tell ya that is over with. I'm gonna tell you this...I am making a commitment, my family is making a commitment, Mike McMurry the matchmaker (kayfabe) is making a commitment, Joe Wheeler (the announcer) is making a commitment, we're all making a committment...we're going to be working very hard to get Southern States Wrestling back to where it was."
So the next show, with the beginning of a tournament to fill the vacant Southern States Wrestling title, it seems that this is as good a time as any to pick up coverage of the re-re...re...re...re-birth of SSW. Either we'll all enjoy the satisfying feeling of watching this show take it's final swirl down the toilet, or this show will break me. And I bet all of you would love to see me broken!
So with any further ado...
Southern States Wrestling Power Half Hour: May 4th, 2014
Beau James himself puts the show on YouTube (and probably does ever other piece of editing involved with this show as well) so I've no qualms with sharing the link here.
As always, the show opens by ripping off a classic theme from an 80's wrestling show, and about 30 seconds worth of footage from the past several years that serves to show how far things have fallen. Dakota Booth, the scrawny nephew of Beau James (not the first of the family members we will see "working very hard" tonight) stands in front of the OUTHE STATE RESTLI sign. Dakota stumbles his way through an introduction of the show and an advertisement for the next TV taping at the Gray Community Center on May 16th, before "throwing it down to ringside" for the first match.
Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Kyle Kool vs Equalizer Krunch
Kyle Kool is a bald slimeball, while Equalizer Krunch is a member of The Death Riders, kind of like an older, fatter, slower version of the AWA's Long Riders. Both men are heels, so the crowd is understandably enthused as the tin bell is clanked. Commentary is done by Joe Wheeler, a respectable announcer who is easier on the ear than Michael Cole, and Dakota, who is slightly easier on the ears than a hundred cats walking through broken glass.
Krunch is by far the larger of the two, and quickly roughs up Kyle Kool with a few power moves, sending Kool scurrying to the outside. He spends a bit too much time jawing with the fans on the apron and gets a slingshot back into the ring for his trouble. Krunch dominates most of the match, until we cut to a scene of Kyle Kool coming back into the ring with a wad of money in his hand. It looks like about twenty bucks. Krunch looks at the money, realizes that it's probably more money than he would ever make as champion, and promptly drops on his back, letting Kool cover him for the pin. The referee raises Kool's hand in disgust, the crowd reacts with total apathy, and I find myself wishing I were watching TNA.
Winner: Kyle Kool via payoff pinfall, approximately 3:30 aired. 1/2*
As a replay of the payoff is shown, Joe Wheeler can be heard asking Krunch if he's treating everyone to dinner. "I'm headin' to the Cracker Barrel!", sayeth Krunch. Footage continues with the sound off for about 10 seconds because SSW.
Back to Dakota at the OUTHE STATE RESTLI event center, who hypes the TV taping once more before cutting to a Joe Wheeler interview with Scott Sterling. Sterling is angry that Ray Idol and Jake Booth (another untalented nephew of Beau James, only this one wrestles) beat him and Frank Parker for the Southern States tag team titles. He warns Booth that "you will not make a name for yourself on my shoulders!" and that he will destroy him when they meet in a one-on-one match on May 10th. Joe Wheeler informs Sterling that the special referee for that match will be...Beau James. This makes Scott Sterling about as happy as you'd think it would, given that he and his partner had conspired to injure Beau and put him out of wrestling for the past several months.
An advertisement appears hyping an appearance by Mick Foley. We'll see about that...although Beau James did deliver on bringing Sting to Vance Middle School.
Like Shawn Michaels, Beau James is a former asshole that has now become a born-again Christian asshole, which manifests itself in such things as the advertisement for Baptist Calvary Church and SSW's availability for fundraisers, before going through a list of shows where Southern States Wrestling stars can be seen.
Cut back to a very brief retort from Jake Booth. He's alright if you keep his interview time under 15 seconds.
Back to Dakota Booth, who talks about Misty James (the wife of Beau James) and her quest to regain the Southern States Women's Title from Miss Rachael. Footage is shown from a recent rematch at a house show, Commentary is done over the loud speaker, which makes me wonder why no major fed ever does this. Take Michael Cole and JBL around the house show circuit and have them commentate for everybody throughout the show! Each woman wrestler weighs as much as at least two Divas. Miss Rachael has another female in her corner, and they steal the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude finish from Wrestlemania IV, with the outsider holding Misty's leg as she attempts a suplex and holding it down for Rachael to get the three count. Looked like borderline DUD from the part I could see.
Dakota once again implores us to attend the TV tapings, where Misty James will receive what may well be her final chance to regain her title!
A bunch of local advertisements follow (including Samson's Gym "on the Cornor of 5th & Broad"), punctuated by a bloody Jesus on a cross with the text of John 3:16, Isaiah 53:5, and Matthew 28:7. Stay classy, Southern States Wrestling.
We jump cold right into our other match:
Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Frank Parker vs Ray Idol
Both men are multi-time former Southern States Wrestling Champions. Frank Parker may be best known as the debut opponent for the Rikishi-wannabe Cheex on the second ever TNA weekly PPV. Standing in Parker's corner is Joe Briggs, the Southern States Wrestling Television Champion (the championship is a two-foot high bowling trophy) There's about a minute of stalling before Idol catches Parker with a boot, then a running knee that Parker pretends actually came close to hitting him.
The star of the match is Joe Wheeler, who is able to smoothly describe both the upcoming matches and what's going on in the ring at the same time. Why this guy doesn't have a job with a more reputable company is beyond me. Must be the receding hairline. He even channels Gorilla Monsoon, telling us that this match is a main event anywhere in the country.
Unfortunately, Dakota is family, so Wheeler has to let him talk, and things quickly fall to a level that gives bush league a bad name. While Dakota jabbers on, the guys in the ring proceed to go through the motions of having a match at about 60% of the speed that I'm used to seeing. Eventually, Parker gets the upper hand and starts cycling through his entire arsenal of punches, kicks, and eye gouges. Joe Briggs kind of unnecessarily grabs Idol's ankle while Parker continues his beatdown...but it was actually necessary to bring Beau James waddling out to ringside to do his best Dusty Rhodes impression and punch out Briggs. Then Beau James, the babyface patriarch of the company that he is, grabs the ankle of Parker in the ring to trip him up, giving us an updated version of the Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude Wrestlemania IV finish, where there is no suplex and the referee doesn't give a shit that James is holding Parker's ankle down in plain sight as Ray Idol scurries on top to get the pin.
Winner: Ray Idol via "Aw, fuck it!" pinfall in about 6:00. -**
Wheeler interviews Beau James and Ray Idol at ringside. It's his company, so Beau James hogs the mic, talking about how it's been five months since he's been able to wrestle, but now he's ready for a fight! And Ray Idol is "one close stepper" to the Southern States Wrestling Championship! Beau's mother told him that "the old Beau James would have never got beat up like he did on Christmas night!" He's dusted off his bag of tricks and shows off things like nunchuks, brass knuckles, a lighter, and a taser, and says that he's not gonna back off on using them anymore! Beau James is done talking and he's out for blood!
James lumbers away with about thirty seconds of air time left, so we actually get a chance to hear Ray Idol say a few words. Ray is proud of finally pinning Frank Parker for the first time, with a little bit of help, but he beat him and that's the way it's gonna be!
Dakota finishes off the show with a preview of next week's action: a match between Misty James and Rebecca Lynn, and the finals of the Southern States Wrestling Championship Tournament between Kyle Kool and Ray Idol. Dakota delivers his catchphrase "Stay classy!" (Guess I shouldn't have used it earlier. Sorry Dakota.) And we end with a reminder that Jesus Is Lord.
I didn't even get to the end of this review before I started to regret doing this. But if any of you get a kick out of my suffering, I'll keep fighting to see this nugget down to its final swirl!