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Dr. Darin Davis

Minnesota independent pro wrestler discusses past experiences and the current state of pro wrestling

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Tag: bam neely

Below are the my best articles for the year 2008, listed in chronological order. If you didn’t get a chance to see them when they were first posted, you may want to check these out.

Previous articles are always available through the Archives box on the right, the Category selection, or the Search box.

  • A Killer Bee and Me (Dec ’07): My experiences with former AWA and WWF Superstar “Jumpin” Jim Brunzell.
    [Ok, technically this was posted in Dec 2007 but I’m including it in the year-end list because I didn’t have enough content to do this in 2007]
  • One Degree of Separation? (Jan): A follow-up to the previous Brunzell article, where I talk about my potential as a celebrity look-alike.

Tuesday December 9th is the much-anticipated DVD release of the second installment of the revitalized Batman movie series. While millions are getting ready to watch The Dark Night, I thought It would be a good time to remind people that Christian Bale wasn’t the first one to battle the Joker. No, I’m not talking about Michael Keaton or Adam West either. I’m talking about Minnesota’s own Hellraiser Gutz, who is known in the WWE as Bam Neely.

Back around the spring of 1998 (I think), Gutz fought Marty “The Joker” Hamilton at Club Cancun in St. Paul, MN. After working the Joker gimmick for awhile, Marty ended up changing it to “The Jokester“, and then to “The Practical Joker“. I had heard the reason was pressure from DC Comics, that owns the trademark to the name, but I have a hard time believing Marty had enough fame to call the attention of their team of lawyers. Then again you never know.

It’s not the best of Gutz’s matches, but I thought the timing was appropriate. You also get to hear a little bit of his tag partner, Hellraiser Blood, complain about a lack of competition. Sounded like it was originally going to be a tag match, but whoever Marty’s partner was didn’t show up. The Penguin must have been knocking off a bank or something.

Part of why I like watching it is that having wrestled Marty myself, I know how hard it is to “sell” the silly string during a match. Couldn’t have done it better.

This video originally aired on WTW‘s wrestling show. Commentary by John Lloyd and “Slick” Mick Karch. The referee is Eddie Sharkey

Ed Sharkey

Ed Sharkey

Back when I was still participating in wrestling camp, a crew was filming a documentary about one of my trainers, Eddie Sharkey, and about a few other wrestlers in the Minneapolis area. I had forgotten about this, but I just stumbled across it recently.

You can see excerpts of the short film and hear audio clips at the documentary site. It doesn’t look like the film is available for sale or rent, unfortunately. The film is called The Minneapolis Wrestling Club.

You can find an audio clip of Sharkey on their site, where he talks about Harley Race and himself getting in a fight with a couple of people from the crowd in Denver, CO.

Eddie’s bio on the site:

Eddie Sharkey wrestled from the early 1960s to 1972. He retired and stayed out of wrestling for a number of years. Eventually he was lured back into the business by some younger wrestlers who asked if he would train them. These wrestlers – Jesse Ventura and the Road Warriors – eventually went on to some success. Sharkey still runs a wrestling school in the Twin Cities and referees matches throughout the Upper Midwest [at the time the documentary was filmed].

There is also a short video clip of Sharkey available in the excerpts (QuickTime). In the background you can see me wrestling Terry Fox in our training ring. The referee was “Rough Rod”. Over on the far right of the screen you can see Scott Free and Hellraiser Gutz (who is currently in the WWE as Bam Neely) standing on the apron.

The second part of the clip shows a battle royal. If you don’t blink, you can see me for a few frames wrestling in a black tank top. Eddie is the ref in that match.

Also part of the documentary is a profile of “Sodbuster” Kenny Jay. I wrestled Kenny twice. The first time I wrestled him he was 63 years old (that is not a typo). That was back in 1999. Wayne McCarty has pictures on his blog of Kenny wrestling in June of 2008! Do the math on that one!

I think Evan Bourne being out of action for possibly the next few months will affect the already low amount of time I spend watching ECW. His matches were definitely ones that I wouldn’t fast forward through.

Other than having to sit on the sidelines when you are on a hot streak and being given a major push in the promotion, what’s the worst part of severely injuring your right ankle in a match? Having to sell the left one because that’s what your opponent(s) are beating on.

If you didn’t see the tag team match on ECW last week, Bourne did a somersault outside the ring on Bam Neely (another shameless plug for Bam) and came down wrong on this right ankle (we’d later find out that it was a dislocated ankle and ligament tear). After the injury, he finished out the rest of the match with his opponents working over his left leg for the duration. I was cringing watching it because I was aware that it was the wrong wheel. And I knew that to do a good job selling the left leg he would have stop using it. So for about ten minutes he had to hop around on his dislocated, torn right ankle to let everyone know how badly the left one had been pummelled.

[Updated 10/20/08: Put in a couple more wrestling trainees I forgot to include when I originally published this]

[Updated again 10/21/08: a few more names I forgot to include]

In Part 1, I talked about how I started wrestling training back in 1997 with Eddie Sharkey. In Part 2, I covered the move to a location in Coon Rapids, MN after the closing of the Peacemaker Center, and the addition of trainer Terry Fox, along with Charlie “Thunderblood” Norris and Sam Houston.

Part 3 was intended to cover “the rest”, but I’ve been struggling with how to do this for a couple of months. “The rest” is too big for one post or for several posts and I tend to remember things out of sequence. I think it’s time to drop the numbers. I’ll cover the rest of the overview with this one and then anything else will be sort of random from sometime between the start of Part 1 and the end of Part 3.

Continuing from Part 2…

At the end of the summer of 1997, with the weather growing colder, it was time to find a place inside.

We ended up setting up shop in a garage in St. Louis Park, MN. It was actually in back of Terry Fox’s house that his mom was living in (Terry was living somewhere else). Sometimes she would have us do a few chores like carrying a roll of carpet up from the basement, or other things that she couldn’t do on her own. As long as she had some “big, strong boys” there, might as well put us to work.

In the summer, we could have the ring outside, but in the winter it had to be moved to the garage. At first, there wasn’t much headroom. Even though we were in a shorter ring (the ring posts were sawed off so that it could be used in the low ceilings of a typical bar), if you went vertical more than a couple of feet you would be banging your head. I remember a few people (including me) getting their heads driven into the rafters taking a reverse atomic drop. A few months later Terry would cut away most of the rafters to give us a lot more room. I didn’t really look too closely at what was holding the roof up (didn’t want to know), but it looked like he did a pretty good job of putting in other reinforcements.

The trainees from our previous location stayed in the camp (Robbie and Mike Thunder, Hellraiser Gutz (a.k.a. ECW’s Bam Neely), PrimeTime, “Opera Man”, the Mighty Angus, referee “Diamond” Joe, Hellraiser Blood, and fairly quickly we started getting new recruits.

In the years that I was there, the trainees that I can recall were Thor Tyler, “Playboy” Pete Huge, Big Daddy Hoofer, Ultimate Fighter Brad Kohler, “Andy” (forgot his ring name), Mitch Paradise, Shawn Daivari (a.k.a. Sheik Adnan Bashir in TNA), “City Slicker” Jake Ricker, Ian & Ashley Xavier, K-Train, Scott Free, The Sheriff, Shifty, Lacey, Crystal, Ladyhawk, Cynnamon, Sandy from FL, Morgan P.R., “Ray” (don’t remember his ring name), Austin Aries, Helmut Von Strauss/Justin Lee, Smilin’ Jack Daniels/Devin Nash, Black Stalliion, Drej, Travis Sharpe, Storm Wolf, “Stone Cold” Doug Johnson, Troy “Don’t Call Me Goldberg” Steel, Chuck Diesel, some kid from China (?), and the High Rollers.

At one point I remember counting 17 people training all on the same day. Crazy. Way too many to do anything effectively. Some doing in-ring drills, some on mats outside the ring, some working on punches and other holds. Then “musical chairs” and everyone rotates.

Besides the camp regulars, on Fridays we sometimes had wrestlers from out of town including neighboring states (mostly Wisconsin and Iowa) work out at the camp. They usually were coming in to work a Saturday show and got in a day early to get a little extra ring time. Guys like Travis Lee, Red Lightning, “Superstar” Steve Stardom, Jay Hanna/Mr. Destiny, T.S. Aggressor, Kamikazee Kid, Rain/Payton Banks. Some former Sharkey trainees like Red Tyler and Lenny Lane would also stop by occasionally, along with local wrestling “celebrities” Tim Larson and “Capital City” Kyle.

Other times we had “friendly” promoters like “The Iron Duke” Jim Mitchel, Big Al, and the High Rollers come in to do some talent scouting.

The Split

I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline of what happened next (sometime in 2000?), but there was a growing unrest among some members of the camp. I think part of it had to do with the fact that you couldn’t use the top rope for 8 or 9 months out of the year when the ring was inside. Others may have had some disagreements about paying for heat (which I didn’t mind). Still others thought that we should be learning more advanced moves than some of the basics (armdrags, bodyslams, etc.).

Whatever the various reasons, collectively they were enough to split the camp. The Sheriff and Shifty would go off to form their own training camp under their Midwest Pro Wrestling banner, renting a building in an industrial park area. They started out in St. Louis Park and then moved to Maple Grove. Some people stayed with Terry, some went to MPW, and a few of us participated in both camps (including Sharkey).

Except for the occasional collection of money to pay for propane in the winter, Terry’s camp had the policy that if you were trained there (and you paid your original training fee), you could work out in the camp as long as it was running. The MPW camp had the benefit of high ceilings so top rope moves could be perfected, but with that came a building that needed the rent paid and other expenses. For existing wrestlers that had already been through training, they set up a fee structure much like a health club. For a small monthly fee (I think it was something like $15 a month), you could use the facilities. They also had free weights and some other perks that I never really got to take advantage of. The MPW camp also churned out quite a few wrestlers, including O.D.B.

The Future

March 5th of this year marked the 11th anniversary of my first day of training with Sharkey. December of this year will be 7 years since my last match. Still hard to believe it’s been that long on both counts. A lot has changed since then, both on the local and national scene. Promotions have come and gone, and then come back. TV viewership swings with the mainstream popularity, which then trickles down to the locals. I had started in the business just as the general population was being re-introduced to the WWF/WWE because of a guy named “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In the same month I started camp, his classic match against Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 took place. This was the match where Austin bled like a “stuck pig” and would end up passing out rather than quitting when placed in Hart’s Sharpshooter finishing move. After that match, Austin became the next superstar and the wrestling business really took off– even more than it did in the Hulk Hogan era. The local scene usually lags by about 6 months or so, and by the time I was ready to start working matches the shows were being booked at a regular pace.

Around the time I left, the business was starting to slow down again. Guys like Austin and “The Rock” were moving away from wrestling to other parts of the entertainment business and there wasn’t really anyone of that magnitude to fill their shoes. Things eventually slowed down around this area as well.

In the last year or so the local scene seems to have picked up. There seem to be more local shows running and more venues that are promoting wrestling on a regular schedule. I’m not one to predict the future, and I haven’t really researched too far into the past, but I’m guessing that this will always be the normal curve for pro wrestling. The pendulum swings one way and then the other. I don’t think there’s any danger in pro wrestling ever going away at the local or national levels, and at the same time I would be surprised if it ever became more popular than it was in the late 1990s. Luckily for me, I just happened to time it right and get in at the bottom of that upswing.

Now if I could just figure out how to do that for the stock market I’d be set. 😉

-========-

Terry Fox continues to run his promotion [MIW]. Wayne McCarty has some pictures of Terry’s latest training camp w/ Austin Aries on his blog.

A couple of months ago, I decided to keep track of my viewing time of WWE Monday Night Raw, ECW, TNA, and WWE Smackdown over the period of several months to see if I’m able to tell anything about the direction of the quality of the programming (e.g. am I watching less, more, or about the same).

After looking at the data, there was enough variation there that a one week sample wasn’t going to tell me anything. So I decided to look at the trend of a longer period, like a month.

After experimenting with a few different ways to graph this, the best way I can think of is to show the trend for each program separately. I’m also showing a rolling 4 week average that could be useful as I get more data. I’m showing the “Percent of Episode Viewed” for each program. I also had a suggestion to make sure the vertical scales were all set to 100% so that you could compare the graphs.

Here is the data for WWE Monday Night Raw through August 2008:

Raw % of Episode Viewed (August 2008)

Raw % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

My Raw viewership is holding steady at about 60% of the episode viewed. Higher viewings are usually after PPVs where I tune in to get the results. For example, there was a PPV on 8/17, which caused a bump in Raw viewing time.

Here is ECW:

ECW % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

ECW % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

ECW viewing is staying around 40% of the episode viewed. ECW and Smackdown take a little bit of a hit after a PPV because they give you a similar PPV recap (they don’t assume that you watch Raw, or in the case of Smackdown that you even have cable). Since Raw airs first, I skip through the recaps on the other two shows.

TNA:

TNA % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

TNA % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

TNA is holding around 60% of an episode viewed. Pretty steady week to week. They go off in directions that I’m not interested in, but they’ve got a lot of talent that I enjoy watching. And of course they have Daivari Sheik Bashir.

Smackdown:

Smackdown % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

Smackdown % of Episode Viewed (thru August 2008)

Smackdown sits a little above 40%. Again, there’s a dip on the 8/22 episode because of me skipping the PPV recaps. Even though ECW and Smackdown are kind of the “B squad” for the WWE, new talent like former TNA wrestler K-Truth and the loss of JBL from the announce team can make the program interesting. Also, Minnesota wrester Bam Neely makes appearances on both ECW and Smackdown.

So how did the month of August look overall? Below are the 4 week averages for Percent of Episode Viewed and Time Until First Match (time from the start of the program until the opening bell of the first match, or first “unofficial” brawl):

Overall Percent of Episode Viewed (Aug 2008)

Overall Percent of Episode Viewed (Aug 2008)

Looks like TNA takes the slight edge over Raw for my time. ECW and Smackdown are distant 3rd and 4th.

Overall Time Until First Match (Aug 2008)

Overall Time Until First Match (Aug 2008)

Raw continues to have the biggest delays until the first match of the program, followed by Smackdown. Anything more than about 10 mins means that you went through the whole first segment and through a commercial break before seeing any in-ring action. I guess maybe some people like that. I still haven’t gone and looked to see how the actual ratings compare to my viewership, but I’m guessing that it wouldn’t show me anything I don’t already know. When I used to look at the ratings, the interview segments at the top of the show or the top of the 2nd hour (or the overrun, since the Raw program regularly goes over by a few minutes) where the highest rated quarter hours according to Nielsen.

A few weeks ago, I decided to keep track of my viewing time of WWE Monday Night Raw, ECW, TNA, and WWE Smackdown over the period of several months to see if I’m able to tell anything about the direction of the quality of the programming (e.g. am I watching less, more, or about the same).

Still haven’t worked out how I want to show week-to-week changes for each promotion. I think I’ll only show those once a month, but I haven’t really thought any more about how to display it.

For the week of 7/21/08

Time Before First Match (Wk of 7/21/08)

Time Before First Match (Wk of 7/21/08)

The WWE had a Pay-Per-View on 7/20/08. What seems to be the trend is that after a PPV the first part of the programming consists of speeches and interviews related to the outcome. I would expect the “time until the first match” to increase. Both Raw and Smackdown increased, but ECW dropped by 5 mins. TNA was about the same as last week.

Percentage of Viewing Time (Wk of 7/21/08)

Percentage of Viewing Time (Wk of 7/21/08)

Partly because I hadn’t read up on any PPV results, I watched more of the Raw program this week to find out some of the match outcomes. ECW was identical to last week, TNA down a bit, Smackdown up. Smackdown was up because of finding out that Bam Neely is not a mute.

Highights for this week…

Raw Highlights:

  • Kade vs. London

ECW Highlights:

  • Evan Bourne

TNA Highlights:

  • 4-way
  • Table Match

Smackdown Highlights:

  • Bam Neely speaks

After the 6/30/08 broadcast of WWE Monday Night Raw, which I thought was one of the weakest in a long time, I started thinking about how someone would measure how good or bad they thought a particular wrestling program was on any given week. Raw was the least liked (by me) of any in recent memory, but was it the worst so far this year?

Sure, for any given show you can say “I loved it”, “I liked it”, “Didn’t like it”, or “Hated it”. You could say, “It wasn’t as good as last week”, or “It was better than the one last week”. But was it better or worse than the one two weeks ago? And by how much? How much more do you like TNA vs. Smackdown? Is there any way to measure them and do a comparison?

I think I mentioned before that I have a TiVo, and that I don’t watch any wrestling programming “live” (or any TV for that matter). Most people’s first reaction to that is, “Oh, because you want to skip commercials”. But it’s actually more general than that. I have home improvement shows I record that I might only care about one particular featured project they are doing. There is a cable access local news channel I watch (Channel 12) that I may only care about certain stories. The ones I care less about I fast forward through at a higher speed (2x, 20x, or 60x). The less I’m interested in it, the higher the speed I fast forward through it. The stuff I really care about I watch at normal “real-time” speed.

For wrestling, the same thing applies. If there is an interview or a match I don’t care about, I zip through it fairly quickly (20x speed). If there’s a match that I have only a limited interest in (maybe the outcome or a few high spots), I may watch it slightly sped up (2x speed). If I’m really into it, I’ll watch it at normal speed.

Taking this into account, it seems like the amount of time it takes me to watch a program would be a measure of how much I liked it. Not counting commercials, a 2 hour program would take me about 90 minutes to watch if I liked everything and watched it at normal speed. If one week it took me 75 minutes to watch it and another week it took me only 45 minutes, it seems like it would be pretty easy to tell which one I liked better, and even how much better. If one of those weeks was 6 months ago and I can’t remember anything about the program, I would still be able to tell whether or not I liked it better.  Or looking at a trend over time whether a program like Raw is getting more interesting, less interesting, or about the same. Again, this would be just in my opinion. This doesn’t necessarily reflect the ratings, or how any other fan feels about the programming.

Another measure I thought of after watching this week’s July 7th Raw was to keep track of how long a viewer has to wait from the start of the program until the first wrestling match. It was a looong time on Monday.

OK, this whole thing may be a little geeky (most likely it is a LOT geeky), and I don’t know how many people will be interested in it, but I thought if I was going to do something for my own curiosity, I might as well make it public.

Starting this week, with this post, I’m going to be providing a weekly update and comparison of Monday Night RAW, ECW, TNA, and Smackdown based on my data. I’m planning to do it for at least a few months.

I mentioned before that I haven’t been watching Smackdown for quite awhile. There were a few reasons why I haven’t. The two biggest reasons were that I couldn’t stand listening to JBL (I might have actually said the announce team before, but it’s actually just JBL), and that one more wrestling program a week was just too much, even for me. If I had to drop one, I’d drop Smackdown. But since JBL returned to active wrestling, and the WWE draft a few weeks ago put Jim Ross as the play-by-play man on the Smackdown show with Mick Foley, and because I wanted to see how Smackdown measured up to the other programs, I’ve decided to start watching it again at least for as long as I do this experiment.

So here is the data for the week of 7/7/2008:

Week of 7/7/08

Minutes From Start Until First Match

As you can see here, Raw continues its tradition of filling the opening, and in this case almost the first half hour, with interviews and other non in-ring activity. TNA’s 2 minutes may be unusually short, but we’ll have to see.

Total Viewing Time In Minutes

Total Viewing Time In Minutes

Here is the total viewing time for each program this week. Looks like TNA is the “most liked” by me this week, with Smackdown being the least. ECW has a slight edge on RAW, but given that it has been scaled by 2 (i.e. I only spent 21 minutes watching ECW)* it means they are pretty much the same. RAW’s 28-minutes before the first match hurt it I’m sure.

[*Note: I’m thinking about changing this to a percentage of the total program time instead of minutes so I don’t have to double the ECW viewing time for the chart.]

Here are this weeks highlights…

RAW Highlights:

  • Ric Flair DVD commercial (yes, I stopped and watched a commercial)
  • Kofi Kingston match (but I’m still not taking back my original opinion 😉 )
  • Some kid running into the locker room to get on camera

ECW Highlights:

  • Tony Atlas appearance (except for the end)
  • Evan Bourne

TNA Highlights:

  • World X Cup matches
  • Awesome Kong match

Smackdown Highlights:

In his early days, the wrestler now known as Bam Neely spent a lot of time wrestling in a tag team with his uncle. They were known in the area as Blood and GutzThe Hellraisers.

Blood had wrestled several years before in a tag team with someone I believe was his real life brother. I think the team was called the Blood Brothers, but don’t quote me on that.

Although the following match is unstructured (it’s pretty much a free-for-all at times), and it’s definitely not their best match as a tag team, I thought it would be worth posting to see four guys having fun beating each other up at a bar.

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This match originally aired on “Slick” Mick’s Bodyslam Review, hosted by Mick Karch and produced by Al Pabon. It was taped at Sharx in Fridley, MN. I believe it was in 1998.

Since there seems to be a lot of interest in ECW‘s Bam Neely (a.k.a. Hellfire, Gutts, Gutz, Magnus Maximus, etc., etc.), and not a lot of information on some of his earlier work, I went digging around to see if I had any footage of some early matches.

Turns out it would have been easier for me to create a Claymation re-enactment of this match than to dig through a pile of tapes to find it. Should have done a better job of indexing this stuff.

As I think I mentioned before, both he and Prime Time had initially trained with another wrestling promoter and had a few matches before coming to Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox‘s training camp. I believe this was their first match after switching to Sharkey.

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This match originally aired on “Slick” Mick’s Bodyslam Review, hosted by Mick Karch and produced by Al Pabon.