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Dr. Darin Davis

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


Tag: ecw

About a month 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).

I think this will be the last weekly update I give on the viewing stats. It’s becoming clear that this thing is kind of like the stock market: up, down, up, down… Week to week things change quite a bit in one direction and then the other, so I think it will be the longer trend that may show something. I’m still planning on tracking each show, but I’ll only post something about once every 4 weeks to see if there are any noticeable changes. We’ll see how that ends up looking. I have 4 weeks of data for July, so I’ll probably post something on that later this week.

For the week of 7/28/08:

Time To First Match (wk of 7/28/08)

Time To First Match (wk of 7/28/08)

Last week Raw was back up above 20 minutes before airing the first match. They had an excuse the previous week because they were coming off a PPV. No excuse this week, and ECW was right up there with them.

Percentage of Episode Viewed (wk of 7/28/08)

Percentage of Episode Viewed (wk of 7/28/08)

Even though Raw had a long wait until the first match, I ended up watching more of this program than any program in recent memory. For some reason the show held my interest more than usual. There was one match that stood out, and maybe the whole general manager shakeup was enough. ECW viewing was way down. My main reasons to watch ECW were CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, and seeing Bam Neely. Those guys have moved around to other programs so that’s probably why the Raw and Smackdown viewing was higher.

Raw Highlights:

  • William Regal vs. CM Punk

ECW Highlights:

  • None

TNA Highlights:

  • Petey Williams

Smackdown Highlights:

  • Mr. Kennedy vs. Shelton Benjamin

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

This is the follow-up to what I started last week where I will be keeping 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).

I just have the data for the week this time. I had intended on having a couple of additional charts to show trends from week to week, but I haven’t quite figured out how to display that yet. I thought I would just do a line chart with the data points for each week, but it comes out looking like a mess. It might be a bit before I find the best way to display it, so for now I’ll just show the numbers for the current week.

For the week of 7/14/08

Time To First Match (wk of 7/14/08)

Time To First Match (wk of 7/14/08)

Quite a reversal this week, with Raw going from 28 minutes to 4 minutes until they showed their first match, and TNA going from 2 minutes last week to 18 minutes. (I’m counting the brawl on the ramp between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho as the first match for Raw. Otherwise it would be 7 mins).

TNA did have a Pay-Per-View the Sunday before, and there is probably a correlation between that and spending the first part of the program on non in-ring activities.

Percentage of Episode Viewed (wk of 7/14/08)

Percentage of Episode Viewed (wk of 7/14/08)

For the actual viewing time, I switched the chart to show it as a percentage instead of minutes, so I don’t have to scale the ECW totals since it is a one hour program. I’m assuming 100% is 90 minutes for the 2 hr shows, and 45 minutes for the 1 hr ECW.

RAW, ECW, and Smackdown viewing went up a bit, and TNA came down. Raw had less filler at the start, TNA had more, and Smackdown had a couple of decent matches (see below) which would account for the change.

This weeks highlights…

Raw Highlights:

  • Kofi Kingston match

ECW Hightlights:

  • Evan Bourne
  • Hardy’s

TNA Highlights:

  • Kaz vs. Petey Williams

Smackdown Highlights:

  • Kendrick vs. Yang
  • Umaga vs. Kennedy

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:

Jamaican FlagWow. What a difference a month makes. I take back what I said about Kofi Kingston a few weeks ago. Actually, I don’t take it back since it was true at the time, but I thought it would take longer to get a good match out of him. His match with Shelton Benjamin on this week’s ECW program was really good. I guess it goes to show you how someone who’s a little green needs someone with experience to lead him along. Usually it’s the heel that does the leading in this type of situation because they can keep taking control.

Kofi’s undefeated streak is over. That’s a good thing. Even though Kofi lost, he came out of the match looking good. The dynamic of having him be the underdog and almost winning several times worked. Benjamin would have the upper hand, but when Kofi needed to take over he had the athletic ability to pull off one exciting move after another. It didn’t have the paint-by-numbers feel that his other matches have had. And now that they don’t have to continue the streak they can put him against other wrestlers and not worry about what the finish is going to be.

The test will be seeing whether he can continue the momentum in his next match, or if it really was all Benjamin making this one turn out as good as it did.

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.

I can’t help but feel like ECW’s Kofi Kingston is being forced on me week after week. Instead of bringing this guy in and building him up slowly (kind of like what they did for Cody Rhodes), they seem to have decided that the best way to introduce him is to bring back squash matches from the 80’s, give him an undefeated streak, and constantly put him in my face. And now recently, they have one of their top guys, Shelton Benjamin, put him over. Twice.

I don’t really have a problem with him personally (since I’ve never actually met him that’s hard to say I guess), I just have an issue with them pushing him the way they are. Having a storyline where part of the character’s gimmick is that he is undefeated shouldn’t be used often. It works for a Goldberg, or a Samoa Joe, or Umaga. It doesn’t really work for a laid-back dude from Jamaica.

The biggest problem I have are his matches so far (with the exception of the Benjamin matches, which I don’t think he had a lot to do with). Yes, he’s very athletic. Yes, he has a great vertical leap. But it always feels too “scripted” to me, like they are just going through the motions.

It’s as if he’s back in the locker room talking to his opponent and saying, “Listen, mon. I’m going to do a leapfrog over here, den a dropkick over there, den my patented leg drop here, and a spin kick over there. Your job is to get in my way, mon.” I almost expected to see numbers and arrows drawn on the canvas. “Go to #1, take a bump, get up, go to #2, take a bump, wait for me at #3…”.

If I remember right, they tried to push Rocky Maivia like that when he debuted, and people hated him. They pushed him to win a title belt (Intercontinental?), and people hated him. Then he came up with “The Rock” gimmick, had time to put over his character, and people started to like him. Then they loved him.

Let us decide whether or not to like Kofi on our own. Whenever they “tell me” I have to like someone, which the announcers do every week, I end up not liking them.

Until they turn heel. 😉

A previous post talked about how Chavo Guerrero‘s bodyguard in ECW, named Bam Neely, used to wrestle in the Minneapolis area as Hellraiser Gutts and Hellfire, among other names. I had included a couple of screen captures from a match I had with him back in 2000.

Well, I ended putting that entire video up on YouTube (minus a few nips & tucks to get the video below the 10 min limit). You should be able to watch it below.

I missed last week’s (4/15) ECW broadcast. At least I don’t remember it. I might have fast forwarded through most of it. I started watching this week’s show and at some point they were showing a recap of some contract signing between Kane and Chavo Guerrero where Kane was attacked by Chavo’s new bodyguard. It was a black and white montage so the bodyguard was only shown for a few frames, but I somehow sensed that I knew him.

Wait! Back it up a second. Let’s see that again (I think I mentioned before I have a TiVo). Crap, that was too fast. Okay, slow motion…Stop!

Hey… if it wasn’t for the shaved head and the beard, I’d say he’s a dead ringer for another wrestler that went through Sharkey‘s camp while I was there. Considering that would have been at least 6 years ago, I think that would give someone enough time to grow a beard. Definitely enough time to shave your head.

I checked around a few sites on the net and found out that my suspicions were right. The bodyguard, who will be called Bam Neely apparently, wrestled in the Minneapolis area as Hellraiser Gutts.

And as Hellfire.

And as Hellfire Gutts.

And as Magnus Maximus.

And maybe a few others that I forgot.

You could use an old line like, “this guy changes gimmicks like I change socks”, but he wasn’t really changing his gimmick, only his name. Basically the same character, same intensity.

Didn’t have any good pictures of his face, but I included a couple of vidcaps of a match I had with him at the Main Event sports bar in Fridley, MN. The second picture is of him giving me a Razor’s Edge (a.k.a. Crucifix Powerbomb). Wayne McCarty has a much better picture of him as Magnus Maximus at his photo site.

Hellfire GuttsIt’s getting to seem like there are a disproportionate number of wrestlers from Sharkey’s camp that are showing up on TV. Daivari, Austin Aries/Starr, Hellraiser Gutts, Payton Banks (though technically she didn’t start training w/ Sharkey). If you throw in guys that came a couple of years before me you can include Lenny Lane. Of course if you go back even farther you get into the Road Warriors and all the guys he was famous for training.

Hellfire gives Dr. Darin Davis a \If you include those that went to The Sheriff‘s Midwest Pro Wrestling training camp that split off from Sharkey’s you can include O.D.B. in the mix.

Maybe it’s just like when you buy a new car, and then notice that every 5th car on the road seems to be the same model as yours. You never noticed it before until you were looking for it. Maybe there are clusters of wrestlers out there from other parts of the country that I don’t notice, but it sure seems like there are a lot of folks from around here.