I hadn’t been to a pro wrestling match since I saw Dutch Mantel at the National Guard Armory in Springfield about 20 years ago. MMA had replaced any former love I held for the pro wrestling thing. I was raised on Tojo Yamamoto and Jerry “The King” Lawler. The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Dusty Rhodes. Pops took me to the NWA show when it came to town at The Fairgrounds in Nashville. I remember the sound of Tojo’s wooden shoes as they echoed across the concrete floor. It was awe inspiring.
But then you grow up, discover girls, get a skateboard, move on toward “more adult” things. At some point a little over a decade ago I got back into watching MMA around the time of The Ultimate Fighter. They may have labeled me a TUF noob, though I really hadn’t had access to watching it much since the VHS days when I worked at a video store and could take them home at leisure to watch.
At some point you’ve had your fill of MMA though. You can only handle so much seriousness. So much violence. So many concussions. At some point you need a break. And pro wrestling is a great outlet, and how many of today’s MMA would-be stars have taken their gimmick straight from the WWE playbook so to speak. There’s a lot. But sometimes you just wanna get away from true brutality and have some laughs. See the showmanship side of the physicality. The characters. The costumes. You know, the cool stuff UFC had before the Reebok deal. The personalities are what make the sport, along with skill, but the one-size-fits-all mold the UFC has been trying to cast the last few years is stale.
Tried-N-True Pro Wrestling held Apocalypse 2017 – their year-end event – at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center in Clarksville, on Friday, Nov. 17. The packed house was entertained by several big names and some really unique characters and gimmicks. Even at 46-years-of-age, I can say, I had a great time.
Some of the standouts included seeing MMA/pro wrestling crossover powerhouse Bobby Lashley take on James Storm, Samuel Shaw face a great character in Crazy Steve, Crimson and Jax Dane in a three-way tag match, a couple of women’s matches that included Madison Rayne and Jayme Jameson, an NWA heavyweight title match, and there were a lot more.
After attending so many local and major MMA events in the last several years, it was quite interesting from my perspective, of how much more pure entertainment value you get at a regional pro wrestling show like TNT. Not only by what’s going on inside the ring, but they had booths of all types surrounding the arena. Little kids could sit or stand and be entertained, the people could mingle and visit the different booths, get autographed pictures from wrestlers, buy various merchandise, etc. MMA shows, especially regional MMA promotions, could learn a whole lot by attending a well-run pro wrestling event like TNT. That was just my perspective.
I know enough about entertainment to know that when the audience has time to get bored between fights, you’re doing something wrong. Keep it moving. Have some things for people to do and see between fights and during intermission. Production is a real thing and MMA promoters must realize it’s more than just about what happens in the cage. It should be a total experience.
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