Friday, February 28, 2014

Kevin Steen: Hell Rising Review

Shoot interviews are a hard sell for me.  I think the reason my eyes tend to glaze over when I hear shoot interview is that most wrestlers are not necessarily interesting enough to carry off talking for an entire hour or longer.  Yet, at the same time, Legends of Wrestling, which consists of Gene Okerlund leading four legends like Dusty Rhodes, Michael Hayes, Pat Patterson and Mick Foley talking about the business is one of the greatest television shows I have ever watched.  I realize that Legends of Wrestling is superior to the shoot interview in that the men sitting on the panel are both some of the most knowledgeable and best talkers in the history of the industry and they get to play off one another.

However, at the ROH show last week, I persuaded myself to purchase Kevin Steen: Hell Rising.  This particular shoot interview is produced by ROH and is best known for being pulled off the market, as Kevin Steen tries not to, but absolutely destroys Jim Cornette, which likely led to those same Louisville lawyers portrayed on the DVD to ask for an injunction on selling the product. 

As the price skyrocketed, I assumed I would never break down and purchase it, which is kind of the same way I feel about Playboy Gary Hart: My Life in Wrestling.  Both Steen and Hart are two of my favorite talkers in wrestling history and while the Kevin Steen shoot was reasonably priced, I just couldn't spend $125 on a book.  But $20 at a ROH show is a much easier price to pay.  Plus, it contains 12 Kevin Steen matches, 11 of which I've never seen before.

Somewhere around Kevin Steen being removed ROH, I lost interest in the product.  I was busier with life and Kevin Steen is one of the biggest draws for me in wrestling.  Heck, I own at least three Kevin Steen T-Shirts, including one in the wrong size, because that's what Kevin had with him that day and I wanted to show my appreciation for his hard work and willingness to drive to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, to work Sami Callihan in a building entirely lit by generators.  Even with Kevin back, ROH is still a hard sell for me, because it isn't the local product I learned to love, but something different.

Watching Hell Rising made me think of all of these things.  It also made me think about Kevin Steen.  It was almost painful to watch him talk about not being involved in Ring of Honor.  You could hear the hurt in his voice and the sadness in his face.  His comments to Jim Cornette, which to his credit, he did continually try to temper with praise about what Cornette could bring to a promotion, seemed to have been born from a place of hurt, rather than anger. 

There were large sections of soul searching, where he seemed to be asking why Cornette couldn't appreciate him or his talents, which I always thought was ridiculous, as a man who thought the Dirty White Boy could draw money would certainly see that Steen had the talent to main event anything he was involved with.  But like all of us, Cornette had his favorites and they were more like Richards, Strong and Hero, who aside from Hero being the new king of skinnyfat, look nothing like Kevin Steen. 

What I enjoyed most about the interview was Steen's passion.  He makes you believe he is always speaking from his heart and that he cares about the industry.  Watching someone live their dream and tell us that story is almost always going to be great.  Steen's matches are cut from the same cloth.  He leaves everything in the ring and tells his stories from the heart, which gives him a psychology that is different from most wrestlers and makes him a credible storyteller. 

With the rumors that Steen is getting a WWE tryout becoming live today, it makes me wonder whether he will make it.  He has the talent to work the microphone with any crowd and tremendous charisma.  But I worry his bullying style of offense might not work in the WWE.  I mean, the Great Khali is not taking a sleeper suplex, mostly because I have grave doubts about his ability to jump, but I want to see him get the chance.  I mean, watching Kevin Steen perform his craft in front of small crowds, living by his own rules, wrestling matches the way he wants to are great for a fan like myself, but unselfishly, I want to see someone who has entertained me for the last seven years, nearly decapitated me with a ladder in Philadelphia (true story, Steen was running out for his match with Jay Briscoe at Death Before Dishonor V Night 2, nearly hit flush in the head with a ladder, because I was sitting on the entrance ramp.  Not his fault, but mine.), really get his shot to live his dream and be forever captured on the WWE Network, where I don't always have to dig out a DVD to watch one of the best workers in the business today.

So, if you like shoot interviews or Kevin Steen, you should buy this set before it goes away again.  If not, it is really your loss. 

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