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Barbed Wire City Review

 
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Yakuza Rich



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 770

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject: Barbed Wire City Review Reply with quote

I watched 'Barbed Wire City' over the weekend, the latest documentary on ECW. Out of the documentaries I've seen on ECW such as 'Forever Hardcore' and 'The Rise and Fall of ECW', I prefer this one the most. However, I did enjoy the other documentaries as well.

For me, from 1994-1997, ECW was one of my greatest passions I have had, having taken 5 hour drives to the ECW Arena, the Elks Lodge (which I hated) and other venues. The worst drive was me and a friend going from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta for Wrestlepalooza '97, a 7.5 hour drive that day and driving all the 7.5 hours back right after the show.

I think the strength of Barbed Wire City is that it has 'shoot' interview footage of key ECW people stemming back to 1995. However, most of the interviews focused on 2001 (when the company was about to fold) and 2012. They did such a great job of using those interviews to look back at what key players were thinking at the time when the company was in turmoil and how they feel now.

In an era where people decry that reporting and documentary work should be ‘fair and balanced’, we often never see a fair and balanced record. But, I feel they did a nice job of getting all of the vantage points from different people, from the diehard fan to the wrestler to Tod Gordon to the critics to the wrestling ‘media’ that were fans.

I would say that most of the wrestling ‘media’ interview time went to Wade Keller, Dave Meltzer and Mike Johnson. They also interviewed Dave Scherer, Bruce Mitchell and Jason Powell. Out of the bunch, Johnson seemed to get the most interview time and I can see why, he was really excellent at depicting all sides of each situation involving the company. Keller and Meltzer came off as fairly even handed, but they felt like they were fans of the company and wanted to see the company work. Scherer came off as a fanboy and Mitchell didn’t get much time so you couldn’t really get a feel for what his thoughts on the company was. This is probably most prevalent in the discussion of the Mass Transit incident. Johnson, Keller and Meltzer were appalled by what happened while Scherer tried to put a silver lining on the cloud.

The main weakness of Barbed Wire City is that it films pieces leading up to Extreme Reunion in 2012 as part of a ‘Where Are They Now?’ part of the documentary. However, it seems to go into the Reunion show and the completely forgets about it and then out of the blue goes back into it and it just feels like the Reunion show becomes something that the directors forget about and then say ‘oh yeah, we have to bring that back in.’

I also felt that they could have delved a bit further into the nuts and bolts as to why the promotion didn’t work. In particular, why the Arena shows were so much different in terms of format and style of wrestling than the non-Arena shows?

To me, that was a giant issue with the promotion. It was built on these great, diverse shows at the ECW Arena. But once they got out of the Arena it became very low brow from a wrestling perspective. And that only increased insane stunts and turned the promotion to the point where they couldn’t turn back. In essence, the promotion and the wrestlers let the crowd work them instead of letting them work the crowd. And it cost them business and years off their career and lives.

I’m not certain others will quite like it as much as I did. Not only was I a huge fan of the promotion, but I have always enjoyed the examining the psychological, sociological and economics of wrestling and wrestling promotion. Trying to understand why things work and why things don’t work and gleam into the future of wrestling, where it’s going and where it could potentially go to. For others that didn’t like ECW and/or have little interest in examining wrestling from a deeper perspective; they may not like the movie.

Either way, I feel it is superior to the other documentaries mentioned. Forever Hardcore was told too much from an outsider perspective. The Rise and Fall of ECW had Heyman there to give his side of the story, but had too much of a WWE spin on it. Barbed Wire City had the insiders without the bias and I ended up watching it twice.
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:11 am    Post subject: Re: Barbed Wire City Review Reply with quote

Yakuza Rich wrote:
I would say that most of the wrestling ‘media’ interview time went to Wade Keller, Dave Meltzer and Mike Johnson. They also interviewed Dave Scherer, Bruce Mitchell and Jason Powell. Out of the bunch, Johnson seemed to get the most interview time and I can see why, he was really excellent at depicting all sides of each situation involving the company. Keller and Meltzer came off as fairly even handed, but they felt like they were fans of the company and wanted to see the company work. Scherer came off as a fanboy and Mitchell didn’t get much time so you couldn’t really get a feel for what his thoughts on the company was. This is probably most prevalent in the discussion of the Mass Transit incident. Johnson, Keller and Meltzer were appalled by what happened while Scherer tried to put a silver lining on the cloud.


What's interesting is that Mike was the biggest fan of the promotion of the three (Meltzer, Keller and Mike). He wasn't even a "reporter" in the early days, and I'm not sure he was even an official "reporter" until after the Scherer split from Ryder/Joey. That's not to knock Mike, but perhaps to get across that Dave and Wade have been knocked over the years for being critical of ECW. They actually were fans of the promotion as well as reporting on it, they wanted it to succeed, but they tended to be a bit more objective about it than some of the hardcores. :/

One of these days I'll have to watch all of these docs. Not my favorite promotion... :)
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Yakuza Rich



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 770

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember Mike being objective about ECW or at least in conversations we had. I remember when the Mass Transit incident happened he was appalled about it at the time. I think he felt that it shouldn't stop the PPV, but didn't like what happened. And there was some other stuff behind the scenes that happened with the Mass Transit incident that he was privy to, but I won't go into them here.

Mike wrote for the Lariat off and on before the Lariat turned into 1wrestling.com and then the split. I don't know if that would label it as a 'reporter', but he had a lot of access and connections within the company and the wrestlers.

Personally, I was a little more surprised the Scherer continued to spin things. I would think that with the company folded, what we know now, etc....he could see the incident for what it was.

Meltzer always came across as a father figure of sorts to the dirt sheets as the main opponents seemed always interested in what he had to say and were always seeking his approval. When he didn't approve of what hey were thinking, that's when they resented it.







YR
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jdw
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do recall Mike having issues with ECW over time, but overall was more of a "fan" of the promotion than a reporter-who-also-liked the promotion like Dave and Wade. It was kind of forgotten from say 1996 on that those two ever liked the promotion as ECW became more Us vs Them. :)

Anyway, I recall a chunk of MKJ's issues with the promotion. I think he became more of a "wrestling reporter" after ECW died and he started developing/cultivating contacts within the WWE. My interest in the WWE has obviously been really limited over most of the past decade, but usually when it pops up over on PWO that there is a difference of "news" between Dave and MKJ, Mike comes out looking pretty decent.

Scherer is invested in ECW. There is some irony since at the time he tended to say Dave didn't get ECW because he was invested in Japan and Mexico as made-by-the-WON among hardcores. ECW became Scherer's, the Lariat's and 1Wrestling's, and other sheets and new scources were the Enemies. :) Nearly 20 years on, Scherer is still invested in it's legacy as a part of what he was and became.
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