BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #13 - Gen Pro Wrestling
A few days ago, I learned that a pro wrestling show was being held literally five minutes from my house near Lakewood, NJ. At the Lakewood Estonian House, Gen Pro Wrestling ran its inaugural “WrestleInsomnia” event.
Being inside the venue, it felt perfect for pro wrestling. It gave off an intimate vibe instantly. Being THAT close to the action, as a fan, it gets you that much more invested. There was an entrance way and a TV for entrance videos.
Gen Pro Wrestling, which was (that will play a factor later) co-owned by “the Newsie” Mak Stevens and Ray Ray Marz, has been running since last year. In my research of the company, there is a YouTube channel and some matches to view. Although the footage wasn’t crystal clear, there was an abundance of young talent I’ve never heard of before, like Clarke Williams, the Throne, and others.
So as I went to this event, expecting to see Ring of Honor 2008 was completely unreasonable. This was the first step of a lot of these guys and girls trying to make it in pro wrestling. And in a way, it’s exciting.
In front of 70 people or so, “WrestleInsomia” began.
The positive takeaway from this event was the HEART of this promotion. Every single performer went out there and gave their best. There are some local promotions, especially in New Jersey, that do not seem like they care. Every single wrestler, from the pre-show match to the main event, did absolutely everything to give the fans their money’s worth.
Steve Off and Vinny Pacifico had a fun opener for the Pro Wrestling Magic Dark Arts championship. Not knowing much about Pro Wrestling Magic, I was impressed with Dark Arts rules, which bear a little similarity to the ROH Pure Wrestling rules. They went out there for the best two-out-of-three falls and gave a good contest to help propel the crowd into the show.
Talent such as Preacher, “the Brooklyn Outlaw” Donovan, August Artois, and a returning Dan Murdoch helped round out the veteran presence of the card. I hadn’t seen Preach in a wrestling setting in almost a decade, so it took me back to the days of the BWO in Elmwood Park, NJ. And, as always, you can’t take the ACE out of me, so watching Donovan and Murdoch was a nice surprise.
However, there were a few things on this show that really drove me up a wall.
The first thing was WAY TOO MANY matches. For a very local company, it’s nice to see that Gen Pro was able to bring in talent. But by my count, there were more than 40 people on the show. When you have so much talent on a card, the money you bring in as a company dwindles. Less is more, especially for a starter promotion.
The second thing: WAY TOO MUCH STORY THROWN OUT. I admire the fact that they are trying to create emotional investments for the fans to latch onto. It’s great. But, when you are running a live show, with not an established online video presence, you have to keep it simple. Story arcs should be simple and to the point. Again, less is more.
For example, “the Newsie” Mak Stevens’ character arc. On all accounts, he’s a solid dude; however, within an hour and a half, his character went in legitimately three different directions. He started the night as co-owner for the company. At the end of the first half of the card, due to a draw with Ray Ray Marz, he found himself out of the ownership group, as he didn’t technically win the match. Then, three matches later, during the Alpha championship match, a group of masked guys entered the ring and attacked the champion Williams and one of the challengers, Steve Off. One taking off of a mask later, it’s MAK STEVENS, leading a rebellion group of talents.
It was way too much. Hell, I got INSOMNIA thinking about “WrestleInsomia”!
But this all could be easily rectified.
I am issuing a challenge to the Gen Pro Wrestling owners and staff.
ONE: Invest more into your camera and footage. With the entrance way and TV tron, it’s a nice aesthetic. Your footage for YouTube - using cell phones for ring cam and hard cam - needs to be sharpened up. For people to invest in your online presence, you need to establish a decorum of solid footage.
TWO: SLOW DOWN THE STORYTELLING. Focus on making a simple wrestling show for the live crowd and keep the storylines and angles down to a minimum. Once you establish a simple base, then bring on the storytelling a little more. But don’t throw too much at a new fan base trying to enjoy your product; it will confuse them and they might not come back.
THREE: Stop using the Sling Blade. Guys, I know Seth Rollins and Finn Balor made the move popular. But I counted twelve Sling Blades from 8 different guys in one night. Please find a new move to do. If everyone does it, then it’s not cool by the end of the night.
I love seeing local wrestling, especially minutes away from my house. Maybe next month, I will go again to see Gen Pro Wrestling. The promotion has HEART. I just want to see an identity formed within Gen Pro and slowed down storytelling with quality footage online. Once you lock that down, the sky's the limit.
AND NO MORE SLING BLADES! ARRGH!
Seriously, congrats Gen Pro Wrestling. I want to see you succeed. I wish you the best.