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Credit: Shawn Valentino and Prowrestling.net
Living in Los Angeles, we are fortunate enough to host the “biggest party of the summer” as hyped yearly by WWE. SummerSlam came back to my town this past weekend, and it has become a weekend-long event for wrestling fans. My friend Rich Twilling, came down from Sacramento to join the summer festivities.
This past Saturday, we attended the “We Watch Wrestling” live podcast, which taped at a hip little bar near downtown Los Angeles. Here are some notes and observations from the taping:
(1) This event was a wrestling nerd’s dream come true. Former WWE writer Matt McCarthy was the host, and Dolph Ziggler was the special guest for the night. The entire room was packed with fans, many drinking, so the atmosphere was festive. As Powell commented, I randomly run into Ziggler so often you would think I’m stalking him.
(2) The night started with some stand-up comedy, and the highlight was Ziggler himself. With free reign on the microphone, he was able to showcase more of his charisma and wit. Some of his best lines included the following. “Welcome to SummerSlam, the biggest party of the summer. And for wrestling fans, the only party of the summer.” Another gem was this: “John Cena has 15 championship reigns, or three for each one of his wrestling moves.”
Ziggler surprisingly had excellent comic timing, and I wish he could exhibit more of his personality on television.
(3) This definitely was not an event for children because there was some racy adult humor throughout the night.
(4) McCarthy was a bombastic host with a dynamic personality, and you could see him being a wrestling manager in the eighties.
(5) The show finally began about an hour into the night, and it started with some wrestling trivia from an old Gordon Solie board game. Most of the questions were obsolete unless you were a real wrestling historian, and there were obsolete gifts such as wrestling DVDs for people who answered questions. The grand prize was a DDP Yoga Max Pack, and it went to a fan from England who went home with some added weight in his suitcase.
(6) McCarthy was consistently entertaining and kept things humorous as we sat through about an hour of wrestling trivia. Unfortunately, his co-host, who had an obnoxious Gilbert Godfrey voice, was more annoying than anything, although some of the fans found him funny. The whole tone of the show was very light-hearted so it was all in fun.
(7) Things really got interesting when the interview with Dolph began. He was asked about his favorite wrestlers, and he said that Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels were his all-time favorite.
(8) The show was at its best when the tone was serious. McCarthy looked back at the career of HBK and discussed how amazing it was that he was retired with a back injury and came back better than ever. Twilling and I had the same discussion earlier, and concurred that he essentially had two separate Hall of Fame careers. It was obvious that Michaels was a revered figure on the show, and Ziggler talked about what a genius he was in the ring.
(9) They compared Michaels versus Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 with Andre versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3. They discussed how each match was a passing of the torch that signaled a new era. I never heard that comparison before, but I would say that Hogan was already the man before his match with the giant.
(10) Ziggler was a great guest and he came across as very likable and a regular guy. Everyone who attended the show seemed to have a great time and many stayed for drinks and food after the show. There was some self-awareness in the room that we were all wrestling geeks at heart, and the show acknowledged it while remaining entertaining.
Overall, it was a very fun night, and it was a cool pre-SummerSlam event to build the mood for the big show. It also was similar to the WWE product in that it was at its best when presented with respect and talked about with seriousness. I hope that is the direction they decide to take the program.