January 28, 2010
ROH, PWG pulling out all the stops for WrestleReunion weekend
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
At past WrestleReunion events the weekend has included a legends wrestling show. This weekend WrestleReunion 4 takes a different twist with the future of professional wrestling with Philadelphia-based Ring of Honor and Los Angeles' Pro Wrestling Guerrillaa holding cards.
“Some of the folks I am involved with thought this would be a good approach. Ring of Honor had never been to Los Angeles before so we thought a Ring of Honor debut would be a good idea. Since we decided to have two days of wrestling, PWG is the local group out there with a very consistent following,” promoter Sal Corrente explained. “I don't have exposure to them quite honestly but I took advisement from some folks. People seem happy with that choice too. It's not like we are getting bombarded with, 'Hey, where are the legends matches?' We do have some legends matches with Muta and Jushin "Thunder" Ligerand Larry Zbyszko.”
It was PWG's association with Highspots, which is co-promoting the event, that opened the door for PWG to present its show -- dubbed "Kurt Russelmania," explained PWG promoter Excalibur.
“Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's association with Highspots began just eight months after our first show, and now, over six years later, our relationship is stronger than ever. In that time both companies have grown considerably, and Highspots has reached a point where they are promoting a convention for wrestling fans all over the world. Thanks to the length of our relationship and our profile in the independent professional wrestling community (not to mention most of us live like 20 minutes away), I think Highspots was very eager to have Pro Wrestling Guerrilla be a part of WrestleReunion 4. It exposes Pro Wrestling Guerrilla to the fans that will be in attendance who may not be familiar with us. Beyond that, by having an event that features some of the best known names in professional wrestling from around the world, that can easily pay dividends down the road if, for example, someone picks up a DVD for Rob Van Dam's name alone, and ends up becoming a fan of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in the process. So the exposure is fantastic, plus the ballroom rental was covered by the convention, so that works out for everyone.”
For ROH owner Cary Silken, it was a no-brainer. It was important however to work with reputable promoters after being involved in a 2007 convention disaster in San Francisco.
“The people that were running it wanted a premier attraction each of the nights in the form of a show. PWG, who is the top local promotion of the area, was natural. WrestleReunion asked if Ring of Honor wanted to be part of it. For us it was an easy decision and we're happy to be making our second west coast appearance. The guys that are running this one, we have established relationships with and they are good people with a good track record. There is no comparison between this event and San Francisco. It should be a hell of an event. The talent roster of the legends and the autograph guests is good, they have two awesome wrestling shows Friday and Saturday with a lot of good special guests. I can't wait to get the hell out of this cold weather. It has been very cold here this winter. I am looking forward to going out to California.”
“I am really looking forward to his match with Austin Aries. Liger is one of the living legends. The guy is still talented it isn't like having one of the legends that can't really do it anymore,” Silken said. “Having him against our world champion Austin Aries, even though it is a non-title match, it is going to be really exciting. I am looking forward to it, and there is some other great talent the next night on the PWG show including Rob Van Dam.”
PWG is pulling out all the stops with Van Dam, Muta, Liger and Super Crazy all on the card. It was difficult to narrow down the field and choose their opponents, recalled Excalibur.
“As a former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Champion and a member of the unofficial PWG MVP ballot, Chris Hero was always on the short list of potential opponents for Rob Van Dam. Despite his experience level, Hero is perpetually a student of the game, always taking new-found knowledge and techniques and melding them into his style. He's truly one of, if not the most versatile wrestlers in the business today, which means he matches up nicely with just about anything Rob Van Dam may throw at him. Roderick Strong is another guy who is on the unofficial PWG MVP ballot, and he too was on the short list of potential opponents. Roderick had an incredible year in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2009, and capped it off with a phenomenal effort against Kenny Omega in the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles, so we were eager to have him carry that momentum into 2010. Plus, he won our office fantasy football league, and asked to face Rob Van Dam in lieu of the cash prize. We were still having a tough time deciding, so we flipped a coin and it improbably landed on its edge, hence the three way match.”
Both cards are stacked lineups, a wrestling fan's dream card anywhere. Providing the best show possible is important to ROH said Silken.
Having icons on the card, and at WrestleReuinion itself is a big deal to both fans and the stars of PWG, Excalibur said.
“I think just the knowledge of having someone like Stan Hansen or Bret Hart in the same zip code as an event makes wrestlers step up their game, so to have those guys, plus 20 other professional wrestling legends at the same convention as Kurt Russellmania will be a part of is extremely motivating. Sure, it might be nervewracking to know that someone you grew up idolizing may be watching you wrestle, but at heart, those legendary wrestlers are fans of professional wrestling. So if you go out there and have a good match, that is something that any fan, no matter who they are, can appreciate and enjoy. The fans of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla are extremely loyal and dedicated, so even Super Crazy or The Great Muta weren't on the card, we would still have a fantastic turnout. But because of the involvement of The Great Muta, Super Crazy, Rob Van Dam, and Jushin Liger, plus the Wrestlereunion 4 convention itself, it's a gigantic bonus to our fans. Kurt Russellmania is an event that we a very proud to be promoting, not only from a business standpoint, but also as a way to offer something special to our local fans who have been with us from the beginning.”
Jason Clevett has attended four Ring of Honor Shows and two Pro Wrestling Guerrilla shows, and shot ringside photos for both. He is excited to once again see both companies live and in person.