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   Sun, April 4, 2004



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COMMENT





Raven on his way
By Don Callis
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One of the most exciting and enigmatic stars of the last 10 years is finally coming to Winnipeg with his unique brand of sports entertainment. He has been one of the most innovative and elusive figures in the industry and he is headed in for promoter Tony Condello on Thursday, May 6, in Winnipeg.

Raven is one of those wrestlers who changed the face of the industry. When ECW was changing the way we thought about pro wrestling, Raven was their flagship, and along with Sabu and Shane Douglas, likely their most famous world champion. While Sabu was more innovative in the ring and Shane Douglas more the classic heel wrestler, Raven was, as a personality, probably the most representative of the new breed of fan, and the most cutting edge.

While other wrestlers were still running around with mullets, Raven was growing his hair all one length. When every wrestler going had fancy spandex tights and shiny patent boots, Raven came to the ring in cut-off jean shorts, an old T-shirt and a flannel shirt tied around his waist. Raven represented for wrestling fans what Kurt Cobain had represented for music fans: an alternative.

You need only have gone to an independent show in the last eight years to see his influence. Witness all of the wrestlers wearing non-traditional gear. Back when I was coming up, the only guy who didn't have tights was a farmer who came to the ring with a live pig. Witness the harder edged action. Raven was a part of starting all of that.

Then there were the promos, vignettes and feuds. His ongoing and multi-layered feud with Tommy Dreamer in the mid-1990s is one of the most interesting and intelligently booked and executed feuds of all time (kudos to both Dreamer and Paul Heyman as well here).

His interviews were not screamfests, over-the-top, one-dimensional promos, as many of the guys were doing in the early '90s. His were slow burners. He didn't get heat by telling you he hated you, he got heat by asking "What about me? What about Raven?" -- echoing the self-centred Generation X 'me first' crowd he represented so well.

Raven left ECW in the late '90s for a bigger money deal with Ted Turner's WCW, then abruptly quit, walking out on Eric Bischoff after Bischoff had made the statement that anyone who didn't like it in Atlanta could just quit, "knowing" that no one in their right mind was walking away from one of those contracts. Raven simply got up and left.

You see, Raven has a passion for the business. He would rather take the chance he took by going to WWE for less money than he could make in Atlanta, because he cares about his legacy in this business. The fact that he was able to distinguish himself there, despite some pretty heavy odds as perhaps the greatest WWE hardcore champion of all time, speaks volumes about him.

Now Raven is the number one babyface for the number two promotion in the world, NWA TNA, and has had a huge part in building that company these past few months. Raven is also one of the smartest people I have ever been around, both in and out of the ring.

It should be a real treat for fans to be able to see him in the flesh. We will have details on where to get tickets on NHB Radio tonight at 6 on 92 CITI-FM.

K-5 NEWS

The Rock's movie Walking Tall opened up and has been getting mixed reviews. The general consensus is that the Rock has lots of potential as a movie star, but that this script is not the best ... Triple H did a good job of making Shelton Benjamin look like a breakout star last week on Raw. Perhaps he is finally doing what we all wanted him to do for some time now ...

How about my pal Chris Jericho cutting a great babyface promo on Trish Stratus? It is always hard to be the babyface who gets screwed over by the girl, because you can end up having the crowd turn against you for being a putz. But Jericho is such a good promo that he completely turned the whole thing to his advantage ... I really hope they do something with Lance Storm, who is one of the real underrated wrestlers on their show.