The Spotlight On The Survivor Series- Pt. 5-2011

I’m going to jump ahead a bit here on the survivor series retrospective and look back at Survivor Series 2011, a show I attended live at Madison Square Garden.  2011 was one of the more interesting times to be a WWE fan.  CM Punk was going through a period of time in which he was the most popular man on the roster following the summer of punk, Daniel Bryan had become world champion for the first time, the Rock had returned to the company and Zack Ryder had an absolute breakout year.  This was also the year that I attended the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and the Survivor Series so it was a pretty big year for me as a fan, you could say.

The 2011 Survivor Series was held live from Madison Square Garden and my buddy from work and I were planning on attending the event since the day tickets went on sale which was a first for me as I’m naturally a last minute planner.  I remember on the Friday leading up the Survivor Series there was a huge WWE party in the city, I believe it was in Penn Station.  CM Punk was there for a meet and greet and there was contest running that you could go to the event and win a private bus tour around New York City with Zack Ryder and Jimmy Hart.  My buddy and I were huge Ryder fans as we watched every Z True Long Island Story the day it came out while at work.  Being that our job only had so many employees, however, it was difficult for us both to get the day off together so we agreed to skip the party, though we did spend the day wishing we were there and scouring twitter for updates and photos from the event.

On survivor series Sunday, I remember my girlfriend at the time, begged me not to go.  There was a big time NY Giants game that night and she made up her mind that despite me dropping about $100 on tickets to the event with my friend, she didn’t want me to go to the show.  Though it was a hard decision,  I went to the show and we ended up breaking up two weeks later.

As for the show itself, this was also, to the best of my knowledge the last pay per view to be held at the Garden, to this date and it was a really big deal for us.  There’s something about going a show at MSG that is like none other.  I remember my buddy and I getting there at Penn Station early enough to grab a bite at Roy Rogers and then went down to wait online with the thousands of fans in attendance.  From the second we got there this crowd was all about Zack Ryder.  There were “We Want Ryder” chants in the lobby as many were frustrated that Ryder was not given a US title match against Dolph Ziggler on this show despite both men petitioning for the match on youtube and twitter, and instead John Morrison was given the match on his last night with the company.

In many ways it’s odd the crowd was so into Ryder as this was also the Rock’s first time back in New York and first match back since his return to the company in early 2011.  That said, When Ryder finally did make an appearance to run off Ziggler, this wasn’t only the biggest pop of the nght but the biggest pop I’ve heard in MSG with the exception of John Cena’s Royal Rumble 2008 return.  In fact, after the show when the Rock was making his speech to the live crowd, the Ryder Revolution, was still out in full force as the crowd chanted over the Rock’s speech until the Rock himself had to say “ Hell Yeah love Zack Ryder Woo Woo Woo and all that stuff!” It was probably the pinnacle of Zack Ryder’s career in many ways and it’s a shame he never really took off to the extent, at least that the New York crowd wanted him to on this night.

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Me and my buddy following the Survivor Series 

Follow the show, I remember my buddy and I racing out of the arena, past the idiot fans who were almost arrested for having a hardcore match taking unprotected chair shots to the head with the chair they got from the floor seats of the show, and down the street to a small theater.  We had tickets to a Mick Foley comedy show that were on sale for only $5 the week before.  This was still during the period of time where Mick just wanted to show people what he can do as he was still pretty early into his comedy run.

Mick was really good that night, he’s gotten better since, but with a bunch of diehard WWE fans in attendance following the Surivor Series, he was on fire. I remember there was a small VIP area that had a few Superstars there to watch like Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison.  Unfortunately, in New York City when you’re taking the long island railroad at least on the Port Washington line the trains leaving Penn station run on a schedule of 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and then 3:15.  Thus, with work the next day, my friend and I agreed that we had to catch the 1:15 train.  What we didn’t think was that Mick would still be on the stage come 1AM.  This led to an embarrassing moment where my buddy and I had to run out of a small theater in an attempt not to be noticed only to have Mick say “Ladies and Gentleman, I’m so bad people are actually running out of the theater. “

When I was getting ready for bed that night, I checked the twitter feeds of some friends I knew were in attendance at the Foley show and at 2:30AM one of my friends tweeted that he was on line waiting to meet Mick.  Two thoughts crossed my mind, 1) Damn I missed a free Mick Foley meet and greet and 2) We probably wouldn’t have gotten out of there in time to catch the 3:14AM train!

All in all though another really fun experience that actually is probably most remembered not only for Ryder’s huge night but also for the first night of CM Punk’s 400+ day title reign.  I’ll end by saying that by reminiscing about this show, above all else, it makes me hope WWE runs the Garden for a pay per view again someday because there really is nothing like it. New York City is a great WWE crowd.

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The Spotlight On Wrestling Podcasts- Colt Cabana’s Art Of Wrestling Pt. 1

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s spotlight on wrestling podcasts.  This week’s entry is going to be a 2 parter because it’s going to be This week’s spotlight is actually going to be two pronged. I’m going to get into the Kevin Owens interview from this past week’s Art of Wrestling tomorrow but first I wanted to get into a bit of my admiration for the Art Of Wrestling as this past week marked the 5 year anniversary of the show.

Over the past two years, wrestling podcasts have really exploded on the scene with the help of podcastone hosting weekly podcasts hosted by some of the all time greats in the wrestling industry.  Everyone from Chris Jericho to Stone Cold Steve Austin, to Jim Ross to the late great Roddy Piper hosts their own show.  I can say that I enjoy all of these podcasts to some extent as they usually provide us with a candid conversation with two personalities in the wrestling business while also giving us insight into the everyday life of these legends.  Well, before any of there was ever a podastone, there was Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling.
I’ve always been a fan of Colt Cabana.  Back in 2006, my friends started to beg me to join them for a Ring of Honor show and I decided to take them up on it.  From the start of the show I noticed that there were some names I knew from local shows I used to attend in the northeast a few years earlier.  Names like Low Ki, Xavier, Samoa Joe and the Briscoe Brothers were staples on this show and used to be a part of every independent show in the New York area post ECW era.   From there, there were a host of unbelievably talented technical wrestlers from around the world that were doing things in the ring that I had never seen done before,  Wrestlers like Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, Kenta and Takeshi Morishima were impressing the crowd throughout the night.  That said, there was one wrestler in particular, however, who stood out to me over the others was Colt Cabana.
With his bright colors, his Barry Manilow theme song, and one of his signature moves (the flying asshole), Colt was able to differentiate himself from the rest of the Ring of Honor roster.  With his blend of comedy and wrestling, Colt was able to carve out a unique niche on the, often too serious, ROH live events.  The other thing about Colt was that aside from being hilarious, he was also really good in the ring.  Before long, Colt caught the eye of WWE and was signed to a developmental deal in 2007.  I went out of my way to see one of Colt’s final Ring of Honor shows and told him what an inspiration he was to me (an aspiring pro wrestler at the time).  Colt was one of the nicest people I had met and I knew he was going to be a success in WWE.
Well for whatever reason this didn’t happen,  Instead, Colt was given the character of Scotty Goldman who was a character with not much depth and after only a handful of matches, was released from his WWE contract. Just two years later, I was there live at the Hammerstein Ballroom to see Colt return to Ring of Honor at their 7 year anniversary show.  While I was thrilled to see Colt back in Ring of Honor, as I’d get to see him every month, I was genuinely sad to see that Colt’s time in WWE ended so abruptly.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2011, I’m now dating a girl who lived in southern New Jersey which was an hour and a half away from where I lived in Queens, New York (this is without traffic, with traffic it was as much as 3 + hours away).  Hell bent on making this relationship work, in spite of our distance, I would travel every weekend to New Jersey and, sometimes, as many as 3 other days per week.  These drives were long, they were expensive, they were frustrating and (having such an old car with limited air conidtioning) the rides were also very hot.  Now, I should point out that I’m not a big music guy while driving.  I love music and go out of my way to discover new music of all varieties all the time, but as far as drving while listening to top 40 radio? That really isn’t for me.  I much prefer to listen to sports talk or, of course, wrestling talk.  At the time, I used to listen to a lot of the stuff on pwinsider and one day I saw that Mike Johnson had an interview up with Colt Cabana.  Interested to hear what Colt was up to, i downloaded the show.
On this hour long interview, Colt spoke about this new project he had been working on for about 9 months called the Art of Wrestling Podcast.  Immediately intrigued, I signed on to coltcabana.com and started listening to all of the episodes.  I was immediately hooked at Colt’s Do It Yourself podcast.  It was truly remarkable insight into the world of independent wrestling as Colt would detail all of his adventures and also talk to a different personality each week. What I found so inspiring about the podcast was how positive Colt was.  He would often talk about the happy bus, and discuss the importance of not getting down on yourself.  Here was a guy who lost his dream job just a year earlier, after not really getting a fair shake, and rather then getting upset about it, Colt went continued to build his brand on his own.  As for the guests, I started with the familiar names, guys like CM Punk and Curt Hawkins but I found Colt so enjoyable, that I started listening to all of his other episodes with guests I hadn’t heard of.  The podcast became a great vehicle for independent wrestlers to promote themselves and for fans to understand the beauty of the independent wrestling world.
Before long, I went from being a Colt Cabana fan to an absolute fanatic.  I started to proudly wear my Colt Cabana Jewish Star shirt everywhere, I listened to every podcast in the art of wrestling podcast archives while often singing along with Colt’s open (Live from the studio…apartment in Chicago, Illinois!).  I even had a pretty good conversation with Daniel Bryan about Colt’s documentary, the wrestling road diaries, when I met Bryan at Wrestlemania axxess in 2011. I suddenly almost looked forward to my drive to New Jersey as it gave a reason to listen to some more of Colt, and sure seeing the girl at the end of the drive wasn’t so bad either.  Of course, later in 2011, Colt Cabana’s podcast really blew up (I feel in 2011 it was all about CM Punk, Zack Ryder, and Colt Cabana) when CM Punk uttered those famous words of “Hey Colt Cabana, how ya doing?” during his famous pipe bomb promo.  Colt’s podcast gained popularity once again late last year when CM Punk was his guest on the show on Thanksgiving day, his first appearance since leaving WWE.  That particular podcast was so shocking that my current girlfriend and I spent all of Thanksgiving weekend listening to it.
So yes, it’s great to see so many different types of wrestling podcasts to listen to every week but for me the originator of the wrestling podcast and the man who launched this whole industry is Colt Cabana.  Tomorrow, I will continue this look at Colt’s podcast by taking a look at his 5th anniversary special from last week, including a really eye opening interview with Kevin Owens that everyone should go out of your way to listen to.  Until then, thankssss!