Archive for the ‘TNA’ Category

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In addition to EasternCarolinaStyle.com, Michael Smith is also a regular contributing writer for the Fayetteville, NC weekly newspaper, Up and Coming Weekly.

This week’s edition of Up and Coming Weekly features two articles from Michael.

First, there is a feature about The Festival of Yesteryear: A Celebration of Early America on September 6th at Aresenal Park.

Second, Michael sat down with TNA Wrestling Superstar and NC native Jeff Hardy to talk about the TNA wrestling show on September 7th at the Crown Complex.

Click the link below to read more
(You will be routed to UpandComingWeekly.com)

Michael Smith at Up and Coming Weekly

 

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On Wednesday April 17, 2014, the weather in North Carolina was as inconsistent as ever. Just two days prior, daily highs were in the 80s and all was beautiful. On Wednesday, the highs were in the 50s, and the lows dipped to around freezing; unpleasant to say the least. As odd as it was, the weather was appropriate for the show that was about to start. Just as out of place as a Mid-April freeze in the south, Pro Wrestling Icon “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley was about to take the stage at Goodnight’s Comedy Club.

Before the Goodnight’s Comedy Club opened for the night, people from all around the area began to congregate outside the club awaiting their chance to get in to the show. The line to the front door that formed stretched down the block and around the corner of the building. Goodnight’s has had some truly amazing talents take the stage in its history; lines down the block are somewhat of a regular occurrence for the club.

Even if the line itself was not really remarkable; the group of adults that made up the line was very noteworthy. There were a couple of hundred people standing outside in the cool 50 degree air waiting patiently, but only about 10 of them were women. This particular line was not normal for Goodnight’s, as it was overwhelmingly biased to one sex. Upon closer inspection, not only was the line made up of mostly men, the men who were there did not appear to be entirely “normal”.

There were two gentlemen with championship belts draped over their shoulders; I know who the WWE Heavyweight and Intercontinental champions are and neither of them were those two guys. Also a bit odd, a good number were carrying books into the show. Were they expecting the show to be THAT bad? Perhaps the oddest item that was in-hand by a member of the line was a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli. I guess he must have missed dinner before he had to come to the show. There were even two guys that entered with the crowd that looked strangely familiar, but out of place as well.

At around 7:15pm, the doors opened and the crowd quickly filled the venue. They each took their places in the showroom and anxiously waited for the show to start; title belts, books and the can of ravioli in hand. The host for the night took the stage to get the crowd ‘warmed up’ for the headliner. He told a few stories and made a few funny jokes, but overall he wasn’t needed. This crowd was ready for the main course, appetizers were not required.

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Before the host left the stage he had the responsibility of introducing the headliner for the night. Again, he was not needed. As he began to speak, the sound system began to play a familiar track, a car wreck sound followed by a distinctive guitar riff that seemed to immediately excite the crowd. Before the host could even finish his intro, the crowd had relieved him of those duties; they loudly chanted, “Foley, Foley, Foley”.

Mick Foley made his way through the crowd on his way to the stage similar to the way he used to make his way to the ring during his Hall of Fame career in professional wrestling. However, these days he moves more slowly, he has a very noticeable limp and slouch to his shoulders; the years of brutal bumps and travel have taken a tremendous toll on him. His hair was long and jet black, maybe to cover his missing right ear. He had a thick full beard instead of the scruff that fans were accustomed to. He wore a black pair of Tom’s shoes, black sweatpants, a Cactus Jack t-shirt, and an unbuttoned short-sleeved shirt that featured little pictures of snowmen. The crowd was in awe of this oddly unkempt looking man; “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley.

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Once Foley took the stage and grabbed the microphone the crowd immediately quieted down, they were apparently waiting for something specific. He started by giving the audience a couple of ground rules and set some expectations of what was to come. He instructed the crowd to keep a count of the number of times he dropped the ‘F-Bomb’; it was only supposed to happen once. He let everyone know that afterwards he would take questions from the crowd, pledging to answer as many as he could. He did make one unique request of the audience; he asked that no one ask him, “Did it hurt?”

Mick got rolling with his stories at about 8:00pm, the audience hanging on everything he said. He told stories of his time with WWE, ECW, and other organizations. The Undertaker, Brian Pillman, The Steiner Brothers, Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and others notables all were part of his stories. As he relayed the anecdotes of the people from his past, he did it in a way that was funny, but he didn’t take shots at anyone or “settle any scores” on stage. Except maybe for Buff Bagwell; he was the center of one story that may or may not have actually occurred.

One wrestler from his past that Foley seemed to take great pleasure in using as the butt of his jokes was Al Snow. Mick asked the crowd, “What was the main difference between the 100 Year War and Al Snow?” When the crowd was unable to respond, he filled in the blank, “Eventually the 100 Year War was over.”

Jokes like that one gave the crowd a good laugh at All Snow’s expense, but it also allowed Mick the chance to teach the audience members about wrestling, its terminology, and ways of the business. He explained that “over” referred to a wrestler being accepted and popular with the fans. He did things like that to make sure that his show was enjoyable to the wrestling fan and non-wrestling fans well.

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As Foley spoke it was hard to miss the lack of polish or refinement in what he wanted to say. When telling the story of the origins of his “Bang, Bang” catchphrase he failed to really set up the story and appeared to forget the title of a song that played a role in the story. He looked out into the crowd with a befuddled look and said, “You know my career better than I do, help me out!” He was either really lost, or using his “ring psychology” to make sure the audience was fully engaged. Either way, it worked. The crowd didn’t let him down and his stories never really “hiccupped.” In any other setting that type of performance would be fatal for a talent; for Foley, it seemed almost on purpose.

Mick’s shows are not routines; they are actually the exact opposite. The shows are often “one-off” or otherwise customized to the city or area where the show takes place. Mick said, “Whenever I go to a place that has a rich history in pro wrestling, like Raleigh, I tell stories about my times there.” That type of show does not lend itself to being one that can be rehearsed for any real length of time. The spontaneous nature to the flow of stories he told contributed to the unpolished feel, but ended up being very endearing.

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Specific to Raleigh and North Carolina, he told stories about the first place he did his famous diving elbow off of the apron. He shared North Carolina’s role in him no longer having front teeth. Perhaps the funniest story with local flavor was his “Cookie Story.” It involved him and Diamond Dallas Page along with plastic wrap and cookies at a NC hotel that was to remain nameless.

Not all of his show had local ties; it also covered many topics from many eras and places. The crowd learned how he lost an ear in a match in Germany and how the ear ended up in a French referee’s hands. He told the full story of his famous Hell in a Cell match and how he and The Undertaker grew from it. He enlightened the audience as to the legitimacy of the craft that he worked so hard at. He asked, “How many sporting events continue on when one of the participants is totally unconscious?”

After about an hour of continuous storytelling and crowd interaction, the audience had heard tales of Foley’s career that they may not have heard before. For the stories that he told that they did know, he was able to add a new layer of humor and perspective. But, It was time for the “go home” story to complete the evening. At this point, the “F-Bomb” counter was still very much stuck on zero and one particular trademark shtick had yet to make an appearance.

Not one to send a crowd home unhappy, Foley set up his final story of the night by inserting his famous “cheap pop,” it got an immediate thunderous applause by the crowd. He then told a hilarious story involving a beat up yellow Walkman, Tori Amos and Kane. By the end of the story the “F-Bomb” counter read “1” and the crowd was well fed.

After the final story, Mick sat on a stool and readied himself for the Question and Answer portion of the night. He began by inviting a special guest to come up onstage to join him during the segment. Former WCW and WWE Cruiserweight and WWE Tag Team Champion, Shane “The Hurricane” Helms came up onstage to a loud applause from the crowd. The Hurricane immediately cut off Mick before he could get started with the audience questions. He informed Mick that there was someone else in the audience that needed to join them onstage; he called up former WWE Tag Champ Matt Hardy to another very loud round of applause.

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Once the three men were onstage the audience spent the next hour peppering them with questions about their time on the road, their most embarrassing moments, and their funniest stories in general. Mick often would defer to Hardy and Helms to answer questions asked of him to get their perspective before giving his own.

A pleasant, but not surprising, part of the Q&A was the stage command that Hurricane Helms demonstrated. Mick was the star of the show on this particular night, but Hurricane Helms showed that he could probably do a show of his own given the chance. His timing with Foley, Hardy, and the audience was perfect and his delivery of anecdotes was great.

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After the Q&A was over Matt Hardy and Hurricane Helms said their goodbyes to the fans and Mick and went on their way to call it a night. Mick did the opposite of “call it a night”; he went outside to the front of the club where his merchandise table was set up. It was set up to sell pictures and Cactus Jack t-shirts to anyone that wanted.

Mick sat down at the table in near freezing temperatures, visibly in pain, until just before midnight. Remember that 8:00pm start time? Mick proceeded to meet, and take a picture with, EVERY SINGLE FAN that came up to him. He didn’t just sell stuff, sign stuff, pose for pic and then move the fans along assembly line style either. He took the time to chat with everyone and generally carried himself like a person that truly appreciated the fans that were there to see him.

Not to be ignored in all of this is the physical toll on Foley’s body that the night seemed to take. Foley’s wrestling career is known for the large amount of physical punishment he took “fake wrestling”. At the end of his career his body had taken hundreds, if not thousands, of full contact bumps on concrete floors. That and other things that a normal human is not supposed to do helped him to earn the moniker “Hardcore Legend” in 100% legitimate fashion.

During the show, the years of abuse were evident as Mick would have to alternate between walking the stage and sitting on a stool. It was very apparent that he was feeling a good bit of physical discomfort just standing onstage holding the microphone. None of that pain or discomfort seemed to deter him from doing all that he could to give the fans in attendance a good show.

Standing outside in the cold, after every other fan had gone home, Mick was left with his assistant to break down the merchandise table. Despite being “on” for over 4 hours, wincing with every movement he attempted, he stopped, put away the pain, smiled and posed for one last picture with me.

Mick gave me and everyone else in attendance an amazing and truly unique experience and perspective on one of our idols, we should remember this night fondly for years to come. His performance is one that is a labor of true love and 100% “for the fans”.

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Tnalogo

Nashville, Tenn. (Oct. 25, 2013)TNA WRESTLING announced today it is accepting applications for the upcoming Gut Check Seminar in Toledo, Ohio, Saturday, Nov. 9, at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

The two-hour Gut Check Seminar offers instruction and advice from TNA personnel and industry veterans as they evaluate aspiring wrestlers, announcers, managers, valets and referees on promos, drills, simulated matches and in-ring work, with the possibility of earning a spot on the TNA roster.

“The Gut Check Seminars have proven to be a fantastic way for undiscovered talent to get noticed,” said Executive Vice President of Television Production and Talent Relations John Gaburick. “A number of great wrestlers discovered through the Gut Check Seminars have made the TNA roster and are seen by millions of fans around the world each week on IMPACT WRESTLING.”

Recent “Gut Check” winner and the newest Knockout, Lei’D Tapa, who is making her presence known each week on IMPACT WRESTLING airing Thursday nights on Spike TV, came through the ranks of a Gut Check Seminar to earn a TNA contract this past February.

Below are details of the upcoming Gut Check Seminar taking place prior to the IMPACT WRESTLING WORLD TOUR event scheduled for later the same evening in Toledo:

  • SeaGate Convention Centre
  • Saturday, Nov. 9
  • 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Application Deadline: Nov. 7

Click here to apply for the Toledo Gut Check Seminar. The initial application fee is $20 and space is limited.

Application link – http://fs21.formsite.com/GutCheckLLC/form8/index.html