The following Hot Tag w/Steve Russell was originally uploaded on Write Steve Write, September 11th 2017:
Sunday, 20th August 2017 saw the culmination of over a year’s worth of work, graft, and emotional and creative investment. It’s not something tangible that you can hold, like a novel (yet!), comic book or painting.
No, this art was crafted and moulded over numerous meetings, Skype/Facetime sessions (depending which one provided a better, less pixel-faced connection), and dinners. It was also born out of a deceptively simple concept, birthed, as it was, in the backroom of Vault Comics in Welling, during a podcasting session with then-stranger-now-friend, Kieron.
Now that some time has passed and I can look back on the events leading to this serendipitous meeting of mutual good fortune with an even eye, I wanted to recount them, connecting chaotic, unrelated events into a string of occurrences that suggest, perhaps, a sense of order amongst the chaos, giving you all a better idea not only at how this working relationship came about, but also the processes involved in booking a wrestling show whilst trying to maintain artistic merit, with all efforts going towards not only putting on a fucking amazing wrestling show but executing on an event that had dramatic purpose, heft, and resonance.
“You will never forget the name of…”
Dustin Runnels has utilised a number of different monikers during his extensive career within the wacky world of professional wrestling: Dustin Runnels, Black Reign, Seven (points if you remember this blip), and, of course, the identity that helped to cement his status in wrestling - more so than simply being ‘Dusty’s boy’ - forging a memorable character in the process that has lasted the test of time: Goldust.
On the 400th episode of NXT, Bobby Roode successfully defended his championship title against a game Roderick Strong. It was during this match that my opinion on Roode became resolute; all my thoughts over many years, different promotions and title runs crystallising as I witnessed him retain the gold.
A question, however, formed: does Roode deserve his current standing, or is he simply riding the popularity of a theme song intended for someone else?
June 11th, 2017 saw a rematch that many people wanted, but, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, was perhaps pulled together too soon. From a business perspective, Omega vs Okada II at NJPW’s Dominion event made all the sense in the world. After an undeniably phenomenal matchup during their first major main event, which took place at January’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 event, people were braying for the rematch, but instead of taking the time to draw out their feud, adding subtle layers as it ramped up over time, New Japan decided to eschew this in favour for a much more formal, straightforward challenge, leading us to the events of the 11th.
Business and story development aside, the focus is left solely on the match itself. Were people invested? Were they emotionally committed to the participants, and, given their first encounter’s 6* classic, did the match meet, match or exceed the lofty expectations placed upon it by the fickle wrestling community?
Not long ago, the current WWE World Champion, Jinder Mahal, was losing to mostly everyone on WWE’s minor shows. Events like Main Event were, no pun intended, main evented with losing efforts from the Modern Day Maharaja, and, let's not forget his Match of The Year Candidate in a losing effort to El Torito.
Despite this, Mahal has survived. He has endured and committed himself to his cause, having found a new passion in his job, his career and, most importantly, himself. This push, however, did not come about solely due to perseverance. In truth, Mahal is the lucky recipient of universal circumstance.