Del Muir takes a trip back in time to look a Philadelphia based "Extreme Championship Wrestling" - who have been making waves in the last few months.
In 1992, the world was a very different place. October 23 saw one of the boldest directorial debuts in cinematic history with a film depicting neither dogs nor reservoirs. Notoriously, this film would be dismissed by certain reviewers who would criticise its level of violence. Contrarily, others would laud its unusual narrative stylings. However, what this piece of work would bring, was a vision of change. Change that would inspire a generation. Change that would separate those who cling to the past from those who long for the future.
Meanwhile, in the world of professional wrestling: the previous week, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation would cancel shows in New York & Oregon respectively. Due, in part, to poor advance sales. Alternatively, two days later in World Championship Wrestling; the main event of Hallowe'en Havoc saw a gimmick match, which debuted in 1972, involving a man approaching 40 years old.
Now, two years on, the aforementioned, cavalier director has returned to cinemas with the backing of an ensemble cast which rivals the star power of any Royal Rumble you care to mention. But, like his first work, it has not come without scepticism. Reports from a screening suggest a grown man passed out when a scene showing a woman, overdosed on heroin, was given a shot of adrenaline to her heart, reviving her. Similar to his debut, the scenes different to what had gone before in this world, were villainised by those who could not understand. Yet, those who chose to see these leaps in evolution marvelled at the continued use of pioneering techniques to make what is old, seem new.
Keep it on the QT, but the un-named Director is different. He sees differently. He acts differently. Some say, his work is delivered Dangerously.
Professional wrestling is not a new innovation. Like a heist film or stories about crooked boxers & gun-toting criminals, the audience knows a lot of what to expect. The art to the success of entertaining this audience, though; is in the delivery of the product to which they are presented. You can tell an old story, but do it in a new way. You can use an old star, but do it to create a new one. You can present an old rivalry, but do it with a view to the future. You can change the expectations of an audience, but do it in a way they can appreciate.
One man who understands these concepts has a big say in what, in this writer's eyes, is the most innovative wrestling promotion currently operating within the United States. It does not have the high production values of those who have national syndication. It does not have the historical prestige of said promotions' championships. It does not have the attention of the country's population. But, with particular reference to the last example, this may simply be a case of it does not have it... Yet.
The cast of Reservoir Dogs in 1992 was largely unknown with the exception of Harvey Keitel. The roster of Extreme Championship Wrestling is largely unknown with the exception of Cactus Jack. The three inter-mingling stories of Pulp Fiction have all been told before, but are done in a way which breathes new life into each. The presentation of Extreme Championship Wrestling has been shown to an audience in every city, state & (former) territory of America; but this audience has never felt it delivered in a way that John Travolta's syringe would envy.
Hulk Hogan is attempting to bring WCW "into the 90's". WWF is attempting to match this with their "New Generation". For Paul E Dangerously, Philadelphia & Extreme Championship Wrestling; the future has already arrived.