Chris Graham: My turn as a wrestling heel
More than 300 fans took in the action Saturday night at Spotswood High School, watching TNA stars Sonjay Dutt and Christian York and former WCW star Lodi headline Fire in the Valley II, an event put on by Shenandoah Valley Championship Wrestling, a promotion owned by colleague Chris Marston.
Marston has big plans for the company, including working out the details of a TV deal that will land the promotion on local TV in Southwest Virginia later this year. Last night’s show was filmed by the Harrisonburg-based TeleMedia Productions for purposes of producing the first two TV shows and a DVD, to which end it was that I was seated ringside alongside Bill Phipps from Real Country WSIG.
Phipps, channeling his inner Gordon Solie, and me, in the role of dime-store JBL, served as the broadcast announce team for the card, which crowned the first VPWA TV champ and set the stage for an Aug. 30 event that will crown the promotion’s inaugural heavyweight champion.
The storyline around which the show is revolving has Marston, representing the VPWA, and the mysterious Robot Robbie, representing an invasion force from the Roanoke area, battling for control of the company. Phipps, as Solie, calls things straight down the middle, and my job, as the JBL with a dash of Jesse “The Body” Ventura, is to make sure that the invaders get their just due.
Which is to say, I root, root, root for the bad guys, to the point of missing the obvious, like when Robot Robbie himself interfered in the main event, a 29-man battle royal that was to crown the heavyweight champ, and I shouted to the heavens that he was just “defending himself,” and continually citing my “sources” as to questions that would be raised in court regarding the claims made by Marston that he had final domain in the company over in-ring action.
There’s also a fair amount of salesmanship in the job, which had Phipps and I in the ring together and separately to engage the crowd and enhance the talent, as was my job with Dirty Money, the self-professed DAWG heavyweight champ, who complained to me in two in-ring interviews about being left off the card before Marston came out to surprise him and partner Hafu with a booked-on-the-fly tag match against Dutt and York.
I can say after my debut in wrestling as a heel that I can confirm what I’ve always thought was the case about who has more fun in wrestling: no question, for me, anyway, that it’s much more fun to be the bad guy. Though I will point out that Phipps, upon me commenting to that effect after the show, offered his own observation that for him being able to be the straight guy in our little comedy duo was everything he thought it would be, and more.
The good news to me is that it seems pretty clear that this little engine that could in the form of the Virginia Pro Wrestling Alliance has a future. My only question is how long I can ride it out. All I can say is, well, I’ve got my sources.