DVDs - VGames - Books RADICAN'S DVD REVIEW SERIES: "Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride" should be viewed as cautionary tale for current wrestlers
Feb 28, 2013 - 12:26:48 PM
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By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist
After watching Highspots.com's “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride” DVD, which is a documentary looking at the career of 1980s star "Dynamite Kid" Tom Billington, it is striking how much the landscape of professional wrestling has changed in recent years.
Billington was a skinny kid who trained to wrestle in England before heading to Calgary to wrestle in Stampede Wrestling. At the time, he was always reminded by his peers that wrestling was a sport for giants. In order to get noticed, Billington bulked up on steroids and took insane bumps in the ring. His matches in Japan against the likes of Tiger Mask and others made him a figure that many independent wrestlers still look up to today.
Shifting to today's big picture of independent wrestlers eyeing a spot in WWE, Chris Jericho talked about Triple H taking on more power within WWE in a recent MLW.com podcast interview. Triple H is not only negotiating deals with wrestlers - as Jericho claimed he dealt with Triple H exclusively for the first time when negotiating his return to WWE and Vince McMahon had nothing to do with those conversations - but he also talked about WWE’s developmental system under Triple H's guidance.
It’s no secret that with the success of wrestlers like C.M. Punk and Bryan Danielson in WWE, size is becoming less of a factor when it comes to WWE signing independent wrestlers. Wrestlers that aren’t known for their bodybuilder physiques such as Brodie Lee, Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose), and Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) have signed with WWE in recent years.
About 30 years ago, Billington became freakishly large to get noticed in the pro wrestling industry; now-deceased Chris Benoit followed suit and not only emulated Billington's physique, but also his in-ring style.
The Benoit link to Dynamite Kid is largely ignored on “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride” unless you search the extras where the talking heads make sure to clarify that Dynamite Kid is in no way responsible for the Benoit tragedy.
Former ROH World champion Davey Richards, who also idolized Dynamite Kid, was tabbed to narrate “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride.” Billington, Benoit, and Richards are all linked by their philosophy in the ring of going all-out, all the time, although Richards has never been as freakishly muscular as Benoit and Billington were during their careers.
A larger issue that went unexplored on “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride” was Billington’s influence on independent wrestlers. Big bumps and high-risk action are still a staple of independent wrestling, which emphasizes the in-ring product over charisma despite a shrinking wrestling audience.
Billington is someone that could have influenced change in the industry by letting his career be an example for others of what not to do. On “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride,” Billington is asked if he would tell wrestlers not to emulate him and he says he would tell them to do what they want. Richards is asked if seeing Billington in a wheelchair makes him re-think what he does in the ring and Richards replies that once the lights go on, he goes all-out and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
Although Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson in ROH) recently said he’d like to show a more serious side of himself in the ring, he’s making a lot of money in WWE and not taxing his body as he was when he was wrestling in ROH. C.M. Punk doesn’t have a huge physique, but he’s the second biggest star in the company when the part-time players aren’t around.
WWE is slowly changing the message and showcasing smaller wrestlers on their roster that don’t have big physiques more than ever. Those same wrestlers aren’t bumping around and taking insane bumps on a regular basis to make a name for themselves in the company.
It’s high time that independent wrestling takes note of the lessons learned from Billington’s career, especially his in-ring style. Instead of praising Billington’s influence, wrestlers on the independent scene should look at his current condition, and see it as a cautionary tale.
I recently attended an independent wrestling show that featured some top names on the independent scene. I watched one of the top wrestlers limping around before his match and when I watched “Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride” I immediately thought of him. There he was in front of my eyes obviously not moving around as someone in his early 20s should be.
When he came out to wrestle, he bumped around like crazy to wake up the crowd of 100 fans that had not been that vocal all night. I was concerned. The question that needs to be answered is can independent wrestlers find another way to get noticed without wrestling like Dynamite Kid?
[ FYI: "Dynamite Kid: A Matter of Pride" can be found at Highspots.com at this link - http://bit.ly/13q97xz ]
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