By Michael Lanza
May 30, 2018 6:50 PM
Michael Lanza here, everyone’s favorite snobby wrestling critic.
This weekend was an eventful weekend for EAW to say the least. We crowned a new Answers Wrestling, witnessed the forming of a deadly alliance between The Crowe’s Nest and Jaded Hearts, saw the return of a Hall of Famer, made new Pain for Pride matches – and that’s barely even broaching the subject.
However, one thing has been on my mind that could quite possibly eclipse the other happenings in the Land of EAW. A story that has been overlooked by some has been the fascinating odyssey of Ventura and his return to EAW.
Allow me to preface this by saying that I am a Ventura fan, have been ever since he won the Grand Rampage (which feels like an eternity ago.) I believe Ventura is an athlete that is capable of being a prominent Main Eventer, yes even in 2018. Despite my opinion, there has always been something getting in the way of Ventura and the often referenced ‘brass ring’.
Too many distractions.
Cue the big Grand Rampage comeback earlier this year. I remember sitting there at Buffalo Wild Wings ecstatic over the return. Ventura looked to be in phenomenal shape, perhaps the best shape of his career which is truly saying something considering the conditioning on the guy. The following week on Dynasty live from South Africa, we saw Ventura team up with a fellow returning veteran named Tyler Parker and for a second I thought I woke up in 2013 again. However I was quickly reminded that much time has passed since then, as the two vets were swiftly defeated by The Dragon Slayers in a shockingly brisk fashion.
I still remember where I was seated at BWW on that fateful night. Mouth agape, I dropped my chicken wing and quickly left the restaurant on the verge of tears, but in hindsight it’s not that big a deal, right? Perhaps it was unfair to stick two returning main players in the main event against a well oiled tag team who have since then been qualified to challenge the respective greatest Elitists of all time for the Tag Team Championships at Pain for Pride. Ring rust plus a lack of team experience certainly seemed to be a factor in the loss.
Well, several weeks ago Ventura – already following a string of losses – took on the Dynasty rookie Elitist Damon Diesel. Theoretically this match should virtually be a layup for Ventura, after all he has the rare gift of good conditioning, a ton of experience and youth. Ventura, still in his early 30s, is relatively young for a pro-wrestler. Wear & tear is not a factor in Ventura’s career, even if he is from the more barbaric ‘extreme’ era of EAW.
Well – Ventura was defeated in a similar fashion to some of his previous losses this season. Now I can understand a loss to a well oiled tag team, especially when being caught off guard; but a Grand Rampage winner losing to yet another rookie? Now that’s JV – no pun intended. However, there has been a common denominator in these losses, any guess what that might be?
If you’ve guessed ”the cursed robe” you’ve guessed correctly.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I never have, and I never will. I’m also a man who prides himself on being strongly receptive to energy. There are minor factors in our everyday life that, if even adjusted slightly, could produce major outcomes – or worse yet – repercussions. Like I said before, when Ventura is focused he is one of the best in that squared circle. There is no wrestling organization that Ventura cannot thrive in, and the biggest wrestling organization in the world i.e. EAW is no exception.
I laughed at myself at first however, because I’m as much of a realist as I am a theorist. I’m a devout Atheist yet I believe there was more to 9/11 than the government lets on. I have multiple sides to my personality, and granted I can hypothesize all day long, but if it doesn’t make any logical sense I have no reason to trust it. But for a person like Ventura, recognizing the patterns are extremely important. Ventura is at his best when he has a concept that he can firmly grasp onto. When he was the “Caster of Dreams” he made enough waves to earn himself a major redemption victory against Liam Catterson in the opening match of Pain for Pride 8. When he dwelled in the ‘dark arts’ as The Magister he managed to pull an Interwire Championship and Grand Rampage win out of his hat. However these were concepts that stoked creativity and passion from the tenured Elitist, but these were also concepts that overstayed their welcome. The only fresh concept that Ventura has brought out to the forefront now is…
A lavish one, no doubt an expensive one, but ultimately a useless, stinking, robe. Flash forward to this past weekend, and four Dynasty Elitists, including Ventura, were given an opportunity to guarantee a major spot at the Marquee Event of a lifetime, Pain for Pride Festival. Surely this was Ventura’s chance to take the reigns of his own career again and start from scratch with a shiny new championship to add to his repertoire. However what came to be his downfall, ultimately, was the useless, stinking, robe.
In my view, Stew-O said it best on Dynasty, the robe has got to go.
My words have incited quite a bit of vitriol and stewed up some controversy among the EAW wrestlers in the past, however Ventura if you’re hearing this, just know these words are coming from a genuinely concerned fan. I like what you do, I tune in to see you perform every week, but I say this in the most heterosexual way possible – you’ve got to lose the robe. It’s got bad juju on it, and not even the Caster of Dreams can cast this bad energy away.
Of course, you always have an opportunity to prove me wrong. Let me be clear, I’m not saying Ventura can NEVER win a match simply because he wears a piece of highly expensive fabric, if that were the case some of the other robe-wearing greats before him would never be where they are now. The argument I’m making is that many athletes have switched up their style in order to regain a mental edge that may have been lost. Kobe did it by getting rid of the arm sleeves, Jordan did it by returning to “23” after faltering under the “45”. The best thing for Ventura to do is find a new concept to embrace that truly inspires him. Whenever Ventura opts to do that, I’m confident we’ll see a much better portrait of EAW’s modern day renaissance man.
Michael Lanza is a broadcast journalist and columnist who has covered pro-wrestling since the late 1990s. He has a BA in Journalism as well as a BA in Media Ecology, and worked ten years across Canada as a Hockey, Basketball and Pro-Wrestling analyst. He is an occasional host of Canada-based talk show “Off The Record” which is known for being highly controversial, as Lanza prides himself in asking the ‘tough questions’ and conducting interviews in an unscripted, uncensored fashion.