What do Sean Waltman, AJ Styles, D-Lo Brown, Ron Simmons, Bull Buchanan, Glen "Disco Inferno" Gilbertti and Paul Bearer have in common?
All of these names appeared in Vince Russo's Ring Of Glory promotion in 2006. Add in Erik Watts, Rodney Mack, Jazz, Mike Sanders, Jimmy Rave, Kevin Northcutt, Trinity, Rain, Scott Armstrong, Air Paris and an announcing crew that includes JeremyBorash, Scott Hudson, Jason Sensation (the DX version of Owen Hart from like a decade ago), Bill Behrens and Goldilocks, and you have a decent little independent show booked.
As the title suggests, Ring Of Glory isn't so much about grudge matches and gory feuds as it is spreading the word of religion. And as much as wrestling and religion wouldn't appear to mix, this show attempts to tie the traditional "good vs. evil" conflict into what people do in their every day lives.
Want examples? Bearer, utilizing promo skills he rarely got to use in WWE, represents evil, suggesting wrestlers in the promotion use shortcuts to get ahead in life. Brown, the first-ever EuroContinental Champion, explains to the crowd how a "me first" attitude cost him his wife and daughter. And Sanders, Watts and a mystery third man become "The Three Wise Men" for reasons that I still don't fully understand.
Is it hokey? Absolutely. But I understand the motivation here, and in a world where wrestling promoters don't typically have a "deeper" message, I can appreciate that this DVD has one. The fans attending this show in Atlanta certainly seem to "get it", including a group prayer at the end of the show.
Compared to many of the indy shows I've watched on DVD over the years, the production values are fantastic. Great camera work and decent lighting can make all the difference sometimes in being able to enjoy a show (ROH, take note). Of course, legal limitations prevent the producers from using wrestlers' real names -- so Bull Buchanan is shown on screen as "Bo" Buchanan, even though the ring announcer clearly calls him "Bull". A minor complaint.
(Another grievance: it sounds as though Hudson is announcing the matches over the P.A. system, as opposed to just for the home video audience. That may just be because of echo on his mic, but if it isn't, I think that's a dumb idea. If the announcer is making fun of, say, Waltman, and Waltman can hear it, why wouldn't he just turn around and say "Hey, Hudson. F*ck you!"? You know?)
As for the card itself, it reinforces every stereotype fans have of Russo -- unnecessary swerves aplenty, hotshot booking, short matches and a token match featuring four young relative unknowns. Unfortunately, they're booked in a "Stairway To Heaven" ladder match, where the last two competitors have to grab a sword suspended over the ring. And if that doesn't say religious programming, I don't know what does.
Oh, and the "main event" (a talking segment) is a long, plodding and often confusing affair that uses about half the talent involved on the card in various twists and turns. That said, it does send the crowd home happy and reinforces the theme of the show.
Look, I'm not a particularly religious guy (and Jewish at that), so the overall "message" is probably lost on me. So backing that factor out, I'll take the show for what it is: a stacked indepedent card with VERY good production values and a couple of decent match-ups.
This won't ever be confused with WrestleMania in terms of show quality (though it could be confused with some of the TNA offerings this year), but I've seen worse things to spend your money on.
Overall - not terrible, not great. And you can take that as gospel.
Ring of Glory Wrestling
The Great Commission