Friday, February 11, 2011

Dan Severn [RF Video Shoot Interview]

The Good
I first heard Dan Severn on a Figure-Four Daily and was totally blown away. Since he played and often came across as a no-frills athlete that was almost devoid of personality, it seemed unimaginable that he would be an entertaining interview. Despite his amazing life in amateur wrestling and even in the early days of mixed martial arts, you just don't know if you'll be pulled in by Dan Severn. However, he is a helluva a talker. Although he's not particularly funny here, he tells some good stories and can certainly get himself and his legitimacy over. He does give long answers and goes off on other things, but that is generally a good thing in lengthy shoot interviews. Giving him three hours and a lot of room worked for me. Although the negatives of this were grossly obvious, the positives were there and Dan Severn is someone I enjoy listening to.

The Bad
I know I complain about RF Video's incompetence all the time, but it is glaring at times and seriously detracts from the quality of an interview. I've heard Dan Severn with Bryan Alvarez (who is an excellent interviewer) and his experiences as an amateur wrestler, pro-wrestler and mixed martial artist are all fascinating, but he's a talker. If the interviewer does not reel him in, Severn will go off on long-winded stories and a lot can be missed. Some interviewees are like that and it's not really a negative, unless the interviewer is not doing their job. That was a detractor here. Then there is the issue of research. People knock Gary Cubeta for not doing his homework, but I always think that he has had reliable researchers and his show is free!! Not knowing who Dan fought when he came back to the UFC (Pedro Rizzo), mispronouncing Royce Gracie's name and thinking he (not Keith Hackney) beat Manny Yarborough are just a few standout examples of the incompetence displayed here. In case you did not know Dan Severn is one of the most successful and decorated amateur wrestlers and he could do an easy three hours on his amateur career, but it would be better if someone knew and could help clarify for pro-wrestling fans what his legacy is. He mentions many things in passing like being the original Sunkist Kid, but it goes unexplored and unexplained. This could have been so much better than it was, but that's how it goes. Dan Severn is not someone who dishes a lot of dirt because he's both not that kind of guy and he really isolates himself. He had nice things to say about a lot of people, but generally not much detailed or juicy information. Knowing that and expecting that, I was not disappointed like some people might be.

The Rating: ***3/4

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gary Hart [RF Video Shoot Interview]

The Good
This has everything and more. Gary Hart had a career that spanned from the Golden Age to the modern age, he was known for his effectiveness as a manager, his creative yet simple booking, his great eye for talent and pulls-no-punches attitude. He demonstrates all of these dimensions and convinces you of his greatness throughout this mere two and a half hour interview. In talking about managing, he explains how he was, in fact, a shoot manager who did not merely "pull legs and pass gimmicks for the office." This is the tip of the iceberg and I'd strongly recommend the "Art of Managing" interview he and Alfred Humperdink did with In talking about booking, he details his head booking runs in Dallas, Atlanta and influence in booking his men with various offices. He explains in great detail the various legendary angles and figures of World Class and how the stars were aligned to make that promotion take off. In discussing the talent he managed, Gary explains how he was successful at gaining trust, how he helped talent develop and how he successfully scouted talent time and time again. As for the more eyebrow-raising parts, Georgia promoter Fred Ward was a worthless "fat bastard," Jerry Jarrett was condescending and disrespectful to wrestlers, Paul Boesch was a great promoter but needed to be and was slapped around, Eddie Graham was an overrated and predictable booker, Sting was a self-absorbed and "arrogant ass" and on and on. Gary Hart was his opinions and free to share them and at no point do you believe he is being anything other than honest.

The Bad
I've said it before and I'll say it again, RF Video's interviewers (specifically Rob Feinstein himself) lack of interviewing skills prevents good interviews from being great and only has great interviews when the interviewee is great themselves. Gary Hart is great and although RF's bumbling and tirelessly linear questioning fails to help things, it cannot stop his greatness from shining through.

The Rating: *****

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Buddy Landel [57Talk Shoot Interviews]

The Good
One of the more interesting pro-wrestlers in that people largely think highly of him despite the fact he could be labeled a "failure" with some just cause. Buddy Landel's career is, as he admits, a "real sad story" as he was loaded with potential as one of the best talkers and workers of the mid-1980s, but he threw it all away because of his "demons." In this three-part series with Gary Cubeta, they try to "analog" (a cross between analyzing and cataloging, I guess) his career. While this is an unfinished product, Gary would later admit that he troubles getting Buddy back on the phone, it has great depth and authentic analysis. Buddy can talk all day, he can put himself over, he can bury himself and he really needs little direction. Gary Cubeta does not usually sit back and let a guest ramble, so in this early 57Talk interview, he tries to escort Buddy through a career retrospect better than Buddy's RF Video shoot (which is good, by the way). The main focal points are Buddy's early years in the Tennessee area, his first heel run in Puerto Rico and his big run in Jim Crockett Promotions with some time given to his Mid-South (Buddy n' Butch) and later Memphis (Bill n' Buddy) runs. Cubeta and Landel have a great chemistry and it makes for a real strong series of interviews. While this is not the whole story, it may be the best parts of it.

The Bad
While I appreciate Buddy Landel for his abilities, his honesty and his humor, I have to say this is missing some of punchiness I'd expect. This is a guy who, according to himself (although Gary Cubeta, myself and everyone questions this), was slated to beat Ric Flair for an NWA World title run, yet he was too strung out on valium to go to TV. While he admits it is a sad story, Buddy is not angry, bitter or crazy from missing his big chance. It seems like so many former stars are one of those three and that's what makes them a charismatic interview, but Buddy simply seems at peace with it. I cannot fault him for that, but it sort of leaves this flat. Buddy is also pretty guarded in talking about the specifics of his addictions, just that they consumed him. You might also be disappointed at the lack of Mid-South and Smoky Mountain in this, but those were probably yet to come.

The Rating: ****