Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bob Orton Jr. [RF Video Shoot Interview]

The Good
A second-generation star who was a top-notch worker, worked all over and was a key player in the WWF's national expansion and now is the father to one of the WWE's top stars, few have had a career quite as successful as Bob Orton Jr. Here, he sits down with RF Video for about 100 minutes and goes through a virtual who's who of pro-wrestling. He talks about growing up in the business, his father's career and how he broke in rather quickly. Then they zip through the next ten years of his career and all the amazing characters, great personalities and talented workers that he rubbed shoulders with. Orton was really positive about most everyone and everywhere, which can be a nice change of pace from the often bitter shoots you hear from old-timers. If you watch Highspots preview of his "American Bad Ass" shoot, you can get a flavor of this, although this was not quite that great. Bob Orton's distinctive voice and cackle are pretty enjoyable, so that makes this at least a decent shoot.

The Bad
In this early RF Video shoot, Bob Orton Jr. delivers a really disappointing shoot interview. If you've seen the Highspots one, this is like a poor version as he watches his language, does not share his best stories, chooses to give many political answers and buries almost no one. Like the Jimmy Snuka shoot of infamy, he spends so much time saying this guy was a great guy, this guy seemed really nice or this guy was a helluva worker. Unfortunately, the questions bounce all over, there are the typical lack of knowledge issues and there is so much territory left uncovered. This might be worth a one-time watch, but it's a sad offering that lacks the depth, personality and intrigue you'd want out of an interview with a true legend like Bob Orton Jr.

The Rating: ***1/4

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mike Modest [Wrestle Warehouse Shoot Interview]

The Good
Mike Modest had a very unusual career and it is amazing that it has all accumulated into the possibility of doing an interview like this. He broke in working indies and doing jobs, so there are some good anecdotes there. He became very involved with Roland Alexander's APW and since this is conducted by someone who knows that product they spend a fair amount of time going over the roster there. He has interesting thoughts on the company, Roland and its fall of sorts in the early 2000s. Modest had a key role in the Barry Blaustein documentary "Beyond the Mat" and while I've heard Mick Foley, Terry Funk and Jake Roberts talk about it with varying opinions, Mike Modest perspective is even more interesting and he has some stories to share about how that film was crafted. He also had a part in the infamous NBC Kayfabe-breaking exposé - "Exposed: Pro-Wrestling's Greatest Secrets." He reveals how he was tricked into going, blackmailed into staying and finally felt fine with doing it. Again, he gets into the nitty-gritty about how this was put together and shares a different viewpoint. He talks some about road trips and some crazy experiences he's had, but the highlight of this is his rant about NOAH. I had heard him on WOL while he was under contract, but he never shot on the company and culture. Modest explains how he was treated poorly as a gaijin, how Japanese business culture is impossible to deal with unless the Japanese half is reasonable, how NOAH's inability to get over gaijin has killed their business and other thoughts that I've never heard. They all seem logical to me, having traveled to Japan and worked with Japanese businessmen. Since there are few shoots that talk about Japanese pro-wrestling extensively and even fewer that have much critical to say, I think the inclusion of those details here sets this shoot interview apart from many I've heard with "independent wrestlers."

The Bad
I've said this many times, but a big turn-off for some with a shoot interview is if they don't really know the individual being interviewed. Mike Modest's roles in "Beyond the Mat" and "Exposed" might not be enough to entice the average fan. Certainly his years as a jobber, time in APW and run in NOAH would probably not interest that many people. Although he is a funny guy and has had some unique experiences in the business, his limited success hinders this shoot in terms of its scope. He does not seem as bitter as some, but clearly his best years are past him and he never "made it," which anyone of his ability would be upset about. I found this to be very good, but I think many people would see this as just a lengthy interview with a nobody.

The Rating: ****