Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stevie Ray [Highspots Shoot Interview]

The Good
Stevie Ray is probably best known as the bigger and not-as-talent brother of Booker T. The two partnered for a long time as Harlem Heat and were a very good tag team before splitting and going in very different career directions. While I was never a big fan of his work, Stevie Ray undoubtedly had a certain charisma that was never fully tapped. Sid Vicious, who brought them into WCW from Global, thought Stevie Ray was the real talent in the pair. Stevie certainly had the love for pro-wrestling that propelled himself and his younger brother into the business in the first place. What was amazing about this interview is that Stevie Ray really seems like a guy who should've gone so much further, but was never in that perfect spot. He was a massive guy, a decent promo and a competent worker, but he clearly has an insight into the sport that never came out. WCW tried him out as a commentator and interview, but did not nurture him properly. One can hear in this interview that Stevie Ray is a well-spoken and well-read individual and that matched with his unique catchphrases could've led him to being a quality color man like Tazz or even his brother nowadays. In this interview, Stevie Ray got himself over and someone with a distinct viewpoint on the profession and one that needs to be expounded upon. One particular facet of his career that was interesting was his belief that when the Harlem Heat hooked up with Sherri Martel, they were all able to push their careers to another level and that they did something special that was lost when she was fired.

The Bad
As much as I found this shoot interview interesting, Highspots shoots conducted by people other than Michael Bochicchio are never as good. Clearly they wanted to limit the questions or discussion of Booker T (which is good to a point, but seemed odd here), there was little discussion of "Big T" Ahmed Johnson (who described Stevie Ray as one of his closest friends in the business) and there just something missing about this otherwise shockingly good interview. Stevie Ray has a keen mind on the business and it seems like this could've focused more on his perspectives on things because many times he had something interesting to say. I particularly found his concepts of pushing blacks in pro-wrestling, the lack of "superstars" in the current product and even the WWE's inadequate pushing of Booker were all fascinating and should've been explored deeper.

The Rating: ***3/4

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Fit Finlays

Director: n/a
Distributor: OJO Productions / The Broadcast Authority of Ireland
Released: 10/10
Featured Talent

Dave "Fit" Finlay, Dave Finlay Sr., Evelyn Finlay, Mel Finlay, Wendy Finlay, Eddie "Kung Fu" Hamill, Johnny "Rasputin" Howard, Drew McDonald, Orig Williams

The Good
For a fairly straightforward one-hour documentary, this is a real gem.  From the home videos of a young Fit Finlay rolling on amateur mats and footage working small shows in his hometown to his success in Germany and stuff with his dad, this really sheds some light on the amazing career of Fit Finlay.  While it is kind of brief and lacks depth, his run in WCW and return in the WWE are detailed and pushed as real career heights.  The vagueness aside, his return to the ring after nearly losing his leg in a match is incredible.  There are some human elements to this involving his faith and family and they are fine additions.  The scene with Dave Sr. and Rapsutin sharing tales in the garage is such a classic moment and it seems like a glimpse into any old-timer reunion gathering.  The mini-tribute to Welsh icon Orig Williams is a touching one as well.  This is a rare doc that focuses on often overlooked places and people, so it is definitely worth it for the pro-wrestling historian.

The Bad
This is not the most provocative doc you'll come across, so if you want sex, drugs and rock n' roll look elsewhere.  This seems like one of those patriotic portraits of someone who has achieved success on a big stage.  In all fairness, Fit Finlay has never really been a top guy outside of Europe.  He was an amazing worker, a top-notch heel and had an incredible return to the ring after a lengthy absence.  This documentary might try to bolster his international success to a misleading degree, but any pro-wrestling documentary blows up the subject to an extent.  While there is no shortage of great clips that are probably not in public circulation, the lack of World of Sport footage seems to really hinder the story.  I also was surprised by the lack of Princess Paula in this as she was so key to his heel act for years.  This was very good for what it was and a fun lil' watch.

The Rating: ***1/2