On August 5h 2017 Over The Top Wrestling (OTT) presented WrestleRama from the National Stadium in Dublin. Approximately 2,000 fans were in attendance and most of them seemed to go away at the end of the night with smiles on their faces, happy with the near 4 and a half hour card they had just witnessed. However as soon as this card was over footage soon spread of an angle that occurred mid way through the night which involved WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, who was serving as guest commissioner for the night, and Joey Ryan. In short Foley had white powder thrown in his eyes by OTT competitor Justin Shape and was temporarily blinded when he broke out Mr Socko for the Mandible Claw. However in his attempt to protect himself Foley accidently locked Mr Socko onto Joey Ryan’s penis and ended up getting YouPorn Plexed for his troubles. The live crowd, of which I was one of, popped for this spot and most people seemed to see the angle for what it was intended for – humour.
However when legendary manager Jim Cornette later saw the angle online he immediately condemned it saying it had no place in professional wrestling and made a mockery of the industry. He said he liked Mick Foley but thought he let himself down with this angle while wholeheartedly attacking Joey Ryan via social media saying he had no place in the sport and labelling him Dick Guy amongst other names. Of course this outburst by Cornette garnered a lot of debate amongst fans and all of a sudden Twitter was blowing up with people for and against Ryan and this angle. Its been just over 11 days now and talk is still rumbling on although it does look to be abating somewhat finally.
I thought it was time Sitting Front Row weighed in with a point of view on this topic having the unique perspective of spending time one on one in the company of both men on August 5th and 6th while they were touring for OTT in Dublin and Belfast.
I’d seen Joey Ryan perform live once before for OTT last November and had seen footage of him online before and after that. However on August 5th when I first shook hands with Ryan it was the first time we spoke to each other. He was slightly subdued when he arrived in Dublin but he explained this was down to a combination of tiredness and hunger. We chatted for around ten minutes and he was nothing but polite and easy going. He also had a 2 person camera crew with him who were filming for a forth coming documentary of the star but I must point out that when the camera crew weren’t around Ryan his personally stayed the same which made me think that he was genuinely the same laid back guy whether there is a camera on him or not. Little did I know that later that night Ryan would become arguably the most talked about star in wrestling for the next 7 days or so.
The following night in Belfast I was fortunate enough to interview Mick Foley backstage when OTT visited Belfast. You can check out that interview here on this site. Besides the interview with the Hardcore legend what struck me the most about Foley was his quiet demeanour and all round calm personally. He discussed with me and a couple of the OTT wrestlers back stage the storm that had brewed over night concerning the Ryan angle and the numerous silly things he had done during his long and illustrious career. During our interview he mentioned one or two of these silly moments.
As I made my way home from Dublin that night I began to think of some of the more out there moments from wrestling over the years that have happened. The next few days would bring more and more of these moments back into my head the more I read about the Ryan/Foley “controversy” and the more Jim Cornette shouted from the rooftops!
I have watched wrestling since 1986 and have seen my fair share of silly incidents that make this “Drama from Rama” seem quite tame. One of the most obvious one’s for me from way back was the infamous Gobbledy Gooker angle from Survivor Series 1990 when Hector Guerrero, dressed as a giant turkey, “hatched” from a giant egg in front of a mostly unimpressed Hartford Connecticut crowd. The angle died a death immediately and was soon shelved because it just so piss poor.
What about the time Mae Young gave birth to a hand? Or the time The Shockmaster made his WCW debut breaking through a wall and literally falling flat on his face? There was fake Diesel and Razor Ramon. Hornswoggle ran through an imaginary tunnel on a wall. The Katie Vick angle! The list goes on and on. Then there is a list all onto itself for one of the most respected wrestlers of all time – The Undertaker.
Undertaker is one of the absolute top guys to ever set foot inside a wrestling ring and has also been involved in some less than realistic wrestling storylines over the years. He has been buried and burned alive and not at the same time either. He has flown up to the heavens (because we saw it on a video screen in the arena). He has made lightening bolts appear. He can higher and lower the arena lights with his hands. He fought his own imposter in a main event of the biggest WWE summer card in 1994. He got burnt by his own pyro (ok that one wasn’t meant to happen).
The morale of the story is that wrestling is a work. You have to leave a certain amount of your imagination at the door sometimes. Granted “Penis Gate” isn’t for everybody but I can think of a hell of a lot worse ways to hurt the business than by giving the fans a bit of humour in a spot during a live show that required it. It was a moment during the night that everybody (or at least the majority) in the live crowd stood up for and clapped and laughed at the same time. Is that poor booking? I don’t think so but then again, as Jim Cornette might say, that’s just my two cents on the matter.
Sitting Front Row