Friday, May 27, 2011

World of Hurt - Introduction

Before we get in to this proper, let’s answer a couple questions I’ve been asked quite a few times...

No, “World of Hurt” is not another show I’m doing. For those asking, “When are new episodes of Count3rCu1ture coming out?”, the answer is: the week of June 13-17. There’s a couple events happening June 10-12 (one of them already discussed in detail) and those will be filmed. I’m also playing with a slightly different format for those events to spread out the content a bit.

Basically, consider the first episode about Free Comic Book Day the pilot. The show really kicks off in roughly two weeks off of the tapings listed above. There are some (sound) issues to work out, along with a couple other minor production points. The show is supposed to have a rougher look to it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so sloppy it’s unwatchable.

With that out of the way, let’s do this.

Now, you can see by the “Introduction” headline above that “World of Hurt” will become a semi-regular feature here at Count3rCu1ture. Just like everything else, these will happen as they become available. In this case, it would be episodes of “World of Hurt,” which I plan on reviewing all of, or at least as many as I can.

As many of what? Why, “World of Hurt,” of course. Yeahbuwha? Okay, now we get to the explanation proper.

“World of Hurt” is a departure for me as it is the first reality show I have ever sought out to watch on my own. Which is quite a feat, because it’s not even on in the US. The show airs Sundays at 5pm EST on The Cave in Canada (the Northern equivalent to Spike TV).

As for what the show is about, “World of Hurt” features former WWE Superstar wrestler Lance Storm, who now runs his own wrestling training school in Canada, the Storm Wrestling Academy. Ten students embark on an “advanced course” at his school - no learning to run the ropes or take a fall. These students have already passed that point and are seasoned wrestlers making their rounds on the independent circuit in an effort to break in to the “big time” - i.e. WWE or TNA Impact! Wrestling. Storm is there to guide them through the finer points of the wrestling industry, to let them know where they succeed or where they fail...and the whole thing is caught on film.

For a lifelong wrestling fan, this is a fascinating concept that I wanted to see the moment I heard about it. Kinda odd, considering that “WWE Tough Enough” is back on television, right? Okay, let’s answer that - and explain a little more about this feature - before we go any further...

Why “World of Hurt” > “Tough Enough” (and every other reality show I’ve ignored until now)

Like Ivory Soap, 99.44% of all reality TV shows are essentially the same premise. X amount of people are put in situation Y and all have to compete for some big prize at the end of the season, while learning how to co-habitate. Along the way, any sense of “reality” is thrown right out the window because the contestants are given characters and scripted lines “put in situations” that test their relationships with one another. Alliances Friendships form, producers put people at each others’ throats for ratings enemies are made, and predictable BS “drama” is made. That includes “Tough Enough”, where the contestants vie for a WWE developmental contract by the end of the season.

And that show bugs me even more, borrow an analogy from Marc with a C, let’s say you have a reality show with, uh...I dunno...twelve people. Sure, twelve sound good. Four of them have taken some sort of Anatomy & Physiology course in Community College. Two of them are pre-Med students. One of them is at the Bachelor’s level of schooling. The other five have taken high school Biology, if they’re lucky. Yet, by the end of this twelve-week television series, one of them - we have no idea which one, mind you - will have somehow proven that they have the skills, bedside manner, and knowledge to become one of the top brain surgeons in the world.

Sound a little frackin’ ridonkulous, right? To me, so does “Tough Enough”. For that same reason. Despite having trainers like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin” and Trish Stratus, you can’t teach someone, in give-or-take twelve weeks’ time, to be one of the top wrestling performers in the world. Pro wrestling is a performance art that takes a long time to master. Call it “fake” all you want, but there’s an art to learning how to carry a character, to connect with dozens of thousands of people at a time, to make a match look as real as possible without causing serious injury. Bret Hart has said that one of the things he’s proudest of in his career was that he never seriously hurt anyone in the ring – and his matches were among the best in terms of drama, psychology, and action. That’s how it’s done right, and to expect someone who’s never stepped in the ring in their life to perform at that level is preposterous.

Put it this way – could you step in a wrestling ring and make yourself a star in front of thousands of people in an arena and millions more watching at home? I already know damn well I couldn’t do it. (Which, for those of you who’ve asked me why I’ve never tried to become a wrestler...there was your answer.)

“World of Hurt”, however, is a different animal. First of all, the contestants—wait, that’s wrong. There are no contestants, because the ten students on the show aren’t competing for any prize at the end of the rainbow. They’re in a school to learn how to get to the next level on their own merits. I like the fact that the the show’s website refers to it as “a documentary series”, because that’s what it is. No pre-scripted “reality” to be had.

Second, from the clips I’ve seen this is also a pretty good look at the inside of pro wrestling and what it takes to do what these people do. Storm has said in interviews that there are no “challenges” that have nothing to do with wrestling (something else “Tough Enough” is guilty of) nor is there any “scripted drama” with all these people living in the same house. Just a straight, serious look at what it takes to make to the top of the pro wrestling heap.

As a lifelong wrestling fan...sure, I’m interested in this. All without the dog-and-pony shows that other reality shows are guilty of? Sign me up.

So, beginning next week there will be reviews posted of each episode here (as I’m able to see them). I’m excited about checking this out and getting some attention on a show that sounds worth getting that attention for. And hopefully get it some airplay in the states as well. Or at least on Netflix.

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