Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World of Hurt - Review

WWE Tough Enough ended earlier this week, but another wrestling-oriented reality show is still going.

The show is, of course, “World of Hurt” - and for more information on the premise, you can refer back here. At the time, the idea was to do a weekly review of the show...if possible.

The ”if” came from the fact that the show only airs in Canada (on The Cave network, to be exact). There are no real avenues here in the U.S. to be able to see it on a regular basis. However, the first three episodes were available for viewing, and that’s whet we’ll cover here. All in one shot.

Before we do, consider this your official SPOILER WARNING. If you’re able to see the show and don’t want details about the first three episodes that have already aired (including some not-so-pretty pictures), stop right now and hit the “Back” button. I am no longer responsible from this point forward if you read or saw something you shouldn’t have and get mad about it.

A couple caveats about the show already make it stand out just a little more. First, as you may remember, there is no competition here. No big cash prize or a WWE contract is on the line. Rather, ten hopefuls in an advanced class at trainer Lance Storm’s Wrestling Academy are here to learn the finer points of sports entertainment pro wrestling in an effort to step up their game to make it to the big time. Second, because of that the show is a total of ten episodes for a reason; each episode focuses on a particular trainee (in no discernible order) during their advanced class. That leads us to third, each episode runs the entire duration of the training, culminating in the live event each had to participate in and their post-course evaluation from Storm as to why each one has not made it yet.

Episode 01 concentrates on Australia’s Irena, who “always wanted to be a television star” - an attitude that doesn’t endear her to fellow trainees Dylan Knight (who points out how Irena is not cut out to be in this business), “The French Stallion” Tom La Ruffa (who thinks that because she’s a girl that she simply doesn’t belong, period) and Tenille Tayla (who thinks Irena comes off as being “above” her fellow classmates and not knowing how to be “one of the boys”).

Irena possibly proves them right at approximately 4:45 in when she waayy undershoots a simple back bump:

Owitch. The look on Storm’s face tells that story.

Having to overcome this for the rest of the show , Irena draws sympathy from her friend Taya Valkyrie as well as tempered guidance from Storm himself. She also continues to draw ire from several other trainees who see her as a “diva” (not a WWE performer, mind you) who’s milking her own incompetence for commiseration.

Irena doesn’t win any of them over when she shows up for the live event with minutes to go before her match instead of when she was supposed to – which was to be hours before the event was even supposed to start. Irena’s opponent for the night, KC Spinelli, gets in to a shouting match with her, immediately casting doubt as to whether they can work together on the match itself to pull it off. They do, but it certainly ain’t pretty.

In the end, Lance explains that she hasn’t made it to the “big time” yet because she needs to leave the drama outside - which I have to agree with. Irena is too concerned with being a star than being a wrestler. In this business, you have to hold both in at least equal regard to be able to achieve that stardom, or else your whole character and act becomes transparent and any respect gained by putting in the hard work to perfect your craft is nonexistent.

Deryck Crosse doesn’t have that problem in Episode 02. Crosse is certainly dedicated to making it. So much so that he takes the idea of having a character that will cause an audience reaction to heart and creates...wait for it...the “Prince of Perversion”. Of course, this guy just had to be from Florida, too.

Yes, it’s exactly what it would sound like. Crosse gets his point across - or his character “over”, so to speak - by doing things like, say...this:

And that’s to his friend, T-Bone (no, seriously). To someone he doesn’t know, like “The French Stallion”? Even worse:

Some of the trainees get a little homophobic or, at the very least, feel like they had this done to them against their will. Stallion has to work with this guy at the live event, and now he’s uncomfortable as all hell! To his credit, Storm advises Crosse carefully; he tells Crosse that he has to be careful with a character like this in so far as not driving the audience out the door, but that it could still work if he is able to commit to it.

Crosse is a trooper, dedicating himself to this character in order to break down boundaries. Problem is, Crosse doesn’t carry through with it come the live event. He has several openings, but loses his nerve in front of the crowd. Knight, who came off as a complete douchenozzle in the first show, is actually helping Crosse near the end of this one, offering suggestions as to how he could make the character work. Come evaluation time, Storm plays along those same lines, advising Crosse that finding a character, believing in it, and making it work is why he hasn’t made it yet.

Carlo “Cash Money” Cannon seems to already have a personality in place in Episode 03. The problem is, it’s as the victim. The episode features on aggression, and it’s established that Carlo is everybody’s buddy. The nice guy. The one that sells like he’s getting murdered when it comes to the aggression drills. It also doesn’t help that Dylan knight is back in “alpha male” mode, being the douchenozzle we came to love in the first show.

Lance then pushes the “aggression” bit further with a hard and heavy workout for the whole crew. Cannon wears down further and further, and finally bogaloos ‘til he pukes. Knight gets a kick out of it, Taya Valkyrie looks worried...the usual reactions that now become expected as we have an idea of each trainee’s personality. Although we get a little more of an idea, as Knight has pretty much targeted Cannon--who he calls “Princess”.

The cool part here is, in Episode 01 when Storm got Irena’s com-uppance on Knight for her, Cannon does it himself here. During another aggression drill, Cannon takes it to Knight, who expresses some fear and thankfulness at the fact that Cannon didn’t go for a dive to the outside. In what becomes one of the coolest moments of the show thus far, Storm pep talks Cannon in to taking the risk and doing the dive:

Of course, Storm books Knight and Cannon as opponents on the live show and Cannon is freaking out about the dive because the ring is a little smaller. Cannon has a bigger problem when he pops his knee out at the entrance after slipping on the floor. He puts all that to the side and hits the dive during the match. It doesn’t look picture-perfect like the one in training, but it impresses Storm to the point that this was the first mainly positive evaluation of the show.

All in all, “World of Hurt” is a pretty good show, from what I’ve been able to see. There’s certainly some of the reality “drama” to be had, but most of it seems somewhat legitimate in dealing with the volatile personalities found in wrestling. Could some of it have been egged on by the producers? Certainly. This is a “reality” show, and it’s very tough to believe that, like any other reality show, at least some of it hasn’t been worked.

There are also some minor technical issues as far as the overall production, particularly with some choices in camera angles and things of the like. If you’re not looking for them, chances are they’ll go unnoticed – save for the intro to each episode, where Storm almost never looks directly in to the camera. When you’re talking directly to the audience, that sort of thing helps.

Speaking of the main man, the show-ending evaluations are well done, also. Storm doesn’t dress people down like Steve Austin did on “Tough Enough”, but he doesn’t have to. Again, Storm is fair and honest when it comes to the talent, what they do right, and what they need to work on.

This is as real of a show about the insides of the pro wrestling business - from the aspect of what’s expected from a performer wanting to make it big - as you’ll ever find. Storm isn’t too much of an ass nor is he too nice; his even temper is perfect for someone in his position, both in real life and as seen on television. The trainees each have their faults and foibles, but they give you a reason to cheer them on as well. It’s compelling television and a good show about pro wrestling, which are the two goals this show strives to hit and does consistently. Bug the hell out of your local cable provider or Netflix so you can see it for yourself.

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