Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money

Longtime readers of this blog may recall how big a fan I am of indie comedy wrestler, Colt Cabana and his pair of self-produced documentaries, The Wrestling Road Diaries (WRD). For those unaware, they are about life in the ring and behind-the-scenes at the arena and on the road as Colt and two guest wrestlers tour a string of indie wrestling shows. The first WRD guest starred Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan and Sal Rinauro and had the theme of hard work paying off while having good, clean fun on the road. The sequel does a 180 and it features Big LG/Luke Gallows and Cliff Compton/Domino, who have a darker sense of humor, and it features a edgier take of life on the indie scene.

That brings us to Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money (trailer). This installment has Colt more in his wheelhouse as the notorious comedy wrestler of RoH teams up with a comedy wrestler from TNA, Grado along with a fellow comedy wrestler from Japan, Kikutaro. I have always been bummed out about how Colt never took off in WWE after being a fan of his comedy in RoH for several years prior. He had bad timing as Colt made his way into WWE developmental the around the same time Santino Marella and Hornswoggle started on the main roster, and by the time Colt got called up, Santino and Hornswoggle proved themselves as WWE’s go to comedy acts and there was no room for Colt’s shtick, which I felt was always more original and better than what Santino and ‘Swoggle brought to the table.

I have only seen just a little bit of Grado in TNA before since I do not watch nearly as much of that promotion as I use to, and I have never seen Kikutaro in action before. WRD3 makes sure to give proper introductions to Colt’s travel buddies to bring everyone up to speed on the duo. Grado’s entrance is pretty memorable and it instantly won me over as I could not get it out of my head for days. I also quickly grew to like Kikutaro’s brand of comedy slow-motion antics that are part of his matches. I dug an early scene of Colt’s apartment/warehouse/podcast studio, which is jam packed with wrestling memorabilia while Kikutaro and Grado record promos into Colt’s soundproof booth/mini-fridge.

WRD3 follows the trio to three indie shows for the promotions of AIW, PWC and Freelance Wrestling. At the Freelance Wrestling event, the gang is joined by other indie sensations Joey Ryan and Dick Justice. When this was filmed, Joey Ryan was in the midst of a modicum of viral fame with anew move in his repertoire gaining nationwide attention. They make sure to touch on that here and build off of it in this indie show in one of the standout scenes from the documentary.

Highlights of the matches are shown as they tour while Colt, Grado and Kikutaro reflect back on the match on what did and did not work. With the art of comedy in wrestling being a central theme here I got a lot out of the three breaking down their matches and how they are constantly trying to work in improv into the matches based on spontaneous chants and callouts from the crowd. Some of their improv works really well, like when Grado gets a girl to upstage Tracy Smothers in an impromptu singing competition to the crowd’s delight. However, there is also the opposite shown when it does not work out in one case where Colt got irked at a pair of fans who were being obnoxious and ruining the show for everyone else despite Colt’s attempts to silence them. Hearing Colt after the show visibly pissed at how the match went down is a potent scene that I do not catch too often of the talent letting loose when things do not go as planned.

Like the previous WRD films, I enjoy the road traveling scenes in between shows where the guys tell stories and justify what their style of humor and how comedy will always have a place in wrestling. It is obvious these three care about their craft, and are not only there for a paycheck or to fill a slot on a show. WRD3 does not overstay its welcome and is the shortest of the three films clocking in at one hour and 22 minutes.

If I only had one qualm about WRD3 it is that the road traveling scenes seem dialed back a little bit compared to the first two films, and I would have liked to see a little bit more stops and scenes of the trio in between shows. If you pay the extra $5 for the bonus disc, that gripe is resolved with 30 minutes of additional scenes that consist of mostly stories and anecdotes from Colt, Grado and Kikutaro in the car. There is a lot of good tales to indulge in such as Grado’s love of flying, Kikutaro recalling his stint in XPW and Colt dissecting his feud with Tye Dillenger in OVW and how his TNA tryout was a flop. There is also a gem with Colt filming a promo with a security guard hyping up a mysterious wrestler known as “Fireman Chris” that you just have to see to believe.

Also on the bonus disc is a half hour episode of Colt’s podcast, The Art of Wrestling, where Colt brings on Grado, Kikutaro, Dick Justice and Joey Ryan throughout the episode to talk about their time on WRD3. Finally, there are two matches in their entirety as extras that were filmed while the gang was on tour for this documentary. The first is Colt & Grado teaming up against the Four Star Heroes while Kikutaro faces off against Dick Justice and Darin Corbin in a triple threat encounter. For $5 the extra hour and a half of content the bonus disc contains is well worth it and gave me a lot more value out of my purchase.

I think I would rank Wrestling Road Diaries Three in the middle of the pack, with the first one being my favorite. I appreciate the lighthearted theme this time around as it is much needed after witnessing some of the sick shenanigans that Compton and Gallows brought into the fold in the previous film. I like most of WWE’s documentaries, but if you are only accustomed to those style of wrestling documentaries, than I highly suggest trying out Colt’s trio of films as it is a much needed change of pace and shows you what it is like for wrestlers who are trying or just are not meant for the WWE and why they still perform their craft.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016

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