I attended Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor VIII in Toronto this weekend, my first ever ROH live experience. I’d seen some DVD’s and videos, but the heat in the building (both the emotion and the literal warmth) cannot be truly understood unless you’re there in person. Here are some snippets about my time with ROH at Ted Reeve Arena.
• I got in early, a little before 6 p.m. to pick up my press pass with my assistant Pete. From there we were escorted into the arena where some of the wrestlers were warming up in the ring, while others were walking around and talking amongst themselves.
• The first person I spoke with was El Generico, The Generic Luchador. He was very kind and had many nice things to say about the Toronto fans.
• Cary Silkin, the owner of ROH, was incredibly approachable and friendly. He discussed the thrill of jogging past a building that morning, only to discover it was Maple Leaf Gardens. He asked what would become of it, and we told him. A great guy who made us feel very welcome among the boys.
• Speaking of feeling welcome among the boys, Frankie the Mobster approached Pete and I for no reason other than to just say hi and shake our hands. I have to say, the wrestlers went out of their way to be as kind and engaging as possible with everyone around them. It’s a great crew.
• As I fumbled with my digital recorder, which had stopped working, Pete called to me: “Hey Mike, there’s Lance Storm.” I looked up and, lo and behold, Lance was standing at ringside chatting with a friend. I had been told “Not a chance” earlier when I spoke with an official about speaking with Lance and/or Bret Hart, so I took the opportunity to ask Lance for a quick interview.
• My only regret is that I couldn’t get my recorder working, so I had to take notes on what Lance was saying. But he was incredibly gracious with his time. He hopped the wooden fence around the ring and sat with me at ringside. He joked about how tired he was from flying in at 5 a.m. from Calgary. He also joked about his bones creaking as he stood after the interview. We discussed his time in WWE, ROH, being a Canadian wrestler, drugs, and training the next generation. I can’t say enough about how classy Lance is. This was the highlight of my night.
• I met the ring crew who set up the area for the event: Jorge, Benoit, Alex and Roxanne. They’re from Montreal, and it was a lot of fun talking to them prior to the show. They are also indie wrestlers, and I’m going to do a NewsFIX feature on them in the next few days. Just some great stories.
• I couldn’t interview Bret, but the security guard let me close enough to take some cool shots of him signing autographs. The fans, as expected, treated him like a god. He seemed to be very gracious in return. It was disappointing, though, how he only came out to speak to the live crowd for literally a minute. But like Mick Jagger once said, he could shit a brick and sell it for millions. The fans, including myself, cheered Bret like he just beat Flair for his first world title.
• Seeing Lance and Jerry Lynn wrestle was an honour (no pun intended). Two guys who have done so much in this business, and are so respected by the fans for their dedication to the craft. It’s things like this that help make ROH so great.
• The arena was so hot that Pete had to leave during the main event because he was so nauseous. And I met one guy who had front row seats but who decided to walk around instead because it was too hot sitting in the crowd.
• The wrestling was unbelievable the entire night. As a fan of true wrestling as opposed to gimmicks, I’m so glad I came to this event. Bret was right when he said this is how wrestling is meant to be – up close. And a community event. Perhaps minus the heat.
Check out my articles on ROH at NewsFIX.ca!