As a television product, Professional Wrestling exists in a bubble. Only because of its unique nature and hardcore fan base can a television show that so routinely features bad acting, inconsistent repetitive storylines and constant references to its own inner workings be allowed to take up several hours of prime time network television every week.
A better class of storytelling can be found in the independents: Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate USA and Chikara all offer products that feature original characters, logical narratives and exciting action. However, the same thing that allows them such creative freedom, the low budgets and sporadic appearances are also weaknesses when it comes to access and quality of production.
A happy medium between the two has been a long time coming, arguably since the day the original ECW folded, but a new concept may offer some hope to wrestling fans that crave great action combined with mature, intelligent storytelling.
The Wrestling Revolution Project is a new concept from producer Jeff Katz. Katz is a lifelong wrestling fan and worked for WCW as a teenager, leaving that company before it hit the iceberg he has since worked in Hollywood and produced the B-Movie inspired blockbusters Snakes on a Plane and Shoot 'Em Up.
The WRP is inspired by contemporary television shows such as The Sopranos or The Wire, which require more investment and dedication from viewers than typical shows, but in return reward fans with complex characters, fascinating worlds and long term, layered storytelling. On-demand viewing, premium TV networks and DVD box sets have allowed this type of show to flourish and Katz has decided to apply the formula to wrestling with a 13 part self-contained series that aims to unfold in a genuinely episodic manner.
Some impressive names have already been added to the WRP cast, MVP, Kenny Omega, Colt Cabana and the man considered by many to be the best wrestler in the world, Fergal Devitt are amongst the stars already announced. Lance Storm is also involved in a behind the scenes role. Tapings are to take place in California in the second week of October and will eventually be released through a variety of online outlets.
As a fan, one thing I've long hoped to see happen was for a company to do for wrestling, what Batman Begins did for comic book movies. That is to take the concept we all know and reboot it in a way that created a logical, original product that was still rooted in what makes wrestling great. Hopefully 2011 will be the year that hope is realised.
-Joe Towner, Sep 2011