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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ring Ka King of Heels

This post may contain Ring Ka King spoilers – if you want to watch the episode first you can do so here

Having just watched my first episode of Ring Ka King I thought I absolutely had to write a post concerning the program. I don’t usually dip my toe in TNA waters, every time I’ve tried to give it a chance it has failed me for one reason or another, mainly on poor production quality and the dated feeling the programme gives (see above image). I admire a few roster members but overall it’s a fairly messy product to me. However on hearing the news that the company had launched a new show purely aimed at the Indian market, and indeed based in the country as well, my ears pricked up. Upon viewing the show I was surprised by the roster foremost. It is a fantastic mix of up and coming fan favourites such as Brutus Magnus, Sonjay Dutt and Matt Morgan, mixed in with TNA mainstays such as Scott Steiner, Abyss, (arguably Dutt and Morgan may also fit here), alongside Indian home grown talent. However the surprise for me was the treatment of free agents such as Chavo Guerrero who has been teamed with Bulldog Hart, with whom we are more familiar as Harry Smith, son of The British Bulldog. They have already been given the Tag Team Championships along with an elevated main event status. I also like the reference to Harry Smith’s heritage, something WWE never could quite seem to do for some reason (My suspicion would be that management think of Bret Hart as a bigger draw, he was constantly referred to as his nephew – which of course he is – but not very often as Bulldog’s son). It also seems significant that neither of these wrestlers appear on the TNA roster page, where someone such as Magnus is included; I like the idea of Ring Ka King having exclusive big draw wrestlers on the roster.

The entire show built to the six-man tag match of RKK Champion Matt Morgan with RKK Tag Team Champions Chavo Guerrero Jr and Bulldog Hart against the super heel team of Scott Steiner, Sonjay Dutt and ‘Sir’ Brutus Magnus. Through out the duration the heel stable were cutting promos about the arrival of some form of monster heel. To anyone who has ever seen a TNA show it’s going to be Abyss, but he is never revealed, we are just presented with shadows of the creature. The Indian crowd are really hot for the match - the atmosphere is really something and it’s clear that there is a lot of hype and excitement surrounding the product, which only helps present the show as a serious thing. The other aspect which makes the show feel a little more spectacular is that the floor level audience are standing, which means the crowd are moving and interacting with the show, much like in the old football or rugby stands, or as a crowd at a festival or gig might act. This also makes for a unique moment in the show – super heel Steiner begins pushing the crowd who in turn are gesturing at him, as the crowd move around he pushes forward and the scene takes the form of a riot. This ‘violence’ continues post match, when the heel team are joined by a raging, ‘Monster Abyss’ who is revealed with an Undertaker-esque black out. Both men begin the staging of an assault on the audience, literally breaking barrier between the show and the audience. The standing audience actually flee as they are lurched at. There is a genuine excitement to this segment and it makes me think of all this talk about the ‘reality era,’ although in truth its closer to Orson Welles infamous ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast, complete with panicking civilians, but the interesting thing is how willing the audience are to play their part.  

This is terrific heel characterisation and it really feels like it’s breaking new ground (or as the case may be very, very old ground – I’ve heard stories of Giant Haystacks interacting with the crowd, but probably not quite like this). In terms of entertainment its commendable that RKK and in turn TNA for taking this leap, it goes to show what context will do for a product, if this had been attempted in the U.S it wouldn’t have worked in the same way. Regardless of Steiner's horrible in ring skills and real life personality, in an era in wrestling where ‘reality’ plays such a large role it’s nice to see a bit of hyper reality creeping back in.

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