This week in Pro Wrestling Punditry we’re spending our time with Stuart Rodgers. For those unaware Stuart runs and provides content for The Indy Corner. With a focus on independent wrestling The Indy Corner has been around in one form or another since 2011. There are columns, reviews, and news bits posted on an almost daily basis. The Indy Corner also has an eponymous podcast that is released on the regular. Stuart also runs and contributes to another wrestling related blog, Wrestling’s Last Hope. Operating since 2010 that blog is regularly updated with reviews and opinions from Stuart and other contributors. Lastly, Stuart can be found on Twitter at either @TheIndyCorner or @WLHSTU.
*As a general reminder, what follows are Stuart’s answers to a standardized set of ten questions. This is meant to help gauge the variety of opinion within the larger wrestling community. It’s also done in this manner to avoid any editorializing on my part (outside of minor grammar corrections), and eliminate any opportunities for bias.*
1) How old are you?
2) When did you first start watching wrestling?
“I watched it as a casual fan in the mid 80’s but became obsessed with it in 1990.”
3) When do you recall first thinking critically about wrestling?
“I’ll be honest with you, on my podcast or in any columns I write I don’t criticise anyone involved in wrestling because who am I to say anything? I know people will say everyone is entitled to give their opinion even if they are not involved in that field. For me though, I have never taken a bump in a wrestling ring I don’t feel I have the right to criticise anyone in wrestling. Yes, I have my favourites but as I said, I’ll not put (down) anyone who has wrestled.”
4) What is your favorite promotion of all time?
“Of all time, wow, I think I’ll have to opt for ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), I started watching the promotion in late 93/early 94 via tape traders. ECW were such an influential promotion, the WWF’s (World Wrestling Federation) ‘Attitude Era’ was born from it even though you will get people deny this still, it’s a fact.”
5) Who is your favorite wrestler of all time?
“Sticking with ECW, always had a soft spot for Shane Douglas. Great, so awesome at promos, and for me, underrated as a wrestler. Did get a lot of stick for his wrestling ability. Always remember a match he had in ECW in ’99 vs Justin Credible and I recall (Dave) Meltzer saying in The (Wrestling) Observer “**** the best match in eithers careers”. When he went to the WWF in ’95 he was given that god awful gimmick of ‘Dean’ Douglas and the WWF as a whole was poor back then, and Shane couldn’t be ‘The Franchise’ so he was off to a poor start then he had his issues with the ‘Kliq’ – I know I am rambling on a bit but always annoyed me when Shawn Michaels said on his RF Video shoot interview “oh when he (Shane) got here (WWF) it seems as he couldn’t curse and it came through that he just wasn’t very good”. Anyone however who knows anything about Michaels & his buddies will need no explanation. They messed with people, did go to Vince and bury people, and did have a major influence on decisions in the promotion.”
6) What is your favorite era of wrestling?
“Again, sticking with ECW, from 1995 to the end of 1997 I thought was great. I was a huge follower of the NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling) junior division at the time too. I was still watching the WWF at that time. With all the Monday Night Wars stuff going on, and of course the infamous Montreal screw job in the November of ’97, something I love talking about still by the way, that period of my wrestling fandom was the favourite.”
7) What is your favorite style of wrestling?
“Times have changed for me, I run The Indy Corner. I am all about the indies these days and this ties into your question. My attention span is not what it once was so to be kept engaged in wrestling these days I need to be entertained by the wrestling itself so I like the fast paced type of wrestling not ultra-fast like Lucha Libre, but the Will Ospreay/Ricochet/Matt Sydal type of wrestling. Again, it has it detractors, people will say “oh it’s all highspots for the sake of highspots, no psychology” but it’s not the 80’s/90’s, you can’t work and arm or a leg for 5-10 minutes with the audience of today and as I said, that includes me and of course, is just my opinion.”
8) What are the elements that make up a talented pro wrestler?
“The ability to entertain, I covered this above, I am not about the character based wrestlers, they are good at what they do of course but for me as the old saying goes, “it says pro wrestling on the marquee so if they entertain in whatever style then that makes a talented pro wrestler.””
9) What is most important to you when it comes to spending your time with a pro wrestling product?
“Presentation/ production is not a massive thing for me, not too shoddy of course. I mean, the top promotion, in my opinion, in North America is PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerilla) and their production values are, let’s be honest, pretty basic. Big stars, not needed as long the guys who are on a show can, as I’ve said previously, entertain. I’m not sure what keeps me still being a fan, a big part of the last couple of years has been how excellent the scene over here (is) in the UK, it really has been terrific. Like everything wrestling evolves, I’m not sure if I need anything else different in wrestling, I think there’s enough diversity out there.”
10) What major changes do you see in the pro wrestling landscape ten years from now?
“WOW, predicting the future in anything is hard, the one thing that is sure is wrestling will be around in one form or another. Be that the sports entertainment version that WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) gives the public, the well-produced TV show with wrestling that is Lucha Libre, or what I love, the independents. WWE will probably still be ‘taking’ talent from the indies, but to be honest, I have always said, as much as I am gutted when most guys from the indies go to the WWE, I am chuffed for them because it’s a short career really and if the guys can get into the WWE, earn some good money, and get out while still relatively young and fit to spend good years with their families then it’s all good. And no matter how many WWE take, there will always be more coming through.”