Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review of E:60 Behind the Curtain

ESPN's E:60 episode about WWE, Behind the Curtain was a very interesting look at WWE Developmental and three talents in specific.  For those of us who like to think we are "in the know" there was some good information here that I was not aware of and I don't think many were.  The primary focus aside from looking at the WWE Performance Center/NXT was to tell the stories of Ray Leppan, Austin Watson, and Matt Polinsky known better as Adam Rose, Xavier Woods, and Corey Graves.  For the sake of clarity I will refer to all three by their WWE names from this point forward.

Adam Rose's story was the one that I think most people were a) unaware of and b) reacted most strongly to in this documentary.  They detailed his "sink or swim" moment as he transitioned from Leo Kruger to Adam Rose. Essentially, he had become the elder statesman of the developmental system kind of like Crash Davis in Bull Durham and he was either going to make it under this new gimmick or his time was most likely up.  That was interesting enough, but his personal life was far more compelling.  His first child, Maverick, was born with an abdominal issue that has required multiple surgeries.  His prognosis was grim.  That young man is still with us and has even started school.  This aspect of Rose's personal life made you appreciate the importance of his career even more.  As a parent especially my heart went out to the guy and that sentiment was shared widely across the IWC.

Xavier Woods' story was interesting as well although I already knew most of it.  What I mean is I had heard that he was an educated guy and that he was pursuing his Ph.D.  He came off as a really likable guy and was also easy to root for based on what you saw here.  I never minded his initial WWE debut which led to him tagging with R-Truth, but I will say his heel New Day work has been magnificent.  The most interesting aspect of this, to me, was how high Triple H was on the guy.  They have a "fish or cut bait" discussion and when Michael Hayes (I believe it was) used that phrase Triple H was quick to say he definitely wants to fish.  His vote of confidence after Woods' WWE debut was an interesting scene as well.

Until I saw Adam Rose's story I full expected Corey Graves' to be the most difficult to watch as we already knew his in-ring career came to an end due to a concussion issue.  Again, like with Rose, it helped humanize him by having us meet his family.  Graves' story was a bit of a roller coaster as the death of his in-ring career gave us his career as a WWE Network analyst and host.  We get to see that journey take place and see Graves go from professional rock bottom to his second chance.  Also of note was another interesting discussion where Michael Hayes points out that Graves has a unique look with the tats/suit combination. 

Aside from those three stories this special was also interesting as it gave us just a little glimpse into the types of discussions the powers that be in WWE have about their talent.  I think many of us were surprised to see exactly how many people sat in on these meetings for example.  Jeremy Schaap sitting down with Vince McMahon did not have any earth shattering information in it, but it's always interesting seeing Vince in situations like this. 

The special was expertly produced as you would expect out of an ESPN or WWE venture.  My recap here really does not do it justice either.  I highly recommend tracking it down.  It is set for a replay at 8:00 PM on Tuesday, May 12th on ESPN as well.  This thread on WCMB provides some interesting discussion on the special.  Two bonus clips were released which focused on Tyler Breeze and Colin Cassady.  I would recommend giving those a look as well.  I cannot stress enough how interesting this special was.  You won't regret making time to watch it I can pretty much guarantee that. 

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