When We Were Marks
When You’re the Hammer, Everyone Else Looks Like a Nail
Nigel McGuiness vs. Kevin Steen
August 29th, SummerSlam 1992 the great Canadian technical wrestler and champion, Bret Hart lost his Intercontinental Title to the British striker Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog, in front of more than 80, 000 ecstatic Brits at Wembley Stadium, in what many consider the Bulldog’s best ever match. At the time, it could be argued that the IC title was one of the best titles in the world: a prestigious belt with a great history in a highly competitive division where good wrestlers had great matches for the gold.
In 2008, the heir to the IC title is the Ring of Honor title, fought for and defended all over the world. Its former champions include three men on the top of their respective promotions: C. M. Punk, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion; Samoa Joe, the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and Takeshi Morishima, the NOAH GHC Heavyweight Champion. Like the IC belt in 1992, it is a prestigious belt with a great history in a highly competitive division where good wrestlers have great matches for the gold.
And 16 years after SummerSlam 1992, the mirror reverse match of Bret/Bulldog is about to happen. The ROH World Champion, British striker Nigel McGuiness comes to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, July 25th, at Ted Reeve Arena for ROH’s first show in Canada. His opponent will be the great Canadian technical wrestler, Kevin Steen. ROH won’t pack 80, 000 people into Ted Reeve Arena, but they have already sold more than a thousand tickets – an amazing amount for an independent wrestling promotion having their first show in a new city, not to mention a new country.
And the same way that the hometown hero won in 1992, the hometown hero will win in 2008. On July 25th, Kevin Steen will fulfill his promise to the fans to win ROH gold in 2008 and become the ROH World Champion. He will win because it is his time to win; he will win because he will win and he will win because he must win.
To non-Canadians, Kevin Steen’s status as a Canadian hero might seem quixotic. Isn’t Steen’s ego and arrogance at odds with the traditional Canadian values of modesty and politeness? To the contrary, Steen comes from a long line of arrogant Canadian heroes – Pierre Trudeau, Guy Lafleur, Wolverine, James Cameron, to name a few. In the same way that arrogant Americans prefer their heroes to feign humility, modest Canadians prefer their heroes to strut and preen and express all the confidence that us common folks lack.
There is a cost to heroism in Canada. The price for believing that you are always the most talented man in the room is that you have to be the most talented man in the room all the time. The price of Kevin Steen’s arrogance is that Steen must deliver victory to his Canadian fans and grab the ROH title that has so long eluded him.
The irony is that July 25th is the first time that ROH will have a show in Canada, but it is not the first time that the ROH title has been defended in Canada, nor the first time that Kevin Steen has fought for the ROH Title in Canada. Years before his first match in the ROH, in July 2004, Kevin Steen, then champion of Montreal’s IWS promotion and Quebec City’s EWR promotion, fought ROH Champion Samoa Joe to a twenty-minute draw. During a period where Samoa Joe did not lose a match for close to two years, Kevin Steen is one of a handful of men to fight Joe to a draw.
Six months later, in January of 2005, Steen lost an ROH title match to ROH Champion Austin Aries, a match he could have arguably won if earlier in the night he had not been forced to beat EXesS, El Generico and Samoa Joe just to get to Aries. Since 2005, Steen has fought for the ROH Title three more times, once against Morishima and twice against Nigel McGuiness coming closer to the gold each and every time.
Kevin Steen has made Nigel McGuiness tap in a tag match, but that alone does not fill me with confidence that Kevin Steen is poised for the biggest victory of his career. What inspires me with hope is that Nigel McGuiness is a striker, a great striker, but a striker where Kevin Steen is a wrestler.
Consider Nigel’s run at his predecessor Takeshi Morishima. When Nigel fell short against Morishima, time and time and time again, his solution was a striker’s solution – hit harder, hit more. Nigel’s solution was that of a bull’s to a red brick wall – if at first you don’t knock it down, run at the wall harder.
Yes, Nigel did eventually beat Morishima, but he did so the day after Kevin Steen came within inches of beating Morishima himself by side-stepping the wall, finding the wall’s weaknesses and exposing them for all to see. Nigel McGuiness threw the lariat that took down Morishima, but Kevin Steen showed him where to throw it.
As Steen said recently during a Quebec barbecue in between bites of sweet corn and bouncing his son Owen on his knee, “Morishima was like that jar of peanut butter that nobody can open no matter how hard they try, until one guy loosens the jar enough for somebody else to open it. Nigel may have pinned Shima, but only because I beat the shit out of him the night before. Shima is like a dinosaur, you can kick his ass but it takes him a while to notice that he’s been beat.”
Nigel’s solution to Morishima was to hit harder, hit more; Steen’s solution to Nigel is to wrestle smarter. Every match that Nigel faces Kevin Steen, the bigger an advantage that Steen has, because Nigel can only hit so hard, but there is no limit to how much Steen can learn.
Like another famous striker, Nigel will learn in Toronto that strength can only carry you so far, charging like a bull at a brick wall ends with you dazed on the mat like Bill Goldberg concussed by the power of Bret Hart’s brain.
The problem with Nigel McGuiness is that he is a hammer, and when you’re the Hammer, everyone else looks like a nail.
But Kevin Steen does not look like a nail.
Kevin Steen looks like the Anvil…
But he wrestles like Bret.
Tickets for ROH’s show in Toronto next Friday can be purchased at ROHwrestling.com.
You can also see Kevin Steen this Saturday, July 19th, in his home promotion, the International Wrestling Syndicate, where he will be wrestling the Green Phantom for the IWS Title.
Kevin Steen is the current IWS champion and just last month, he won the IWS Canadian Title from Max Boyer. That title has been stripped from Steen by the IWS Title Committee because Steen could not defend both titles at once. To crown a new champion, the IWS will hold an Extreme Dream Tournament with eight wrestlers invited;
“Paranoid” Jake Matthews
and finally Twiggy
In addition, 2.0 will be facing the team of Beef Wellington and Sexxxy Eddy who will be practicing their teamwork for their Fans Bring The Weapons match in September at the Medley, while their opponent PCP Crazy F’N Manny has not even chosen his partner yet. (He is scheduled to announce that partner on Friday.)
And the ersatz Italians, the Untouchables (Jimmy Stone and Dan Paysan) will be facing the all too real team of Up In Smoke (Cheech and Cloudy)
The IWS presents: Summer Slaughter, Saturday, July 19th, 2008 at Bogey’s World Bar & Billiard, 3250 Cremazie Est (corner of Cremazie and St-Michel near the St-Michel metro), Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. Doors open at 7:30 pm, show starts at 9:00 pm, tickets are $20 for VIP, $15 for Regular. 18+, card and times subject to change. For more information go to www.syndicatewrestling.com or e-mail [email protected] .
The IWS presents: Hardcore Heat, Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 at Bogey’s World Bar & Billiard, 3250 Cremazie Est (corner of Cremazie and St-Michel near the St-Michel metro), Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. Doors open at 7:30 pm, show starts at 9:00 pm, tickets are $20 for VIP, $15 for Regular. 18+, card and times subject to change. For more information go to www.syndicatewrestling.com or e-mail [email protected] .
The IWS proudly presents: Un F’N Sanctioned, Main Event is FANS BRING THE WEAPONS! Saturday, September 27th, at the beautiful, downtown Medley, 1170 St-Denis, near the Berri-UQAM Metro. Montreal, Quebec, CANADA. Doors open at 7:30 PM, show starts at 9 PM. VIP tickets are $25, Regular tickets are $20. VIP ticket holders admitted first. No reserved seating. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.ticketpro.ca or in person at the Medley box office. 18+. Card and times subject to change. For more information go to www.syndicatewrestling.com or e-mail [email protected] .