Kayfabe Commentaries‘ sensational new series on the indies is back!
In the “Gabe Sapolsky’s Next Evolution” series of DVDs, the renowned booker and promoter sits down with a popular WWE/NXT bound indie talent whose career Gabe helped shape, in order to relive a handful of classic Sapolsky-booked matches from the WWN archives and showcase the “evolution” of the featured talent. For the third edition, “Next Evolution: Chris Hero”, Gabe is joined by the ever-popular and incredibly talented Chris “Kassius Ohno” Hero to break down four matches from Hero’s past that would lead him to the doorstep of WWE once more.
The interview, taped days after EVOLVE 57, begins with Chris Hero recounting his experiences breaking into the wrestling business with CM Punk, Colt Cabana, and Ace Steel, and why it took so long for Hero to land in Ring of Honor. Sapolsky remembers CZW booker Mike Burns reaching out to Gabe about working with ROH which led to Hero’s debut against ROH World Heavyweight Champion Bryan Danielson at ROH Hell Freezes Over on January 14, 2006. They talk about how big the match was for ROH, how important the CZW/ROH feud was for both men, and how it led to future ROH shots for Hero.
Gabe goes on to explain Hero’s eye for booking—improving angles and storylines on the fly—that earned Gabe’s trust and forged their working relationship and friendship. Hero cites this early communication with why the two worked so well together later on while Gabe is quick to point out that that kind of creative freedom isn’t simply handed out or allowed, it’s about respect; respect earned and respect returned.
Of course the bulk of the release surrounds the featured matches. The matches, listed below, are shown in full (including ring entrances and introductions) with commentary running softly in the background and Gabe & Hero visible at all times in the lower right hand corner of the screen, providing director’s commentary throughout each match. The program features four matches in all, two prior to Hero’s initial 2012 NXT run and two prior to Hero’s NXT return in 2017.
– Singles Match (28:23)
Chris Hero w/Claudio Castagnoli vs. Ikuto Hidaka w/Brad Allen
EVOLVE 2 ● March 13, 2010 ● Rahway Rec Center, Rahway, New Jersey
– Singles Match (14:52)
Bobby Fish vs. Chris Hero w/Claudio Castagnoli
EVOLVE 3 ● May 1, 2010 ● Rahway Rec Center, Rahway, New Jersey
– EVOLVE Championship (17:22)
Drew Galloway vs. Chris Hero(c)
EVOLVE 31 ● August 8, 2014 ● The Orpheum, Ybor City, Florida
– Singles Match (21:32)
Timothy Thatcher vs. Chris Hero
WWNLive Supershow: Mercury Rising 2015 ● March 28, 2015 ● Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California
Throughout the matches Gabe Sapolsky explains why each match was booked as it was, the background behind his booking, and the direction coming out of each. But its psychology, above all else, that reigns supreme throughout this interview. Sapolsky gives us the detailed psychological rationale behind EVOVLE, how Bryan Danielson was the driving force behind EVOLVE, as well the importance of “re-training” fans expectations to accept a different conceptual idea of wrestling and how it’s achieved to mean the most in the long run.
As for Chris Hero, he gives his thoughts on each of his four opponents in this collection, as well as others, and gives details on working with each, their progression as wrestlers, and how exactly they helped Hero raise his game.
By far the biggest takeaway from this release is Chris Hero’s PhD in the psychology of wrestling. Hero is a throwback to professional wrestlers of old who loves calling matches in the ring and bending the “rules” and “norms” of fan expectation to give the fans a different experience. Hero, who believes wrestlers get over better when they continually kick out of big moves rather than hitting all their moves and losing, has an uncanny eye for detail that sets Hero apart from a great number of wrestlers and has made his work a joy to watch (and re-watch) for many years, a rare trait in any generation. Hero talks about how important psychology is for the fans, especially the smart fans, and creating wrestling Easter eggs that may not be picked up at first which could even span multiple matches. Hero talks about utilizing fan chants to start a match, the importance of making eye contact with fans in the crowd (personalizing the action for those select fans), and why having only one or two finishers stifles creativity in wrestling and creates the formulaic experience hardcore fans loathe.
As much fun as this interview is to hear and the matches are to watch, make no mistake about it, this is a 2-hour and 2-minute masterclass in booking and wrestling psychology from two true geniuses of the modern era. Any smart fan who thinks they know how to “book” wrestling or what psychology really is needs to watch “Next Evolution: Chris Hero”. Yes, the matches (as usual) are spectacular, but it’s the interview, and the information therein, that truly steals the show.
Whether you’re a Chris Hero fan, or a Gabe Sapolsky fan, Kayfabe C. just brought us another must-see for any wrestling fan who respects the art and the sport of professional wrestling!
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You can pick up a physical DVD copy of “Gabe Sapolsky’s Next Evolution: Chris Hero” now at KayfabeCommentaries.com, stream it instantly On Demand, or download it to watch later!