Is Colt Cabana Still Relevant in 2014?
A few weeks back, I read a very spot on piece listing 5 things that independent wrestling promotions shouldn’t do. The column was by one of my favourite wrestling writers, the writer of “The Best and Worst of WWE RAW/WWE NXT” columns, Brandon Stroud. The fifth point in the article struck a bit of a nerve among wrestling fans. Mr. Stroud simply listed at number five: Colt Cabana.
Now, I took this as being done in a humorous manner. The disclaimer at the start of the column explicitly said not to take the column seriously. I don’t believe Mr. Stroud has any ill will towards an independent wrestler trying to make living by doing what he loves. I don’t think the message was, “Stop booking this man.”
If it was, then that’s Mr. Stroud’s business. If you listened to Colt Cabana’s “The Art of Wrestling” podcast, well, that’s pretty much exactly how he interpreted it. Cabana didn’t explicitly mention the article, but I don’t believe there were any other articles mentioning Colt Cabana in that context around the same time.
Whatever the intentions were, the point about Cabana did get me thinking. Thinking about Colt Cabana’s career, about what he’s done and what’s left for him to do. Has he peaked? And is Colt Cabana still relevant in 2014?
Let’s take a brief look at Colt’s career before we answer that question.
Cabana debuted professionally in 1999, so he’s now a veteran of the business. He’s worked all over the world; in the big leagues like the WWE, and in the little leagues like almost every other promotion in the world compared to the WWE. You may have seen Cabana in the top independent promotions such as ROH, Chikara and PWG just to name a few. He’s worked for Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, Insane Championship Wrestling in the UK. You name the promotion, chances are Cabana’s worked there. If you’re a Colt Cabana fan, that’s great for you. If you’re not though, then you’re probably sick of seeing Colt at every indie show you go to doing his usual blend of comedy and technically proficient wrestling.
It’s that blend of wrestling styles that Cabana has mastered over the years. In a single match you can experience brilliant mat wrestling, but also some of the best comedy wrestling around. As a big fan of technical wrestling and comedy wrestling (When it’s good – meaning almost nothing seen on WWE TV), I quickly became a fan of Cabana’s work.
Outside the ring, Cabana pioneered the wrestler hosted/themed podcast with “The Art of Wrestling.” On the podcast, Cabana talks about wrestling, road stories, and life with the who’s who of professional wrestling. CM Punk, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, William Regal, and more recently Good Ol’ J.R. himself, Jim Ross. Not so long ago, a podcast like “The Art of Wrestling” was a fairly unique thing. For a long time Cabana basically had the internet all to himself, but recently the podcasting game has grown, and bigger, more mainstream stars of the wrestling industry have thrown their respective hats into the ring (not the squared one). Jim Ross, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho just to name a few, have all started successful podcasts of their own. What was once unique is now commonplace. “The Art of Wrestling” may be the original, but with all the big names out there podcasting now, it may get lost in the shuffle.
Cabana’s not funny in the ring, he’s funny outside of it too. Cabana ventured into the comedy circuit, performing comedy on top of his pro-wrestling and podcasting. Considering his wrestling style, comedy does seem like the logical progression for Cabana’s career.
Always one to do things a little differently, Cabana’s recent comedy tour with Marty DeRosa involves Cabana and DeRosa providing commentary to bad wrestling matches. It’s a simple enough idea, but again, like when he introduced us to “The Art of Wrestling” podcast, it’s something that’s not really been done before in this capacity. I haven’t seen the show so I can’t comment on whether it’s actually funny or not. But at this stage, I think it’s safe to give Colt the benefit of the doubt.
The Wrestling Road Diaries
Like the wrestling, podcasting and comedy wasn’t enough, Cabana is also a documentary film star. Well, as far as stars of documentaries go. Cabana was one of the stars of “The Wrestling Road Diaries.” The film followed Colt Cabana, Bryan Danielson and…that other guy (Sal Rinauro. I had to go check. Sorry, Sal) as they travelled from city to city to town to shack wrestling on Bryan Danielson’s final indie shows before heading to the WWE. The film was one of those really interesting and rare looks behind the curtain of the independent wrestling world. We got to see what the life of an independent pro-wrestler is like. The wrestling, the traveling, the fans, and the friendships. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should. The success of the film led to its sequel, the illgramtically (not a word) titled “Wrestling Road Diaries Too.” This time, Colt is joined on the road by former WWE Superstars Cliff Compton (WWE’s Domino) and Big LG (WWE’s Festus/Luck Gallows) for another round of road stories.
“The Wrestling Road Diaries Too” kind of sums up Cabana’s career at this point. In “Road Diaries One,” Brian Danielson is on his way out of the indies and heading towards the monster that is WWE. Meanwhile, Colt Cabana continued with his very successful career as an independent pro-wrestler. In “Road Diaries Too,” Cabana is joined by two pro-wrestlers who have left the WWE and returned to the independent circuit. People seem to be moving in different directions around Cabana, some are getting picked up for the big leagues, some are returning to the minor leagues. (Sorry, independent wrestling promotions, as great as a lot of you are, if the WWE is the majors then independent promotions are the minors. It’s simple baseball. A sport I know nothing about) All the while, Cabana has remained in the exact same place. He’s more a less become a mainstay of the independent wrestling world.
When CM punk waved and said hello to Colt Cabana during his infamous pipe bomb, I thought that Cabana’s arrival to the WWE was imminent. Whether it be as Colt Cabana, Matt Classic (My favourite!), a returning Scotty Goldman, or plain old Scott Colton. Cabana seems like the perfect fit. But, nothing happened. More recently, Cabana mentioned on his podcast that he went to the WWE and tried out as an announcer. Again, I expected Cabana would be a sure thing and the WWE would finally snap him up from the independent world, like they have many of Cabana’s colleagues like Sami Zayn (El Generico), Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), that new NXT referee that looks like Drake Younger from CZW (Drake Younger), among others. And again, nothing. Of course, the WWE could still give Cabana the call up and we’ll soon be seeing him alongside Maggle and Bradshaw at the announce table. Heck, with Santino having recently retired from in-ring performing, there’s suddenly an opening for resident comedy wrestler. Cabana would be perfect for that position. However, there is a feeling that if Cabana was ever going to make his triumphant return to the WWE, it would have happened by now. So the questions remain. Has Cabana peaked? Is he still relevant in 2014? Short answers: No and absolutely, respectively. No, he hasn’t peaked, and yes, he’s still relevant.
WWE has passed on other incredibly talented independent wrestlers like Ricochet and A.J. Styles. In Ricochet’s case, it was said to be a matter of size, and that WWE already has an abundance of smaller, high flying wrestlers. As for Styles, I have no idea. Age perhaps? Anyhow, both guys are absolutely killing it on the independents, and more specifically over in Japan. Styles is the current IWGP Heavyweight champion in New Japan, and he’s having the performance of a lifetime in the G-1 Climax 24. Ricochet is winning titles and wowing fans in Dragon Gate and New Japan. Earlier this year he held Dragon Gate’s biggest title, the Open the Dream Gate Championship. And he’s a top contender for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship. So despite not making it (yet) to the WWE, life goes on and there’s still success to be had in professional wrestling. And the same goes for Colt Cabana. He hasn’t made it back to the WWE since his stint as Scotty Goldman, but WWE is not the be all and end all for pro-wrestlers. Sure, it is the goal of a lot of guys to one day get signed. WWE is certainly the biggest and most widely known promotion in the world. But not being in the WWE does not equal failure. Cabana is a top guy. Not in the top company, but he’s still a top guy. He’s one of the most in-demand wrestlers in the world. He’s hugely entertaining to watch perform (or listen to). He can wrestle a variety of styles and could have good match with almost anybody. He’s charismatic, he’s an intelligent interviewer and podcast personality. Cabana is a jack of all trades and master of many. Cabana’s career is constantly evolving. If he doesn’t wind up in the WWE, that’s their loss. Either way, Cabana will be succeeding in whatever venture he chooses to pursue.
Maybe you’re tired of seeing Cabana at indie shows. But if you ask me (you didn’t), a show with Cabana will always be better than a show without.
Share your thoughts in the comments section or with me @TheKoalaMask