wrestling / Columns

Csonka Q&A: Reviewing Chris Benoit Matches, The G1 Grind, More

August 12, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Chris Benoit

Welcome back to column time with Larry. Today we’re going to do something a bit different. I ended up doing an accidental Q&A on Twitter the other day, which led to some emails with more questions, so I have decided to do a Q&A column today. If you’d like me do to another one of these, leave questions in the comments section or email me at [email protected] Keep in mind, this isn’t Ask 411 (Mathew does way too good a job at that), this is stuff you want to ask me about my opinion on current wrestling, my reviews, columns or thoughts on wrestling in general. Have fun, and remember the only rules are “have a take, be respectful of other’s opinions and don’t be a dick.”

What Are Your Thoughts on Reviewing Chris Benoit Matches?: To be blunt and honest, I do not seek out Chris Benoit matches to watch or review, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t do it. If I am assigned a project or we do a project for the site (like our yearly WrestleMania features) that require watching and commenting on his matches, I’ll do it because it’s my job. But then I come to this internal struggle, let’s use the WM 20 classic for example. I love that match, it’s a great match, an all time Mania classic, but how do I praise it? How much do I praise Benoit? I can’t shortchange the match, because then I am disrespecting HBK & HHH and their work. But then, if I go overboard on the praise of the match, I have to deal with the fact that I am praising a murderer. Sure he wasn’t a murderer at the time, but that’s how history looks at him. As a husband and father, it makes me weigh too much about how to choose my words, and in all honesty I don’t want to think that hard and question every word I write because if I praise him, people get upset that I am praising the murderer, but if I don’t praise a classic enough, I am accused of trying to erase history. At the end of the day, I’ll do it if I have to, but it’s not like I wake up and have a desire to bust out the Benoit classics.

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What is Your Biggest Weakness as a Reviewer?: If I am being completely honest, I do often times try to find the positives to a fault. But let me tell you a secret, I absolutely hate reviewing a bad show. Some people seem to think I enjoy destroying a bad show, but in reality, they are the hardest reviews to write. When a show is just a big pile of dog shit I hate it, not because it’s bad or because I feel my time is wasted (although there is some of that) but it’s because when a show totally sucks, there are only so many ways to discuss how bad it is without resorting to dumpster fire and shit emojis. And then there’s the fact that I try to be as respectful to the talent performing as possible. It’s not always their fault that a show is bad, and I try to be appreciative of their work. So while a show may not be exactly good, I will certainly try to find positives, and highlight them when needed. But I will admit that at times I do it to a fault.

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What’s The Best & Worst Part of Covering The G1 Tournament?: Both parts are easy to answer; I live on the East Coast, and every day during the week my work day on 411 starts at between 8 and 9AM ET. So the weeks of the G1, with shows starting at 5AM or so, make for overly long days. Wake up after basically a nap, review, and then work 8 hours. And then I get a couple hours to eat dinner with the family, watch a show or play a game, and then review whatever show or shows are on that night. It’s an absolute grind to be honest with you, but compared to the talents, I have it easy. The best part of the coverage is also easy and that is not only is the tournament great year in and year out, but it also provides a concentrated burst of some of the very best wrestling of the year. While writing about, critiquing and breaking down wrestling is my job, I am still a wrestling fan at heart. You don’t watch and review as much wrestling as I do with out a love and appreciation of the art/sport of pro wrestling. It’s the great matches, the environment and high quality of action that makes it all worth it.

Why Don’t You Cover More Retro Stuff?: The easy answer is lack of time. I dabble in some older stuff with my free match reviews, but to be honest with you, there are a ton of retro reviews out there, and even right here on 411. But there’s so much current content out there that I don’t even get to touch: PWG, Lucha, Joshi, Dragon Gate, and PROGRESS just to name a few. There are only so many hours in the day and to spend the limited time on the past I feel would be a mistake with so much fresh content out there that I’d love to get to.

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What Happened With The Podcasts? Are They Ever Coming Back?: I wish that there was a cool or elaborate story to tell here, but it’s pretty simple. Firstly, I was having health issues at the time. Secondly, I just didn’t have the time. Scheduling a 90-minute to 3-hour block of time was taking away from my family time. Thirdly, my regular co-host Steve Cook’s schedule became very busy and he didn’t have the time to dedicate to the show; the real world and work is a bitch. So with lack of time and doing a one-man show being really difficult to pull off, I regrettably pulled the plug. I loved doing those shows, talking with my good friend, and shooting the shit with callers. I will never claim that they were the best shows out there, but I had a ton of fun doing them. Realizing I couldn’t dedicate 100% to doing shows, I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and deliver a shitty product. Will they ever come back? It’s wrestling, never say never…

What is Your Issue With North American Wrestling TV These Days? You Seem to Hate It.: Again, you don’t watch and review as much product as I do and hate it. Sure there is stuff I like more than other things, but I don’t hate anything. My issue with North American wrestling TV is that it feels extremely average and lazy. WWE TV is so sterile looking, it’s extremely regimented and for the most part lacks any real excitement or something to make me care. We get some good wrestling here and there, and there are a ton of performers I greatly enjoy so I just focus on that and find the good in the shows. BRAUN is tossing men around like sacks of shit? Awesome. We get some good wrestling, great. AJ Styles is on my TV, awesome. And then there is Impact, which tends to be a solid show or even works its way to good until they fall into some of the typical Jarrett/Dutch shortcomings, which hurts the show (like the July 27th episode), where they put on a very good 90-minute show, and then in my opinion, it fell off a cliff. 205 Live fights against WWE in order to be fun at times, but WWE refuses to allow the show to be what it needs to be, which is something different; it’s been that way since day one. Sure we occasionally get some great matches, but “mini-Raw” isn’t what that show needs to be. WWE took everything that made the CWC a success, stripped it away and gave us 205 live, which is drawing less and less viewers by the week. ROH TV feels like an hour-long infomercial, which at its heart it’s supposed to be. The quality can vary on ROH TV, sometimes fast moving and fun, and other times it feels like the most unimportant show of the week. NXT can be a real mixed bag, but when its on and they are doing a solid 80s style Crockett TV show to build to the big events, but other times it’s really exposed as what it is at heart, a developmental brand. But more weeks than not I enjoy the show. Lucha Underground certainly isn’t everyone’s cut of tea, but I find great enjoyment in the talent there and with their presentation, utilizing the cinematic vignettes and a fresh take on the authority character. Unfortunately where a lot of US TV fails is that while they claim to be episodic TV, many times they greatly fail at being that. At it’s core, wrestling in an athletic based art that in theory tells stories to strongly link the shows together. Unfortunately as the years go on, the threads that tie the shows together are becoming thinner and thinner. I still love it, but I just think it can be done much better overall.

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What is Your Least Favorite Part of Working For 411?: In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a creative person at heart, an artist and a man with two music degrees (education and performance). But life dealt me a shitty hand health wise and it took away the performance part, and teaching just didn’t fulfill me like I had hoped it would. I do some freelance work as far as teaching goes, but I needed another creative outlet, and my love of wrestling brought me to writing on the Internet. I started small, an then made it to 411 where I was given all of the freedom that I wanted and more. So with all of that being said, I fully believe that I was put on this earth to be a creative person and in terms of 411, to create original content; columns & reviews. So in all honesty, it’s the task of aggregating news I find the least enjoyable. It’s a major part of my job, which I accept, but I don’t find it enjoyable at all. But it’s a major part of the job and needs to be done, so I suck it up, do it and find my time to be creative.

– You can keep up with all of my opinion columns at this link.

If you’d like me do to another one of these, leave questions in the comments section or email me at [email protected]

– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

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