‘This is poetry in wrestling’
—Tony Kelly, twenty-five minutes into Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr
In an art form that is presented as entertainment, it is the examples that conjure a feeling that stands the test of time.
Professional wrestling is no different with its core centered around characters the audiences live through vicariously or loathe to the degree they will part with their dollars to witness their demise.
At its zenith, two forces come to a collision point on the right day, the right time with the audience invested in the evening’s outcome.
Such was the case on October 26th at National Stadium in Dublin, Ireland for OTT’s fifth-anniversary showdown between champion Jordan Devlin and David Starr.
In a year that outdid itself for quality in-ring content, the battle has become cutting through the enormous amount of quality pro wrestling matches for a one to stand on its own beyond a 24-hour period. In OTT’s case, it’s been relatable characters with real-life issues mixed with state-of-the-art production and gripping promos that lead to an air of intensity that makes for the very best of professional wrestling.
Everyone wants to care. It’s become increasingly difficult, but every fan wants to have a horse in the race, believe in the character, and get lost in the story.
In this instance, it was Devlin spiraling into the cliché of a WWE-contracted wrestler forgetting his roots while the rebellious, Karl Marx-supporting Starr rallied his people to paint Devlin with the brush of ‘import’. Each side was willing to die on the hill of their argument, justified in their words and actions with both backed by justifications the crowd could support and did.
It is hard to explain but this match was already that of an epic before the first participant walked out. The first minutes of Shaun Ryan’s work conveying the story and building to the crescendo of the battle lines being drawn. It had the audience at a fever pitch reminiscent of the biggest IWGP title match or the scene in Chicago between John Cena and CM Punk in 2011.
As a presentation from start-to-finish, there was no match in 2019 that hit this level for me as National Stadium has become a bucket-list item to see a professional wrestling show at.
The audience was divided at parts and would experience an ebb and flow before rallying behind Starr.
The viewer at home was taken on its own ride by the team of Aonghus McAnally and Tony Kelly with one of the best match presentations from a team in years. Kelly played it down the middle while setting the scene that McAnally could not be objective despite his best effort due to the disdain he held for Starr. These two cemented their status as one of the best duos calling professional wrestling at any level.
With comparisons to JFK, Che Guevara, and David Koresh, Starr entered hidden under a darkened cloak – an ode to Jordan Devlin’s moniker of ‘The Import Killer’ and tricking the crowd as they expected the Irish star underneath. It was the only time the link between ‘crowd’ and ‘dead’ would be made during the next forty-five minutes.
As the two men entered the ring, separated by a physical wall made up of security, you had a level of atmosphere that should be the goal of any promoter seeking the ultimate emotional response.
This was a match-of-the-year contender by the time the bell rang to signal its start.
The first ten minutes of this video should be studied by every promoter at any level because it’s a case study of finding a story, mixing in reality, and an audience captivated with the final product. It set the scene for one of the best matches of 2019 with an emphasis on the ingredients rather than just the meal.
My final thoughts included how much higher the bar has been raised through video production and how integral it is in the modern landscape. At a time when the in-ring level has never been higher, just being ‘good’ doesn’t cut it. Starr has grown into one of the best speakers in wrestling and understands the value of promos and where the true connection is made. The ones that are ahead of the curve are just as concerned with the out of the ring content as the in-ring. I don’t think there is more consistent delivery of the ‘big-match feel’ than OTT, who has hit it out of the park through their various pairings of Devlin, Starr, and WALTER.
This was a classic.