The art of the comedic roast has seen a huge resurgence over the past couple of years with Comedy Central's slew of celebrity skewering. It is no surprise that the wrestling community has decided to embrace this concept with Kayfabe Commentaries & Legends of the Ring's ongoing Ring Roast series. The third annual outing is dedicated to none other than to one of professional wrestling's most outspoken & decorated personalities: Jim Cornette.
The lineup this year is a virtual "who's who" of Cornette well-wishers. Well, not really a "who's who," more like "who lives in the Tri-State area and wouldn't mind driving to Jersey." You have the original Midnight Express ("Beautiful" Bobby Eaton & "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey, Ring of Honor's Prince Nana, Kayfabe Commentaries' eternal loudmouth Amy Lee, Dutch Mantell (wearing the same clothes from his Guest Booker DVD: business exposed!), Al Snow (wearing a hideous shirt), Nick "Eugene" Dinsmore, Bob Holly (donning an orange painter's cap), Missy Hyatt (with a huge black dude that may or may not be Swoll of No Limit fame), along with comedians Ryan Maher, Sean Carlucci, & Sean Morton. Your Roastmaster is none other than the God of Kayfabe himself, former Pro Wrestling Illustrated editor Bill Apter.
I'll cut right to the chase: This DVD was not as funny as I thought it would be. With that being said, there are some solid jokes & moments that definitely make Ring Roasts III worthwhile. Both Maher & Morton have done the prior Roasts and exude more confidence than others in this environment, slinging barbs and not feeling intimidated by the fact that one of wrestling's orneriest individuals (re: "Bobcore") is mere feet away. Maher is particularly on fire and was the best choice to have opened the event. He works in a "B.B." reference towards Holly, a slick Awesome Kong jab and a Camp Cornette dig that, in my opinion, sets the bar way too high for the rest of the roasters. It's just that good.
Missy Hyatt is also a standout in her second Ring Roast appearance. Granted, she simply plows through reading a sheet of jokes. Thankfully, a lot of them are winners, including the first (and only) Dutch Mantell back hair joke. I've heard Missy on other wrestling radio shows & podcasts, and she has a style all her own that shines here. Nick Dinsmore is decent as well, serving up what is clearly the best Missy Hyatt joke of the evening.
For the rest, the humor is scant, although it is definitely not because a lack of effort. You can tell that Dinsmore & Al Snow tried really hard to write decent jokes, most of which fell flat. I'm not sure why, but wrestling fans all of a sudden become comedy snobs, making the novices work extra hard. It probably didn't help matters that a drunk Amy Lee is up there swearing at them for fifteen minutes or that guys like Bob Holly & Dutch Mantell were more concerned with exalting Cornette, thanking him for his contributions to their careers. Wrestling fans, we are a fickle bunch sometimes.
As for Cornette, he is a great sport throughout. Just about every performer offered up jabs belittling him at the expense of Paul Heyman & Vince Russo that Cornette takes in stride. He's the perfect candidate for a wrestling roast, with a storied history that provides a steady stream of comedic fodder. I also have to give props to the other roasters for being civil when being insulted, especially Bob Holly, who takes it hard more than once.
Ring Roasts III, despite its awkward moments, is a lot of fun. As a wrestling nerd, you will dig all of the insider references & wrestling-slanted humor that is usually saved for message boards. For someone being insulted by his peers, Cornette seems to love every minute of it and relishes in this honor. The standard for wrestling roasts has been raised a little higher this time around. I await next year's offering to see how Kayfabe Commentaries will improve on this event.
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