Friday, 26 September 2014

A Dream Come True: the Arda Ocal Story continues

I first met Arda Ocal when he accompanied Legendary Wrestler, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, to my place of residence for a meet and greet back in October 2013.  If you are a wrestling fan in Canada, you will remember Arda from the wrestling T.V. show 'Aftermath' on the Score Sports Network.  He created that show.  Arda is the most knowledgable and passionate wrestling fan I know.  With that being said, it comes with no surprise to me that the WWE would hire him as a commentator.   And as of September 24th, that is exactly what they did.

Arda has been a life long wrestling fan.  Arda states in an interview with  that he got into wrestling at 3 years old while visiting family friends.  These friends had a daughter the same age as himself along with an older son, who was 10 years their senior.  Arda idolized this guy, and he watched wrestling.  So Arda would also sit around and watch Saturday Night Main Event, Superstars, and Maple Leaf Wrestling.  He was enthralled by it all.                     

Arda’s Journey into the WWE began in 2006 when he started sending demo reals to the WWE head-courters in Stamford, Connecticut.  He first heard back from the WWE in the spring of 2009 and was given an audition.  He did not get hired at the time.  However, Arda also knew he wasn't ready, and set out to gain more experience.  He hosted a talk shows in Toronto, did commentary for different sports, most notably the OHL’s Brampton Battalions and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies (the affiliate team of the Toronto Maple Leafs). 

In 2009, Arda started working at the Score Sports Network as an intern, and pitched the idea of a wrestling post-game show that would take place after WWE Monday Night Raw.  They liked Arda’s pitch, and  “Right After Wrestling”, which soon became “Aftermath” was created.  At first the show consisted of Arda Ocal, current WWE commentator- Rene Young and Showtime Sport reporter- Mauro Rannallo.  While former WWE referee- Jimmy Kudaras started soon after. Guys like Norm Sousa, Corey Erdman, the Paul Brothers, and Brent Furtney were also on the show.  As well as being an integral part of “Aftermath”, Arda would also host “top 5” segments during Raw commercial breaks.  In past interviews, he has regarded this time as “creatively fulfilling”.  In 2013, Arda and the Score parted ways, however “Aftermath” continues to this day with Jimmy Korderas and other commentators.  Arda, the nice guy that he is, has said that he is very happy for his good friend Jimmy, who continues to get a paycheck for something something that he loves to do.  Though, I must say that I have definitely not watched “Aftermath” regularly since Arda left the show.  From there, Arda went back to doing commentary for other sports like boxing and hockey, until an opportunity arose with the Weather Network.

In interviews Arda has recalled his time with the Weather Network as “a ton of fun”. For the first 3 months he was a reporter in Ottawa, which is when I met him. He braved Ottawa’s temperatures by being outside at 5am every morning for the news.  And that being said, he got to do some cool things, including interviews and fun videos with people like the Cake Boss, director- Oliver Stone, actor- Dave Coulier, author- Margaret Atwood, astronaut- Chris Hadfield, and NHL alumni- Ken Dryden, Doug Gilmour and Nik Lidstrom.  He has since spent the following past 6 months working for the Weather Network in Vancouver, up until Semptember 24th, 2014 when he was hired by the WWE.

On top of being a very knowledgeable wrestling insider and loving the business, Arda is a real down to earth, great guy, who has always taken the time to get involved with different charities.  He has volunteered with the Brampton Community Resource Center, sat as a member on the Board of Directors for the Brampton Symphony Orchestra, canvassed for the Kidney Foundation and has done work with the March of Dimes.  Also, in true Arda Ocal fashion, he was a involved in Maximum Pro Wrestling (an Ontario based wrestling promotion) and helped bring wrestling events to Iqaluit, Nunavut (the Canadian arctic) in 2008 for the first time ever.  Arda organized, announced, and promoted the events.  If the -45 degree weather wasn't cold enough the first time, Arda brought it back on two more separate occasions.  During those Iqaluit shows, they did motivational talks in every level of the schools (elementary, middle and high school), at youth centers and youth jails.  Arda credits the wrestlers like Christian, Ryhno, Matt Morgan, Gregory Iron, Matt Cross and Jimmy Jacobs, that took part in those events for all the hard work that they put into their performances, and for putting on the show of a life time for those who would otherwise likely never see a pro-wrestling event.  But, he too deserves much praise for all his hard work.  Arda is that guy that seems to go the extra mile for people.

Arda Ocal is proof that if you work hard, improve your craft, and don't give up, that dreams really can come true. Working for the WWE will be an exciting new chapter in Arda’s life.  I know he has what it takes to be successful in the WWE.  However, rumor is we will have to get used to calling him by a new name for his wrestling commentary persona.  And apparently that name is none other than “Kyle Edwards”.  I can only speculate that the fine people and writers at the WWE came up with that one.  So call him Arda or call him Kyle, either way I am extremely happy for my friend, even if he is a dirty Maple Leafs fan...Hey, we can’t all be perfect!  Enjoy it, you have earned it.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The WWE Network in Canada

On Tuesday August the 12th the WWE Network launched in Canada on Rogers television, and though the live streaming content is great, the on demand library feels like a spit in the face to WWE’s Canadian fans. The WWE already had Canadian viewers waiting as the American version has been up and running since February. With the Canadian version you are already paying more, $11.99 compared to the $9.99 our American neighbors are paying. The American version has a full list of Content that viewers can go back and watch while the Canadian version has this.... 

Don't get me wrong there are some great shows on the Network, and I love the old content especially the stuff from the attitude era but for the last 6 months I have been watching Raw and Smackdown and have been told how great the WWE Network was for only $9.99 a month without being able to watch it. When it finally comes to Canada and I am able to order it I get sold this watered down product for more money.  Canada is a big market for the WWE so I suggest that they pull up their socks and get it together.  It would be a shame if the WWE Network continued to fail as I believe the concept behind it is great for WWE fans. I just hope they can sort this out sooner rather then later and give the Canadian fans the same viewing pleasure as our neighbors to the south.