In this article, I take a look at an episodic show where the entire plot is based on a wrestling angle. How did it turn out? Well, let’s take a look at OVER: Season One.
In 2010, I was asked by Gary Yap, promoter of EPIC WAR at the time, to review a show he had produced for a television station in the Pacific Northwest. The reason why he reached out to me was that he had been reading my NWA Championship Wrestling From Hollywood reviews and respected the fact that I was brutally honest in my reviews. He wanted honest feedback for his show, and he knew he would get it from me. After that, a beautiful friendship was formed.
Let’s fast forward to now. Recently, Gary reached out to me again. He asked me if I would review the first season of his show based on a character and angle created by him and current WWE star TJ Perkins. Why do you ask? Well, here’s Gary in his own words:
“I would love to see an OVER ‘Season One’ (WatchOverNow.com) review by you, ESPECIALLY given how folks always rip on you about how you don’t review things fairly. As I’m sure you know (at least I THINK you know this), when new seasons of a show are coming up, there’s usually some type of overview/review/look at the previous season; this is what the series set out to do, this is what happened, this is what worked, what didn’t, this is the impact it had/didn’t have, etc. That’s kinda what I’m looking for.
Whether you wrote it as an episode-by-episode review or a large season-encapsulating review with highlights/gifs, I want YOU and your thoughts on it as a whole. I wanna be able to share this or point to this for folks who haven’t viewed the series yet. As with the EPIC WAR stuff, I do NOT want any favors or falsely-favorable reviews in any way. Be real.”
It’s pretty self-explanatory of what he wants. The key thing though is that Gary wants me to be real. Since he asked, I’ll deliver.
Now I want to make it very clear that even though Gary is someone who I consider a friend, I’m not going to show him any favorability. If anything, I’m probably gonna be rougher on him than I would with someone I disliked.
Before I talk about OVER: Season One, let me give a brief overview of Gary Yap’s history in pro wrestling.
- In 2002, Gary started EPIC Pro Wrestling for all the right and wrong reasons. It was pretty prolific.
- He had money issues. You know, bounced checks.
- Booked Ultimo Dragon vs. Super Dragon vs. “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) in 2002 but fucked it up massively by not securing financing for the show. Oh, and he didn’t pay for the venue. As a result, the show got canceled and tons of people got screwed out of their time and money. Way to go, Gary!
- Gary disappeared for a bit.
- In 2004, he started Pro Wrestling WAR with Anthony Maris as his financial backer. It was way less prolific than EPIC. That shit was a train wreck and went under in like 2006.
- Gary again returned to promoting in 2007 with EPIC Pro Wrestling WAR (later EPIC WAR). It was way less prolific than the other two promotions and an even bigger train wreck then WAR.
- Oh, did I mention his creepy angle with an underage Lucky O’Shea? I know it was an angle, but c’mon man!
- The “Black History Month Challenge” match where Willie Mack was lynched by Bo Cooper.
- Associated with a group of untrained wrestlers, leading to people calling for Gary to be blackballed from wrestling.
- EPIC WAR thankfully died eventually.
- Gary, looking to redeem himself, worked with the Empire Wrestling Federation to produce this angle.
Okay,, so now that you got caught up on the history Gary Yap, let’s talk about OVER: Season 1.
Recapping OVER: Season 1
The main protagonists of the series are Gary Yap, a self-proclaimed “professional visionary,” and an unnamed character who is a professional wrestler. Gary manages this unnamed masked wrestler, who he calls HIM. HIM was originally portrayed by TJ Perkins. When TJ wasn’t available, the gimmick would end up being portrayed by someone else. Throughout the season, we followed Gary as he looked to guide this masked wrestler to glory in a place that wouldn’t give him any favors or special treatment during their quest for a championship. Along the way, they encounter several enemies.
The series beings in November/December 2014. In the first episode, Gary talked about how his client wanted to be the best in Southern California. Gary then talked about how there were many easy paths to being a champion in SoCal. After going over the easy ways, he said if his client really wanted to be the best, he’d have to go somewhere he was hated and climb to the top there. He also needed to go somewhere that has history and consistency over the years.
For Gary, that place was the Empire Wrestling Federation. This would set up Gary issuing a challenge on behalf of HIM that is answered by Southern California wrestling veteran SoCal Crazy. The two have a match, and Gary’s client, who is now being called Gary Yap’s Man In Black by the EWF, scores a dominant win over SoCal Crazy. In the first episode, the story is established and we know who the two main players in the dries are.
Over the next few episodes, Gary manages HIM to several dominant victories and getting under the skin of audiences. In the fourth episode, we met the main antagonist in the story: Andy Brown. During an in-ring segment, Gary implied that Andy Brown was named the 2014 EWF Wrestler of the Year because of the real-life passing of his mother. The promo ended with Gary wishing Andy a “Happy Mother’s Day” before leaving the ring, which caused Andy Brown to lose control of his emotions.
Later in the series as the story with Andy developed, Gary brings in Joey Ryan for Andy to face. If Andy beat Joey, he would get a match with HIM.
After defeating Joey Ryan, Andy Brown and HIM went on to have a series of matches with no clean finishes. In the third encounter of the series, Gary cost Andy the match. This would lead to HIM facing EWF Champion “Ironman” Mike Maze in the tenth episode of the season. Gary Yap would again help his client get a win after interfering in the match. After the match, we see Gary’s promo in front of his pool that appeared in the first episode. Then we saw Gary cut another promo by his pool. Only this time, it was in front of his pool again with the EWF title.
With the EWF title in their hands, Gary and HIM encounter challengers such as Misterioso Jr., Brandon Gatson, Tommy Wilson, Ray Rosas, and TJ Perkins as himself. Heading into 2016, Gary and HIM became an unstoppable entity in the EWF. Meanwhile, Andy Brown climbed his way back up title contention after winning a battle royal for a title shot at the EWF’s 20th-anniversary show in the eighteenth episode of the series.
In the twenty-first episode, Andy finally defeated HIM to become the EWF Champion at the EWF’s biggest show in promotion history. The next episode, the season finale, saw Andy score one more victory over HIM to retain the title while also giving Gary Yap a Package Piledriver. We end the season with Gary laying in the ring being checked on by HIM, with the last thing we see on the screen being the words “TO BE CONTINUED?”
As I said, Gary is a friend of mine. Even though we are friends, I’m not going to give him any favors. While the series has its strengths and weaknesses, it really isn’t worth going out of your way to see if you’re looking for wrestling entertainment. Shit, most of it is a waste of time. Still, it has its upsides.
There are two things to take away from this series. The first: Gary Yap sorta stumbled into something interesting when it comes to presenting professional wrestling as an art. Second, Gary Yap is a lazy producer who hastily puts shit together, oftentimes rambles too fucking much in his promos, and wasted a lot of my time by asking me to watch some of these things. Oh, and there wasn’t enough interaction with the HIM character.
Let’s get to the latter part of the takeaways first.
I don’t know if Gary had these shows air on TV or intended on the final product to be a series. A lot of the content used by Gary was obviously recycled and downloaded from YouTube. Often times the video quality ranged from good-to-craptastic. If the goal was to present something that looked good, I think Gary failed. The production looked very amateurish. Everything came off as inconsistent as far as production value. If Gary is looking to make a second season of OVER, he should really keep all the raw footage of promos on a hard drive and get master copies of whatever matches his character will be part of.
Gary also really needs to stop wasting people’s time when he cuts promos. In the first episode, Gary talked about the match with SoCal Crazy for five minutes. FIVE MINUTES. Gary just talked. For FIVE MINUTES. The promo ended with him sitting by his pool while “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles played for a few minutes as he looked at his pool as he smoked a cigarette. When I watched this, I thought “fuck man, no wonder studios and producers always try to cut down on a film director’s vision of something.” It bores the audience!
From an artistic standpoint, I get it. You have to let an artist express themselves freely, but if you’re trying to sell your art to an audience (especially one as low-brow as a wrestling audience) you need to realize your vision might not appeal to anyone but you.
Gary’s promos did serve a huge purpose though. He was setting narratives and told stories. While it was very important for him to do that, it still ended up being pointless when he stretched something that could’ve been done in two minutes to a five-minute promo. The lack of interaction with Gary Yap and his client outside of shows also hurt the series. While I know this show was put together with promos and matches from Gary’s run with the HIM character in the EWF, much more could be accomplished if there were scenes with Gary and HIM. We need to see what their relationship is like outside of the ring.
But while Gary’s cinematography and storytelling/development need vast improvements and his production values should be upgraded, there is some brilliance in this series.
What Gary Yap did was do something that most professional wrestling shows try to do but fail at: tell a story. In this show, Gary told the story of a man and his client trying to climb to the top of a system they thought would be rigged against them. It was a well-executed story that did a good job at introducing characters and establishing their roles in the plot.
Another thing I liked about OVER is how the story was told. In OVER, we saw the story of the villain and his evil manager as they climbed the ranks of this wrestling promotion they wanted to take over. Most stories often times focus on the heroes and good guys, but in OVER, it was all about the bad guys. We saw how they did it, what they went through, and saw things from a completely different perspective. And it worked very well.
But the biggest reason why this show worked was the booking in the EWF of Gary Yap and HIM. They took their time, built him from the bottom all the way up to a championship level, and they established a clear fan-favorite and a credible contender to take the title off him. While it was simple storytelling, it was still great. This sort of storytelling and booking is rarely seen now in wrestling, and the EWF pulled it off well. Again, this was the biggest key to OVER’s plot. Without the booking being strong, the show would’ve suffered deeply.
The concept of OVER was great. The production and execution was very weak though. There are some elements of that show that are in dire need of improvement if Gary Yap wants to produce a decent follow up season. With that said, I think Gary created a very interesting concept when it comes to episodic wrestling shows.
But I have to be honest with you guys (and girls), I’d say just check out matches you think you’d enjoy and skip the majority of this series. He has something decent here, but there was too much filler in the series. I do not recommend this show if you want to see great wrestling. If you do want to watch because the story sounds intriguing and you want to see how it played out, you can watch the first full season of OVER on www.watchovernow.com.
At EWF’s event on February 8th in Covina, Gary Yap and the HIM character (who the EWF calls the Man in Black) make their return to the promotion. Earlier this week, a teaser for the EWF return of Gary and HIM was posted on Twitter which raised some questions about the direction of the story and plot.
— OVER (@ByGaryYap) January 22, 2019
The last time this act was in the EWF, it was a massive success. Will the promotion be able to follow it up well? That remains to be seen. It should be interesting to see how things turn out now, as Andy Brown has recently become a heel in the EWF. Will Gary and HIM be good guys? Are they gonna form some type of faction? Will they even cross paths at all? All I know is Gary and the EWF have a lot of potential with this. This is something SoCal should pay attention to, cause it could end up being the best storyline of the year in the area.