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10 for ’11 Day 10: The Bravado Brothers

by on April 8, 2011

 

By Michael Z.
(cross-posted from Wrestling You Should Know, a really awesome blog Michael runs that’s kind of like the 10 for ’11 concept taken to the next level, where he gives props to the young, up-and-coming breakout stars of the future that you should keep your eye on…)

With proud smiles and argyle sweaters, Lance and Harlem Bravado invited everyone to hop on their bandwagon at the beginning of 2011.  They knew it was the right one to be on, because their Grandma was its creator.

This young tag team’s bandwagon, more appealingly to the masses, includes pretty much every top name in Ring of Honor — the promotion that the Bravados call home — due to their hard work and commitment to both the company and their growth as a unit.
The above image of the Bravados let you know exactly who they are at the core.  They don’t drink, they don’t smoke, and they’re not exactly party animals.  They’re two good ‘ol boys from North Carolina raised on good family values, elbow grease, and dedication to their craft.  But the story of how they got to show this side of themselves is just as interesting. 

It was a weekend in November 2010 where an injury shuffled the next night’s card and gave the Bravados an opportunity that they turned into gold.  The Mississauga, Ontario show was meant to be the latest in ROH’s tradition of “Night of Champions” shows, but then-ROH Television Champion Eddie Edwards got hurt the prior night and forced a marquee match (against Canadian ROH star El Generico) to be changed, along with a few other bouts.  The Bravados were added to the show, put against fellow babyface tag team Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole, as a rematch to a bout taped for the televised ROH on HDNet.  The match in Philly was deemed good enough that they could get an extended version on this main show.  However, without any sort of guidance, the crowd quickly decided that the Bravados were no longer a team worthy of their cheers, and the Bravados in kind decided that the fans were no longer worthy of their appreciation.  That is, to say, they reacted to the live crowd, and heeled out on the fly.  The whole thing was very ballsy on their part (there was no decision beforehand that they would be turning heel) but as any good wrestler is told, you’re taught to go with the crowd in most situations.  When they nervously went to the back, tension was quickly relieved, as it was well received by the powers-that-be, and the wheels of the bandwagon were put into motion. 

A few weeks later, ROH hit the road again for TV tapings with HDNet, this time in Louisville, KY — the first time doing so outside of Philadelphia.  With help from producer Dave Lagana, the world was introduced to the new Bravados with a tremendous video: 

Two wholesome images are in this video that I just love.  One is the Step Brothers-esque Sears portait studio image of the two, one behind the other, and the second is the Family Feud-style knitting pattern that displays their name.  These references seem to be meant for both comedy and disdain by a post-90s hardcore wrestling fan that ROH markets towards. 

As mentioned in the video, this newly-inspired tandem got to tangle with Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, who they referred to as “Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team…umm, from eight years ago…” which was a GREAT subtle statement that gives a huge impression of what this heel gimmick is about.  As said earlier, they’re about lots of “good, moral qualities” that don’t exactly garner support of wrestling fans past the Attitude Era.  But these values are something the Bravado characters are proud of, and it’s what makes them feel they are “better than you” or any other team.  The video was a great introduction piece, and the Bravados have since further capitalized on this rebirth by transitioning their image from the video to their in-ring act, now sporting hot pink argyle trunks and kickpads! 

The Grandma thing, by the way, is pretty legit, as mentioned at about 40 seconds in on this short video produced by Pro Wrestling Respect: 

The way they use the idea of their Grandma in their work has been great, too.  In Dayton, they took a verbal beatdown from Steve Corino, but as soon as he mentioned their Grandmother, Corino got a slap across the mouth!  Then in Plymouth, MA, a fan said something derogaory about her, and they yelled back, “That’s it!  You’re OFF the bandwagon!”  We can only hope this continues and one day leads to Grandma Bravado versus Papa Briscoe! 

Going back further, it seemed that the Bravado Bandwagon may never even get on the tracks.  Lance and Harlem moved closer to Philadelphia in October of 2008 to begin their training at the ROH Academy.  If that month-and-year combo strikes a note in the back of your head, there’s a reason:  that’s the month longtime ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky was fired by the promotion.  Not sure what that would mean for themselves or the company, the Bravados trekked on, continuing their training.  I’d been lucky enough to work for ROH in the Midwest for most shows since that time period (cities like Detroit, Dayton, Chicago Ridge, Mississauga, and the St. Louis area) and I constantly saw both Bravados at the events.  You can pretty much look back on any old ROH DVD since they joined the school and find them in some capacity, pulling apart brawls or running spotlights.  The Bravados definitely paid their dues to get noticed. 

They’ve done plenty of pre-show matches, but it wasn’t until early 2010 that they got a chance to wrestle on main shows.  Luckily enough, their opponents were the soon-to-be ROH World Tag Team Champions the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli), who they first wrestled on TV tapings. 

The team showed enough promise that a rematch was made for ROH’s 8th Anniversary Show in NYC.  That Summer, the Bravados got another nice break as they were not only put into a tournament to determine the top contenders for the ROH World Tag Team Championships, but they also got a win over the Super Smash Bros. in the first round.  It was rightfully viewed as an upset, but it was a great way show of faith by the company that their students could be successes. 

Here are a few quick bullet point “What You Should Know” bits on the Bravado Brothers — the ROH Academy’s first established tag team:
* They both have Twitter accounts, which reveal that Lance’s full name is Lancelot (@LancelotBravado & @HarlemBravado)
* Due to growing up in North Carolina, they are big fans of the Tarheels.
* They are NOT twins, despite beliefs of certain veterans on the ROH roster.
* They once wrestled each other at a seminar in North Carolina conducted by John Laurinaitis (Vice President of Talent Relations for the WWE).  They impressed and were invited to RAW, but had left all their good clothes in Philadelphia!  So they bought suits from Goodwill & got spray tans before the show.  It paid off nicely because they got to wrestle the Usos in front of Laurinaitis, the agents, and a bunch of WWE regulars, and almost got to do the match in front of a live crowd, until rewrites came down and they were cut for time.  You missed the bandwagon, WWE!
* They will debut for IWC in Franklin, PA on Saturday, April 16th against ICW Tag Team Champions Facade & Jason Gory.
Since you may be asking…this one is Lance, and this one is Harlem.
The Bravado Brothers are available for bookings via bravadobrothers@yahoo.com, and they have a fan page on Facebook that you should definitely “LIKE”!
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(Note from Tom: Once again, big thanks to Michael Z and please go to his website Wrestling You Should Know to check out more great profiles and articles like this one. Also, I wanted to thank Alan Counihan, Ben Pasco, Nick Maniwa and Rob Naylor for giving their picks for the class and writing great introductory pieces for their wrestlers. This has been an awesome project for the website and we hope we’ve helped light you (the reader) discover guys who you might have the pleasure of following for decades to come.  From the bottom of my heart, I humbly thank the writers, the wrestlers who have been so gracious enough as to publicly give credence to the concept and their articles, and most of all: you guys for reading. Come back Monday to the site; we’ll have something awesome for you then.)

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