Don’t Hate On Dixie Carter

By Phil Varlese

Over the past few months, TNA “owner” Dixie Carter has slowly (well, not so slowly) changed the roster of TNA.  Gone are Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, D-Von, and much of the part of the roster that has drained the company financially for so long.

They have been replaced with the likes of Sam Shaw, Zema Ion, Manik, and a few others, including Hassan Hamin Assad, aka Alvin Burke Jr., aka MVP, who is currently there on a handshake.  According to the storyline, MVP was responsible for signing The Wolves (Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards).  Most fans will claim that these cost cutting measures are very similar to those that were executed by one Paul Heyman in ECW, right before it closed shop in 2001.

It easy to make that comparison simply because both companies replaced higher priced talent, but part of the difference is that some of the stars of ECW went on to bigger (higher $$ contracts).  I’m not completely sold on what took place in TNA, but I think their cost cutting measures has been better planned than Heyman.

In fact, I think the talent that has replaced the “stars” of TNA are actually an improvement for the brand.  The signing of Richards & Edwards, and the recent announcement of Santana Garrett’s signing to me means that TNA is attempting to return to what it was trying to be when it first started, which is to give up and coming performers a chance to shine on another nationally televised product.

Of course, some of that may come out of necessity, with the budgets being cut.  As a former promoter, I can tell you that when you have a passion for the wrestling business, and your finances don’t allow you to put on the shows that you wished you could afford, you create those same shows with talent you CAN afford.  To me, this is exactly what Carter is doing.  While we’re unaware of how Panda Energy (the largest shareholder in TNA Entertainment) figures into the budgetary constraints, it can be assumed that Dixie Carter is simply spending the money more wisely these days.

Some of you will disagree, especially those in the business who feel that Carter is taking advantage in not only a soft economy, but a downturn in general wrestling viewership to hire workers and basically (with a few exceptions) pay them per diem as used.  While this is a far cry from the contracts offered by the WWE, it’s still the next best thing for wrestling talent that are attempting to get more exposure.  What better way than to get a spot on national tv?

That’s not to say that all is good in Impact!Land.  According to PW Insider, a trial date of March 31, 2014 has been set in the pending lawsuit between TNA Wrestling and Scott Steiner, one of its former stars.

The trial stems from TNA suing Steiner back in 2012 for defamation of character, following numerous Twitter rants by Steiner directed at Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Brooke Hogan and other TNA personalities. TNA also claimed that Steiner was in breach of his TNA contract.  Steiner then counter-sued TNA in September of 2012 for breach of contract.

Additonally, a case of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was settled, as the two parties came to an agreement.  No additional details have been released (including by me, though I know the details, but not at liberty to share them at this time).  Older lawsuits, including those filed by Shannon Spruill (aka Daffney), and the infamous TNA vs. WWE suit have been put behind them.

If I had to find one thing wrong, it would be with Dixie trying to bury the talent that is leaving, or has left the company.  While it may be personal, it shouldn’t come out on camera, or in the media.

I believe they’re moving forward with a clean slate, and while that slate is a bit smaller (in terms of budget), Carter is doing nothing different than most wrestling promoters would do in an effort to remain significant.   I believe that’s exactly what she’s doing, and with the talent that she’s using, Impact Wrestling has a good chance to not only remain significant, but become a more viable alternative to WWE programming.

After all, isn’t that what they wanted to be almost 10 years ago, when they began to broadcast on Fox Sports Net (FSN)?

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According to PWInsider.com, a trial date of March 31st, 2014, has been set in the pending lawsuit between TNA Wrestling and former TNA star Scott Steiner. A pre-trial meeting will take place on March 14th, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read more at http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2013/0829/565247/scott-steiner-tna-lawsuit-update/#5e7qwtAZFFgpg8t9.99
According to PWInsider.com, a trial date of March 31st, 2014, has been set in the pending lawsuit between TNA Wrestling and former TNA star Scott Steiner. A pre-trial meeting will take place on March 14th, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read more at http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2013/0829/565247/scott-steiner-tna-lawsuit-update/#5e7qwtAZFFgpg8t9.99
According to PWInsider.com, a trial date of March 31st, 2014, has been set in the pending lawsuit between TNA Wrestling and former TNA star Scott Steiner. A pre-trial meeting will take place on March 14th, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Read more at http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2013/0829/565247/scott-steiner-tna-lawsuit-update/#5e7qwtAZFFgpg8t9.99

Someone Save Indy Wrestling (But not me….)

By Phil Varlese

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If you’re in the business, you aren’t going to like this blog.

Most of you who know me are aware that I haven’t promoted a show with Coastal Pro Wrestling since July of 2012.  A lot of that had to do with my time being accounted for by taking care of my dad, who ultimately passed away on August 15th of this year.  After he passed, I decided to take some time off from promoting, and taking a realistic look at what I was doing with Coastal.

Coastal Pro Wrestling started in 2010 with lots of aspirations.  My then partners (the legendary referee Fred Richards/Rubenstein and ECW original “Iron Man” Tommy Cairo) had plans to take Coastal to the same levels we’d done in the past, like we’d done with the Outlaws of Wrestling and the original Force One promotion.

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(our first show poster)

Fast forward 3 years, and none of what we’d planned happened.  Without being specific, by the end of 2012, we’d withdrawn from the National Wrestling Alliance, Cairo splintered from the promotion to start a new group called Global 1, and Fred was spending more time in Florida working with Howard Brody’s Ring Warriors promotion.  That left me to try to steer the Coastal ship.

Enter John (Johnny Calzone) Short and Jon Dahmer.  Calzone was in Force One promotion as a student when I was there, and had come a long way over a short period of time, ultimately taking over what was a dying promotion after Cairo & others had essentially abandoned it due to personal issues, and Calzone brought F1 back to prominence by retaining the most talented workers from the original Force One, but integrating them with some of the best talents on the indy circuit today.  Dahmer, a veteran of the business, was the booker at CZW when CZW was at its peak, and was responsible for much of its success with his creative booking & story lines.  The 3 of us sat down and had a meeting of the minds, and I believe we all left with what we thought was a solid game plan to make an impact on South Jersey/Philadelphia wrestling.  Everyone who followed the indy circuit in the years prior knew that there was some legit heat between the old Force One regime and Calzone’s new F1 group.  What better way of generating interest than to use that heat (even though it had long died down between most of us, the fans were unaware of that) to start a war between Coastal and Calzone’s guys.

The 4ce was born, and the fragment group of Calzone, Dahmer, Ryan Slater and Alex Payne were to become our version of the NWO.  Our first show with the new group was held at the Rollway Skating Rink in Hammonton, NJ.  Both versions of Force One (F1) ran there with great success, with crowds of several hundred people buying tickets to see what we offered.  Coastal had yet to run in that territory, so we alluded to the “Coastal Tidal Wave” crashing into Hammonton, and Calzone & his group quietly countered that it was us who were actually invading their turf.  At any rate, our first show drew about 160 paid.  Not bad, considering most of our posters & signs had been removed, either by the town, or other promoters who thought we were too close for comfort.  We used Pancoast Productions to tape & edit our show, fresh off the termination of his agreement with CZW to do the same.  Michael did an incredible job building the set, and generating the graphics that we felt would allow us to present our product in an effort to get some sort of regional TV deal.  Obviously that kind of production involves considerable expense, but we thought it would be worth it, since we could likely recoup most of the cost of that via DVD sales.  My old Wrestling Guys partner John House provided a lot of solid advise during that time.

The second show in Hammonton didn’t do as well, drawing less than 120, despite putting more time (and money) into advertising.  We were perplexed.  We felt like the invasion angle was viable enough to generate interest with the former F1 fans.  We KNEW the production quality from Pancoast was incredible.  We looked at our roster.  We had solid workers who were coming in from all over, from Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York and points beyond.  We were confident in their talents generally, and even though there were some stumbles along the way, the 2 shows we’d run in Hammonton provided good content that we could build from.

Hammonton unfortunately wouldn’t be the venue for the next show, which we scheduled for July of 2013.  We thought that it would be wise to try to hit areas where wrestling seemed a bit more successful.  The Deptford/Bellmawr area is where we focused our efforts.  Dahmer had done a good job scoping out buildings, and we decided that an indoor baseball complex called Sportz Central would be the best venue for our next show.  Same work promoting, same advertising budget (again, including a larger cable advertising budget) and a new location should bring different results, especially since we had a charity group working with us who’d receive a percentage of the gate.

It did bring different results…..it was a disaster.  Granted, there were situations that were out of our control.  It was one of the hottest days of the year, and we also had severe thundershowers (at one point, we lost power in the building).  It was unbearably hot inside.  It affected some of the workers, and several were hurt as a result.  Tempers flared, one of the matches went shoot at one point.  It was ugly.

That was my last show for 2013.  My father passed away a month later.

Over the past couple of months I’ve taken the time to look at the state of independent pro wrestling, not only in the state of NJ, but all over.  I also looked at what we’d done as promoters over the past 3 years to see if we’d done something wrong, or if the business had simply passed me by.  I’ve concluded it’s both, though the percentages vary.

Let’s face it, the indy wrestling business is, and has been, in a bad way.  Fewer “fans” are attending indy show.  Promoters inflate their numbers as an ego move, but we all know if you report 250, more than likely you drew 75.  Now, while that’s not true for all promotions (I heard this morning that the Extreme Rising Show drew close to 1000 fans), the fact remains that as a promoter, you can’t make money drawing 60-75 people unless you’re not paying for the building/ring/insurance/advertising/workers, or a combination of such.  For Coastal, an average show cost us just under $3,000, including production, and when 75 people show up at $10 a ticket we lose…..well, you do the math.

So why are 60-75 showing up when just several years ago you could draw several hundred?  Lots of reasons (though some will call them excuses).  They include.
1.  Poor economy
2.  The rise of MMA as a more viable entertainment option
3.  The way the WWE does business
4.  The amount of indy promotions “in” the business, as well as their quality, or lack of
5.  The lack of capital to invest long term into most promotions

The first reason is out of everyone’s control.  The economy is what it is, and only the economists can guess when our economy will get back on track (or IF it will).

Back in 1999, John House and I hosted a Wrestling Guys show, and our guest that night was Dana White of the newly purchased (by Zuffa Group) Ultimate Fighting Championship.  While he gave us a great interview on air, it was what he said OFF air that has remained with me to this day.  White told us 14 years ago that his plan was to take the market that was watching kayfabe wrestling, and turn them all into MMA fans.  For the most part he’s done just that, as the more mature fan who was watching the WWE back then is now forking over $40-$50 for their UFC PPV, and has forgotten about wrestling, while wrestling fans today are comprised of 1. Fans of more extreme wrestling, 2. Kids, and 3. People who live in the past days of wrestling’s glory, and come to see a more nostalgic wrestling show.  What I’m saying is that the pie known as wrestling fans has shrunk.

A lot of that is the fault of the WWE, in my opinion.  Vince McMahon has changed the way we watch wrestling today.  I grew up in the 60’s.  Watching wrestling as a kid, I used to love to see Bruno Sammartino on TV, but it didn’t happen very often, as the champion was kept off TV except to cut an occasional promo, or work a match that could be interrupted by the #1 contender.  That would sell tickets for the “House” show.  That formula worked for many years.  What has trended (led by the WWE) is to get your champ all over TV in an effort to sell the PPV, which can take place anywhere, if one wants to pay the $40-$50 for the event.  We have become an audience that is conditioned into thinking the payoff takes place only on a PPV, and there’s no longer a sense of urgency to ATTEND live events.  Of course, with the rise of the internet, results are up almost immediately, again reinforcing that you don’t have to pay anyone money to know what happened.

Our little promotion was in South Jersey.  Within a 40 mile radius, I counted 22 promotions that also run (even if only occasionally).  Obviously the state of NJ doesn’t exercise licensing regulations for wrestling promotions.  Over the past couple of years, promoters from the surrounding states (NY & PA) have all started to target the NJ market to run shows, since their state have strict (make that COSTLY) regulation.  Why run in PA or NY, where you have to pay the commission, pay a doctor to be in attendance, be under the scrutiny of the state to report your gate, when you can come to Jersey and avoid all of that?  There’s an incredible saturation of product in Jersey.  Not all of it is of quality.  There are a ton of promoters who use ticket sellers, backyarders, and untrained “workers” to cut costs on their shows.  If you’re a fan, with all of these promotions running, it becomes difficult to sort through all of them to find out who’s good, and who isn’t, so they end up not bothering with any of them.  Recently I was offered a venue where several promotions have run in the past and turned down the building, despite the fact that the price was reasonable.  Why?  Because 2 other promotions who aren’t very good ran in the building and killed any chance I would have of coming in and running a $ucce$$ful show.

This leads to my last point.  Capitalization.  Most promoters have some sort of capital to invest in shows, be it their own, or via a money mark.  You can’t survive without it, as it provides the seed money for the next show you run.  It’s not limited, and the smart promoter will sit down and put together a budget that includes talent, ring rental (if needed), insurance, promotion, tickets, and any other costs.  If you don’t have enough money to do that, the odds are stacked against you having a successful show, since you’d have to spend less in one of those areas.  Go ahead & advertise less, and see what that does.  Same with talent. Fans want to see certain guys on your card, and if they aren’t there, they won’t come.  So you have to hire guys that are bankable, and they cost money.  When all of these things you’ve budgeted for don’t come together, you lose money, and your scratch capital for your next show shrinks.   A few months ago another promoter approached us about “partnering up”, meaning that he’d contribute equally to the cost of my shows, and we’d contribute equally to the cost of his.  The problem was, in looking at his costs, they were almost 3 times the cost of our shows, and we could run 2 more of our shows with what we’d be contributing to his.  It was a no brainer for me, and he was turned down.  I believe he’s gone into partnership with others now, and I’d wish him luck, but he got pissed off that I did the math and decided to hang on to my money.

These things are what ALL promoters face these days, not just me.  My decision to not play the game for now isn’t because I don’t love the business….anyone who knows me knows how I feel.  For me however, I don’t need to throw money into a bonfire just so I can say that I’m in the wrestling business.  I’m not bitter, I’m fiscally responsible, and I won’t jump back into promoting until one, or a combination of the following changes occur:
1.  Bad promotions close their doors for good (maybe via state regulation)
2.  Venues become more realistically priced.
3.  Untrained/backyard workers remove themselves from the business, or get removed.
4.  Promoters stop trying to be the next Vince McMahon & begin to pool resources to save money.
5.  WWE /TNA return to a mentality of pushing house shows, putting local indy talent on those shows, and allowing their stars to work the indies

Look, I’m well aware that there are promotions that seem to be defying the odds.  I was happy to hear of the success of the recent Extreme Rising show in Philadelphia.  Same is true with FWE in NY.  I also give props to smaller promotions like Warriors of Wrestling in Jersey, and Victory Pro Wrestling, who have a group of really talented guys who pool their resources to make their promotions successful and have done so for several years.  There are others, but the purpose of the blog today was to discuss where indy wrestling is today, at least from where I’m sitting……which is on the sidelines, and where I plan on being until something fantastic is presented to me, or until my soul begins to burn to jump back in.

And for my friends & readers who are in fact wrestling fans, don’t support indy wrestling as you know it today.  Take the time to find out which promotions are giving you your money’s worth.  Put money in THEIR pockets, so they can continue to bring you the product you feel you deserve.  YOU have the final vote, since promotions with no money coming in can’t continue to promote forever.

Happy 2014…..
indy

Austin Rhodes!

Austin

Known as the “Texas Legacy”  Austin Rhodes is a member of one of the most notable families in pro wrestling.  In fact, he is the nephew of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.

He’s quite a worker in his own right, but he’s also the promoter of Velocity Pro Wrestling.  Last October, The National Wrestling Alliance announced that Velocity had become a licensee of the NWA.  After running several successful shows, in late February of 2013, the NWA contacted Austin to advise that they were rescinding his license to run as a NWA promotion.

In this interview, Austin discusses why he thinks this decision was made, his reaction to it, and where both he and Velocity plan on going from this point on.   We apologize in advance for the breakdown in sound at Austin’s end, as our recording hardware was not being cooperative during the interview.  It’s such a great interview however, that we know that you’ll just turn the sound up and listen to a man with lots of conviction who loves the business more than many others who pretend to.

And, if you’d like to find out more about Velocity Pro Wrestling, and their upcoming shows, visit their Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/VelocityProWrestling?fref=ts

 

DJ Hyde!!

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Fresh off of our interview with Blk Jeez, The Wrestling Guys were preparing to interview CZW promoter DJ Hyde, focusing on his recent trip to Japan.

Then the bombshell hit.  CZW issued the following press release:

CZWrestling.com – CZW is announcing that CZW, LLC and Pancoast Productions, Inc. have agreed to terminate their business relationship. Pancoast Productions, Inc. was the parent company of our preferred DVD and iPPV vendor, HybridEnt.TV. Pancoast Productions, Inc. and HybridEnt.TV should be contacted directly with questions regarding the status of orders made through them. This separation has caused CZW to cancel the ‘Ultraviolent Underground’ event scheduled for February 2, as this iPPV was to be streamed exclusively on HybridEnt.TV. According to CZW Vice President Maven Bentley, “CZW will miss the dedication brought to all projects by the Pancoast Productions, Inc. team and wish them well in their future ventures.” CZWrestling.com will continue to have vendors linked that carry CZW products so our loyal followers may continue to get their fix of ultraviolence. As CZW enters into its fourteenth anniversary on Saturday, February 9, many changes will be coming to the Combat Zone. Bentley added, “as we evolve into our next phase, we ensure fans our in ring action will remain LIKE NOTHING ELSE!.” All energies are focused on CZW ’14’, the fourteenth anniversary event, on Saturday, February 9, 2013, in a deadly doubleheader with Women Superstars Uncensored. WSU begins at 4 pm, CZW at 7:30 pm.

So, the focus of the interview became the recent news concerning the cancellation of the “Ultraviolent Underground” event, and why the long standing relationship between CZW and Hybrid EntTV was ending.  This is an epic interview not only for CZW fans, but for fans who want a better understanding of the behind the scenes part of the pro wrestling business.

Listen in NOW to our latest 30 Minute Radio Podcast!

Blk Jeez!

Rahad Cameron in TNA, Jared Wachtler in the WWE, formerly known as Sabian, Blk Jeez is a seasoned veteran whose resume is one that most wrestlers wish they could have.

In this interview with Wrestling Guys co-host John House, Blk Jeez discusses his career, his time at CZW & Chikara, his appearance working Ryback on RAW, right up to his most recent appearance (with Anthony Nese) in a tag team match on the “One Night Only” TNA pay per view.

Listen in to this great interview!

Tommy Taylor!!!

Tommy Taylor

Fresh off a weekend wrestling show that has created the phrase “Steelhorsing”, and made it one of the top trends worldwide on Twitter, one half of that match appeared on 30 Minute Radio with The Wrestling Guys.

John & Phil were lucky enough to spend some time with Tommy Taylor.  Tommy talks about his career and his time as a WWE developmental wrestler, but the bulk of the interview is spent discussing his match this past weekend in Sanford, Florida against NY born wrestler SteelHorse Vachon.  All the details of that evening are covered, including the atmosphere in the locker both before and after their match, exactly when things got out of hand, and the sequence of events after the match.

We even asked Tommy if he would consider a rematch against Vachon!

Ricky Reyes!

Reyes

In the latest 30 Minute Radio Podcast, The Wrestling Guys sit in with International star Ricky Reyes, to cover a variety of subjects, including his time as head trainer at the Victory Pro Wrestling School, working for the WWE on the RAW & Smackdown shows this past year, working Ryback, his upcoming NXT tryout, and his time as Junior Heavyweight Champion for Carlos Colon‘s WWC.  Ricky even gets a good laugh as John and Phil talk with him about “SteelHorsing”, and his own feelings about it.

Steve O’Neil of Extreme Rising!

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Steve O’Neil, part of the force behind the up and coming Extreme Rising promotion, sat down with John & Phil on 30 Minute Radio to discuss why they’ve had success resurrecting the Extreme brand while others have failed, how they’re attempting to get their exciting product on television (with help from the fans), and what it’s like working with 2 workers that have an EXTREME dislike for each other (Luke Hawx & Shane Douglas).

Steve also discusses their upcoming events in April (link to their website above), whether they’d consider bringing back Justin Credible after his rehab, and many other topics and other things going on in Extreme.

Help get EXTREME RISING on TV.  Click here to find out how!

 

In Your House With The Wrestling Guys!

While we’re still working to re-schedule our interview with former WWE Intercontinental Champion John Morrison, The Wrestling Guys sat down today to discuss some current pro wrestling topics, from the recent TNA Pay Per View, to The Shield, Adam Cole, and indy wrestling on television.  Some good discussion here, listen on the way to work, or at lunch on your smart phone!!

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“Pryme Tyme” Amy Lee!!

Amy Lee

One of the FIRST guests to appear on the original Wrestling Guys radio/internet show back in the mid 90’s was none other than “Pryme Tyme” Amy Lee, and she’s back on with John & Phil for this podcast for the first time in almost 11 years!

Amy’s career is legendary on the indy circuit.  She was the only person other than Missy Hyatt to manage the late Eddie Gilbert.  As a wrestler, she has held the following:  NWL Ladies Champ; Dangerous Women Of Wrestling Champ; Women Of Extreme Champ; NWS Ladies Champ; WSU Tag Champ (w/Taylor Wilde); 2009 WXW-C4 Empress of the Ring.  She has traveled the entire country, and has had successful matches against virtually every name in the business.  She retired recently, but has a VERY successful career outside of the pro wrestling business.

Amy spends time talking about her career, especially her time at Women’s Extreme Wrestling as well as WSU.  She comments on what’s gone on at WSU since the new owners have taken over, and about womens wrestling in general.  Then, near the end of the interview, she dropped a bombshell by announcing that she’s returning to the ring just ONE MORE TIME, and you’ll never guess against who??

Listen in, and find out on 30 Minute Radio, with The Wrestling Guys!

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