Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
INTERVIEW WITH ROLAND ALEXANDER
Editor's Note: For those of you not familiar with Roland Alexander and his APW wrestling promotion and school, Alexander is the developer of such current wrestling luminaries as Spike Dudley, Vic Grimes, Crash Holly, Blitzkrieg, Chris Daniels and many others. He is probably best known for his appearance in the wrestling documentary, "Beyond the Mat", where he was shown bringing two of his top wrestlers, Mike Modest and Tony Jones, to a WWF tryout. He (and I) feel that Mr. Alexander was not portrayed fairly in that film, but he has no regrets about his role, and he talks about that in this first installment of the interview.
Question: When you had the idea of doing a tournament with the biggest stars in US Indy-wrestling, did you ever expect the success this “King Of Indies” tournament had? And which King of Indies Tournament was your personal favorite?
Answer: When doing KING OF INDIES in the year 2000, my goal was to have it be so successful it would be on the level of a SUPER 8 tournament done by Jim Kettner on the East Coast. Of course, that is difficult because Jim has been doing a great job with SUPER 8 for so long. I felt responsible for the failure of our first tournament in 2000. That failure served as a challenge to make KING OF INDIES 2001 more successful. We decided to make an event out of KING OF INDIES. We decided on 16 wrestlers instead of 8. We decided on a two day tournament instead of doing it in one night. We added a 3rd day to the event for the fans and that was great. Most of the tournament wrestlers showed up a day early and worked out with each other and passed on knowledge to each other and many of the wrestlers walked away that weekend learning something from their fellow wrestlers. The fans got to see them get in the ring and workout. We then had our production team, led by Jason Deadrich who is in charge of our operations including our website and production, tape the wrestlers doing promos. This was very entertaining for the fans, wrestlers and all in attendance and gave us great footage to air on the big screen for the ring entrances during the tournament. Lastly, we invited some of the wrestling legends from Cauliflower Alley Club (www.caulifloweralleyclub.org) to attend KING OF INDIES weekend. We invited their president, Red Bastein and their Vice President, Nick Bockwinkle (former AWA Champion) and Dick Beyer (aka The Destroyer) along with California legends, Pepper Gomez and Kenji Shibuya. We thought that KING OF INDIES would attract attention and we attempted to encourage fans and wrestlers alike to sign up for Cauliflower Alley which is a great non-profit organization that does great things for former wrestlers. I encourage everyone to become a member and attend their annual banquet in Las Vegas. You won't regret it.
What transpired from 10/25 through 10/28 was unbelievable. The legends were impressed with the tournament and all the festivities surrounding the tournament. In my opinion, it was the greatest two day tournament you'll ever see in the U.S. I don't know if we'll ever be able to outdo ourselves. From the practice session, to the tournament, to the after party, to the job our production crew did, to our ring announcer, to the wrestlers busting their tails to the LEGENDS BAR-B-Q on Sunday, everything was a huge success. Just because it wasn't a financial success does not mean it was not a success. KING OF INDIES WAS a success!!! You had to be there to understand and appreciate what KING OF INDIES is all about.
Question: Michael Modest was one of your best graduates and a head trainer for a long time. In 2001 he went to Japan to tour with NOAH and he now has his own wrestling school with another top Boot Camp graduate, Donovan Morgan. Their school is located in California too. Do you see them as business competition or do you think it’s great to have another very good wrestling school?
Answer: I wish I could say they are not competition, but they are. I taught both of them quite a bit besides pro wrestling. I'd like to think I taught them a lot about business. Sometimes though, competition is healthy as long as it is good honest competition. It keeps you on your toes. There is no question their wrestling training will be top-notch. Will it be the best?? I don't think so. There is much more to pro wrestling training than just training individuals on the in-ring stuff. I believe the APW Boot Camp has the best wrestler in indy wrestling today, American Dragon, as our co-Head Instructor. He now understands the APW system of training and has incorporated his own stuff based on the knowledge he has received from his trainers, Shawn Michaels, Steven Regal, Tracy Smothers and Bobby Eaton, and he is only 21 years old. He has made a name for himself in the U.S. quicker than guys like Michael Modest and Christopher Daniels. The guy can flat-out wrestle and has a very good understanding of wrestling. That combined with co-Head trainer Robert Thompson, who knows the APW system and is a people's person, will continue to make us the leader in talent development. The APW BOOT CAMP is going through a new chapter and that is not something we have not done before. Funny thing, every time we go through a new chapter, we become even better than before. I am not just saying this out of anger, them leaving APW was the best thing that could happen to APW and has given us all a shot in the arm.
Question: After the King of Indies 2001, APW had no-shows and there were many rumors concerning APW and even you. Can you give us a comment on the current situation of All Pro Wrestling and the ownership of APW.
Answer: Rumors are hard to control. Of course, everyone had us dying. It is no different than an NBA team like the Los Angeles Lakers. They have always been a great team. The moment they went through some rough times, everyone said they were dead. Heck, they weren't dead, they were just rebuilding. They went from the Magic Johnson era which was pretty darn good to the Kobe Bryant, Shaq era which could be better than ever but they had to go through some tough times in the rebuilding process. We have done the same. I wasn't going to allow one wrestler who was discontent because he was not the best wrestler in the tournament to change the way our company is run. I feel that the change was the best thing that could happen to APW. We are back to averaging 5 student sign-ups every month with Robert Thompson handling our Boot Camp marketing. The other day, I took in a Boot Camp session being run by American Dragon, Robert Thompson and assistant instructor, Jardi Frantz the other night and it was tremendous. There were many people throwing up and paying their dues at the start of this new camp but I saw something I had never seen. I saw passion. I saw trainers really caring. I didn't see people doing a job just for the money. I didn't see trainers hoping that the students would just drop out. I saw our trainers encouraging the students. For the last 2 years, our camp began to have lots of negativity and it was not healthy. Heck, we only produced Miyaki Frantz and Dalip Singh over the last couple of years. That was just not tolerable with the reputation we had gained as the leader in talent development. There is no question our training was suffering and began to suffer even more the moment Donovan Morgan began touring Japan regularly. We had already discussed with Donovan bringing in a new Head Trainer and having him oversee this trainer so he knew we were searching for a replacement. The interview process was simple. With King of Indies in town, I had 15 other wrestlers to choose from to interview for the position.
Our company is growing, we now have a career management division. We began training females as well at the end of last year. We have already had success with that and sent Melissa to Japan to tour and train with Arsion. We have developing a strong relationship with Arsion in Japan. The results of this has us training more females than ever before. We are currently training 4 females and 38 males. We intended on going through a major ownership change at the beginning of the year but it has taken longer than we originally planned. I am hoping by the beginning of the year, APW will have its biggest opportunity to grow.
To be continued...
Are you a reader of the Crossface Report?
I hope you are, because the Report is a great example of an idea that works...a 'Point/Counterpoint' wrestling column that let's you decide what you think after hearing my brother and I discuss the happenings in the WWE.....
...The WWE.....Well, that's not all of wrestling, is it?
Well......in a pragmatic sense...it is. I believe that the NWA/TWA idea is doomed to failure...not because of the originality of the idea, but because of the lagging interest in wrestling in general, and the impractical way the good Mr. Jarrett went after this idea.
Mike and I discussed this in the Report a couple weeks ago. The last time I read the buy-estimate for the NWA/TNA shows, it was around 50,000. Let's double that....let's say that the real amount of buys is double what I have been hearing. If that is the case, then there have been 100,000 households watching the NWA shows.
It sounds like a lot. 100,000 people buying the shows, paying $9.95 a pop...that would equal $995,000 bucks a week. A million dollars...hmmm...Dr. Evil would be pretty happy with that, wouldn't he?
Except he would have to pay all his wrestlers, his staff, rental on the arena, and for any expenditures not mentioned here. Oops....he doesn't get that whole amount, either...there is probably 30% that goes off into the PPV distributors, and another 20% or so that is taxed out of existence. So, we are left with $450,000 bucks a week in NWA revenue, not including takes at the shows, to pay for everything.
Add to that the following....why would I want to spend $10 a week to see this when I can get it twice a week....for free? Call me cheap, but I think that I can be satisfied with the WWE's offering (known and respected workers, nice production, improving storylines) and keep my Alexander Hamilton in my pocket, rather than dropping it on the NWA product, with five or six popular workers and storylines that are unknown to me.
And...I'm not alone in this opinion. Raw generated a 5.0 hour last week....that rating translates into about 5,100,000 homes. If we take the estimate of 100,000 viewers that we used earlier, we get a rating of 0.095...or, out of every 20,000 homes, 19 are watching the NWA.
Or, to make it more recognizable.....when TNA is on in Columbus, Ohio (my home town), there are about 310 households watching it. Or, the total amount of homes on my street alone, plus a third or those on the street next to mine. To compare, when RAW is on, there are around 16000 households tuned in. that is a heck of a difference. Fifty to one.
That is real revenue....the money that comes in from advertising, sponsors, and the like. The WWE can command commercial revenue, while the NWA is forced, in an economic sense, to ask for direct payment for services. They aren't sponsored, so to speak. Their ratings dictate that they are not a viable commercial investment, while the WWE's ratings say that a large enough audience will be exposed to the products featured to justify production costs of a commercial, and the money spent for airing it during the WWE television offering. This is an unavoidable aspect of the NWA's situation, and the main reason they are in the situation they are in.
Now...if they landed a Steve Austin, or a high-end WWE star, they might get close enough to the magic number of viewers (I would guess that number is somewhere between 10 and 20 times their current audience) that sponsors would start to think that there was a money-making opportunity. However, unless the WWE completely collapses (that is unlikely), it will still command the bigger audience, the bigger stars, and the vast, vast majority of the broadcast revenue. The NWA is being out-competed, in economies of scale. It is a vicious circle, and, at this point, it is insurmountable.
So, I DON'T report the show-by show offerings on the Report....no matter their scope. I will jump in and discuss the NWA as a fed, their status, and their attempts to get onto a network (their only hope at this point), but there is no real reason to talk at length about their product...they are not yet a viable option in the professional wrestling industry.
OK.....go figure. Even if you are a big mark for the NWA, I ask you still come to bodyslam.cc for the latest in news, rumors, and results, as well as the columns that I am so proud of. And, of course, the best site on the Web...Solie's Vintage Wrestling.
See you next week for another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
SmackDown! was taped on Tuesday at the Conseco Fieldhouse in my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana and opened with a match pitting the two ex-Olympians, Kurt Angle and Mark Henry. This match was unfortunately cut short by the arrival of "The Next Big Thing", who snatched up Mark Henry over his shoulder and delivered an F5 for no apparent reason. Backstage, after the DQ, Angle caught up with Lesnar, who told him that his days as the top guy on SmackDown! are over.
Backstage, Stephanie was trying to decide what to do with the suddenly unemployed Stacy Keibler when she received a delivery of flowers from...Eric Bischoff, whose card said he would be there tonight.
Va Venis took on Reverend Devon and defeated him in a one on one match, despite the presence at ringside of Deacon Batista, who was balanced (somewhat) by Val's tag partner, Hardcore Holly. After the match, Batista destroyed both of them.
After the match, Stacy, who seems to have found a spot as Stephanie's assistant, was briefing security men about threat posed by the imminent arrival of Bischoff, when she noticed Edge kind of skulking out the back door. She immediately called Steph on her cell phone to tell her that Bischoff may have snagged Edge. How she came to that conclusion is beyond me...
After the break, Edge was being detained by security. Stephanie hurried up and dismissed the troops then questioned Edge about his intentions. he assured her that he had no intentions of leaving, that he thinks Stephanie's vision for SmackDown! "...is going to rock! Then he took her into the production truck and had them put on a video showing a clock counting down to the end of the program, during which time he told her he is going to get Chris Jericho on a cage and kick his butt. Stephanie told the tech to go ahead and leave the clock on the screen.
In a backstage segment, Kurt Angle was heard talking to someone named "Eric" on the phone...
Rikishi was up next, wearing his new shirt that reads, "Back Dat Ass Up!" His opponent for this match was big Albert, who faced someone who could match him in size the for the first time in quite a while. He seemed to have a pretty easy time of it in the early going, but then he rushed into the corner a little to quick and turned things around on his self. Moments later, Rikishi caught him sitting in the corner and Stink Faced him, then put him down again and dropped the Rikishi Bomb to take the pin.
Stephanie, after talking to interviewer, Mark Loyd, called Kurt Angle and left a message on his voice mail, asking him to please hear her out before making any decisions regarding switching brands.
The Canadian Whiners put their Tag Team Titles on the line against the Rock and Hulk Hogan in the next match. For the second time tonight, the Next Big Jerk came out and ruined a good match. Who does he think he is? Sid?
Backstage, John Cena was talking some trash about his opponent for later, Test, when the man himself walked up and slapped the taste out of his mouth. In another part of the building, Stephanie found Chris Jericho and inquired about whether or not he was happy on SmackDown! Chris told her that he is, and he's looking forward to taking on Edge in the cage later.
Next up, the debut of Rey Misterio vs. Chavo Guerrero (both seem to have dropped the "Jr." part...) Close-ups of Rey show that he seems to be wearing some kind of albino contact lenses. His eyes look white. This was a very competitive match. Chavo can go with the best of them, and Misterio is...well...Misterio. In fact, Rey was unusually grounded in this match due to Chavo's very sound strategy of working on his opponent's ribs. None the less, in the end, Misterio pulled of a springboard Frankensteiner and a bridge to take the pin.
Test ran into Rey Misterio backstage and decided to attack him...he invited him to "...go back to kindergarten."
Test then went to the ring to face rookie sensation, John Cena. Test met his opponent coming in and grabbed the early advantage, then made the mistake of shoving out of the ring. he turned for a moment to bully the referee and then turned back right into Cena's drop kick. It took him a few moments to turn the tables back. The match went into see-saw mode at that point. test had to go for his pump-handle slam twice before he succeeded - but the rookie kicked out! In fact, moments later he rolled Test up and by driving with his legs, managed to keep his shoulders to the mat for a three count. Test took out his ire on the youngster after the match...when it was too late to impress anyone.
Backstage, Stephanie was still trying to reach Angle. She got his voice mail again, and left another message, telling him thsat whatever he decided to do, he owed it to her to come back to the arena and tell her too her face.
Chris jericho would have liked to have brought that chair into the ring with him but the referee prevented it. While Jericho was occupied, Edge came out of the cage and started beating on him before the match could even get underway. The fight moved inside where Jericho soon took control of things. Eventually, Edge turned the tables and got in some licks of his own. Edge eventually won it, but then all hell roke loose. The Canadian Whiners ran down and attacked Edge. They tossed him back into the cage and started pummeling him. John Cena ran down to help Edge but was overwhelmed immediately. The Rey Misterio ran down and scaled the cage wall, hitting Test from on high, then helping Cena and Edge to drive the bad guys away.
Backstage, Stephanie was informed that Eric Bischoff was in the parking lot. She arrived out in the parking lot as Uncle Eric was getting ready to leave. he seemed to have someone in the car, but he wouldn't reveal who it was. It wasn't Kurt Angle though, because he showed up right after the limo pulled out. He had been talking to his brother "Eric" Angle, and the reason he left the builoding was to let off some steam after what Brock Lesnar did to him. That left Stephanie puzzling over just who it was in the limo with Bischoff. Hmmmm...
Raw came to us live from the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina (Horsemen Country) and the big question on everyone's minds is: Who was the person who defected to the RAW brand at the end of SmackDown! last week? Well, the answer will be upcoming, and apparently soon. Eric Bischoff came to the ring and immediately introduced his new guys...the Canadian Whiners...er...UnAmericans...whatever... This includes the Tag Team Champs. Christian and Lance Storm. They entered carrying the American flag...upside down. Storm launched right into a rant, running down American icons such as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and John Wayne, among others. Christian continued the theme, talking about American children being ignorant of their own history. Storm then took the mic back and extolled Eric Bischoff as being what "America is all about". This brought Shawn Michaels out to the platform to demand a match with Triple H. Bischoff responded that Helmsley wasn't there yet, but that he was sure Triple H would have something to say about it. Shawn said, "Find him and bring him to me, or I'll find him and drag what's left of him to you..." After that, he left, leaving Storm to try and finish up his speech to a bunch of people who weren't listening in the first place.
After the break, Bischoff was informed that there was a "lady" in a limo out back. He promised to "take care of this personally..." and told the message bearer to tell her to "sit tight".
Eddie Guerrero took on Booker T in the opening contest. Booker T dominated the opening exchanges but then fell prey to a big belly-to-back suplex that turned the tables for a while. Eddie went to work on what was apparently an already injured back. His drop kick to the lower back of his opponent really looked devastating. About six minutes into the match, Guerrero started working to remove the pad from one of the turnbuckle. Moments later he got slammed headfirst into the exposed buckle then Booker hit a scissors kick (that, in fact, missed altogether) and then took the pin.
Out back, Bischoff tore open the door of a limo out back of the arena to discover...Mae Young and Moolah!
Backstage, after the break, Michaels was searching for HHH. he found Booker T and Goldust. Booker reminded Shawn that he wasn't the only one who has been dissed by someone he thought was his friend.
Next up - Trish Stratus and her partner, Bubba Ray Dudley, took on Molly Holly and her partner, The Big Show. Molly's partner was supposed to be Willy Regal, but he couldn't make it because of an injury. TBS almost ended it all very quickly when he was tagged in and tried to drop an elbow on Trish. She escaped however and then tagged in her partner so that he could take the drubbing instead. Later, after Bubba was downed the giant out on the floor, he set up Molly so that Trish could hit Stratusfaction and take the pin. Big Show came back after the pin and set up a table in the ring. He was ready to put Trish through it when Bubba revived and cut him off with a chair shot to the kidneys.
Backstage, Ric Flair told Eric Bischoff that he would have a big announcement later.
Jeff hardy took on Bradshaw for the Hardcore Title and won using a ladder. But then he was attacked and pinned by Johnny the Bull, who was in turn attacked by Bradshaw, who was hit with a Singapore cane by Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer then pinned Johnny to take the title.
Chris Benoit challenged Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Title in the next match. Benoit seemed to have RVD pretty well scouted as he repeatedly beat his opponent to the punch and then went to work on his left shoulder. Van dam eventually turned it around but then missed the Five Star Frog Splash. In the next moment, Benoit slapped on the Crippler Crossface. Van dam got to the ropes, but he was pretty badly beaten at that point. Benoit grabbed the CC again, but Van Dam slipped out of it. Benoit then rolled him up and used the ropes for leverage to take the pin and the title.
After the break, Eric Bischoff introduced Moolah to plug her new book. Bischoff gave her three minutes to tell her story, but then he stood by and badgered her, while Mae Young kept cutting in. The Bischoff sent the Island Boyz out to beat up the old ladies! Bischoff called the duo, "Jamal" and "Rosie" but otherwise didn't identify them.
Is it just me, or does this "Slam Ball" look like a lawsuit waiting to happen? This kind of "competition" seems designed to create career ending injuries. What can these people be thinking of???
After the break, Mae Young, who was splashed off the top rope by one of the Island Boyz, was hauled off on a stretcher. Bischoff was in the ring, gloating over his power when the Undertaker showed up to disabuse him of that notion. He invited Bischoff to "snap your fingers" right now. Bischoff was back pedaling when Chris Nowinski showed up and demanded that Bischoff make UT apologize to him (Nowinski) for his actions last week. Bischoff tried to make a match on the spot, which caused Nowinski to start backing up. UT suddenly attacked and the match was on. Taker made minced meat out of the rookie...again. After the match, the Canadian Whiners came to the ring and ganged up on UT. They pounded him down and then tried to hit him with two "con-chair-tos", which, again, clearly missed him altogether...both times - but UT obligingly went down anyway...
Backstage, the Rock made a fool out of Coach...as usual. In this instance, Mavia teased him about his "special friendship" with a cow. The Rock also had some pithy things to say about Brock Lesnar and his opponent for tonight, Ric Flair, for whom he paid proper respect, saying the match would be a classic.
Triple H made his first appearance of the evening and headed to the ring. He called Shawn to the ring, telling him he doesn't solve his problems in parking lots. He claimed that having HBK be his manager was his (Hunter's) idea, and he was upset because Shawn couldn't bend a little to do that one thing for him. He chided Michaels for challenging himself to a match when he knows that his ring career is over. He offers one more time to make Michaels his manager. But, of course, he did it in such and insulting way that it seemed highly unlikely that it would happen. A stage manager summoned him to the parking lot area where he found a cut and bloody, unconscious Michaels, who appeared to have been run face first into a car window... After the break, Shawn was loaded into an ambulance. Bischoff was there and implied that Triple H had doine the deed. Hunter denied it.
The main event was the Rock vs. Ric Flair in a match requested by the great one. In is usual hyperbolic way, JR claimed that he had been waiting a lifetime for this match. Gosh, JR, the Rock has only been in the business for a few years... The Rock dominated the opening, but then Flair hit a series of arm-drags that caused Rocky to slip out to the floor to regroup. Later, in the ring again, Maivia ws bulled into the corner and subject to some of Flair's trademark chops. As in his match with Hulk Hogan a few months ago, Mivia played the heel role in this fight, which got the crowd on his opponent's side. Moments later, the Rock went for the People's Elbow - but Flair folied it then reversed it. Maivia avoided the figure four and slapped on a sharp shooter. Flair made it to the ropes and escaped, then turned around and went for the figure four again, and got it. Maivia had to crawl to the ropes and escape. After several more exchanges, in which the Rock continued to allow Flair to dominate him, he let Flair strut right into a Rock Bottom and ended the match. he shook Flair's hand and then left him alone in the ring to make his announcement. He was about to say something when Chris Jericho's music erupted and the Millennium Bug snuck up behind Flair and hit him with a chair!! Jericho then announced that he was now part of the RAW roster!
And so it goes...
At least that's the way I see it...
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