Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Remembering the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF)

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the first Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) event, taking place at the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Max Andrews and Joe Pedicino founded the GWF, and it's most remembered for being presented on ESPN on weekday afternoons in the 1990s. Being on ESPN was a huge opportunity for the promotion, as it enabled them to have a national audience from the very beginning. The GWF existed from 1991 to 1994, and it was on ESPN all three years. The GWF was the last pro-wrestling promotion to be in this fortunate position of being on ESPN regularly, as the sports channel began focusing on talk shows in the afternoon during the mid-1990s.

Wrestlers who were on the GWF roster and then later moved on to have successful careers in larger companies include Booker T, Stevie Ray, Jerry Lynn, Patriot, Raven (who wrestled in the GWF as, "Scott Anthony"),S ean Waltman (who wrestled in the GWF as, "Lightning Kid"), and John Bradshaw Layfield (who wrestled in the GWF as, "John Hawk"). Members of the original GWF announcing team moved on to bigger success as well- Boni Blackstone worked for WWE, Scott Hudson worked for WCW and WWE (as well as TNA), and Steve Prazak (who was, "Steven DeTruth" in the GWF) worked for ECW.

When the GWF first started, it had been believed that Joe Pedicino had a backer from Nigeria who was going to invest $10 million dollars into the company. This belief was false, and according to then-GWF Play-by-Play announcer Craig Johnson (Jon Horton) in a 2003 interview with me, this realization was just the beginning of proof that the GWF was not very financially stable. Add to this that reportedly the GWF's viewership was not very high, and it appears that was never destined to be a major player in the pro-wrestling industry, despite the fact that GWF management had ambitious plans that included eventually having events outside of the Sportatorum, having a new show on Pay Cable, and even having a Pay Per View on a US Navy Aircraft Carrier. But as Johnson told me in the interview, "There were a lot of fresh ideas, but no money to make them happen."

Nonetheless, the GWF gave initial national exposure to future superstars of the industry via ESPN, and the programs were entertaining. My favorite period of the GWF was in early-1992, when The Dark Patriot (Doug Gilbert) and Bruce Prichard were at the top of the mountain in the promotion, with The Dark Patriot holding the GWF North American Championship, and Prichard as his manager. I thought they had great chemistry together.

Along with managing the Dark Patriot, Bruce Prichard was working as a heel announcer, and also formed alliances with other heels in the GWF, including Scott Anthony and Barry Horowitz, who he managed while Horowitz was GWF Light Heavyweight Champion. So Prichard was one of the most prominent GWF heels during his time there.

My favorite GWF feud was Patriot vs. The Dark Patriot. It was unique and interesting- The Dark Patriot wore red & black and claimed to be from the dark side of America, making him the perfect foil to the patriotic red, white and blue-wearing Patriot. The Dark Patriot was an evil clone to the extent that while Patriot called his diving shoulder block finisher "Patriot Missile", The Dark Patriot used the same finisher, calling it "Scud Missile", named after the missile that was used by the Iraqi Army during the Gulf War that was taking place when he made his GWF debut. This feud was an example of how the GWF focused on storytelling, creating complex storylines with well-developed characters that could keep a viewer engaged. The GWF's focus on storytelling was one of the things that made it stand out from other wrestling promotions at the time. It helped to create a more immersive and engaging viewing experience for fans.

I also enjoyed the work of Mike Davis, who kept me laughing with his, "Maniac" gimmick. Davis began wrestling for the GWF in July 1991, and stayed with the promotion until it folded in September 1994, making him one wrestler who stayed with the GWF the longest.

The GWF was special, and I think WWE recognized this, being that WWE Libraries purchased GWF content in 2013. It's well worth watching, whether it's to see GWF action for the first time, or to relive the days when every weekday afternoon was pro-wrestling time, thanks to the GWF.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Future of Women's Wrestling in Japan

Women's wrestling has a long and rich history in Japan, and it is currently enjoying a period of renewed popularity. There are a number of factors that are contributing to this, including the rise of social media, the increasing visibility of women's wrestling in mainstream media, and the emergence of new and exciting talent.

One of the most promising developments for women's wrestling in Japan, as I discussed in a recent post, is the potential for a new major wrestling organization to be formed. This would provide a platform for top female wrestlers to showcase their skills and compete for championships on a larger scale. It would also help to raise the profile of women's wrestling in Japan and attract new fans.

Of course, there are also some challenges that women's wrestling in Japan faces. One of the biggest challenges is the perception that women's wrestling is not as "legitimate" as men's wrestling. This is a perception that has been slow to change, but it is starting to shift. As more and more people see the athleticism and skill of women wrestlers, this perception is starting to fade.

Another challenge that women's wrestling in Japan faces is the lack of opportunities for female wrestlers, not only in Japan's independent scene, but also outside of Japan. While many women wrestlers have achieved success in the United States and other countries, there are still many who are unable to break into the international market. These are problems that need to be addressed if women's wrestling in Japan is to reach its full potential.

Overall, the future of women's wrestling in Japan is bright. There are a number of factors that are contributing to the growth of the industry, and there is potential for a new major wrestling organization to be formed. However, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed. If these challenges are overcome, women's wrestling in Japan will become even more popular and successful in the years to come.

The reason I am optimistic about the future of women's wrestling in Japan is that the current crop of female wrestlers here are incredibly talented. They are skilled in the ring, charismatic, and know how to engage with fans. Meanwhile, social media has made women's wrestling more visible, which has allowed female wrestlers to connect with fans on a global scale. Also, there is a growing demand for women's wrestling from fans internationally. The popularity of the women's division of WWE evidences this.

I believe that a new major wrestling organization in Japan would help to take women's wrestling to the next level. This organization would need to be well-funded and well-promoted, but it would be a huge success. I believe that the industry is on the cusp of a breakthrough, and I am confident that women's wrestling will continue to grow in popularity in the years to come.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Remembering 3PW

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the final 3PW event. Two months after this day in 2005, the quickly rising independent wrestling promotion that was selling DVDs nationwide, closed its doors for good.

3PW was founded in 2002 by Jasmin St. Claire and Brian Heffron (former ECW and WWE star The Blue Meanie), and quickly gained a reputation for its hardcore style of wrestling that featured blood and weapons, but 3PW featured high-flying action as well. Many wrestlers who appeared in 3PW are very well-known in the industry today, such as AJ Styles, Chris Hero, and CM Punk.

Despite their financial struggles, 3PW was one of the most popular independent promotions in the Mid-Atlantic Region, drawing 700 fans to one of its 2004 events. In 2005, Mike Hawes became the General Manager of 3PW and tried to turn things around for 3PW financially. It was Hawes who brought me into 3PW, and I started doing a column for the promotion. I believed that 3PW had the potential to become much bigger than they already were and he was very open to my ideas. I pushed for many changes behind-the-scenes. I had encouraged management to improve the production quality of their DVDs, which led to them dealing with a different production company. I also believed that it was very important for 3PW to have a TV deal. Management had planned on waiting for its fan base to increase before getting TV for 3PW. I explained how getting TV for 3PW is what would increase its fan base, and Hawes then gave me the green light to find networks that were interested. Two networks were very interested, and I encouraged 3PW management to meet with them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Richard McDonald, who was the CEO of the company at the time (he joined 3PW at the same time that Hawes did) instead opted to shut 3PW down, due to losing interest. The final 3PW event was headlined by Justin Credible and Amish Roadkill, with Roadkill successfully defending the 3PW Heavyweight Championship.

That was not supposed to be 3PW's last day of wrestling action. The plan was for 3PW to go on a brief hiatus, while 3PW management decided on new business strategies. 3PW was doing well- along with national distribution deals for home video & DVD, it could get attendance figures of 400 that year, and had good business relations with Impact Wrestling, which enabled 3PW to bring in stars such Abyss and former NWA World Tag Team Champions America's Most Wanted. The plan was for 3PW to return that September, but it was not to be, due to 3PW's financial issues eventually becoming something that Richard McDonald was no longer willing to undertake.

A lesson that can be learned from 3PW's story is that even if a promotion is popular, and even if the morale of its employees is up, it can still go out of business. Up to that point, I had never been a part of promotion with a fan base as supportive as 3PW's. They took a dream that started in Philadelphia, and helped make it grow into a company that was recognized across the United States, and outside of the country as well. They stayed devoted to 3PW even when things seemed bleak. Perhaps if 3PW had been receiving some type of significant financial backing and the promotion had not been in a financial struggle, Richard McDonald would have felt motivated to keep 3PW active.

Nonetheless, 3PW left its mark on the wrestling world and I'm glad that I could be involved with 3PW. It was the biggest promotion that I had worked for on a regular basis up to that point, and working for 3PW put me in connection with the UK-based 1PW, who I worked as a columnist for. So my experience of working for 3PW was a positive one.

And 3PW would not have been possible without Brian Heffron. He saw the potential for a new promotion, and Heffron was willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. He was a key part of 3PW's success for three years, not only being co-founder of the promotion, but also continuing to be involved with 3PW up to its last day, through both good times and bad.

Will 3PW ever return? It seems unlikely, as everyone who was involved has gone their separate ways and moved on to other things. But the pro-wrestling industry has repeatedly shown that you should never say never.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Alex Shelley: A Look Back at an Archive Interview

In honor of Alex Shelley becoming the new Impact World Champion, I wanted to take a look back at an interview I did with him in 2004. At the time, Shelley was just starting to make a name for himself on the independent scene in promotions including ROH, CZW, and IWA MS, and also was wrestling for TNA (Impact Wrestling). Shelley was full of ambition and drive.

During the interview, Alex Shelley talked about his early career and his thoughts on the business. What stands out the most to me was when Shelley was asked what his long-term goal in the business was, Shelley's answered, "I want to become one of the best wrestlers in the world one day". Today, he now holds the Impact World Championship, a championship that says he indeed is what his goal was to be, one of the best wrestlers in the world.

I'm happy for Alex Shelley reaching his goal. Shelley was a TNA original who did not receive the attention that he earned in the early years of the company, a TNA X-Division Championship reign being his biggest accomplishment. Shelley, along with Chris Sabin, finally discovered a TNA niche for themselves in 2007, when they were united as The Motor City Machine Guns. Fans called them the best tag team in the industry and they eventually won the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Now, Alex Shelley has attained the biggest accomplishment of his career. It's an achievement that came after 21 years of dedication to his craft and hard work, which makes Shelley a role model for young wrestlers everywhere.

Thanks for reading! And I hope you enjoy the interview with Alex Shelley. In 2003, I began running my own website, World Wrestling Optimum, which consisted of news, articles, and interviews, including that one. My ebook, "Pro-Wrestling Interviews" contains interviews that I conducted for the website. You can check out my ebook on Amazon.

Archive Interview: Alex Shelley

(originally published 10/16/04)

Alex Shelley is currently employed by TNA, and is a member of their X Division. He will take part in the upcoming X Gauntlet at the November 7 Victory Road Pay-Per-View.

Q: How long have you been involved in the business?

A: I started training in September of 2001. I had my first match in March of 2002. So I guess I've been around the business for over three years now.

Q: Why did you enter the pro-wrestling industry?

A: Same reason most everyone else does. They watch it as a kid, fall in love with it, and feel the need to be a part of it. I really wanted to be a superhero, but this was the next best thing.

Q: Where did you receive your training to become a pro-wrestler?

A: Originally, in Port Huron, MI by one of the most unqualified trainers in the business. But a few months later, I was trained in Livonia, MI by Truth Martini and Breyer Wellington at their wrestling schools, which were literally 5 minutes from each other. I started going to Windsor, Ontario to train with Scott D'amore, and later Joe E. Legend from there.

Q: What do you like the most about being in the business?

A: The actual wrestling. I much prefer working the mat with Doug Williams as opposed to staying up all night in an airport to catch a 7:10 flight, then pissing the whole next day away sleeping.

Q: How much attention do you pay to the pro-wrestling media and Internet pro-wrestling fans?

A: Tons, actually. I've always fully admitted to being a fan of wrestling. I enjoy learning more about it and reading up on what people think of different promotions.

Q: You are on the roster of two promotions that have a high risk style: Combat Zone Wrestling and IWA Mid-South. What is your opinion of the hardcore style?

A: I personally enjoy watching it. Those guys are gutsy. It's something I could never do myself, but I do give those who participate in it all the credit in the world for being able to do what they do, and entertain the fans in a different way.

Q: With each promotion that you work for, you perform in front of a different type of pro-wrestling fan. Which fans do you enjoy performing in front of the most: TNA, CZW, ROH, or IWA Mid-South fans?

A: They're different groups of fans. Honestly, all 4 of the promotions you mentioned have great fans, so I'll take the easy route, and not say I prefer any of them. They each have different good qualities. I'd say the biggest difference is the ROH and TNA fans. The TNA fans are straight up action junkies. The ROH fans really get into the really small intricate stuff, which is cool.

Q: You have done announcing for CZW and IWA-Mid South in the past. When you retire from the ring years from now, do you think announcing will be something that you will be doing more of?

A: I'd love to. Announcing's a lot of fun, and I really dig doing it at CZW. I don't get as much a chance at IWA shows, but it's fun there too. Still, it's something I think I'm decent at, and can add another dimension to my character.

Q: You are a big fan of British matwork. What is it about the style that appeals to you?

A: It's human chess, put simply. So many switches and counters. It's something different, and it goes hand in hand with lucha at the same time. Besides that, it's low impact, and can seriously prolong a career. Johnny Saint performed the same well into his older years because he didn't take tons of abuse. Why? He was awesome at British wrestling.

Q: Which persona appeals to you the most: Face, Heel, or Tweener?

A: Different personas have different advantages. I honestly prefer working face most of the time though.

Q: What is your gimmick?

A: Um. I...Dunno. Oh, wait. I'm a scummy garage rocker?

Q: Do you prefer wrestling in singles, or teaming with Abyss in TNA and fellow members of the GeNeXt faction in ROH?

A: Teaming with Abyss was different. I enjoyed working with him, but we've since split. I really dig teaming with GeNeXt. That's a lot of fun as well. But singles is where most people make their mark, and you can really tell some good stories with strong singles matches.

Q: Do you think that ROH has recovered yet from the blemish left by the Rob Feinstein controversy?

A: Yep. That was an unfortunate turn of events, but I feel ROH has just kept putting out great wrestling, which is really the most important thing. I was pretty confident they would anyway.

Q: Which do you feel has been your best match so far?

A: Wow, I dunno. I just had a 3 Way Dance with A.J. Styles and Chris Sabin at TNA that was one of my best matches ever. I'll say that, just because it's fresh in my mind, and everyone there seemed to really love it.

Q: Which has been your favorite match so far?

A: Hmmm. Honestly? Hair vs. Boot Hair. Just because it was never, ever done before. Take that, history books!

Q: Whom would you like to wrestle, that you have not yet done so?

A: Well, I still want a singles with CM Punk. I've never worked Chris Daniels. But I'd love to wrestle Eddie Guerrero one day, even if the odds of that are slim and none, and slim just left town. Tracey Smothers too.

Q: TNA has grown in popularity all across the United States, but what do you think they have to do in order to become a major competitor to WWE?

A: I think they're doing what they have to do. They're focusing on becoming a brand that people can recognize by doing monthly PPVs and having a national TV show. Honestly, I just hope they do become competition to the WWE, so more people can make a living off the business.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: Lots of stuff. Read, video games, draw, music, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, there's lotsa girls I hit on and scummy night clubs, but that's different.

Q: What is your long-term goal in the business?

A: It might sound silly, but I want to become one of the best wrestlers in the world one day. Hopefully, with some luck, continued help from everyone I've been so lucky to have help from, good health, and good timing, I can do it.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Alex Shelley. In 2003, I began running my own website, World Wrestling Optimum, which consisted of news, articles, and interviews, inlcuding this one. My ebook, "Pro-Wrestling Interviews" contains interviews that I conducted for the website. You can check out my ebook on Amazon.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Importance of Women's Wrestling in Japan

Women's wrestling has a long and storied history in Japan. From the early days of AJW in the late-1960s featuring talent such as former NWA Women's World Champion Yukiko Tomoe to the current day, Japanese woman wrestlers have consistently produced great matches and remain a vital part of the Japanese wrestling industry.

One reason is that many of the most popular wrestling organizations in Japan are women's wrestling organizations. Wrestling fans in and outside of Japan recognize Stardom, Ice Ribbon, Sendai Girls, and WAVE. They draw many fans in Japan to venues, and fans outside of Japan watch talented wrestlers from these organizations in action via streaming or DVD. Another reason is that women's wrestling can be a source of inspiration for many Japanese women. Women still face gender gaps here, but seeing women wrestling at the highest level can inspire young girls.

Recently, I wrote a post suggesting that a new major wrestling organization be created in Japan. This could help women's wrestling by giving more women a platform to wrestle at the highest level while raising the image of women's wrestling in Japan. And if it were an organization that focused on women's wrestling exclusively, a more level playing field for woman wrestlers would be created.

A new major wrestling organization would give woman wrestlers more exposure on television and in other media, helping to increase the popularity of women's wrestling and attracting more fans. It would also create more opportunities for women to wrestle, helping to raise the level of competition and making women's wrestling more exciting for fans.

And most importantly, a new major wrestling organization would generate more revenue, which could be used to improve the quality of women's wrestling by investing in better training facilities, hiring more great trainers, and paying woman wrestlers more money.

With Japanese women's wrestling currently on the international stage, its future is bright. And a new major wrestling organization would be a positive development for women's wrestling by enabling it to reach even greater heights.

Monday, June 12, 2023

The Benefits of a New Major Wrestling Organization in Japan

In my previous blog posts on June 6, and June 8, I discussed the need for a new major wrestling organization in Japan. In this post, I will explore some of the potential benefits of this move.

One of the biggest benefits of a new major organization is that it would be new competition in the Japanese wrestling industry, leading to better matches and organizations being forced to be more innovative. This would mean more exciting products for fans.

A new organization would provide a new platform for up-and-coming wrestlers to showcase their skills and abilities. This would help to keep the Japanese wrestling scene fresh and would add new excitement. And along with this new talent, a new organization could also introduce new styles of wrestling to Japan, giving fans more variety to choose from.

Also, a new organization would help to increase the exposure of Japanese wrestling to a wider audience, increasing the popularity of the industry and making it more financially successful.

Of course, along with benefits, every great idea has it's drawbacks. And there are three potential drawbacks to a new wrestling organization being formed in Japan.

The first drawback is that financial risk would be involved. Starting a new organization is always risky, and a significant investment of money (as well as time and resources) would be required. And with that investment, there is no guarantee that the organization would be successful. This makes the financial risk of starting a new wrestling organization a valid concern, but I believe that the potential rewards outweigh the risks. If a new organization is successful, it would be very profitable.

The second drawback would be competition from other organizations. The Japanese wrestling industry is already crowded with established organizations, which means that a new organization would not be successful unless it figures out a way to differentiate itself from the competition. However, the industry is growing, and with it, a demand for new and innovative products. I believe that there is room for another major player, and the industry is filled with people ready for a new opportunity, both in the ring and behind the scenes.

The third drawback is that there is the possibility that talents who are currently with already-established organizations would leave them and join the new organization. This could weaken the already-established organizations and make it more difficult for them to compete. However, the possibility of losing talent is something that organizations always face. The way to prevent this from happening is for already-established organizations to create a positive and productive working environment that attracts and retains talent.

Despite the potential drawbacks, I believe a new major wrestling organization in Japan would be good for the industry.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Future of Pro Wrestling in Japan

In my previous post, I discussed the possibility of a new major wrestling organization in Japan. Although it's true that there is a lot of potential for a new organization to succeed here, it cannot be denied there would be challenges for it to overcome, the biggest one being the major wrestling organizations that already exist in Japan.

The major wrestling organizations that exist today in Japan have been dominant for many years, with large & loyal fan bases, and many of them having TV deals and streaming services. Competing with them would not be a simple task.

Also, pro-wrestling is not as popular in Japan as it once was. While the 1993 Tokyo Dome event had an attendance of 63,500, this year's Tokyo Dome event drew 26,085. A couple of the reasons for this is competition from alternative forms of entertainment and Japan's demographics changing. A new major wrestling organization would have the task of reversing this decline.

Even with these challenges, I believe a new major wrestling organization can succeed in Japan. The pro-wrestling fan base is still large, and still very passionate. And along with that there are many talented independent/freelance wrestlers here. It's possible for a new organization to stand out from the other companies and connect with the fans, which means it can be successful.

One of the main ways that a new major wrestling organization could succeed in Japan is by focusing on the young and up-and-coming talents who are here and waiting for their chance to shine. A new organization would give them the platform to showcase their skills. Also, the new major organization could have a unique style, setting it apart from all the other companies in Japan.

And no matter how good the organization is, it would need to be marketed effectively so that it's visible to fans. What is written on the organization's website/blog and social media account would be important. One of the major goals for the organization should be to make as much money as possible. The key to doing that is knowing what style of advertising will make fans be willing to spend money. Not only would good advertising enable the organization to keep fans coming, but it also would draw new fans, increasing the amount of money the organization makes. A part of increasing the amount of money the organization makes is branching outside of its area. If the wrestling organization has shows available via streaming, it should add advertising that will attract interest from other areas of Japan, as well as from overseas. Even if the wrestling shows are not available via streaming, there's an opportunity to strengthen the organization's brand online, by providing writing that informs its target audience about the company and its shows, in a fashion that makes them interested in the product. Building a powerful brand for the wrestling organization is what leads to taking it to another level and experiencing things such as drawing good crowds at bigger venues, getting TV deals, and having successful DVD sales.

Being international in scope is also important. The Japanese wrestling scene is becoming increasingly international, and a new organization would benefit from being more international in its outlook. This would include being English-friendly, since English is the most widely spoken language in the world, with 1.5 billion speakers worldwide, and it being the official language in 40 countries.

There is a lot of potential for a new major wrestling organization to succeed in Japan. If a new major organization in Japan overcomes the challenges that it would face and connects with the fans, it would be successful.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

A New Major Wrestling Organization for Japan

I'm a wrestling writer who lives in Japan and has been following the Japanese wrestling scene for many years. I've seen several promotions come and go, and I think there is room for another major player in the Japanese wrestling market. There are MANY great wrestling companies in Japan, and I've had the opportunity to work with a number of them, but I still think there is room for something new.

I have a few ideas in regards to what that new organization could look like. I believe that a new major wrestling organization in Japan would be successful if it focuses on high-quality wrestling that focuses on young, up-and-coming talent. There are many talented wrestlers in Japan who are just waiting for their chance to shine.

It would also benefit the new organization to have a unique style that sets it apart from other major organizations in Japan, and is marketed effectively.

I also think it would be great to see an organization here that is more international in scope. Not only because it's great see Japanese wrestling shared with the world, but also because the lucrative English market is still very untapped by many wrestling companies here in Japan. Over two million foreigners live in Japan, and many of them attend wrestling events. Also, thousands of people outside of Japan follow Japanese wrestling via streaming and other online means. Many of them focus on Japanese wrestling companies that are English-friendly. If a wrestling fan checks out the website or SNS of a Japanese company and is unfamiliar with the language and wrestlers, and is not sure how or where they can see shows, they often will move on to company that is easier for them to learn about. With a number of major Japanese wrestling companies now providing information in English, it is clear that if companies here want to attract foreign fans, companies have to adapt to the language needs of those fans, and not the other way around.

I know that there are people in the industry here who are ready for a fresh new opportunity. Both in the ring, and like me, behind the scenes. If a new major wrestling organization in Japan does become a reality, I would love to be a part of it. I have a wealth of experience in the wrestling industry, and I'm confident that I would help make a new organization successful. There are people both within and outside of the pro-wrestling industry who have the financial resources to make a new major wrestling organization in Japan happen, and if you are one of the people reading this, then I urge you to reach out to me. Let's talk about making this a reality and creating something special.