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INDIE WRESTLERS AND WWE…

Most independent wrestlers aspire to be in WWE.  With the perceived edict by WWE that “they are not looking for indie wrestlers” these days might discourage some people.

Don’t let it.

I haven’t read or heard any declaration by WWE that they have excluded looking at any and all independent performers.  No doubt they would prefer to teach someone from scratch with no bad habits but if they see an exceptional talent on the independent scene that has potential, I believe they will sign them.  It would be ridiculous to limit where you find talent.  One thing we always understood when I was coaching developmental was you never knew who might be a break out star.

CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Stone Cold Steve Austin are three guys who were looked at as “mid card at best” when they first arrived in WWE.  While Punk and Bryan gained a reputation on the indies, Austin had the opportunity to work various promotions including USWA, ECW and WCW before becoming a major break out star defining the Attitude Era…

There are countless names that were never pegged as top guys for one reason or another.  But they came in, got over in the ring and understood how to maneuver and manipulate their way into featured attractions… Chris Jericho is a talented performer who was NEVER supposed to be a main eventer, much less a Unified World Champion by defeating two of the biggest stars ever and yet he accomplished that and so much more…

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WRESTLEMANIA 30, WWE NETWORK, CONSTANT CHANGE, HISTORY MATTERS?

The only constant is change…

WWE will always take a calculated risk in business. Everyone is betting the Network is going to be HUGE!  I couldn’t agree more.  Times are changing and one thing WWE is good at is being ahead of the curve.

No doubt this will be a wrestling fans dream come true. 24/7 access to some of the greatest matches and programing at the click of a mouse. 

It got me thinking about how much the business has really changed over 30 years. 

Wow… We are coming up on Wrestlemania 30. 

The 1960-70s wrestling had territories where local promoters ran weekly, bi-weekly or monthly shows.  That’s the era I grew up in.  I was hooked the first time I saw wrestling one Saturday afternoon in El Paso.  We had a black and white TV but the characters were larger than life, colorful over the top people who intrigued me.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to break in but I knew at five years old I was going to find a way to become a professional wrestler!

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HELL’S FROZE OVER; JIM CORNETTE HAS A PASSPORT…YEAR END THOUGHTS…

My good friend Jim Cornette has speaking engagements scheduled February 18 – 25, 2014 in the UK.

How many times in a lifetime is Hell allowed to freeze over?  I remember when JC would loudly proclaim he would NEVER get a passport because he hated flying so much and had NO interest what-so-ever going overseas…

I saw Jim during the Charlotte Fan Fest in August and he looked great!  He lost about 60 pounds, even had a tan and appeared calm throughout the event.  He told me “People in the wrestling business these days drive me crazy!”  Jim took some much deserved time away from wrestling for a while and it did him some good mentally and physically.

I have no doubt the UK audience who buys a ticket to listen to JC speak on his colorful life and career will be amused, impressed and entertained.  Please visit www.jimcornette.com for more info as well as a look inside of Jim’s massive wrestling collection he’s accumulated throughout the years.

As 2013 comes to a close I’ve looked back on the year with mixed emotions.  I really can’t complain for the most part.

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RANDOM THOUGHTS: Harley Race & Trans South Wrestling Camps, Manny Fernandez, Ric Flair

“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” Kurt Cobain

“I don’t want to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Groucho Marx

Never say never.  One day at a time.  Hey, you NEVER know…

Clichés, yes.  True nonetheless. 

So much has happened since my last blog. In one weekend, I did a camp for Derik Vanderford’s Trans South Wrestling in Union SC and Harley Race’s World League Wrestling in Eldon, MO.  The more things change, the more they stay the same…

It’s always great seeing Derik and his crew in Trans South work hard.  One of my mentors in this business was Manny Fernandez.  Manny was a solid wrestler and not always an easy guy to know.  Once you got past that gruff exterior, there was a wealth of knowledge and compassion. He’s been a mentor to Derik and Trans South Wrestling for a while now.  Manny lends his knowledge (and even his influence by getting Terry Funk to do a camp in Union a couple months ago) to anyone who asks.  There are not many veterans left who know how to tell a story and relate to talent.  I’ve always liked and respected Manny for helping me.  Terry Allen (Magnum TA) and I were rookies in the early 1980’s when Manny, Chavo Guerrero Sr. and Tiger Conway Jr. took us under their collective wings and helped us in ways we both never forgot.

Harley Race was one of the greatest NWA World Champions of all time.  He’s in the breed of Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr and Ric Flair.  It was different time and place, when the NWA champ had to be tough and credible.  Harley is paying for the sacrifices he made during his 8 reigns as champion but he wouldn’t change a thing.  Special thanks to Jason Jones (Leeland Race) for being the glue and making it all happen.

Some random thoughts:

I really don’t mind non-wrestling people who are now in the role where a wrestling person would be.  I understand not everyone is cut out for Talent Relation or Talent Development.  Just because you were a wrestler doesn’t automatically mean you know how to move into an office position.

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STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, ROAD TRIPS, HANGING…

“If you subtracted all of the great artists who never drank, who never went to excess, you wouldn’t have any more art left.  What kind of poem are you gonna get out of a glass of iced tea?”  (David Lee Roth)

I must admit I enjoy obscure references and learning what makes outrageous people tick.

In earlier days (1960s-1980s) there were over 30 territories that most of the wrestlers of that era travelled by car.  I grew up in El Paso and Houston and got to learn about the trips as I got in the business and heard all the war stories.

I wish I could have worked the West Texas territory back in the day.  The stories all get better and are romanticized as time goes by but I still think it would have been a great time.   Think about it…Hours in cars with friends and people you got to perform in front of every week was truly life on the road.

The stories of Dick Murdoch and Terry Funk buying a couple cases of beer and icing them down so they’d be just right after wrestling in a hot, dirty Lubbock arena, with 300 miles to go doesn’t appeal to everyone.  But the thought alone puts me in a great mood.

In the days of traveling by car (and at times planes) made for an interesting life.  How do you spend your time and how many cassette tapes (CDs now) can you sing along with until you go crazy?

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IS DUSTY RHODES IS A SHAMAN?

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.

Dinosaurs used to roam the earth and they’re extinct.  Whenever I hear someone claim to be ‘old school’ I have to ask myself what that really means these days when it pertains to pro wrestling.

I remember the old school guys I broke in around.  Guys like The Iron Sheik, The Funks, Harley Race, Roddy Piper, Bob Armstrong, Ole Anderson, Johnny Valentine, Mr. Wrestling II, Ernie Ladd, Bill Watts, Paul Boesch, Jose Lothario, and Mark Lewin.  Those were the “old school” guys who started working the moment they walked in the building…

I guess they were old school because they had been around a helluva lot longer than I had and understood how to play the game.  Back then the boys protected the business.  Sure, there’s been plenty of exposes’ over the years but most veterans and fans came back with the old adage “For those who believe, no explanation is needed.  For those who don’t, no explanation will do.”

When The American Dream made an impassioned plea on RAW so old school it was new again, something clicked with me…

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YOU CAN TAKE THE WRESTLER OUT OF THE ARENA, BUT…

I recently made a trip to Ottawa for Big Time Pro Wrestling and Bodyslammers Gym.

I had the pleasure of doing a two hour seminar and participate in what started out as a singles match against Damian Styles but wound up as a tag against Magic Mario Bryant and Michael Von Payton, managed by “Mr. Know it All” Shawn Demers.

I want to send a big thank you to Damian, Wayne Cryderman and Derric Hamilton for their exceptional hospitality.  Check out www.bodyslammerscanada.ca if you’re looking for a credible place to train.  I don’t put my stamp on just any school but these guys know their stuff and have an old school respect for the business.  It was refreshing to see how everyone worked hard together and the passion was undeniable.

I had a blast out there in the ring with dedicated pros like Damian Styles, Mario Bryant, Michael Von Payton and Shawn Demers. The crowd was responsive all night and that made it that much more fun.

The whole crew was respectful and a pleasure to be around.  Hope I get an opportunity to return sooner rather than later…

Thanks guys!

I heard an old timer once say “You can take the wrestler out of the arena, but you can’t take the arena out of the wrestler.”

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ONE SIZE FITS ALL?

There’s not just one way to learn or train for professional wrestling.

Years ago, there wasn’t a wrestling school on every corner.  There might have been a couple different promotions in one town with one being the dominant office and the others considered “outlaws.”  The outlaws are now called “Independents.”

The outlaws would watch the dominant promotions TV and try to copy what they saw.  Kind of like some of the independents do today…

There are some talented individuals on the indys.  There’s the “This is awesome” and “Holy sh**” chants due to the death-defying spots and moves that seem to validate some performer’s existence.   The usual comments most green indy wrestlers will hear is “slow down, tell a story and less is more.”

Stars like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and others on the WWE roster cut their teeth on the independent scene.  It’s a tremendous training ground for many up and coming pros.  But unless you’re a proven commodity, you’re not going to make a lot of money.  Daniel Bryan may love wrestling so much so that he would wrestle in armories the rest of his life if he gets fired.  And that’s fine with him.

A majority of us got into professional wrestling for the love of the game.  There does come a time when you have to decide if you can live solely off wrestling or do you need something else to supplement your income…

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Mid Atlantic Fanfest Memories…

One thing I do miss about being away from the WWE developmental system is seeing “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes on a daily basis.  It was never a dull moment or conversation when Dream came to the office.  I grew up watching and learning how he interacted with various people and getting to work with him in a close, personal setting was a lot of fun.

I still talk to Dream regularly via phone and he never fails to come up with something that will resonate for days.  Today he gave me this gem from Wyatt Erp:

“Nothing matters more than blood. If they’re not family, they’re just strangers.”

So obvious, so Dream, so true…

The Dream still has an aura and way of choosing his words. He’s the last of a breed that no longer exists.  History is written by the winners.  Accurate or not.  Dusty Rhodes legacy is unique and he will be remembered as one of the all time greats of professional wrestling/sports entertainment.  I enjoy our conversations and rhetoric more than ever.

We may not be blood or family but I do believe we’re friends.  As much as you can be friends with someone in this business.  We’ll listen and shoot the breeze and that’s it.  I don’t want anything from him and he doesn’t want anything from me.  There comes a time when you just want to talk or tell stories.  And Dream has plenty of stories…

I saw some friends in Charlotte over the August 1-4 weekend.  I spent the majority of time in the room where we held the training camp, although I did have a chance to briefly check out the main hall and say hello to people I haven’t seen in years.

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GOING TO CHARLOTTE; WAIT, YOU LIKE TNA?

I’m getting ready to head to Charlotte for the Mid Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fan Fest weekend August 1-4 at the Hilton University Place hotel.  Les Thatcher, Tully Blanchard, Gerry Brisco, Leilani Kai and I will conduct a four day camp with some great independent talent. One lucky participant will be awarded a scholarship in the name of Reid Fliehr for $2500.

I leave Wednesday and am looking forward to all the activities Greg Price has put together.  If you’re a wrestling fan and anywhere near Charlotte this weekend, do yourself a favor and check out the FanFest! For more information go to www.midatlanticlegends.com .

In my last blog, I addressed an issue about being contacted by  people wanting to interview me about my time in TNA.  Of course they were confusing me with my brother who actually did work for TNA.  I never did.

I merely mentioned a couple of  experiences I’ve have had with TNA and wouldn’t you know it…

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