Monday, August 09, 2010

RRX: BacktoBack: Turnbuckle Madness with James Beard by George Wren

----Here is the last the George Wren interviews.  I would like to thank George for his hard work.  This is one of my favorites of the interviews - he talks USWA lawsuit, old World Class, Brandon Baxter and how different the product is now.  If you are new to this business, READ IT - YOU WILL LEARN!! 

Turnbuckle Madness

with George Wren

James Beard

James Beard with Rick Martel, Shawn Michaels and Kerry Von Erich
GW: When were you born?
My birthday is January 7, 1951. Getting’ Old!

GW: Where were you born?
Jacksonville, Texas , which is about 100 miles southeast of Dallas .

GW: Where are you currently residing at the present time?
Whitehouse, Texas. I pretty much grew up in Tyler , which is only 6 miles from my home now.

GW: Where did you get your start at?
In the Dallas area. It’s a long story, but to make it short, I was working in the music business, playing in the Dallas area and got to know a lot of the wrestlers there and things progressed from that point until I was involved in the business.

GW: You was part of World Class for many years what was your thoughts working for WCCW?
I grew up watching wrestling out of the Dallas promotion and The Sportatorium, so having the opportunity to work for that promotion and in that building was a great honor for me. That goes back to the old Southwest Sports promotion which became World Class. Everything that followed that was based out of the Sportatorium was a part of that same legacy and I took a lot of pride in that.

GW: How long did you work for WCCW?
Actually, I missed some of the prime time for World Class. I was around from the mid 80’s and worked out of the Sportatorium when USWA came in and then when Kevin Von Erich restarted World Class.

GW: Where did you go after WCCW?
I remained based out of the Dallas promotion for most of my career, but I spent a good bit of time for several years working in Japan . Like I said, I worked for USWA and was with GWF from the start until it closed and then CWA after that. But, most of those years I was also traveling overseas a great deal. I also worked a lot in Louisiana , Oklahoma , Mississippi and most of the southern states at some point. I went back to work for USWA later on in Memphis .

GW: Many from WCCW ERA is no longer with us today The Von Erich's, Angel of Death, Rick Rude, Terry Gordy, Missing Link, The Great Kaubki, & Gary Hart. What are your thoughts on the ones just listed as you have worked with everyone throughout your career?
It’s impossible to be concise and explain my feelings or relationships with all those guys, but to make it short, I really cared a lot for the Von Erich Brothers, all of them. They were flawed, like all of us, but basically good people. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions about those guys and I couldn’t come close to dealing with all those in a short answer. Angel was a very nice guy and a good friend. He wasn’t particularly gifted as an athlete, but he was effective at what he did and I always liked being around him. Rick Rude was pretty much what you saw. He was an extremely talented performer with a great look. Terry Gordy was a very, very special guy and someone I miss a great deal. He was one of the best in the business when he was in his prime and one of the most real and sweetest guys you could ever meet. I was only around Link a few times, but he was strange and had a funny way about him. He was a talented wrestler, though. I love Kabuki. I worked with him more in Japan than here and in Japan he was involved in the booking. So, I saw a different side of him there. I always loved working with him and enjoyed his company. I can’t even start to say all I could say about Gary Hart. He was a special guy and someone who I consider a mentor and teacher as well as someone who was a great friend. He was one of the most creative and logical minds I was ever around in the business and I think of him pretty much every day.
Atlantis with James Beard

Overall, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work with and know some great talent and some great creative minds as well as some of the finest folks you could ask to know. I had some great teachers in Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, Johnny Valentine, Red Bastien, Bronko Lubich and others and some some great support from guys who sort of sponsored me in the business, like Bruiser Brody, Kazou Sakurada (Kendo Nagasaki) and several others. The best thing about all that and many of the other guys I worked with over the years is that most became very good friends and long lasting relationships that I will always cherish.

GW: How long was Eric Embry the booker for WCCW?
The best I remember, about a year or so. Eric gets a lot of flak for booking himself so over, but he was exactly what the promotion needed at the time and I will always believe he was the perfect answer to getting World Class back on it’s feet for that time period. I liked Eric and believe he is very under-appreciated both as booker and in the ring talent.

GW: Now you worked for Japan how long did you work over there?
From the late 80’s until 1996. I worked full time for 3 different promotions there as referee and booking agent as well as being involved in the creative end of things.

GW: What was the reason you left Japan ?
It’s like anything else in the wrestling business. You run your course and things change. The wrestling business in Japan was changing a lot in the 90’s, but the main thing is the economy began to weaken over there and there were fewer opportunities and business simply was not as good as it had been.

GW: Was you ever contacted to take part in the Inside Edition that they did on The Von Erich's several years ago?
No, didn’t talk to them.

GW: Gary Hart put together World Class II "The Next Generation" which where he used his son Chad Hart as well. Did you ever think this promotion could get off the ground with the original WCCW already dead and gone?
Gary didn’t expect to get rich with that promotion. He wanted a place for Chad to learn and work and also a place for guys in the area to get some experience and he had hopes of reviving some degree of interest in the business as well. I worked for him a couple times, but he knew he could not pay too well and I had other things, particularly Japan , to go to. So, while I stayed in touch with Gary during that time, I really didn’t have the chance to work with that promotion much. His whole agenda was not really to re-build World Class, but I suspect he would have loved for that to have happened. It was a tough time for the business in those days.

GW: What are your thoughts on The Sportatorium being torn down?
Sad. I made a trip to the building just before it was torn down and salvaged a couple items for souvenirs. It was in bad shape by then and I understand the need to destroy it, but it was also a landmark that I wish had meant more to those responsible and had found a way to keep it standing. I know that doesn’t make sense financially, but a lot of memories were made in that place and not just from wrestling. It was a major music venue as well.

GW: After World Class many promotions tried to run the venue but failed. My understanding the reason for the demolish of the venue was because hompless people was living in it and the area has not became a great area as well?
That’s all true. It was not the greatest area of the city and the building had become quite run down.

GW: Now you worked for the Global Wrestling Federation out of Dallas in the early 90's with a promisng look to a new product what do you feel like that drove the wedge if you will in Global?
Global held a lot of promise as a true alternative and a place where younger wrestlers could get a start. To some degree it met that promise, but it also had some problems due to poor management. The original concept was a great one and should have worked, but you have to be fiscally responsible even when you have a lot of money up front to work with. When you’re paying a lot of talent and doing all the things needed to do to get a promotion off the ground, you have to watch yourself until you have some solid foundations for money coming in instead of all of it going out. That wasn’t done and Global changed from the original concept to a more locally run outfit. That would have been fine, too, but even then we had similar problems. I remember meeting with Grey Pierson when he first became involved in GWF and we (Skandor Akbar and myself) tried to emphasize the importance of him taking care of business and making sure the TV and syndication was doing what it needed to do to bring in revenue. Wrestling was fast becoming a TV business even more so than ever before and you simply couldn’t depend on house show revenues to stay afloat. You needed TV money from ads and you needed marketing of your product. It started out OK with Grey, but he did the same thing a lot of promoters who have never been a part of the business would do. He wanted to get involved in the booking and the wrestling product when he needed to handle the business end of things. It was a struggle from that point on and eventually, that is what failed us. That, along with the death of Kerry Von Erich at a time when we were beginning to see some progress, seemed to really take the wind out of our sails

GW: When did you know USWA was on it's last leg and was out the door?
When I went there, there was a lot of hope for a new start with new investors and a relationship with WWF being a big part of that. So, I went there with a real hope this was a great opportunity to be a part of a real resurgence of that promotion. It didn’t take too long to see there were problems and most of them were directly pointing at the guy who had been running things for the last several months, Larry Burton. Larry was a con artist and a guy already found guilty of major fraud, although we didn’t know it at the time. The more I became involved, the clearer it was that he was running the promotion into the ground and alienating a lot of good wrestling folks in the process. Not to mention, he was spending a ton of money we didn’t have or need to spend. Once I got a good grasp of all this, I knew we were in trouble because he had lied directly to me about the finances and the new ownership coming in. Once this all became clear, I knew it was going to be a struggle to get things to where we needed to be businesswise because as it turned out, Burton had conned his way into a significant percentage of ownership and as long as he was in the way, we had little chance to succeed.

GW: Didn't you do some type of Commissioner type gimmick for the USWA?
On TV, I was presented as the "Matchmaker", which is an old wrestling position that isn’t real unless you consider the booker the matchmaker. Dutch Mantell was the booker and I was helping him, but the character I was supposed to portray was supposed to have the power to be something similar to what WWE has been doing with their guest managers, only my position was a permanent one. I was actually brought in to help with booking and with trying to get the house shows back to making a profit. I won’t get into all the details about the problems with the house shows, but suffice it to say, they were not doing well. That’s a whole ‘nuther issue.

GW: The USWA made some complete changes that hurt the company as a whole from poor crowds, switching from The Mid-South Coliseum to The Big One Expo Center (a smaller venue), losing it's 90 minute time slot to midnight on Saturday/Early Sunday mornings to only do a 60 minute show. Much of the talent up and left because of the poor choices that was being made. What are your thoughts from all the major changes.
The house shows were not doing well and that included the main towns that had been run by USWA for years, being Memphis , Nashville and Louisville . They had already moved from the Mid South Coliseum by the time I got there and were running the Memphis show in an old shopping center building. Yes, that hurt the image of the promotion.

GW: Many felt this is what drove the wedge in to the USWA when Jarrett (Jerry)sold his part of the company and The Selker's came along. Wasn't to long after the purchase that USWA would fold up.
The way the deal went down with the Selkers is a long story that involved a lot of fraud and misinformation, mostly by Larry Burton. He was convicted of fraud and violating the RICO act over this later on as well as being nailed with a multi-million dollar lawsuit. I can’t go into all the specifics here, but the fact is, Jerry Jarrett never met the Selkers until I introduced them to each other well after the sell was done and Jerry was in the dark about how much money exchanged hands and by whom. He also had no idea the books had been doctored and other falsehoods told in order to get the Selkers to buy into the business. The truth is, Mark Selker had good intentions and actually had good ideas about marketing and reviving the considerable TV syndication USWA had. The trouble was, he had no idea how irresponsibly things were being run by Larry Burton and the degree of confusion and interference he was responsible for in running the wrestling product. I don’t give Jerry Lawler a pass on his responsibility in this as well, but it was Burton who masterminded the whole fiasco.

GW: Do you feel like the Burton situation is what did it or did USWA have too many things against it to even survive even if Burton didn't come along?
I think it’s pretty obvious what I think about Larry Burton. He’s one of the most vile human beings I ever met and he is much to blame for the end of a very proud and successful promotion. USWA could have survived and should have survived as long with the support and influence of WWF/E was utilized as it should and could have been. USWA hung on when many other promotions could not even without the help of WWF/E and I believe there was a good chance it could have continued with responsible management, good marketing and gaining the most from it’s available TV revenue off syndication. Like I said, the business was more about TV than house shows and I believe there was a chance for USWA to sustain if those things were taken care of along with a good, logical, progressive and truly alternative wrestling product. We needed to make room for younger talent to grow and get over and we needed to take advantage of the talent WWF/E was providing as well as finding ways to keep some of our mainstays more interesting and fresh. I have a ton of respect for Dutch Mantell and I believe his creativity and understanding of how folks in the USWA area like to see their wrestling would have been a huge part of that had he been allowed to do what he knew was right without interference. I really enjoyed working with Dutch and would have loved to see what we might have done without the problems and roadblocks we ended up dealing with. Maybe it wouldn’t have lasted anyway, but I really would have liked to have had the situation necessary to give it a good shot.

GW: Where did you go after USWA folded?
I pretty much considered myself retired after that. I figured the only place to go would be one of the major companies and things were such that there weren’t a lot of opportunities even in those at the time. Plus, with the troubles in Memphis and me being on a different side of the fence than Jerry Lawler during the whole thing, I figured working in WWF/E at that time, would have been an uncomfortable situation even if the possibility had been there. So, I went back to school, finished and got involved in Real Estate Appraisal with an old friend from my home town and I have been working at that ever since. I also got re-married and settled into a home on some acreage which we built together. Family and getting back to doing some things I used to enjoy when I wasn’t on the road so much has been my priority since. I’ve really enjoyed this stage of my life.

GW: What are some of your best matches you refereed?
When you’ve worked in, literally, thousands of matches, it’s hard to nail down a favorite or even a list of them. But, there were a number of matches in Japan that have always stood out and some great matches in my old home base, The Sportatorium, that are memorable. One of my favorite matches was a tag match in Japan between Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty and Jeff Jarrett and Naoki Sano. Also some of the matches I worked in the angle that had Randy Savage and Genichiro Tenryu against Haku and Yatsu were a very satisfying. A brawl between the teams of John Layfield and Black Bart against Mark and Chris Youngblood was a brutal one I will always remember and a similarly brutal brawl between Terry Gordy and Cactus Jack was a great match. Also, the matches between Sean Waltman (Lightning Kid/1,2,3 Kid/XPac) and Jerry Lynn during the early days of GWF are matches that I am very proud of. Those were just a few. There were a lot of similarly great matches I really enjoyed being a part of.

GW: What are some your favorite road stories?
Too many to tell, honestly. Some, I probably don’t need to tell. But, the truth is, I am working on something right now that will include some details about some of those and the really good ones deserve a long, detailed account. I’m not avoiding the question, just saying I will have to tell some of those a bit later in a different forum. I hope you understand.

GW: Now your back in Texas what are you doing these days and times?
I am involved in the Real Estate Appraisal business in my home town, Tyler , Texas and am living nearby. Cindy and I have 4 children between us and they are grown, but we now have 2 granddaughters and a grandson and I try to spend as much time with them as I can. I missed a lot with my own kids during the years I was in the business and being around now has been a blessing. I also have gotten back to doing a lot of things I used to love, such as hunting and fishing. I’m busy, but it’s really nice to be able to do those things more often. I also spend a good bit of time working around our place and taking care of the horses and other critters we’ve somehow become responsible for. All that, plus both my parents are getting older (my dad is 95 and mother is 88) and my in-laws live next to us, so I have them all to help see after as well. So, I have a pretty full life and thankfully, a lot of family and friends to enjoy it with.

GW: Are you officially retired or do you still work from time to time?
I have taken a few shows the last few years, but for the most part, I consider myself retired. I had a little dance with WWE about going back to work for them in 2006, but we didn’t see eye to eye about some things and honestly, it would have had to have been an impossible deal to turn down in order to get me to give up the life I’ve established in the last several years. I simply don’t care to travel anymore and I don’t think I would have been happy with the restraints I expect I would have had to work under in WWE. Even though they were telling me they wanted me in because of my experience, my stronger style and to work with the younger guys, I really doubt their commitment to that over a long haul and I sure wasn’t going to give up the business I had been working to establish for a deal with them that might not last. The same time they were trying to get me to come in, they hired Scott Armstrong for, supposedly, the same reasons as he had been in the business most of his life. Recently, they fired Scott, saying the reason was they were "going younger" . I would have been pretty ticked off to have given up my lifestyle and business only to have them decide 4 years later to let me go because they wanted to "go younger". I suspected something like that to begin with and that was one reason I never trusted that job opportunity. So, I am happily and most likely (never say never), permanently retired from the wrestling business.

GW: Have you ever been a part of any riots or had to ever break up a "shoot" fight backstage?
JB: Oh, I’ve been involved with fans trying to get to wrestlers on several occasions. A few of those were even guys trying to get to the ring or in the ring. I’ve had to stop a few from climbing through the ropes and even had to knock one guy off the apron who was trying to come in with a chair. That was a match in which Iceman Parsons was involved and evidently he pushed this guys button, so he charged the ring and started climbing in with chair in hand. I tried to stop him verbally and then tried to block his way into the ring, but he kept coming, so I clocked him. By that time security was there and he wasn’t in shape to try again anyway. I’ve had fans try to come at wrestlers when they are going to or from the ring and we’ve had some of those fans receive some rough treatment from security or the wrestlers, themselves. I even had a guy try to climb over a cage to get inside the ring, but he was met at the top by one of the wrestlers in the cage match and took a nasty fall to the outside for his efforts. But, I have been lucky that I haven’t had to deal with out and out riots like some guys have, even though I’ve experienced some pretty mad crowds from time to time.

As far as dressing room fights, yeah I’ve seen a few and had to break up a few. But, most of those happen pretty quickly and it’s over before it gets going good as usually, someone gets in between and calms things down. Most of those end up being a heat of the moment type thing and even more of them are heated arguments more so than actual fisticuffs. Most of the boys get along pretty well, but you occasionally would have a few butting heads over something and most of the time it would be due to somebody messing something up in the ring or making a mistake and causing their opponent to get hurt.

I was involved, or at least was there, when the infamous "fight" between Eddie Gilbert and Jeff Gaylord happened at the Sportatorium. Eddie, Bruce Prichard, Doug Gilbert and I were in the booking office after a TV taping going over some things and Jeff showed up asking to talk to Eddie about booking him. Eddie walked out of the room and was leading Jeff to another area next to the main dressing room. They were only gone a few seconds and we heard a racket. Doug took off immediately and Bruce and I followed. When we got to Eddie, it was obvious Jeff had sucker punched him and was trying to get out the back door. Doug caught up with Jeff and nailed him in the head with a full can of Coke and Jeff continued running to the parking lot, holding his head. Eddie was OK, other than having his own sore head. He said Jeff ambushed him before they could even start talking.

As it turned out, Jeff had evidently been sent by a promoter somewhere that had tried to book Eddie and they got cross ways about something, so Eddie didn’t work his show. The funny thing was Eddie was saying he wished Jeff had just told him what the deal was they would have worked something to make it look good and turned it into an angle. That was typical of Eddie, always thinking about work, even when something like that happens. So, the infamous "fight" wasn’t really a fight at all. It was sort of a "hit" and a total ambush in which Eddie never had the chance to retaliate. Doug took care of that part for him, though.

GW: What are your thoughts on today's product?
JB:Like almost 100% of the guys who are or have been in the wrestling business, I was a fan first. The reason I was a fan, even after I had a pretty good idea of how things worked and knew Pro Wrestling was not a totally legit competitive sport, was the product always kept me interested and intrigued with what was going to happen next and why. There was an emotional investment in the personal and competitive aspects of the product that made me want to stay in tune with what was happening and kept me interested in the development of the way the different personalities interacted with each other. That, plus the competitive aspect was always made ultimately important. In other words, it was made to matter who wins and loses as much as how and why. For the most part, this was done in ways that were taken seriously. While there was always some degree of latitude in the creative process concerning logical situations, I generally found myself able to suspend a degree of logic in order to enjoy what I was watching and was able to invest emotionally into it.

Plus, there were typically definitive rules to use as a guideline in the competitive aspects of the product. While these rules might allow for some latitude in the application of them, depending on the wrestler’s and referee’s ability to create the right situations, the idea that there was an attempt by the promotion to have the participants stay within the rules or by the referee to enforce them, allowed for the acceptance by fans that some guys were finding or trying to find ways around them, to be a reasonable part of the process. This was a basic formula for getting what I call ‘real heat’ and in my book, "heat" is what made Pro Wrestling work. Without rules and the idea somebody has the authority to enforce them, the competitive aspect of Pro Wrestling is meaningless. 

Today’s product generally either ignores those principals or grossly misrepresents them in most cases. The point seems to be to create a big, immediate reaction instead of developing a long, slowly and logically built set of issues. The competition means little because whatever happened today will probably reverse tomorrow with little or no long lasting consequences. Rules are alternately ignored or changed, often from one match to another. The referee has no authority to make it look as though the rules have meaning. Angles seem to be started one day and ended the next, sometimes sooner. Much of the logic is thrown out the window to begin with and what little there is hardly holds your attention. The matches often make no sense from a psychological standpoint. They are mostly an exhibition of moves and counter moves which make little sense from a standpoint of competition. Hardly anybody sells believably and most of the heat tends to be of the "cheap" variety.

I know anyone from any era who’s been in the wrestling business seems to think their era was best. There were things that bothered me about how things were done while I was in the business, but for the most part, the idea was to be reasonably believable and logical in the way you laid out your angles and in the way you worked your matches. The psychology was much more important and generally more subtle, particularly with the really good workers. Today, the guys responsible for the content of the angles and the content of the matches tend to be more interested in doing something bigger than they did it last time instead of whether it makes sense or not. I like the idea of having some suspense and build up over a period of time that creates drama and ends in a way that makes sense in regard to how it was developed. That goes for angles or individual matches.

I guess that’s a long winded way of saying, I hardly watch anymore because it just doesn’t satisfy what I expect from the wrestling product. I would love to be intrigued by it again, but it seldom happens and in my opinion, that is due to the flawed leadership of those in charge of what goes into the product these days. I’m happy for those who enjoy it the way it’s done today. I’m just not one of them.

GW: Have you ever thought about starting up your own company?
JB:It would take a lot more money than I have to do that the right way. I believe there’s a place for a more believable and logical wrestling product, but those with the money to make a difference tend to get caught up in listening to the exact folks they should avoid. Just look at TNA. This is a company that had the chance to provide a true alternative and it’s basically developed into nothing more than a money mark company. It’s full of the same old, worn out and failed ideas and personalities that brought WCW down and that generally makes WWE a parody of what used to be a wrestling company. Vince McMahon has created his space and his product and produces it in a way that nobody can copy whether you like it or not. My point is, nobody should want to copy it. Yet, it seems anyone starting up a wrestling promotion wants to use WWE as a pattern for their own product, either by using their ideas or recycling their old talent or creative personnel. Usually all of the above.

The only way I would ever be interested in being involved in a new wrestling promotion would be to be assured of the time and money it would take to do things the way I believe is right and to re-educate some folks to those ideas. To say I’ve never thought about that would not be honest, but to say I would ever expect that to happen is pretty far fetched and doubtful. While it’s nice to think about, the truth is I am pretty happy with life the way it is and the thought of going through
the aggravation of dealing with or trusting anyone enough to be involved with such a project brings me back to reality pretty quickly.

GW:Have you been contacted by Brandon Baxter about possibly coming back to Memphis to be a part of Lawler's new product? JB: As much as I like and respect Brandon , I doubt that would ever happen. First of all, the logistics would be a problem and I doubt the money enough to get me seriously involved. Secondly, Jerry Lawler would have a heart attack if Brandon even mentioned the idea. I suspect our being on different sides of the fence during the last days of USWA would be too much for Jerry’s ego to swallow. Personally, I would have no problem working with Jerry, but I have serious questions if he would feel the same way. As far as Brandon and the new Memphis promotion goes, I wish them well and hope they can provide a place for guys to work and a product worth watching for the Memphis fans. I have a real fondness for the history of Memphis wrestling and the guys who worked there over the years. When I went there back in the mid 90’s, I really wanted to be a part of it being revitalized and having a chance to be successful. 

Unfortunately, things went sour there because of personal greed and downright irresponsible behavior and management, particularly on the part of one guy named Larry Burton (at least that was one of his names). Regardless, I was there long enough to develop a real affection for that promotion’s history and what it meant to Pro Wrestling overall. I hope they find a way to be successful with the new promotion. And yes, that means I am wishing Jerry Lawler well. LOL!

GW: Your thought on the fans?
JB:The traditional wrestling fans are pretty much extinct or at least have left the sport. What WWE does today and what they have successfully done for quite a number of years is change with the times and have found ways to establish a new fanbase with each era. They’ve gone from targeting the kids to the "Attitude Era" and back again to saying they are targeting the younger market. In order to do that, they have changed their style and approach with each era in order to appeal to whatever market they are targeting at the time. Usually, that comes about due to external pressures or influences, both social and otherwise. It also has to do with having a different agenda than traditional wrestling promotions had. Vince McMahon wants, desperately, to be accepted as a mainstream entertainment producer and hates the idea of being thought of as a "rasslin’ promoter, even though that’s what he is and always will be. So, his agenda has little to do with satisfying the traditional wrestling fanbase.

All the stuff Vince does in the name of Pro Wrestling has little to do with making the traditional wrestling fans like those that carried over from generation to generation years ago, happy. There are still some of those around, but mostly, they have either been forced to settle for whatever WWE gives them or else find some other form of entertainment or outlet for their passion for Pro Wrestling to become interested in. I think a lot of those who might be or have been traditional wrestling fans have gone to MMA because they don’t have to have their intelligence totally insulted with something they know is real. Wrestling fans are not and have never been as dumb as some folks like to portray them. Most of them, even the most rabid of them, understood there was a degree of latitude taken with reality when it comes to Pro Wrestling. But, these traditional wrestling fans wanted a reason to believe in what they were watching, even if they had to relax their logic system a bit to do it. When the Pro Wrestling product stopped even pretending what they were doing was real, these fans lost faith in it and stopped passing that passion along to their kids and others. Most of them, I suspect, enjoy MMA and like it even better now that MMA seems to understand it needs to add a little drama and some good versus evil to their product in order to appeal to a larger audience. But, even with that, I believe there is a place for a more believable wrestling product because there are certain elements of that which were traditionally included, that MMA cannot bring to the table. I honestly don’t compare the two, but MMA and Pro Wrestling are related in some ways. In fact, MMA kind of came about out of Pro Wrestling in Japan back in the 80’s and 90’s when a faction of Pro Wrestling began to "work" much tighter and more realistic type matches. Eventually, these same guys took it all the way to a real competition. So, the fact that Pro Wrestling fans would migrate to MMA is not surprising, particularly since MMA has discovered they need to spice their product up a bit.

All in all, you do what you do for the fans. I still believe if you were to provide what the traditional wrestling fan has always wanted, they would re-discover the product and you’d find new fans as well. They may get their tastes for competition satisfied by MMA and to some degree they get a pretty fair taste of wide and extreme personality styles as well as some personal issues by watching MMA, although those are generally short lived. But, they don’t get the degree of drama, the long lasting and slowly built issues and other aspects of Pro Wrestling that can only come from having a creative process involved along with the competition. So, I think there is still a market for a more traditional wrestling product and I hope, someday, someone is brave enough and patient enough to carry through with re-establishing it.

GW: Any closing words?
JB:Only that I enjoyed my time in the wrestling business. I loved the creativity of it and the relationships within it. There’s nothing like it anywhere or within any other form of entertainment or sport. I would have loved to have continued to be involved. But, things change and we go on. I would not fit very well into the wrestling product as it is presented today. I know I would simply not be happy within it. But, I would not trade my experiences or the friendships and associations I had in that business for anything. It is something you can only fully appreciate or explain once you’ve been involved. I still enjoy talking about it and re-living some of those days with fans and I hope they get as much from that as I do. It’s nice to know what you’ve done was appreciated.
GW: James, I would like to thank you for taking the time out to talk to the viewers.
JB: Thank You!
Photo credit: James Beard collection 

A FAREWELL: This is my final interview with RRO as I have had alot of fun. I want to thank Brian for allowing me to bring my experience to his website, and for allowing me to work a long side of RRO. With my schedule and all and me going back to school I just don't have the extra time anymore. I also want to thank all the viewers who took the time out each week to take a look at the interviews as well ,and most of all to all the workers that participated in the weekly interviews - George

RRX is the new exclusive label of - it lets you the reader know that you read it FIRST here at RRO!!