• Tag Archives Mike Bessler – Editorial Director
  • JJ Dillon: The TWD Interview

    As one of the most iconic figures in the history of professional wrestling, legendary manager J.J. Dillon has experienced just about everything that the business has to offer.  Whether he was in front of the crowds and cameras as manager of Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen, or he was working behind the scenes at WCW and WWF during the legendary Monday Night Wars, J.J. Dillon set an industry standard for the pop culture phenomenon known as sports entertainment.

    Although officially retired from wrestling since February 2003, J.J. still makes occasional appearances with independent wrestling organizations from time to time, including Chikara and Ring of Honor.  He recently published Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls: From McMahon to McMahon (Crowbar Press, 2005) which chronicles his experiences in the world of professional wrestling.

    J.J. Dillon generously agreed to participate in an interview for The Wrestling Daily to share a little about his celebrated past and his current endeavors.

    Mike Bessler, September 2009

    TWD:  J.J., your book Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls is truly an impressive undertaking.  Not only is the book packed with candid and insightful recollections of your decades in the business, but you’ve also included a wealth of great photos from your personal archives.  Please tell us a little about the writing process for the project and how it felt to look back through time at your distinguished career.

    JJ:  I was introduced to Scott Teal by a close friend in the business.  I had given passing thought about someday writing my memoirs, but never gave it serious thought until meeting Scott.  The whole process took almost a year.  We spent months recording extensive phone interviews.

    I had kept detailed daily journals from the beginning of my career which gave us a documented basis from which to touch on details of each venue in the various territories I worked including the names of the wrestlers I worked with.  Scott had our phone conversations transcribed by Philip Varriale, and Phil injected additional information about my career that added more depth to the final draft.

    Scott broke my life story into chapters to make it easier to read, and added photos from my personal collection and photos of other wrestlers to coincide with references to specific individuals.  (Scott Teal is a gifted author and a respected wrestling historian.)  My story was told with brutal honesty including a hard look in the mirror at my own strengths and shortcomings.

    I am very proud of the book.  It has been very well received by all those that have read it.  It is not available in book stores and you can only get a copy through www.jjdillon.com (or Crowbar Press), or at one of my personal appearances.  I try to attend Cauliflower Alley Club each year, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame functions, and at any other appearances, and I always try to carry a few books with me.  For copies ordered through my website, I continue to sign (and personalize, if requested) the book at no additional charge as my way of saying thanks to all that have picked up my book.

    J.J. Dillon, November, 1975; Image credit: J.J. Dillon

    TWD:  In the process of delving into such a vast array of material, were there any “time capsule” moments in which you unearthed a particular memory or two that had been long forgotten?  How did it feel to revisit some of the more difficult times in your career, such as your personal disputes with folks like Dusty Rhodes and Vince McMahon?

    JJ:  When I sat down in one-on-one exchange with Scott, as I reflected back I did tend to remember specific dates or matches in great detail.  In real time, one is often so busy wrapped up in the moment that one doesn’t appreciate the significance or impact of what is taking place.  As Scott and I discussed the whole of my career, I found that I did develop a greater appreciation for certain highlights of my career that I had never focused on before.  I realized just how lucky and blessed I had been.  I had a lot of help from many people along the journey and I felt it was important to acknowledge that help and I tried to thank each individual by name.

    I’m glad you asked about Dusty Rhodes.  I’d like to set the record straight.  In Seagulls, I did say that I often found it difficult working with Dusty at times over the years because of his intense ego.  I still stand by what I said.  However, it would be wrong to characterize our relationship as a personal dispute ever at any time.  To the contrary, Dusty was very kind to me and to this day I respect and admire Dusty.  I want it known that I acknowledge my gratitude to “The Dream” and I attribute a large part of the success I enjoyed at the peak of my career to the opportunities available to me from working with Dusty.   I have also come to understand that the ego is a big part of what has made Dusty an icon in the wrestling business.  It is an essential part of the make- up of “The American Dream.” I consider Dusty a friend.

    As for Vince McMahon; though at the time we parted company in 1996, our individual emotions were charged and intense, I don’t harbor any ill-feeling towards Vince.  I appreciated that I was asked to participate in the WWE Horsemen DVD; that I was invited to the Flair retirement celebration on RAW in Orlando following the Flair-Michaels match (and I wrote Vince a personal letter congratulating him and the WWE for a job well done for Flair, and for inviting me to be a part of it); and that I was invited to participate in two recent taped sessions of the WWE Legends of Wrestling Roundtable that took place in Stamford.  I guess time does soothe old wounds.

    TWD:  You’re best known for your work with The Four Horsemen through Jim Crockett Productions and NWA, but in the mid 1980s, you also did some work in the Memphis/CWA territory.  I recently revisited some of the promos you shot for the old Championship Wrestling show in which you dish out some serious verbal abuse at Jerry Lawler and his devoted fans.  You brought every last bit of your signature style and swagger to the Memphis territory and the fans seemed to respond well to your personality and presence.  How much input and influence did you have on the creative process when you crossed over into Memphis and other productions and territories?

    J.J. captures the International Heavyweight Championship, May 1984; Image credit: J.J. Dillon

    JJ:  My role as Leader of The Four Horsemen was certainly the pinnacle of my career, but also just a snapshot of my career.  Remember, I had over 3000 wrestling matches throughout my career.  I had a great time the first time I appeared in Memphis at the studio with Lance Russell.

    As is often the case with special moments in one’s career, it came about through a series of events.  Lawler had worked a big show in Florida and faced Kendo Nagasaki for the Southern Title, and I managed Kendo at the time.  Business was so-so in Memphis at that time, and Lawler had the Florida match with Kendo taped to air on Memphis TV.  Kendo and I stole the title from Lawler and a return match was ordered for Memphis.  I was asked to do a promo for Kendo for the Memphis rematch, but I didn’t appear myself.

    It jumped the house significantly in Memphis and I think that Kendo and Lawler ended up getting three matches out of the deal.  Each week I got a call in Florida to do just one more promo for Memphis.  Lawler eventually took back the Southern Championship, and Jerry Jarrett wondered why they hadn’t created their own Kendo-like character.  Kimala the Ugandan Giant was born.

    Again, I was asked to cut a promo for someone I had never met or seen since it was a natural transition from Kendo.  The new character continued to grow in Memphis as did my mystique.  The fans started asking when they were going to see me in person in Memphis (remember, this is all before cable television changed the landscape).  Arrangements were made with the Florida office for me to be booked a few dates in Memphis.  My first appearance was the Memphis TV, and how could I miss with a front-story like mine prior to showing up?  Jerry Jarrett gave me free reign, and the rest is history.

    TWD:  The Memphis/CWA area was a hotbed of pro wrestling in the late 1970s and early 1980s and an impressive roster of heel managers left their mark on the region during that period.  From Jimmy Hart to Tux Newman to Angelo Poffo, some of the biggest and best names in the business did their share of memorable work in Memphis.  Did you feel like you had to work harder to draw in the fans or did your reputation already generate a fair amount of heat for you?

    JJ:  As I already indicated, my work on the promos I cut from Florida for Kendo and for Kimala spoke for itself.  You hear people say that they were in the right place at the right time and then capitalized on the opportunity.  That is what happened with me in Memphis.  I had a blast in Memphis, helped draw a few bucks and I was treated with the utmost respect and professionalism. They took good care of me.  Jimmy Hart was there at the time and he briefly formed an unholy alliance with Jerry Lawler and Jimmy and I worked against each other a few times.  Jimmy is a great talent and he went on to bigger and better things and is a credit to our business.

    TWD:  In your book, you mention that the last time you spoke or corresponded with Vince McMahon was prior to your departure from WW(E) in 1996.  Was it a difficult decision to return to a WWE ring for Ric Flair’s farewell show in 2008?

    JJ:  It was not a difficult decision at all for me.  I did say in my book that I would never again work for the WWF (now WWE), or for Vince.

    For me personally, I see a distinction between appearing at the Flair farewell celebration (or to appearing on the WWE Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen DVD, or participating in the Legends of Wrestling Roundtable) and becoming to a full-time employee of the company (or a consultant, etc., on any basis).  In fairness, I should make it clear that I have never had an offer or any type of overture for any type of employment from the WWE, nor do I ever expect any.  I would never consider going back, so my feelings remain the same as they were in 1996.

    I am not splitting hairs, and I’m not trying to search for some basis to justify my recent decisions.  I knew that I owed it to my fellow Horsemen and to all the fans that supported me so well throughout my career, to put any personal feelings from the past aside and to do what was right for the business.

    TWD:  Your book also provides a candid look at some of the most infamous debacles in the history of pro wrestling, such as the 1998 “Road Wild” main event which involved the ill-conceived showdown between industry superstar Hulk Hogan and talk show host Jay Leno.  You described this moment as “the beginning of the end” and “a sad day for the wrestling business.” With the recent introduction of regular “guest hosts” on Monday Night Raw, WWE has seemingly resurrected the idea of integrating celebrities into the wrestling world and a good deal of these appearances involve some degree of physical interaction with wrestlers as a kind of impromptu, on-the-fly booking.  Has WWE learned from the mistakes of Bischoff and WCW or are they simply repeating a regrettable chapter in sports entertainment?

    JJ:  I don’t agree with a lot of the things Vince has done and the direction he has taken the wrestling business, but I also cannot ignore his success.  The problem as I see it is that once you go down a certain road, you can’t reverse and pretend you were never there.  I refer to the use and treatment of females, the all too frequent changes in title holders (as often as two or three times in the period of one show), and the emphasis on being perceived as purely sports entertainment.

    If you acknowledge that everything is scripted, and if you show that the title (any title) no longer has any real meaning, how can you expect me to get emotionally involved in who is to be the winner of a title match when you’ve already demonstrated that the title itself doesn’t mean anything anyway?  What are they fighting for, and why?

    TWD:  I recently spoke with someone who had the pleasure to meet you while working an indy show a short time ago and he was thoroughly impressed with your warmth and professionalism.  He said that you went around the locker room and personally greeted each and everyone there, suggesting that your genuine interest in talent and staff is uncommon in the business today.  Do you feel like you have a distinct or unique philosophy when it comes to pro wrestling?  Who were your most important influences in the area of business relations and behind-the-scenes work?

    JJ:  I don’t know that I have a distinct or unique philosophy about professional wrestling, but I do have a distinct appreciation for how I got to where I am today.  The purpose of doing this interview is not to sell my book, but you really have to read my life story from beginning to end to understand where I’m coming from.

    I was never the biggest or the best, but no one wanted it more than I did or was willing to work any harder than I did.  Even with hard work and dedication, I had the benefit of a lot of help from lots of people throughout my career.  Please find a copy of my book even if you borrow a copy from a friend.  I owe so much to so many.  I’m hesitant to start listing names, because I can’t begin to list them all.  They are listed in my book.  You also have to be lucky, and I was often fortunate enough to be the right place at the right time.  I also owe the fans everything.  Wrestling fans are the best fans in the world, and the most loyal.

    Whatever success I’ve enjoyed in the wrestling business, I owe first and foremost to the fans that supported me and supported professional wrestling throughout my career.

    Happy in retirement, December 2004; Image credit: J.J. Dillon

    TWD:  You seem to be very happy in your retirement, devoting as much time as possible to your children and grandchildren.  But wrestling fans always enjoy seeing you back inside the squared circle and we’re always eager for the next chapter in your storied career to unfold.  What can we look forward to in the coming months and years from the magnificent mind of J.J. Dillon?

    JJ:  I have slowed down a little bit.  I look back on the era of the Horsemen and the lifestyle, and I wonder how did I do it?  I had full, left-knee replacement two years ago.  A year ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  It was detected very early, I had excellent treatment and today I am cancer free.

    I continue to work full-time for the State of Delaware.  I am active in Cauliflower Alley Club and again this year I will be the MC (along with Terry Funk) for the awards banquet in Las Vegas in April.  I am on the board of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Amsterdam, NY.  We have our annual induction (the 11th) coming up in early June of 2010.

    The PWHF is an amazing place.  Just as every baseball fan must someday make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, every true wrestling fan owes it to his or herself to make a similar pilgrimage to Amsterdam to see pro-wrestling’s only true brick and mortar Hall of Fame.  I don’t have the words to describe it; you must see it for yourself. (If you go to www.jjdillon.com you will find convenient links to CAC and PWHF.)

    I am also scheduled to appear at WrestleReunion 4 in Los Angeles the last weekend in January of 2010.  I also look forward to the NWA Legends FanFest presented by Greg Price in Charlotte.  I believe it is the first weekend in August. The Original Four Horsemen were all together this year in Charlotte and the turn-out and response was overwhelming.  What an event!  You never know when I may show up at one of the local events.  Life is good for J. J. Dillon.  I am blessed and I have much to be thankful for.

    Please visit J.J. Dillon’s personal homepage to read more about his life and work.  JJ. Is also available to be booked for personal appearances and he can be contacted through his official website.  His book Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls: From McMahon to McMahon is available for purchase through Crowbar Press for $25 plus shipping.

    (This article was originally published under the title, “Riding Shotgun with the Four Horsemen:  TWD Interviews J.J. Dillon.” Minor revisions were made for publication on thebradyhicks.com.)

    Mike Bessler was a co-founder of The Wrestling Daily. Like JJ Dillon, Mike has much to be thankful for. 

  • Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. The Rise and Fall of TWD, part three

    To read part one of this series, click here.
    To read part two of this series, click here.

    Part Three: Agitato

    When it comes right down to it, I don’t know if missing the boat on the whole Wrestlicious ad was completely our fault. As noted in “Rise and Fall…part two,” we were contacted by lotto tycoon Jonathan Vargas about the possibility that he’d take out some ad space on our now burgeoning hotbed of pro wrestling journalism. Content Director Jason LeBlanc, Chief Editor Ray Bogusz, and I tried to hammer out some prices for premium ad space at the very top of the site and we did reply to Vargas with what we thought were very reasonable prices but no deal ever materialized. Adam Testa, who joined TWD’s Administrative Committee as our Marketing Director, had tried to steer us in a direction that was more consistent with what he’d seen as a journalist but we were too excited to really get our heads around it all. Whatever the case, nothing ever came of it.

    It might have been around this time that I was getting very sensitive to the financial aspect of things. I felt like I’d shelled out more than my share for our setup costs with the understanding that this was a collective effort and that expenses and profits would be shared. And while expenses were nominal up to this point, I was getting frustrated that my fellow administrators weren’t contributing to fees for the URL purchase, site hosting and the like. Moreover, we had also turned down another offer by an advertiser who wanted to pay something like $30 to put an ad on the main page for something like 60 to 90 days. Those who opposed this said that the offer was too low but to my mind, something is always more than nothing…and anything is always a good place to start. Expenses for the site would ultimately pick up yet again with the need for a better hosting plan. Truth be told, I did live in a two-income household at the time and, in fact, both my wife and I had some small part-time jobs that were bringing a little more to the family coffers but I didn’t think this necessarily figured into who should pay the bills for TWD. Besides, nobody asked me how much my house payment, outstanding medical bills, and the entire myriad of living expenses that go along with raising a small family figured into my overall financial picture. With all that in mind, though, here’s the truth of it: we had a crappy business model. Okay, maybe it’s even more accurate to say we had no business model. There were better approaches to consider (pooling resources before the project began, true shared ownership registered through a third part or service, etc.) but none of us could really see beyond our initial vision and excitement to build a foundation that was more stable than what we’d ended up creating. The end result was that we were constantly stressed out over a lot of things that could’ve been handled differently.

    With our continued increase in traffic and the establishment of a dedicated fan base, there came a call for a site overhaul. In our present configuration, our main page could feature somewhere around 9 to 12 articles with additional links appearing in the sidebar(s). It seemed that quite a few TWD writers and readers felt that our general aesthetics could be greatly improved and a good deal of the criticism was that the site appeared drab and gloomy. I have to admit that I internalized the critique of my design and was even a little bitter about it. This was also one of the few things that Ray and I were in complete agreement on by this point (to my recollection, anyway), as we both liked TWD’s layout and appearance up to this point.

    At some level, though, it seemed reasonable to expect that TWD should evolve to a more elaborate and ornate layout and it was mostly the vision of Adam Testa who made this happen. He selected a much more powerful “theme” for the site’s overall appearance as well as a black, red and white color scheme that seemed to evoke the spirit of the old ECW logo. I purchased the theme package and Adam and I customized the hell out of it using our admittedly limited experience with HTML, JavaScript and PHP. It also turned out that Adam was both adept and prolific when it came to graphics and design elements. He created new logos and used pictures he’d taken at WWE & TNA house shows and local events to enhance the look and feel of TWD. But what really amazed all of us in the end was his drive and determination to make TWD something great. I mean, the guy would sit outside of his local library late at night well into the fall and winter months just so he could use their Wi-Fi connection to work on TWD. . I remember the night of the re-launch well, as a bunch of us including Adam, Ray, Scott (don in Australia) and possibly Michael Scanlon stayed online for hours chatting on Skype as we recategorized all of our old articles to fit into the site’s ne configuration. It was a really happy and exciting time. In the end, the site’s re-launch was extremely well received and it gave us a much more credible and dynamic appearance on the ‘net. Adam gets the lion’s share of the credit for this. He brought a lot to the table, but this might well have been his crowning achievement as part of TWD.

    Adam also brought a journalistic flair to TWD that compelled him to go straight to the men and women of the industry itself for comments and for full-length interviews. One of the biggest interviews he landed was with Ring of Honor’s Tyler Black (now WWE’s Seth Rollins). It was really cool that ROH talent were directly communicating with our site and Adam’s piece on Black was particularly timely as it spotlighted Black’s imminent return to the ring after a neck injury. So, it seemed there would be a lot of eyes on the piece. Indeed, a lot of folks did read the article and, oddly enough, that created a few conundrums with regard to both TWD and Black himself. In the original draft of the article, Black had made a rather unflattering comment concerning ROH’s television deal with HDNet. In his 2012 intro to the re-publication of the article, Testa recalls:

    The article originally contained a comment from Black about HDNet being a “stepping stone” to something bigger. The day after publication, Black sent me a text message, stating he had received heat from management about those comments and asking me if I could remove them.

    If this was my real newspaper job, ethics would have prevailed, but for our fledgling site, it wasn’t worth burning potential bridges to take a moral stand over the issue. In the end, it paid off, as ROH plugged the revised article in their newswire.

    The decision to revise Black’s quote(s) came pretty easily to us. I think there was some unspecified concern among Ray, Jason, and me that Adam’s journalistic integrity would put us at odds with our desire to go ahead and revise the piece in hopes of fostering a relationship with ROH I recall that all four of us came to agreement on the matter quite quickly and I think we were all quite relieved to have come to agreement with very little hullabaloo.

    Adam's mock up of the business cards we never printed. Image credit: TWD Media

    There was some discord behind the scenes, though. I’d say a fair amount of it was between Ray and me. It was probably more than that; we argued, after all, about damn near everything up to a point. We argued about whether an interview should be called an “interview” or an “exclusive,” we argued about what a “byline” really was. We argued about whether or not to put a disclaimer at the end of our articles. Hell, one time Ray and I even argued about the correct spelling of the phrase, “Que sera sera.” (For the record, I was correct but Ray got in the last shot of that one by saying that working with me made him feel like he was running a preschool. Something like that, anyway.)

    Adding to my concerns about our business model was an odd decision by some of the administrators to start crediting original artwork and logos to “TWD Media.” I had no idea what in the freakin’ hell TWD was and I couldn’t seem to get anyone to explain it to me. My brain kind of filled in the gaps and I ended up thinking that this was some kind of way to undermine any possibility that there was collective ownership of TWD by making “TWD Media” a larger entity that would encompass TWD itself. (No word if it would’ve also included “The Motorsports Daily,” which was a pie-in-the-sky idea between ray and I that never got off the ground). The whole “TWD Media” flap made me feel like Michael Kiske’s memorable line in the song “Your Turn”: The thing that I once started isn’t mine anymore.

    I was, for my part, trying to keep my uncertainty and the friction between some of the administrators under wraps and hidden from the writers’ bullpen. I can’t really remember how or when it ultimately came to their collective attention but I recall that some folks were surprised about the seriousness of the schism by the time everything  was finally out in the open. Our political differences had a lot to do with the tension. I had come to expect that this would be a problem at some point but I was actually rather taken aback when our first really huge blow up over site matters ended up spilling into a disagreement over politics. I don’t know how the dispute started but I recall getting some grief because one of my Facebook friends had showed off a picture of his living room that included a framed picture of Mao Zedong. It was like a total non sequitur to me but since it was obviously such a sensitive situation, I resisted the urge to share the information that I keep a framed picture of Mao at Anyuan on my side of the bedroom. What frustrated me most is that I felt like I had to hold a lot back for the sake of everyone else. Any of my replies – even ones that seemed innocuous to me – usually tended to inflame things and I felt like everyone who knew what was going on secretly blamed me for each and every argument.

    In hindsight, I know that everyone wasn’t against me. I know there was blame to go around, too. Surely it wasn’t all on me and it wasn’t all on Ray, either. Here’s the truth of the matter, though—it’s something about me that I’ve never really articulated in any amount of detail: I loathe neutrality. I feel the same way about neutrality that Charu Mazumdar felt about Centrism. I want people to take sides. I want contentious matters out in the open so they can be vetted, examined and dealt with. I hate tension. I prefer quick resolutions. Further, I prefer not to sound so moralistic that I believe that everything is either “right” or “wrong,” but I do view most things – especially in debates – along the lines of “correct” and “incorrect” ideas. I think that, fundamentally, most people tend to think they’re “right” or “correct” when taking a position and I’m certainly no exception. I’m also fairly absolute about things and I can be very, very difficult to deal with when I am accused of being in the wrong or otherwise mistaken or dishonest. I think this was definitely a factor in the problems with the administrative dynamics of TWD. Put rather bluntly, there were some very strong personalities at odds with one another…and I was surely one of them.

    Still, TWD’s combination of timely news reports, in-depth analysis and thought-provoking opinion resonated with fans. We enjoyed interacting with an assortment of regular readers, most of whom were now visiting the site at least once a day. Once we started touting our work on Facebook, a handful of folks even sought out their favorite writers and sent “friend” requests, which isn’t nearly as creepy as it may sound. There was hate mail, too. Some folks looked at us as smarks and others were just run-of-the mill trolls. The thing of it was, the site was founded by three guys who’d bonded by trolling it up over on Bleacher Report. A lot of the headstrong, know-it-all loudmouths who tried to take shots at TWD were put down with overwhelming force. I think Ray and I blew about an hour and a half taking apart some guy from State College, Pennsylvania one night. That was a fun evening with some outlandishly hilarious insults flying hither and yon. It kind of says a lot about a relationship, though, when the only time you get along is when you’re tearing someone else apart.

    So how’d we know the commenter was from State College? Well, the blogware that we used allowed us to see the IP addresses of folks who were posting to the site. From there, it was pretty easy to figure out where they were unless they were smart enough to use some kind of proxy service. It was both a blessing and a curse to have this kind of information at our disposal. On the one hand, it was helpful to know more about our readers, whether they were hostile or — as they were in most cases — good-natured and friendly. At the same time, though, this did foster some mild paranoia on our end. Some of us had been concerned about people sabotaging the site in one way or another and for a time, it became a regular thing to “look up” where this commenter or that e-mailer was posting from. I remember thinking it had gotten especially bad when a reader of the site wrote to us asking to become a regular contributor. Despite some impressive skills and credentials, a few of us (including me) thought it might be someone trying to infiltrate the site and cause trouble. I mean, just based on the guy’s name alone, I figured he had to be a provocateur of some kind. Really, have you ever known anyone with the first name Denim? As I recall, I think I asked Jason for a second or third round of info for the esteemed Mr. Millward before we formally brought him on board but Jason effectively put an end to my quasi-hysteria by telling me that he’d already told Denim that he was “in.”

    The Wrestlicious banner we never got to use. Image credit: Powerball

    We also came to regard other IWC sites as “competition” although when it comes right down to it, this was just a charitable way of saying they were “enemies.” I actually don’t have any problems with Jason taking shots at Lords of Pain (a.k.a. “Fjords of Shame”) in his hilarious S.C.O.R.E. columns. I also took a swipe or two at a WWE recapper that would always refer to himself “Your Personal Harvester of Sorrow” and that mouth-breather who’d always stick his “Hot Asian Bitch of the Week” cheesecake pictures into his wrestling columns. Yeah, be proud of that crap-ass idiocy, 411mania.com. Still, some of of the shots we took at guys like Joe Burgett, Matt Hester and his Ring-Rap.com site and even our old pals at Hit the Ropes were way over the top and completely uncalled for. Those guys were almost always complimentary and many of us would respond to their posts by making cracks about the quality of their work while hoping that they’d spontaneously fold in the shadow of TWD’s collective badassery. I remember it got especially out of hand in the comment thread of a pay per view recap one night when one of our contributors and someone from another site were threatening to physically assault one another (despite the fact that they lived hundreds of miles away from each other, mind you). That level of nastiness did suggest to me that it was time to cool things off and I did make some efforts to patch things up with that site’s administrator shortly thereafter. After TWD’s ultimate demise, I personally reached out to the guys from those sites I listed above and apologized for things that I had done to insult or offend them. Old pretty criticisms and rivalries aside, the fact that they were willing to mend fences without even the slightest bit of hesitation says a lot about them…and it’s all good.

    While there were a number of problems with regard to those of us who were running TWD, the general construction and functionality of the site itself seemed satisfactory for quite a while. There were some glitches but we all thought that we were just getting an “up close” schooling on some relatively typical hiccups for an otherwise successful website.

    In my mind, however, my personal mantra of “hope for the best but expect the worst” was causing me to anxiously fixate upon some of the site’s developing performance issues along with all of the recurring personal disputes and that was definitely taking a toll on my habitus mentis.  Things took an even more discouraging turn when I received an ultimatum from our web hosting service: The skyrocketing volume of traffic TWD had been enjoying for the past few months was causing their server to crash repeatedly and knocking other sites off line in the process.

    We would have some hard choices to make from here.

    Mike Bessler was a co-founder of The Wrestling Daily. He hasn’t thrown up in at least four years, which has to be some kind of personal record.

  • A Very Special Announcement from TWD 2012

    Posted on by VOC Nation

    In a move that can only be described as quasi-Machiavellian and uncharacteristically sensible, pro wrestling raconteur Brady Hicks has grudgingly allowed a coterie of the original writers from the one-time IWC juggernaut known as The Wrestling Daily to class up things here on thebradyhicks.com. As such, over the course of the next few weeks this site will experience an unprecedented influx of high-quality, insightfully entertaining coverage and analysis related to the dynamic and multifaceted world of professional wrestling, presented in the celebrated and critically acclaimed TWD style.

    TWD 2012 already has a number of great material on deck, including new work by Adam Testa, Scott Beeby, and Rob Siebert as well as classic TWD articles by Denim Millward and others. Additionally, the next senses-shattering installment of the epic series “The Rise and Fall of TWD” will be published next week as part of the TWD Revival.

    The revolution continues…

  • Bowling Shoe Handsome – Legit Tough Guise, Part I

    The web’s premier “punk rock ‘n wrestling” podcast, Bowling Shoe Handsome, airs each week. It’s packed tight with information and musings about pro wrestling and pop culture. Plus: it features tunes from some of the world’s best punk rock, indie, and alternative artists!

    Ahead of WWE’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, this week’s show is part one in a two part series about what Brock Lesnar’s MMA pedigree means for the future of WWE. Mike Bessler joins Kevin to discuss Lesnar’s work since his return, what will likely come next, and how John Cena will be impacted by all of this. Plus a MAJOR announcement concerning next week’s show, and a tribute to musical legend, Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex). Enjoy!

    Musical Playlist:

    Tin Armor – Raise High the Roof Beams
    Irish Handcuffs – Little Tired
    Ascetic Parade – Promenade in Raindrops
    The Please & Thank Yous – Holy Hell
    *Mari Elliot (Poly Styrene) – Silly Billy

    Download this week’s podcast: http://www.mediafire.com/?okid7v9j0p5855p

    *Unreleased track, not commercially available. All other songs are either used with permission of the artists themselves or are excerpts, used for scholarly or critical purposes.

  • Bowling Shoe Handsome – Goin’ Home

    The web’s premier “punk rock ‘n wrestling” podcast, Bowling Shoe Handsome, airs each week. It’s packed tight with information and musings about pro wrestling and pop culture. Plus: it features tunes from some of the world’s best punk rock, indie, and alternative artists!

    This special “go home” edition of BSH previews WrestleMania 28 – which takes place this Sunday, April 1. The good, bad, and in between of the “Superbowl of Sports Entertainment” are previewed, as Kevin welcomes special guest, Mike Bessler, to provide his invaluable insight. Plus, find out more details about the upcoming Road to Ruin Fest – taking place April 20-22 in Philadelphia!

    Musical Playlist:

    The Please and Thank Yous – Peas ‘N Cheese
    Ascetic Parade – Suburban Decay
    Sass Dragons – 8 or 9 on a Bike
    3rd Year Freshman – Hope It’s Not Me
    Mike Bessler – It Begins
    Captain We’re Sinking – Foster Brothers
    Big Eyes – Since You Left
    The Eeries – Walk You Home
    Jack’s Smirking Revenge – Strangely Meta

    Download this week’s show: http://www.mediafire.com/?locjcrchzv9d8c4

  • Mat Minutiae: Season Finale

    It’s the season finale of Mat Minutiae, bitches. Worlds will live, worlds will die, and nothing will ever be the same!”

    As you read this, you’re one click away from the star-studded, explosive season finale of Mat Minutiae featuring HUGE announcements from the illustrious Mike B. and his larger-than-life quasi-associate Chauncey “The Gaudy” Fentura. You’ll also swoon to the pear-shaped tones of The Voice of Choice and you’ll wretch and writhe with laughter at the irreverent mirth of Kevin McElvaney, known affectionately ‘round these parts as half of the talent behind the podcasting juggernaut known as “Bowling Shoe Handsome.” Will there be another season for the ever-lovin’ Double-M? Only Brady’s hairdresser knows for sure.

    Mat Minutiae: It’s like a laxative for your brain.


  • The Five Syllables or Less Review: TNA Knocked Out

    Back after a long hiatus…It’s T5SoL, bitches!

    Featured item:
    TNA: Knocked Out Starring Christy Hemme, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong and Karen Angle (Original release: Oct 7, 2008)

    Excerpt source:
    Tagore, Rabindranath. Gitanjali = (song offerings). London: Macmillan and Company, 1914. Print.

  • Bowling Shoe Handsome – Dueling Reactions

    02.06.12 – Dueling Reactions

    Join hosts Kevin and Young John for a very “divisive” edition of the web’s only Punk Rock ‘n Wrestling podcast. This week’s topic is wrestlers who have figuratively split audiences in two. First, hear the guys talk about Hulk Hogan’s place as both the top heel AND top babyface in TNA – and why this could be helpful to the Impact product. Then, the discussion turns again to internet darling, Daniel Bryan. Find out why a seemingly innocuous line uttered by Michael Cole might signal a brighter future for the former “American Dragon.” A can’t-miss feud with John Cena might not be so far off!

    Musically speaking, you’ll dig into tracks from Go to the Police, the long out-of-print (and only) recording from U.K. power pop act, The Toys. PLUS: music from Mat Minutiae’s Mike Bessler and BSH’s own Kevin McElvaney. Yes, you read that right!

    Click below to download this week’s show.


  • Bowling Shoe Handsome – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & WWE

    Credit: Screenrant.
    01.23.12 – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & WWE

    This week, Kevin and Young John invite the renowned Mike Bessler to the internet’s favorite Punk Rock ‘N Wrestling podcast. The guys discuss a host of topics, with the focal question being “Should WWE split its programming into seasons?” It’s a debate that’s been stewing in various circles over the years, and BSH will attempt to solve the issue once and for all. Plus, Mike, John, and Kevin talk about the future of Mat Minutiae, THE Brady Hicks, and the 100th episode anniversary of NXT. All this, along with music from Red Tape Parade, Hold Tight, Jack’s Smirking Revenge, and Red & Orange. Check it out!

    Download this week’s podcast!