Celebrating a year of those LilsBoys
This week I managed to interview one of the busiest Wrestling journalists and broadcasters in the UK at the moment. Over the past year Simon Lilsboy has brought proper Wrestling coverage to the Sun online site with in depth columns, interviews and reviews. Simon has imposed his character and knowledge on to the Talk Wrestling (The new name for WrestleTalk) radio show every Saturday night to the point that he is now co-host of the show. Now you are all wondering how he got where he is and what have been his highlights of an eventful year well read on to find out. Happy birthday to Simon and Richard who are celebrating their first year anniversary of the Lilsboys.
Full name: Simon LilsBoy
First live event you attended: A WCW tour back in the early 1990s.
Favourite live event attended: Revival
Favourite Wrestler: Currently it is Kurt Angle – his wrestling and mic skills are both superb, a combination not many can achieve.
Favourite match: For wrestling it would have to be Rob Van Dam v Jerry Lynn at ECW’s Living Dangerously in 1999. For pure entertainment and mark out moments it can only be Hulk Hogan v The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 6.
Favourite event: WrestleMania 15
Biggest perks for working with TalkSport and the Sun Online: There have been quite a few, my favourite was the ‘gold-tie’ dinner I went to with Richard and Alex.
The first question I must ask how did you get your positions at the Sun and TalkSport?
Thanks Adam, it is good of you to interview me for the LilsBoys Jubilee. This is the question I get asked the most. I guess the answer is originally we were in the right place at the right time and we just built up from there. To cut a long story short the Sun decided they wanted to do a weekly online wrestling column but the problem they had was the journalists didn’t really know enough about wrestling and the wrestling fans who’d sent in samples didn’t know enough about writing a good article.
I knew someone there who asked me and Rich to have a go at writing a column. The editor of SunSport Online really liked it and asked us to write every week for him. We took the ball from there and ran with it adding new features along the way.
I phoned the TalkSPORT show one week to let them know about an interview we’d done and through that Tommy Boyd and ourselves communicated over email a few times. We also worked with Alex a bit through the FWA. Then Tommy invited us in to do a show which went really well and it just carried on from there.
How did you and Richard get together were you friends before and go in to this together or did The Sun team you up?
Me and Richard have known each other since we were kids. We became really great mates when we were about 16. We both got into writing at the same time and came up with the pen name The LilsBoys for our work. We were also both huge wrestling fans – when Richard didn’t have Sky for a while at Uni I used to send him the Raw tapes every week.
The irony is that the rest of our friends got fed up with us talking about wrestling whenever we went out on a Saturday night, now they have to listen to us talk about it before we go out too!
Many fans have asked why has Richard taken a step down from his duties at Talk Wrestling, will he be coming back?
Richard is currently in Christchurch, New Zealand having already gone to Australia and Singapore so he’s having a blast. When he gets back he’s been offered a wicked job that is nothing to do with wrestling or journalism. It’s one of these very highly paid jobs with demanding hours so I don’t know if he’d have time to do the radio show again on a full time basis. Although hopefully he’ll be able to appear occasionally, he is so talented we could always use him.
What were you doing before you worked for The Sun?
I did the traditional route – University, Journalism College, a few jobs here and there to get experience and desperately looking for a break. Oh, and I watched shed loads of wrestling and soap operas.
By the masses wrestling isn’t perceived as a sport, was it the Sun’s idea to do a WWE section or did you have to persuade them?
It was all their idea, the reason why the Sun is the biggest selling daily newspaper is because they give people what they want. So many other parts of the media are so far up their own arse that they won’t cover wrestling. But the guys at Sun Online looked at how many people watch wrestling and buy the merchandise and decided they wanted a weekly column.
The website has over 30 million page impressions each month from 1.6 million unique users so I think the fact that they’ve chosen to cover wrestling as a sport speaks bucket loads for the popularity of the grap game in the UK.
When you started last year did you ever think that you would be doing all the stuff you have done so far?
Not at all! Every day I have to pinch myself to check I’m not dreaming. We’ve met some of the biggest names in wrestling and journalism, people I’ve idolised. At the same time I’ve never doubted that me and Richard had the ability to do it, I just never thought we’d have the opportunity. I think it just goes to show if you want something badly enough and, more importantly, work hard enough you can achieve it.
Can you remember the first column you did for the Sun site?
I remember the first column well. We were so desperate to impress that we chocked it full of awful puns and jokes. In fact we did that for the first few columns. But then we started to notice something, the subeditors would remove the puns and jokes but keep in the serious wrestling journalism. Every week we’d read the site and look what had been changed, down to the last comma. That teaches you more about journalism than any course can.
We found our feet properly about a month or two into it and developed the style we have today. I’d like to think of it as good wrestling reviews accessible to anyone with any level of interest in wrestling which is going to provoke debate and also make you laugh a little.
What in your opinion has been the best column you have written?
I honestly don’t have a favourite, we’ve probably written about 50 columns and I really like each one of them. If either Richard or I don’t like it then it gets ripped up and we start over again – we’ve had to do that a few times. We’re both perfectionists and I hope that shows through in the quality of what we write.
Talk us through how interviews with WWE guys are set up and how they are completed?
Basically when a WWE star comes over they do a ‘circuit’ of interviews and the Sun Online is a permanent part of that. They’ll usually do the Saturday Show and a few others too. We like to think that the stars like doing interviews with us as it gives them a chance to talk openly about wrestling but at the same time has a massive mainstream readership. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.
Since Alex and I took over the reigns of the Talk Wrestling radio show we’ve added that to the circuit as well. The Jim Ross and Terri interview was the best yet and I can’t wait for the next one.
When WWE guys come over here they are normally on a busy promotional schedule how long do you get to spend with them?
They are usually very busy promoting the latest WWE show or product and the federation also lets them see some of the sites which I feel is only fair. We’ll usually get around an hour to do an interview and take some pictures. If we’re doing something for the radio as well then we’ll have a bit longer.
You have interviewed a host of top name wrestlers from around the world which was your favourite interview to do?
That is very difficult as each one has been great. In terms of friendliness I loved meeting the Big Show as he was a great and able to laugh at himself too. Lita was good as we got her at the time all the rumours about her and the Hardys suspension were going on so we got the scoop on her side of the story.
Have you ever been star struck when you have met any of the guys like Ric Flair, JR, Big Show etc?
Sometimes it’s difficult to sleep thinking tomorrow I’m meeting Mick Foley or Jim Ross. However when we actually meet them professionalism takes over and you just see them as someone you need to interview as part of the job. Afterwards you do think to yourself ‘wow, I just spent an hour with Lita’.
Do you feel as if The Sun don’t give you enough space on the site or are you happy with how they have treated you and Richard?
I am surprised by this question and I hope that isn’t what people think. We write a column every Wednesday for one of the country’s biggest website which stays on the site for an entire week. On top of that we have regular competitions, webchats and British wrestling coverage.
To be honest I wouldn’t want to write anymore. I think if you do more than one long column a week then you can lose a lot of the quality. And we’ve always been about quality over quantity. The news and rumours sites do well to post so much news but that is not what we are there to do. Our job is, once a week, looking at the big news and TV shows and giving a round up and, most importantly, our opinions.
Over the next few months we are going to have a dedicated wrestling page on the site where people can find all our work. We’ll probably then step up things like our competitions and interviews and do some one off features.
Everyone thought we had seen the end of WrestleTalk when Tommy Boyd got fired what was the time like for you and what do you think you would of ended up doing if the show had of been discontinued?
When I heard that Tommy had been released by TalkSPORT I really thought that would be the end of the wrestling radio show. I remember being very down, especially because the show was so popular.
Then something strange happened, I went into work and told the people at Sun Online what had happened and every one of them said I should take the reigns. I honestly didn’t really think about it before then but knowing that people who knew and worked with me thought I could do it convinced me. I phoned Alex and the people who he knew and worked with in the British wrestling scene were telling him exactly the same thing.
So we came up with a proposal for TalkSPORT. We realised that between us we had contacts in virtually every part of the global wrestling industry and had a very good proposal. Then we got a call and sat and talked for ages to the team at TalkSPORT who said they wanted us to take over. That is definitely one of the highlights of my year.
What would I be doing if there was no show? I’m really not sure, I guess writing and looking for other opportunities.
Many people were public with their thoughts on Tommy Boyd what are your thoughts and feelings of Tommy Boyd on and off air?
I think that Tommy Boyd is an excellent broadcaster, he has a great ability to make you want to listen to his shows whatever the topic. However the flip side to that is if you have a real interest in the subject you could be put off by and I think that started to happen with the wrestling show.
I have always been a big fan of WrestleTalk / Talk Wrestling, well before I started working on it. I think the show back then had many strengths but I feel it is definitely a lot stronger now and I hope the listeners agree.
Tommy gave me an opportunity on national radio and for that I’ll always be grateful. Off the air and as a person I can’t say I ever knew Tommy enough to comment.
The show has grown to a point now where yourself and Alex have been given free reign of the show what are your thoughts of the team especially the much under fire Ross Gordon?
I think that every single person I’ve worked with on the show has brought something to the table. What I like about the show is that we have so many people with different styles of broadcasting and views on wrestling. It would be so boring if we all thought the same things and talked the same way.
As you say we have complete creative control over the show so it’s a good bet that if we didn’t think somebody was good then they wouldn’t be on air.
Many comments have been made about the radio show on wrestling forums by so called “smarts” what has been your opinion on these comments and the mentality of them?
Criticism of the radio show is valid, I make a living from being a critic so I can’t complain. But what these ‘smart’ fans need to realise is that this is a national radio show broadcast on one of the UK’s most popular radio stations listened to by around 300,000 people. It’s ridiculous to think that the show should be anything other than mainstream.
Imagine if we turned round to the TalkSPORT bosses next week and said: “Well the shows lost 299,990 listeners but the guys on the internet loved our two hour profile of Jushin Leiger .”
We do have some features that more hardcore fans will appreciate such as the Mo and Bill guest slots – and we’re talking to Dave Meltzer about doing the same thing – but the trick with these is to make them accessible to everyone and I think that Mo and Bill have a great knack for doing that.
The biggest problem in any kind of journalism is forgetting who your audience is. If we aimed the radio show at the tiny, but very vocal, minority it would kill it. What we need to always bear in mind is that the most common question we get is ‘when is the Ultimate Warrior coming back’. As exciting as the early 90’s Japanese women’s wrestling scene may have been talking about it will make people switch off and watch Smackdown instead.
If you could change anything that has happened over the last year would you and if so what bit would you change?
As with everything in life there are always things you wish you had done and things you’ve done you wished you hadn’t. Luckily I work with such talented people that a lot of mistakes I nearly made were picked up and never saw fruition.
Thirteen months ago I was a wrestling obsessed guy desperate for a break in journalism, now I’m working for the country’s most successful newspaper and co-hosting a weekly wrestling radio show for a national radio station. I wouldn’t swap that for the world.
If you could interview any wrestler dead or alive who would it be?
There are two people in wrestling I would give anything to interview – Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. Those two have shaped everything we see on our screens today. They’ve been through so much that I wouldn’t know where to start and I’d probably mark out big time. If you look at the people we’ve talked to and the combined audience the Sun and TalkSPORT have I don’t see why we won’t talk to them at some point in the future.
I really wish I’d got to meet and interview Davey Boy Smith before he died. That will probably be my biggest regret. When Revival came around we interviewed the Dynamite Kid and then for an FWA show we did Mick McManus. I wanted to talk to Davey Boy as he was always a hero of mine, probably as much as any other British athlete has been. And I thought we’ve got so much time we will save the Davey interview for a big event, but that will never happen now.
Many thanks for your time Simon any last comments?
Firstly I’d like to say keep up the good work, this is the first site I look on for British wrestling news. Secondly I would like to thank everyone who emails me through the Sun and TalkSPORT websites. Although I don’t always get to reply to the mails I promise that I read every single one and really enjoy the feedback.
You can keep up to date with Simon’s work and thoughts on the world of Wrestling by visiting: Sun Sport and Lilsboys.co.uk