With Adam Sibley leaving the UK Scene Weekly column after over 150 editions I thought it was about time for him to dish the dirt on his UK Scene peers, promoters and other UK wrestling aficionados…
Ok Adam let the “shooting” begin…………………
Before we start, I am sorry if anything I say offends anyone, as that is not the intention. What I say is only my opinion and viewpoint so please don’t take anything as a personal dig.
To kick us off, we might as well start at the top, the FWA, what are your thoughts on that promotion?
My thoughts on the FWA, well they have come a long way since their beginnings in 1999. To go from a small Portsmouth based promotion to a point where they have now put on shows across the length and the breadth of the country is no mean feat this is why most UK promotions stay locally based.
I compare local promotions to my local football club. My local football club wants to move up a league which will get them in to a feeder league for the football conference but this will see them having to travel thousands more miles to compete in that league which they can’t afford to do. This is why most promotions just promote shows in a small area because they don’t have the funds to take it any further or are content with what they have. So I salute the FWA for taking their show on the road.
I do believe though that the FWA have made some bad decisions over the year and sometimes are getting in their own way when it comes to progress. Due to the lack of money in the UK Scene it seems that they are willing to let anyone who helps them out financially or with services do what they like in the promotion.
It’s like John Atkins the FWA ring announcer, I don’t know the boy from eve but the boy has no charisma or enthusiasm whatsoever which makes me think he is helping out the FWA backstage some how. Like I say, no offence to John but at the University I have studied at the last three years there have been tons of people doing a Postgraduate course in Broadcast Journalism, which is accredited by the BBC, who would have done a far better job free in exchange for some TV exposure. In John’s defence, though I don’t go much on the other chap I think he is called Tony Giles or something. The FWA should use the fact that they can give TV exposure to lure in better staff.
It’s a similar story with Greg Lambert he has gone from being a writer / webmaster for a fairly new website to being put in a major on screen character role. Again surely with live events and TV exposure you should be able to get some up and coming actors from the big stage schools like RADA and LAMDA for on screen character roles. So because of the quick transition between website writer to an on screen character leads me to believe again he must be doing something backstage.
The reason I get annoyed about this is you have hard working people backstage like take Ralph from Rusty Music. The amount of stuff that bloke did behind the scenes in his time with FWA from producing the music to getting posters printed and he never once got involved on screen. It’s like if Malcolm Glaizer just because he has brought United decided to put himself up front. I just think these things make the FWA look a bit unprofessional and it is a slap in the face for all the wrestlers on the card that have worked for years and paid their dues for their position on the card just to have someone who has never been directly in the wrestling business take up valuable show time.
Like I say though, just because I don’t agree with a few things that doesn’t take away from the great job the FWA have done and Alex Shane always speaks highly of the people I have talked about so it’s only my opinion.
Do you think that the FWA will ever get as “big” as it wants to, and why?
I think the FWA can get as big as they want to be but they have to work very hard on a day to day basis and get the luck you sometimes need in business.
They have got themselves in a bad position with The Wrestling Channel, as their live event schedule doesn’t’t make it easy to produce a new hour-long programme every week. To start with, to produce hour long shows based on three hour events is very hard to do because it means that the event has a main event but there isn’t a main event every hour so they can easily divide it in to three. There is no other UK promotion though that can offer the same production values so to lose them off the channel would be a big blow for the UK Scene.
For a UK promotion to get big, they need to get on a channel other than The Wrestling Channel. The WWE make their shows every week to appeal to the casual fan or to get the interest of a channel surfer, which you aren’t going to do on The Wrestling Channel. If the FWA or any other British promotion could get themselves a regular spot on channels like Five, Living TV, Bravo, Men and Motors etc. It would be huge because when you have the remote in your hand and you’re scanning the channels if you’re not a wrestling fan you’re not going to stop at TWC but you will check out channels like I have just mentioned.
Another problem the FWA has at the moment is irregular events. In the 2002 – 2003 period they were producing a huge event every month in which every event was hyped like Wrestlemania. These shows had lots of foreign talent imported and hot storylines that really created a buzz but now we see ourselves in a state where we don’t know when the next event is happening or what US talent they are bringing over if any and the buzz has died away. The storylines though in my opinion haven’t been as hot since the Old School feud and High School Hell event when Alex Shane took on Drew McDonald. When the biggest star in the UK for sometime Jody Fleisch returns after over a year absent and can’t even cause an upturn you know we have problems.
It was a big loss when Alex Shane stepped down from his role as Managing Director the FWA just needs now for someone to take on the role with the same passion but maybe try a new direction and hopefully the FWA can get back to where they were a few years ago.
You co-promoted a FWA show a few years ago as part of the “FWA Break Out” tour, what was that like?
Promoting a wrestling show is an experience you can’t really understand until you have lived it and I thank the FWA for letting me experience that. From a show point of view I was really happy with the outcome with two title changes and a paid crowd of 183 for my first show so from those points of view it was a real success.
If I could turn back time I probably would have promoted it in my local city of Plymouth like was planned but at the time money was at a premium and Mark Sloan had managed to get us a good deal on the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth. Without Mark and Alex, the show wouldn’t have happened so I thank them both for everything they did for me.
I did come home frustrated from the event though for many reasons. None of these were anyone’s fault but at the time caused me a bit of hurt but maybe that’s because I’m sensitive. On the day of the event besides Alex and Mark nobody talked to me much and I didn’t feel involved whatsoever. Then when it came to show time, I had to make up a job to do which was checking tickets. After the event hurt me the most as I had to ask to meet the imported stars Juvi and Chris Hamrick which I managed to get a couple of words with and then had to go and thank other people before I got a thank you in return. On top of this at around this time, I was relieved of my duties as interviewer for the FWA website because they wanted anyone just to email their interviews they had done with FWA stars in, since that decision was made hardly any interviews ever appeared on the site. Like I say, I have moved on and I’m not trying to point the finger at anyone because these things happen when you have a live event to run I just needed to let it out to get closure.
And your thoughts on Alex Shane?
Top bloke like me his problem is he cares too much at times but is a quality rare to find in the wrestling business. I hope the future is bright and prosperous for him, which he richly deserves.
Ok, moving away from the FWA, sort of, what about The Wrestling Channel, do you think it has actually made much of a difference to the UK Wrestling scene?
I think it has changed the way UK promotions advertise shows as they can now use as seen on TV by the names of wrestlers and those people who have been fortunate to have wrestled on the channel are now in higher demand. I don’t think it has had a great affect on crowd numbers but I think it has encouraged more promotions to start up or existing ones to work on their production values.
Do you see The Wrestling Channel lasting much longer?
I give it credit for lasting this long in all honesty. As a wrestling fan I was happy when they announced the station was coming but after stepping back and looking at it from a general prospective, I wondered why people had invested in this. At the time it was launched America didn’t have its own wrestling channel so why they thought to do one in the UK I don’t know.
Somebody once said you can have the greatest product around but if nobody knows about you or can find you its worthless, this is the case with The Wrestling Channel. Since the launch, I haven’t seen an advert for the wrestling channel anywhere else but on the channel itself which is pointless.
I know they are on a tight budget but you got to spend money to make money. As well as spending money there are other ways of getting exposure like when they first came out they could of got some photos of the ultra-violent CZW action and made a story for Bizzare magazine and cause publicity with ideas like that. TNA is seen as the biggest promotion behind WWE and you provide their weekly shows & PPV’s you should be shouting that to the moon and saying there is an alternative to WWE.
It seems in the last few months we have seen the rise of the “UK Supershow” , what are your thoughts of shows like the proposed 1PW Supershow & “Universal Uproar” promoted by the FWA & The Daily Star?
As proven by International Showdown there is a market for them in the UK. With everything though, if too many people jump on the idea it could quickly become an inflated bubble. The one issue I take with them is that the more imported stars you have doesn’t always mean more bums on seats. Like I think International Showdown could have afforded to get rid of a couple of people and still drawn the same crowd whilst saving around £2000 on wages and flights.
From a storyline and show point of view, I’m not a big fan of them but they are a great way of getting fans going to wrestling so as long as the promotions that provide us with weekly and monthly shows form the backbone of the UK Scene then they have their place.
What are your thoughts on some so called “promoters” who attempt to promote events but either made a mess of the show or failed to promote at all?
My Motto is if you’re not old enough to move out of home yet you’re not old enough to promote a wrestling show plain and simple. Don’t run before you can even crawl, at the end of the day you are doing yourself and the UK no favours by making a mess of things. With every good business months and sometimes years have gone in to research and planning so you need to do the same.
How about some of your wrestling Counterparts;
Simon Lilsboy – Put simply one of the best people I have had the pleasure to meet in my life. In the wrestling world there are many people you call acquaintances but hardly ever do you find a friend and in Simon I have. Which other journalists for a national paper do you know of that would let someone like me with no formal journalistic qualifications feature on a regular basis in his weekly section. The Lilsboys section is read by thousands every week so every word allocation is of premium importance so I feel honoured for having some of my work displayed.
A story I always tell is one night my hotel fell through and I was stuck away from home in London so I gave Simon a call and he put me up for the night and this is someone he had only met briefly on a couple of occasions. The thing with Simon is that he is unlike many others who act like they are the be all and end all in the wrestling world just because of his column that he has every right to do. Simon unlike most so-called reporters who are wrestling fans trying to be journalists is a journalist before he is a wrestling writer so if for some reason the Sun said they no longer wanted to cover wrestling Simon can continue in the sports and entertainment sections. Simon if your reading you deserve the best in life my friend and for everything you do for other people good things are going to happen for you.
Julian Radbourne – He has done so much for WAW by increasing the awareness of the product for which I take my hat off to him for. As people, we will probably never get along but that’s life.
Mo Chatra – Mo is a really good & interesting writer, I just don’t agree with the way he behaves. He wants to be seen as of supreme importance because of his work in PowerSlam so thinks of himself as a professional but then goes and has petty squabbles on Internet forums. The one thing with wrestling is if you act like you know everything there is always someone out there that will know more so watch out.
Sanjay Bagga – Sanjay really epitomizes a comment made in the guardian the other week that everyone wants to be a celebrity no matter what it is for. The only problem with Bagga is that he is trying to gain notoriety by just investing money in wrestling. I think it has crossed a line though when he is trying to promote himself ahead of the wrestlers on shows by putting on a card that he is drawing a blinking raffle. Something that William Regal told me has always stayed with me that is that he doesn’t get carried away with it because he knows he is only famous to wrestling fans. So being famous to Internet wrestling fans is something definitely not to get carried away with.
Some people may have had “issues” with you for only covering FWA in many of your columns, what would be your comments to them?
With my column, it has always been about drawing the readers in and the FWA has been the promotion over the years that people have most wanted to know about. It’s the same with every newspaper they draw you in with stories you want to read about and then inside they cover stories they want you to read. I have always used the big news around FWA to draw people’s attention to promotions like FCW and IPW:UK who I think both have big futures. So I’m sorry if you thought my coverage was unbalanced but there was a reason to it.
Where do you seen the UK Wrestling Scene going? Will it ever break out to the next level?
Like I have said in previous column there needs to be an upturn in the wrestling business as a whole for the UK Scene to see a rise to the next level. Maybe the super shows can work and gain interest who knows maybe this is already the next level. Like with UFC in the states at the moment, thanks to their deal with Spike TV, more people than ever before are seeing them, so if we can get the best wrestling show on the biggest channel we can find, who knows what will happen?
Moving to TWO/W101,
Along with brining your UK Scene presence to W101, you were also behind a partnership deal between our sites and the WWE, how important do you think that deal is, and how did it come about?
I have always said in life with everything I get involved in I want to leave it in a better state than when I found it and this was one of the ways I went about it. The deal originally came about over UFC. I’m a big UFC fan and when they tried their luck in the UK market, I wanted to help promote them so I contacted UFC in the states and they gave me the details of the team behind UFC in the UK. So we got talking and it transpired that they also looked after WWE in the UK so it was a slice of luck really.
Being involved with companies that deal with the major brand is a real asset to this site as this helps us get hold of news, press releases, and review copies of products as well as competition prizes. Having the link also gives us as a website the chance to find out information that we want to know so it works really well and is to the benefit of our readers.
One of the great exclusive perks of the W101/WWE deal is that you had the opportunity to meet and interview WWE Superstar William regal, what was that like?
It was absolutely awesome one of the greatest moments of my journalistic career. The timing of it was really good also as I ended with the achievement of getting an interview with a current WWE star for the site that normally aren’t granted to wrestling websites not affiliated to major media company. As I have spent all my years, writing about the UK Scene it was also a nice touch that I got talk to most famous British wrestler of the moment.
I have been lucky enough to meet and talk to my three favourite wrestlers since I started here those being Bret Hart, Sting and of course Regal and without this site, it wouldn’t have been possible.
As I said, you’ve been here at W101 for sometime now, have you enjoyed your stay and what do you think of W101 as a Wrestling website, and TWO as a Wrestling Community?
This family of websites is going to continue to grow and grow long after I’m gone. Many websites claim to be number one or the best but it has never been like that here as we have just let the site and its content do the talking, which is much better than hollow claims.
The emphasis with Wrestling101 has always been the exclusive columns you can’t find anywhere else, which is the right way to go. Websites who focus on their news boards are a dime a dozen and who is going to come to your website to read a column they can read elsewhere. With all the websites under the one umbrella, we now have a really strong backbone to build on in the years to come.
One thing that I am proud of here is that over the years I did something for every section from computer games to interviews, from news board posting to forum moderating there is nothing left I haven’t done. Some of my proud memories will be the UK Scene chats where I almost crashed the chat rooms because it was busy and in which I had FWA and NWA-UK wrestlers talking to each other and complimenting each other (something rarely done in public). My campaigns lobbying TalkSport to bring back the wrestling show and my campaign to get British Wrestling back on TV were fun. I loved doing all the interviews I did from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to the guys at the Funking Conservatory to RoH boss Gabe Sapolsky.
Some of the long-standing achievements, which will be here long after I’m gone, are what I’m most proud of. Having our website host the forums of FCW, MPW and SCW has given us a foothold in the industry and with those promotions, which I am happy to have accomplished. The other achievement was getting industry insiders to write columns for Wrestling101 those being Scott Future and Saracen now give our website the thoughts and opinions from people inside and outside of the business, which I think our readers, enjoy.
It all started though with the UK Scene column and for almost 200 weeks, it went up every week rain or shine without fail. I think it owns the title of the most consistent most action packed UK based wrestling column and I hope that me leaving won’t stop fans of British wrestling supporting the scene.
One of the coolest things about working at 101 was the number of TV and Radio stations that would contact me for information on wrestling. This culminated last year in me doing a spot on BBC 7 Radio Show “Big Toe” which was another highlight of my career as I got to talk about wrestling on national radio and had a blast doing it.
I have to give a big shout out to my girl and UK Scene partner the real star of the show Goldy. Goldy is the most educated, most loyal and most dedicated UK Scene follower I know. She knows more than I ever will and is the real star of the show. Goldy you’re a top girl and I just want to say thanks for standing by my side.
When I started writing, I wanted the praise of wrestling fans and to go on to forums to see people saying my column is great and lots of people saying they read it. Like many I wanted to be a so called “internet celebrity” like Meltzer but as Regal told me your only famous to a small percentage of people. So in the end I just wanted to have fun producing something I was proud of every week, which I think I accomplished.
What about the bossman, Vinnie McKam, also known as Kam?
Without Kam none of this would have been possible. Kam has to put up with so much stress running the websites from people arguing on the forums to me complaining that a column isn’t up yet and he deals with everything with a smile on his face, which is something hard to do.
Kam let me write what I wanted about what I wanted which I will always be thankful for. Kam is the best webmaster, editor in the world bar none, and great things are going to happen for this website in the years to come.
I owe everything to Kam and will miss not badgering him all the time. In short Kam is the man.
Any last comments?
Thanks for doing the interview Dan and keep up the great work you do here at 101, I will be checking out your reviews in the future. In short it’s been a blast and I just want to thank everyone for making it a fun ride. Please do keep in touch, as I will miss you guys as I move on in my life but hopefully one day when I am settled again I will be back bigger and badder than ever here at wrestling101 so this isn’t goodbye, just a see you later.