No Alternative? The Dragon Gate USA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The fourth interview in the series is with Gabe Sapolsky, vice-president of Dragon Gate USA – originally an offshoot of the established Japanese promotion, but rapidly gaining fans off their own talent roster.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to Dragon Gate USA?
Dragon Gate is the most cutting-edge promotion in Japan, based on incredible, athletic wrestling. We are Dragon Gate USA, which is the American branch of Dragon Gate. We have forged our own identity and talent roster based on the principles of Dragon Gate in Japan. DGUSA is all about action, excitement and the most amazing wrestling in the world

What would you say sets Dragon Gate USA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
We cater to the diehard fans that love great wrestling. We won’t have over the hill wrestlers, a cookie cutter wrestling style, too many promos or all the negative things that come with sports entertainment. If you sit there and watch Raw waiting for an awesome CM Punk or Evan Bourne match to come on or sit there and watch TNA waiting for the X Division to be given a chance to shine than you can get those things with DGUSA, taken to the next level, without having to sit through all the crap and other stuff to get there.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
They definitely do things right. They wouldn’t be around if they didn’t. In fact, you can’t argue with what WWE does. They are going for the mass, mainstream market and they do that very well. We are going for our niche of diehard, appreciative wrestling fans. It is all about what audience you are trying to satisfy.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does Dragon Gate USA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think if you are going to do a serious women’s division, not like a Divas T&A thing, you need to really devote a good deal of your show to it. While we appreciate women’s wrestling in DGUSA, we are concentrating on the Dragon Gate stars from Japan mixed in with our homegrown talent roster we have developed so it’s hard to devote the proper amount of time to women’s wrestling without ending up with 4 or 5 hour shows, which we don’t want to do.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into Dragon Gate USA? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
Yes, of course there are WWE and TNA wrestlers who would make great fits in DGUSA. At the same time, I feel anyone on our roster would fit in with WWE or TNA if booked properly. I believe every wrestler, especially once they get near 30 years old, should go to WWE and make tons of money. I think younger guys, like 25-27 or so and younger, should work the indies and Japan so they can vastly improve themselves, gain confidence and maturity and also so they can fulfill themselves artistically.

Where can people find out more about Dragon Gate USA online?
Our website is www.DGUSA.tv and our Twitter is @DragonGateUSA. You can also look for the Dragon Gate USA Official Facebook group.

What do you have coming up?
We have a full schedule of shows coming up including 9/9 Indianapolis, 9/10 Chicago, 9/11 Milwaukee, 11/11 Boston, 11/12 Philadelphia, 11/13 Manhattan, 1/27 in LA and then in Miami on Wrestlemania weekend. We also have several new DVD releases including all three “United” weekend events with the awesome Open The United Gate Title tournament, which was a round robin tag team tournament over all three events. Akira Tozawa also had an incredible weekend, which is worth going out of your way to see. We have so much great stuff on those shows. I’m really proud of them.

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an Dragon Gate USA show?
We have lots of free videos on our Youtube channel at Youtube.com/DGUSAdotTV so hopefully anyone reading this will take a few minutes and go check it out. You can really get a good idea of the kind of action we offer with all the free videos we have.

Any last words for the readers?
We are here to serve true pro wrestling fans and give you the kind of action you crave. I think if you give us a chance you’ll end up really happy. Go to www.DGUSA.tv for all the info.

No Alternative? The EVOLVE interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The third interview in the series is with Gabe Sapolsky, promoter and founder of EVOLVE – a relatively new promotion but one which is definitely gathering a lot of fans.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to Evolve?
EVOLVE is wrestling with a pure sports presentation. We are modernizing the presentation of pro wrestling. If you don’t see it in boxing, MMA or a competitive sport, you won’t see it in EVOLVE. We are building a new wrestling brand here where wins and losses count and ridiculous, outdated things you frequently see in sports entertainment won’t be tolerated. We are the breath of fresh air that pro wrestling needs.

What would you say sets Evolve apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
I think if you watch one show it’ll be clear. You can start with the action in the ring, the cutting-edge style of our wrestlers. Then you look at our straight-forward show format. This is wrestling as a sport. I think a lot of things in wrestling look ridiculous to today’s sports fan. We are trying to eliminate those things and bring back pro wrestling as a sport.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
They do what they feel they need to do to appeal to the most people possible, they are mass marketed. WWE in particular does a great job of this. The thing to understand is they don’t care about the diehard wrestling fans. They want to be sports entertainment conglomerates, which is fine, but that’s how you have to approach it when you watch their products. You can’t watch them thinking you are going to satisfied with a product designed for true wrestling fans.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does Evolve stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
There are plenty of very talented women wrestlers out there and we have featured them in the past in EVOLVE, particularly Mercedes Martinez, who put on some dominating performances on the early EVOLVE shows.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into Evolve? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
Yes, there are several great wrestlers in both TNA and WWE who would be great in EVOLVE. At the same time, I think many of our wrestlers would be great in WWE and TNA. Everyone we book has talent and a special quality. In fact, Shiima Xion, Tony Nese and Austin Aries were all in TNA recently, and they have seen plenty of action in EVOLVE. Meanwhile, our EVOLVE 7 event featured a great moment with a farewell to Jon Moxley, who just signed with WWE.

Where can people find out more about Evolve online?
They can go to www.EVOLVEwrestling.com for all the info and also Youtube.com/EVOLVEwrestling. We also have The Official EVOLVE wrestling Facebook group that people can join.

What do you have coming up?
We have a huge show on July 26th with Fit Finlay making his EVOLVE debut. It’s in NYC. You can get tickets now at EVOLVEwrestling.com. If you can’t be there in person you can watch it on live iPPV at www.WWNLive.com. In fact, we also have several EVOLVE shows available on demand at www.WWNLive.com.

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an Evolve show?
We have lots of great videos at www.Youtube.com/EVOLVEwrestling so go check some out.

Any last words for the readers?
Your support is very important to us. We want to build a new brand of wrestling known as EVOLVE together. We are all building this from the ground floor together. Please check out our DVDs. We have some great deals and affordable prices.

No Alternative? The Inter Species Wrestling interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The second interview in the series is with a Canadian promotion that I was originally made familiar with through their working relationship with CHIKARA. Inter Species Wrestling from Canada are definitely a company you could claim to be “alternative and different” (and I get the feeling they would be proud of that label) and they were kind enough to answer a few questions for us in the run up to their upcoming Burger King of the Ring tournament.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to ISW?
Inter Species Wrestling is an exceptionally unique brand of pro wrestling, combining all styles of professional wrestling with crude humor, over the top gimmicks, and other fun stuff. We’re based out of both Canada and the USA, and we’ve been around since 2005.

What would you say sets ISW apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
Millions of dollars. Oh, and the fact that we hate politics – and are in the wrestling game for the right reason – fun. We don’t limit our performers as much, and I feel it makes for a better overall in-ring product. Oh, and we use the f-word. A lot.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
Do they present a reasonable view? Probably not. Everything on their shows seems to be a commercial for something else – and to be honest – I don’t mind that. I just wish there was less of it, and more actual wrestling. I think WWE does many things right. They’re the best in the world. TNA/Impact Wrestling, however, is the polar opposite. Just a massive crap-pile.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does ISW stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
Diva/Knockout style women’s wrestling does women wrestlers as a whole a disservice. It’s awful stuff, and basically crushes the dreams of any actual talented female wrestler who isn’t “magazine hot”, blonde, or stacked. There are some really talented female wrestlers out there.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into ISW? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
If anyone on our roster has a chance to make it, I’d be nothing but supportive. If you asked me this 5 years ago, I’d tell you that nobody on our roster could get there. Not slighting their talent at all – it’s just that they’re all less than 6’2″, 300 lbs of roided up mass. Now, with WWE using smaller guys – pretty much anyone could get there. It’d be very cool to see some of my friends live the dream.

I’d love to have R Truth and Daniel Bryan in Inter Species Wrestling. I just really feel like they’d fit in with our group.

Where can people find out more about ISW online?
We’re online at www.interspecieswrestling.com , but you can also find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/interspecieswrestling or twitter at @ISDub.

What do you have coming up? (Shows/DVD releases, etc)
We’ll be presenting our first ever tournament show on July 23, 2011 from the Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury, CT. It’s called Burger King of the Ring, and it’s sure to be a blast. The show also features the first ever “Fans Bring the LEGO Deathmatch” on American soil.

Check out the trailer/commercial for the show here

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an ISW show?
Our youtube channel is jam packed with promos, full matches, and trailer videos. http://www.youtube.com/user/interspecies

Any last words for the readers?
Thanks for taking to time to check out what I had to say. I appreciate it, whether you agree or not. If you’re tired of what’s on TV, or just want to see wrestling done differently – check us out! Our DVDs are available through www.smartmarkvideo.com :)

No Alternative? The CHIKARA interview

No Alternative? is an annoyingly titled series of interviews that will hopefully introduce you to some of the independent wrestling promotions that we have come to love here at the blog. Rather than forcing yourself to sit through a dreary episode of Raw or a frankly embarrassing episode of IMPACT Wrestling (or whatever it’s called now) we want to show you that there is an alternative out there.

The first interview in the series is, fittingly, with our favourite wrestling promotion. Both Boss Lady Ray and myself have said that CHIKARA would be our “Desert Island Wrestling” were we to be dumped on a desert island together and forced to choose only one company to be able to watch the rest of our lives. Erstwhile “CHIKARA Director of Fun” Leonard F Chikarason was kind enough to take time out and answer a few questions for us.

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. For some of our readers that might not be familiar with you could you give us a brief introduction to CHIKARA ?
I could go right from the website, www.chikarapro.com, but instead, can sum CHIKARA up as “wrestling for everyone.” WWE purposes themselves as wrestling for the whole family and TNA claims “Wrestling Matters.” If both of these statements were true and awesome, that would be CHIKARA.

What would you say sets CHIKARA apart as an alternative from the mainstream promotions such as WWE and TNA?
As I mentioned before, CHIKARA bring you wrestling for everyone without insulting any group. From what I hear, the live non-TV/PPV WWE and TNA shows are fun, but the wrestling you may see there is just nowhere near as entertaining as CHIKARA provides at each and every show.

Do you think WWE and TNA present a reasonable view of professional wrestling to the mass market? Do you feel they do anything right or are you not a fan at all?
Unfortunately, WWE is what the majority of the mainstream world sees as “Wrestling” even though THEY don’t see themselves that way. I’ve been a fan of wrestling since 1984 and probably will never stop watching WWE out of habit. Not really sure what to think of TNA.

One side of the 2 main promotions which gets heavy criticism (and that we on the site have been more and more interested in) is the womens’ divisions. Where does CHIKARA stand on womens wrestlers? Are you fans of the more hard-hitting female wrestlers and intergender matches or would you prefer a more Diva/Knockout style division?
I think you answered your own question. Nothing makes me go for my channel changer quicker than a Divas match on WWE. The cornerstones of CHIKARA’s women’s division are Daizee Haze & Sara Del Rey, the later of which is the only women in the 12 Large Summit to determine the first ever CHIKARA singles champion.

Are there any WWE/TNA wrestlers you would like to bring into CHIKARA ? Conversely, are there any of your roster that you feel would fit in well in one of the mainstream companies? And would you want them to?
I’m torn on seeing anyone from CHIKARA leave. Many wrestlers in CHIKARA I’ve become friends with over the last six years and would miss them, but would be great full to see them get a shot in the “big leagues.” People like Brodie Lee, Hallowicked or Claudio Castagnoli would be the first three off the top of my head that would be huge no matter where they wrestled.
As for someone from WWE or TNA coming to CHIKARA, I can list your Evan Bourne’s and Sin Cara’s but in all seriousness, I would LOVE to see John Cena in CHIKARA.

Where can people find out more about CHIKARA online
CHIKARA has one of the strongest internet presences in all of wrestling. Your main hub would be, of course, www.chikarapro.com, where you can find any and all information about upcoming events merchandise and more. Our roster section now also links to most of the CHIKARA wrestlers on Twitter. Our own Twitter is @ChikaraPro and you can find our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/chikaraoffice, which is updated with new content every single weekday. Also, you can friend us, poke us or whatever you do on Facebook to us at www.facebook.com/pages/CHIKARA/53425196299.

What do you have coming up?
The weekend of July 30th and 31st is CHIKARAsaurus Rex – King of Sequel in Reading, PA and Philadelphia, PA respectively. In addition to all the CHIKARA regulars and several 12 Large Summit tournament matches, we have visitors from England in Johnny Saint and Johnny Kid, Japan in Ice Ribbon standouts Makoto & Tsukasa Fujimoto and Japanese and Mexico super star, Mima Shimoda. Also, many of our friends such as El Generico and Colt Cabana are making their return as well.
As for DVDs, Smart Mark Video turns our shows around in record time, usually within 2 weeks of the show. They even went as far as having all three nights of King of Trios 2011 available the very next day! Check em out at www.smartmarkvideo.com!

Do you have a match/trailer online that would give people an idea of what to expect at an CHIKARA show?
As mentioned above, we have TONS of introductory videos on our YouTube page. (Sidekick Andrew edit: this is true, in fact we listed a few of the matches available for free here but I’ll link this one because it’s really worth a watch)

Any last words for the readers?
Thank you giving me to the time to let your readers know what CHIKARA can show wrestling fans. We ask you support not only CHIKARA but all wrestling where ever and whenever you can!

GUEST POST: Never Mind the Majors, Here’s the Independents!

Never Mind The Majors? Seems a bit harsh...

Sidekick Andrew: Disappointment with the wrestling business. It happens to us all from time to time, but it seems to be pretty wide spread amongst internet wrestling fans at the moment. A combination of the usual post-Wrestlemania slump, the Orton-Christian title change and a general feeling of malaise are combining to make people swear off wrestling more and more. As such, we want to help people realise that there is much, much more to wrestling than the two companies you can see on telly. Independent wrestling might take a bit more effort to access, but it can reward you far more than another WWE PPV that you might well regret afterwards.

In the interest of fairness, I should point out that both Boss Lady Ray and myself feel that the WWE do plenty of things well – they have a style of show that works for them and they do big budget wrestling spectaculars better than anyone else. The current CM Punk story for example has been really popular here in the bunker. However, we do appreciate that a lot of people are feeling slightly burned out when it comes to WWE, and that’s where this series will hopefully be of use. (BTW, you’ll notice I only mentioned WWE in this paragraph. TNA is still pants)

As an introduction to this series, regular reader Charles Hahn has kindly written a piece about the subject for us. Make him feel welcome and comment afterwards will you? Cheers…

I mentioned a while ago that I wanted to do some writing about the wonderful world of wrestling, as I am very good at alliteration. When I mentioned that I had nowhere to put said writing, the fine folks at Wrestlegasm graciously offered me the chance for a guest post. I, being a fan of the site, immediately accepted.

That is when I realized that, while it is relatively easy to come up with a concept for a piece, it is very difficult to expand that idea into a full article. I thought about letting Ray and Andrew (super weird calling him that, I know him much better as apsouthern) that I was a big dumb lazy failure.

Then this happened:

Then, 2 weeks later, this happened:

Then as I was in the midst of writing this, this happened:

Now I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much when I say that these things caused the internet to LOSE IT’S COLLECTIVE MIND. While I believe the reaction was a tad much, I can surely understand the ever growing frustration with pro wrestling. I read things like, “That’s it, I’m taking a break from wrestling.” “I can’t believe I spend money on this.” And worst of all, “Wrestling sucks right now.”

I am going to be honest, that last one shocked me. That’s when I realized, the majority of wrestling fans see WWE as not the biggest company in the world, but as wrestling itself. They think it’s WWE or nothing. Well, I guess TNA is fairly visible, but who really wants to watch TNA?

Well I’m here to tell you something folks. WWE isn’t wrestling. If you are tired of Randy Orton, John Cena, and continual mediocrity, you do not have to give up on something you love.

One month ago (at the time of writing), I got up at 4:30 in the morning, left my house, and drove for 7 hours and through 6 states, to go to a tiny arena in Philadelphia. In that arena were 700 other people. They were there to watch pro wrestling. And they got it. They got 3 nights Of energy, emotion, and pure joy. This wasn’t WWE. This wasn’t TNA. This was a promotion called CHIKARA. If you read Matt Jones’ excellent post about the wrestling nirvana that was King of Trios, you know just how incredible it was. Hell, if you’ve read more than one post on this site you know how great Chikara is. I spent that weekend around people who were wrestling fanatics. I watched some of the best matches I have ever seen. I saw a man slam a giant. I watched people fly. I shook hands with legends. I saw people openly crying in the memory of a man they had never met before. Ultramantis Black said I was awesome. Yeah, it was amazing.

But this isn’t just about CHIKARA. This is about Ring Of Honor, the company that produced one of the most skilled wrestlers EVER. This is about Pro Wrestling Guerilla, a crew of fantastic Californians who haved cranked out years worth of consistent greatness. This is about any promotion that puts out great wrestling. This is about the guys who aren’t big enough, guys who don’t have the right look, but go out every night and do their absolute damndest to tear it up and give the people who love wrestling something to love.

WWE has been accused of trying to kill the word wrestling. TNA says “Wrestling matters,” and don’t deliver. There are people losing hope for something they have loved since childhood. But they shouldn’t.

Great wrestling isn’t hard to find friends. You just have to look a little bit harder.

Sidekick Andrew: And there you have it folks, if you’re fed up with the WWE and TNA models of professional wrestling, that’s perfectly understandable. But please don’t assume that all wrestling suddenly sucks. Independent wrestling is a very different beast. I usually compare the WWE/Indie Wrestling situations to the differences between seeing a huge gig in a stadium with an internationally succesful rock band such as the Rolling Stones, or seeing a small punk band in a tiny club. On the one hand you will get a more impressive show at the Stones gig, but you as a person won’t matter. At the punk show you’ll be able to interact with the band… heckle… maybe meet the guys afterwards – and they’ll be appreciative of each and every member of the audience.

Using Charlie’s piece as a starting point, we are going to be running a series of posts introducing you to a few indie promotions that you might want to check out. CHIKARA in particular got me through a period of disillusion with professional wrestling at the time Chris Benoit went a bit mental, hopefully at least one of the companies we profile can help you do the same. Keep an eye out later this week for the first interview in the series.