I don’t post stuff on here unless I’m passionate about it…
And I’m very passionate about pro wrestling as well as live comedy and improv acts. I enjoy watching performers live who are fully invested and living for the moment. Shoot, work… Doesn’t matter.
What’s a “shoot” anyway?
I have been fortunate over the years to see and engage with some of the coolest people on earth. You must be a little different to want to be a professional wrestler. You take it to another level when you become a “Sports Entertainer.”
What’s the difference? Not a whole lot really…
Pro wrestling is still the foundation of sports entertainment. The action takes place in a ring and there are basics and fundamentals that hold true in both performances.
I had my first pro wrestling match October 20, 1979. 40 years ago… Prior to that I began taking pictures at ringside for various wrestling magazines like Wrestling News, Gong Magazine in Japan and publications ran by Norm Keitzer and James C Melby back in the 1970s… Yeah, that was a long time ago.
At one time I thought I knew a lot about wrestling (and I did) but when I started and got in-between the ropes, my perspective changed dramatically.
The business and culture were different in the 70s and continued to change in the 80s. I liken the business to being at sea for 40 years and suddenly arriving on dry land, getting on shore expecting everything to be fine. You must get your bearings back. Now you’re walking on dry land.
The only thing permanent is change…
I accept that times, places and people change. And man has wrestling changed.
While TV viewing and live events have been challenging in the past, there wasn’t as many options for your entertainment attention when I was growing up as there is now.
I don’t want this to be a “Back in my day” or “You kids get off my lawn” rant.
The fundamentals NEVER go out of style. Without a solid foundation in ANYTHING, it will eventually crumble. I agree with exciting and innovative moves being used at the right time. When’s the right time? There’s the issue.
One thing that I feel missing today is authenticity. Everybody knows pro wrestling is a work. A lot of not so famous (and famous) people get on Twitter, FB, Instagram or any outlet they can to vent or share their views. That’s cool. I got the memo so now I can share too.
To me, Brock Lesnar is the most real, authentic person in pro wrestling. He is what he portrays. He’s not “playing a part” or being a gimmick. He is the part. He ain’t no gimmick!
Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, The Original Sheik, Mark Lewin, Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Heartbreak Kid, The Game, The Rock are all authentic and weren’t playing some character or persona. They turn the volume of their personalities up when performing. While they are performing, they are in the moment. They aren’t “acting.” They are re-acting to what’s happening around them. They felt it and went with instinct. If you’ve never seen or felt the emotion that pulled a lot of us into the business, then you won’t understand.
Too many times I encounter kids who just want to be famous and be somebody in pro wrestling. I understand that sentiment. For me it was the lifestyle. The idea of going to an arena, wrestling and then traveling to the next town, being on the road was the greatest adventure in the world!
We could go out, cut promos, have a match and something would come up unexpectedly and we could improvise and have a blast! Now with all the TV time there seems to be the need for more scripted promos and skits. Not that it’s all bad but a lot of times you have some great athletes trying to hone their not so great acting and oratory skills to a live audience.
With so many social media outlets the pros and semi pros have found a way to cut promos on each other, work angles, compliment and berate and basically put their business out there warts and all for the world to see.
Then some get hurt or offended. Wow…
Contrary to popular belief, I’m not everybody’s favorite. I know I’m an asshole and show it at inappropriate times. I must figure out who needs a pat on the back and who needs a kick in the ass. I’m a coach. I need to inspire, motivate, teach and communicate. Every coach has their style and way of doing. I have my way. You have yours. The right way, the ONLY way does not exist. There is nothing etched in stone, passed down from generation to generation that says “THIS IS THE ONLY WAY PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING SHOULD BE DONE. PERIOD!”
But I still believe in authenticity in a world where everyone supposedly knows the secrets and are “smart.” It can be difficult to understand when you grew up with the idea that “this is all fake and all I have to do is learn some cool moves, then I’ll be a star!” mentality.
There’s few authentic “rasslers” on the indies around East Tennessee. Authentic gets under your skin for real. Guys start wondering “Is he shootin’?” Again, I ask the question: What is a shoot, and would anybody even know it if they saw or heard it?
It takes a while to figure out who or what we really are in life. I knew I was going to be a wrestler and when I started, I was watching the changes take place all around. I was christened with the name Cowboy Tom Prichard when I arrived in Los Angeles in 1980. I was the farthest thing from a cowboy you could get! But because I was from Texas, the promoter felt it was apropos…
I later found Doctor Tom was a better fit. That moniker happened out of circumstances from comedy and tragedy at the same time. It was Robert Fuller responsible for Dr. Tom.
Authenticity. Those who remember Ron and Don Wright remember how real and authentic they were. And crazy. Were they really crazy? Ask the fans still around who remember the Wright brothers in Tennessee about crazy. Ask even the non-believers if they ever believed in Ron or Don especially when they pulled out the chisel. Different place, different time, different era, different culture.
If Ron and Don cut a “shoot style” promo on somebody, that person didn’t get offended. He cut a promo back (with fire and feeling) then went out and delivered a hell of a match with feeling, improvisation, passion and enthusiasm.
I say all that to say this:
Wrestling is what it is. We opened the JPWA to help explain what we feel is needed in wrestling today. Authenticity. We can’t necessarily change everything that goes on in the ring, but we can help someone break through and turn their personality up when needed.
Some say there are no good guys or bad guys anymore. Is Lesnar a babyface or heel? Doesn’t matter. What matters is he’s authentic. Real. Or at least as real as it gets in wrestling.
Dillon McQueen is someone who joined the first class of JPWA in January 2019. Our first class started with 6 people and ended up with 4. We’re proud of those first 4 and they will always hold a special place in JPWA. Dillon, Kenzie Paige, Haley Holt Jones and James Best worked their butts off 5 days a week for 16 weeks and then started getting booked.
Dillon was flamboyant and outrageous from the start. On more than one occasion I had to steer Dillon back on track. He tended to want to march to the beat of his own tune…
I have no problem with creativity, and I will take passion over perfection any day. But Dillon was different.
The first day of class he brought a life size cut out of Sasha Banks and a replica of the big gold world championship. Didn’t ask, just brought them in and set them up. I thought it was cool so why say anything.
But soon Dillon wanted to experiment. And that’s cool too but it was apparent Dillon could be outspoken and pushy at times. Again I shut him down and explained while the flashy moves are great, without knowing how to tell a story you will be a guy who can do cool moves, car crash and that’s it.
Promos with Dillon were always interesting because he doesn’t know how to be anything other than who he is. He is what he is and makes no apologies for that. Like it or not, he’s authentic.
I’ve learned a lot in over 50 years of being in and around the wrestling business. Tully Blanchard shared some advice he got from Johnny Valentine; Think shoot, but work.
What’s a shoot again??
So instead of telling everybody “Hey I’m cuttin’ a rasslin’ promo but I don’t really mean any of the mean things I’m sayin’ (so tell momma, daddy, bubba and sissy not to be mad at me, I’m just playin’)” Dillon cuts promos in his own persona with the volume turned up and because he’s such an obnoxious horses ass, everybody gets in an uproar.
Dillon McQueen is obnoxious, annoying and a complete pain in the ass. So was Adrian Street. So was Bruiser Brody. So was Tully Blanchard. Oh I’m sorry! I’m bringing up old school guys. Completely irrelevant. They only elicited real emotion from fans who knew it was all fake, except THAT guy really pisses me off!
Remind me what a “shoot” is one more time…
It’s that guy who understands LIFE is a work. We’re ALL actors on a stage. Dillon McQueen lives his life like the world is his stage. He’s rude, crude, annoying as hell, a LIAR and there’s nothing he can do about it. He can’t help or stop himself. I’ve tried warning him of the pitfalls, but he obviously doesn’t listen.
For me it comes down to do I want to see this guy go out and perform, throw a tantrum, get the hell beat out of him and get fans (and so called “workers”) emotionally invested and want to skin him alive?
Who else can “play” that part?
So while I’m proud of everyone who’s come through the JPWA these last 9 months, no one has caused as much controversy and stirred the s**t more than Dillon McQueen. He’s an asshole and has caused me more grief than anybody in the last 20 years.
I hope somebody shuts his loudmouth sooner rather than later. Just don’t tell momma or daddy. Or bubba or sissy. That would crush them.
And please, someone please explain what a shoot is again?
If you read all of this please get a dog, name it LIFE so you’d have one…
What Our Graduates Are Saying...
"Amazing wrestling school. Without a doubt the best spot to hit for basics and foundation. Huge fountain of wisdom and knowledge from Dr. Tom Prichard." - Noah Adams